A PUBLICATION OF THE ARIZONA AUTHORS' ASSOCIATION
ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
PRESENTING THE WINNERS
ARIZONA AUTHORS' ASSOCIATION
ANNUAL LITERARY CONTEST
DESIGN, LAYOUT AND EDITING
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •• SANDY HARNAGEL
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • SHELL Y PANEK
© 1996 Arizona Authors' Association on behalf of the authors. None of the material in this
publication may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of the Arizona
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
STRIKE ONE ............................................ 5
WHEN PROPERTY BECOMES PERIL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 9
WAR STORIES .......................................... 14
INTERNAL BLEEDING AND OTHER GRIZZARD-RELATED A WARDS . 16
PLEASURE AND PAIN IN THE "HOLLOWED" HALLS: . . . . . . . . . . . .. 19
GIT'N LUCKY .......................................... 24
BACK To BACH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 29
THE HOUSE .................................................... 32
BRILLIANCE HOLDING ........................................... 34
NIGHT PRAYER ................................................. 35
ATTHEFOUNTAIN .............................................. 36
GOOD OLD MEMORIES
SEDONA, ARIZONA .............................................. 40
AGUA CALIENTE SPRING IN WINTER. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 41
CITY OF LIGHTS ................................................ 42
My MOTHER'S MIRROR .......................................... 47
THE CHURCH .................................................. 56
DAISY ........................................................ 63
ROCK AND ROLL INDIAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 69
AND BLOWN WITH RESTLESS VIOLENCE ......... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 77
1996 CONTEST RULES ........................................... 85
PAUL MORRIS teaches in the creative writing program at Arizona State University. His poems,
creative nonfiction and translations have appeared in many journals including The Black Warrior
Review, The Bloomsbury Review, the threepenny review and the Sonora Review. In 1991, he was
awarded an Arizona Arts Commission Creative Writing fellowship in poetry. Paul Morris works
as a marketing and advertising writer.
GEORGE R. PIEPER is a writer and physician. He is associated with ASU Creative Writing program
via community workshops for three years. Published works include: Arabesqes - A Trilogy,
Grandmas, The Celtic Cross, various scientific non-fiction and a newspaper column.
A VA SANDBERG is a poet and playwright. She is a founding member of the Community Writers
workshop, now in its third year. In the Spring of 1995 she produced ten of her own plus then
other new playwrights' short pieces for a four week run, titled: HERE'S SPIT IN YOUR EYE,
MR. BONES, MR. BONES.
SARAH HARRELL is a published poet and a member of Writer's Voice. She teaches a the
community college level.
TEAGUE VON BOHLEN has been a writer for ten years. She is currently in the Master of Fine
Arts program and teaching at Arizona State University.
GRETA BISHOP is an Author-Screenwriter and owner of BISHOP LITERARY SERVICE which
was founded to help both professional and beginning writers in the field of their choice. She has
over six years free-lance advertising and public relations work in the Phoenix area. Greta has
been editor/collaborator on personal biographies, textbooks, a political novel, romance novels,
film treatments, screenplays and a variety of industry related articles.
ESSAY - FIRST PRIZE
By LAURA L. POST
The relationship ended when I hit her.
The sharp slap to the side of her head--the
culmination of so many years of feeling
misunderstood, being lied to, taken for
granted--Ieft us both in shock. We broke from
the fierce argument, the rising irritated tones
and irrevocable accusations, and stared
blankly at each other. Standing quietly, our
faces close, both breathing hard. I wondered
if I had permanently deafened her, and tears
stung my eyes, but I was stunned and
wordless. It was over. It was all over: the
fight, the fighting, the marriage.
The relationship ended when I hit her
back. We had been tussling over some letters,
which I didn't want her to see. She didn't
accept no. We were yelling, not talking. The
next thing I knew, I was down, dumped flat by
a body block. (She later said that she hadn't
meant to bump me so hard; she said more
recently that she didn't recall touching me at
all, only my punching her.) Anyway, at that
instant, on the floor, I felt helpless and
terrified. When she leaned in to grab away the
documents that I had been shielding, she hurt
me, and I struck out. I wasn't aiming at
anything. I had never hit anyone before. I
acutely remember the sensation of her ear on
my palm, and I can still get to the rush of
shame and self-loathing which flooded me at
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
The events of her packing, dividing
our 5 years of shared possessions, my taking
her to the airport--as if she were merely going
on a trip--remain vague and blurred in my
memory. My recovery began in my dim
knowledge that I had to get through the
aftermath unaccompanied by beer, bags of
cookies, or all-nighter work sieges. It has
been 6 years; nonetheless, my therapy, 12-step
meetings, and meditations haven't entirely
erased the ache from that messy break-up, the
loss of a woman about whom I once had
genuinely positive feelings, or the pain of
what I did.
A few months later, when I was ready
to be in touch with her, again, I wrote and
apologized for my behavior. I wanted to share
my deepest truths about our time together, to
see if our previous emotional ties could help
with mutual healing. I was hoping that we
might be able to find a basis for an honest
friendship. She wrote back that she had
forgiven me, but her letters replayed our old
HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE
After she left, I had a hard time. We
had recently moved across the country
together, and I had few acquaintances, no
intimate friends. The reason for the relocation
was my continuing education, so I had to stay.
As it turned out, staying was a blessing,
though, at the time, I felt isolated and lonely.
Being with, and not escaping, was new for
Disoriented by a new employment
setting, in a new city, newly single, I lost my
sense of who I was. I heard through the
grapevine that my ex was relieved to have
finally left her "abusive lover" and cited that
final traumatic interaction between us as an
example of my battering of her. Me, a
batterer? I disagreed, and set out to prove
myself. A few months of sleeping solo led me
to a fling with a colleague. A male colleague.
I was so set on seeming peaceful that the only
person I could have gotten involved with was
someone who wouldn't access my
vulnerabilities. I chose a man, who was not
only inaccessible as a result of his gender and
my lesbian sexual/emotional orientation, but
who was also disinterested in connecting with
me other than physically.
I decided to also have multiple sex
partners. I found a deeply needy, desperately
nurturing, woman with whom to have a longdistance
affair. She surprised me, one day, by
asking to be whipped. I wanted to feel
powerfully sexual, didn't want to lose her, and
complied. Another woman assured me that
sex after stoned disco dancing would be the
best; she was older, so I agreed to try.
It had previously taken years for me to
recognize that a liaison wasn't working out,
and it commonly also took some extreme
episode: date rape, theft, destruction of my
property. This time, it took only two months
for me to leave the man and the women. I was
sad and couldn't imagine ever feeling any
The changes that happened in me, that
have allowed me to be a teacher, to work with
people in a respectful way, to write this story,
unfolded slowly but not smoothly. I began to
have small mental explosions of suddenly
"getting" an idea, of perceiving a connection,
of feeling connected. At first, I did things that
I thought that recovering people should do: I
became ascetic and self-depriving. I came out
forcefully as an alcoholic to my friends; I was
angry when they were surprised at my
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
revelation (I had been a binge drinker),
frustrated when they weren't immediately
conversant with 12-step philosophy, and
resentful when we would go out together and
they ordered Guinness while I reluctantly
sipped mineral water. I waited, unhappily, for
happiness to come.
Then, subtle, unbelievable internal
transformations began to emerge. I went to a
women's music festival with a casual friend
and didn't feel jealous, left out, or tempted
when she picked up a woman there. At
another festival, I ran into my ex-lover. She
seemed impatient. We battled verbally over a
tiny issue; we made up and bought each other
presents. The night before the festival ended,
I started to tell her that I was getting help with
my incest issues and that I didn't know
whether, had we started couples therapy, we
could have worked our conflicts through. I
told her that I missed her. She became
sarcastic and loud, she laughed at me. But, I
didn't retort, angrily or otherwise. I said
goodnight, walked away, deliberately fetched
my tarp, and went to a serene spot in a field
and bawled. I was able to embrace the
excruciating clarity of the impossibility of
being with her. For the first time, I really felt
In seeing the patterns, I began to
experience that they could be broken. I didn't
have to be sexually intrusive, as my mother
had with me. I was celibate for a while. I
treated myself to massage and spent delicious
weekends in the mountains with new friends.
I rediscovered bubble baths and reveled in my
own body. One June, I had the perception
that, in summer, the world was opening up. I
went to an amusement park and had fun.
I didn't have to nag, like my father;
patience came to me, and I made more friends.
One day, I remembered sparring with him,
childish boxing that was strangely out of
control and that I could never win. But, I
knew that his longer arms had reached me,
THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS Now
I could no longer hide from the truth
that my father had beaten me. My reality
unravelled, and I suddenly had to cope with
flooding memories of physical and emotional
abuse from within my family, in addition to
the incest which I was already trying to work
through in therapy. There always seemed to
be something new to deal with, but, somehow,
I began to try out not being responsible or in
charge at every moment. I had previously
used drugs as my way out of seriousness, and
I was surprised that, after some initial selfconsciousness,
I found that I was good at
I met someone I really liked. We
talked about sex before we had it. Even after
the limerance wore off, the warmth and
closeness lingered. But, I was discouraged at
how I expressed my easy annoyance with her
habits and that she was sometimes frightened
of me. I wasn't done with my rage; the old
specter of me as batterer retilllled.
It took many bouts with guilt, grief,
doubt at my memory, and rereading of my
diaries for me to really own that I had hit my
previous lover. That my persistent urge to hit-
though with its understandable roots in
hitting of me--still threatened to demolish my
tidy life and dreams.
I take myself away when I feel that
white-hot surge. I trust my own response of
anger but am learning to trust my own ability
to no longer act on it impulsively. I still
cringe at film moments of sadism, of adult
dyscontrol perpetrated upon children. I try to
avoid people who turn away from my pain, for
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
I've become aware that many will, one day,
turn toward it with a vengeance when it is too
much for them, and those are situations which
are risky for me. I still get fooled by soft and
seemingly loving demeanors, but I attempt to
stay away from people who are consistently
I am with a lover, now, who was the
victim of domestic brutality for many years,
who is a hyperacute sensor of rising venom.
