Detail from Dirty Laundry by Jamie Heiden, copyright J. Heiden Photography
Detail from Dirty Laundry by Jamie Heiden

Priscilla Atkins


The wee hours of the Mahler symphony. I felt so alone.

Just when I had fallen back into dreamy sleep, I was bestirred by mournful horns—
on and on, from the next room.

What made me sad was being woken. It was not I who begged to be there
in that room set aside.

A daughter’s room; but the daughter long gone. When did her father start his practice
of programming all-night classical to start up
two hours before dawn?

Finally falling back to sleep. Then. Unconditionally woken with drums.

Magic, private hours. When I am most rare.

I do not like to name things. Especially raw, baby-clam-hours.

A night guest, so preoccupied with armoring myself against that most painful
of morning questions (“How did you sleep?”)
that the armor is what keeps me up.

It costs so much to share.

Drinking the Pink

Frank O’Hara had his life, and I have mine.

The only reason I go is it means I can come


where a particular swirl of oak and beech hold grave significance.

Two dogs. One man. (Sometimes I forget, but it doesn’t mean


Part of me is buried. And my childhood best friend.

On a high shelf in the kitchen perch precious blue and white cereal bowls brought

from Northwestern Spain.

Four of them stacked waiting for the right moment to climb


In my pocket, a small square of scratch paper.

My heart’s here, somewhere.

Sitting in my bedroom, watching an afternoon shadow of leaves reach and


we’re sharing straws, sipping all the pink from the quilt.