Cliff Notes for Coming Out

Cliff Notes for Coming Out

Consider that inclemency is always possible. If you come out often enough, and stay out long enough, inclemency may be inevitable. I don’t want to lie to you about this. Once, when I still lived on the West Coast, there was a frightful storm. In the aftermath, I went running down a barren road, which...
Creation Myths

Creation Myths

Coyote chases his tail under the street lamp convinced he can catch what he cannot release the footfalls behind him fingers tapping his shoulder his deceased father’s family still whispering his name the one clue they left him one half of himself in the white chiseled letters on the white chiseled marble his own reflection...
We Are Stardust

We Are Stardust

Skin: our thin animal hide. An organ on the outside. Our blood running in blue rivers just below the surface. How vulnerable we are. We blister, burn, cut and heal, stretch and scar. From excess of elbow, to thin skin of forearm, to the relative roughness of the palm—note how this word echoes in the...
Like the Flowers

Like the Flowers

The gladioli refuse to bloom, indistinguishable from the volunteer corn stalks that sprouted after squirrels and doves threw corn from the porch feeders. I bought these gladioli greedily; the Westwinds Nursery was going out of business, and it was the final days, everything must go, so I took them—every single bulb they had in stock. At...
What I Did Not Yet Know

What I Did Not Yet Know

When surgeons wheeled away my sister, her twenty-five-year-old body so tiny and wracked with illness that there was room for a second body on the gurney, I thought about throwing myself onto the bed next to her, remembered how doctors said, even before she was born, that her life would be short and painful, that...
Author’s Note: The Elevator Pitch

Author’s Note: The Elevator Pitch

Writers, like Hollywood people, are supposed to have an elevator pitch—a line you say when you’re stuck in an elevator with your dream agent, or, better, Sean Penn, that rough angel, or Wes Anderson, or Jane Campion. Not Harvey Weinstein, that skin tag, dear god. I lived in New York for years. Elevators are scary....
Boot

Boot

Last night, I checked into this hotel at 3 a.m. after checking out of the other hotel in Albuquerque where a spry cockroach jumped—flying, really—from underneath the pillow to the bedside table during my routine bed bug check. I’d talked my way out of my Hotwire booking standing in the bathroom while I also noticed...
The Once Wife

The Once Wife

BERLIN is still one city in the early morning hours of August 13, 1961, just before hastily installed barbed wire slices it in two. If there is no before and no after, then what remains? Me. Here. Bookending the last seat in a row of five chairs placed at the front of a funeral home....
Spoiler

Spoiler

 Endings to be useful must be inconclusive. —Samuel R. Delaney, The Straits of Messina I In the documentary short The Lion’s Mouth, Scottish actress and director Marianna Palka decides to get tested for Huntington’s disease. The condition runs in her family; it doesn’t walk. Doctors describe the disease as akin to having Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and...
Seven Women

Seven Women

We are in our twenties, thirties, forties. Our Pantones are honey, brown, sand, cream, pink. We have children. We have stepchildren. We have no children. We are frightened that if we have children they will rip us open, and we will hate them. We are in open relationships. We are in guarded relationships. We are...
The Base Note

The Base Note

Every voice sounds a chord. Every voice has notes and layers, the way fragrances do: the top note, the one you notice first, is light, citrus; the middle note, the heart, is resonant like cinnamon, jasmine; and the base note leaves the lasting impression, a weighted blanket of sandalwood and vanilla. I experience my husband’s...
How Daylight Saving Ends

How Daylight Saving Ends

You died, my son exhales, a week before his fifth birthday and an hour before the clocks turn back, because a man in New Zealand wanted more sunshine—not time to be with his children, but to go bug-hunting after work. You keep dying, he repeats, every time I close my eyes. And he’s crying. Not...
Agostino Road

Agostino Road

I am sitting now on the warm sidewalk in front of our brown duplex surrounded by spikey balls dropped from the tree my mother calls our Liquidambar. My tree feels alive like a grandmother as it trembles its soft leafy hands, hands that shield my sidewalk from the hot sun. My memory begins here when...
Games

Games

My dad carries a trophy over the threshold and into our living room—a glinting gold whirly bug gleaming between two pillars. It shines the way I want to shine in his arms. My older sister and I inspect the inscription on the little plaque: 1985 Las Vegas Whirlyball Champion. Mom holds her wooden spoon in...
After the Appointment

After the Appointment

  I’ve dumped nearly everything from my car’s glove box—registration, flashlight, crusty hair ties—while I paw around for a tool to open a bottle of wine. This bottle of wine, the first screwtop I spotted in 7-11 and purchased in a rush. My hands aren’t strong enough for the feeble job of unscrewing (as if...