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Despite a thousand wrong 
turns, we find ourselves 
in this moment of grace—
Bill Evans plays in the 
background, the house
bubbles with mid-October 
heat, and when I wash
a pan, you are there to 
receive it, towel in hand.
The smell of coffee and 
sausage lingers in the air.
Plump balls of laughter
roll down the stairs, knocking 
dents in our conversation.

Last night at the haunted 
house, we watched as
bickering stilled for a 
moment, and our youngest
slid her hand into her
older sister’s, a protection
against imagined threats:
boys dressed as wolves,
unconvincing chainsaws,
projections of light, and
faraway screams.
A deep, satisfied silence 
filled the car on
the ride home.

Tonight I will light
candles against the early dark,
take extra time arranging the 
vegetables on the plate,
and fall in love with this
family all over again. 


Jennifer Judge is a poet, a professor at King’s College, and coordinator of the Luzerne County Poetry in Transit program. Her poem “81 North” was selected for permanent inclusion in the Jenny Holzer installation For Philadelphia 2018, appearing in the lobby of the Comcast Technology Center. Her work has also appeared in Rhino, Literary Mama, Blueline, Under the Gum Tree, The Comstock Review, Gyroscope Review, and Rhino, among others. She earned her MFA from Goddard College.

© 2020, Jennifer Judge

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