“A writer’s notebook is not a diary. Writers react. Writers need a place to record these reactions. That’s what a writer’s notebook is for. It gives you a place to write down what makes you angry or sad or amazed, to write down what you noticed and don’t want to forget. A writer’s notebook gives you a place to live like a writer.” - Ralph Fletcher
By Charles Bivona
When my first sister was born dead
my mother stayed in bed for days—
her red eyes swollen shut,
her nose sore and crusted.
I was five.
My father was quiet the day after.
As he laced his work boots at the foot of the stairs,
he whispered to me about his beard
how it kept him warm on top of the buildings
(the buildings he builds, I told my friends).
When I asked if my mother would get better
he kissed my cheek,
his long whiskers tickling my skin,
and left in a rush—
the big oak door slamming,
a gust of winter chilling my face.
[first published in Paterson Literary Review. Issue 34: 2005. pg. 109.]