Glass Houses: Postcard from New York

Photo: © Stefan Hengst. All rights reserved.

Bugs find their way into the apartment. They come from out of nowhere. The windows are closed, the walls are sturdy, and it’s winter for god’s sake. For a while—a couple of months—there’s exactly one bug per day. It’s a big, sturdy fly—for all I know, the same one each day. When I hear it vibrating against the window, I fetch a glass, trap the fly, and slip an index card underneath it. I open the window and let it go. Sometimes it resists, becomes a dark crumb at the bottom of the glass, looks like residue of tea. I tap the glass and the crumb leaps to the sky.

bbd95a58d89d42c66487d0985dfe38a8-460x293By early spring the bugs increase in number and variety. Yesterday a bumble bee walked—yes, walked—across the hardwood of the living room floor. Had it come from the ducts? Had it come from another century? Is it the ghost of my mother or father? Is it a hallucination? I placed the glass over its fat bulk and it buzzed. I slid the index card slowly beneath it, careful not to break its legs, then carried it to the window and opened the screen. The bee looked at me, I looked at it. “You’re in New York,” I said. The bee quivered. “The world is a mess,” I said, “but it’s a beautiful day.” I held its glass house up to the sky, and when it was gone, I sat quietly and waited for my next visitor.


by Donna Steiner


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Donna Steiner’s writing has been published in literary journals including Brevity, The Sun, Fourth River, Under the Gum Tree, and Stone Canoe. She teaches creative writing at the State University of New York in Oswego. A chapbook of five essays, Elements, was released by Sweet Publications.


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