Posts tagged "sensory_detail"
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...
Wide Open Spaces

Wide Open Spaces

The policewoman, let’s call her Ann Marie, doesn’t stop talking as she shows me the crime scene photographs of the woman who shot me when I was seven years old. This is the first time I’ve seen the photos of her suicide, though I was seven a long time ago. Twenty-four years. These are my...
Shock and Awe

Shock and Awe

Late one night as a child, in bed in my room, with heat lightning quaking sourceless on the horizon and lighting the world in quick flashes, I convinced myself the missiles had flown and the bombs had begun to fall. After each flash came a low concussion like the coughs of my cancer-killed uncle, and...
The Art of Literary Olfaction, or Do You Smell That?

The Art of Literary Olfaction, or Do You Smell That?

Two confessions: I have a big nose, and my nose leads me. Not because it’s so big that wherever I go it arrives well before I do, but because that big nose of mine takes in a lot of smells. Last night, my husband and I took the dog for a walk. Right as we...

Zuill Bailey and a 1693 Matteo Gofriller Cello

Fairbanks, Alaska, September 16, 2010 Prelude: black leather piano bench gleams softly in a single spotlight.  In the background, organ pipes stagger toward heaven. Black shirt, black jacket, black hair—the cellist strides across the stage.  Slight nod and he’s seated, his instrument settled, caressed.  His eyes close as his bow draws out the first notes...

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 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...

Variations on a Home Depot Paint Sample

Desert Sunrise, 230B-4 To mix Desert Sunrise 230B-4, combine equal parts vodka, orange juice, pineapple juice, and troposphere; add grenadine syrup to taste. Throw in blender with ice cubes and a handful of red dirt. Blend. Next drive westward all night along I-80 until you reach Wyoming, and, when you see in your rearview the...

Dead Babies Photo

Puffy white satin folds and clumps like clouds around the two babies. Lying side-by-side in an open casket, ghost-gowns drape down their tiny bodies. Their heads appear to float. One baby is darker than the other. Both have blackened and hollow eyes like sunken shiners that won’t fade into the purplegreenyellow of the living. Time...

Letting the Dog Out

Under the pretense that a dog needed to pee, I accompanied a new guy to his duplex in the woods. We had just met at a literary festival afterparty, me swirling beer around in a plastic cup as I stood with him beside a keg in someone’s backyard. It was November, I was a senior...

The Moth

At night my father and I sit outside watching moths fly around the bare front door light. Beyond the porch is the warm summer blackness of the mountains. Lights from the infrequent cars on the highway can’t penetrate this envelope of darkness, as if the entire universe were lit by this one dangling bulb. For...

Call Me Fritz

This is 1986, and I am seven in Seattle, and Miss Erika is French from Canada with a black leotard and a tight bun twisted like a seashell.  Miss Erika is French, and Edgars Kleppers is the only boy in ballet class, but I am still required to play Fritz, the only boy in the...

Transubstantiate

They kept them on their dressers, hidden beneath the edge of a doily or in a trinket box.  Aunt Leona’s was the first I saw, before bed one weekend when I was spending the night.  We were listening to old hymns on AM radio, what a friend we have in Jesus and the torments of...

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...

There Was a Moment to Turn Back

I wait before I enter. Pausing briefly at the door, I am suspended in this space, between the coming and the going. The yellowed linoleum is tacky against the bottom of my feet, and the fluorescent bulb in the ceiling illuminates the white of the bare walls so they tint blue. I stand in the...

Evelyn

Her name is Evelyn. She’s lived in her house since 1960. She was born in 1915 or 1916, near the Nooksack River, which still floods its banks. These are the facts. This is the mystery: a 91-year-old woman and me. She can’t hear me, but I talk with my hands. Evelyn’s surname is also a...

Comfort Food

I woo Jeanne’s appetite with her favorite Southern foods. Grits, banana pudding, Miracle Whip, and bologna loaf on white bread. French dressing over cottage cheese. Sausage gravy over biscuits: pallid sauce so thick with grease that the leftovers will congeal, gray and lumpy. Tomorrow I will reheat them to mash over her toast. When she...

Closing Time

Pedro the dishwasher told me about how his sister died. We were drinking gin at a table by the window. He dried his hands off with a towel, ran his fingers through his black hair and described the way the hot water was still running when he found her hanging from a cord in the...