She is struggling to trust acceptable anger--the
kind which naturally self-limits and readily
finds its own answers internally--while I work
at expressing my anger safely while
supporting the existence of my savage deeper
emotions. She recognizes that my anger is
mine, born from years of unfair mistreatment
and that my sharing it with her is a sign of my
developing feeling of · safety, a mark of
devotion, a gift. However, we both realize
that, were I to act out my enormous anger as
the purported result of a minor disagreement
or misunderstanding between us, that I would
be as culpable as my forbears in unjustly
perpetuating violence. May the circle be
Laura L. Post has been a professional writer
for 10 years. She has written essays, features,
and interviews for publications in the Us.,
Canada, UK, Australia. This is Laura'sfirst
time to win a contest. She is presently
working on a mystery novel series.
ESSAY - SECOND PRIZE
It was our mountain when we loaded
apples, dried apricots, and water bottles into
day-packs while sitting on the hood of the
oxidized and ancient Honda. From the
parking lot at Madera Canyon, we would
climb Mount Wrightson along the Super Trail.
The mountain cast the twin spell of beauty and
exertion on our shared sweat and sunburn.
Mount Wrightson, the highest of local peaks,
carried symbolic weight; in its dominance
over the Santa Cruz valley, it was both
destination and way of being. More than
Mount Lemmon in the Catalinas or even
remote Mica Mountain in the Rincons,
Wrightson assumed the title of sacred place, a
majestic "Thou" with whom we held
perennial, transparent, intoxicated
communion. It lay like a blanket over and
around us. It covered us with its aloof and
wild dignity like the lady bugs on the summit
when they swarmed out of the vetch and bled
a living orange carpet over boot tops.
Friends, fellow students, and a teacher,
we were pilgrims and trail gypsies with more
money spent on camping gear than on our
cars. We took stock more in the moment, the
present, than in the future investment
portfolios promised, and needed only enough
cash for beer and chimichangas at El Dorado
on the way back to town to feel what Tom
Robbins calls "participation in a divinely
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
The trail, springs, oaks, surrounding
skirts of canyons and grassland peppered with
slopes of juniper and the summit were ours
because none of us lay any claim to owning
them. With no way to own it there was no
question of sharing place. But something has
changed. Yes, there are children and the usual
stuff of middle-aged pressures on friendships
and time. But something fundamental and
qualitative has come between us walkers that
is most palpable in the time we share around
the mountain and the land around the Santa
Ritas. The feel of the places has changed.
These mountains are not "ours" any longer.
An invisible line that has become a wall has
been drawn between us--"us" being the
company of both land and fellow hikers. The
division is as involuntary as it is unconscious
(these are nice people) but the net result is the
same: the old and very hard distinction
between owner and tenant, between deeded
and itinerant. My friends would assure me
this is not so, that other factors lie at the root
of growing difference and their need for flight
from Tucson. Tucson is too big, crime-ridden,
dangerous, and ugly. The foothills and the
Tucson Mountains aren't really "it" any more.
Gangs will corrupt the kids. Most of this is
accurate or at least possible, and other
rationalizations also hold water. Our lives
have shifted and buckled in ways that are not
always complementary to sustained mutual
interest and intimacy, and with these changes
rIse other possible, "interpersonal"
explanations for the big difference-friendships
wearing out, findingjobs, building
businesses and careers, moving--but I keep
returning to land politics, specifically the
human demands of ownership.
One has to buy in to a certain way of
seeing and relating to the beautiful, exotic,
even wild places to possess them. Some of
our merry little tribe have bought, are thinking
of buying, or are withering with envy and
desire to buy, whatever they can get around
Sonoita, Patagonia, or the Canelo Hills. They
seem, in a sense, to "belong" to those
circumscribed, geometric definitions of "lot"
and acreage around Patagonia. I have not
bought, but instead, am watching the changes
as the craving for beauty, escape and nostalgic
backdrop increases. Again, owning or not
owning isn't as much the point as the fallout of
owning, of expanding one's holdings, of
having property, and how property begins to
control its owners, to set the agenda for
conversation, friendships, and reasons for
being. Property seems not only to have
colored our world views, but to have
determined life paths.
I am not talking about property to live
on, to call home, to use as a means to an end
ofliving and binding with both a place and the
human brethren and sisteren of community.
Property to use (rent or own) as a prerequisite
for sustaining meaningful contact with people
and place and as a means to belong is a
capitalist fact and any attempt to propose
abolishing it or substituting it with communal
ownership would have to be labeled utopian at
best. Even the Spartan, town-crank Thoreau
conceded that we must first satisfy the
necessaries of food, shelter, clothing and fuel
before adventuring "on life." But the point
was to adventure on life, not to perpetually
increase the inventory of necessaries. In other
words, shoes are worth acquiring, but the
Imelda Marcos stable of2000 plus is not only
overkill but carries the cost and consequence
of failure of "being in the world."
What is at issue here is property
pursuit when we don't need any more, when
we haven't even connected to the place we
currently call home. (All of these property
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
seekers own at least one house and do quite
well professionally.) I am talking about wild,
rural and exotic property becoming a
commodity, the likes of which some of us can
never get enough, and the chasing of which
becomes a substitute or even requirement for
living well. It is property as an extension of
Erich Fromm's "have" mode of living that
reduces the "being" mode to an afterthought.
I am talking property t~at subordinates the
human and natural realms to consumption,
consumption that allows us to forget that we
are connected to places and people. Like
chaos theory, which posits that the wisp of a
butterfly wing in the Amazon forest can set in
motion a series of events that culminates with
a tornado in Kansas, what we do has effects
that ripple out and away from us. But we still
see property as a means of separation, escape,
as distinguishing and keeping "us" from
The race for this kind of property
relegates active membership in human and
natural interconnectedness to the nether
regions of "someday," or, a variation, "I'll
connect with the place after I own enough
property." It's the "I'd rather be sailing"
deferral of the property hounds. Another
problem of using property as a way to
postpone or separate one's self from the
"divinely animated universe" is that it can
grow into viewing property as an opiate, as an
end driving a perpetual urge for having a
better place. An obsessive pursuit confuses
the object with the desire, fueling twelve-step
slogans like "you can't get enough of what
you don't really want." I have to think these
friends want environmental and social
participatory activism, but confuse the
destination with the trip. Quality of
habitation, of dwelling in a place is not
necessarily determined by the beauty of the
And here is another rub; "better place"
is becoming the edges of wild lands, shrinking
what little is already there, driving the
property hounds to further, more remote
places to get away from the one they just got.
There is always another ranch to break up,
another mine holding to subdivide, a place
surrounded by Forest Service land that will
preclude the possibility of other land hunters
becoming neighbors. Both motive and object
are flawed. Not only is what drives the
property hunger suspect, but the places should
be left alone. It's a problem we'll have to
address if we don't want the Santa Ritas,
Sonoita Creek, Temporal Canyon, the Canelo
Hills to go from being a kind of collective,
tribal, national forest birthright to being
consumable backdrop for "property."
When we talk now, we say the word
with a kind of reverence. Conversations
center on evaluating . the land for its
desirability: beauty, unspoiledness, character.
We walk the land now for what we can get out
of it, looking how to mold it for houses,
studios, horse corrals. Then we can hole-up
and weather the new land rush from the east,
the west coast and northern rust belt to the
Rocky Mountains and the Southwest. It is
quite in fashion to be hungry for the ranch
look of tawny grass, juniper, and, if you are
. very good at buying, cottonwoods. Nature has
become a freeze-frame of beauty, a
commodified, static "other." We want nature
to be beautiful for us so that we can continue
the skewed and complacent dream of nature as
product that we can buy, sell, dress up, and
parade around as an extension of personal
vitality and achievement.
The urge for property is all but
irrepressible. The "Get it before it's all gone!"
affects me also (as if the place will be gone
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
when the last deed is issued). Only a hermit
or a saint would be immune. Mine. Mine.
Therefore not yours. We are no longer the
tribe of walkers who held the mountains
below us in a kind of naive trust, but have
become the scramblers for scarce and highly
prized ways of living. We are game hunters
who want to bag the best of the Southwest for
show and bragging rights. The new ranking in
the culture of self-fulfillment of heightenedexperience
is the possession of a beautiful
place. It rises in us like a race for the best
mate, and we lust after the land in a
pornographic need for domination, possession,
and hope of being left alone.
I, too, want to grab but can't believe in
the grabbing enough to act. I can only hope
that I have the will to leave my tribe's church
of shared belief and that I might do so without
being excommunicated. I just can't buy the
The postponement of outgrowing the
romantic metaphor of frontier, of unspoiled
mountain backdrop, of rustic cabin in the sun,
of being left alone, offeeling like the land will
continue to endure our assaults upon it, is
almost too seductive to resist. But resist it we
must. The illusion puts additional strain on
already strained land and property values.
Yet, a question becomes, who is it that we
resist? It would be easier if these grubbers
were only east coasters, Angeleno refugees, or
other foreign migration. The assault would be
both easier to isolate and less painful. But
here the infection comes from within, turning
the heads of blood kin, of enlightened trail
buddies. We have to begin by recognizing
that the enemy is us and our relation to each
other and the land. Then we have to begin
talking. So far, the fabric rent by the
difference is palpable but taboo. The
difference and its changes are a subject as
sacred as it is inviolable. Since I can't talk, I
must write the unsayable. Get it out there,
further away to bring it closer to home.
Property is a right. Right?
Yes, it's a right. And it can become a
consumptive substitute for facing the music of
buying into an ideology of profound
fragmentation and disconnection from both
human community and natural processes.
