Our Small Universe

By Sarah Stecher


I watch my memoir students free-write,

their heads bent over paper,

words spinning above them like

moons orbiting a planet,

penetrating force fields

of forgetfulness.


I watch them in their separate galaxies

moving light years away from me,

in awe of the space and time between us.

Their newfound intimacy with words,

small electrons that each harnesses

and pulls to the magnetic page,

cosmic storms of skating rinks and hayrides,

ice cream socials and wedding days.


I watch them, heads bent in a kind of prayer,

their scribbles a chant, a wizard’s spell,

conjuring remnants of the past

to life again, restoring muscle and flesh

to bones long dead, rendering with precise pen strokes

portraits of grandmothers, fathers, and infants

now grown, raising children of their own.

Each story—an indictment

and a benediction.

Moon and sun: regret and forgiveness.


I watch as calm wanders over our winter classroom and

warm afternoon sun streams in through colored glass,

casting prisms onto pages of ink.

I don’t want to disturb this hushed silence in

our small universe.


I often envy God His omniscience;

I believe today He envies me.



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