Friday, March 30, 2012


it was cold. they had wandered out the lane slowly, but careful of the time. they couldn't miss the bus.. not after the last time.
she fingered the dents lining the low part of her back.
it was a monday, and she had thought the weekend would never end. chores upon chores plus special saturday cleaning.
and the extra cleaning in the kennel. their fingers still reeked of bleach mixed with dish detergent, and dog hair.
she scuffed her shoes against the pavement, walking quickly, her sister, elyssa, was only two steps behind, but they weren't speaking.
they were having one of those days.
elyssa thought she had it worse.

maybe she did. she'd go quiet for days or weeks. which wouldn't have seemed strange to everyone else.
elyssa never opened her mouth much to others, she doubted teachers or cousins or friends at church had ever heard her utter a complete sentence.
but she always talked to her little sister. often the words were angry, sometimes they were strung in a song,
but most of the time, the opening of her mouth was a clear plastic knob that turned on her tears, full blast.

it was cold, she blew smoke rings that were actually steam, and guessed the temperature out loud
32, i betcha its 32 degrees. freezing.
silence. her sister didn't even look up between the long black bangs that covered her forehead down to her nose.

they drove the mother crazy, deliberate disobedience! she'd shriek, reaching for the nearest wooden spoon or scissors or clenched fist.
what good is a person, if you can't see their eyes, she'd advise
elyssa lying fetal and trembling at her feet.

i learned in mr marino's science class that 32 degrees is the freezing point, and i think this airs frozen .look. look!

but she didn't. instead, she raised her head just a centimeter on the left side, as if she'd heard something,
and sure enough, the yellow bus, E1, pulled up and stopped in front of the pothole at the bottom of their farm lane.

they single filed as always, the oldest first. she was jealous for a minute, wanting to have rock paper sicissorsed for the right to climb up first.
instantly, she regretted her jealousy.

hey eggggroll. fortune cookie.

tiny snowballs of paper and spit flew towards them as they turned left at the drivers seat and scanned the bus for empty seats.
it was the big boys, the flunkers. spit wads and tiny corners of math and english homework pelted her sister and ricocheted off into her face.
the little one reached up to protect the northern hemisphere of her face, magnifying glasses framed in plastic tortoise shell.

hey eggroll! fortune cookie! you ugly chinkeyes! go back to japan.

it didn't make sense , and she wanted to say it, to slam their faces into the the metal frame of the window and shriek it,
but there was nothing to be done. she shot them a glare. their snaggle teeth and home made mullets, more humiliating
than anything they could manufacture from their mouths.
the sisters single filed into a green seat on the right side of the bus. elyssa was sobbing, of course, but this time not talking. a silent retreat.
the younger one was quiet as well, picking at the green duct tape on the seat back in front of her, with her peeling fingernails.
a small, red seething had begun growing warm inside of her, jaw set, she sat clicking out comebacks on the typewriter roll in her mind.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

the only story i know

they married in the winter, between valentines day, and her 21st birthday.
this is how it was.
she was the basketball star. blonde hair to her waist, one of three beautiful sisters,
narrowing the halls of the mennonite high school with her brightly colored flannel mini skirts. she was a dream.

he was one of six, a twin. the hair started to thin at the age of 16. in the front, and soon whole handfuls from the top of his head disappeared.
he was quiet, she said, handsome but not noticeable. he followed at a close distance, watching but never extending his hand. he pulled on his unlettered jacket in the afternoons, rode in the passenger's seat of his sisters car. when they were seven, after another dinner of blueberry soup, he and his twin sister jan, packed a feed sack of apples and dinner rolls and ran away.
a search party of 2 neighboring amish families, numbering in the 20s, scoured the summer corn with utility flashlights and and an approaching fire siren.
the pair spent the evening, howling their regret from the dairy barn.

when she was 19 she lived in upstate new york. an orphanage. rooms of children on single beds under green blankets. they wanted mothers. they wanted fathers.

in 1981, she gave birth to her second perfect child. a blonde halo of hair, blue eyes like her father, a sharp chin like her mother. her whole hand around her brother's little finger.
she, was the plan.

in the don't touch anything room of our house, the brother and sister's picture hung in a gold frame on the south wall. "where are you in this picture?" i asked the blonde brother, slouching in a striped sweater at the kitchen table.
"i was in heaven" he replied. "i was in heaven with sister. you've never been?"

i put myself to bed early. gathered my knees and hands close, for prayer.
they only let children with halos in to a place llke heaven.
and i , had been born
under a dark, black, cloud.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


there's something i have
palm readers on post street call it an aura
purple, green
the angle i tilt my chin.
my hair smells of mint listerine.
my mouth tastes like unwrapped butter waffles.

i met her on the standing side of a dinner out
she was with her husband.

trusting her, i put down my tray
spread out her map
finger pointed
them to their new life.

her eyes
shining with something
i see in my sleep.

i've always been like this,
how, i am completely unsure.
i separate my issues into small piles
hang them up with clear plastic pushpins before bed.

on the far side of a glass pitcher of ice and orange slices
we watched the sun find us.
we ate vegan sandwiches and seasoned potatoes.
she told me about dying.

the telling was so natural
laughter and the breaking of her neck at intervals.
i gathered it in, her story
asleep for months in a hospital bed
pictured it
awake in an upstairs of white light
like she was reminding me
golden bodies and the absence of night.

i packed her light into a blue backpack
climbed on a plane,
floated it across the ocean with me
to this place.

i walk around without fear.
breaking my neck at intervals
move forward, back, forth
into formations of girl, into sitting in a corner or floating next to a chair.
the front compartment of myself
open and light.