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Write About This LifeI let a squirt of Purell cover my palms. I punch in the code to open the locked ward door and let myself in. An aide is loudly calling bingo numbers, competing with the din of the Boston Philharmonic on the television. Of the eleven people in the room, only one is even looking at her bingo card.
One Morning in MaineThe L.L. Bean catalog arrives in early June, in an avalanche of hospital bills, condolence cards, and COVID-19 reopening announcements from Red Lobster and the Pinch a Penny pool supply store that proclaim, Jeffrey, we want you back!
Thin PlaceWe’ve entered the thin place again, where the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead feels as if we could rip it open with a breath. We make altars to our beloved dead, arranging flowers and symbols around their fading photographs.
I Am Al’s Lymphoma"You could just call me Cancer, but you’re better off not calling me at all, and hoping that I never call you."
Let’s Say"Let’s say the medical examiner rules the cause of death 'undetermined.' There’s not enough information to say exactly what happened, except that he fell."
The OddityLet’s say I was twelve, though thirteen or ten is just as likely. Our class waded across a dark shed in Wisconsin, past spotlit jars and a hand-carved sign: Nature’s Oddities. I remember little else of the field trip, but the pig travels with me, pickled and intact. Let’s say its four eyes were open, though of course they would have been closed.
Sisters Making DinnerThis party’s over, my sister says her patient said. Then my sister lifts her chin and says, Where is the fresh mozzarella? This was right before she died. The patient, not my sister.
Nashville: March 3, 2020The night of the tornado, I let you sleep. I let you stay caught in restless dreams beneath the thin blankets, the taut shape of your body like the land beneath a dusting of snow.
The State FairFour teenage girls lived at the group home where I worked in my twenties. They went to public school, made friends, and sometimes did typical teenage things like go to prom or try out for the tennis team.
ServingThere were warnings. There were no warnings. Slipping into my black boots and olive flight suit, braiding my hair, pressing my name tag on my breast, zipping my B-4 bag, kissing Cowboy goodbye, I was leaving.