A couple months after Buddy’s funeral, his brother and I are staring at stars, from inside an old bath tub someone dragged to the beach, pretending we’re at an ocean instead of a lake by drinking rum and Cokes from old yogurt containers.
He slid into the world with no warning, landing on the bathmat as I stepped out of a hot shower. He was so small his skin hung off his twiggy limbs like an oversized suit.
It’s good when you go on walks to know the names of things. That tree on your left, what kind of tree?
My mother rolls curlers in her hair, makes me wear my apple-green High Holy Days dress, and we cross the Golden Gate Bridge in her Buick Regal to see Charles Manson.
I’m in bed and then I fall right through the floor. It happens without warning. One minute I’m in bed with my husband, not having sex, and then I’m in bed with the new neighbors.
1. At twilight, driving Route 8, my father refused the headlights, saving, he said, the bulbs. Three lanes, that road, passing a dare.
Tom’s Firebird pulls into Alice’s street of windows lidded with wooden and peeked-through blinds. In the kitchen, Alice’s mother stops her dishwashing motions, then resumes.
It was raining, so everything was perfect. I am Marlene Dietrich said the man. He was standing next to the window, and the rain, as rain is supposed to do, slid down the pane like tears in a movie.
Midnight, and Frank is burying spoons again. He doesn’t know I dig them up, hours later, after I’ve put him in bed with his pills and sippy cup, after I’ve checked under the bed for CIA agents, opened the closet door to show him no Russians are hiding there.
I overhear one nurse telling another: she’s a strange old bird. They’ve no idea I used to be a real siren.
Her room’s sunny and warm, pleasant. Outside: -10 degrees. Ma’s wearing a blouse I bought her for Mother’s Day. Blue and lavender, with tiny violets, her favorite.
Just about anyone would say they don’t understand my chosen vocation. Just quit, it’s as simple as that. Besides you are much too young to work.
Even as a child she wanted to lie still in places so close to human routines as to be invisible. Places that offered a vaguely alarming anonymity.
Renata digs her thong out of her ass crack, brushes glitter on her boobs, and gets into Cage C, which is a respectable distance from the stage.
Mikey’s pink tongue laps at the blood from his nose. In the long-shadowed afternoon we trudge, weighed down by books, and sports kit, and the coats we’ve shed to fit this week’s trend.
There were fifty thousand little monsters screaming for an encore, Spaniards, Germans, skinny little French boys, Italians making wet sounds with their tongues.
The doors snap open on Addison, and the kid in dirty hightops and a sleeveless denim jacket that shows off a blue pitchfork tattooed on his bicep jogs forward beneath a backward baseball cap and grabs the purse off a babushka’s lap.
With the population now well aware of the physical and mental benefits of asceticism (low cholesterol, bradycardia, a delicate sense of happiness, spiritual fulfillment), everyone wants to become a hermit.