Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Our house juts into the woods, under the shadows of trees and into the air space of moths, and so for a time we’ve been allowed inside the thrum of summer. Leaves turn in the ghostly breeze of dusk, their papery faces meeting like secret lovers. Dogs and children run hard over the rocks, their hearts racing each other into the dark. Bats echo-locate dinner and each other, twitchy gray forms slicing past.

Very easily the summer din could claim us, play us as ancillary instruments. I’d be okay with that. I offer my spine as a xylophone.

Listen, now. Moth wing. Ping of solid bone.

Each morning, the vines come closer. Jetty dragonflies rest their wings on the wood steps, miniature helicopters cooling their engines.

One morning, I open the curtains and meet a cicada clinging to the window screen. Her eyes bloom out of her head like poppyseeds. Her mouth-grill scrapes tiny spiders from the mesh. I listen to the whisper of her eating breakfast as coffee slides down my throat.

This summer is loud and fast. It shoves past me, spins my head. A million sounds at once.
I’m listening.

At the end of the month, I’ll be teaching here. I’ll share stories with my students, and they’ll share their stories with me. I’ll listen. I’m so lucky to be able to listen.

I wrote some stories, linked by tendrils, by dragonfly wings, into a collection called The Hibernarium. I was lucky. The Hibernarium has been named a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.

I and a lot of other writers have contributed essays for Writing Off Script: Writers on the Influence of Cinema, the e-anthology brainchild of writer, editor, and TNB contributor Cynthia Hawkins, forthcoming from Simon Smithson’s Calavera Books. We all watched coverage of the tornadoes in Joplin and wanted to help, and with the wisdom and guidance of Cynthia Hawkins, we did the only thing we know to do. We spoke. We built a city of words.

Proceeds from the anthology benefit JET-14 via Joplin Schools Tornado Relief Fund. We hope you’ll buy and read it.

We hope you’ll listen.