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…


“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” — James Baldwin

Even if I didn’t want to, I’m thinking about the anniversary of September 11th. It’s impossible not to: every radio station is…


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.


One of my hometown’s defining features is a full-scale replica of a fort that was used in the War of 1812. There’s a historical society dedicated to preserving documents and ephemera. There’s a historically-accurate reenactment of the battle each year, a battle whose name I only remember because there’s a…


Four people’s hands holding their coffee cups into the center of a wooden table.

Roman room, n.: A memory technique in which a person attaches new memories to familiar objects placed around a mental picture of their home.

Step inside the townhouse, with it’s little portico and squeaky screen door. Step around the pile of shoes. Among others, the ballet slippers you wore through…


I put my feet in the grass today
It was spongy and soft
Is it different from the grass back home
Or am I different, and seeing it anew?

I hesitated, just a little, before slipping off my shoes
Aware that I was breaking a Rule about how Adults act
This tiny…

Jamie Zipfel

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

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