Posts tagged "imagery"
Boiled Sugar

Boiled Sugar

Santa Ana, Costa Rica, smells of boiled sugar. Mangoes drop like heavy bells and rot along the streets. The city is fermenting. Brahman cows collect on one corner, eating dirt. Their ribs ripple beneath their skin. I buy coffee and chocolate and cheap earrings at the corner store to take home, tin bells clanging as...

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...
The Lunch Lady and Her Three-Headed Dogs

The Lunch Lady and Her Three-Headed Dogs

I raise my arm to write on the chalkboard, and the skin draped over bone and muscle swings in contrapuntal melody. I am ashamed to be caught in the act of living in skin. I hope my students are not hypnotized by the distracting motion. I hope no one sees this hammock of flesh and...
Letter to Jim Harrison

Letter to Jim Harrison

So here’s this semester’s news: I jump the fence and run the track madly at night, in some fear of university police. The bushes and trees sigh in the wind. Inky blurred figures. At the pond, in the glow of streetlight, I see a grass carp the size of a watermelon, and many bass, and...
Like This

Like This

“That’s the sound,” Lucie says. “Like this.” She makes her hand thin and rigid in the white-blue computer glow. She stares at the hand, vibrates it in a stiff palsy before her face. Lucie’s on the far side of the couch, half-reclined on the oversized throw pillow an ex-girlfriend made for me long ago. The...
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...
Snapshot

Snapshot

I still cannot descend a steep flight of stairs or sit while someone leaves the table to fetch a camera without thinking of that Christmas fifty years ago, right after Great Uncle Earl had said the blessing in his Baptist deacon’s voice, when Great Aunt Velma (seventy-two at the time, my mother’s mother’s sister) got...
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...

Lag Time

It doesn’t thunderstorm in California. Not like those from my memory of home. I listen for them at night when the sky half-promises, but it rarely delivers the noise I need. This I know: If you count the time it takes between the flash of a Kansas lightning bolt and the crack before the roll...
During the Farm Show Parade

During the Farm Show Parade

In the next town over, early in the parade, the recently acquitted drive their red truck slowly, the Ford F-150 as polished as the fire trucks and the horns of the high school band. From both windows they throw Tootsie Rolls and hard candy wrapped in cellophane to scrambling children, then wave like the mayor...

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...

Our Neighborhood

When we walk our dogs at night we see a blue ten-speed bike locked to a telephone pole in our neighborhood.  In the morning it’s locked to a different pole. The neighbor in the enormous house behind ours is a lawyer named Shambie who rides his European bicycle or gathers pomegranates in his back yard....

The Drowning

In July a boy drowns in the lake. * There is a picture window above our kitchen table and through it a view of the lake.  At noon, when we sit to eat sandwiches, the water is glassy and green, fracturing only when unseen fish rise and retreat.  The sand on the shore is pale. ...

Things That Appear Ugly Or Troubling But Upon Closer Inspection Are Beautiful

(after Sei Shonagon) A river in winter with ice floes jammed violently against one another; you can see dark water in between the white and gray floes, sparkling in the sunshine. Abandoned barns, their huge roofs sagging like the backs of tired horses. The slick, black body of a baby goat, stillborn, lying in the...

Little Things

My mother’s dollhouse has become a constant reminder of something—what?—in the time we spend with her, if it could be said to be spent. At eighty-nine she remembers very little. She does not so much talk as chime, like a clock with a surreal burden: Do we have anything to eat for dinner? Yes, chicken....

The Wound

The wound on the horse’s thigh was the size of a discus. Blood ran down his bent leg. It was hard to see in the dark. It was very cold. A stranger had brought the horse over to Teddy’s trailer and said he had been riding that night and had an accident. My brother and...

The Soils I Have Eaten

The state soil of New York is named for the place where a man lost his finger to a rattlesnake. The finger lays quiet in the ground. The snake’s great-great-grandsnakes still chitter through this soil. Sometimes one snake gets the idea he can blink his eye. He concentrates on this single violet thought. A slick frog crunches...

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...