I discovered the babysitter looking through a taboo photo collection with my five-year-old daughter as I stepped through my front door. My quickening heart beat faster and faster and, fearing it could explode out of my chest, I focused my sights on control. Gliding into the living room, I channeled my perfect Stepford-wife-voice, and asked, hey, how was your night?Read more.
The first time I took someone’s life I did so with a whisper.
I was just a child back then. Mamma owned a small pocket-size revolver that she had bought at a discount from a gypsy who was passing through one rainy afternoon, but I wasn’t allowed anywhere near it; therefore, all I had at my disposal to rid the world from the man who had tormented me to the very core of my bones…
At the aptly named Jackson Theater
when you were twelve
you saw John Wayne’s visually ambitious
version of The Alamo
— yet another story already told to you through TV
— and so of course yet another lie.
Nadia Kowalski snuggles closer to her husband, Josef, wrapping the wool blanket tight around them as her breath fogs the cold air. Traveling with all their possessions piled high on their cart has gotten harder as fall moves to winter, but now that a few months have passed with no pursuit from the authorities, they can use the better roads. Nadia watches the mules pull them through the puddles left by the rain. The slow movement and rhythmic clanking of the pots and pans lulls her to sleep.Read more.
In my early, disruptive thirties,
I wondered through
An aimless, broken land,
With a slew of past sins as my guide.
Along my travels,
I found a temple made of marble stone
Standing in the middle of nowhere.
Sleepless cities hate shutting down, but also,
Distancing protocols dismantle congregations in dozy towns.
Trauma afflicts the already jobless.
New York nights avoid turning dark & idle,
Yet theatres close-down & spotlights shut-off,
Covid has proven that seductive consumptions are not worth the cough.
Flying home from Seattle,
A man behind me mentions
The 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
I turn to see if it is you. A crazy thought.
Why would you be here?
Fifteen years since I heard your voice.
Still, I recall its timbre.
When you talked it sounded as if
You had a mouthful of stones.
I walk back from intensive care,
automatically shuffle for solitaire
and report the numbers to siblings
as I try to deal:
pressure urine cc’s and temp,
peeling off the first three cards
and nothing changing.
I’ve read that visual memories
are easier to recall than words,
so when I can’t remember the name
of the tree by the garden hedge
white blossoms in springtime,
I think of our dog, Finn, basking
beneath it, long ears stroking the earth,
know it is a dogwood tree.
Waking at 6:00 am, she would sit all day on a wooden stool,
listening to country music on a radio.
Coffee gave her the neuralgia along her nose, so she gave it up years ago,
drank hot water from McDonald’s Styrofoam cups.
Only bone and sinew, papery, thin skin,
her gnarled hands could crush
plants or animals or a small child.
It was a balmy 97 degrees when he stepped out of his truck into the parking lot outside Sunny Acres Nursing and Rehab Center. He looked forward to the sliding doors welcoming him into the air-conditioned lobby. It was Monday, and just like every Monday at 3 p.m. with a book tucked under one arm and a bag of peppermints clipped between the thumb and index finger of the ipsilateral hand…Read more.
At 6:10 on a March afternoon in Montgomery, Alabama, Ginnie Lackland sat on the steps of Miss Lily’s acrobatics studio, watching her classmates get picked up by their mothers. Ginnie was a big girl, almost seven, who could do front splits and a perfect backbend and was learning to flip herself completely around without touching the floor—what flying must feel like, she imagined. Miss Lily told her to think of a perfect circle.Read more.
Early Christmas morning last year, which happened to be my father’s sixtieth birthday, I was studying for my medical boards in Montreal when my mother called. I found the phone hidden under my placemat on the kitchen table.
“Hi, Mom,” I said when I heard her voice.
“Joelene, your father died yesterday,” my mother said.
She hates waiting. She sits on the third step in this old house and links her fingers together, sure there is nothing she detests more. This lack of control was torture, her stomach twisting, her palms clammy as she pressed them together. It felt as though she were vibrating with the nerves of it all, and yet, here she sat.
She walks briskly through the vast hallways of the Colossal Risk.
Windows upon windows line the exterior of the ship—an enormous ship that cradles hundreds of delicate souls—but she pays no attention to the scenery. On the interior walls, unmarked doorways to unknown rooms—the greenish lights that remind her of sickness—line the seemingly endless miles of corridors.
In high school, my friends played trumpets, French horns, trombones, and Risk—conquering make-believe continents while desiring real girls. We spoke on speech teams, competed on chess teams, sang in glee clubs and choirs. Popular boys played football and shot hoops. My friends and I studied Latin.
One day I made the mistake of telling fellow trumpeter, Nolan Niemeyer, why I couldn’t practice with him on Saturday morning.
Long-Post-Short-Good. It doesn’t take long to become immersed in the ebbs and flows of the call schedule. On Long Days, the medical team admits patients from noon through the evening — each one requiring detailed history, a thorough physical exam, a working diagnosis, and orders for the appropriate nursing care, diagnostic testing, and medications. On Good Days, there are no new patients.Read more.
At ten o’clock on a Sunday morning in late January, the clock on the mantel chimes. I glance up from my record-keeping to stare out the paned window at the falling rain. The skies are a leaden gray, the tops of the trees swaying in the wind.
Nasty weather to be out in.
Grateful for a crackling fire in the hearth and my wool vest, I dip a pen in the inkwell and continue crafting a detailed summary of my last patient’s condition.
A tree fell across the road that leads down to the lake. There was no wind, just days and days of rain. The soil loosened its grip. The tree’s roots stretched to the sky behind yellow caution tape and a Seattle Parks Department truck with flashing lights.
We are, at the moment the tree gave up, 22.5 months into a pandemic, significantly too far into a climate crisis and leaning over the precipice of our democracy.
It was just before 9:00 a.m. Ryan had been sitting in his car at the curb for ten minutes after pulling up in front of the house he’d been looking for. His shoulders were still slumped. The place was about what he’d expected, a ramshackle little bungalow surrounded by a dried-out lawn and a low fence badly in need of paint that was missing pickets on each side. An empty bird bath perched in a bed of dying roses in one corner, a few late blooms wilting through their tarnished foliage. Where the front walk met the sidewalk, a crooked mailbox dangled partway open like a stifled yawn.Read more.