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Father Joe Jacobs This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Every morning Father Joe Jacobs awoke to the sound of dawn's quiet wind disturbing the copper-green trees outside his window. Every morning he poked his toes into his tattered slippers and threw on his favorite flannel shirt over his soft pajamas. Every morning he walked down the way back stairs leading directly to the kitchen because he liked the smell of the cold, aging wood. Every morning he opened the sliding glass door to the redwood deck and took a deep breath. Every morning he stepped out into the dry air and stared through his own mists of exhalation at the frozen dew drops at the tips of select blades of grass. Every morning he noted the color of the leaves, comparing them to the needles of those proud and cone-studded towers of undaunted green. Every morning these immortals kept watch over the blonde and rusting green that yearned for the fire of change, not knowing that with it would come death. Every morning he scolded the little patches of leafy forest for their impatience. (It should be noted here that Father Joe had always been very patient.)

Every morning, after his assessment of the forest's progress, he stepped off the deck and followed a narrow path through the tall grass, abruptly stopping at a young birch, where he relieved his morning bladder, sending its stream effortlessly into the clearing around the tree. Every morning, feeling the steam rising as his urine drenched the cold ground, he let his eyes follow two or three waves as they roamed through the golden reeds until each dissipated on the dunes at the horizon, while his ears wandered the whistling scales of wind and mockingbird until they melted together in magnificent noise. Every morning, after he closed the door to the outside, he placed the little orange tea kettle carefully on the gas plate and proceeded to rekindle the fire in the stove. Every morning he took the bucket of lukewarm water from the top of the stove and, standing over the sink, splashed his face and hands. Every morning he dried off his brow, his eyes and the rest of his face with a torn terry cloth and sighed, eyes closed, arching his back, and stretching his arms to the sky. Every morning he fell back into a rocking chair after stretching sufficiently and gazed out, through the glass door into the green and golden fields. Every morning he waited until the few round, dark figures slowly passed into, and out of, his field of vision. Every morning the screaming kettle interrupted his peaceful stare just after the last wooly creature rolled out of sight, and he popped up from his rocking chair and made himself tea.

This morning he did not notice any of these traditional migrants of the fields and the kettle's screams never woke him up from his rocking chair. The water in the kettle bubbled over, smothering the fire under it, and the stubborn plate continued to pour gas into the room, almost reaching the wood-burning stove. But, by that time Father Joe Jacobs was already dead. If that morning had been the same as every other morning, had he sipped his tea with black currant preserves, he would have seen the headlines of the newspaper proclaiming "Shooting of bison allowed in Mont." n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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