Carolyn Jabs



The garbage disposal
has a rubber band
caught in its throat.
The butter compartment
is etched with black mold.
Spiders are building empires
in corners I can’t reach.
When God set the world
in motion, did she understand
what she was unleashing?
I tell myself these problems
seem larger than they are
because I am growing old.
Yet, people older than me
run entire countries.
Are they also aware
of filaments of inattention
snaking through everything,
leaving cracks to be colonized
by what we failed to notice,
sabotaged by what was
inconsequential until it wasn’t.



A branch falls before dawn.
A power line snaps. Somewhere
up the hill, a pole ignites, burns.
By the time we wake, the fire trucks are gone.
The culprit is a tree we have learned to love.
If there had been wind last night,
I wouldn’t be writing this. Spared again.

An ache settles in my head. A day without
power seems endless. The night even longer
Nothing to distract us from the vision of
flames sprinting downhill while we sleep,
sparked by a branch we never noticed,
that fell for reasons we can’t explain.
Somehow, I am here, absorbing
November’s tender twilight.
Sun slides under a comforter of clouds.
Invisible linesmen restring our wires.



Carolyn Jabs, in her professional life, contributed essays and articles to dozens of publications including the New York Times, Newsweek, Working Mother, Self, Redbook and Family PC. She is also the author of The Heirloom Gardener, one of the first books about heirloom vegetables, and co-author of Cooperative Wisdom, Bringing People Together When Things Fall Apart. Her work has been published by Quartet, Brushfire, San Pedro Review, California Quarterly and Evening Street Review.