It was after midday when the sound of an airplane interrupted the tranquility of my forested home. I was standing on my second-story deck drinking a cup of coffee, and what caught my attention was the proximity of the aircraft, which seemed closer than usual. Moments later the engine began sputtering in short bursts—blat, blat. . .blat-blat-blat. . .blat. Then it went dead silent.Read more.
“Hey, it’s me. Again. I was just calling to see if you had a minute to chat. I guess you’re away from the phone or busy or whatever. Which is cool, I get it. But, um, I’ve been alone for a while now. Couple weeks or months or something and it, uh, kind of gets to my head you know. I saw a bird at the bird feeder today. Very dull, small. Probably a sparrow. But still a bird, can you believe it?Read more.
Path of Service
For years after her divorce, Fay had trouble referring to her husband by name. My husband, she would say, and then eventually, my ex-husband. Doesn’t he have a name, newer friends or colleagues would ask, laughing, and she would relent. Desmond. Des, she would make herself think. Des, Des, Des.
The archangel hadn’t asked for his name. No name had come up between them that day in the mineral pool under the high Colorado sky
A Burst of Ginger on the Tongue
Jacob’s death had left her disoriented about time and place, as if she were inhabiting two worlds at once, like a child standing on a schoolyard map of the world, one foot in China and the other in Africa. But normal chronologies no longer interested her anyway. She once had the notion that her life would move forward on a continuum toward a fixed point in the future.Read more.
Deliver Me: A Pocho’s Accidental Guide to College, Love, and Pizza Delivery
Giangrande getting on me for my lack of ambition still stings. Even here, with what I am about to do, I can’t completely pry it out of my head.
The weather is uncommonly pleasant for mid-November. Crissy Field is bustling with people playing frisbee, walking their dogs, enjoying picnics in their sweaters, some even wading into the cold water of San Francisco Bay with their pant legs rolled up.
Sleep of Bronze: An Iliad
What if it was a god?
Shivering, I look down. Parched earth. Withered vegetation. My own bruised feet. I feel the might of the heat on the back of my neck. The stream, its life-giving waters too close to bear, might just as well be flowing beyond the horizon. What’s below is hard as stone, what’s above is just as heavy. Me, I am petrified.
As dawn breaks, sunlight creeps into the mostly deserted parking lot of a decrepit convenience store. Abandoned items and trash litter the pockmarked asphalt. An exhausted young woman sits in the front seat of a filthy Chevy, so dirty, it’s hard to tell what color the car used to be. Kate slowly peels back the wrapper of a candy bar but does not consume a bite.Read more.
“Why I Wear the Hijab” and “Octopus”
اماذا أر تديي الحجاب
The clouds are filled with rain
but they do not bring rain
just like a woman
does not bring any current
so, look again
I was watching a gothic tableau play out from the corner of a hospital room. A pale girl lay on the bed below. Dark hair on white pillows. White sheets between her legs stained with blood. I felt compassion for the pale girl and the three people bending over her. Two nurses and a young doctor. A cry caught in his throat. “We’re losing her!”Read more.
“Is This Thing Loaded?” “Junk Mail” and “New(s) Headlines”
It’s late, and I’m doing the last dishes
of the day. I rinse them, swing the door down,
pull out the lower rack, and then
I sigh. Every time.
Someone designed this machine with a lot of thought.
There is a right way to load it.
Hope is what filled Helga’s letters, in fact, they were overflowing with hope. Hard to imagine so much hope inside a prison cell. That first year awaiting trial moved slowly, with little to do inside that cell. Helga was in solitary confinement for over eight months.
My mother and her sister, Helga, were part of the resistance in Nazi Germany. As teenagers they worked as couriers, smuggling anti-Hitler newspapers across the mountains from Czechoslovakia into Germany.
“A girl called Time,” “Sleep” and “Sunfall”
Once she’d been busy,
hard to get in touch with,
too cool for the likes of me.
Now she’s here to stay,
not leaving me for a second,
Bobby’s Irish Goodbye
It’s always been remarked upon in my family — by family I include all my cousins — that whenever there’s a large gathering, my brother Bobby, youngest of all the twenty-one cousins, will slip away unnoticed, thus aptly demonstrating the “Irish Goodbye.” He began his disappearing act at the age of two and a half.Read more.
“Glass Coffin” and “See You at the Air Down”
I’m not going to be famous,
but my kids might remember me.
Perhaps I’ll have the luck
to kiss a child and be forgotten,
a lingering creation left upon the earth,
consumed by a mad dash to replace us all.
“Busy Being Eve,” “Bright Highway” and “A Sort-of Sonnet for the Night In”
She drowns on the sofa for two weeks. But each day she makes herself rise and wobble to the kitchen for water, a bite of toast. The blistering pain in her pneumonia-filled lungs causes her to grab the counter as if it’s an overturned boat, yet she hangs on, gasping for dear life.Read more.
“What I Learned from Someone I Love” and “Exploring”
Tell your kids that love is essential
but do not love yourself.
Keep a spider inside your shoulder.
Let it tuck itself there
as it protects a lead ball
residing in your stomach.
Flanked By These Heroes
One hundred stitches winding like a leafy vine across his backside kept Dorrey on his stomach and abruptly delayed his induction into the army. The weapon that wielded the damage had been the sharp edge of a tin can top, just an innocent bystander minding its own business. The blame lay somewhere between Dorrey, a fifth of Jack and a group of our friends gathered at a going-away party.Read more.
The Black Rose
I turned the uncut stone three times over in my hand. It was rough and coarse, but he explained to me that it was imperative it wasn’t altered. He said the process stripped away at it, and if I wanted it to “harness the powers of the earth” as he said, I needed to keep it the way the earth made it. Or in this case, the moon.Read more.
Spine of Empire
Three days after the avalanche, Onderdonk arrived in his private car. “There she is,” Roscoe said, having let go his end of a plank, smiling a dirty, squinted smile. “Miss Eva, and ain’t she a bee-yute.”
Emil dropped his end and a flurry of snow clouded up. When the snow cleared, he saw the car. It looked more like an oversized trolley from his Barbary Coast days than a railcar. . .
McPherson Women’s Prison 2018: age 80
The clouds look higher than usual this morning, far above the razor wire and guard tower. The bored officer paces slowly, checking her watch every few seconds, sipping her tepid coffee at the start of the morning shift. My hour in the yard is early, right after shift change, morning haze still thick across the fields.