Ori Fienberg lives in Roxbury, MA and works as a Writing Specialist in the Foundation Year program at Northeastern University. He's had writing published in many journals including The Cincinnati Review, Diagram, The Nashville Review, Pank, and the MidAmerican Review, where his piece was an Editor's Choice for the 2011 Fineline Competition. He received his MFA in Nonfiction Writing at the University of Iowa. Links to other publications can be found at ojconfesses.blogspot.com.
Chickadees are not generally known to travel during winter. This is
because they must keep the promises they made to trees. The company of
their fluttery brown bodies reminds the branches of late autumn leaves
and flirtatious conversations with the breeze.
While birds are not keen conversationalists, generally preferring
grubs to words, they feel sorry for these tall, strange, things that
recently lost their brightly colored wings.
Birds understand the wishes of trees, and though they have no more
fruit or seeds, winter is the finest time for sharing secrets. For
instance, if you address a falling leaf by its true name before it
wafts to the ground, the tree must grant you a wish.
Midnight of the Caramel Eaters
Long after the muscular pullers of salt water taffy have sunk into
their post summer stupor, the mid-autumn moon makes a firm ball in the
sky. Its light extrudes softly against cellophane clouds.
It takes all this time for the solstice slurry to be batched, for the
fat of the land to mix with clean sweat and certain memories and for
the earth to slowly stir. The heat spreads fragrant plumes of mist
throughout the sky and then, finally, the air begins to cool and the
concupiscent candy, caught at the cusp of the seasons, begins to
The eaters fling handfuls of cubes high above, open their mouths, and
begin to chew. Soon tendrils stretch from mouth to mouth; they cannot
stop till they are sated, till midnight has passed.
When the results of the X-Ray returned, the boy learned the seeds
weren't just in his stomach: thousands floated through his
bloodstream, pumped confidently through his heart, cushioned his
steps, and, though he earned excellent grades, his brain was mostly
Though they had never seen anything like it, the doctors were
unperturbed. We can scoop them out if you like, they said, but it's
an elective procedure.
His parents continued to fret -- worried birds would sense the prize
that lay just beneath the surface of their son. Even so, the boy was
happy; he drank as much water as he could, and waited impatiently for
something to grow.