small textlarge text

Jen Stein


You come upon a house being swallowed by a birch and aspen forest. There is a door with no handle, with no spyhole, with no key nor ken. The inside is one room and it can be anything. Kitchen with hummingbirds, cast iron pans, spangled spider, copper kettle, whalebone pantry, wood stove and stone hearth, sanded soft wood floors blanketed in rugs hooked with rabbit yarn, spider silk, with millet and flax, temper and mink. Couches with fluffy pillows in all colors, fleece and knitted blankets thrown over their backs or slung on their sides.

There is a table. Sitting there is a woman and she hums softly but never speaks a word. Her mouth is a peony. Her eyes blue marbles, cat's-eye marbles, set into her head, one slightly smaller than the other, a palm is tattooed upon her head and the eye within that palm is open and watching. It blinks slow. She wears skirts of fleece and knit – she chameleons herself into the couches, swaddles herself in comfort. She is planted in the house, grown as plants are wont to do among the forests.

When entering the door, you're not sure if you will spot her. She may have slid herself into the stones of the walls, the eye may be all that you will find, or a lock of hair the color of your mother's (or my mother's, or her mother's). She wears a cameo necklace and the face inside is carved of bone. If you see her, you will kiss her cheek. If you see her you will kiss her necklace, and she will give you grapes, pomegranates, kiwi, lime. You will see the glass-eyes turn from blue to green to gold, and you will be finally home.

➥ Bio