String, Too Short

String, Too Short

We are a house of notes. My husband, a night-owl artist, writes to me in the dark of the quiet house as I fall into dreams. I awake to fluorescent sticky squares, legal pads, and junk mail envelopes on which he has jotted doodles and reminders, jokes and nicknames, references to art and news, proclamations...
The Domestic Apologies

The Domestic Apologies

Apology to the Fish If I’d known how poorly I keep fish, I’d never have allowed such a large tank. Apology to the Dog You have a dog bed in nearly every room, and I’m not sure what you think we are trying to tell you. I will try to walk you more often, but...
Chronology of the Body

Chronology of the Body

Five Years My hair is never brushed, and I always forget to sit with my legs crossed, ladylike, and for the longest time my only friend is Matthew Bickle. On the first day of school, he wears a red t-shirt, which sparks a heated debate amongst my classmates. “Matthew’s wearing a girl color!” Someone says,...
The Alchemist

The Alchemist

Here is the dilapidated residence of Dr. Anthony Galante who retired from teaching chemistry at Nauset high school to work on his experiments to turn one thing into another, with the goal of getting rich. He fails, year after year, to turn foil into silver, water into fuel, fabric into armor—he came close with the...
Identity Theft (Side B)

Identity Theft (Side B)

Origin Story Smoke-thin memories penciled fast as you can while your mother breathes ghosts from the end of a line you can feel cannot touch the words on the paper reaching like seeds seeking like roots for who you are who she was and why you left your left ear goes numb to the sudden...
An Indian in Yoga Class: Finding Imbalance

An Indian in Yoga Class: Finding Imbalance

Sukhasana My intent for the day’s practice: become more Indian. As an Indian from Indiana who has never been to India, I want to get in touch with my roots, and doing yoga seems like a fun way to do that. Ommmmmm As we flutter our eyelids open, Brittany, the instructor, says, “Today we’re going...
We Are Children and Cowards and Frauds

We Are Children and Cowards and Frauds

You Are a Child, a Coward, and a Fraud After you left, I wrote an essay called “You Are a Child, a Coward, and a Fraud.” The essay had three paragraphs: one about your childishness, one about your cowardice, and one about your fraudulence. It seemed self-serving, so I added a section about how I,...
Neighborhood Walk, Halloween Week

Neighborhood Walk, Halloween Week

From her seat on the red wheelchair, Mother points There, and now There, to the plastic gravestones haunting the perfectly edged lawns, and—Look there, she calls as we pass a skeleton fastened to a child’s tree swing as if waiting for a grown-up to send it sailing. Nearby, it’s recess time on the Catholic school...
Bewildered Passengers

Bewildered Passengers

Although no adult had declared it off-limits, the trainyard gave off the creosote smell of the forbidden. The place felt dangerous, with grass tall as our thighs, insects buzzing, grasshoppers springing this way and that in the brittle summer heat. It was the kind of place where I always seemed to end up with Patrick....
A Black Hairstory Lesson

A Black Hairstory Lesson

There was the year micro-braided, brokenhearted girls sang Ashanti in prayer circles, their sopranos trapped in their sinuses, the incantation to be unfoolish neutralized by the next shape-up with a pair of Butters. Then the year triple-X-tee’d boys-will-be-boys broke down the name of Osama bin Laden into call-and-response, pounding the battered faces of lockers to...
Dear Editor, Who Made the Remarks About Not Wanting Walmart Poems

Dear Editor, Who Made the Remarks About Not Wanting Walmart Poems

The first thing I thought of was writing an Ode to an LOL, these little dolls that come in ovals that you open to find a different one (surprise!) that my six-year-old daughter is obsessed with and that my wife sneaks off to Walmart to find in the check-out line and bring them home and...
Midnight Baseball

Midnight Baseball

Mrs. Dufek says if people could travel at the speed of light we could go from one side of Earth to the other in the time it takes to snap our fingers, and even though I’ve never left Wisconsin and I’m no Jeannie saved from a bottle on a deserted island by my very own...
Main Street Revisited (Minnesota, 1989)

Main Street Revisited (Minnesota, 1989)

Walleye and sweet corn. Five Star and Pepsi on my father’s breath. That summer Lizzie and I waited tables at the breakfast and chicken joint while Emily, the preacher’s kid, worked the cafe down the street. Pastor Dan wasn’t out of the closet yet.  We walked booth to booth with hot coffee for the retired...
Daddy Vérité

Daddy Vérité

The way I remember it, my dad rests his elbow on the rolled-down window. He smokes a Pall Mall. But when my husband tracks down a DVD of the film, the 1969 documentary on Simon & Garfunkel called Songs of America, I fast forward to my father and there’s no elbow, no cigarette. He looks...
Constellations

Constellations

1. Dr. A, my mother’s handsome Bolivian neurosurgeon, lost his father on Everest. I pictured whorls of snow, a worthless compass and a man, stepping out into thin air. I was slightly in love with Dr. A, and so was my mother. Her first appointment, she said, “I know you’re married, but this is serious....
My Bodhisattva

My Bodhisattva

I was doing my daily meditation but also aware I was hungry and craving a hamburger and thinking about getting takeout from the bar down the street with its gruff bartender who always writes up the order, which last time and the time before and, yes, the time before that wasn’t ready by the promised...
The Farmers’ Almanac Best Days for Breeding

The Farmers’ Almanac Best Days for Breeding

The Farmers’ Almanac was not the first book to which we turned—there were stacks, volumes, before it. So many more up-to-date sages willing to show us the best way to make a baby. Best is the wrong word; the most successful way to make a baby. It was only after months of desperation that we...
Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades

Oscar Wilde wrote in The Picture of Dorian Gray, “It is a sad truth, but we have lost the faculty of giving lovely names to things. The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for.” I wanted to be a...