Roshelle Amundson

Serena Mira Asta

Terry Bebertz

James Byrne

Joshua Fischer

Gail Gates

James Henderson

Adam Hill

Peter Laine

Alice Lundy Blum

Tawny Michels

Dawn Nissen-Schachtner

Altamish Osman

Rebekah Pahr

January Rain

Sally Reynolds

Donna Ronning

Jer Rucinski

Jake Ryan

Kah Shepard

Laura Sourdif

Cat Usher

Jonah Volheim

I Am Five

I am five-years-old—I have always been
sitting on the porch after a warm bath
drawn by my mother.
My mother loves me
or she can’t stand caring for me.
It doesn’t matter: I am content
as I watch the light of the evening sky
drain into the leafy vase of an elm.
Everything has already happened.
Everything is yet to happen.
Nothing has happened, nothing ever will.
A friend comes to the step
and asks me to play.
I say, “No.” I am wearing clean pajamas.
Sleep is ahead of me.
Maybe I will dream, maybe I won’t.
The world has spun to this moment
this place and need go no farther
although it will go on forever.
I am five-years-old.
When life is in chaos, when it is calm
I am wearing clean cotton pajamas
sitting on the front porch after a warm bath.
It is high summer. The end of the day.
The evening sky is pale yellow and pink.


Work

Seated with the other department heads
around a walnut conference table
waiting for the meeting to begin
I realize I don’t know what I am doing.
Oh, I can read the graphs and pie charts
of the report before me, but I don’t
understand business, the negotiation
for services, the boosting of demand
by the manipulation of supply. I am more
interested in how each of my fellow
workers feels. I wonder how they are coping
with the delinquent daughter
the sick mother, bankruptcy, a pending divorce
or their joys: the new lover, new baby
the promotion, a vacation to the south of France.
Their emotions rise and fall within me
like waves as I look from one to another.
The light in the room is white
brilliant on the walls, clean as linen.
Outside, brick buildings are lined up
shoulder to shoulder along the sidewalk
an Edward Hopper kind of street
in an Edward Hopper kind of light
when Lake Superior emerges from the wall
dark blue, a beach of rust-colored stones
timbered headlands stretching to the horizon.
Light penetrates the water in wavering shades
of azure and green, rays dancing on the back
of a dark gray form rising to engulf me.
Then the boss is asking how the weather
is there, and the disembodied voice of a woman
comes from the black telephone at the center
of the table, saying it is cloudy
and then I have the opportunity to explain
to her, this client, how much we can help her.
I can hear her listening. I see her
in a navy suit and white, ruffled blouse.
She sounds about 45-years-old.
She either has kids or she has given
them up for her career. It’s cloudy
where she is. My voice is calm and steady.
Even a little of the white light
has found its way into my tone—it betrays
nothing. I want to ask
“Are you happy?”
I want to cry.



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James Henderson is a 2003 graduate of Metropolitan State University in technical communication, and holds an MFA from Hamline University. He works as a supervisor for Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) scoring standardized assessment tests, and he is at work on his second screenplay.