Jenna Heller

in the backyard
the ticker-tape
of young paper birch
flickers in the breeze
a chain-link fence
keeps the wild out

and you out of the wild
make a headband
from a bandana
tuck a jay feather at the back
venture over the fence
beyond the imposed boundary

explore the jumble of sugar
maple and sycamore
follow faint trails
through hickory and oak
dodge poison ivy
in search of arrowheads

and hammer stones
pick wild strawberries
collect geodes
in one afternoon
strut and stomp
conquer and bellow

with unabashed abandon
loud enough to send white-tailed deer
over crumbling stone walls
past forgotten dams
through invisible property lines
give chase

all the way back
to the river at the high place
back to where brook trout thrive
back to the Aspetuck
back to the seat of the Wawyachtonoc
back to where the end began


Jenna Heller is an American-New Zealander whose small fictions can be found in Flash Frontier, Landfall, Love in the Time of COVID, Hot Flash Fiction, Ghost Parachute, Bending Genres, North & South, Birth, and Meniscus. In 2020, she won the New Zealand National Fiction Day competition – ‘Walnuts’ was shortlisted – and she was shortlisted for the New Zealand Society of Authors’ Heritage Awards (single poem category) and the Takahē Monica Taylor Poetry Prize. She is currently seeking a publisher for her debut poetry collection and is working on a short and small fictions collection as well as a novel-in-flash.