I woke up at 2am and googled acid reflux

because it felt, I guess, like my stomach

was eating itself alive looking for some comfort.


I googled anxiety.

But I guess I already knew.

Sometimes the walls close in like a trash compactor

but it just crunches up all my good thoughts

eats away at my better senses.

I clicked off my phone and a scream came from

the street, you know

the kind of a scream that never lends itself

to sidewalks.

Why aren’t we all in the streets, screaming, clawing

digging at ourselves


the church bell rings.

I. I think about

My dad without her

Her voice. Still here.

II. Children adrift in history

screaming in the hallways

while we stare into space

and wonder how they got there.

III. We make snowball cookies

white sugar floating to the kitchen floor.

IV: The phone rings and we know

it couldn’t be anyone we want to talk to.

I want to adopt the saddest, fattest, laziest, most unwanted, patchy, squeaky meowed, elderly, potentially diabetic cat you have ever seen.

I would call it Maury.

Maury sits in the window all day on his cushion thinking about the lives he used to have. Alice who fed him kibble. Charice who liked to dance to Beyonce in the shower. And the kid with no name who gave him a sad pat in the alleyway where I’d find him two days later.

Maury feels lucky for his cushion. Sometimes he thinks about pulling a paw out from beneath his belly to swat at a moth that wanders past, but he changes his mind. The moth makes its uncoordinated trip back to the corner of the blinds.

At the end of the evening we come home and Maury glances upwards at the sound of the keys jingling in the door. He looks down before we can see how much he cares that we’re home. Maury knows that love is a risky game so he shows us affection sparingly to keep us interested.

After dinner is made Maury rolls onto his back and gives a little mew. I drop some salmon skin in his mouth and he gives an accepting nod.

sometimes I have nightmares

about the smell of your hair dye

the gently pressed corners of your

pies – you never – used your own crusts –

but you called yourself betty homemaker with

a slightly maniacal laugh and

when you laughed you cried a little bit

on the inside

and the tears gently collected in the pit of your empty

starved for attention


salty and sloshing back and forth

as you sway in your little

floral print,



I was eight and in the bathtub splashing around with my floating toys. I was a child and an adult. I was tall but always too short. I had separated myself from those younger than me but still couldn’t see age as a process. I thought – I have aged. I have become. I am done. I am ready. And I splashed.

My parents would shout from the bedroom across the hall. To make sure I was alive. To make sure I was breathing. To make sure I hadn’t drowned, had a stroke, I don’t know. A baby stroke. A little kid bonking her head and bleeding out, bubbles going red and sticky. Always responding with a sullen yeah.

The bathtub was freedom. Quiet. A room to oneself. The bathtub was power. Cleanliness warmth. The bath was fun. It was an empty canvas for my imaginative scribbles. Barbies on the swim team. Catching the biggest fish. The plastic repair man plugging the small drain holes that my toes still deeply feared.

Our bathroom floor used to be linoleum I think. Whatever happened before the age of eight, whatever my life was back then, the state of our bathroom floor has not been retained. I do remember the living room carpet. A forest green, a mossy green, short a stout, kind of prickly, and patchy in places. The coffee table covering up the coffee stains, a trick I’ve stolen more than a decade later.

One day a man came in to the house. Put his toolbox down by the door on that green carpet. Walked to the bathroom. Going to install some new tile. They ripped up the laminate and knocked out the floor. Water damage, probably.

There it was. A light coming up from down below. The basement. The crawl space. The part of our house I’d never seen before but I was convinced so surely held all the secrets of homeowners before us. There must be dolls down there. Toys of some kind. I bet there is even a jungle gym. My parents probably wondered why I thought there might be toys buried beneath the soils of our crawl space and thinking of it now, I understand. Let’s hope no kids ever had been found down there.

I tip toed around the empty holes before he patched them up, fearing I’d fall in and never be recovered. The space under the house wasn’t a dreamscape now any more than the attic had been once I saw it filled with dust. It had shown itself to me for what it was. A place for different kinds of fantasies. Darker ones, dreary ones, ones I had no interested in at eight. I walked back into my room and shrugged onto the carpet and into a pile of myself.

My parents came into the room and told me I couldn’t play mermaid anymore. I rolled my eyes or sighed or held myself up a little higher and said I didn’t do that anymore. Why did they have to say that in front of the repair man. Now he would think I was a little kid. I didn’t play mermaid anymore. I just liked to splash the water. Splash it back, and forth, a slow swaying motion. So small back then. My feet didn’t even reach the end of the tub. The water would lift me up if it swayed me just right and it would rock me to sleep.

“Still alive in there?”

Toes rubbing up against the ceramic. A splash of water on the new tile that I cover with the mat. One lone bubble that shifts down my leg as I dry myself off.