"How to Fall in Love with English" It doesn’t catch your eye at first, in school, all those flashier subjects winking like stars and cells, like battles that changed the world. Stodgy because you thought you knew it, just your worn slippers, down at the heel, and then one day it gave you the slip, refused to follow rules, and you stumbled, wanting the certainty of sturdier soles, the concrete and inescapable answer in the teacher’s manual, not your students may say, when in fact students would always say something no one had heard before. You took another look, noticed the way it relished change, an amorphous thing oozing across a landscape, lava burning and rolling, consuming and inventing new rock. When you tried to speak, your words were gritty and lush, liquid and sere, you found you could soothe and snark, construct and raze— for a moment you thought it was yours, the way it sparkled toward you before shifting away.
"In the Waiting Room" We triangle ourselves as far from one another as the small room will allow, each of us a snug unit of body and book or phone, solo and sufficient. I find my place in the written words, but pause when I hear his voice. The man in the polo shirt is speaking, at first, I think, into his phone, but no. He is reading aloud from a magazine. And this is so strange, so innocent— this middle-aged man in khakis and loafers, waiting for his turn by reading aloud, unaware of anyone else, or place or time—that I lean toward that voice and listen. Two cups of flour. One cup of sugar. He reads as though thrilled at the plot twists of cloves and cardamom, and I, too, am lost in wonder at what will happen next, what ingredient will launch itself into life as he reads to this story’s end and laughs with joy without ever looking up.
Jane Sasser was born and raised on a farm in Fairview, NC. Her poetry has appeared in JAMA, North American Review, The Sun, and other publications. The author of three poetry chapbooks, What’s Underneath (2020), Recollecting the Snow (2008), and Itinerant (2009), she is a retired high school English teacher. She lives in Oak Ridge, TN, with her husband and rescue greyhounds.