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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...
Fun for Everyone Involved

Fun for Everyone Involved

I lived with my father in a pink duplex. I slept in a brown velour recliner on a jalousie-windowed porch. My father, Fred, slept in a king-size bed that filled the bedroom, and I never went in that room, it was all mattress. The pink duplex was on a dirt road, MacCleod. Interstate Highway 4...
One Hundred Days in India

One Hundred Days in India

In India, a dog, a monkey, and a cow attacked me. My husband would say the cow nudged me, but he didn’t feel the horn in his hip. The monkey left marks. As we exited the airport, we watched the slums of Mumbai unroll for miles in all directions. Each home, constructed from cardboard, tarps,...
Home Bodily Repair Kit

Home Bodily Repair Kit

I Hair Painting The cuticle of the hair must be opened so that dye can reach the cortex. Open-heart surgery used to require breaking the whole chest apart. All spiritual traditions say you have to lose your life to find it. My body is losing itself, my hair is losing its pigment. More than 75...
I Remain Very Sorry For What I Did to the Little Black Kitten

I Remain Very Sorry For What I Did to the Little Black Kitten

I remain very sorry for what I did to the little black kitten. The woman who lived at the end of the cul-de-sac had a litter of cats, and she was looking for people to take them. She said that they would be dead in five days because she was going to take the unclaimed...
Liner Notes for the Debut Album From the Band We Never Formed

Liner Notes for the Debut Album From the Band We Never Formed

For M, J, C, and S. Track 1 There was that time we almost died, which is to say every day because that’s how life works, but in particular this is about the night we took the back way and then the dark shortcut around the back way, and the road went downhill and farther...
Lessons of the Body

Lessons of the Body

Algebra 101 There’s X and there’s Y, those star-crossed variables, exuberant arms yessing the heavens in their crazy equation in front of U and every 1 causing I, upright and uptight, to whisper to fat, unpopular O: That X, she’ll spread her legs for any 1. Sure enough, I has X’s number: Y goes into...
For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

She was still alive when the doctors started. They first carted off her breasts. Both glands at once, after the cancer. Next, patches on her arms stippled like ostrich skin, burned a syrup-thick hazel from sailing trips in the Whooping Crane up and down the salt-slow gulf. They’d begun taking from her ages ago. Begun...
Carolina/Tennessee

Carolina/Tennessee

It’s true, I find signs because I look for them, but there are more carcasses roadside, half-baked by the sun, more cops, all gunmetal gray and flashing blue lights—stop, slow down—so I park under a live oak outside an abandoned gas station just west of Florence, South Carolina, and let smoke drip from between my...
You’re the Tower and I Am Rapunzel, She Says

You’re the Tower and I Am Rapunzel, She Says

And I let her climb my back, feet and knees knocking hard on the backs of my thighs, my kidneys, my neck, before she settles herself on my shoulders and calls for her Prince to come and rescue her, to come and take her away from this tower, to teach her love, and she says,...
Elegy with Ghosts, a Burning City and Many Special Effects

Elegy with Ghosts, a Burning City and Many Special Effects

In the filming of The Crow, the only son of Bruce Lee is shot and killed while making a movie about a man who gets shot and killed. Detroit is on fire. It’s Devil’s Night. Sirens everywhere. In the movie version of this essay, he’s resurrected and seeks revenge. In this way, he reminds us...
Go, Jim Dandy

Go, Jim Dandy

Sandy carried a vial of patchouli oil wherever she went. We walked everywhere in our Converse high-tops. She was almost always restless; I was almost always bored. In October we hitchhiked 175 miles to find a stringy college boy I had a crush on. A carload of guys picked us up and asked if we...
Imprint

Imprint

The siphoning happens as it always happens. A tingling beneath the skin of her breast announces an increased flow of milk from duct, a burning sensation, and relief when the sucking deepens and her flesh begins to deflate. Her fists and feet seize, attempting to master the quaking in her shoulders and thighs—emptying oneself to...
Landlines

Landlines

We ran for ringing phones. Loitering in front of Sbarro, sweating through our bomber jackets, our hair partially shaved and streaked blue. We looked tough in our Docs (though not so tough as we thought), and at one ring, maybe a two hundred-foot clip, we’d abandon the food court to get there first. More often...
Falling

Falling

He was a smart-mouthed, cocky little boy, that fall they entered the fourth grade. She was shy, awkward, with the early beginnings of adolescent acne and a jumble of overlapping teeth still three years from braces. She had never liked a boy before. Her mother, a third grade teacher, called the boy a hood. You...
Ordinary Shoes

Ordinary Shoes

I’m not a graceful child. I bump into furniture, spill drinks, wake with bruises for no discernable reason at all. I trip over carpets, stain my shirts the minute I walk out the door, and my lank hair slithers free of any barrette. But when I put on my roller skates, I turn into a...
All or Nothing, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Seven

All or Nothing, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Seven

It’s all empty beer cans and skinny dipping. (Bud Light and chlorine.) A guitar player with a beard who won’t let go as hard as you do. It’s teasing the strings of your orange bikini while he tosses his trunks onto the stone. It’s the ease of your body through dark water. The day he...
Cake

Cake

At the edge of the counter, on a plate and wrapped in plastic, was a single wedge of cake. Not just chocolate cake, but German chocolate, layers of sodden coconut and crushed nuts bound by nectar as sweet, I imagined, as the honey drop I once sucked from a trumpet-shaped petal of a columbine. I...