I am facedown on the living room carpet,
cat fur sticking to my lips,
rock salt from the treads of our snow boots
scoring my cheek.

I yank my lungs open
and heave out a scream,

the kind I have heard in horror films when a woman sees
she is moments from death, her mistakes barreling at her baring
fangs caked with old blood.

Does she hear the audience laughing?
Does she say to herself, “What did I miss?

Which stock character was I?
Which smug writer trapped me in this corner?”

In her final moments,
as talons pierce her…

a mourning dove stretching its wings
a mourning dove stretching its wings
photo by Jill Weiss

Our yard by the bay is a field of white
rocks. There must be one that is magical.
I crawl on all fours and explore a pale
miniature mountain range, searching for
a pebble a kid can wish on. I will
know it when I see it. Instead, I find

an ant hill. A worker crawls onto my
hand, scurries around my wrist. Shivering,
I sit criss-cross, examine dents in my
tanned knees, run my fingertips along the
blonde fuzz on my skinny legs. Soon, I know,
I will have to wash my feet, brush my teeth.

I squint at…

(Note: this article is an edited version of a Facebook post I submitted to the Autistic Allies Facebook group. Several people asked me to put it in a more shareable format, so here it is!)

In February of 2017, my social worker called to ask if I was willing to take my first foster child placement. She described her as a “six year old with high-functioning autism.” I was excited. I’d been a teacher for almost ten years at that point, and I’d always enjoyed my students with autism.

That foster daughter became my adopted daughter in May of 2018…

This is not your home.

Home is not a cleansing breath on the sun deck on your summer rental.

Home is not a snapshot of the tide lapping at your Seafoam Sparkle pedicure.

Home is not a cold beer on your sun-cracked lips, skin tight with saltwater, hair starched with salt.

Home is a fingernail you split when you slapped your trunk shut, six plastic bags looped around your elbow.

Home is an alarm so harsh you stand in the shower massaging your jaw open.

Home is the ache of cold sheets on your swollen feet.

Home is not a…

Jen Russ

Teacher, reader, writer, adoptive mother, animal lover, nature appreciator.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store