Showing posts from July, 2020


My son lost his front tooth when he bit my arm  and I jerked it away. Every afternoon he spirals  into a fit of exhausted rage.  My midlife version is coiled but I pulled back a little too hard and the tooth went flying.  It was his third tooth of the pandemic, the second in a week.  Like those dreams  where my teeth splinter and crumble,  like the walls of a Berkeley wreck purchased by friends  back when two young teachers  could afford such a thing.  The husband put his hand  through drywall like bread dough. The wife patted it back in place: No, we need that.  We believed we could save things with our hands, though even then, we smelled our own desperation. This morning an earthquake hit, the single-jolt variety, the sound of wood creaking, old bones stretching. When our house stood foreclosed  three residents ago it became a party spot. The evicted owner's teenage son invited his friends.  There was beer and a yard, but no electricity. Have you ever seen a small child's sku

at five and a half

Yesterday you turned five and a half. You woke up in our bed and I relayed the news, this number clutched from the air. You said, "It's my birthday?" Half birthday, I said. Halfway between five and six, between the first COVID cases in Los Angeles and, if we are extremely lucky, the first vaccines needled into an upper arm. "Will we have cake?" you wanted to know. Time, at five and a half, is a torturous trip from popsicle to popsicle; there is so much waiting for all of us . Numbers are tricksters: the days since you were born, the days I've been in remission, the days in a row I've unrolled a yoga mat, the anniversaries that sideswipe me, a hit and run. I promised I would write you letters every month, and I haven't. I've written about myself instead, though you write me into new shapes every day. Today I am a net, full of holes, lightly shimmering. I tried to run a science lesson for you and the girls next door. We poured water in empty sp

dozens of narrow fault lines

Denise's mother flip-flopped onto campus in a white tennis skirt each afternoon. Smoker's cough, sun-browned legs heels a jigsaw of fissures. Her feet were a wonder to my shade-grown, eight-year-old self. Perhaps Denise's mother made a choice: tennis over moisturizer and a pumice stone. Perhaps in the hours between work and ferrying Denise to gymnastics, she had time for just one luxury. In the months between March and the relentless now, I became reacquainted with my feet. Saw them emerge from boots to meet air and driveway dirt. Was the nail on my second toe always so thick? Dozens of narrow fault lines spread across my soles, and I was helpless to stop them. I always think that knowing should save me. I knew about time and it happened anyway. It was a place where anything was possible I told someone yesterday, through my cotton face mask, referring to my work with former gang members. There was the guy who started a solar panel installation comp