By Kathryn Petruccelli

February 21, 2022


Spring in a cold place. Which means everything is so heartbreakingly tender—tulips lifting their dusky prom skirts, dandelions twinkling in their green sky.

I've lived here a little while, this rural New England town, its six months of winter, a place accustomed to waiting for beauty to appear. I've left somewhere I loved to move far away in service to a restless heart, the bonus draw of family. In the time since, I've witnessed a father-in-law dissolve from brain cancer, a second-born survive the bypass machine, tiny heart sewn back together.

Walking through the park with the baby, I call a friend back home to catch her up, or to remember who I am, or to plead with her to come visit and if she can't, at least to understand. The wheels of the stroller make that delicious sound they make as they roll over gravel. Cherry blossoms are open, magnolias, their ancient blush. It's good to hear her voice—magical, even—then, I falter.

"What? What is it?" she wants to know.

"No, nothing," I say. "I mean, it's not that bad here," I try, watching the robins, chests plump as plums at the edge of the lake, side-eyed, cocking their heads askew to see the ground in front of them.


Kathryn Petruccelli is obsessed with place, language, and the ocean. Her work has appeared in the Southern Review, Rattle, Poet Lore, Tinderbox, West Trestle, Plant-Human Quarterly, and elsewhere. She teaches online writing workshops from western Massachusetts, from which she also gardens and pines for California's central coast. More at


Picture by Aliis Sinisalu courtesy of Unsplash

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