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father

Drawing Water

Picture if you will Tony Hoagland
and me, he in his Donkey Gospel
hat and me wearing my Hustle ring,
in his car patched with silver duct
tape and sagging passenger mirrors
discussing vehicles as metaphors

Illustration by Lauren Nassef

Fat Swim

Alice spots the fat women through the second-story kitchen window. It’s Wednesday, so Dad is out at his feelings meeting. She has just turned eight and has been dragging her drumsticks over different household surfaces to see what sounds they make. The sink has been working well—a satisfying ting, ting, ting. Also the panes of window glass—higher, though, and more muffled. The kitten meows on the ledge. Shush shush, Alice tells him, then bops him lightly on the head with a stick. 

Illustration by Lauren Nassef

The Obituary

When reporting on suicide, the CDC advises against including the suicide method or overly positive descriptions of the deceased for fear of causing contagion. 

Which gave Reporter Jane a problem in reporting on how her dad did what he did. She can’t mention the means, so readers will be left to wonder:

Was it a gun? A rope? A razor? Pills? Poison? A train? A hair-dryer? 

And (according to the CDC), the mildly suicidal among them will begin to salivate.

Trout

Two years after her mother’s death, Jane’s boyfriend asked her to marry him, and nine months later, they moved across the country to start their new life. Jane was twenty-nine, ready to step away from Phoenix after a hard few years. Ryan had taken a job at a recording studio in Tennessee, and he pointed out that the public schools there were as bad as the ones in Arizona, so she could easily fail teaching fourth graders in either place. Her father was a kind, if distant, ichthyologist, and he seemed to think the move was maybe not ideal, but maybe not a bad idea. Jane was excited to start over. She’d been adopted when she was six, and she thought of six as the beginning of her real childhood. As they drove out of town, she decided twenty-nine was the beginning of her real adult life.

Elegy on the Far Bank


i.m. Greg Greger (1923–2015)

I. West of Chekhov

A month since Father died. Back in our old house, 
sisters, where were we? Desert of childhood, 
      great preserver, 

for you we opened another closet.
Father the farm boy––what didn’t he save?
      There his Army jacket 

Illustration by Anna Schuleit Haber

Renovation

Water, I learned, was the most abundant element in nature whose only value came from controlled and measured distribution. Our lives invariably revolved around its input and output, and the same rules which governed the natural world were also true for our family’s own ecosystem.

Illustration by Gosia Herba

Worldly Goods

As far as Henry could tell she never seemed to wonder what it all amounted to or who she was becoming. Her thing with Henry was part of it, too. She liked him. He was her type. She said this in a way that simultaneously turned Henry on and gave him the feeling that he’d cleared a very low bar.