Follow my sister, Nina, and me as we make a book together: my writing and her gorgeous inks on paper.

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12. It’s Their Town

Posted on May 23, 2020

We don’t have groundhogs, beavers or badgers, but we do have feral hogs. They tear up our levee system, rooting around. Piglets pour out of them in 114 days. They eat meat. They eat their young. Word is that the mob uses them to make bodies disappear. Why can’t they be close to extinction, their lifeline snapped? Instead of cockaded woodpeckers; gopher tortoises; the shore birds, running out of coastline; or Louisiana black bears who give birth in their sleep, awakened from hibernating after 220 days by hungry babies. When the batture floods, driving coyotes into the city, into our neighborhoods. Ring cameras catch them at night wandering like grainy zombies. Our dog, Ella, sleeps on her red cushion, but I hear her stir,…

11. The Citrus Parade

Posted on May 15, 2020

Winter in New Orleans is wet, dry, chilly then mild, which jukes gardens into blooming. Pink and rose camellias, tulip trees, sweet olive, anxious to released from winter prison. They’re so pretty. Only one of our four citrus trees has blossomed. The heavenly smell of orange flower!  They’re never in synch. Pinkish red Cara Cara Navel Oranges. Loose skinned Satsumas. Meyer Lemons. My neighbor had made us a chiffon pie, dense with condensed milk. She froze the lemon juice she didn’t use. That pie was tart and luscious. We vanquished it! Across the street, Malcolm’s letter hedges explode with green growth and cheerful weeds. They spell C I T Y P A R K. For sixteen years, he’s tended to them, waving off paid…

10. Chicken (Part Two)

Posted on May 12, 2020

I’m putting off the shingles vaccine because it hurts your arm and requires a series of two. I’m cutting out dairy, except for cottage cheese and yogurt and melted Brie, because I need the calcium and the smooth mouth feel. I check for lumps in the shower. Most days I walk in the park.  I adjust the sum of weekly glasses of wine to a single digit so that my answer to my internist doesn’t have to be a fudge which is the tasty word for a lie. Calm down, I tell myself. Don’t be afraid of better health, staying upright, of making dinner without my balm, my loyal company, in a long-stemmed glass. You can never drink too little. Live on! I fix…

9. The Color of Hunger

Posted on May 11, 2020

It’s New Year’s Day and the streets look hungover. In the backseat, Malcolm and I have loaded in our French artist friends, Bullet and Stephen. They hold hands and mutter romantic bits we’d like to understand and mutter. Love talk in English sounds infantile. I hold Malcolm’s hand when I don’t need two on the wheel. It’s rare for us to travel through New York above ground. We park under the subway trestle and zero in on Tashkent, an Uzbekestani grocery store with a block-long buffet: mountains of cold salads, pink borscht, tender cheese blinchiki, coriander-scented Borodinsky bread, dense chicken cutlets, dumplings bulging with lamb and onion. Our hunger explodes. The boardwalk is empty but for a few burly Russian men in thick leather…

8. I Played the Queen

Posted on May 5, 2020

I don’t tell Mom what I’m thinking as I look around her dark, musty room. Throw things away, please. What she’s keeping is torn, faded, crumpled, dirty. Another metropolis of Styrofoam cups has risen beside her kitchen sink. Again, she’s stuffing empty cups into the love seat. Does she think they’re hidden? The second sister bought her a pack of Styrofoam cups from Walmart, thinking kindness might outsmart our mother, but the fresh ones are in the cupboard, out of sight, and maybe this is the problem? Our Polish grandmother hoarded. Her basement was a treasure hunt for kids who don’t separate what’s finished from what’s valuable. Nina and I would dress in moth eaten hats and scarves, tarnished costume jewelry, set a table…

7. A World of Shoes

Posted on May 3, 2020

When I sold shoes in college, shoppers would sit in my department to rest their feet. The store owner prowled the floor in his double-breasted blazer, a cashmere Hickey Freeman because he could afford everything he sold. He walked with his arms crossed over his chest, keeping an eye on us. My friends would stop in. They knew my hours. And I’d put them into shoes they didn’t need so the boss would see me work. I needed my own money when my parents stopped paying. I still lived at home. Before classes, while my mother practiced her violin, I babysat my sisters. I read them the unsinkable Pippi Longstocking, whose mother died at birth, whose father was lost at sea. And we watched…