You can read more of Julie’s work at JulieREnszer.com


Julie R. Enszer photo credit CharlieTPhotography©2010


Contributor Notes

Julie R. Enszer

Julie R. Enszer







I am startled

by how much

Claire Danes looks

like you. She is

now thirty-two.

I study her

on the new TV

show wondering,

would you flip

your hair that way?

Would your laugh

reveal your teeth?

Would you have

her blend of

confidence and


Most of all,

what music would

you be listening to?


I imagine scrolling

through thousands

of songs, organized

by style and mood,

on your ipod

(an appliance you

did not live to see).

You compiled

mixed tapes as a

soundtrack for

every activity.

I imagine musical

discoveries I might

find in your remastered

digital mix. My musical

tastes are pedestrian.

I take few risks.

I want to live.





Our Natural World



Forty-four years after you were in utero

we visit the woman who at thirteen

nurtured your body with her blood.

She labored more than twenty-four hours

for another woman to give you a home,

a family, but never the benefit of her breast.

For the first ten hours together, we sit

at the family table and swap stories

of lives lived apart. The next day,

we drive to the beach and scan the sand

for echinoid shells. We gather currency

we can never spend, then drive

to the state park in search of an Osprey nest.

We gaze at tree tops until we see the craggy

gathering of sharp sticks atop the tallest one.

Inside small birds. The mother scans

the seas for prey—fish, primarily,

but occasionally squirrels, lizards, even

house cats. She swoops down and

captures them with her long, spiny claws

then flies home to feed her young.

At the base of the trunk, beneath the nest,

are dried and broken bones, flesh

torn and sucked off, one life taken

to nourish another. There, in the Florida

sun, we marvel at the majesty of this natural

order as much as we are repulsed

by its remnants. Then, in her own act

of delayed maternal devotion,

your birthmother tells us, Osprey mate for life.








Above your cheekbone

to the side of your left eye.


I only look at it

when you are sleeping.


I imagine you as an

infant. How your mother


touched it gently while

you slept, lips pursed,


suckling, then as you do now,

when you drift off to sleep.


I imagine your mother

wondering, what pain


accompanied your birth?

When the forceps pinched


your skin, how long did you bleed

deep red blood? Who wiped


the wound clean? How long

did you carry the scab


before it disappeared like the past

leaving this small, faint scar?


Sometimes, I search to find

its exact place on your face.