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  • some poetic shock of intensity

    Mid-September, my husband falls from the lowest branch of the hemlock tree beside the kitchen – twenty feet! – and breaks his leg. Beastly tree! Beastly ladder. The latter splayed where it has fallen, the unnatural diagonal, the beastly orange of it all – until my brother in law disposes of it. The ladder is chekhov’s gun where suburban dads are concerned, a truth so predictable it became something of a joke. At night, I tell the boys scary stories. I make them up on the spot, or weave spooky elements to existing skeins of stories. Once upon a time, there were two boys who lived with their parents in an old white house on the top of a hill. Perry, ever the anticipator, writhes, twists his blanket, tenses, moans. “Should I stop?”  “Keep going.” “The house overlooked a lake – ” “What does overlooked mean?” “The house was at the top of the hill; at the bottom lay a large lake that was always exactly the color of the sky above.”

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  • She wasn’t just curious. She was planning this the whole time.

    Everything that the lake was, the island was in concentrate. Forested, generously canopied, bouncily carpeted in princess moss and many inches of pine needles, encircled by a lone, narrow footpath that widened at the shoreline’s clasp. Heady, resin-green smell of pine and low-bush blueberry. My pulse took on the grandfather clock’s booming consistency; my footfalls, though hushed, reverberated down to the lake’s bottom. Its diminutive scale and placement, virtually equidistant from the two beaches, such that it was always there, always beckoning – had some long-ago spirit, watching the meteor’s depression begin to fill, cut a circle from the untouched forest and nudged it in, purely to further the imaginations of future children?

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  • Then he picked up his rain coat, turned around, and went to hell  

    Wasp-waisted island off the coast of Maine. The point in the afternoon where the heat has gathered itself up in folds. Independence Day, which feels, this year, like a sour joke. I’ve stolen away to the third floor of the old, expansive house where we are staying. To write, I have a blunt pencil and a notebook, ostensibly mine, though seventy-percent full of patriotically-colored maps, courtesy my older son. The maps are loop-de-loops, whorls. Not recognizably places, though mostly contiguous.  The fury within me — it might, if I tried to draw it, look like these maps. Or it might be a scrawl that builds upon itself until the off-white page becomes inexorably minked, along with the pinky edge of my hand.

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  • Put the circle back

    I was in New York this week; I had gone for a run along the Hudson, a run in which I surprised myself by holding onto a sub-8 minute pace for eight miles, double the distance I’d done since my aborted half-marathon training last fall; I was hobbling into the dim lobby of the hotel, […]

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  • Elegy for a Pool

    Elegy for a Pool

    The other week, an old friend texted me a link to a story in one of the local papers. The pool where we’d spent so much of our childhood would be closing, permanently, at the end of the summer. The engineer who’d been called to do the evaluation determined that the structure was, essentially, irredeemable.  “I wonder if they’ll fix it or let it fester,” my friend wrote.  “100% fester,” I replied. The other scenarios – that the five towns whose budgets fed into the technical school would come up with the five million needed to bring the pool up to code, or that it would be drained, filled in, turned into something low maintenance, like a rock garden, or a handball court – were not so much unlikely as they were impossible to imagine.

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  • a turn towards the periphery in order to reach the center

    My father in law belonged to the camp who write to know what they think. (Joan Didion, also recently deceased, was, famously, a member, along with Flannery O’Connor and E.M Forrester. (Make what you will of my not having quickly unearthed any famous male subscribers.)) I didn’t know this until I read so in a […]

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  • They march on their soles up Main Street

    This cannot be how I spend the final minutes of my final maternity leave: tidying. Emptying the compost. Ferrying laundry. I should fix the screen door, I think, as I gather up the scythe and the loppers under a sherbet fantasia sunset. I look at the sofa pillows on the playroom floor (earlier, my home-from-school-again-again-again […]

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  • Goodness, Deconcentration, and the Great Concavity

    Easter, 2014. I put on a chartreuse dress and lilac suede sandals and Brady and I go uptown to my great aunt’s where we eat mille feuille from Lady M and drink probably too much white wine out of small, weighty hock glasses. On the way home I get off the subway two stops early and walk through Boerum Hill. It’s one of those slightly hard-edged robin’s egg spring days and I’m cloudy from the wine and a dread more existential than the standard sunday scaries. There’s a Quaker meeting house on the corner of Shermahorn and Boerum Place, a handsome red brick affair I’ve walked by countless times without registering its purpose but on this day I do. It cheers me immensely because Quakers don’t believe in god but they do believe in good and I think that if I concentrate more on trying to be good I won’t feel as bad about not liking my job and not knowing where and if my writing is going.

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  • Just a chapter and not the story itself

    A second birthday, a third maternity leave. A second August and most of September in our new old house. Great rains sometimes fall / evening cicadas sing /dew glistens white on grass / swallows leave. This is the week that thunder ceases (more is expected this weekend). Like that, the baby is two months old. Like […]

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  • Matters of the Heart

    Matters of the Heart

    One of the great, enjoyable mysteries of any pregnancy is what the baby will look like. How strange, then, to know my daughter’s interior so intimately months before I saw her face.

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