A journal of narrative writing.
Now Your Mother Is the Lord of Death

Now your mother is the Lord of Death. Her ash is affluent and fugitive. She is where tears spool their nylon line over the sand where she combed and combed, where she launched her messages to the gods of cold salt and cod, the gods of drunken fly fishermen, the gods face down in the sand bar, gods like flies fixed in baby oil, gods spooned into greenhead sandwiches. I am the Lord of Death in small riptides, she says, my forearms anointed by girls from the Catholic camp backstroking every day regardless of the weather, shivering in their regulation white rubber caps, I am the chapped sex in the unsoundproofed bedrooms partitioned by knotty pine. I am the diaper wars. I am the hands stained with blueberry, dotted with butter, crimped under the painted flour tins. I am the little smells in the broom closet, the whiffs of old baby trapped in decades of hot summer sun, the attic where chilled children lie naked and warm their bones after all day in cold salt water, I am the sand bucket with blue stars, I am Sunday morning before the religion of the Portuguese, the children with their quarters for grapes from the Italian fruit peddler. I am water so cold that ankles have forgotten shins. Look at the skate cases, she orders you, and the skate tails, and the jellyfish like a capitol whose dome has turned translucent, the fish eggs like a bad wig, the fish eggs in their long sheaf-like cases fringing the sand bars, in the targets of the sunstroke, of rabid gulls who bit the business partner’s girl. Smell the panic in the crotch, she commands, touch the band-aids impressed into service by the aftermath of champagne line devotions, the lecherous diddlers importuning unconscious virgins, fingering the virgins in the back seat of the car. I am the morning after the Holy Cross reunion, setting out your plaid bathing suits on the beds, the wind picking its ways between the dunes, the sweet clean smell of scoured sand and dune grass scribing hourglass etchings. I am the flurries of regret shaved into flakes by razor clams over old shipwrecks, the shipwrecked bosuns of the moon jingling their ghostly chimes, their pirate reverb, the shipwreck stripped by the alcohol brigades on the business retreat in the era of goldenrod, I am the half-burned lobster shell in the incinerator ash you must bury every weekend, the wet garbage left to breed maggots, the maggots in the turkey carcass when I am not there to remind you that to suffer is to stand still.