Bobbi sits with her husband

Shoulders squared, she recalls. You must wear a calm, unremarkable smile. Unaware, her left hand rests on his calf, ring finger prominent for her half of the photograph. She wears an apricot dress, freshly pressed for Mass, and pineapple decorative ruffle sandals, flat on the floor, hair gathered in a complex construct of barrettes and […]

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Lord, July

Lord, July: All your scarecrows are spurned in Issaquena, blighted and lonesome and gray. Listened to the hollow burs as we walked, somehow kept time to their fidgety rattle. Some soldiers, the young ones, reached down to snag one, press their fingers along the stems, as if they never saw cotton before, as if they […]

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Pentimento

He presumes to understand the cat sanskrit writ across the front mud yard, the vigorous dialect of entrails, the still-wet scribbles collected around the jacaranda tree trunk. He takes a rake to the mess, gathers bones in a small paper sack, folds dirt over the killing ground. This has become his morning ritual, and he […]

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Where we go dancing

Me and Fo’ were well-digging since 6:30 that morning — same as every day since the middle of August — at Missus Bryant’s place near the edge of the Tallahatchie, and we looked exactly as what we claimed: gritty all the way under our hats and teeth. Miss Francine, Fo’s older cousin from Chicago, said […]

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The point of a circle

i. In this twice-awful summer, we’ve become seasoned to the swell of black powder and scorched cedars coming in from Dorian Bandy’s old tobacco farm. One pretty day, I’ll invite you to see for yourself the swath of red-dirt graves stretched out like a shadow across that particular valley.  Joselia, it’s not just us who […]

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Lime slippers

I . You said:  “So — and just so you know this, just so you recognize what I am telling you — this will mean the end of your crisp hospital corners.” “Française, please, Marie. Pas d’anglais s’il vous plaît.” You squeezed your eyes shut. You hated this; I knew this about you. “Cela signifiera […]

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sub.stance

I remember when dust was more beautiful than substance, something uncatchable, something whisked into cat corners. This was home. This was being a child.  There is a box of in-season lettuce on the sidewalk beside the glass doors of Karl’s Barber Shop. Ladybugs — many — are sitting on the cardboard folds. Do they sit […]

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The man on the other side of the door

This is a place of unremarkable geometry, of hand hewn beams and reclaimed cabinets, of cotton curtains and poplin tablecloths.There are stout lines built around her silly feminine froth. You might savvy her girlish moods: the bright New Orleans yellow in the hallway, or maybe the baby doll figurines on the bookcase. But don’t forget, this […]

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Chicken scratch

It’s the same, every night. I reach for the dream, and I’m grabby-fingered, grievous. The dream– no, she — is my beautiful. The woman, alone, in front of a barn, tossing scratch to the chickens. She wears a faded bluey sundress, and it is judiciously short, judicious sassy, cut just above the knees, threadbare and […]

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