The Boy Who Drew Cats

The Boy Who Drew Cats

Outside there is a pandemic and I am in lockdown in Montevideo, Uruguay, far from my daughter and son also locked down, but in Kanazawa, in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, and I am inside drawing, drawing, drawing, filling sheets of paper, pages drifting to the floor, as if I were the boy in the Japanese fable...
Death Sentence

Death Sentence

I caught head lice in a kindergarten epidemic that had the school nurse knocking on Miz Goforth’s trailer door to check our class with her portable magnifying lamp every day for a month, and though I don’t remember much from my childhood, I easily recall the feel of that spindly plastic comb on my skin...
Jewel

Jewel

I. Tasha’s father sits in his recliner watching TV. Wonder Woman is his favorite, or at least, he pays special attention when actress Lynda Carter is on the screen whooping Nazi’s asses. Outfitted in star-studded panties and a gold foil bra, Lynda Carter is impossibly spangled compared to the women on our street. I’m scanning...
To Disappear & To Find

To Disappear & To Find

The flat of Ohio spreads in subtle swales before us, the sun melting over the cornfields. That’s what my son likes to say: the sun is melting. He sits in his car seat, face lit up in morning light. He is three, and five days out of the week, we make the hour commute to...
Defiant

Defiant

Your pulse beats, defiant, in the tender crook between thumb and forefinger. My gaze shifts between it and your face, your cheekbones prominent, your neck slack. The cardiologist tells you, “Your heart is very sick. You should start to have conversations about the end of life.” And I can feel you shrinking next to me....
The First Time I Tell My Son to Fuck Off

The First Time I Tell My Son to Fuck Off

he is thirteen and (let’s be fair) has started testing out fuck the way a few years ago I added a dash of patriarchy to my speech until, finally, the dam broke and now if you can’t hear it, I think you probably have some work to do. He’d said fuck when he stubbed his...
Intro to BRCA1+ Quiz

Intro to BRCA1+ Quiz

2. Define “lucky.” 3. Which term best describes what having as-of-this-moment-in-time healthy breasts, ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes removed from your body feels like? a. Whiplashb. Piñatac. The Dark Agesd. Poker  4. Define “Brave.” 5. In terms of figurative language, which is the best doctor-delivered food analogy? a. The uterus as an upside-down pearb. Ovaries...
Partido

Partido

I am eight years old and lost in my daydreams outside Kmart as I weave in and out between the iron bars used to keep people from stealing shopping carts. Suddenly I become aware of my father’s gaze. I meet his eyes and find myself immobilized by the disgust in his scowl. He speaks—calmly, matter-of-factly:...
Children Hunting Bear in the Afternoon

Children Hunting Bear in the Afternoon

A sow bear and a cub were hit by a truck on the road outside my neighborhood. The cub’s torn black fur and cracked claws lay crumpled beside the blown tires. The sow bear, something soft ruptured behind her bones, scrambled up the incline into the green of Pennsylvania June and died in such a...
Swing

Swing

Uncle Dunkel towered above me—six feet of living lath held together by pluck and sinew. I was a chubby, bowlegged toddler when he returned from the war in Korea. Over the next few years, he honed his carpentry skills. He strode along ridgepoles. He built our family a screen porch, shingled its roof like an...
Work Lessons

Work Lessons

There’s a posture your body learns when you’re always on ladders. Your thighs stay clenched, tailbone forward, hips up-thrust to keep you on balance. You keep your feet wide, quads pressed against the rung they’re closest to, arms steady overhead, brush in hand. You learn micro-seasons invisible to most: the April weeks of spiked black...
I Can Shrink to Perfection

I Can Shrink to Perfection

When Ma asks if you’re hungry for dinner, tell her you already ate, then remain mute, even if she protests and wags a wooden spoon in your direction and flicks red sauce across the white linoleum. Your father will continue to read the newspaper. The next morning, announce a newfound love for animals, and refuse...
Visiting My Own Grave

Visiting My Own Grave

I run my fingers down the two horizontal scars, still sore and red, on my chest, and I remember how when I had breasts they would slide to either side when I lay on my back, how they rested against my arms in their weighted softness, or when I was on my side they would...
What Joy Looks Like

What Joy Looks Like

Your grandfather on your grandmother’s lap at Christmas, wearing polyester and mismatched plaids, his colostomy bag under his shirt crinkling against her body, and he’s weeping like you’ve never seen, much harder than an hour earlier when he appeared in the dining room doorway and said, “I’m sorry I yelled at you,” and burst into...
How I Learned to Hide

How I Learned to Hide

Six of us in a Cutlass in a Saint Paul suburb. That weekend visitors had come to town. Tom and Sharon, another married couple, had known my parents back in Milwaukee. Tom and Dad had written ad copy together. The visitors slept on the pullout couch that weekend in the TV room. We’d all crammed...
Narrative

Narrative

In October 2013 I flew out of Heathrow while sitting next to a friendly British man. It was in that liminal space between the UK and the US that I traveled, as Sontag described it, to the land of the sick; four hours from landing, I began to drip sweaty rivulets in the air-conditioned plane. I...
On Fluency and Surrender

On Fluency and Surrender

Google’s first result for “stutter synonyms” is “stammer” but I prefer the former. It always feels like a letdown when synonyms don’t ring true. Stammerers approximate. Stutterers struggle. “Stammer” comes from a Proto-Germanic variant of the verb “stumm,” meaning “to mute.” “Stutter” also comes from a Proto-Germanic verb, but this one, “staut,” means to push,...
You Were Always on My Mind: A Love Letter to Migraine

You Were Always on My Mind: A Love Letter to Migraine

We met when I was eleven—on the cusp of my first blood—in that Taco Bell on University with the refried beans stuck to the windows. I thought you were so cool with your Pearl Jam T-shirt, Nevermind spinning in your Discman. Curling into that corner booth, I rested my head on the greasy Formica and...