Saturday, February 28, 2009


acclaim \uh-KLEYM\, verb:
to welcome with loud approval; praise highly

(A claim. On you. On me.)

This is the second time I've gone to visit you, and I don't know if I can do it again. You stared out the window this time. Set in your wheelchair, frail and hunched, the gray shawl across your shoulders that Mama made. You were so still, I worried. The only assurance I had was the rise and fall of your shoulders. You wouldn't even look at me. I talked to you and you sighed. Your eyes never left the outdoors. I wonder if you were actually looking at anything, or just simply not looking at me.
Janet suggested I write you this letter. She can't understand, but rather than argue I've set myself down at this paper to do what she has said. She means well and I can't deny that this might be just what I need. If you decide to read it, that's up to you, but I hope you will. I hope you have gotten this far. Because what I came those times to tell you, what I had hoped to tell you, is that we were all proud of you. Yes, proud. But you have to understand that we couldn't express it. He's dead. He's dead now. A life is gone. But you are still here.
Please come home, ma. Please come home. The bed and his ghost are gone.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


froward \FROH-werd\, adjective:
not easily managed; contrary

I saw your mind as an orange today. The outer layer rough and tough and weather-worn but relatively easy to pull away - after a puncture. I stuck my fingernails through and I pulled it back bit by bit, turning the globe over in my hands, creating orange masses of islands and continents, which also eventually were torn away, leaving only the ocean of pasty whiteness, that unnamed substance. Even with the tough casing gone, I still couldn't get at the inside of it, but I could smell it, could feel it when I added pressure and squeezed just a little. But I didn't want to break it. I wanted to strip that skin off, get to the fruit inside. So I tenderly picked at unseen seams until they gave, and it felt like paper does when you rip it from side to side, along its grain - satisfying. I did this until all that was left was the tiniest membrane between me and the millions of tiny bubbles of juice that are held together in what we call an orange, just waiting to be bitten.


myopia \mahy-OH-pee-uh\, noun:
shortsightedness; lack of foresight

My opia. My open mouth. My aaaaah, ooooh.
You dipped low. You undertow. You make me go.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


tome \tohm\, noun: a large, often scholarly, book

Sitting alone with your books, at first all I can do is look at them. Stacks upon stacks upon stacks in the corners and lining the shelves and forming felled heaps on the floor, but organized into some sort of categorized set, I know. Mostly leather-bound, these are heavy books, their pages lined with gold feather. The room smells like one big book, and I am in it. I understand now how you could spend hours in here. Time stops. Words are seconds. Pages are minutes. A book in here is only a day - at least it was for you. For me a book would be a month, two months. I never had your dedication for it. I lived outside this room. This room of thick outsides and crispy insides. This room of texture and weight. One feels solid within its walls. Kept. Held. Important. I can feel you in this room. I touch these books, knowing you have also touched them, and I flip them open and flick the pages through my fingers and I pause at what you've written in the margins. I could spend the rest of my life finding and contemplating all the rows of text that you have spent yours underlining. I will run my hands over everything, stick my nose in the bindings, and steady each spine in my palms. I will find you here and I will settle in it, wanting nowhere else to go.

Monday, February 16, 2009


interminable \in-TUR-muh-nuh-buhl\, adjective:
so long as to seem endless; never stopping

Listening to the sound of the slow drip of the bathroom faucet, he lies awake in bed, staring at the ceiling. Counting each plop, he waits for sleep. At one hundred and fifty seven, his eyes won't even droop, and he knows it's useless. Throwing the blankets off of him, he swings his legs around to the side of the bed and puts his flat feet on the floor. Placing his hands on either side of his butt, he clenches the mattress and stares at his toes. He wiggles them. Splays them. Tries to cross one over another, but he never can.
Sighing, he pushes himself up, readjusts his pajama bottoms and heads for the kitchen. Passing the open door to the bathroom, he stops, leans in, and gives the cold water tap one more twist to the right. The water stops for a second, but then continues. Watching passively for a minute, he contemplates the droplets as they collect at the mouth of the faucet and then fall splat onto the ceramic bowl of the sink.
Reaching out, he sticks his pointer finger into the opening and lets the water trickle to his knuckle where it slips and snuggles into the creases below his thumb, before running into the center of his palm. Shivering a little from the coolness of it, he watches as the tiny stream of water that started from his finger eventually pools at his wrist and absorbs into the long sleeve of his cotton pajama top, and the reverberation of water droplets finally stops.
Holding back the flood, he stands with one arm extended. If only he could lie down, he would sleep.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


yielding \YEEL-ding\, adjective:
1. not resisting; compliant
2. not stiff or rigid; easily bent or shaped