Simply put, if we keep grubbing for property
rather than living in a place and taking a stand
for the big "L" life, we don't have to be
accountable for the poisoning of our world or
the dwindling of wild places or the dog-eatdog
lifestyle of the latter part of the twentieth
century. Angst, as they say, is, but do we
have to continue to cozy up to what's left of
wild spaces to soothe an ache of emptiness?
Why not reconsider how we deal with things?
When nature is lumped in with the other
commodities of culture, we are all reduced.
We can forget that wonder and spiritual
awakening thrives on a humbled, thorough,
felt-in-the-bones connection to place and the
hobnob of natives. We don't deepen
experience by chasing the property-asredemption
This hunger for property kicks a leg
out from beneath the emotional chair in which
I sit and cradle Mount Wrightson, Patagonia,
Sonoita, and the times we have spent there. I
cannot look at the Santa Ritas without grief.
They conjure up feelings of rejection,
exclusion, being out of the acquisitive loop.
But the hurt runs deeper. Part of what hurts is
the realization that a developer-like mentality
can sift down into motives of the
environmentally sympathetic if not aware. I
am hooked into my friends as into the
mountains. My love of the Santa Ritas is
social, is tied to time shared in the walking of
them, the time passed in their shadows, but I
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
cannot join my tribe in dividing them up, in
participating in the fiction of ownership as
salvation. But the emotion is only here and
now, the frameworks of understanding it feeds
go out well into the future and portend some
To buy the party line that beautiful
property is the next and most hip of pressing
needs would kick a leg out from beneath my
intellectual chair, where J sit in the company
of unpleasant facts and probable outcomes and
hope for different ways of being in the world.
Native Americans didn't "own" land, and it
served them longer than ours will serve us if
we keep following the trajectory we have so
far chosen. Spaniards, then the Mexicans, did
"own," but lost out when the rules changed.
So much for the permanence of royal decrees.
Now we think, again, not only that we own
places, but that ownership is somehow new,
improved, different, an answer to difficult
questions that is easy, healthy, and permanent.
This, of course, is a fallacy. I can't help but
remember Gary Snyder saying "the land
belongs to itself." Still, it's hard to admit that
Red Mountain, south of Patagonia, will never
be "mine," that it will be there long after the
bag of bones that is "me" is dust. Admitting
the impossibility of ownership flies in the face
of consumer arrogance, the belief that money
can soothe an ache that we don't want to feel.
What follows from admitting we can't have
everything a hungry little self desires results
in an existential reduction of human power
and significance. If we can't own it, we might
have to live with it, even revere it, cultivate an
awareness of our inextricable connection to it.
Only by adopting such a stance toward our
collective land can we begin to simplify our
relation to nature, to begin the long work of
switching a need for exploring our
participation as members in a web of life for a
If we want to change something,
however, we have to change something, and
change is work. This work takes time, effort
and other people. It has to be a social and
cultural act. Pushing this envelope will
require radical rediscovery and reformulation
of conversation and imagination. We will
have to move from a discourse based on right,
wrong, argument and domination to a
discourse that induces mutual respect and
collaborative answers. We have to begin to
imagine a change in order to talk about a
change in order to act in different ways. Yet
few seem to want to talk about it. It's still too
close to a raw nerve, a last hope we can do
what we've always done, that there is escape
rather requirements of change. So, for now, I
feel alone with books set down by kindred
spirits, and I have to keep looking at those
mountains, my (spiritual) place, because I love
them too much not to. I may have to learn to
look at the mountains in a way that removes
me from the company of my tribe, becoming
a wanderer, hoping to find others of a like
Erec Toso is an English teacher who has been
published in: The Sun -A Magazine ofJdeas.
Arizona English Bulletin. and University of
Arizona Poetry Newsletter. Desert Skies. Erec
has been writing for 10 years and won three
other contests. He is currently working on
poetry, essays about life in an increasingly
urban Southwest and a Ph.D. on Thoreau.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
( c __
ESSAY - THIRD PRIZE
By LIZ HUFFORD
During the Big One, my grandfather
raised six flags every day, one for each son
serving abroad. On V -J Day he called his
boys home firing six shots into the air. John,
who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, returned
with a German helmet and a much worn photo
of Sonja Henie. Arch, Navy, the Pacific,
arrived with an aversion to fish and putting his
head underwater. Jimmy, the youngest, who
never made it off Hawaii, regaled the family
with tales of tropical breezes, palm trees, and
beguiling maidens. And so it went.
George was the straggler. The first
letter said he was missing in action. The
second, from a French priest, spoke of head
wounds and God's will. Eventually George
came back, good as new except for the metal
plate in his head which picked up radio
stations in the tri-state area. George's
disability was a useful one; for decades it
enabled him to say exactly what he thought.
Even my mother, keeper of familial propriety,
would explain his most outlandish behavior
with the comment, "The war, you know."
They didn't know about post traumatic
shock syndrome then, or perhaps they just
called it hard drinking. At any rate the boys
did what they were supposed to. They got
jobs, married, and had children. Their
wanderlust spent, none of them ventured
further than Ohio. The children they sired
grew up together, a company of cousins.
Every holiday was celebrated en masse and
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
the greatest of these was the Fourth of July.
The parade began at ten, the uncles
marching rigid in their uniforms. Afterward,
the aunts labored over potato salad while the
cousins, lighting snakes, decimated the green
lawn. The picnic lasted all day. The aunts
replenished the table; the cousins covered the
yard with croquet wickets, badminton nets,
and bases. The uncles were good for a couple
of hours of baseball before retiring to the
poker game under the oak. Finally int he
anticipatory twilight before the fireworks,
when the uncles were still warm from the
afternoon's sun and mellow from the keg of
beer, the cousins would gather with one
request. "Tell us war stories."
Bill first and Lawrence. But before
they began, Uncle George stalked off. "Bunch
of damn lunatics," he said.
There came a fuzzy Fourth. Some
cousins prepared food, some were dealt into
the poker game, and those who set up the
games supervised a couple of cousins once
removed. We were there but not there, in
jeans and bell bottoms, long hair and beards,
our transistors tuned to the threat of rain and
war. Still the hands were dealt and played.
"Tell us war stories."
Cousin Ron gave George a full beer
before the demand was made, and George
stayed. "Do you know they're wearing the
flag?" he asked nobody in particular. Uncle
Bill nodded and began his tale. When the
other uncles finished, Ron, in whom hope
sprung eternal, said, "Tell us a war story,
George cleared his throat; "We were
behind the lines."
We couldn't believe it. Uncle George
was telling a war story, Uncle George who
returned with a metal head and a closed
mouth. Cousins and uncles sat still. Even the
crickets were quiet.
"We were behind the lines, a handful
of kids. There wasn't an officer, not one God
damn officer. We'd been out a couple of days;
we were hungry. I took it upon myself to do
some foraging. I made my way to a French
farm and found a chicken. There was a little
girl there, 'non, non, monsieur.' She tried to
keep me away.
"I left her the hen, God damn it. I just
took the eggs, but she cried anyway. 'Non,
non, vous ne comprend .. .'
"I got back to the boys. 'Scrambled
eggs like mom used to make,' I told them, but
we couldn't risk a fire.
"Shortz said, 'I always did like mine
"So I cracked the eggs. In each was
the shadow of a perfect being. The eggs were
fertilized. That's what the girl tried to tell me.
Shortz gagged; the rest of us ate them. There's
your war story."
Aunt Marie called us for the fireworks ,
and we moved through the thick, summer
night like ducks against current. We thrust
past grandparents and parents to perch on top
of the hill. We did not know but felt our wars
ahead. And when the fireworks came, they
were glitter not glory.
Liz Hufford is a published writer of poems,
essays and short stories. She has been
published in The Magazine ofFantasv and
Science Fiction. Liz is a writing teacher at
Glendale Community College and is currently
working on a humorous mystery novel and a
coming of middle age story. This is her
second time to win a contest.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 14
INTERNAL BLEEDING AND
By JAXN ARONNAX
Six years ago in Phoenix's early
spring, I took advantage of the lunch hour at
an all-day professional seminar to change into
my swimsuit and slip out by the hotel pool,
starting work on my tan with a can of pop and
a good book.
The seminar director, Patrick,
appeared by the pool a few moments later and
pulled up a chaise lounge. "What are you
reading?" he asked.
"Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle
Stop Cafe," I said. "It's a novel, Southern
He said, "Oh, I'm reading some
Southern humor myself," and held up a book
pathetically entitled Don't Bend Over in the
Garden, Grandma; You Know Them Taters
Have Eyes. In the friendship which developed
between myself and the seminar director, I
was to learn that the book's author, Lewis
Grizzard, was beloved to the American South.
Astonished that I had never even heard
of Grizzard, my new friend shared several of
his most famous down-home homilies with
As the lunch hour ended, he promised
to keep me updated on further Grizzardrelated
developments, since he received the
column at least once a week in his home of
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
Houston, whereas the Phoenix newspapers--in
a scandalous display of poor taste--had thus
far ignored Grizzard.
These updates ("I'm afraid Lewis
Grizzard's dog has died" ... "Lewis Grizzard
made a cameo appearance on Designing
Women" ... "Lewis Grizzard is married again")
formed the foundation of a 2-year phone
relationship, which also consisted of his
marital woes, my being single woes, our
combined "living in the 21 st Century" angst
and baseball statistics.
Two years later, when we made the
mistake which brought us both so much joy
and so much heart ache, he reminisced
happily, "Do you remember what you were
wearing when I met you?" No I didn't. What
"A pink dress," he said. "You even
had pink driving gloves to match."
Then I did remember. It had been an
Easter dress: a pale pink linen straight skirt
with a kicky peplum and high waist under a
short Eisenhower jacket of the same material.
I still own that suit.
"You were wearing a pink lace garter
belt with lace-top stockings and a matching
bra and underpants," he declared, which
stunned me, because he couldn't have
"When you went out to the pool that
day, you laid your clothes across the back of
the chair in the seminar room," he went on.
