The salon burned down just before they moved in, and Shimmery would always associate the stench of burning plastic with the summer they lived on that hill. Her mom said it was arson, but Shimmery didn’t know who Arson was or what he had against manicures and perms.
After her husband dies, and the children have helped reshuffle the house, moved out his worn cardigans, his weathered golf bag, his collection of bird skulls, she feels acutely alone. Mornings now, she reads thrillers in the shade of an elm as light dapples the grass. Sometimes his ghost putters around the yard, bending slowly, tracing the ground for signs of tulips. The ghost is a marginal gardener, perhaps something in the afterlife impairs your spatial reasoning.
The rain sets its liquid feet down on the pavement ahead of me as I waver my way down the block
with one crutch tucked into me like a loved one.[…]
I’m imagining a celebration of love of course, but also of the return to being able to love with our arms, our lips, our bodies close and unmasked.
Pastor says we’re all dead inside. That death is akin to riding a seatless bike. That death is the sound of rain and falling. It is the peculiar way mobile Jesus smiles at me from his particle-board cross. It is how my father died drunk and alone
in Hank’s used car lot.
Once I told my doctor if only I was not estranged from my mother, I’d know what to expect from menopause. “That’s ridiculous,” the doctor said. “Your mother had children. You’ve never even been pregnant. Her experience would have no bearing on yours. Feel badly about the estrangement if you like, but not because of this.”
Before me, I see dandelions displayed like jewelry. Each atop a hand carved wooden stand. I blow into each in turn. Some make declarations, some scream or roar, some converse and others lecture, others say nothings in the ear.
This year the number I call the most now is the pharmacy. I have to wonder who you were when I was born because I feel you in both root and stem but I’ll never be sorry to have eaten the sky.
The whistle had filled Yara’s dreams for a long time now—ever since she first heard it in the form of an incoming bullet that lodged itself in her best friend’s ribcage. More than anything she saw or heard that day, it was the whistle that most haunted her. It was the first time she understood that the promise of imminent chaos was always somehow worse than the actual chaos itself.[…]
Posed beside her husband, is this what my great-grandmother feared, bleached hand pressed gently against cherry oak skin?
People need to be seen and heard. There needs to be space where survivors can decide what healing looks and feels like for them. Awakenings is one of those places. That solidarity component is vital. Even if their experiences look different, we must get to the core of what it means to be human.
I split the pockets of stillness left hovering on a naked afternoon. Halves drop like discarded agreements—one half in the floundering arms of the sea, another in the blanks of this book I’ve beenmpretending to read, if at all.
In fiction, we take things from our own lives and things we hear, and we fictionalize them, and we make them up, and we appropriate them for our own, but somehow I think there’s this feeling with poets sometimes that that’s dishonest when done in a poem, and I don’t think it is.
The snake rears its head, its thick green body gleaming in the light. A stripe of yellow runs along its stomach. We are transfixed, frozen, burning feet forgotten. I want to touch the snake, feel the cool curve of its muscle wrap across my legs and pull me to the ground.
I see you’ve renounced your birthplace, which is of course your right. You will dream of male sunbirds feeding on nectar mid-air. When they come for you, they will ask about your love’s name, her contours, her address.
Writing a book is no more of a craft challenge than writing an article—they both involve skills that come with practice. In approaching different mediums, novel writing requires more personal reflection.
The big hitters in the audiobook world have found a beautiful balance between a performance and a conversation with a friend. The people who are most successful acknowledge that this performance is different from acting on the stage or on film, even though many of them have that background.
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