Giving up. Giving in. Giving out. All the same way to admit that I lied. And it wasn't even easy. It would have been easier to tell the truth to you. But you didn't want to hear it. So I'll say it here. I'll say it while I'm watching you sleep, but I'll get out of bed to do it, and sit in the chair by the window, where I'm grateful for the opened crack of the window, the cool wind rushing in with every movement of the night.
The night.
That's it. That's what I wanted to tell you. It was the night. I followed you, and I was right. You went to her place. And I watched as you ran up the stairs to her door and knocked. I parked the car under the lamppost so that if you looked behind you, you might see me. But you didn't even turn around. You just faced the door and waited.
I might have honked the horn. I thought about it. I thought of rolling down the window and screaming out, "I see you! I see you!" My finger tip played with the button, but then the door opened and the light from inside was thrown across your body, and she leaned out and kissed you on the lips. You leaned in and then you were gone. All it took was one step forward, towards her. And you were gone.
My own body jerked forward. I can only say it felt like my heart was lunging for you. My insides heaved. When I finally opened the door, it was so that my mouth could open and close, open and close, gasping for breath or attempting to expunge everything, I don't know.
So when I told you just now, tonight, in the kitchen, that I didn't care. That it didn't matter. Please don't believe me. Please turn around right now. Please don't be sleeping. Tell me that it's over. That it was all a mistake. Lie to me too. And I'll believe you.

Monday, February 9, 2009


toady \TOH-dee\, noun:
a fawning flatterer; humble dependent

He struts around the room, head cocked, tail flexing in ess patterns like a snake skidding through water. He reaches the arm chair in the corner of the room where the other one is curled up on the cushion, comfortable. There is an almost imperceptible guttural, throat-clearing sound and suddenly the poor resting thing's head pops up. Frightened she looks around, but once catching his eye, she immediately uncurls, hops down and scurries away once her paws hit the floor. He watches her go with both an angry glare and a smug look. His whiskers twitch, and he licks his lips. Once all but the tip of her tail has left the room, he leaps to the spot she has just left behind and makes himself at home. Once, twice, three times he circles the space and then settles. Tucking his head by his feet, he begins to purr loudly and falls into a peaceful sleep.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


denigrate \DEN-i-greyt\, verb:
to attack the character or reputation of; defame

Lying in bed he snored while she still lie there fully awake. Naked. The room dark and cold. His body warm but her not wanting to snuggle up against him. She was on the inside, by the wall. She put her hand out and pressed it flat against the white, pasty coldness of it. Through it, she sensed the thick, frosty air outside. She turned her head to the window above his desk and saw the sky was beginning to turn colors. No longer dark blue, it was turning a slate gray. The winter color of morning. She shivered. He snored, lying on his stomach, with his head facing out toward the door. His arm and upturned palm the closest thing to her. Looking at him, feeling her nakedness on the crisp sheets, she knew she had to go.
She felt with her toes the end of the mattress, searching for her underwear. Her big toe looped around something crumpled and she slowly slid it toward herself. Feeling with her fingers, she found the right openings and slipped them carefully up her legs, trying not to move too much. She thought she remembered her bra on the floor, along with the jeans and sweater she'd worn out the night before. The hardest part would be crawling out of bed and putting on her clothes without waking him. She mentally crossed her fingers and hoped that he'd still be heavily sedated from the alcohol, but the fact that she was awake didn't convince her that was the case.
Flipping back the thin blanket that had been just barely covering her, she started to scrunch down to the end of the bed. Almost there, his head gave another snort and his body shifted. She paused. Looked at him. He was on his side now, still facing out. She waited and after a minute of nothing, she started to move again. Off the bed and around to his side, she tip-toed. Bending over to pick up her jeans, her breasts hung forward, the nipples hard from the cold air. Suddenly he grunted and she looked over at him. She saw his eyes were open, but he didn't move. Their eyes made contact for a few seconds. Feeling uncomfortable in her position, she moved to cover herself and stand up straight, but then he turned and faced the wall.
So she put on her clothes, no longer trying to be quiet. And when she was done she grabbed her purse, took a quick look around to be sure she hadn't left anything behind, and then escaped out the door of his apartment, went quickly down two flights of stairs and pushed the first floor door open to the outside. The chill of the early morning met her there. But this coldness she welcomed. Like diving into a pool of water and coming up for air. She walked to her car, thinking, never again. Never again.

Monday, February 2, 2009


chaff \chaf\, noun: the stiff strawlike part of grains such as wheat, oats, rye

Flax seed.
Nuts and bolts.
The building blocks of my body.

On top.
Of the other.