The Night Had Claws

As our shapes re-emerge from the thinning steam, Sheila pushes the button and once more we disappear. She repeats this ritual in silence until my hands and the soles of my feet are wrinkled. I don’t want to leave this white hard shell. I want to stay here forever, tucked away from the world. Invisible. Safe.



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A brown arm is half submerged in water, the hand and wrist can be seen under the greenish-gray water's surface, creating small bubbles and ripples where it is submerged.

Holding Water

Keeping a family is like holding water on your palms. You must not let any of it drop to the ground. Your hands must remain balls of fists even if you have no use for them.


A white adult hand grips the black base of pocket knife. The pocket knife is wide and sharp and is being held above a dirt path.

Headbutt UK

We talk, our breaths spilling in white gusts, and that old, fairytale London, where the wolves were very much real, comes back as vivid as a story whispered in a child’s ear. And something else, something surprising, begins to happen. For the first time in years, perhaps the first time ever, I’m sharing memories with my older brother.


a set of wooden and wicker chairs sits on a stage. There is a yellow spotlight shining down on the chairs and six blue lights lighting the back on the sage. In the center of the stage, a person can be seen, faintly, standing on top of a ladder. A large window pane shines more light onto the stage.

Ol

I couldn’t sleep, so I thought about the life I might have had. The man who might have loved me, tied his future with mine. The books I could have published. The places I would have visited. I said goodbye to all of them, each and every possibility, the husband I’d never hold, the stories I’d never see, the countries I’d never cultivate. Bright spots reduced to errant shadows, I loved them. Then I let them go in my heart.


Black and white photo of a woman in a black dress sitting on a white couch. We don't see her face but there are rows of circular sunlight dots littering her and the couch, coming from a reflection or window.

We Write Your Name on a Grain of Rice

The doctor shows me cross-sections of my breasts on her computer screen. The images look like something from the Weather Channel, a satellite tracking a monochrome storm.

“You see here,” the doctor says, pointing out a line of tiny white spots, innocent as grains of rice. “And also here.”

***

At New York City street fairs, there’s always a booth claiming: We will write your name on a grain of rice.

Why write someone’s name so tiny it can’t be seen without a magnifying glass?

Who perfects an art like that?

When the doctor shows me the cross-section of my breasts, the grains inside, the microscopic tears that beckon my death, I think: Oh they’re pretty.


close up of skin of human's back with scratch marks

Skin

This skin has listened as I have tried to formulate sentences and protests to how it has been handled, and then has accepted that I have done nothing to save it from being touched.


In the Shadows of the Canyon

We go lower into myth and memory, the glimmery edge where the slabs and entablatures slow us down through a pass.