Author archives:

The Lives of Isaac

I was born a Jew who could sell a riddle to the sphinx. In my mouth nouns married adjectives and entered the world as a sales pitch– a quick hard sell, offer driven, Big Value for a Buck. I had fleshy features, small sturdy hands and sawed-off white teeth that could tear small pieces of

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The Cutters

(Martha Manning Dress Factory) I was afraid of them, I think– afraid of their white bulky underarms, the way they handled bolts of cloth, pulling them from the shelves or tossing them on the tables almost without effort, how they smiled at the dock foreman, how they called me “Pet” and said I was shy.

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Miss Strong and I

When Miss Strong caught me during our forty-five minute naptime reading a Superboy comic she took it from me and tore it apart without hesitation the way a tall skinny man I had seen on Ed Sullivan ripped in half a Southern Bell White pages with his hands and then held out both halves to

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On the Banks of the Mascoma

The water pitched and plunged, a foamy white swirling to a froth on the dark rocks drubbed smooth. You pulled your hand from mine and went to sit on a grassy ledge. Let’s not talk, you said and put your slender fingers to your lips. I watched a crow burst into flight and drank bourbon

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Two Salesmen

(Sunday Night, fall 1961) “Work hard,” my uncle Harold says “and you’ll get somewhere, boy” and my father nods his head of black curly hair. With drinks cradled in their hands they sit side by side on two throne-shaped swivel chairs, staring at the small black screen set in the tan console, carved wood doors

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Memorial

It’s nice to remember the houses floating on water. It’s nice to stand on shore and sing a hymn of praise while candles burn in the windows. It’s nice to dream the loaves rising in ovens and the floors dusted with flour, the women with beautiful hair falling like cities into darkness, the long nights

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The Long Heat Wave

for Gerald Stern Give me back the long heat wave, the sweat dripping from eyelashes, the stained blouses, the black windows, the spiders dangling from their silver bridges, the wasps lighting on the branches of the cedar bushes as they waited for me to make a dash for the screen door. Give me back Herman

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Rosh Hashanah

“This is a time for reflection,” Rabbi Borax says in a mass email. I hold my own service. The moths clinging to the screens pray to get in. The orchids open their lovely legs. At the end of the row, crows badger each other over hymnals. I cut the shofar loose. My dog smells the

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I Did It

I took all the free samples at the chocolate shop even though the lady behind the counter frowned after my first handful and tried to wrest the basket from my grip. I walked out without buying a single chocolate, though I had sat there for hours sipping hot water through a straw. I know what

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Phaeton

History tells the story again and again. Horses buck. A chariot runs wild, reins ripped from the son’s grasp. Missiles fall. Below, seeds blow through armored bellies. A rainbow floats south in the tarry ooze. The mangled armies clash in the dust. Villages collapse into sinkholes. Families lie under debris. The son says a prayer,

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