When I am almost asleep, there is a noise. A noise like singing. A noise humming or whispering but a song too, like maybe Mary is singing or maybe someone else. It comes from far away.
It was poorly applied and dark and reminded her of a sort of tunnel vision she once had, one of those episodes where the edges of your vision spiral into themselves like the shards of a kaleidoscope, and at the center of it all you see an old television airing a documentary about honeybees. There’s a disease spreading through the colony. A worker bee gets sick and knows, by instinct, to fly off to a remote area where he will die alone and afraid, because this is what you do to prevent the rest of the hive from getting sick.
She Called Herself Lola
“Ay, Connie. It might matter in your pueblito in Jalisco, but not here. I heard about a woman who invited ex-boyfriends to her birthing room in the hospital. Imagínate!”
A newborn’s heart is about the size of an adult man’s thumb. An adult man’s heart is about the size of that same man’s own fist. At age eleven, Jonah estimates his own heart to be the size of an adult woman’s fist if the woman is slender and strong and doesn’t wear rings.
I had immersed myself into America so fully, succumbing to its soft, rolling English with such abandon, that encountering someone from my country of origin felt like a kind of violation. I hadn’t been to Finland in eight years, almost never spoke the language in New York, and considered myself fully integrated. I had long since stopped checking American tree trunks for authenticity, scratching with my nail to see whether it left a mark, as I had done during my first year. I had seen the leaves of the trees grow and fall and grow again, had missed their green shadows in the desolation of winter. I was here. This was real. Finland was a souvenir.
“Getting into a character makes you keep looking for the thing in yourself you don’t want to find,” I said. Well, technically, Philip Seymour Hoffman had said that, but what did they know? “I think we should all try that at least once.”
“Middle of Night” and “Milk”
Middle of night, too late for candy or games. Scratch of Mommy’s slippers in the hall. We are three days without my father who left to who knows where?
The Thing in the Garden
Jodie’s body is a garden. After the cancer came they took off her breasts, and over the thick belt of scar, she tattooed Eden. Those gnarled green branches, that tongue-pink tropical flower, peaches so ripe and round you’d think you could squeeze them still. I held her hand in the tattoo shop, while the girl she’d worked with on the design bent over her body, holding the tattoo gun. She was a skinny girl, her head half shaved in the way the young kids are wearing it now.