We watched spring arrive through the window. Every cherry blossom followed by every leaf. We moved from rest to panic. Relaxation to frustration. Robins in the grass are red and fat. Coffee has taken on new meaning. So has cooking, eating, looking into the green-gold eyes of the cat.
Once a week, I teach ballet classes online to children in California. I set my laptop on the ottoman and face it toward the kitchen counter. Ten minutes before class, one by one, they enter my virtual studio. Twelve-year-old Tia is in the digital waiting room. I click her name to admit her and a small square of live video appears on my screen. I wave to her and she waves back, microphone muted so as not to interrupt with background noise when class begins. Then Sara enters. …
Keep your eyes on me.
Don’t look at the road. Just let the landscape blur.
If you don’t think too much, the wind feels nice slipping through your hair and drumming in your ears with the engine. It sounds like sheets flapping on a laundry line when a hurricane is coming. How’s that for an image?
I’m thinking of two houses standing close, tall and made of brick. The windows match at the second story. There’s a white rope hitched between them and someone’s bed sheets are fastened to it by old wooden clothespins that look like dolls if you draw faces on them. Down below there’s a lawn in bad shape. A kicked over pail. …
While she’s chopping celery with a knife that dates back to 1978, brow knitted, I snap a photo and she looks up. My mother smiles but it’s not her smile. I snap again but I know I won’t use the second photo.
He reaches into the freezer for the champagne glasses chilled for breakfast. He sets them on the table. They’re frosty matte now, rather than transparent. When he pours the champagne, he tips the glass, letting it ride down the inside surface, so it doesn’t bubble over. My father is all seriousness when I click the shutter. He looks up, showing a slightly-chipped-tooth silly grin even though he is not a silly man. Ever. …
It’s a monsoon Sunday in July. M and I are driving to LA because we’re looking for The Cat. We know he’ll be there. It’s not that he’s missing. It’s just that we’re afraid he’ll change.
“I need you to tell me again how pointless this is.”
“Truly I don’t know what you see in him.”
“If you don’t stop it, I give up. You drink Ruination Ale just because he drinks it. You’re lost. I’m tired of it.”
“Like you haven’t been where I am.”
“I’ve been exactly there. That’s why I’m done. I gave you my advice. You’ll take it or you won’t. …
We were wicked drunk
in a warehouse
the rain pouring down
when I translated
the script into German
dressed in drag
I was thinking of the old man patient in his wheel chair listening for his cue
remaining hair plastered
wet to his forehead
cracked and everything was furiously bright
for an instant.
I could see your mad silhouette
A woman’s dress flung carelessly on your shoulders reddest lips
and bluest eyes
In that instant
I looked away to forget how you saw me
in a man’s old suit
And your shoes
my hair parted
and plastered like a vaudeville…
I wrote a domestic abuse essay once and won a contest with it. It always struck me as something very weird to win a contest over. It was the first thing I ever published. I was 19 and it was 1985.
I found the writing of it cathartic and maybe you could look at it that way: healing by exposure.
If you’ve ever tried exposure therapy to rid yourself of a particular fear or memory, you know it can be torturous, but it also puts a veil between you, the memory, and the actual occurrence. There was a study done at NYU not long ago that looked at the effects journaling had on PTSD patients. It’s difficult to face a traumatic past and easier to shove it deep than ponder it. …