The January that William fell down—1968—his father had plugged Christmas lights one strand into the next and laid them circular-wise around the banks of the skating pond immediately behind their house. The bulbed string haloed William as he lay on the ice with dilated pupils. The blanched sky, three figures on his vision’s fringe, . . .Read more
For years I said nothing.
Silent, I paid close attention to the words that others used.
I heard writers of nonfiction quote the opening sentence of Joan Didion’s essay “The White Album”: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
I heard writers and readers of all genres say that stories foster empathy. . . .Read more
When I was a girl in Wisconsin, I dreamed I ’d marry
a man from Michigan. Then I did. When I was a man
from Michigan, I dreamed I ’d marry a begonia,
flowers choked with pollen. When I was a flower
from Michigan, . . .
for & from James Galvin
People were nice. I asked the priest
to wear my mother’s wedding dress during the sermon
about the difference between turning the other cheek
and looking the other way. . . .
For my stepdaughter Kari Harvey (23 December 1982–10 May 2016)
We know that we have passed out of death into life.
—1 John 3:14
Wherever we go we leave a thumbprint of the soul.
Ghosts of words we never said fill the rooms we leave. . . .
She broke all his moments in half with the kitchen door standing open.
—Anne Carson, “The Glass Essay”
A Good Place to Dig
When my mother left, I had no idea of her leaving. She took nothing with her, . . .Read more
Recently, after writing for a long while on World War II, I was exhausted by the subject, which had become a joyless task—as it sometimes needs to be. But then, the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend, my husband and I took our daughters to The Buck, a family-friendly motorsports park fifteen miles outside of Lancaster, . . .Read more
A campground in Mississippi, a cold December dawn: I climbed from a sleeping bag, befuddled by the clarity of morning. Blinking into sun-glare off the steady surfaces of ponds. Stumbling across frozen, heaved ground that had been mud the night before. Coffee could have helped, but I didn’t have any. . . .Read more
The Santa Lucia station swarmed with security guards, choking off all water traffic. And Carlo sat sulking in his gondola, an American couple in his charge, their faces burning a bright shrimp pink as they strained to get a look at the pop star.
In a reproduction of Cleopatra’s gilded barge, . . .Read more
Because, while a war blooms at the margins
of the other country that claims me, still
I am here with my ordinary grief and its language.
Because every time I open my mouth
I am an Arab opening my mouth
. . .