When I’m alone and still

A tree, a rock, a wild, silent


This is when I’m most astonished

By the life that unfolds

Around me, all at once.

Vast carpets of grass, each

Stump suddenly a throne,

The very ground is alive

And moving, the jumping bugs,

I always call them.

Each green insect signals the start

Of a nightly announcement

The day of deadlines

Drawing to a close.

My boots fill almost instantly with

The sharp stings of stalks,

Golden hay snapped by my clumsiness,

But each barb is a reminder that

I may be welcome but

I do not

Own this.

My presence a peace offering, and I

Never want to offend

This magical, wide-open


There is no sadder day to me

Than this one, the day

The Golden-Crowned Sparrows

Suddenly, are gone.

Without warning, though I

Knew it was coming,

The abundance of sparrows

Has disappeared.

For months, I’ve been preparing

Emotionally, telling myself

It will be ok, that this is what

Must happen. Nature.

This morning, I knew, I

Felt the hole in the bird song.

The sunrise chorus missing its most

Somber, treasured notes.

To Alaska they’ve flown, in staggering

Flocks. A crew with a mission,

They have done this before, and I wonder

How many times?

In the months to come, I will

Look out upon my grass and long

For that day in September, when like magic

The sparrows will return to me.

Golden Crowned-Sparrow, photo by Megan Fradley-Smith.

What did the Scrub-Jay see?

As it surveyed the scene below,

Everything tinged an angry orange.

Ash hanging in the air.

Even the brilliant blue of its

Feathers obscured by

The fiery red of the sky.

Entire homes, people, treasures

Burned up, in seconds like

They never existed.

Their remnants blow in the wind, choking

Our lungs, begging us to


The breezes move in cold, dry air and

None of us can breathe without


I woke up that day, and it was


At noon that day, it was

Darker, more ominous.

I stepped outside to see it…

Illustration by Maria-Ines Gul

Time Travel

I open my eyes, and I could be 5 or 15, 10 or 3. Every vacation starts the same way: my dad, freshly shaven and harried, calling up the stairs to his 4 bleary-eyed children. We frantically grab our overstuffed duffels bags, each with our first names written in all capital letters by our mother. It is usually about 5AM. To a kid, a morning that is still shrouded in darkness brings its own sense of excitement, of stolen intrigue. Am I up really late? What grown-up things will I get to see? Shoving our things into our…

Self, by Karolina Ficek

Trying to keep up with someone who doesn’t exist is a game we were never supposed to win.

I believed it all.

Every photo of pore-less skin; every spotless home with meticulously styled children and furniture; every long, lean leg, free of cellulite or visible veins or hair. I never once stopped to question these images, never once paused to consider that each was false. That each was out to sell me the very dissatisfaction with self that feels ingrained, born with; the kind of commodification of self-loathing that inhabits every cell of my being. A young, vulnerable me was inundated with imagery of…

(Illustration by Alexandra Bowman)

Being a female is complicated, and not complicated at all. And yet, as a 33-year-old woman, a mother now, a wife now, I cannot believe at times how difficult it is to just BE. I cannot believe all of the many “truths” that have guided me, have harmed me, and have informed so much of my younger life. I remember when I first read of the “Male Gaze,” and how I instantly felt sick to my stomach, as if every questionable encounter I had had with a man suddenly came rushing to the forefront of my mind. I suddenly remembered…

Megan Fradley-Smith

Words, Birds, and Daydreams.

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