Faces

I shift from foot to foot as I wait in line to see the Mona Lisa. The line snakes around the corridor of the second floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My mother and Aunt Regina insist that we must see this wonderful painting. Helen holds my hand and tells me that Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest painters who ever lived. I’m bored, but I pretend to be interested. Helen is very serious when she explains things.

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Elephant Shoe

They stopped for gas and lunch and to clean the windshield. The pump was in front of a bar called the Hitching Post in the town of Melrose. It was cold and the air from the Jeep’s heater had been getting cooler and cooler and Jack had three theories. One, there was a new air bubble in the heater core. Two, the core itself was bad and filling with rust as fast as he could flush it out. It wouldn’t be long before he needed to

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Lifespan

Morris Louis lived from 1912 to 1962, a life that spanned two World Wars, a war on drugs, a war on love, a war on fruitcake, and a war on the abstract expressionists. Morris Louis painted in drips, thinning his paint and letting it run in rivulets down the canvas, pooling into a muddy brown on the drop cloth. It can have the effect of looking accidental. He is generally considered to be in the school of My Child Could Paint That.

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A Little God in my Coffee

God dropped by last Tuesday morning, sat right down at my kitchen table, introduced Himself, and asked if I wanted to have coffee and some conversation. Believe me, I was thrilled He decided to come to my apartment, but all I could think about was why didn’t He remember that I don’t drink coffee. Perhaps God was using it in that generic way – let’s meet and have something to drink.

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Alamogordo

When the Santa Fe River ran again, it took nearly a week to wash away all the footprints in its sandy bed. By this time the cottonwoods were greening into their impossible lime, the color of those tight tank tops the high school girls wear even when it’s cold. Up by the Los Alamos labs, where I commute to keep those atoms safely splitting for America, the trees are dying of drought and bark beetle. So I notice the green in the Santa Fe

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Hotel Charlie

On the first full blazing-blue sky day of spring you stop by her office at the university’s Humanities Center, where, as well as teaching writing at the local community college in the neighboring town—where you also teach—she works as a secretary. The Humanities Center, its red brick exterior fringed with ivy, you call Hotel Charlie, a holdover from the phonetic alphabet you use when talking on the radio during your

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Iron

He’s here because Lily asked him to come. Just as he goes to the plays, the recitals, the “holiday” pageants that are really Christmas shows with one or two Hanukah songs, the gymnastics “meets” where kid do “routines” which consist of rolling around on the mats for a few minutes and then lining up for photographs which are available for purchase at twenty bucks a print. He has three or four of them, plus the ones he gets at

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Alongside the Pool

Based on the movement of stars and planets in the galactic realm, the Hindu priest had set their mother’s death anniversary for tomorrow at the Livermore temple just east of San Francisco. The three sisters were all spending the weekend at Tej’s house. The last time the siblings had been together, they’d watched their mother dissolving under white sheets and morphine infusions.

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Moving Parts

A week and a half ago, this place had been a hub, a veritable mart of commerce, a rainbow soap bubble of bargain-hunting consumers. Now in the post-Christmas void of aisle after desolate aisle, out of whatever ambience the house sound system was chasing—old hit parade stuff, “one toke over the line, Sweet Jesus,” or “Proud Mary keep on turning, churning, burning”—one of those, I could hear him coming before I ever saw him.

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