"When I was leaving the room, I bumped the
chair and knocked them on the floor. When I
realized what I was picking up, I thought:
Whoa! I have to meet this girl!"
"Is that what this has all been about?"
I asked. "My underwear?!"
"Yeah," he said, sheepishly. "That
and Lewis Grizzard."
There's a relationship you can have on
the phone with a friend for two years based on
humor columnists and the California Angels
in which his being married doesn't matter and
Lewis Grizzard stays healthy.
But once Patrick had seen the
underwear he'd been dreaming of for two
years actually on my body--and once I
realized how madly I'd fallen in love with him
just hearing his Lewis Grizzard stories over
the phone--everything was different. .
There were three marvelous years of
non-stop rocket-blasted roller-coaster riding,
during which time my sister moved from L.A.
to Baton Rouge and began to inform me of
things I had so far not heard about Lewis
"One of his ex-wives is writing a book
about what a pain in the ass he is to live with."
The reason a roller-coaster ride is such
fun is that the thrills and chills end with a
smooth landing, and you step out of the car
Unfortunately, the roller coaster
Patrick and I engineered was put together of
such volatile stuff that a smooth landing was
impossible, and neither of us could walk away
uninjured. He had to be dragged from the
wreckage by his wife, and I couldn't escape at
In the silent months that followed, I
tried to work my way out from under the
smoldering remains of what had once been
our exciting affair and forgot about Lewis
Grizzard. On a visit to Louisiana in January,
my brother-in-law pointed out Grizzard's
latest book as an example of fine Southern
humor: I Took a Licking and Kept on Ticking.
"What happened to Lewis?" I asked.
"He has heart trouble--he had to have
bypass surgery. They thought he was a
The news surprised me. So did the
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
call to my sister's house from Patrick that
afternoon. "You!" I said to the phone, holding
back everything that had been left unsaid all
these months. "You didn't tell me Lewis
Grizzard was sick."
His voice, hesitant and colorless
compared to the phone voice I had loved a
hundred years ago, came across the line
dispirited. "I would have told you ... but you
changed your phone number."
"Well, thank God he's better, anyhow,"
"But here's something you don't
know," Patrick said. "This morning the
Houston paper said Lewis is back in the
hospital with internal bleeding."
"You lie!" I cried. "His health
problems are over. His new book--"
"I'm not lying. Does your sister get
the Times-Picayune? Go look."
The Times-Picayune had no mention
of Grizzard's further health troubles, but the
sweet ladies who answer the phones at the
Picayuneoffices declared, "Mr. Grizzard has
returned to the hospital for a few day's rest, so
his column will not be appearing, but we have
no knowledge of any internal bleeding."
I did not tell them that although they
had no knowledge of it, a certain reader of the
Houston Chronicle had made me quite an
expert on internal bleeding.
Patrick received my new phone
number just for the asking, but no further
health updates on Lewis Grizzard were forthcoming.
A few weeks later, my sister sent me
his column on getting out ofthe hospital. He
had been ill all that time--internal bleeding.
Two weeks ago, I ran into Patrick on a
Caribbean island where we discovered all that
was left of our once thrilling roller coaster was
the echo of our screams through the hair-pin
Sunday, the Phoenix newspaper
reported that Lewis Grizzard experienced
extensive brain damage after heart surgery,
and his chances of "meaningful recovery"
were small. Today, they reported his death.
Good Lord, I'm going to miss him.
Jaxn Aronnax wirtes advertising and
promotions. This essay is based on a true
personal experience. He is currently working
on a trashy romance novel.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 17
PLEASURE AND PAIN IN
THE "HOLLOWED" HALLS:
TEACHING AT "GHETTO U."
By ALLISON WILSON
The classroom is devoid of human life
now, except for me, the teacher, physically
numb but inexplicably alert behind my eyes.
Without ceremony, I gather my students'
essays--composed, most likely, of
"grammatical errors"--into a disorganized
heap; for it is 9:00 p.m. and my long shift as
role model, linguistic and otherwise, has
ended. But the auras of forty living bodies
still hang heavy in the heat and humidity, the
abrupt silence itself almost deafening after a
long day of comings and goings, questions
and answers, belligerence and endearment, of
too many egos jammed into too little space,
too many intellects struggling for their rightful
share of my own. Suddenly, the center of the
cyclone, which has pushed insistently at my
soles all day, loses pressure and drops me to
the ground, as it always does. My knees
buckle; but I scarcely notice--just reach out,
grasp the desktop to steady myself, finish
tossing the essays into a pile, and stuff the pile
into a manila folder, as I always do.
A huge sigh attracts my attention to
the doorway, where a custodian stands, one
hand resting on his hip, the other on the
handle of a push broom, his eyes roaming the
littered floor as if he is surveying the
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
stubborn, willful wastefulness of a still-moist
"Lord ha' mercy," he says, then
snatches a handkerchief from his back pocket
and swabs his shiny milk-chocolate-colored
face. The resentful tone and exasperated
grimace make it clear that he feels no need to
be anyone's role model. "It ain't a reason in
the world to clean up these rooms. They just
gonna mess 'em all up ag'in come mornin'."
His eyes, still moving rapidly, dart to
my own. But he seems to be looking through
me, his expression, now accusatory, not really
directed at me but at a malevolent Something,
taller than I am and much larger, a Something
hovering in the asymmetrical shadows created
by the several burned-out bulbs clinging
uselessly to the discolored ceiling. I know
what he sees because I have sensed this
perverted entity myself, have, in fleeting
moments, almost caught sight of it around
corners and at the bottoms of stale, stained
stairwells. It has even had the nerve to appear
just at the rim of my peripheral vision, right
int he middle of a class period, peeking from
the gaping hole of a missing ceiling panel,
breathing heavily on the ragged shreds of
insulation to distract me. And it was
laughing, always laughing, with a humorless
voice and a smile-less face, revelling int he
seemingly incongruous melange of chaos and
inertia that permeates this entire institution.
"Why these young folk want to mess
up they own place?" the custodian asks, now
shaking his fist at the hand, head, and foot
prints that adorn the walls like some bizarre,
As I wonder if--no, hope that--his
question is rhetorical, my usually bubbling
spring of "grammatical forms and structures"
mysteriously runs dry; and a new kind of
silence, heavy and awkward, fills the room, a
silence broken only by the thud-thud-thud of
a window, running almost from floor to
ceiling, that flaps against a desk. Not
designed to be opened but open just the same,
it now will not close, a bolt broken off in
someone's last desperate attempt to release the
oppressive artificial heat that streams from a
furnace whose only temperatures are "on" and
"off." Some protective reflex turns my face
toward the sound, my subconscious sending
forth the memory of a stormy night, the night
this same window took flight but,
miraculously, remained attached, crashing
upward into the ceiling instead of outward
into me, then crashed back into place, leaving
me drenched but intact. Its rhythmic
movements mesmerize me now; and I seem to
see it from a great distance, caught in some
limbo between horror movie and cartoon, the
thud-thud-thud like the ominous sound effects
that herald an approaching chain-saw
murderer, the escaping heat like a flock of
The custodian sighs again, turns his
broom upside down, and prods a sticky mass
that has been stomped into the lusterless tile,
the long filaments indicating that some
unwary soul has carried off a portion on the
bottom of his shoe. Mechanically, I glance at
my feet, wondering if! myself am that unwary
soul, vaguely remembering the day I sat in
"It ain't a reason in the world to clean
up these rooms," the custodian repeats and
begins carelessly, halfheartedly sweeping the
more obvious debris--candy wrappers, softdrink
cans, wadded sheets of notebook paper-into
When he turned to swat at a flying
insect, I step into the hall, the philosophical
import of what to him were strictly pedestrian
complaints striking me so palpably that I
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
glance back at the flapping window to make
sure that it has not snapped its hinges and
crashed into me at last. Yes, this
"uneducated" representative of the masses, in
his bluntly down-home fashion, has dared to
express the apathy that gnaws constantly at us,
his intellectual "betters" --administration,
faculty, and students alike--but which, in the
interest of self-preservation, most of us refuse
to acknowledge. For. despite the official
rhetoric--once sincere and thoughtful, now
mechanical and hackneyed, even
anachronistic, every variation infused with the
term "mission" and its oddly religious
connotations--this state-supported institution,
historically and still overwhelmingly black,
has no clearly defined raison d'etre.
I have been told that such was not
always the case. Decades ago, a concrete
goal, one shared with similar institutions, was
always in sight: the education of black
intellectuals who would return to their
segregated communities, providing leadership
and encouragement to a segment of American
society shamelessly neglected by the powersthat-
were. It is true that this education had
little if any relevance to the country as a
whole, most members of the dominant white
population being ignorant of the existence of
these leaders and even of the academic havens
that honed and polished them. But campus
life, say my older colleagues who were
students here themselves, was structured and
disciplined, positive and hopeful, energetic
and ego-boosting, effectively neutralizing the
demoralization and degradation that
confronted virtually every "colored"
individual who ventured into cold Caucasian
Then, in the radical '60's, a new
mission began to take shape: This institution
should prepare leaders, not just for the
isolated, invisible minority community but for
the nation at large. And once the outside
world recognized the quality of the education
provided, students of all races would appear at
the gates, gradually transforming an obscure
"black" college into a respected, mainstream
institution. On this wave of hope we--I came
as a student, then returned as a faculty
member--rode through the '70's, buoyed up
both by federal "guilt" money and by
"extorted" state funds, rushing helter-skelter
as if there was no limit to what we might
Throughout the '70's and into the '80's,
our optimism seemed warranted. Modem
structures fairly sprang from the earth,
shaming the musty old buildings that had
always looked hand-me-down even though
they weren't. Scores of new faculty members
of all races, the possessors of doctorates,
materialized in classrooms, so intimidating
those black instructors who had heretofore
considered their education complete that they
rushed off to graduate school, returning in
record time with doctorates of their own.
