A cadre of ghosts populates my forty-three years of nursing memories and creates an extended family of sorts, a congregation of souls. They appear in images of an intimate moment shared, a last breath fluttering into oblivion, a backrub to withered skin, a final word of good-bye to a family, or just me, alone at the bedside listening to one of them breathe.Continue reading… "It Only Hurts When I Remember"
KMHA went dead today. The “voice of the people” silenced in the middle of some sad country song. Life moves along the prairie edges – some don’t make the wide turns, hug too close to the ground, their bodies pulled out from the ditch. Inside a weather-worn trailer a newborn kicks its way into the world as a bottle rolls to the floor and out the door to reappear under melted snow in a spring thaw. Underneath the frozen groundContinue reading… "Tribal Radio"
The two men could not have been more different. One kept a picture of Jesus over his bed, the other a framed photograph of a naked woman in his living room. Both lived in cheap quarters along South Tacoma Way, in the years C-130s routinely flew low on their approach to the McCord Air Base. Vietnam was winding down. Noise from the planes rattled windows and caused conversations at the law school, where they were bothContinue reading… "Love Refugees"
It’s 2012 and Cassie is dancing. It’s a Friday in spring at a place off South Street at a weekly party known as “alien sex club,” and Cassie is dancing. She is painted in pastels and primary colors from tattoos that swim like a school of carp over her body, and her hair is long and green. It swims, or swishes, or spins: whatever movement freshwater fish make is what the tail of her hair did and does. And it is aContinue reading… "And Cassie Is Dancing"
Simon has avoided me since I arrived a day and a half ago but tonight he leans across the table towards me, his green eyes intent, abandons his meal after a couple of bites and pelts me with questions while I try to eat the dinner Sarah has made us.
‘Did you see much of your aunt and uncle when you lived in Scotland? Where did they live? When did you first meet them? How did they meet each other?’ Each question comesContinue reading… "Trapped"
A gorilla’s hand looks almost identical to a human’s. Palm smooth while the back can be hairy. With meaty fingers and strong, opposable thumbs. A gorilla’s hand holds branches and trunks as they scale trees in search of food. Wide enough to cradle a coconut or jack fruit or a baby’s head. Gentle enough to peel and proffer bananas to a sibling, to groom and pick lice from a lover’s fur.Continue reading… "On Hands: A Meditation"
The theme of MOST funerals is something like sadness, or missing Nana, or general mourning. The color scheme is black, and the food selection is bland (because now that the dead can’t taste, why should you enjoy your chicken piccata). Going in cocky and all-knowing can get you into trouble. Knowing the religion of the dead is a good lead, but that only lets you know the flavor of mourning to expect.Continue reading… "On Mourning Properly or the Rules for Grieving and Dealing with Others Grieving at Funerals"
Under the artificial but highly industrialized canopy that was the D-train running directly over our heads, we stood outside for our first heart-to-heart conversation. It was summer in New York City, distinct in humidity and activity from summers anywhere else in the world, and the workshop process for your Black queer theater group with its five playwrights under fellowship had begun. Monumental was the fact that we were BlackContinue reading… "A Love Letter to Andre Lancaster from Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko"
She introduced herself as Wendy, a nurse practitioner. She seemed like a pleasant person, fast smile, blond, athletic, and about ten years my senior. “What brings you here today?” she asked.
“I’m here because I fucked up,” I said. She cocked her head.Continue reading… "Imminent Danger of Sudden Death"
I can almost feel the give of the wall, how with enough pressure it will flex, snap, crumble. How a sledgehammer might feel in the hand, the swing of it, the heft, heaving in an arc to lodge in the wall with a satisfying smack. The pile of rubble at my feet. Destroying a thing to remake it. Not quite a Phoenix. No fire. Just cold, a hard edge into something you love. The necessary repair. The field that flowers around the debris.Continue reading… "Iterations of Loss"