Toward the end, she could only lift a cup of coffee. Closer still, even that became too much for her, my mother. A sponge, then, I’d dip in coffee, or dip sweet bread, and put that to her lips to suck. That was all the cancer let her manage. The IV was her sugar water,
In those days, my dreams always changed titles before they were finished and I wanted only to love in that insane tortured way of poor dear Dmitri Karamazov. Suddenly, I was speaking the language of lapdog and samovar. This is the ballroom, the barracks, the firing squad. This is the old monk with the beard
My parents worshipped at the altar of the present, each moment an opportunity for bickering, for one of them, in their elaborate game of cat-and-mouse—Didn’t you say it was going to rain today? Who put the salt and pepper here, it’s gone in the cabinet above the stove for sixty years—to gain a slight advantage.
The music of the anthem has no boundary, no sworn allegiance, no nation save the one we lower into its dying body. A soldier kneels over a soldier’s grave, and the tune is not the name he reads but the hand that brushes the dirt to read it. If you search the anthems of the
if the body is just a parable about the body if breath is a leash to hold the mind then staying alive should be easier than it is most sick things become dead things at twenty-four my liver was already covered in fatty rot my mother filled a tiny coffin with picture frames I spent
The colors are off. Muted, like a confession. That’s what drew me to it, this rug in the middle of my living room floor. I found it enchanting. We’d lost our first to moths—what could we do? It was their season. I didn’t know how to save things. This one would be different.
Where does it all begin? God is good; woman bleeds. It was the depression or before. You were cooking over an open greasy fire and the house burned to the ground. And you were cutting the heads off chickens and laughing at the horror of them walking backward and dancing. And you were slitting the
I’m talking with Mike over coffee. His wife recently left him. He’s lonely. We’re both carpenters, a couple of old guys in baseball caps plying the trade. We can frame a wall and hang a door, we can read a set of blueprints. But when it comes to women . . . I’m thinking
Of patience, I know only what sea turtles have taught me: how they are born on lightless beaches so the moon can serve as a beacon to lure them into the water; how they spend their whole lives trying to swim towards it, enamored, obsessed; how they flap their forelimbs, a vague recollection of flying—
Even when they danced, Dad couldn’t keep her in his arms. She’d spin off, leave him to fade back into the circle of others, clapping, hooting. Days when the pond would freeze, mothers took their children’s hands and worried them around in slow circles. Mom raced in uncharitable loops past me and