Taiwan 1969

Taiwan 1969

My mother is an octopus. She collects our comic books, straightens collars, and slings bags across her narrow chest. She prods my brothers and me down the airplane aisle with her hard beak. Out in the squid inky Taipei night waits a grandfather we will meet for the first time. We must call him Waigong....
In The Neuro Unit

In The Neuro Unit

Old men lie pale and shrunken, their blood pressure cuffs wheezing, their heart monitors beeping, their oxygen levels flashing bright green numbers on small computer screens as their brains sigh and shudder with dreams of summer slumber, of supple thighs and willing bodies, of late-night assignations and the creaking back seats of cars. They inhale,...
Epistolary Weaved with Birds and Grass After Long Hospital Stay

Epistolary Weaved with Birds and Grass After Long Hospital Stay

Dear L, The morning paper opens to a story about a body found in the bay. Snow in moonlight in May, blue as a hospital gown. I take care of a man who seems to forget what he is going to say almost as soon as he is going to say it. What if this...
About the House

About the House

first narrow bars of light through the slits in the blinds… a thatch of hair in the brush, fingernail parings by the edge of the sink…   percussive splatter of coffee grounds against the plastic liner… slow rising sound as water from the tap fills the bottle…   dervish of steam from the humidifier whirling...
Living Seams

Living Seams

1. My partner likes to record himself talking in his sleep. I’ve listened to him order eggs, grow giddy over mushrooms, worry about spinach yields. In the morning, he’ll play back the recording and his eggs, mushrooms, spinach will be punctuated by my own sounds: whimpers, cries; last night a scream to Get off me!,...
It’s About the Size of a Clenched Fist

It’s About the Size of a Clenched Fist

You probably don’t remember, but you were with me for my final hangover. You were just three and needed a flu shot. The revelry from the night before hung onto me, smothered me, made each movement a chore as we made our way to the doctor’s office. But I want you to know that although...
Dick

Dick

I arrive in face. The concealer and contour, still wet on my cheekbones, gives the illusion that I am a man. I’ve painted an Adam’s apple on my throat and drawn thick hair on my upper lip and eyebrows. My breasts are tightly bound, nipples pulled back under my armpits and taped down. I am...
Oh, You’re a Mean, Old Daddy

Oh, You’re a Mean, Old Daddy

I was driving my daughters to Staples. They like to go to Staples. I needed more pens. The song “Carey” came on, by Joni Mitchell. The wind is in from Africa. Last night I couldn’t sleep. Et cetera. After the first verse, Rose asked what the song was about. She’s seven. I said I thought...
After More War News

After More War News

The moon, lately, was a celebrity, full and a few miles closer than usual, enough to bring three of my neighbors outside near midnight. One of them suggested a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne,” but I was alone with my reference to the approach of planet Melancholia, how, for one perfect night, the fictional planet...
Slowly, Slowly

Slowly, Slowly

The face is my goal—al-wijh—and though as a barista I once pulled hundreds of crema-crowned espresso shots daily, this, my friends, is different. On first attempt, my coffee stares up at me without a hint of creamy face. Flat, like a soda without carbonation. When I ask our Jordanian neighbors about it with my newly...
Running in Place

Running in Place

In the fourth grade I wanted to be good at the mile. I wanted to be faster than the fastest girl in my class: the girl with the doctor dad and the straight brown hair and tan thin legs. I would never be faster but my football coach dad took me to practice because that’s...
I Should Have Left Him Then

I Should Have Left Him Then

You are at a frat party in Michigan—your first and only. Your cousin invited you to see the snow sculptures the houses erect every winter, mythical beasts glistening under clear February sky. His frat is one of those academic, no-secrets-no-hazing ones, and you watch them sing (silly song title) as they gather behind the basement...
Safe As Houses

Safe As Houses

In September you’re dating a woman who is too good for you—who is inquisitive, kind, who tells you she loves you and whose heart you break without meaning to or trying. You have a good run of it, Sundays all tangled up, meeting one another’s friends, trying to figure out what kind of gay you...
Darning

Darning

I am a grandmother of two middle-school-aged girls who call me “Granny,” and I darn socks. Not many people these days take the time to do it. People will throw holey socks away and buy new ones. As I darn in my wooden rocking chair, I know that with my white hair I look like...
what you love about new york

what you love about new york

city, which you never appreciated when you lived here, is how the city requires you to develop muscle memory: your elbows know to circle around the lady who is taking too long to reach the corner, and your big toes stop a second before the jogger dashes in front of you, and so you never...