Where Peace Abounds

He throws me out after the fifth beer. My mother will follow me in an hour or so. She offends him less, I think, because she doesn’t answer back when he swears at her. She’s everything I’m not and wish I could have been. Soft and gentle, kinder than one of God’s angels, with mouse-brown…

Soul Colors

I have a secret. I see colors. I don’t mean that I see the leaves turning red and orange and yellow in the fall or the glitzy flashing neon signs blinking over the supermarkets and restaurants after dark. Everyone sees those colors, and frankly, they’re not very impressive, as far as colors go. They’re faded….

How I Will Probably Die

I find the bookshop on 47th and Willow, sandwiched between a pawn shop with a broken lamp in the window and a jewelry store selling fake pearls. The windows are shuttered, and a black cat is lying on the doorstep. She arches against my hand when I reach down and pet her, and when I…

Miss Honey

Today’s post is not a book review. Well . . . it is, but it’s not. If you take my meaning. You see, I’ve already written a review about Matilda, by Roald Dahl. Quite a long time ago, in fact. And it would be very odd to review the same book twice on the same…

Crows

They wait for me in the graveyard. I see them when I pass by on my way home from school, hopping about on the gravestones, pecking at the gravel paths. Their black feathers are ruffled by the wind coming down from the mountains, and we can hear their cawing from the schoolyard. My friends are…

Snake Charmer

The ghosts come out when the sand grows cold. They gather to the fires at the city gates and warm their pale hands at the flames dancing to the music of the west wind. They come for the warmth, for the gossip of the soldiers, and the dreams of those stupid enough to leave their…

Forget-Me-Not

The kitchen smells of honeysuckle when I come in from the barns. The windows are open, a breeze that’s fresh from the hayfield tugging at the curtains. I leave the eggs on the counter and climb the stairs to her room, keeping to the wall where the boards won’t creak and wake her. She’s sleeping…

Emmanuel

God will curse you, he told us when they took him away. God will curse you if you leave this place. Wait, and I’ll return for the faithful. I wake to the first crow of the roosters, and his voice is the first thing in my mind. Sunlight is filtering through the curtains in my…

Asphalt

Single file while the wind blows, he tells us. One in front of the other. Sometimes I’m so afraid I’ll lose the person ahead of me that I keep my hand on their shoulder. Dust storms are hard to travel in, but it won’t be bad enough to stop until we can’t see the road…

Render Unto Caeser . . .

Wounded men leave blood on the floor. That’s the greatest difficulty. The nuns who work in the outer nave have scrubbed the tiles a thousand times, but we’re always afraid they’ll miss something. A spot of blood. A smear of filth that we can’t explain away by talking about the rains and our kitchen garden….