Posts tagged "speculation"
Invisible Partners

Invisible Partners

On my mother’s refrigerator in Chiang Mai, Thailand, are pictures from my high school dances in Chicago, when we lived in bi-level as a happy immigrant family—Homecoming, the Sweetheart’s Dance, Prom. There are so many photos of me you can barely see the surface of the fridge, just a hundred smiling faces of Ira with...

A Picture’s Worth: Learning from Looking at Photographs with Judith Kitchen

Four years ago I attended a class, “Worth 1,000 Words,” taught by essayist and critic Judith Kitchen, who passed away in fall 2014. At the time, Kitchen was finishing a book that had grown out of a collection of family photos, and she was interested in talking about how photographs and text relate on the...
Journey’s End

Journey’s End

We, my extended family, lost our bungalows to a storm named Sandy, one knocked on its side off its cement blocks, one vanished, not a board, not a shingle left; it was raptured. We called them bungalows, the Big and the Little. My grandfather, an immigrant from Barbados, built the bungalows in the 1920s. The...
Interviewing Emily Dickinson

Interviewing Emily Dickinson

It’s not that I thought She might really be there, behind the tilting tombstone: Emily Dickinson December 10, 1830 Called Back May 15, 1886, not that I thought touching the stone might make up for something missing in me, some lack I might get back through this pilgrimage—ok, I’m lying—I wanted to touch her, wanted...

A Fiction Writer Takes Off Her Shoes

The day was a perfect idea of itself, of what a Saturday afternoon in late spring should be: the sun a buzzing yellow, red barns, white houses, a neat hem of highway skirting the Ohio hills. I should remember what they looked like, what point of sowing-raising-harvest was in motion. Perhaps the earth was a...

Into The Fable

“Outdoors Day”: the annual Spring afternoon away from the stuffy classrooms and onto the track and ball fields, dreaded by nearly all underclassmen save for the dozen or so who savored a May ritual of barely disguised competition. We ran, we threw, we jumped. We “got some exercise,” the athletically challenged of us huffing and...

I Dream About the Apocalypse

My brother—a firefighter in real life—tries to organize us all, get us down into some echoing subterranean cavern that looks like the inside of a ship. Explosions rattle in my sternum, giant robots search the houses, wind flings fire this way and that. The end of everything. And I feel—relief. If I open my eyes...

Ignorance, Lies, Imagination and Subversion in the Writing of Memoir and the Personal Essay

I’ve long believed that much of the power of memoir and the personal essay comes from the fact that the writer allows the reader to stand alongside him or her, participating in events that have already happened and sharing space with the author’s sensibility. To make that possible, I tell my students, it can be...

Method and Mystery: Speculation in Narrative Art

I should say right off that what I think I’m doing as a literary artist is writing toward revelation, usually revelation of a personal sort, which may or may not be of use to my readers. I also must confess that “not knowing” comes way too naturally to me. Not only that, but I’m too...

If

… the six pathologists at Colorado’s Air Force Academy had voted differently on the diagnosis of the biopsy from your cheek–the same cheek you popped with your thumb before shuffling cards for Gin Rummy, if they had voted four melanoma, two sarcoma instead of the other way around, if they had not voted wrong on...

On Being a Trucker

All the stuff I don’t have to say. How lucky I am. Like “I drive a truck of cheap perfume.” Of canned tomatoes, of cleaning supplies, I’m not sure it matters, or maybe it does in the trucking world: I drive tires vs. I drive milk. Oil  vs. Seafood. Furniture. Toilets. A truck of cars....

White Lies

Arpi, a Lebanese girl who pronounced ask as ax no matter how many times the teacher corrected her, must have been delighted by the arrival of Connie, the new girl in our fifth grade class. Connie was albino, exceptionally white even by the ultra-Caucasian standards of our southern suburb. Only her eyelids had color: mouse-nose...

Duplex

The person on my voicemail was a man. His voice was high, higher than most men’s voices I’d heard before, and he spoke slowly, as if reading off of cue cards. I didn’t know when the call came in. My cell phone never rang. Rather, in that late morning, the phone vibrated, informing me of...

Julio At Large

I hadn’t known the girl very well, and rarely gave her much thought before she disappeared the summer between ninth and tenth grade, when my family lived in Buckhannon, West Virginia.  We both had last names that started with the letter “B,” so we frequently had to sit next to each other in classes where...

As I Unscrew: A Letter

Dear Karen, As I unscrew the cap to the bottle of Gordon’s gin, the boar’s head on the label looks appalled, its eye a wide dilated circle of disbelief (that yes, I am pouring yet another drink, that no, I am not measuring my pour, that yes, I do think a 1:2 tastes watered down,...

Tuesday Evening at the Rue de Fleurus

Evening drops into the courtyard like a black cat lowering its back.  A muted clink of dinner spoons spills from open windows into the courtyard, where the concierge’s dog yips en francais at a pair of American tourists who have found their way to 27 rue de Fleurus.  I sit and smoke a cigarette between...

Vitamin M

In the Navy, Vitamin M is the cure for all ailments.  Ship medics prescribe extra-strength Motrin, thousands of milligrams, twice, three times the recommended dosage to treat headaches, hangovers, back pain, stiff necks, fever, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, even acne.  My husband, in his nine years of military service, has adapted easily to the ibuprofen...

Driving William Stafford

The only thing we talked about was bread. How to keep the crust from splitting in the oven’s heat. How to keep the rise from falling. What the kneading did for the hands. It was 3:00 a.m., as dark as early morning gets, and 26º below. I looked it up. At least once per mile,...