Wings

Wings

It is the early eighties, the start of the civil war in El Salvador, and Maira is a child of the raindrops that come early in the summer. Thousands of raindrops. Maybe millions. Las lluvias. Desperate raindrops that smash into the mountains and the treetops, prod the soil and also the pebbles and flores, the earth forced...
Black in Middle America

Black in Middle America

I spent five years in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—a place I didn’t even know existed until I moved there to attend graduate school. I lived in a town of four thousand people. The next town over, over the portage bridge, had seven thousand people. In my town, the street signs were in both English and Finnish...
Beach City

Beach City

We talked about Miami Beach like it belonged to us, convinced that the tourists who came down to swim in our ocean and dance in our nightclubs were fucking up our city. We were seventeen, eighteen, nineteen-year-old hoodlums, our hair in cornrows, too-tight ponytails, too much hairspray, dark brown lip liner, noses and belly buttons...
New Year’s Day 2016

New Year’s Day 2016

Feeling better because I looked up the verb to watch in the dictionary and its root is to awaken which isn’t sinister and since I was trying to figure out why it creeps me out so much that an old boyfriend is watching Latvian girls on his computer who do what he asks and answer all...
Brevity's 50th Issue

Brevity’s 50th Issue

Our 50th issue, a milestone, and we proudly present some of the finest work we’ve ever shared: stunning essays from Joe Mackall, Rebecca McClanahan, Diane Seuss, Amy Butcher, Shanaz Habib, Cary Tennis, John T. Price, Matthew Komatsu, Heather Kirn Lanier, Jennifer Howard, Micah Dean Hicks, Suzanne Roberts, Sally Ashton, Traci Brimhall, Angela Palm, Kristine Erwin, and...
Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb?  Everybody.

Who’s Buried in Grant’s Tomb?  Everybody.

The snow was falling as I climbed the long stairs. There, beneath the spectacular dome of America’s largest mausoleum, I found— nobody. No one except a single ranger from the U.S. Park Service, that is, whom I found quietly reading a novel.  He looked up at me with an expression similar to that of the Knight in Indiana...
The Heart as a Torn Muscle

The Heart as a Torn Muscle

Overview Your heart was already full, but then you saw him and your heart beat code, not Morse but a more insistent pulse: Oh yes. That’s him. That one. Not The One (The One you already have – and deeply love) but of all the people in that large room far from home, he was...
This Moment

This Moment

This is it. This is the moment our lives crack wide open like a pomegranate and all its bloody bits spread long and wide. One month before my daughter turns sixteen, I stand by the hospital bed, look her in the eye, and ask why. She stares blankly at the ceiling, fidgets with the D-rings...
Overpass Into Fog

Overpass Into Fog

One winter morning after dropping my daughter at daycare, I took the 180 overpass arching into thick fog and, though I knew it well, I couldn’t in that moment be sure where the road actually ended. Suspended between past and future, I disappeared into language and place, weather and love, and I wondered how close...
Breathless

Breathless

I was eleven almost twelve but I looked thirteen when I walked across Orlando toward my father’s apartment on Orange Avenue. (I told him telepathically I was on my way. I can’t stand living with her anymore!) I was thinking: French toast, snuggling with the funnies. I tried different ways of walking: fugitive style, fancy...
How to Fall in Love For Real

How to Fall in Love For Real

At twenty-two, I fell in love with the sales clerk who helped me pick out clothes at the mall. I was in love with my best friend’s wife. I was in love with everything. The sales clerk’s name was Cricket. She was six months pregnant. And for two weeks at sea, I imagined how I...
Old Habits

Old Habits

Almost midnight at ToyJoy, a funky, noisy, toy store swathed in twinkly lights and geometric neon in Austin, Texas. Leila, Burke, and I wander the aisles, shuffling sideways past other late-night wanderers and finger glow-in-the-dark armadillos, hula girls with cowboy boots and tattoos, oversized spiders that hiss and spit. Two men argue near the front...
Fracking: A Fable

Fracking: A Fable

for our grandchildren, with apologies In the past, everything took forever. Rain fell for centuries, and millions of years after that, the ancient Appalachian Basin just west of what is now the East Coast spent even more millennia becoming a sprawling, shallow bowl. And then nothing much happened. Another million years passed. Mountain ranges slowly...
Imagining Foxes

Imagining Foxes

One time, many years ago, when the world and I were young, I spent a day in a tiny cedar forest with my sister and brother. This was in the marshlands of an island the first people there called Paumanok. This little cedar forest was twelve city blocks long by two blocks wide, for a...

Brevity 40 / Ceiling or Sky?

Our 40th Issue, Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions After the VIDA Count, is focused on the important contribution of female writers to the creative nonfiction movement, with strong new work from Judith Ortiz Cofer, Jenny Boully, Sue William Silverman, Laurie Lynn Drummond, Brenda Miller, Thao Thai, Lynette D’Amico, Diana Cage, Kristen Radtke, Sonya Lea, Debra S....
Letter to a Future Lover

Letter to a Future Lover

You were my birthday present; you came to the door—no one else was home; you said “let’s celebrate.” We dropped acid and went to the friend with the nocturnal monkey-like animal and made love for hours. I fell totally, naively in love, so when you took me home in the morning I cried. I thought—but...
The Hard Part of Community College

The Hard Part of Community College

He rarely did homework on time, but really, the assignments weren’t  that great—predictable questions about essays in the textbook, the usual  Becoming Someone or Discovering Your Voice. Still, he wrote beautifully. He always apologized for the state  of his papers, telling me first that time was tight and then that computer  access was limited and...

Issue 37 / Fall 2011

Issue 37/September 2011 includes Rachel Smith, Charles Bethea, Darlene Pagán, Alexis Wiggins, Thomas Gibbs, Dionisia Morales, Joe Bonomo, Gary Fincke, Mark Yakich, Anna Vodicka, Brenda Miller, Pauls Toutonghi, Katherine Riegel, Sean Finucane Toner, Lori Jakiela, and Caitlin Horrocks as they take off their shoes, visit the epicenter of the sexual revolution, listen to Walter Cronkite, and...