Posts tagged "profile"

Choir

Courtney McDonell’s voice struck you; it slammed you right in the chest, and stayed there, in notes never pure or clear but throaty and rough and somehow resonant. That year I saw Mrs. Pritchard plead with her to use her diaphragm, said if she kept singing like that she was going to ruin her vocal...

Intro to Creative Writing

Professor Stevens dislikes donuts; the icing gets stuck in his beard. Fridays he breakfasts at Burger King before heading out to the lake, where he smokes cigarettes on the shore and ignores his wife’s phone calls. He idolizes James Dickey. He’s no good at fiction. The Department Chair’s out to get him. He strolls into...

Evelyn

Her name is Evelyn. She’s lived in her house since 1960. She was born in 1915 or 1916, near the Nooksack River, which still floods its banks. These are the facts. This is the mystery: a 91-year-old woman and me. She can’t hear me, but I talk with my hands. Evelyn’s surname is also a...

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...

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...

Snakes

It’s 4:40 a.m. in Managua and I’m shivering. I’m waiting in the entryway of the place where I’m staying, waiting for someone to pick me up and take me to interview the country’s young leader, Daniel Ortega. All I’m told is to be ready to run. I’m wearing sneakers, t-shirt and shorts, and I have...

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,...

Death of a Citizen Abroad

When a citizen dies abroad, their body is sent home in the cargo-hold of a commercial jetliner along with suitcases stuffed with beachwear, woodcarvings from the tourist stalls, and souvenir bottle-openers shaped like elephants. A coffin is just another piece of baggage. At the airport, a Consular Affairs Officer, Mr. R—, fills out the customs...
A Child Is Not Furniture

A Child Is Not Furniture

One time when I lived in Chicago I spent an hour talking to a woman who was wearing a dress of the brightest red I have ever seen in all my born days and I have lived fifty years. This was on the Cicero Avenue bus at three in the morning. She said she was...

Women’s Work

in memory of Eva Kellner, whose daughter told me Eva’s story Everything schnell, schnell, my boots for wooden clogs, and Mother refuses to relieve herself in the open bucket sloshing in the corner. Now to the sauna, schnell, schnell, our names rinsed from our bodies until we are all Ruth, our private places checked for hidden diamonds....

The Poet Visits Her Father-in-Law

Scum on the handle of the refrigerator and a giant greasy handprint on the glass kitchen table. He has turned his cup upside down again and a pool of orange juice coagulates on the clear surface. He uses the same Styrofoam cup every day, never rinses it. Never throws it away. The knife is lying...

Across the Street and a World Apart

She sauntered down the street mid-morning in a navy blue silk bathrobe, her satin mules clicking the sidewalk with two-inch kitten heels. Her right hand clasped a leather leash, her tuxedo-clad Boston terrier named Boots straining at the other end, his nose pushed in, self-confident and spoiled. The same hand that grasped the leash held...

Bobbie on the Pole

Sometimes Bobbie spends the whole night in the dressing room talking on her cell phone and smoking cigarettes and changing her outfit over and over again. She doesn’t like to sit in the bar and talk to the managers or the bartenders or the customers. She’s been here long enough that the front of her...
Ed

Ed

Summer reminds me, God knows why, of my friend Ed, who is a whole species of man unto himself, the only one of his kind, the very archetype and all possible subsequent permutations of Edness in his own singular person. He is sensible, brilliant, unusually accomplished – he’s a neurosurgeon of great skill, a self-taught...