You know, it’s funny. Growing up, NYU was my dream school. The pipe dream. The one I could *maybe* get into, but could never afford. The one that, even if I could afford, I’d never be able to attend because I had so much transfer credit. Still, it was nice…

The email was the rumble of thunder in the distance. I felt all the familiar panicky feelings come rushing back--the muscles tensing, coiled for a fight. The tightening in my chest and the shallow, labored breathing. The blinders in my field of vision turn inward, shrinking my peripheral vision. Hard…

I was mindlessly strumming my guitar tonight. I was frustrated with a piece of writing, with the fact that I wasn’t doing more writing, with the endless list of to-dos, with the lectures I haven’t watched and the dishes I abandoned in the sink, drowning in their shallow, watery grave…

I am still learning how to care for this body. "After so long?" you ask--I know, I know. At thirty years old, I am just now learning to feed her when she is hungry. Learning to let her rest when she needs sleep. When to move and when to quit…

An image of Niagara Falls at night.

I wanted to love you. It’s not your fault. When we met, I wasn’t in a place to give you my full attention. But I want you to know that I wanted to. Does that count for anything?

When my company asked me to do a three-month stint, coming home…

A person in a brown coat and leather boots approaches a door mat.

The doormat was askew and hastily folded over as I stepped over the threshold. It looked like someone tripped on one of its corners and hadn’t set it right. I’d walked over the very same doormat an hour earlier and didn’t remember tripping. How strange. I unfolded the doormat, and…

a pair of black high heels

I slide my feet in — first one, then the other. It’s been so long since I’ve worn heels that my toes act confused as I squish them into their assigned seats. I feel silly walking around my house in them, clomping down the hall to protect the hardwood. …

A black-and-white closeup of a pair of hands, that might be praying or might just be clasped together.

I say a prayer of thanksgiving as I pull into the third space from the mall’s entrance — a goddamned miracle. December 23rd and I am booking it to pick out a last-minute present along with the rest of the procrastinating horde. We have cold-numbed extremities and desperation in common…

Long rows of perfect stitches
In mustard, goldenrod, not-quite sunshine
Enormous pockets that hide Kleenex,
car keys, chewed-up cuticles.

On days when the whole world is a jagged edge,
Too bright, too loud, too demanding
I’m grateful for generous pockets
Extra insulation between Me and Outside.

The sweater crash-landed in my closet
Thrifted, gifted, maybe stolen from my sister
It was adopted, taken in and wrapped up in
I found a home, nestled inside it.

The arms aren’t quite long enough
It is incomplete, left wanting — and perfect
because I am in the habit of ruining sleeves
by rumpling them up round my elbows.

Sheltered from the cold
My squishy, fearful, human parts are safe
Until I strip it off, toss it in the hamper
I am careless with things I love.

Jamie Zipfel

A writer/teacher/designer split between the Midwest and the Middle East.

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