Even the state, dabbling in political
correctness before the term was coined or the
concept conceived, deigned to grant us
"university" status--presto chango! --as if with
a word to erase decades of neglect; and we
went for it hook, line, and sinker. We had
joined the ranks of the respected "white"
schools! We had become a D.!
But most significantly, students
arrived in droves, our clientele growing at an
unbelievable pace. And through the eagerly
awaited Caucasian bodies rapidly
metamorphosed from Northerners eager to
parade their liberalism, to Iranians intent on
avoiding the English proficiency requirements
of mainstream universities, to nearby residents
unable to re-locate, and--finally--to no
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
discernible non-black population at all, we
pretended not to notice. After all, we told
ourselves, white faces were not requisite to
academic legitimacy. It was their loss, not
As for me, I had made up my mind,
the moment I was hired, that every one of the
freshman students packed into my five
classes--few of whom could write a single
sentence that was not saturated with bizarre
surface error resulting from the clash between
standard and black dialects--would ,
miraculously, in a semester or less, remove all
vestiges of socially "unacceptable" forms
from their spoken and, most important, their
written language. What a pleasure it would be
to see their youthful faces light up with
understanding! And what a pleasure to see the
shock on the faces of the ever-present naysayers
who viewed our students as hopeless,
as academically and socially irredeemable, the
nay-sayers who labeled them "unteachable"
and "remedial"! I would show them all that
my young charges were not "second-rate" in
any sense, least of all linguistically.
But soon, too soon, that not-quitevisible
Something, that malevolent entity that
had waited patiently for the first signs of
vulnerability, came to haunt and mock,
laughing uproariously as the dream began to
unravel. Many of the proud new buildings
proved to be poorly designed, constructed, and
equipped, the responsible parties nowhere to
be found. And many faculty members proved
to have misunderstood the "mission" in either
of its incarnations: Upon discovering that
salaries were larger and teaching loads smaller
at the historically white universities we had
been led to believe were now our academic
counterparts, many teachers were here today
and gone tomorrow; others, though still on the
payroll, became gradually absent in spirit and
only irregularly present in the flesh. The
English faculty, with our outrageously low
salaries and inhuman teaching loads, was
especially hard hit; and one day those of us
who remained looked up to discover that our
department was again staffed primarily with
non-tenurable Instructors and Adjuncts, most
without terminal degrees.
The final blow came when those few
of our students with decent standardized test
scores--and thus "acceptable" linguistic skills-
began to be lured away by the superficial
advantages of mainstream campuses; while
the ones who continued to come, by choice or
through financial necessity, were segregated
into "honors" classes and encouraged to
disassociate themselves from the "common
rabble" who comprised the majority of the
student body. Not surprisingly, this rabble,
overcome by pent-up frustration, soon began
to display, both within and without the
classroom, antisocial behaviors heretofore
unheard of in higher education. Thus, our
hallowed halls had become "hollowed" halls,
academically lifeless shells, an affront to
intelligence and intellect.
By the time we were designated as the
state's one and only "urban" university, my
skepticism was at its peak; and I could not but
assume that this "honor" was merely a sleight
of hand designed to distract us from the
visible reminders that we would always be
separate and unequal. F or this new
euphemism, when combined with the
"university" status of which we had once been
so proud, was little short of an official
admission that we had become what the
outside world had always perceived us to be-"
By all rights, this depressing
realization should have drawn me into the
ranks of those among my departmental
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
colleagues who are so beaten down by time
and circumstance that they have abdicated all
professional responsibility: the one who never
gives writing assignments because "these
students don't have anything to say"; the one
who gives writing assignments but responds
only with a letter grade because "that's all
students look at"; the one who never returns
writing assignments to avoid responding at all.
And if I had followed t.he lead of that faculty
member who, for an entire year, came
whistling down the hall twenty minutes into a
fifty-minute period only to dismiss his unruly
classes after five more--that is, when he
bothered to show up at all--I, too, might have
been rewarded with an administrative
But a funny thing has happened to me
on the way to what should have been the most
stultifying, enervating realization of my
academic career: I have become even more
determined to support and encourage those
students who do desire an intellectual
environment, support them not only in the
development of their tentative linguistic skills
but also in the generation of ideas that they are
proud to express through these skills, ideas
that are just as valid as are those of young
people whose accident of birth makes them
more socially acceptable. I must admit that
my students' oral and written language rarely
improves by the grammatical leaps and
bounds I initially envisioned--although I could
recite a few linguistic success stories that read
like happily-ever-after fairy tales. Neither can
I deny that I receive few papers that are
completely free of serious, disruptive errors.
But almost everyone comes to appreciate the
concept of audience and to grasp the
importance of making one's ideas accessible to
a wide community of readers. And almost
everyone, after twelve years of formal
confusion, begins to develop a sensitivity to
those grammatical contrasts that are likely to
create problems for black-dialect speakers
who attempt to communicate in standard
English. What is more, my students can
usually be found sitting calmly, contentedly-discussing
and thinking and writing, writing
and thinking and discussing--seemingly
oblivious to AWOL instructors, to exasperated
custodians, even to the holdouts among their
own nurnbers who are determined to disrupt
the proceedings. Time and again, they
astound themselves--and please me--when a
class period ends and they are reluctant to
leave. And it is this kind of pleasure that
offsets the complex psychological pain of
teaching English at Ghetto D.--even though
the odd relationship between these two
contradictory emotions is still a mystery to
And I am definitely too tired tonight,
as I totter toward the stairwell, to analyze the
situation further. It is unlikely, however,
having maintained my academic integrity for
so long in an environment so antithetical to
the very concept of higher education, that I
will ever be tired enough to surrender to the
chaotic apathy that is even now pulling
insistently at my sleeve. To prove it, I stop
abruptly and wheel around. "Begone," I yell
at the gloating Something that would so love
to intrude on the relative peace of my
classroom oasis; and it has disappeared before
the incantation is fairly out of my mouth. As
the custodian, his head protruding from the
classroom, stares in outraged amazement, I
realize that it is my turn to laugh; and I do, all
the way down the stairs and out the door.
No bio available for Allison Wilson
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
By En DECUIRE
I was almost eighteen years old and
had just graduated from Lincoln high school,
a segregated school in Port Arthur, Texas. It
was nineteen fifty-eight. I was preparing to
leave home for the first time, on MY way to
basic training, and integration.
I felt confused, and scared.
I had grown-up learning that "white
people are prejudice"; and that "the only
thing the white man hates more than a
'nigger' is a 'nigger-lover"'; while being
taught that in order to be "successful," I had to
be "twice as good as white people."
I had also learned that "dumb boys go
to the Army, and smart boys go to the Air
At the time, I didn't even know the
difference between the Army, the Air Force,
the Navy, or the Marines. Yet, somehow,
after graduating from high school, I had taken
the Army test and failed, and had passed the
Air Force test without reading the questions.
In MY mind I knew that every
"smart"seventeen-year-old negro boy in Port
Arthur, knew about George Wallace in
Alabama, and Orville Faubus in Arkansas.
And I knew that every "smart" seventeenyear-
old negro boy in Port Arthur, had heard
that white people in Mississippi had murdered
Emett Till, a young negro boy, because he
"whistled" at a white lady.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
I was the first generation in MY family
to experience integration, and the smile on
MY face only masked the anxiety of MY
confusion and fear.
Momma, Pop, and all the neighbors,
seemed excited, happy, and filled with
confidence in MY "success."
"Boy, you better mind 'yo SELF, stay
in 'yo place, and do everything 'dem white
folks tell you to do. YO!l hear ME!" Momma
said, giving ME her final instructions before I
departed for basic training in integration.
"Yes'um," I answered, smiling,
embarrassed. "Strengthen ME, GOD," I said
to MY SELF, silently.
After a few days of "integration," a
group of white boys befriended ME.
They quickly taught ME how to say:
"Yes, sir," instead of "Yes'suh"; and how to
say: "Yes, mam, " m. stead 0f, "Yes' u rn. "
Soon, they became all-trusting.
"You're not a 'nigger'" they told ME,
" ... you're not like the rest of 'urn'. You're
different. You're a 'credit' to your race."
I cracked-up, laughing.
"You're French," one of them said.
I laughed, again.
"Where were you born?"
"Louisiana!" one of the white boys
shouted, excitedly, " ... the 'Louisiana
Purchase'!" I smiled, trying not to look dumb.
"That's right!" another white boy said.
"Don't you see? Louisiana used to belong to
the French before the 'Louisiana Purchase'.
Just like we told you, you're not a 'nigger',
I cracked up, laughing, again.
The group of white boys looked at one
another and smiled at MY naivete.
Then I looked at them and smiled with
a wide-eyed grin.
"I'm trying to imagine MY SELF
down south, in a motel room with a group of
white girls," I said. Their eyes popped open,
then they froze!
" ... All of a sudden," I continued, still
grinning, "three big, dirty, bearded, hairy,
to bacco-chewing, moonshine-drinking,
shotgun-tote'n, white men crashes through the
motel door, each carrying a gallon of
moonshine in one hand and a shot gun in the
Still frozen, the white boys just stared
at ME. I smiled to MY SELF.
"I'M trying to figure what words I
could possibly use that would convince them
white men that I ain't no . nigger', but a
The white boys looked at one another,
"I got'a feeling 'um'-gon-end-up just
like any other dead . nigger'," I said,
challenging them with MY wide-eyed grin.
Reality covered their faces.
"What y'all think?" I asked, laughing.
"Reality" answered with silence.
Together, we all laughed at the
A year later, two years after Governor
F aubus had made his infamous stance at
Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas,
I discovered MY SELF stationed at Little
Rock AFB, Arkansas.
One Friday night, feeling free, I took a
late bus into town, hoping to "git lucky."
