Unraveling BY Jennifer Brinkley We were strung like this fragile strand of pearls. I guess it was always destined to break. To fall to the floor, a hollow clatter, An echo of days wasted, of words said and unsaid. I drop to my knees to try to collect them But they have already scattered To the four corners of this space. I do not have the energy to stand back up So I will just sit amongst them. My fingers search for a smooth sphere. Just one, if I could find just one smooth pearl in this dimming light. Instead my touch seems to find only jagged edges. Unkind thoughts and harsh words spewed in anger. Thoughtless actions, doors slammed, children crying. How hard would it have been to be gentle? To have bitten my tongue, to have turned my head? Even the strongest rope unravels over time. But we were never strong, were we? At best we were like this thin thread I am holding. Now it is left without its beauty. I wanted you to wear this but you tucked it away. “To save for special occasions,” you said. I never once saw it around your neck. Guess I didn’t make our life too special. The kids drove me home after the service. There wasn’t much to say, they had to get home to their own babies. They made sure I had something to eat, tidied up the house. You taught them well. I’m not sure what I taught them all these years. I tried for a while but then it just became too easy to stop trying. To let you carry the weight. To watch you from the sidelines. Now here I sit, too old to play in the game. I am left without my beauty. Like this lifeless string in my hands. Jennifer L. Brinkley is a lawyer, professor, and writer in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Her poetry has previously been published in Handful of Dust Magazine, The Blue Pen Literary Magazine, Still Here: VLP Magazine, The Notebook: a progressive journal about women & girls with rural & small town roots, and issue. Zero Literary Magazine in Paris, France. Her nonfiction works have also been published in newspapers in Lexington and Bowling Green, Kentucky.