by Sara Backer

I grind all night, my teeth, my bones, my puffy joints.

I grind myself awake through a haunting

of scattered machinery. My cat, Zbigniew,

senses the albic light before dawn

and jumps on my stomach. Through windows,

oak leaves that were black in moonlight

now appear dark emerald. The white face

of a peony hints at turning pink.

I watch the fade of the horizon

from dark to pale blue, the thinning

of stars, and an opal glow

between low branches,

triggering questions from robins.

This is the hour the world gets a break

from humans. Late night and early morning people

equally unconscious before alarms go off.

This is the hour I cherish the silence of sky and road,

and my own insignificance. And

there—on the lawn—a sleek red fox!


I Drive Away from Work

by Sara Backer

Deep grey is vertical:

phone poles, oak trunks, thick pines.

Pale grey is horizontal—

curdled sky, shadowy fields of snow.

Snowflakes meander in clear space.

No hurry.

I’m not driving home

a point: just driving,

cold and grateful

to have my brain here with me,

and the grey matter of the world

ignoring me.

Sara Backer (she/her) has lived in Costa Rica, Japan, and two coasts of the United States. When she's not reading poems, she is teaching composition, reducing her carbon footprint, and playing with her gray cats Zbigniew and Wislawa.

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