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...
160 Things That Scare Me

160 Things That Scare Me

Written collaboratively by Professor Jill Kolongowski’s Spring 2019 creative writing class at the College of San Mateo, ages 18-32. Clowns. Forgetting my order at a restaurant. Wool thread in my teeth. Gum. Patterns of small holes. Being recorded in a safe space. Losing my phone. My dog attacking me. Things that crawl. Black widows. Parasites....
Middle Child

Middle Child

I was meant to be the middle child. A boy came first, or so my mother believed. She met my father at the L.A. radio station where he wrote some jingles, and she typed the scripts. He was moonlighting from teaching. Trying new things. He rode a bicycle up the boardwalk in a dashing white...
Slumgullion Pass

Slumgullion Pass

I struggle to keep up with my husband Jack as we whack our way through smothering brush somewhere along Slumgullion Pass between Lake City and Creede. My lungs are working hard in the thin mountain air. Alferd Packer, the man this area is best known for, weighs heavy on my mind as he has for...
Solipsism: A Story

Solipsism: A Story

Victim mentality, he told me, means sitting with your back to the door anywhere at all, even – I was learning – while sipping a Red Bull and surrounded by tourists at the hotel Buffalo Bill named after his youngest daughter. I’d be more likely to leave my house without my pants than without my...
The Chicken Whisperer

The Chicken Whisperer

Back when our oldest son was a girl, we called him the Chicken Whisperer. He had this gift of stepping up to unruly roosters—the ones that chased his brother to the carpool in the morning, zeroing in like cruise missiles, the ones that made our grown house-sitters sob and sniff—and scooping them up like babies. Cannonball,...
This Abortion is an Act of Love

This Abortion is an Act of Love

For crows. For the robins bathing in my potholes. For cacti, for succulents, for shade. For the 7.5 billion people on this planet competing for access to fresh air, clean water, nourishing food, good love, and safe housing. For the planet’s three trillion trees, for the sheer improbability of trees. For the fewer than 30,000...
This is How a Robin Drinks

This is How a Robin Drinks

The birdbath that gets the most action is accidental. It’s just a big plastic saucer forgotten on the driveway, but found and filled by summer storms. The dog loves it, the red wasps love it, as do robins, doves, and cardinals: birds comfortable on the ground. Between it and me are an old lawn chair...
Friday Night Mariachis

Friday Night Mariachis

The Guadalajara restaurant’s sidewalk marquee boasts Live Mariachis! but the band is only two older Mexican men toting battered guitars and strolling between tables, taking requests. Their black slacks are shiny from wear; one of the men is missing a few teeth. As they approach, my two children urge me to request a song. Whether...
The Closet of Many Heads

The Closet of Many Heads

My father’s mother has worn the wigs for as long as he can remember, and even my father admits he’s only seen her without one once. She lines the wigs industriously on her closet’s only shelf, each atop its own Styrofoam head. Each ash-blonde pixie cut seems identical to its neighbor, sets of twins frozen...
Snowbound

Snowbound

1. You are sitting on the couch that doubles as your bed when your mami hands you the envelope marked THIS IS THE BIG ONE. You’re eighteen, and here is the college acceptance letter you’ve been waiting for, the one from your dream school in Chicago. Over 1,300 miles south—to Hialeah, Florida—this letter traveled to...
On Going (Back)

On Going (Back)

Some beer-soaked dance floor in a bar outside Boulder. I’m twenty-eight or twenty-nine, wild inside a pocket of bodies and an I’ve-gone-away mind, lifting a sweaty bottle of two-buck beer above my head like a lantern. He’s watching from the crowd’s edge. Since he moved in months ago, I devise ways to disentangle, disappear. Distance...
Steering into Winter

Steering into Winter

The last day of the year is barren. Trees long stripped, branches stark against the grey sky. The New England forest reveals the cages of its body, limbs tangling together, weighed down by ice and debris. From a distance the forest looks like a hundred men stooped from age and the harshness of living through...
You Know

You Know

K sounds—both evil and good—are crashing into my ears from everywhere. Not only the biggies—kill and kiss—but the lipstick and the triptych and the styptic and the dipstick, the kicking against the pricks, the key-keeper (oh no, not the basement again), the key-card to get in (and the platinum one for getting out), the kerygma...
The Green Sebring

The Green Sebring

said BOMBER on the license plate, after the “Blonde Bombers,” his mom’s friend group in high school. I was relieved to find the car belonged to her and not his stepdad, who had been deployed to a war zone for a long time. His family was new to town, a group of lazy blondes. His...