In a previous life, my husband was an alley cat in Rome who lived in the Colosseum and whose purrs originated in his scrotum. Now he finds love in the belly of compost heaps and in the folds of Burpee Seed envelopes—fixed and declawed as he is. These thoughts are typical of the private games I play each morning before I visit Karen’s grave. The content of my mental life is the Swiss-army knife of daily cemetery goers: it snips, scrapes, uncorks, screws, and whittles its way to consecrated ground.
A city boy, I was used to potholes
filled with rainwater. But this was Durham
New Hampshire. A single crow
splashed like a kid in a plastic
He was not the one disfigured in youth, the one who rose to fame, the one whose story has been told in books and film. He was not the celebrated architect, Louis I. Kahn. He was Lou’s brother, Oscar, a man whose unsung life was unexpectedly cut short, a man I never met but for whom I was named. He was my grandfather, and after all these silent, shadowy years, his faded image is starting to clear.
Spring and summer brought many firsts to Philadelphia Stories: our first contest, the Rosemont Writer’ s Retreat, and the launch of PS Books, our new regional books division.
I was six years old, at the bottom
of the dark staircase.
You were ten, at the top.
Palms raised beside your shoulders
proved the void around you;
Stones, fists, curb-hopping cars, schemers
and scammers inevitably found him.
He fell on rocks, plummeted from trees,
The little boy is disgusted by the
monkeys but adores the lions as his peers adore their older brothers
Radio Lung’aho’s whisper rose from the darkness, barely audible over the hissing of cicadas outside in the Kenyan night.
I do not know him and never
will: old spitting man, man in suspenders. Anyhow, everyone’s
grandfather is like this. His has some yellow teeth and some are
We walk into the corner store drooling for shoelace licorice. My best friend in the whole world, even though he’s a boy, leads me through the too-close aisles, and almost knocks over a rack of Philly Inquirers. His summer buzz cut is so short, he’s almost bald, bony shoulders poke out of his Bruce Lee tank top, cut-offs, no socks in his black Kung Fu shoes. The dog choker chain that holds the two pieces of broom stick together swings back and forth in his back pocket, clanking when he walks. Manny stops in front of a round rack of key chains. He turns the rack, key chains swing, crashing into each other. I stare, hypnotized by the different plastic animals that hang from the key rings. He asks which one I like. I like the monkey best.