Volume 12 • Number 2 • Fall - Winter 2020

Stella Hayes

Together, Alone

He asked for my help for a 4th-grade school project, 
very late in the year. Too close to summer break, 
somewhere skipping pebbles across

a surface of water. Help me find big, bouncy words, 
suitable for poetry. One, in particular, happy.  
Siri spoke pitfalls from unverified sources. 

We were hit with joy, a safe synonym. A word,  
I feel when I am with him. As I teach my son,  
how to write a poem for a class assignment, 

I turn to the transparency of one. The Anecdote 
of the Jar
. Alone, in the wilderness of Tennessee, 
not solving our puzzle to write a suitable

poem. What about safety pins? 
Which hold the air, one pin at a time, festooned 
in miles of aluminum. He gave up on me,

as I offered inferior words. As did I, at least 
for the night. Poetry would have to wait.  
Not long before he fell asleep,

as I uncoupled a morning from a night. 
He had what seemed like a very bad 
dream. Eyes running wild behind closed

lids. He rose up in protest. Denying 
the poem. Repeating over & over in his 
sleep, certainly unaware that I was listening.

Russian-American poet Stella Hayes is the author of poetry collection One Strange Country (What Books Press, forthcoming in 2020). She grew up in an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles. She earned a creative writing degree at University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in Prelude, The Indianapolis Review and Spillway, among others. Poem “The Roar at Wrigley Field,” is featured in Small Orange Journal anthology.