Stamps: Jonathan Railey


Terra Firma

By Jonathan Railey

June has returned to this clearing in the woods and so have we. Now, standing over the dirt mound, holding our daughter’s tiny hand, I declare, “Here lies our beloved Stella, chaser of squirrels” – but little one’s already distracted, then off and running.

“Beautiful evening” my wife says, with accuracy. It was three months ago that I bent to dig this grave. At the time, the topsoil was a heavy mud, bleak and full of snowmelt. Everything – all of it – was dismal.

Now we sow six-packs of marigolds and a blue moon hosta into the loam of the grave before eating cheese sandwiches on a bed sheet. In the nearby sedge, our daughter is giving confusion to the earthworms and ants.

Since the world, on its course, leans into inky space, the naked branch that loomed overhead three months ago now hangs within reach, thick with leaves. And where there were none before, bees sink into the poppies, dusted with infinitesimal sunsets.


Jonathan Railey lives and writes in Iowa City, Iowa.



“Terra Firma” is part of the Stamps project. Click here to learn more >>


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