Posts tagged "sensory_detail"
Xenia

Xenia

They brought food on Tuesdays because my mother’s chemotherapy happened on Mondays. Later, when my mother was regularly hospitalized, they rang the bell on Thursdays too. Their hands balanced hot lasagna, cold vegetables, yeasty bread that made bright steam in the dark winter air. They brought pork roast, beef roast, squash, potatoes. They brought their...

What and So What: Loyalties

Childhood offers most of us ample trauma and exuberance and discovery for several lifetimes of writing. Folks say that Gabriel García Márquez told his friend Mario Vargas Llosa, “Everything I have written I knew or I had heard before I was eight years old.” (We will assume that his awareness of sex perhaps showed up...
Dog’s Search for Meaning

Dog’s Search for Meaning

I grab the walker and pull myself out of bed. I rub the six-inch surgery scar on my back and test my feet on the hardwood floors. They work today. The room is too quiet. The dog bed is empty. I walk to the living room and scan the back yard for Sheldon. He is...
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...

Textures and Contrasts: Starting Points for Travel Writing

We walk toward the Saturday flea market in Hannover, Germany; my eyes saccade between the shop windows and my children, who dart ahead toward the river. A woman is kneeling on the ground at an intersection of this pedestrian zone—a square that interrupts the busy street. In front of her are shopping bags and a...
I hoisted them, two drug dealers, I guess that’s what they were,

I hoisted them, two drug dealers, I guess that’s what they were,

crackheads, I exiled them is what I did, from my son’s basement apartment, they’d come to feast off of what was left of him, his entrails I guess, he’d moved into that apartment with such high hopes even though it was on the bottom floor, and no light, or very little light, there was a...
Pain Pays The Income of Each Precious Thing

Pain Pays The Income of Each Precious Thing

Like this. They drop this girl off at school after a visit to the dentist. Midway through the day when all we do is throw stones at the rain. Her gums are numb, so incredibly numb; she opens her mouth wide and digs her finger nails into them, swearing all the while that she does...
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,...
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...
Extinctions

Extinctions

Theresa’s mother is crossing the street, carrying two stuffed animals in her arms, and this is the most apocalyptic thing my mom has ever seen. Theresa was born with gummy lungs. After a while, her lungs got too gummy, and she died. Now Theresa’s mom is coming over to give my sister and me two...

The Back Stroke

I started upright, feet planted in the lake’s silt, bending my knees and inclining forward, but never losing touch with where I stood. Gradually I let go of the bottom and put my head in the water, face down, eyes closed, legs splayed out behind me like a flesh-colored overcoat—like a drowned person whose body...

The Nose Knows: How Smells Can Connect Us to the Past and Lead Us to the Page

“Whatever the odor, it is a marvel how it clings to me and how apt my skin is to imbibe it…. If I bring my gloves or my handkerchief near [my mustache], the smell will stay there the whole day. It betrays the place I come from.” —Montaigne, “Of Smells” “Follow your nose. It always...
A Story Like This

A Story Like This

Her seven-year-old eyes take me in from across the table. We look alike, though I’m not sure she knows it. The waitress asks us what we want to drink. She orders crayons and a Shirley Temple. I laugh and order coffee. Outside, past the parking lot, is a granite-tipped mountain speckled with snow. Past the...
The Saigon Kiss

The Saigon Kiss

Hanoi drivers in their sunglasses and facemasks ignore ambulances and fire trucks—they won’t even move for a man in a faded white tank top, in a wheelchair he ratchets down the turn lane, a boy with shuttered eyes draped across his lap. Kid’s got to be at least nine, nothing looks wrong except for that...
Electricity

Electricity

After spending most of the day on a plane, too young to drink miniature bottles of liquor but too old not to resent it, crammed between my amma and a man in baggy churidar, there it was, not quite as I remembered but intimately familiar nonetheless: Mumbai airport. Redolent with humid, fan-beaten air; dark arms...

And There’s Your Mother, Calling Out to You: In Pursuit of Memory

Before I sat down to write this essay, I stepped outside and took a walk. Always a walk before I write. I hadn’t counted on the winds, or the pewter-colored clouds massing overhead and crowding out the sun. The first drops of rain were a sweet release from heat. After that, it was an all-out...
If We Had Been Allowed to Take Pictures

If We Had Been Allowed to Take Pictures

If we had been allowed to take pictures inside the Cathedral of the Holy Ascension, this is the picture I would have taken: A woman cleans the wax from the base of the candelabras. She wears a brown and orange dress, simple, made of sturdy material, like a pillow case or a craft project, and...