It was the first time I had gone to town
After arriving at the bus station downtown,
I took the familiar walk to the negro
clubs across town.
In the distant sky, a bright yellow, full
moon seemed to be following ME as I strode
along the sidewalk.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
Walking briskly, looking at the
mannequins in the stores, and occasionally
noticing MY image reflecting from the
windows, I became aware of MY solitary
footsteps. The thought occurred to ME that I
walked as if I was marching. I chuckled to
MY SELF and kept on walking.
All the stores were closed. The store
windows were lit up, displaying smiling
mannequins wearing neat clothes. I could see
behind the mannequins into the darkness as I
hurriedly walked by. There was no
After walking a couple of blocks, I
noticed that I had subconsciously paced MY
SELF to catch the green light at every comer
just as the red light changed, without losing a
I smiled to MY SELF, and chuckled,
again, and kept on walking.
Suddenly, it occurred to ME that there
were no cars parked on the street, and there
wasn't a car to be seen in front of ME, either.
Still walking at the same pace, I turned
around backwards and looked at the distance
I had traveled. There was no movement.
There wasn't a car in sight. The city seemed
An eerie feeling came over ME, like
someone had suddenly made the world small
and still, and was watching ME.
Without losing a step, I turned around
and hastened MY pace. I felt like I was
marching alone, in somebody else's parade,
while everybody else was hidden in the silent
shadow of darkness, watching ME.
I felt MY body tremble.
Just as I approached the next comer
and stepped off the curb, the green light
turned yellow. I froze!
Trying to figure out how I missed a
step, I took one step backward, and stood on
the comer listening to the mysterious silence.
Waiting for the red light to change, I
looked up at the sky and stared at the moon
still following ME. This time, it s(;!emed
smaller, closer. Somehow, it seemed to be
smiling at ME. I felt like I could reach up and
caress it in MY hands.
MY body shivered at the thought.
I chuckled to MY SELF again, and
waited for the green light to appear.
Suddenly, before the light changed, I
felt a mysterious presence beside ME. MY
body shivered, again!
When I turned to look, I was startled
by a shiny, white, convertible Buick with the
top down, parked alongside of ME. The
glossy red interior gave it a rich look.
It seemed to have just silently
I couldn't figure it out!
Inside the car were four of the prettiest
young white girls I had ever seen in real life,
smiling at ME invitingly while I waited for
the light to turn green.
They looked like beautiful, "All
American" Cheer Leaders, representing
America's most innocent of smiles.
All of them wore shorts that displayed
smooth, tanned skin. They had beautiful, long
hair; smooth tanned faces; red, wet lips;
perfect white teeth; and pretty smiles that
evoked the most vivid fantasies of innocence
in the mind of a growing young boy.
I couldn't believe MY eyes!
I just stood there with a startled smile
on MY face, mesmerized with disbelief.
"Even though the car looks brand new,
why didn't I hear it drive up?" I wondered.
"Four girls together in a convertible with the
top down, must have been talking," I thought,
"and with ME consciously listening to the
silence, surely I would have heard them
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
I just stood there, still in disbelief,
shaking MY head from side to side, smiling.
In MY mind, I thought this was either a
blessing sent by GOD, or a blessing in
disguise, sent by the Devil!
The pretty white girls must have
recognized MY surprise by the wide smile on
"You want a ride?" one of them asked,
with a suggestive, southern twang.
I forgot about the red light.
"You want'a come with us?" I heard
another southern voice ask, chuckling
Quickly, the tapes of segregation
started playing inside MY mind. I
remembered Emett Till; I remembered stories
about white girls "screaming rape" whenever
a white man caught them with their negro
lovers; and I remembered stories about what
white men do to negroes who were caught
"messing with white girls."
I smiled toward the car.
"Noooooooooo. I'M going on the
negro side," I heard MY SELF say, "it's not
too far. I can walk." Turning away from the
car, I got back in MY place on the curb, and
stared at the light. It was still red.
When the light turned green, I
continued MY trek toward the negro side of
The white girls pulled closer to the
curb and drove slowly alongside of ME.
"We got a lot'a time if you do," I heard
one of them suggest. I smiled to MY SELF,
shook MY head from side to side, and kept on
walking, occasionally turning to look inside
Each time I turned to look, I saw
smooth, tanned skin, and juicy red lips
surrounding wet tongues protruding through
perfect white teeth that painted smiles of
voluptuous fantasies on beautiful white girls'
I could feel the little boy in ME,
growing. The white girls seemed to notice the
change, too, but I kept on walking, shaking
MY head from side to side.
"We don't bite," another voice cooed
innocently, with the southern twang.
Suddenly, MY mind tried to figure out
how I could possibly get into a brand-new
rich-looking convertible white Buick,
surrounded by four beautifully tanned white
girls, in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1959, and
go anywhere without being disturbed by other
"I'M an 'Airman'," I thought to MY
SELF, "nobody is going to kill a military
man." I chuckled at the thought, and kept on
U sing their most convincing voices,
the girls continued stalking ME.
"We're okay, you can trust us," one of
the girls suggested, as if reading MY mind.
But I kept on walking.
"Just pretend they are light-skinned
negroes." Another thought occurred to ME.
I chuckled at the thought, and kept on
As I continued MY brisk pace, the
little boy in ME saw a clear picture of ME and
the four white girls in a motel room, with all
four of them doing pleasurable things to ME,
and ME doing pleasurable things to them in a
sloooooow, deliberate way, taking time to be
thorough, making sure I would be able to
pleasure all of them.
The little boy in ME began to feel
strong and powerful, like a man. I felt MY
SELF slow down and turn toward the car. A
wide grin covered MY face. The girls all
smiled when I turned around.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
When I stopped, the car stopped. I just
stood there, smiling to MY SELF, watching
the beautiful white girls watching ME.
One girl got out and pulled the seat
forward. Smiling, she motioned for ME to sit
between the two girls in the back seat.
I returned her smile, placed one foot
inside the car, and froze!
The girls froze, too!
Quickly, like a flash in MY mind, I
saw MY SELF in the motel room with the
four white girls. Then I saw three big, dirty,
bearded, over'all-wearing, tobacco-chewing,
moonshine-drinking, shotgun-tote'n, countrylooking
white men, come busting through the
All of a sudden, I saw MY SELF
trying to explain to them that I was not a
"nigger" but a Frenchman, and that the
four girls were not white, but light-skinned
I felt confused, and scared!
"Nooooooo! Leave ME alone!
Nooooooo! Y'all better leave ME alone!" I
cried, running away from the car.
"He's scared! Leave him alone, he's
scared!" I heard one of the white girls shout.
As they drove past ME, I noticed the
look of confusion and fear in their faces, too.
Embarrassed, I continued on MY way
to the club.
The following day, I shared the story
with MY roommate.
"You got lucky," he responded,
"I don't know," I answered, thinking
he had asked ME a question.
I stared at him, wide-eyed, and smiled,
We both laughed at the silence.
Ed DeDuire is retiredfrom the Air Force after
a twenty year hitch. This essay is his first
published work. Ed self-published a booked
titled: SELT TRUTH: CAN YOU TALK? He
is a social worker for the elderly.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 27
POETRY - FIRST PLACE
BACK TO BACH
By MARY COLANGELO
on a latissimus
in all directions
as the aria
a counting game of numbers
folded in to
directed by changing tempos
streaming in to thought's infinity
if the dragon is a god
or what interior
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 28
I am in the temple
a darkened square
where I search
here to contemplate
our genetic structure
and the keys were
the year of your death
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
as pennies in the pool
each coin marking
held in palms
the year you were born
on a separate
Mary Colangelo has been writing for twenty-six years and entered ten
contests. This is her first time to win a contest. Mary has published
in Mile High Poetry Society's Anthology "Ariel" 1995. Her primary
occupation is Desktop Publishing Manager at the University of PA. Mary
is presently working on a mentor ship wi th poet and wri ter, Pablo
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 30
POETRY SECOND PLACE
By REGINA 0 I MELVENY
Memory is green
veins weeping in the transparent wrists
of my grandmother,
stone pines in the eyes of my father,
brocade-papered rooms of the Cal D'Orsini
where I feel my way by the braille of roses and urns.
The rooms wait for me to fill them
with the secret details of clockworks
that measure millennia down to the last
black second of forgetting.
My moldy grandmother oozes and sighs.
My father cannot recall my name.
Water laps at the steps.
The winter sun skims the greasy lagoon.
The clock maker blinded by the doge,
cannot repeat his creation.
I memorize my life by reciting
all the things I've forgotten, room by room,
my grandmother's love of wind (at the windowsill),
my father's retreat into forests (near the hearth),
my own passion for island cemeteries,
(beside the blue door),
and still certain rooms persist
in the stubborn furniture of silence.
Regina O'Melveny has been writing for thirteen years and entered several
contests. This is her fourth winning entry. She has been published in
wild Duck, The Charlotte Poetry Review, The LA Weekly, and The LA Poetry
Festival Winners Anthology. Her primary occupation is writing and she
is presently working on a book of poems and a prose work.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 31
POETRY THIRD PRIZE
By DOROTHY CAUSEY
Did I ever know that the alstroemeria will give me color
nine months of the year?
(And it loves to be fed.)
No. I never knew until I turned the page
(And even read about a blue hibiscus. A ~ hibiscus.)
But an alstroemeria--from the stars? And the sea?
What else, or who, would give me color
nine months of the year? And thrive, and prosper, bloom, blossom
from my small nourishment: the spread of my hand, my admiring eyes.
And what of the rest of the year--those lonely three months?
In winter, I suppose, sleeping beneath snow,
Curled around secrets,
In folded submission to some arctic threat, everlasting mystery
of shaman's power.
Silent surrender always affects me.
Nine months wild with a kissing pink and serious yellow;
Brilliance holding but leaning toward fade;
Morning openings and evening closings.
All those days of faithful bursts, stemmed and leaved,
Swaying under any sky.
