Water. All my life it came out of a tap every time I turned the knobs on the kitchen sink or wanted a hot shower. It always worked that way, always would. I was an otherwise science-and-planet-aware, touchy-feely tree-hugger type, but took water for granted for thirty years. I confess this. I swam in pools full of the stuff whose existence in this world began the second it left the nozzle of the garden hose or kitchen faucet. This was true until I found water 1981.Read more.
Sitting upright in bed, wearing his blue checked, button-down shirt, his long, spindly, legs outstretched, covered by his crisp cotton pajamas, my husband’s eyes were closed. His arms were slightly bent at his sides and reaching forward just a bit. His palms were turned upward toward the sky. The room was silent. Some may have seen it as a moment of confusion. I saw a moment of profound communion. Or a gesture of gratitude. It was a holy moment.Read more.
La Vieja, Santa Ana
I hadn’t planned on stopping again until after we’d crossed the border. We’d filled the tank and used toilets at a Pemex in Hermosillo. From there it was only a few hours to Nogales, hot dusty hours stretching into desert when a burst of pain, like a metal hammer bit into my driving heel and shot like lightening up my hip.Read more.
Like compliant worker bees, Brian and I reported for our blood tests even before they became mandatory. His employer had sent out a message offering two-for-one discounts at local restaurants for showing a test receipt. The message reminded us that getting tested was our patriotic duty and a big step toward bringing the epidemic to an end—the standard drivel.Read more.
Randine: Letters to a Midwife
Randine clutched her belly, seized by a spasm of pain unlike anything she had ever felt. She was terrified. She wasn’t sure what to do, what to expect. Would she die? Would her baby survive? She wanted her mother—Mama! She would know what to do. She remembered this dream as though she were still in it, felt the stab of their absence, tried to hold on to an image of her parents loving her. But when she looked again, only Hella and Holda were smiling.Read more.
All Sorrows Can Be Borne
He told me that our son, Hisashi, would be better off living with his sister and her husband in America; I was too weak to argue with him. My mother said I had lost my mind to give up my child. Her judgment of me was cruel, but I knew she was right.
“You are like a monk for three days,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“You give up too easily. You carried your baby for nine months; you took care of him for three years; and after all that you give him away. What was the point of that struggle? Do you not love him, Noriko?”
The Law of Return
My father was playing guitar with Guns N’ Roses when he died in a nightclub fire. The club was an old airline hangar packed with polyurethane to hold in the A/C, which was running against an epic Florida summer. Someone, it was conjectured, lit a cigarette in defiance of the law. Meanwhile my dad was playing Izzy Stradlin’s old parts: rhythm lines, easy to miss. His fate was sealed in seconds. As was yours.Read more.
“When I lost the woman I loved, I knew it was because she was afraid of me. I saw it in her eyes… the fear….”
This was how I began my first ever face-to-face colloquy with my first ever and only psychotherapist at forty-six years of age. She thought I was talking about my wife from whom I was recently separated.
There and Then
Late one night, dangerously late, at that hour when stillness and darkness cloak the sleepless, and when an aching heart silences reason, Angie posted to Twitter.
The days are long, the nights are cold. I miss you, still.
As a rule, Angie does not speak from the heart, not in writing, and certainly not on social media, which she largely disdains. She’s a scholar.
Deidre Moon and the Secret of Carl Jung’s Castle
Clipped to a rope line at the summit of Dufourspitze, Deidre Moon was on top of the world. The panoramic view unfolded beneath a sapphire sky. An amphitheater of four-thousand-meter peaks poked through a swirl of clouds. Italy to the south, the Matterhorn to the west.Read more.
Von Lindemann’s Proof
The warehouses lining the arrival and departure lanes of the space port are constructed out of red brick instead of the traditional glass and steel common to the colony of New Guadeloupe. They tower high above Leif, as he dashes in between them through an alleyway. Surely, he cannot keep this tempo up for much longer.Read more.
“Put lice on pillow,” Anan said. “Efa woman annoy you, put lice on pillow. Dat’s how you break da connection.”
Anan and I were sitting on a bench on the quay by the St. Laurence River.
“Is that an old country adage?”
“I don’t know dis word, adage. You want get rid of da old lady, put lice on pillow. Next you know, she kick you out.”
The Prince’s Gargoyles
They were circling again, their leathery wings flapping slowly, noiselessly. Through a small square window lodged high in a stone wall of my cottage, I could see a large gargoyle passing just in front of me, so close that I could have touched its gray, scaly hide or wrapped my fingers around its slender neck if not for the barrier between us.Read more.
I was not alone. Every resident I knew had toyed with giving up. Even though I was several years older than the others it was still, sometimes, simply too much: the workload, the hostile or uncooperative patients, the long hours, the smug attending physician who, even at this juncture of our education, conveyed the impression that if we so much as considered quitting, maybe we should.Read more.
Edward and Marcia had got into the habit of walking along the cliff-top at dusk. What, here on Auskerry, Edward was tempted to call the gloaming. The sultry day was much cooler now and, indeed, would soon be cold. At this latitude the summer sky was still pale, but the first stars could already be made out. Marcia had something she wanted to tell Edward and Edward did not want to hear it.Read more.
Pecan Pie and Psychosis
Please don’t be dead.
Yet June knows the words in her head are hollow. Insubstantial. He has either done it right this time, or he hasn’t, and she can’t do shit about it if it’s the former. She hates it in here. She and Johnny always joked that the hospital’s waiting room was like depression cramped into airless chemical space. It makes her want to retch. As if she is looking into a glass of curdled milk and knows she has no choice but to gulp the lumps down.
“Three Questions,” “Exposed!” and “Flowers & Rebozos”
The baby boy comet will need a new kidney one day.
Robot cat understands found objects become body parts.
Eyes as stars watch this womb of bountiful fruit.
His birth among biospheres—containers of blue, green,
and orange leaves falling like tears. Later, waves of salad
and feathers toss the young child. He recovers and stands
“Helter Skelter” and “Lost”
My camp counselor spoke of Charlie
as if he was sitting there
next to us at the bonfire,
the orange flames flickering across her face.
a teenage girl,
into a gruesome jack-o-lantern.
“Did You Know,” “Peace” and “Apollo 17”
Did you know? Nature
sprang fully formed from the furrowed brow
of Man at the moment he wiped
the smog from the glass and saw
mirrored the long tilt-angled slide
follow, ineluctable, the set-piece denouement
of wild ranges on his barren scalp;Read more.
“The Chola and Llorona,” “Dope” and “Scooby Doo Backpack”
Doesn’t myth belong to everyone? I have two tios and they
are barely older than me and mi hermano. One is four years older,
the other six and when we lived together in my grandparents’ house
in Douglas Arizona they would take us for long walks, sometimes at
night and tell mi hermano and yo about la Llorona.
“Named,” “Luz” and “Body Memory”
Ten minutes out of the harbor and already
Someone sights the singular spray that means
We are in their presence. We line the railing
Ready to take communion.
Two young fin whales swimming shallow
Like some cosmic dance, arch breathe dive
Spray spume shine all grace
And the gladness rises in me
“What the Buddha Teaches,” “Marking Time” and “Researching a New Text”
The Buddha teaches
Cessation of desires as
The key to Nirvana.
Life is like a wheel
Spinning on many levels,
Or like an old, but
Fast moving merry-go-round.
“Leaving,” “Belief Beyond Seeing” and “Chipping Away”
The sun is not shining at 3am when the phone rings
and I hear the doctor cut your cord to my dreams,
offering no suture, no receiving blanket.
The sun is working somewhere
dictating time with truth or dare while you are falling;
even the moon is hiding.