Posts tagged "Memoir"
For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

For Great-Aunt Jeannette, Who Donated Her Body to Science

She was still alive when the doctors started. They first carted off her breasts. Both glands at once, after the cancer. Next, patches on her arms stippled like ostrich skin, burned a syrup-thick hazel from sailing trips in the Whooping Crane up and down the salt-slow gulf. They’d begun taking from her ages ago. Begun...
Go, Jim Dandy

Go, Jim Dandy

Sandy carried a vial of patchouli oil wherever she went. We walked everywhere in our Converse high-tops. She was almost always restless; I was almost always bored. In October we hitchhiked 175 miles to find a stringy college boy I had a crush on. A carload of guys picked us up and asked if we...

Going Cold: Writing Emotion, the Earley Scale, and the Brilliance of Edwidge Danticat

In a scene that is central to Edwidge Danticat’s novel Breath, Eyes, Memory, eighteen-year-old Sophie Caco’s mother guides her gently to her bedroom and “tests” her for virginity—with a finger, just as Sophie’s grandmother tested the mother and her sister every week. It’s an invasion that shatters Sophie’s sense of boundaries and will make her...
Cake

Cake

At the edge of the counter, on a plate and wrapped in plastic, was a single wedge of cake. Not just chocolate cake, but German chocolate, layers of sodden coconut and crushed nuts bound by nectar as sweet, I imagined, as the honey drop I once sucked from a trumpet-shaped petal of a columbine. I...
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...
Code Talkers

Code Talkers

I’m eleven and my brother is fifteen, and our rooms are in the basement separated by one thin wall. My bed is against the wall and at night I can hear him listening to his music. He listens on headphones but the volume’s so loud I hear everything: the tinsel rain of cymbals and urgency...
Faithful

Faithful

Nobody can call in or out. Her father doesn’t want the ringing telephone to interrupt his wife’s dying, so the phone is turned off. When his daughters remind him that there are people waiting to hear, wanting to know, he roars, “She’s dying. They all know. When she’s dead, you can call them and tell...

When Free Writing Will Not Make You Free: Resistance Training for Writers

In July 2013, I ran a marathon up Mount Adams near Trout Lake, Washington. Nobody questioned my physical prowess, because the accomplishment was indisputable. But, if you actually pressed your fingers against my belly, you would have felt pudge, and you probably would have been surprised to not feel functioning abdominal muscles (you’d also be...
A Conversation with My Father

A Conversation with My Father

My father is eighty-six years old and sitting in his reclining chair in the living room. He beckons me to sit on the footstool. He has a request. “I would like you to write a script and make a movie about your mother,” he says. “Her life story,” he adds. I want to please him,...
Girl Fight

Girl Fight

Marty Manzoni’s mother was fat. We all knew it, and we all knew better than to ever mention it, but that day in the school hall before basketball practice we were waiting for Coach to show up, and we got to talking about girls, as boys do, and someone mentioned Heather, a girl with sandy...
Valentine

Valentine

It’s the middle of winter, but tonight I am in summer’s warm arms, Boston lettuce torn in half before me for a salad. You’re at the stove, stirring Indonesian sweet potato peanut soup. I’m at the sink, staring down into pale green whorls. “The heart’s the best part,” my mother says, a thousand Junes ago....
The First Time I Had Sex, My Mouth Was Numb

The First Time I Had Sex, My Mouth Was Numb

The first time I had sex, my mouth was numb. I was just back from the dentist where Dr. Stanley Summer had peered at me through his double set of lenses. Six Eyes, we called him, though never to his face. Lord knows what his receptionist called him—something scandalous, perhaps with a blast of air...

Come Back, Jimmy Dean

At my hometown community theater, there is a staircase that goes nowhere.  Two separate theater boyfriends have promised—threatened?—to have sex with me in that stairwell, and I put both off with excuses: those steps are filthy; we’ll get caught; I’m wearing a skirt; I’m not wearing a skirt. My living boyfriend, as distinct from my...

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....

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...

The Role of Fiction in Suicidal Ideations

I get ten new suicidal adolescents a week in my creative writing class at the psych hospital where I work. Their arms are mutilated. Their minds tortured with self-hate. Some are gothic, others only misfits who are picked on at school. They’ve been taken from their homes by DHR, betrayed by drug-addicted parents. It exposes...

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. ...

Cherry Red

John Gravely was our neighborhood house painter. He was never John, or Mr. Gravely. Just John-Gravely.  He was always cheerful and whistled when he worked. Sometimes, while he scraped and painted,  I’d climb the creaky wood stairs to the attic, where my parents kept an old office typewriter on an old metal stand that made...