She stood at the window and watched me.
How long she had waited for me to wake up
I dared not ask, nor could she have answered,
her jaws woven shut by the undertaker’s twine,
a trade she knew well, having taught herself
black work by night in the attic, . . .
Jack, today I played fast-and-loose with a bottle
of Prosecco and a coconut cake, and now,
an hour later, I’ve got my knees tucked to my chest
because it feels like someone’s mistaken my head
for an oyster and is shucking away, . . .
He was always the smallest, in any room, “an Atom of a man” somebody said (the word existed then, although not in our later sense); but spunky, quick to rise to a righteous indignation and to support it with a whirligig of fists.
“Terrier courage,” one of his schoolfellows called it. . . . Read more
My garrulous neighbor, Walter—a red-nosed U.S. Army Major (retired)—gives me books, volumes that he snatches up at the occasional library inventory purges at the University of Idaho, where I teach. Some are good, others not as good. Some I park on my bookshelves, others I recycle or use as doorstops. . . . Read more
The white peaches announce themselves on the kitchen counter,
quick scent flinting alight the worm-eaten dawn,
the clean-edged note almost mineral, so unlike
the vague, pulpy yellow of girlhood:
the backyard peach tree bowed down with too much
sun-bruised fruit, . . .
My father was on his long taxi journey when my mother said she might have a crush on someone. “Someone who doesn’t do quixotic things for quick money,” she flounced. In the year before the little shuttle I had been in real love. That boy’s rare blood disease made me overqualified in the matter, . . . Read more
The other day, for no particular reason I can think of, I mentioned to my middle-aged daughter in conversation that I had been cleared for “secret” when I was in the army. Surprised, she commented, “I never knew you had any secrets.” But it is true, sixty plus years ago I was authorized by the government for “Secret Information.”
Why had this happened? . . . Read more
Faking an interest in the snow, a man
Draws, with heavy black ink from a fountain pen, a drift
Against the house across the street. Snow sensitively shaded
Covers the garage, the front door, every window
That would have taken in the morning’s sunlight. . . .
When we asked Christopher Merrill—a portion of whose prose collaboration with Marvin Bell appears in our Winter 2013 issue—to tell us what he had been reading as of late, he gladly agreed, and then surprised us over the holidays when he sent along this single photograph from his cell phone, . . . Read more
—After Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool,”
with thanks to Terrance Hayes
My friend said I wasn’t fat but she was, and we
would go on that way, back and forth. She was my first real
. . .