The tough girls stand in the bathroom, applying Lee press-on nails. Simone’s their leader, and she leans against the grey cinder block and hotboxes a slim menthol cigarette. Her bangs fan up toward the ceiling, stiff and shining with extra-hold hairspray. They are epic. I shrink into my stall and hide behind the scent of glue and smoke and the iron of the trash bin where we throw our used pads.
Months ago, the bombs arrived in formation, hovering like blimps. At first, we thought they were participating in a military exercise, that they would be leaving soon, but they remained in place, silent except for a barely audible buzzing that disrupted our cellphone signals and our cable reception. “You’re blocking our sun,” we shouted at the bombs. “Our gardens are dying,” but there
We stay in the same room together, Vivien and I, even though the other rooms are empty. I sit at the table, and she sits across from me, we change places when we feel like it—we don’t need to turn on the lights in order to see each other. Sometimes I agree, other times Vivien does. If one of us turns away the other has already turned away. When one of us drops something one
My father was an oysterman just like his father before him—and just like I would have become had things not turned out the way they did. By the end of the sixties, the Bay was in poor shape, and the men who worked the water and drank at the bars at the marina could see the writing was on the wall. Action groups were starting to form around the idea of “saving” the Bay—whatever that meant—and
I’m opening another before I’m finishing, with no reliable internet, with a paperclip to up & down the zipper on my green coat, with you except you’re not you & you’re wherever you are, in an apartment full of me & my quiets, in a city full of the kind of air that will leave you behind. I wake up full of windows & flowers—I did not dream of the thing we talked about
Self-Portrait as a Turkey Vulture
Must be some kind of man’s vertigo-
I’m Judy, I’m Madeleine, I’m Marilyn
Monroe in a black bobbed wig.
O Periphas, I’ve been your wife in bed,
a sign as pure as dove’s feathers, purer
than battery acid. But this is what pity
from the gods will do-I’m a red balloon
filled with rocks. Cotton my ivory mouth
with your vitriol, your anthrax-and, smiling,
I will swallow on the count of ten.
A Sign of Summer
A month from
Carpenters hammer below the shaded window. I rise from bed, light a cigarette, and walk to the window. The stony street displays the stillness on which buildings stand. It isn’t possible to be young again, yet a common light bathes the cobblestones. Time is the fire in which we all burn. See this windowsill? It shines with its lip of snow. White pieces drift past the cold pane, the smallest color of the small hours. Early morning has begun without us, and yet we are here. What am I now that I was not then? Somewhere down the street a car coughs, stutters, ignites. The day will fall of its own weight. The mystery of beginning, resumes.
My mother got me started on t’ai chi when I was a little kid, no more than five or six, I think. We used to go together to her class on Thursday nights at the elementary school gym. She sort of dragged me along.
The man who taught us was graceful, because of his balance, but it wasn’t a dancer’s grace, it was animal-like, controlled. When he put his foot down somewhere, you felt nothing
Everything could have been different, yet all remains the same. For years Batgirl circled the globe, her eyes puddled with tears. Euripides, I’m told, despite his fame, clipped toenails in solitude. What I mean to say is, be patient with me, I’m lolling on the banks of a thought. I waited while she applied moisturizer to her legs. She resembled in those days a lake of gravy into which I was
A mother whose children go to my child’s school messaged me and four other mothers from the school because she was in a quandary. Corinne is her name. As most of us knew, Corinne said, she didn’t have a good relationship with her sister, who could be controlling and narcissistic.
The truth is, she wrote, she’d been getting along with her sister fairly well these last few months. Then, out of
All that summer my brother, Kevin, padded around the house in the Pink Panther costume my aunt had made him for his birthday: pink pajamas for the body and a matching tie for the tail. The pajamas were thick and sort of velveteen. Despite the fact he was prepubescent, after about a week, he began to stink. He didn’t care. Our washer was broken, and he was unwilling to give up the outfit long enough
“Yep, just fishing for some tires,” said the fisherman. “I only need four. I’ll catch one, one day, and then I’ll only need three more. I’ll catch them, as well. Tires, they float by like glaciers. Like worn, rubber glaciers, and I only need four to get me to where I need to go.”
The fisherman cast his line from the bridge into the churning water of the river. The hubcap struck the
In the four months since my husband died, I dreamt of him only twice. In the first dream, he ate berries, reclining in a shadowy room while our girls played on the floor. What a thrill to see him eating. No tumor blocking the way. No feeding tube. No puking in pink plastic bins, no constipation alternated with atomic diarrhea. His hair had grown back. His body, too. And his clothes: no gown, no
Sumi waits outside the dorm for thirty minutes before Mary, a fellow grad student, shows up. They’re late for the brainstorming session at Wray’s house.
The radio in Mary’s car crackles, volume on high since the windows don’t roll up. There’s a grassy smell inside the car. Sumi wonders if it’s marijuana. The taxi driver who brought her from the airport last week said he could smell weed five miles
Carol brought the baby home and put him in the bassinet, then sat on the edge of the bed staring at him. He slept peacefully while she toyed with a loose thread on the floral quilt. She was young, but not foolish, and she, along with her husband, Dan, both wanted this baby. But what struck her that day, what she hadn’t really thought about until that very moment, was the permanence of this baby.