“A Simpler Life,” “The Hike,” and “Ember” by Nikki Isabelo

Posted: June 1, 2014 in Vol. 5: Spring Essays 2014

A Simpler Life

Who or what do

any of us wake up for

Building tall towers

of words and numbers

and fostering dim memories

of the ground we inevitably

always come down to

Mornings on days that

stretch like giraffe necks

for the sweet leaves of summer

These slow dawns shed light

on blind ambition and

directionless motivation

On shortsighted visions of profit

and the vague premonitions

of a half bred greed

Minds wind slowly

with no urge towards speed

Over vast fields of ripe crops

The tips of the many stalks

rippling in unison like a

massive flock of homing pigeons

veering into an updraft

A school of fish by the thousands

turning onward into

the warm Pacific current.




The Hike

This day farther

than ever before

we lope above valleys

towards the islands spine

but not enough daylight

to reach it


I hear far away winds

move towards us

The white clouds to the west

muffle days end

Then the gusts are upon my back

pushing hair into my eyes

as the grass blades rub together

in harmless whispers

On this hill over the island

but under the summit

streets and houses are silent

far below us




Peace and pleasure

Then it’s time for the long walk home




40 weeks turned to 43

burning furnace inside

radiating too much heat

Knees tucked under chin

pushing with forceful exhale

stoking the ember

igniting it into flame


My fire is encircled

then stolen away

by masked faces

their whispers growing




My skin cools, sight diminished

desperately focused to hear

a whimper, a sigh

A cry breaks out to a scream


Masks removed

my heat is returned

Placed to burn upon my chest

Eyes gaze up to meet mine

One flicker and I am scorched

Branded forever by

this miracle of life



Written for Dr. David N. Odhiambo’s ENG 313: Creative Writing


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