When Notes Fall, poetry by Jen Schneider at Spillwords.com

When Notes Fall

When Notes Fall

written by: Jen Schneider


The doorbell rings –
short, punctuated reminders
of time, as I stall in fast
food grease,
fingernail grime, and grief.

All notes flat

The sink, empty
of the usual evening things,
sighs. No need to prep liverwurst.
No one to serve tea. Nobody
seated at the set table.
Napkins uncreased.

My signature
blueberry crumble,
his favorite after dinner
treat, no longer needed.
He promised he’d return.
He has not.

I wipe my hands
on a dry washcloth, then
shuffle my laced feet. My starched apron’s
pristine state, a sharp contrast to melancholy.

I place my eye
against the peep hole.
Nothing to see. I undo
the chain of my arm’s
embrace. The wooden door
opens and the wind whips.

Greetings, I respond.

My voice flat.

No one answers.
No one sits in the spot
he’d call his favorite
part of home. The aluminum rocker —
tarnished, in need of varnish,
rocks alone.

I extend my range,
hospitality limited,
and call Hello,

A neutral tone.

Across the gravel,
a pair of witches runs. A scarecrow
flutters as a mail truck falters. A hawk circles.

Happy Halloween,
a child in a pumpkin suit calls.

Oh! A soprano.

The first
fresh greeting
since he’s been gone.

I stretch my fingers,
the left still ringed, and
count — seven months
since his passing.

Autumn, his
season. Halloween,
his holiday.

He’d sit in the rocker,
in denim overalls
and a flannel collar,
and wave to passersby.


I’d prepare spiced apple
cakes, cranberry punch,
and dried apricots.
At the foot
of the gravel walk,
we’d place a cauldron
stuffed with small
bags of homemade
molasses taffy.

The children
knew our tune. The
pot typically empty before dark.

Today, nothing.

He’d sit in the rocker,
as he liked to do,
sing “Life’s
sweet at the café”
and whistle –




High notes, always.

now out of tune.

The lace webs
and oil lamps
in the nearby windows,
a tell of an aging couple.

Never did I realize
how easily coupled parts
can wrestle. Since his passing,
I wait and wonder –
if there were an afterlife,
I’d know by now.

My throat swells.

The doorbell rings – again,
I turn to no one.
Or is it him. The rocker
sways. The porch
light flickers. Wind
chimes whisper.

My fella.

I take a seat,
wrapped in his flannel
jacket, and anticipate
my ghost’s
warm embrace.

A small group of trick-or-treaters
giggles somewhere,
and everywhere all at once,
Their voices echo.




notes settle
in crisp leaves

our porch café,
something beautiful –
my fella.

Latest posts by Jen Schneider (see all)