Gregory Stenta

In Issue 5 on March 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

“This is why a man leaves his father and mother
and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:24, (HCSB)


My first fall in the city, hotel guests beleaguered
me over blood-spotted towels,

of not enough hand soap and shampoo—
management ordered bleach, prayed for more

guests. —At night behind the desk, I ached
for a woman who would fulfill God’s promise.


Each winter day, boarders passed
in and out of the hotel lobby like dry

snowflakes drifting in the windswept
parking lot. I began to pray feverishly at night.

The ocean and roads were close by. Still, I rested
on the radiator, watched the windows frost over.


In spring, I visited old buildings
with wood beams like bones braced

against the weight of the sky.
Beer lost its taste on my tongue;

the women didn’t speak to me.
I prayed for her again—


—When I left in a year, dust in my hotel room
windows reminded me of the ash that silenced Pompeii,

of the ashes of my mother and father buried
together in the cemetery, of new snow

falling on the city of Portsmouth. On slippery
roads, she drove us home—


A graduate of the MFA in creative writing program at The University of Massachusetts at Boston, Gregory Stenta‘s work has appeared fairly recently in The Ledger Line Journal and Another Book. He currently teaches Academic Writing at Singapore Management University in Singapore.  In the past, he’s taught creative writing to undergraduates and to children in the Boston area.

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