Jefferson Navicky

Condition of the Air

In the dream, she exclaimed, we’re having a baby! She waited for a reply, but there wasn’t one. The
silence meant no.

I’m sitting in the office, alone, before class. Evening is coming down. I’m hungry and children’s voices
break through the window from the school next door. Cars cruise by at speeds too fast for this small
street. The dream was years ago, and still holds true. I turn the lights off, lock the door, and go to class.

A life without children is full of silence. Grief is like the old air conditioning unit that runs continuously in
the back of the classroom. Is it blowing hot? Cold? I forget it’s even there.


“Condition of the Air” first appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Vol. 70, No. 1.