Issues

Funeral March

Lois At the exact moment Nan Paul died in her hospital bed, her thirty-five-year-old daughter Lois stood in the concessions room at St.Mary’s Health buying a Diet Coke. She had been hit with the déjà vu of being in this concessions room numerous times— with her Grandpa Hughes and her great-aunt— never with Nan. The walls, covered in seafoam green textured…

For Those of Us Who Are Easily Lost

Give us a phone number, something we can fold and pocket and take along. We’re like laboratory mice who have been whirled in a windsock in some equilibrium experiment. Back out on the floor their compasses are drunk, they stagger right, left, then fall into a heap of themselves. Locals…

A Study of the Infinite

Today you do not feel thirty but barely twenty parked along the Blue Ridges, when you wore the night around your hips, your mouth a passage he rewrote over and over. All that mattered was the restless tangle, the threat of blue lights, sirens you watched for over his shoulder.…

Letters to the Living

I. Charles Monterville Francis (1887–1918) The oldest Francis son. Died in combat during WWI. What do you know, for sure? Just now, I try to remember if the honeydew bloomed on both sides of the creek, if Pinkney’s apples placed first in this year’s county fair, if the church bells…

Myth

What sparked to life first— the apple/the seed, the belief/the believer, the sin/the woman?   We do not know. This was before our time, before time, before babel. Before light-fire danced in shadows along the cavern walls & warned us into thinking.   We do not know. Our snake-skinned bibles…

Interview: Jesse Donaldson

I’m drawn to Kentucky not because it’s some Shangri-La but because it is a complicated place,” says Jesse Donaldson, author of the recent novel The More They Disappear and a native of the Commonwealth who left to attend college in Texas. Now living with his wife and daughter across the country in Oregon, he has found himself drawn back to…

The City

After the rain, the alley smelled of wet screen door, the city-stink of piled up garbage and exhaust washed nearly clean. She noticed this only in spring. By summer the rain when it came bucketing down made thick mud of the foulness. The city dug in its heels, spread its…

Black Magic Gun

Here, in 1970, draft papers in hand, my father’s father begged the trigger of a .22 to blast a small piece of his son’s foot into the hillside so he would not leave the mountains to fight jungle communists. My father. His father. The gun. Gun of worn wood and…

Second Coming

I had known all my life the world would end with the new millennium, that Jesus would return and save the faithful and leave the wicked, and that girls who didn’t want to be left behind had better behave. I knew this because my father told me, me and the rest of the congregation at the Little Martha…

Attics

Tuesday’s midmorning creative writing class, and the fifteen students are clock-watching or note-taking or simply staring out the windows at the bright spring day. We’re talking about writing personal narratives and I am looking for words to describe a place inside from which such stories come. Heart. Belly. I can’t seem to think of a corporeal description that doesn’t make…