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...
Timberline

Timberline

Here on the edge of timberline, boulders brace the sky. The slope slips ridge by ridge, rippling toward foothills far below. Forests flock the dark, layered and deepening into the thick of it, fringed with light. We are all emigrants in this wilderness that is not, settled centuries ago as migrations followed straights north and...
Notes on Conscience

Notes on Conscience

“The Ayenbite of Inwyt,” Richard Rolle of Hampole called it. Prick of conscience. The voice of God within. Internal wisdom. Tolstoy saw most people seeking to silence it with habit, if not with tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.  See “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?”: “The cause of the world-wide consumption of hashish, opium, wine, and...
Bear Fragments

Bear Fragments

1.  In the High Sierra, her first time sleeping in a tent, my friend Pilar from Barcelona is terrified. She is afraid of bears. She wipes toothpaste from the corners of her mouth, tucks her hair into the hood of her sleeping bag, and cinches it against cool alpine air. She stares at the nylon...
Accessory to Genocide

Accessory to Genocide

Omar was what polite society called a collaborator, what spooks called an informant, what Latino Marines called a snitch, and what some white Marines called a race traitor. Omar was a man of many titles, but only one utility, and I’d forgotten about him in the sweat and sleepless nights of Forward Operating Base Riviera’s...
You Will Find Me in the Starred Sky

You Will Find Me in the Starred Sky

One day you will hear a physicist say we are all made from the bodies of dead stars, and it will feel as if you’ve known it all along. You’ve long suspected there are particles in space bigger than you were at age three, when Ray went after you with his pants around his ankles...
Letting It Be

Letting It Be

My Papa loves to watch the news. He has a chair, angled so that he and the television can be in a line. He plugs his computer in beside him, his lamp above him, the cords hanging within a hairy arm’s length. I think he feels safe there, huddled among the pictures of my mother...
Pieces Dad Mails Me Before He Moves Away: A List

Pieces Dad Mails Me Before He Moves Away: A List

1.  A manila envelope. Our names: “Annalise” and “Dad.” Usually he writes “Annalise Mabe,” and “Logan Mabe.” Usually Dad’s script is rushed, informal, as the pin misses its mark with a hurried pressure. 2. A clear, cubed box with a crystallized lock of my ash brown hair from the summer we traveled to Louisville for...
Blood

Blood

1. In summer, I count the scratches on my arms. Seventeen. Twenty-four. Nine. I don’t know where they come from, then or now. Perhaps my bike, or the leprous bark of the hickory at the corner of Pitman and Coffin. Once, as I stand on the pedals, my bike skids out from under me and...
Naked

Naked

Grandma owned a swimsuit, but she never wore it. She owned other things too, jeans and dresses two sizes small, hanging with tags attached in anticipation of the day they would fit. She wore instead lots of shapeless denim, spent whole days in her dressing gown, loose terry cloth hiding folds of soft stomach. Tonight,...
From There to Here

From There to Here

Things you should know: Before my mother was the world’s best lesbian, she was the world’s best Jehovah’s Witness. She quit one to become the other; the two are not compatible. Before my mother was the world’s best Jehovah’s Witness, she was the world’s best stay-at-home mother. She quit one to become the other; the...
Roots

Roots

I’m sorry I couldn’t pull up those roots. The ones twisting under the pine tree that you and Mom planted when the two of you first bought the land and decided to build a house on it. The ones that, on a blurry August afternoon over a decade later, I tugged at desperately, really I...
Solstice

Solstice

On hot summer Sundays after church, my dad packed the Buick with a cooler, charcoal, and his scratchy old Army blanket. We left the badminton birdies on the lawn next to the racquets, left our bikes in the garage, left the garage door open. Those were the days before our bikes were stolen, before we...
Fifteen-Year Forecast

Fifteen-Year Forecast

Come in. The water will hold you. —Lidia Yuknavitch Water has made its way into every house. It has dripped and trickled and poured in. Down chimneys, through roofs and ceilings. Up from below the ground. And, now, we wait. Tomorrow, settlement on another house, our fourth one. A white-washed brick cottage in the woods....
Shenandoah

Shenandoah

I have frizzy brown hair and I am nine years old and right now my whole universe is a gape—null, nada, total annihilation—and that gape is shaped like a horse. The word Shenandoah sounded like quick-flanked gallop, like tresses flowing mountain-winded, like chestnut shimmering through mist. Like hill and vale (whatever a vale is?), and...
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...
Night

Night

On Sunday I crawled under a ladder while trying to hang curtains with a drill, in an old house that was newly mine, during a winter that just wouldn’t quit. One of the thin iron rods had fallen from my grasp, its hardware scattering like marbles beneath the bed. On my knees, pawing like a...
A Brief Atmospheric Future

A Brief Atmospheric Future

If we’re to believe the neuroscientist Professor Marcus Pembrey, from University College London, who concluded that “Behaviour can be affected by events in previous generations which have been passed on through a form of genetic memory…phobias, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders… [even] sensitivity to [a] cherry blossom scent…” then the pigeon knows of its ancestors’...