There for the looking, the plucking (if I wish, if my hand will move.)
And when the last bud dies unopened, tightly wrapped in last regret,
Cool disregard confronts me.
No reflection of my love prevails, nor could.
Dorothy Causey has been writing forever and entered three other poetry
contests. This is her second time to win a contest. Dorothy has had
her poetry, feature articles/features for her local newspaper. She has
just retired after 15 years as a Registrar and Co-curator of a college
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 32
POETRY HONORABLE MENTION
By SISTER MARGARET P. MCCARRAN
The great dipper hung
down the brown mountainside.
The little stars among the planets
shimmered like sand in
The world hung over chaos
in total alienation
from the meaning
of stars and mountains
and I prayed that
offended heaven would
be kind and watch over,
bring back to me,
that little red
that did not come home
No Bio available for Sr. Margaret P. McCarran
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 33
POETRY HONORABLE MENTION
AT THE FOUNTAIN
By MARTINE FOURNIER
At evening we went out to lounge
by the fountain. I eased my hips down
carefully in loose clothes
and we saw the water settle itself,
sucking gently at the tips of my dress.
There are few corsets
left on women these days, which really isn't
a blessing. I, for one, have been let out
of the cage, not like
women with tummies protruding
over bicycle shorts, but in
my own way. The warm keeping itself
inside my breasts has nothing
stiff enough to contain it.
There are no stitched whalebones
for these feelings that come
when I see you or look down your arm.
And then, there is blood:
sanitary napkins, the smooth plastic
or cardboard of tampons so terribly
clean, I have no rags
to wash. Only
the sheets after I rolled away
and rose, sore in my skin,
a spot like a flower on your bed.
Soak them in cold water, I told you,
dismayed at what came out when I
Martine Fournier ~s a published poet and this is her fourth win. She ~s
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 34
currently working on getting her Fine Arts degree. She is most proud of
being second prize winner in the 1994 Books In Canada Student Wri ting
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 35
POETRY HONORABLE MENTION
GOOD OLD MEMORIES
By DONNA COLLINS
Sometimes, good old memories
rise up unexpectedly
like familiar old tunes heard
from across the way,
a deep whiff of peach cobbler
freshly baked; that spicy aroma
floating up from beneath its latticed crust
just hanging about the air
like early morning fog over the valley,
like childhood summers;
they used to last so much longer;
followed by warm golden noons of autumn
lazily lingering, yawning
like the orange alley cat
purring contentedly long into afternoons
like Indian Summer; that's what they call it,
the time of green coated walnuts
dropped by the dozens from limbs
of tall stately trees, waiting quietly
for me to grab them up by the handfuls,
shuck and shred them from their old coats,
anxiously cracking their hard tan shells
with well chosen stone,
smearing, staining, dear brown memories
upon the huge grey rock marking the end
of our driveway.
Donna Collins has been wri ting for five years and this is her first
published work. Her primary occupation is an elementary teacher.
Dorothy is currently working on two children's picture books.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 36
POETRY HONORABLE MENTION
By VALERIE BANDURA
Somehow living here isn't enough.
Midtown we were like the youths we are, slapped
amidst the great mountains as they erect from the sidewalk.
The nutshell of building roasted in the grass in the sun
of Washington Park.
And as us both stood the top step from the subway,
the sign said Walk to us, that arrogant icon.
The comb of people rushed at us
from across the street, while the evening light
was husky and the neon
circled the streets in tumult before we could step to it.
Imagine, it was only suppertime and
the steady business of it all. The lull,
the lights hissed as percussion would hiss like busy locusts,
The mass emerges suggesting tolerant disorder,
each one the face of Ahab eyeing his whale, and Yossarian
evading the nonsense.
Promise I will never know the city enough.
That the kiosks eavesdrop from their boxlike eardrums,
That walk means behave isistantly forward,
even when the chafed heart calluses
at the possibility for affection,
that convenience store doors promise something
as I push the enter signed door
into the wild thump of inside.
Valerie Brandora has been wri ting for eight years and entered three
contests. This is her first time to win a contest. Her primary
occupation is student and Valerie is currently working on mixed media of
writing and print making.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 37
POETRY HONORABLE MENTION
By PEGGY HARTIGAN
Dragon, hold fast to the Mogollon Rim;
Let no Saint George come charging to slay you.
Or pierce your wild brown surging arteries
Or block your pulsing Verde River veins.
You sucked up the ocean and spit it out,
Leaving salty sea fossils wedged between
Your rust-red chunks of pointy teeth: keep them!
Let no one clip your claws of red-tail hawk
Or scale your hide of vanilla scented
And jig-saw puzzled Ponderosa bark;
May no one quench your sweet and fiery breath
Or close your sweep of gaping mesa space.
Peggy Hartigan has been writing off and on for twenty years. This is
her first contest win. Peggy has been published in the Whittier Daily
News. Her current occupation is Librarian and she is currently working
on poems based on sights at the beach.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 38
POETRY HONORABLE MENTION
AGUA CALIENTE SPRING IN WINTER
By JENNIFER STEWART
Sky feathers black follows blue as
The deer return to the spring
Silently over winter's strawed grass
Seven mule deer survey Amy
Water falling from their muzzles
The nearest doe nuzzles Amy's belly
Blows warm and moist through cotton
Smelling of dried up grass and ducks and sky
Amy entranced would be a deer running
Wild through the mesquite bosque
Tomorrow I will imagine I was dreaming
But before antlered memories velvet
I will walk down to the spring
I will find size 6 hoofprints
In the mud by the water
Where she stood
Jennifer J. Stewart has been writing for seven years and entered several
contests. This is Jennifer's fifth contest win and she has published
several short stories and poems. She is currently working on poetry and
short fiction for children.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 39
CITY OF LIGHTS
By JAN ZIMMERMAN
"Mama, you didn't have to be so rude."
Only a deep breath and the sight of the Sandia
Mountains kept me from slamming the car
door. "Watch--your coat will get caught."
A grocery clerk in Albuquerque
wishes her "Merry Christmas" and she has to
say, "It's not my holiday." Okay, so Papa died
eight months ago. Is that any excuse for a 78-
year-old woman to take offense? Did she
thinks he was still in New York? The
mountains began their slow tint to pink and
lavender in the rear view mirror as I headed
"Hurry up, Rachel. Before the sun
"Yes, Mama, I know, I know. We'll be
in time for candles." The fifth night of
Chanukah and Christmas Eve besides. Did
she think I could control the line at the checkout
counter? The traffic on the street?
"If we're a few minutes late, do you
really think God will care?" I glanced
sidelong at her beaked nose, narrowed eyes,
and tightly-wound bun. How soon could I
send her back to her flat in Queens? I could
tell by the habitual way she pressed her lips
together that mama was getting ready to say
something I wouldn't like. I moved to
"Look at all the pretty decorations on
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
I'd been away too long from Mama's
hostility toward ornaments, Santa Claus,
nativity scenes, angels, tinsel and anything
else that gleamed, glittered, tinkled, jingled,
popped, or smelled like pine. Even the
Nutcracker Suite could get her going. I had
always timed my visits to her and Papa for
early summer, equally safe from Easter
bunnies and Yuletide carols.
Her neighborhood in Queens was a
refuge from rampant Christianity. She walked
her spare frame everywhere, every day, like a
second religion. But never very far, only to
the greengrocer's for carrots, potatoes and
apples, to the bakery for a fresh rye, to the
butcher for a kosher chicken. She still read
her newspaper in Yiddish and censored her
own TV programs. My mother, the channel
surfer. Who else used their clicker every time
Bing Crosby sang "White Christmas?" I
should have let her go to my brother Simcha
in Florida, where they went for Chanukah
while Papa was still alive.
"That was a good buy on the brisket.
We should have bought more," Mama said.
She never gave up on anything.
"I told you. I don't eat meat. You
make it for yourself."
fly ou'll eat. A little more weight,
maybe you'll have a husband before you're 40.
I'll make it with a carrot tsimmes the way your
I watched my neighbor, Jorge Trujillo,
hand his four-year-old granddaughter a small
paper bag and a votive candle. Teresa, limber
in the way oflittle children, positioned the bag
between her dungareed knees as she squatted
on her heels.
"Merry Christmas, Rachel," Jorge
called. He waved with one hand, holding the
bag upright with the other as Teresa tried to
stand the votive candle inside.
"What's this all about?" Mama asked.
My North Valley street was littered with
brown paper bags like Teresa's; they lined
driveways and perched on gateposts; they
trailed along rooftops, traced the curves of
adobe walls, balanced on fence pilings. Sand
anchored an as-yet-unlit votive candle in each
lanterns. Lighting the path ... uh ... manger ...
lights for rejoicing... a Spanish tradition.
When it gets dark, they'll be lit."
Mama sighed--her resignation sigh,
not her disgust sigh, thank goodness.
"Now what?" I groaned. "The walls
aren't good enough? They have to paint
graffiti on the ground?" My heart sank as I
pulled into the driveway. "Wait a minute,
It wasn't paint, though. It was red
chalk, .a child's scrawl, partly smeared by the
tires. Not a problem. Until I read the
"You killed Jesus. "
My head started to pound. I felt the
valves of my heart open and close; I choked in
search of breath. I heard the car door open.
"Just a minute, Mama. Stay right
there." Too late. She was already out of the
car. How could someone wearing lace-up
orthopedic shoes walk that fast? Mama stood
next to me, staring at the message. Silent.
"Just a minute. I'll wipe it off."
"It's a nasty message. From a child.
You don't want me to leave it there, do you?"
"How did it get there?"
"How should I know?"
"Find out." Mama huddled into her
black cloth coat against a gust of wind. "I
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
need to light the candles."
