“The Handkerchief,” “Elfie Cooks Oatmeal,” and “Ascension”

“The Handkerchief,” “Elfie Cooks Oatmeal,” and “Ascension”
Image by wolfness72 on Adobe Stock

The Handkerchief

My mother’s white handkerchief

lies on my hand, the corners

embroidered with small flowers,

pink, blue, white. I unfold it

and find the yellow feather,

where I put it eighty years ago.

Those mornings after my father

had gone to work, my mother

and I had our breakfast. She pulled

down the doors of the toaster

and carefully scraped the charred

bread with her knife, then buttered

the toast and spread the blackberry

jam. The lilting song of the canary

filled our home, sweeter than any

preserves. The bird’s frail feathers

would never feel the lift of a breeze,

the soothing coolness of raindrops,

the caress of sunlight brightening

to radiance the color of its breast.

Only five years old, I could not

know why this melody gave me

comfort, could not put in words

what the gentle bird was saying.

Then one morning we ate in

silence. My mother got up, went

to the living room and came back

with this handkerchief

on her palm, holding our blithe

singer, his eyes, his beak, closed.

She told me he was not asleep.

For a moment I did not understand.

She folded the handkerchief

and placed it on my hand. And then

my heart told me we would live on

in silence, remembering our mornings

with his song, telling us we were safe.

Elfie Cooks Oatmeal

Elfie stirs the oatmeal,

reaches to turn down

the burner and flips

the spoon, sending

clumps of knobby

gluten and cinnamon

onto the white canvas

of her new, white tenny-

pumps. Gravity wants

only one thing, she says.

Everything must go

down. She looks at me,

through vanishing

steam on her glasses.

It’s a law you can’t break.


The compass points of his wounds

centered in the ragged edges

of the tear in his side.

Gravity fell in the cave of his body,

pulling my trembling hand

into the hidden blur of vibrations.

I closed my eyes, and my fingers

pulsed with his heartbeat.

When I lifted my eyes

and pulled my hand away,

a dust devil swept across the sand

where he stood. The wind died

suddenly, leaving his footprints

untouched and the sky rippling

with the breath of the sun.

About the Author

Malcolm Glass

Malcolm Glass has been writing and publishing poems, stories, and plays for seventy years. His next book, "Her Infinite Variety," a triple-hybrid collection, will be released in 2024 by Finishing Line Press