Backdrop: New Mexico

Backdrop: New Mexico

When I heard the wind, I knew my daughter would not sleep. From the motel window, Taos Mountain hid behind lavender snowfall swinging thick fluff around its muscles like a towel. My daughter bit my areolas with her two bottom teeth. She squealed, happy, when I winced. That day, I counted her wet diapers, stained...
His Apple Pie

His Apple Pie

Once, a man I loved left my dog alone in a car with an apple pie. The man had baked it himself. As our friends climbed from the backseat, the man took the warm, saggy-bottomed aluminum tin from my lap and slid it onto the dash. It bumped the windshield and blew a swift feather...
Thereafter: A Cleansing Spell

Thereafter: A Cleansing Spell

Use this spell in the aftermath of an assault on the body for physical healing and survivor’s justice. Be patient, as this process is ritualistic in nature, and therefore, time-consuming. Use the two days you call in sick to complete it.  You will need the following supplies: Five-gallon bucket with lid Two gallons of bleach...
Things I Can’t Do Right After Painting My Nails (Though I Do Them Anyway)

Things I Can’t Do Right After Painting My Nails (Though I Do Them Anyway)

1. Remove the corn husk from a pineapple tamal, layer by layer, as if unraveling a complex bandage. (The whole spongy mass flops off the plate and onto the table, despite delicate pinching and tugging.) 2. Prune a flowering crown of thorns I’ve revived from the dead. (When I try to reach a shriveled leaf...
The Snow Line

The Snow Line

Mary points to the mountains and tells me her favorite thing about Montana is watching the snow line. We are driving to a biological research station, on a lake, where I will stay for some weeks, working on a book. Mary has been assigned as my travel guide. I have known her for one hour....
My Mother Calls Me

My Mother Calls Me

I pick up my cell phone when I see it’s my mom. MeeSHYAH I can tell by the way she says my name, something is wrong. My name, unpronounceable for her, the vowels moonbouncing on her tongue until they lose balance and fall over. And the consonant sound that would make her English stand upright:...
When We Say No

When We Say No

1. I’m trying to live inside my body for the first time. If my body were a building, it would have boarded windows, leaky pipes, collapsing beams, poking wires, graffiti. I’ve been hiding at the top, a run-down attic inside my mind. For the first time now, I’m flicking the lights on the rest of...
Entrance Privilege

Entrance Privilege

It doesn’t matter that months have passed since my brother’s gray Tercel was hauled away from here with bits of him inside. Or that I’ve searched this patch of grassy ground where it sat many times by now. I step from my car and comb over it again, for cigarette butts, scraps of paper, convenience...
Body Puzzle

Body Puzzle

Across 1. The color I dye my hair. The color of nitrile rubber gloves. Three bowls of thick dye, painted onto my scalp until it burns. My hair grows and pools around my shoulders, over my breasts. This is how I own the ocean.     3. The outline of an area or figure. It is hard...
My Mother Returns to 1985

My Mother Returns to 1985

My father dies and my mother begins to lose years like leaves until she free-falls through time and drifts into 1985, landing in the middle of what she will later refer to as her “decade of despondency.” Today, my mother sits in a recliner in her room in a Florida assisted-living facility while I stretch...
Almost

Almost

An inch below your belly button, you pinch then pierce the skin with the first of many 22-gauge needles, pressing the syringe until thumb meets forefinger, until every last drop is released—a hormone bath for your aging ovaries. At first, this is exhilarating, a miracle of science, growing follicles in your body like the cherry...
A Knot on the Finger

A Knot on the Finger

you stood in the cul-de-sac and smacked tennis balls into the air, calling out Metro-Astro-Carrier-King-Super as you sent the balls sequentially higher, a difficult progression I had to catch in perfect order; if I closed my glove too early the ball slipped off my fingers and I was sent back to the beginning; I didn’t...
Six-Sided Life

Six-Sided Life

Hands Held up in a defensive position in baby photographs, clenched. Were raised against me. Looked like they were planted in the ground and nibbled on by tiny voles. To measure with, when a horse was sixteen hands of blackness. My husband’s—the feel of sunbaked mud, always hot in the dead of winter, a young...
The Wild Horses of Tybee Island

The Wild Horses of Tybee Island

We strike out in search of wild horses along the shores of Tybee Island. It’s early February—too cold for shores—but my wife and I have traveled 1300 miles from Wisconsin to Georgia, and we won’t be turned away. We slip on sweatshirts, remove shoes and socks, and walk past the pigeons toward the boardwalk. Aside...
Ghost Story

Ghost Story

One fall I was a ghost in my own house. That time, when divorce was imminent but my husband and I were still living together, only the children could see or hear me. The laundry floated downstairs to the basement, then floated back up to the second floor, washed and folded. The dishes floated from the...
Depredations

Depredations

We buy the sheep on impulse, a pair of them, at auction. They are tufted round with autumn fluff, white-grey fleece with pink skin by their ears and nostrils, wafting the oily tang of lanolin. After two seasons of raising skinny, worm-ridden goats, shelling out for the overpriced sheep feels indulgent, like driving a new...
A Reverse Chronology of the Body In Motion

A Reverse Chronology of the Body In Motion

26 years old. My husband and his friend David run together. They also take up indoor rock-climbing. They invite me, but I decline, remembering how awkward I feel in gym settings. An anxiety of taking up physical space lives in my body. They tell me that I would love rock climbing, how at its root...
Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate

Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate

“District officials were alerted early today that on Saturday Snapchat alerted the FBI that a threat had been made against Lakewood High students,” an e-mail informs me on a Monday morning. The Catholic high school down the street was evacuated for a similar threat the previous Friday. I had blown it off as probably a...