Fiction

The Words on My Skin

The traits that make me who I am are written on my skin. My biggest words are in my mother’s handwriting—smart, loving, resilient, organized. She wrote them on my back because there’s no way I’ll ever be able to reach that skin myself. Mother’s largest word is considerate, written in her father’s blocky letters, filling […]

Read

El Cantar of Rising Sun

On the Avenue Count the houses of worship: From Tyson Street to Tabor in Olney, you can walk a straight avenue of redemption, rising with the sun. Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Episcopal, and Evangelical—every people to their house. Only I visit them all, as part of this mester de juglaría, this cycle of irregular meter and […]

Read

Travels with the Snow Queen

Part of you is always traveling faster, always traveling ahead. Even when you are moving, it is never fast enough to satisfy that part of you. You enter the walls of the city early in the evening, when the cobblestones are a mottled pink with reflected light, and cold beneath the slap of your bare, […]

Read

The Drowning Line

To Anna–Maria, my roots, my strength It’s the satellite phone duct–taped around my left bicep that wakes me up. Not the late October noises in the deep night, nor the ice–cold water that cleaves my body in half at the abdomen. It’s the desperate ringing, muted under layers of plastic to keep it dry, and […]

Listen   Read

The Plague Givers

She had retired to the swamp because she liked the color. When the Contagion College came back for her thirty years after she had fled into the swamp’s warm, black embrace, the color was the same, but she was not. Which brings us here. The black balm of dusk descended over the roiling muddy face […]

Read

The Sound of Salt and Sea

The funeral was at dawn, the cold wind off the ocean rippling coat hems and tugging at scarves. The words were said, the blessing given, the family offered one final chance to make their farewells. When they had finished, the pallbearers picked up the edges of the thin pallet the old woman was laid on, […]

Read

Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands, Oh, where have you been? They have slain the Earl of Moray, And they laid him on the green. —Child Ballad 181, “The Bonny Earl of Moray.” Things have consequences. Kids figure that out around the time they’re old enough to realize that when they touch a hot stove, they […]

Listen   Read