The fat gibbous moon is hours away from dropping beneath the curved horizon. Under that fat moon Nana-Wai glides through her garden, ghostlike. She’s old and there’s not as much of her as there was when she was younger. Her cotton shift, thinned with age and wear, like gossamer wafts in the breeze. It’s as if she is floating. Stiff bones and muscles find grace.Read more.
“Start that over, Tiny Bit,” says Grandmama as she waves an unsnapped green bean at my laptop. “And turn it up for me.”
My finger is still hovering over the touchpad when a wave of crisp, staccato horns crests and crashes from the speakers, receding into violins cascading
into a churning drumroll before that voice smooths the way and invites us to meander a piece down a lazy river.
Brigitte could not remember a time before the suitcase flanked the front door on the right, opposite the coat closet to the left. Just like the faded floral wallpaper, the yellowed silhouettes of the stair-step Schmidt sisters, and the frosted glass sconces in the foyer, no one even seemed to notice the weathered hard-shell Samsonite anymore.Read more.
Where Boys Play Baseball
All the cars are gone except for two. Fearing he’s been left behind or got the day wrong, the leggy Catholic-school boy with blue eyes and string-cheese hair limps up to the dirt lot in tattered Chuck Taylors and a sweaty panic. It’s Wednesday, August 13, 1975, and a hundred degrees.Read more.
Good With Birds
When we were young, my brother Jim once tried to mail a pigeon – a live pigeon, friends – to his girlfriend. There it is. A week or two before school resumed for what was to be his junior year, he had captured it under a laundry basket in an alley behind our house near where the garbage cans dwelt at the rear of the garage. Over much pecking and scratching, Jim had managed to band a love note around one of its legsRead more.
A Doctor in the House
My mother tucked the phone receiver between her shoulder and her ear, lit a cigarette and simultaneously dialed Aunt Rachel’s number.
I left home several years ago, but I’ve overheard enough of these phone calls to be able to recount this conversation. While they lived only two blocks apart and neither of them worked outside the home, my mother and my Aunt Rachel found enough drama in their lives to need to speak to each other every day.
At the Edge of a Long Lone Land
I used to watch her walk the Coast Path every morning through my grandad’s old spyglass. Sometimes, she’d stand rooted to one place, looking out past Pordenack Point at one of the small fishing boats, or a merchant ship, and I could picture her in my imagination as a young Penelope searching for her Ulysses. It struck me at times that perhaps she was looking for a piece of herself out there—that maybe she’d given away a piece of her heart, or perhaps misplaced it.Read more.
It sounded like a creaky door. Or a lazily deflating balloon. Or a territorial humpback moaning out its claim to the waters of the North Pacific.
What it didn’t sound like was lungs. At least not healthy, normal lungs.
Mai Fitzgerald closed her eyes and adjusted her grip on the stethoscope. It was all there—the prolonged expiratory phase, the diffuse high-pitched wheezing, the hoarse… junkiness classic for chronic bronchitis. She imagined the patient’s breath, hot and frantic, scrambling to make it through her tight, scarred airways.
When I wake up in the morning, the snow has stopped falling, but outside my window I see a big mound of the stuff in the driveway. I rub my eyes and sigh, realizing that the mound of snow is actually a car and that I’m going to have to dig it out fast if I don’t want to be late to work. I throw on my khakis and dark green shirt, Harold’s Grocery sewn on the left breast pocket in yellow, loopy script, and then stare back at the car just for an instant to contemplate the freezing temperature of creamed corn.Read more.
The Serpent Papers: Nietzsche, Supermen & the Death of God
The next day, Gilly and I were sitting in The Gold Rail Tavern when the front door swung open admitting the figure of a slender man blown in like a leaf by a bolt of cold air. He stepped into the dimness of the tavern limping in pain, clothes hanging on his bones like a coat rack.Read more.
I always hated driving. More than that, I always hated the backseat, and I always hated riding shotgun, even. I hated it back when I was a little girl in the backseat of my daddy’s Ford Super Deluxe. I don’t know why, really, maybe it’s because someone always lights up a cigarette and chokes up everyone in the car, or maybe it’s the way I get carsick if the windows ain’t up. I don’t know, I just don’t like it.Read more.
Under the Microscope
Deep down, I will always be the pastor’s daughter. While Inspector Corrick has come to Keystone School as a private investigator, my roiling stomach imagines he is a messenger from God, a toad-like minion in the army of St. Peter. Is he here to decide whether there has been a crime committed, and if so, my part in it, or to ascertain whether there has been a moral failure?Read more.
Hidden Hurt in the Dirt
Red-rock shelves that looked like they were sliced away and neatly tiered by an enormous X-Acto knife in an ambitious, yet unsteady hand stood before me. The wall of rusty-red stretched between me and a creek I thought I could hear rushing by on the other side.Read more.
The Missing Years
There are empty spaces in my photo album, gaps in time that float like apparitions in their possibility. Just out of reach, hazy and transparent, like smoke from a Cuban cigar that was there and then, suddenly, gone. I turn the pages, searching for the missing years, but find no trace.Read more.
Six Sleep Stories
My former mother-in-law complained of insomnia. Incessantly. She had a small army of pill bottles lined up on the kitchen counter: Tylenol PM. Tramadol. Valium. Klonopin. Sleep aids. Little helpers.Read more.
“Derwent,” “Sunday” and “November”
The Derwent’s not in any rush. Green surf
Of trees, the rocky crests of peaks now still
Enough to watch their sister wind downhill
And salve exploited wounds of quarried earth.
“Promotion Review in the Afterlife,” “My Thieves Are Lonely” and “Odd Boy”
“We’ve been thinking,” the angels say
(they work for Krishna now—God knows
he’s got too much to do, what with all
that attention the rich demand these days)
“and we’re going to send you back as a cat.”
“There Are No Words,” “Que Será – Mother’s Stare” and “Peace”
“There are no words…” with tragedy
Or times absurd or ends unknown
Is tragic in its own accord
For words may be all that we own
“hate | thirst,” “Sahara’s siren” and “release | remain”
for those that are tempted to drink from the fountain of hate
beware of that bittersweet nectar
even as it feels like honey running down your chin
you will realize its acidic burning nature
as it bores a trail into your soul
“Saturn,” “One” and “Cemetery Walled”
As another moonlight saunters
let’s agree Saturn can set:
the moons will use its rings as a table,
and as euphoric as their blurry mind
can be like
“Listening to ‘The Lark Ascending’,” “Last Hours” and “In Starlight”
I listen to
falls of the lark
in Williams’ grand tribute to
“I Push Back the Images and Climb into Bed” and “What Stays”
The blanket tucks my head away from the world.
My eyelids shut.
My knees fold into my stomach, and then
the plane you boarded to Orlando
crashes in Georgia before you can make your way to me.
“Conspiracies,” “Return to Kansas” and “I See Now”
The random caws of crows
I hear as I unload the dishwasher.
I look out to see three birds gathered
round the war memorial
and the flag.