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By Noelle Sterne


In the two-room, graduate-school apartment,

one-eighth of a brownstone whose only virtue was eleven-foot ceilings,

my new husband,

despondent at the little space,

with a cousin designed and built

a loft bed.

At first, I thought, How innovative, creative, even genius!

Thick wooden planks solid and rich,

matching ladder naughtily bohemian for staid doctoral candidates.

He was proud, elated.

But making the bed required the skills and muscle tone

of an advanced yoga master.

And during sleep, if in the night a pimple broke through on your nose,

it grazed the ceiling.

One morning, suspecting the rest of my life tied to

his incessant impossible highs and lows,

I climbed down the ladder

and walked out.


Noelle Sterne is an author, editor, writing coach, workshop leader, academic mentor, and life and spiritual counselor. She has published over 600 stories, essays, writing craft articles, spiritual pieces, and poems in literary and academic print and online venues. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, for 30 years she has assisted doctoral candidates in completing their dissertations (finally). Her published handbook to assist them is based on her professional academic practice: Challenges in Writing Your Dissertation: Coping with the Emotional, Interpersonal, and Psychological Struggles (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2015). In her spiritual self-help book, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books, 2011), Noelle draws examples from her academic consulting and other aspects of life to support readers in reaching their lifelong yearnings. Continuing with her own, she is draft-deep in her third novel, taking respites with the continued creation of poems. Noelle writes from Aventura, FL.


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