In the dream, he is home again—his mother

kneels in the garden, pulling roots, unfolding

soil damp and heavy as grief. Her father

sits beside her in his wheelchair—a tattered

field guide clutched between gnarled

fingers—singing Sinatra in a cracked

baritone, naming birds as they flit overhead:

wood thrush on a low branch, sparrows

dipping from the pine. He watches

from the kitchen window as they drop bulbs

into earth, crocuses just beginning

to bloom, the day glistening so perfectly

he knows it will last forever. He is awakened

by the smell:  ammonia, lilacs, the sour cling

of sweat sheets, the sensation of fingers

on linoleum—roots, dry earth. There was

no dream, of course, only a swallow

in the couryard, white oak slowly filling

with shadow; only the shuddering

of fluorescents under his door, a lock

on the outside; only an iron screen

bolted across his window, a memory

fading the way the sun does—hovering

just above a rooftop, slipping quietly

inward—the way a sparrow veers and

disappears into a slit in the sky, the way

a cage carves sunlight, silver starlings

irrupting across the tile floor.

Eric Christiansen is a poet from Waldwick, New Jersey, where he has lived for more than twenty years.  After transferring from Grinnell College in Iowa, he received his B.A. in literature and creative writing from Ramapo College of New Jersey. Eric has been featured in such events as the Brick City Speaks reading series in Newark and attended the 2017 New York Writers Institute at Skidmore College. He hopes to hone his craft by pursuing an MFA and teaching at the college level.