Ichthyology, JMWW, Winter 2005
The doctors said, when she was born, that the gills
would eventually fade away on their own. Nothing to fear, they said; no
more unusual than the rare child born with a tail, or a dense pelt of
fur, or a single sharp tooth jutting from its new pink gums. We carry,
after all, the genetic memory of our furred and finned and feathered
ancestors in our twisted strands of DNA; dreams of ancient seas are
bound to surface now and then.
A review of Brock Clarke’s Carrying the Torch, Small Spiral Notebook, October 2005
Each of the nine stories in Brock Clarke’s Carrying the
Torch ends with a turn — not the O. Henry twist or the Joycean
epiphany, but something subtler. Faced with the loss of love or home or
family, the characters in Carrying the Torch realize that life demands
compromise and loss in return for small graces. These are quiet and
hopeful stories that suggest that we not hope for too much.
Becoming a ghost requires planning, but few put enough
effort into the process. They end up haunting a spot out of
circumstance or necessity: a treacherous intersection, a tall bridge, a
lonely room in a dark nursing home. And that seems to me the greatest
avoidable tragedy, because we all have the same destiny, as inescapable
as love or taxes, but we waste our time denying the inevitable and fill
up our idle hours contemplating our past errors or planning for a
fleeting, ephemeral future that will seem like a firefly’s flash when
we awaken in the dark eternity haunting the wrong place.
The toy store on Grand Avenue didn’t sell squirt guns.
At least not gun-shaped squirt guns. They sold “squirters” shaped like
fish, flowers, and whimsical beasts which promised to “spit”? water up
to twenty five feet. The red plastic triggers were disguised as dogs’
tongues and fishes’ fins, and the water shot from smiling mouths and
Summer Reading, Somewhat.org, July, 2005
The summer everyone read Faulkner, I read Hemingway. Out of spite.
Two Shadows (photograph), Rumble, June-July 2005
Mermaid, Rumble, June-July 2005
While the other kids blew bubbles, Maddy clung to my
neck. She didn’t cry or scream, and she held on loosely, not with the
death grip some kids have. For five Wednesday afternoons, Maddy wrapped
her pudgy arms over my shoulders and rested her bottom on my hip while
I shouted encouragement to the rest. At the end of the class I set her
down on her feet, she ran to her mother for a towel, she came back and
stooped to kiss my cheek and whisper, “I love you, Penny.”
Call Me Pearl, Ballyhoo Stories, Spring 2005
We were working that summer for Herb’s dad, Ray Dwyer,
who owned an antique shop in St. Paul. Herb grew up in the shop,
surrounded by highboys, vanities, and mirrored coat racks. From the
time he was ten, he knew furniture like most boys know bicycles and
baseball cards. I swear he could tell a genuine Stickley table from a
reproduction, blindfolded and bound to a chair, just by smell.
Haute Couture, Somewhat, February 2005
They first appeared at the Dior Fall show in Berlin,
strictly a second-string show, weeks after the season was opened in
Paris. The Paris show had not gone well–young upstarts from Barcelona
and Lisbon were gnawing away at the old houses, stealing the glow of
the flashbulbs with their daring hemlines and Third World models who
still had the smell of refugee camps hovering around their sallow
faces. At first the fashion press excoriated Dior for the publicity
stunt, accusing them of making a grotesque farce with their three
dog-faced, statuesque models wrapped in silk and cotton.
Pieces, Small Spiral Notebook, January 2005
I find my mother’s pink Pyrex mixing bowl at the antique
store on Fairview Avenue. It’s in the hands of a fat woman in a blue
down parka, and she’s holding it upside down, squinting at the sticker
on the bottom.