Tuesday, September 4, 2012


…Last night I saw the beaver swimming home across the lake after what I presume was another hard day’s work for him.  He’s quite a large animal, about the size of healthy Labrador.

…I’m just 75 pages from finishing an edit of my YA novel, “The Break-in Artists.”  I keep encountering clumps of writing that are either pretty good or pretty lousy. 
I think I tend to over-write sometimes.

…Here’s a story that appears in the latest print issue of Santa Fe Literary Review:

                                         In and Out of the Womb

            The guilt is real and so is her hatred for this thing she’s created.  In her lap it sits, a loaf, a swaddled globe warming the tops of her thighs, weighing less than a cat, not a worthwhile thought inside its bald head.

            Aww, she looks just like you.

            She has David’s nose.

            What a little bundle of joy!

            You’re so blessed.

            Cursed is how she feels.  Since the birth, a kind of asthma has leeched into her system, making it hard to breathe, as if a cape of 1,000 sand bags has been lobbed over her shoulders and chest.  It takes too much effort to see, to taste, to scratch her cheek or pick her nose.  Her tongue is swollen so thick it might as well be a python.  Her eyes are dry chick peas.

            Had she wanted this baby in the first place?  How did it happen, how did today become this day, bleak and oppressive despite Indian summer outside, the sun obscenely bright?

            And why had they named the child Maya?  It’s an exotic name, ethnic-sounding, ridiculous now that she allows herself time to ruminate over the four letters.  The moniker Maya and the gurgling-thing-stuffed-in-cotton Maya have nothing in common.  One suggests mystique and bronze skin, the other doom and pasty cottage cheese.

            “What are you doing here?” she says to the smelly lump in her lap, or to herself, she is not sure.  “Why have you failed me so?”

            The baby’s chocolate pupils search the air, as if for a streaking starling, then speak.  Ca-Coo,” it says.

            The woman sees through the infant through the floor through earth.  She sees herself, age eight putting up construction paper posters with her name then, FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.  But next she is nine years old, the posters are gone and she is staggering down the hall, knocking photographs off the wall.  Once she makes it to her bedroom, she locks the door, but on the other side wolves are laughing, then cannon blasts that shake the door until a bolt pops free, teaching her then and forever that doors are really not meant to be open or closed, that nothing can be hidden or protected because innocence is just an idea, a heartless hoax.

            She’s read news stories about women who leave their newborns on porches, toss them into dumpsters.  She’s not about to do that.

            Instead she takes Maya, puts her in the bassinet.

            She pours water into a kettle, puts it on a red-coiled stove, dumps dry pasta noodles into the hissing liquid, stirs. 

            When he comes home she will kiss her husband and tell David it was a good day.  She’ll repeat this routine for the years to come.  But when Maya and the other female children she will have are old enough she will share the dark secret so that they might know it is normal—this dead sensation—so they won’t, like her, feel trapped inside the dark womb.

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