Walking Opposite by Signe E. Land

I have stopped caring so much about what might be unfit:

leaves piling up, a lawn grown long. The neighbors keep watch,

and I am a lonely soul, walking opposite.

The little leak in my roof, a gutter askew, a broken soffit,

the leaves, and my books piled crazily in every corner pitch

me a shelter in an order I understand. I know I’m misfit,

like the nuthatch on my birdfeeder walking upside down, flipped,

just as my father taught me nuthatches do. My father had the itch;

he too was a lonely soul, walking opposite,

books piled in every corner. And now two blue jays flit

down and chase away the little birds. The nuthatch

doesn’t care too much; she watches the little birds submit

to the blue jays: the chickadees, the finches and sparrows, they slip

aside to hide as the blue jays eat, their brilliant white catching

sun. Bullies can be beautiful, the nuthatch knows. She walks opposite,

waiting for her chance to eat her fill when the blue jays hit

the air, flee the scene; meanwhile, the nuthatch will snatch

what remains and make it her meal. As for me,

I have stopped caring so much that I am misfit;

I rather like being a lonely soul, walking opposite.

Signe E. Land earned an MFA in Writing from the University of Minnesota and a JD from William Mitchell College of Law, graduating class valedictorian. She taught creative writing at St. Olaf College and the University of Minnesota and practiced law in Minneapolis. Ms. Land’s work has appeared in the William Mitchell Law Review, CatheXis Northwest Press, Manifest-Station, Bookends Review, Rivet: The Journal of Writing that Risks, Atticus Review and others. This year, Ms. Land won third place in the Kay Snow Poetry Competition and Second Place in Atticus Review’s Flash Non-Fiction Contest. In 2018, Ms. Land was diagnosed autistic, and she is writing a memoir about the challenges she faced in work and life as an undiagnosed autistic woman.