Posts tagged "Memoir"

The Upholsterer’s Wife

I only met her once.  It was summertime, and I was riding with my dad out to the airport. As an amateur pilot, he was required to log a certain number of hours of flight time per year in order to keep his pilot’s license, and we would often take little trips to neighboring Wisconsin...
Story Boy

Story Boy

This is sixth grade.  We’re in that dim little hallway outside the closet-sized room where they sell popsicles during recess.  The big boys are teasing me, but it’s friendly bullying that I don’t mind.  They’re asking me leading questions.  They just want to get me started. Okay, I’m eleven years old, very hormonal, both smart...

Little Things

My mother’s dollhouse has become a constant reminder of something—what?—in the time we spend with her, if it could be said to be spent. At eighty-nine she remembers very little. She does not so much talk as chime, like a clock with a surreal burden: Do we have anything to eat for dinner? Yes, chicken....

The Wound

The wound on the horse’s thigh was the size of a discus. Blood ran down his bent leg. It was hard to see in the dark. It was very cold. A stranger had brought the horse over to Teddy’s trailer and said he had been riding that night and had an accident. My brother and...

Diagnosable

It comes at me through the back of the head, down by where my neck splits off, comes slicing through the skin and bone and ligaments and mixing up all the different colors of matter in my brain so it’s finally all grey stuff that hits the inside part of my face like John Henry’s...

The Palm Reader and the Poet

This happened a couple decades ago, and here is how I remember it:  I meet a girl, a young woman, maybe eighteen, at a poetry reading.  She says she can read my palm.  My lifeline is broken—she noticed as she sat behind me and I rubbed my hand through my hair—so maybe she’d better see,...

Comfort Food

I woo Jeanne’s appetite with her favorite Southern foods. Grits, banana pudding, Miracle Whip, and bologna loaf on white bread. French dressing over cottage cheese. Sausage gravy over biscuits: pallid sauce so thick with grease that the leftovers will congeal, gray and lumpy. Tomorrow I will reheat them to mash over her toast. When she...

A Stranger at Dusk

Looking out the window of our front room at dusk that chilly day in the spring of my twelfth year, I saw a tall man weaving toward our front door. I was intrigued not only by his peculiar gait but also by the fact I did not recognize the man.  Strangers were rare in the...

White Lies

Arpi, a Lebanese girl who pronounced ask as ax no matter how many times the teacher corrected her, must have been delighted by the arrival of Connie, the new girl in our fifth grade class. Connie was albino, exceptionally white even by the ultra-Caucasian standards of our southern suburb. Only her eyelids had color: mouse-nose...

Homeroom

We were the leftovers, assigned to Home Room in the Home Ec room, tucked away in an upper corner of the aging Horace Mann Junior High School. Inexplicably, our Home Room teacher, Mr. Roan, taught Shop. Every morning he climbed the flights of stairs from the noisy, oily machines of the basement, clutching his coffee...

The Pillory

A replica of a pillory in a replica of a Colonial town.  My right arm into the right hole, my left arm into the left.  My neck went right through the center.  I laughed, not because there was anything remotely funny about being hung up in a cross, but just because it felt good to...

Not Like You

I’m memorizing a license plate number, which I glimpsed when he grabbed me by my ponytail, punched me, and dragged me into his truck. I repeat it silently, obsessively. NLU-285. Parked in the woods, dozens of miles from the lights of Portland, the midnight air is thick, damp, barely cool. I smell pine trees, clean...

Crosswords

My mother loved crossword puzzles, spending hours, sometimes, until she managed to work out the answers to clues like “bright colored aquarium fish” and “English composer, Frederick.”  “Danio,” she’d finally fill in, and “Delius,” and for a day or two she’d leave the large Sunday newspaper puzzle face up on the end table by the...
Swerve

Swerve

I’m sorry about that time I ran over a piece of wood in the road. A pound of marijuana in the trunk and a faulty brake light—any minute the cops might have pulled us over, so you were edgy already, and then I ran over that piece of stray lumber without even slowing down. Thunk,...

Twan’t Much

At the tire repairs factory, I knew a man named Jack who had no teeth, who brought the same thing for lunch every day, a fried egg sandwich in a wrinkled and stained paper bag. He had a family he could barely support, one that didn’t have, as my father often said, “as much as...

This Is Not To Say

So many feelings fit between two heartbeats So many objects can be held in our two hands Don’t be surprised we can’t describe the world And just address things tenderly by name. -Zbigniew Herbert This was supposed to be about the dirt that flies up in puffs between bare feet when the bees are buzzing...

Driving William Stafford

The only thing we talked about was bread. How to keep the crust from splitting in the oven’s heat. How to keep the rise from falling. What the kneading did for the hands. It was 3:00 a.m., as dark as early morning gets, and 26º below. I looked it up. At least once per mile,...

Tonight

Tonight when I walked home, everything around me seemed to pulse with life. The headlights of cars going by zoned in on me like searchlights. I squinted. When I rounded the corner, it was snowing—just a little, not enough to stick. A car idled in front of the house with the fresh tree stumps, and...