The ash in the backyard is dying. My wife and I could see it from our second-floor window, could hear the groan of its hollow limbs as they cracked and swayed in the cold March winds. Widow makers, the limbs are called. The branches of the tree once held waxy, green parades of leaves, but are now weighed down full of silent space left in the wake of the slow march of death. It could be said the tree is more of a wooden sculpture of a tree than anything else. Yet, still it stands, as a monument to things I won’t let go. Water, air, fire, they take on the form of our bodies, like shadows, like mirrors, anything made of light, your hands, your face, translucent in repose, the light moving through you like the opposite of a storm, the reverse of a hurricane, everything made of light, the accoutrements of the illusionists. The bedroom window is new and arched to better frame the night stars since we discovered our favorite constellations were out of view just above the top of our old window. About the stars: we forget they are still there during the day. We just can’t see them because the arrogant sun demands our full attention. My wife’s hair went gray, then white in a matter of seconds. I want to believe she prematurely made herself look like her future ghost, so I would more easily recognize her spirit after she died, so I would be less startled if one day her ghost appeared beside me and hooked her arm through mine during a funeral or a parade or the opening of the first tender buds of spring.


Todd Clay Stuart is an emerging Midwestern writer and poet. He studied creative writing at the University of Iowa. His work  appears or is forthcoming in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, FRiGG, Milk Candy Review, New World Writing, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife, daughter, and two loyal but increasingly untrustworthy pets. Find him on Twitter @toddclaystuart and at