If We Didn’t Need to Win, Then What?



Manuel Maria

always blinks tightly


with both eyes,

then opens wide


like he has

a startling

piece of news,


or is waiting for it.


I still don’t understand

why his second name


is Maria. An

American thinks


macho means

so many things


that it isn’t.


He brings out the busty statue

of his wife’s great grandfather:


An admiral and commander

of the Spanish naval fleet,


he sailed to Santiago

to break the blockade.


Now, he is a Spanish

hero. And Manuel is


so proud of his wife.

He says her family

is so connected

or important?


That they even print a newsletter.

Back then, Spain

wanted Cuba,


and now Manuel looks

at night for his wife.


She goes about sleeping

while he turns the pages


of beaten words that antes,

had so much longing.

I come on Tuesdays

to sit down with Manuel


and our languages,

these new ways of


wanting to say something

we think we’ve said before.


Today is a history lesson

about the sea,


and the people you can conquer

with a famous fleet.


As he crafts and molds

his words, I wish I could hear


the melody of El Andalus,

or understand a political uniquity.


I wish I couldn’t

see his pain before me,


or the long, bloody sea

stretching out for spaces


that wars and

fleets won’t win.


-Jennifer Sandberg


Noticing and Responding to the Divine

I’m so thankful to have friends who are in touch enough with themselves to care about who they are beyond their flesh and blood bodies. You know what they say about birds of a feather…so today I’m posting a prose piece I wrote during a time when I noticed my response to relationships was strikingly parallel to the way I respond to feeling the Divine in my everyday life. For those of you familiar with the Enneagram, the number five, or the truth of wanting to feel inner-peace while your mind works overtime to hide it away, then you are likely a close or distant feather. We can give the bird whatever name we choose!

A Five’s Letter to the Divine

My love is stingy. I see you set out a tablet in front of me, pages and pages of honey words, pointing to the one true love, to the one joy that kisses the whole body at once. I see the pages and hear them turning; I smell the musty dampness of years this book has been with me. I even lean in close enough for a peek. But usually I close the binding, leave it tucked under dusty things. I carry on living as if this being alone was so sweet.

What can I give you with my calculated peering in, my depression-era recipes to save ten cents…while you run like fire, incorrigible through the clanging stock market, diving riskily into  flailing hands, shouting and dancing for the possibility of one return?

And if I had something to share, how would it sit beside your offer? I’m trying to tell you, “I know, I see, I understand it all…I got it, I got it!” But I feel my airless gasping fully when all you do is look lovingly at my chest, where my heart musters a soft, circular motion. I might be feeling it for the first or the fifth or fiftieth time – it doesn’t matter. Oh, your gaze. The sense that there is no archive of my trying. You think a tally could be hilarious, but it’s almost as useless as penance. You only sing about the sweet reconciliation of my remembering you.

You are like one huge, hollowed room: excruciating for even the most curious visitor. All space, all air, exposed and un-fleshed, waiting for anyone to sit down and feel you stationed in their deepest spaces. While I wonder about peeking into your unzipped chamber, it happens to me. The paradox of feeling you slightly, inside of me. And as a comical gesture that outwits the slyest of guests, you’re off to take a nap when my mind is working its hardest to determine what that feeling means. I want to know how I can inhabit it fully, how I can explain why we can’t get past our need to self-improve and kneel instead in reverence to ourselves. It’s only sudden, like syncopation, that when my mind has stopped looking, you appear from the dreamy haze of your easy slumber, and ask so nicely, “Can I make you some dinner?”

I’m not sure I want this kind of love: its un-contempt and easy gentleness, its rambunctious child without a diagram to chart its wild movements. It devalues my terrain, quiets the chattering of my mind-y elders, and leaves me looking for smooth things that wouldn’t make good weapons.

So maybe I’ll ask you to carry on with your nap. Alone feels more like home than your spacious rooms, than your open pages of honey-basted words, than your unrelenting laughter and always-invitation. I don’t see how it happens, but it does. You stand vigilantly inside of me with a palms-up posture, turning those pages, watching the market, laughing like a child when I peer in and offer nothing. You always keep your widest rooms open for my narrow, tiny giving.

Written by Jennifer L. Sandberg