Annie Stenzel

Issue 19

Do you need a little darkness
to get you going?

We start with not being ready. The day of my birth
my death began its walk. Time can’t be measured
in days; the good life gives no warning—is a spark between
two identical voids. We forget all too soon; the cradle

rocks above an abyss. The truth does not change
according to our ability to stomach it. Stillness,
silence, serenity are all apprenticeships: why should I
feel lonely? The infinite is not merely a lot more

of the finite. You have to bathe in your own grave. But
thousands of people die every day, and few of them
expected to. It isn’t ever delicate to live.
Nothing is a matter of life and death except

life and death. A person freed of the future
has nothing to fear. We cannot live only for ourselves.

Source & Method

A cento culled from posts on the “WeCroak” app. All phrases gleaned from the following writers, in order: Sallie Tisdale; Jean Cocteau; Jorge Luis Borges; Mark Strand; Irvin D. Yalom; Joan Didion; Vladimir Nabokov; Flannery O’Connor; Federico Garcia Lorca; Henry David Thoreau; Alan Lightman; Pablo Neruda; Sangye Khadro; Kay Ryan; Angela Carter; Milan Kundera; Herman Melville. Title: Mary Oliver

Annie Stenzel lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. Her poems appear in quite a few journals in the U.S. and the UK; her full-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table). See

Photo by Noah Silliman