All in Nonfiction

Bloody Good

“Bloody Good” the article’s called, and in one picture, sparse sprigs of feathers hold blood to the light. Grim crease of mouth beyond hooked black beak, stern raise of brow above the eye. Their necks long, hooked and humble, as they fly. Serengeti gothic. In another: wild dog with wrinkled nose, teeth drawn, hackles raised over its shoulders like a hood. Caught in a deep-belly snarl over a picked-clean carcass and its drone of hovering, crawling, biting flies at a grimy vulture with beak left a crack open in surprise. Jackal sounds like cackle, as in, teeth that could laugh a throat right off.

Derby

Is it possible to unmeet? To miss each other by a second, to not fall into a unified step, your filthy black boots beside mine on a bush-lined street, summer berries falling and rotting at our feet, breath smoke in the crisp autumn cold? Is it possible to become strangers, again? 

Spotted

Moles. Spots, dots, freckles, and beauty marks. I’m covered in constellations of them, enough to trace out a few copies of the entire Roman pantheon. Instead of the spotted camouflage of a leopard whose fur can mimic the fall of dappled sunlight, my spots only draw attention to me through the thicket of evenly stained bodies at a beach in New Zealand. Here, where the pasty skin of Scottish transplants collides with the warm currents flowing south from the tropics, my moles were enough of a distraction to elicit a warning from a stranger.

Ants and Lashes

When I learned about the world between my lashes, the thriving bodies mating among my eyes and hatching in my follicles, I felt like a planet. I tried to hold magnifying glasses up to my face in front of the mirror to catch a glimpse of my kingdom of mites. I was fascinated knowing that I’d been born Demodex folliculitis free, and somehow they found their way to me across brow and lid and lacrimal.

Little Beat

You play the panyo. The pan-pee-an-yo. The piano. You pick out the notes with your tongue poking out of the corner of your mouth. Your fingers are chubby with baby fat. When you reach for a B, they slip. You miss the note.

The Third Stage

In the dream, you are given a chance to undo your cousin’s suicide. He killed himself on Wednesday. A day that is shockingly recent. You feel like everyone has aged eons since; you keep looking at calendars and realizing, with shock, that it is only Thursday. Only, somehow, Friday. You wish that time would hurry up and place more of itself between you and your cousin’s suicide, like a pillow. Like a cloud.

Natural Endowments

You are ten years old when you buy your first training bra. They come in 5-packs at the TJ Maxx, and your mother sighs when you plop it into the red basket. The bras are pink and decorated with flowers, something that would normally satisfy you, but the pink is just not the right shade. You buy them anyway and wear one to school on Monday.

Getting Off

He hadn't even touched me yet, nor I him. Which wouldn't have bothered me had I not now been thinking of porn for the last twenty-nine minutes we had been sitting in his car. When we said our fifteenth goodbye, he slipped past peripheral and came into focus. The way he parted my lips with his, almost made me forget about the blaring saxophone.

Foreclosure

Sometimes I drive from downtown Grand Rapids to the suburbs. I like to return to the house I grew up in. At 7767 Hidden Ridge Court, there is a two-story brick home with a white balcony. Hidden Lake Estates is an affluent neighborhood. There is an association. Everyone has the same brown mailbox

Where It Happened

The woods behind his house, past the gray barn with a dirt floor. Inside there might have been an old basketball hoop. I only went in once or twice, because I remember thinking, this thing is going to collapse any second.

Short Stories

When I was five my best friend Ruben Cabrera showed me the gun belonging to his big brother, a guy from an up-and-coming gang in the neighborhood that was gaining notoriety for its acts of violence against older, bigger gangs. In the toolshed, with the door cracked just enough for sunlight to slide in, Ruben brought the black gun up so that it seemed to hover over my nose and behind it in the dark an excited voice fired out, Cool, huh?

Operation Desert Storm

Fadel was the brother who stayed the longest, the one who called my grandma “Mom.” He wore strong, spicy cologne, the kind that chokes and stings, lingers long after he has left the room. My mom told me that when he lived with them, he got a brand new car every six months and threw away his undershirts after he had worn them just once. He was a good friend to my dad, Curtis, the dad who I never saw.

20 Tips for Your First Abortion

1. It does not matter if you were on birth control, if you forgot just this once, or if you didn’t think at all. It does not matter if it was your husband, your boyfriend, or someone who was really working those olive corduroy pants. You are pregnant. And you are the one that is freaking the fuck out. 

Drawing Class

I sniffed the right armpit crease of the polyester “Japanese” robe I was given, wondering how many had felt its itchy gold stitching on their bare skin before I had. From the conflicting musks, I guessed at least one woman and two men. I sniffed again. Three men. Four, even. Taking turns glancing at the clock and scanning the empty room, I was overwhelmed by the sensation of air sweeping my knees, cradling them cynically. I felt dry cracker dust fall in my cleavage from the stale matzoh I was eating and dusted it off with my pinky before Agatha sidled in, holding two long PVC pipes.

Castle Island

She fell off the pier at Castle Island and spent four days in the hospital with tubes in her lungs. My nana clutched her rosary beads so tightly she bruised her hands. Neither of them talk about it. I once asked Mom why she still loved Castle Island so much when it had almost killed her. We were a little ways off from that same pier, plucking hermit crabs out of the sand, letting them scuttle across our palms and plop back into the Atlantic.