She touched two fingers to her lips and
then to the mezuzah, a boxed scroll of Biblical
phrases fastened to the doorpost, while I
unlocked the door. I carried in the groceries
and went for a rag. All I wanted to do was get
rid of that message and make dinner. Even
brisket, if it would take the taste of the
message away. Mama tugged the rag out of
"No, Rachel. First, find out. Every
door, you ask." Mama's imperatives were
"For God's sake, Mama, these are my
neighbors. They'll be embarrassed! They
didn't do it."
"Go. Talk to them."
As I was leaving Mama pushed her
sleeves past her elbows, paying no attention to
her forearms, and counted out the six candles
she would need. "Good," I thought. "She
doesn't think about it all the time." When I
was a child I would find her sitting in the
dark, holding her forearms out, staring, staring
for hours at the numbers she could not see. In
my fright I would whisper, "Mama." But she
would never answer.
My mind raced, but my feet crawled
the short distance to Jorge's house. How
could I ask people about that message without
saying what it was?
Jorge called out. "Rachel, it's a little
early yet for the luminarias. Wait about half
"Did you see any kids writing on my
"What? Some of that crazy gang
"No, chalk," I croaked. No way I
could tell Jorge the words. What did he know
of such things? He and Teresa had nearly
finished--their line of luminarias marched
along the adobe wall between our properties.
"Try next door." Jorge shrugged to his
left, balancing a luminaria on the palm of
each hand. "I think Sharon Miller was home
Noone answered at the Millers, so I
kept going. Katy Reilly has twin eight-yearolds.
"Did your sons bring home a friend
today? Were they playing near my driveway?
There's this message some kids wrote. It has
my mother a little upset."
"I couldn't even get the kids to go out."
Petey and Tom peered from behind Katy's
skirt. "They knew I was wrapping presents so
they've been clinging like lint."
My approach wasn't getting me very
far. I couldn't think of a better way to ask by
the time I got to the Martinezes, so I just
muttered that I liked the luminarias on their
roof. I rehearsed as I crossed the street to the
Smiths. First I complimented them on their
tree, trimmed with gingerbread men, shiny
gold ornaments, and white ribbon. "Were you
looking out...? Do you know who might
have ... ? Has anyone told... Do you have any
kids visiting you?"
Gloria Smith was bewildered. "What
did somebody do? Is it paint? Just wipe it
off. What's the big deal?"
I took a deep breath and spit out the
hurtful message in the driveway.
"Well, we don't know anything about
it. Ask them down the street," said her
husband, Harold, as he closed the door.
Bitterness filled my nostrils. Bitterness at my
mother for making me ask. Bitterness that
other people didn't understand. Bitterness that
they never would understand.
I stomped to the next house. The bells
on the Ortegas' door jingled when Maria
"What's wrong, Rachel? You look
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
horrible. Is your mother okay?"
"She's okay. It's ... it's ... it's just.. .. "
Faced with her sympathy, I couldn't keep back
"Come in, sit down. I'll get you a
tissue." Maria bustled with boxes and cups.
"Here, have some cocoa and biscochitos.
Luisa was setting them out for Santa." Luisa,
who had just turned three, danced around the
chair, the tree, the fireplace and me, while I
wadded up three soggy tissues.
"There's this message. I need to tell
you, Maria. On the driveway. In red chalk."
I spoke the three short words as softly as I
could, trying to protect Luisa's innocent ears.
"What's worse, Mama saw it."
"Oh, Rachel, I'm so sorry." She gave
me a hug. "How awful for you. And for your
mother. Surely you don't think it was
someone on the street."
"I don't know what to think." Maria
stared at me. Luisa danced.
"No, no, of course not," I hastened to
add, "but how could it get there without
anyone seeing who did it?"
"Let me see what I can find out."
Maria rubbed my shoulders. "Now you go
back to your Mama. She must be waiting for
A menorah, the nine-branched
Chanukah candelabra, shone in my living
room window, inch-thick utility candles
occupying five of the eight equally tall
holders, with a sixth, the shamas, standing
higher than the rest. This was the first
Chanukah I'd used that menorah. Mama gave
it to me after papa died. His sister, Tante
Sarah, may she rest in peace, smuggled it out
of Germany before the war. How? Mama
would never tell. Mama's lean form flickered
behind the six candles.
The message was still on the driveway,
not blurred enough by footprints and tire
tracks. I tried rubbing it out with the tip of my
boot. The words got fuzzier, but my efforts
just ground the chalk into the concrete. To
hell with Mama, I'll get a rag and some water.
The dense aroma of meat teased me
with the past: the tang of my father's Old
Spice (he always shaved when he came home
from work); the kitchen din of my childhood.
Peeled carrots lay in the sink. "Rachel, don't
take off your coat. It's time for our walk
around the block."
"But Mama, you're cooking. And it's
getting cold. Your coat's not warm enough."
"Nu, " she said, turning down the heat
in the oven. "I'll wear a sweater." She pulled
down her sleeves, covering up the still-blue
numbers on her forearm, and put on a black
cardigan that she buttoned carefully from
bottom to top. She bundled herself in a coat
and scarf. "Now, I'm ready."
,Ian Reilly was chatting with the
Millers across their wooden gate. "It's a
beautiful night, isn't it?" he sang out in the
cool air. I guess Katy hadn't told him yet
about the message--or maybe the sour taste of
hate didn't roll around his tongue quite the
same way. Maybe fear didn't prickle beneath
The soft darkness that comes right
after dusk, the darkness that still carries the
memory of the day, covered the street. The
Trujillos and Martinezes were out with
barbecue matches, lighting their luminarias.
I could dimly see the butane match in Harold
Smith's hand as he headed out his door.
Cars doused their head-lights; the city
had turned off the street lamps as always on
Christmas Eve. Bushes, trees and doorways
that had twinkled red and white, green and
blue for the last two weeks were ignored in
favor of the glow from the brown paper bags.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
The luminarias re-designed the dusty block,
camouflaging its wind-blown trash and bare
For once Mama adjusted her shorter,
faster pace to my longer, slower one as we
walked, not touching, past houses that in
daylight flaunted peeling paint and tar paper
flags above their flat roofs; houses with
campers parked in the yard and swings
hanging awry. Now, nestled in the dark, these
homes were shielded against their daily
struggle behind the lights of a thousand
"Dammit," said Manny Ortega,
shaking his hand up and down.
"It's harder when you light the candle
before you put it in the bag." I laughed for the
first time all day. "Happy Holiday."
The boundaries of fences and walls
dissolved into the night, the connect-the-dot
patterns of the luminarias changing as we
walked. Like the stars flickering above, the
luminarias formed and re-formed into
constellations of the imagination. A dragon
here, the hunter there, the big dipper, the dove.
The king and queen on their thrones shifted
without warning into the Manhattan skyline at
night. I could transform the universe through
the alchemy of a blink. An entire city of
The walk had softened my mood by
the time we turned the final comer toward my
house. The crystal air had neutralized the sour
taste in my throat; the prickle of fear had
retreated to its hiding place. "Forget about the
message, Mama. I'll wipe it off."
"I don't forget, Rachel."
"But the lights are so pretty."
Amazement suddenly caught my VOIce.
"Mama's gaze followed mine to the
Trujillo's front window. Three squat red pillar
candles and two green ones clustered their
flames around a taller white one on a little
We glanced from house to house.
Katy Reilly had moved two trios of electric
candles, each red-tipped trio surrounded by a
glowing green wreath, from her upstairs
bedroom windows to her front room. I saw a
gap in luminarias along the sidewalk to the
Martinezes' front door; six votive candles
shone in the picture window they had put in so
proudly last summer. Even the Smiths had six
candles buming--six slender tapers in silver,
Danish-style candlesticks. The Ortegas'
casement window, inset the width of an adobe
block, framed five white-gowned angels with
gold wings, their halos afire, serenading
Frosty the Snowman, whose black hat already
streaked his pudgy body.
Mama pressed her lips together.
Twice. "You understand, my little Rachel?
"Yes, Mama. It was right to ask." I
put my arm around her.
"Rachel," she whispered, "it's a
miracle." Mama pointed to Tante Sarah's
menorah, where six fingertips of flame
hovered above five branch candle holders and
the shamas, the waxy standards themselves
long since melted into the night.
Jan Zimmerman has been writing for
seventeen years. This will be her first
published work and the third time to enter a
contest. She is currently working on several
short stories and a forth coming book. She is
afuU time Marketing Consultant.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 44
MY MOTHER'S MIRROR
By SUE BOGGIO
I stand before the large freestanding
mirror and let my robe slip from me like a
skin I no longer need.
The yellow sunlight dapples through
the new leaves at my bedroom window and
dances across my nakedness like a field of
A cool breeze tickles my flesh. I
watch as goose-bumps form colonies on my
arms and chest. My hands encircle the warm
globe of my pregnancy. You will be here
soon . .
And yet your coming means leaving
my body. I love you inside of me. Will I love
you when you are not?
I have stood in front of this mirror
since I was old enough to stand. I remember
discovering my breath against its cool surface.
I remember learning to kiss the little girl in the
mirror before I knew no one was kissing back.
This was my mother's mirror. She
brought it with her from Ireland to marry my
father. She didn't take it with her when she
She didn't take me, either.
My father said she took nothing but
her pocketbook. But he was wrong. She took
I feel your father in the doorway
before I see him.
"You're beautiful," he murmurs and
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
comes to stand behind me. He smells oflvory
soap and I lean against him.
We watch as you stretch arms and legs
against my belly. A bump of you circles
lazily across my side. Geoffry gently places
his fingers over your bump and I feel the two
of you communicating through my flesh. He
smiles in my ear.
"She has dropped, hasn't she .. .it won't
be long, now."
I shiver and he mistakes my fear for a
chill. He wraps my robe around my shoulders
and kisses warmth into my soul.
We make love and I am relieved to be
swept into mindless pleasure. My hair
tumbles around his face like a golden veil
framing his expression that says I will never
leave you. I am surprised every time I see it.
We are in the garden now. Geoffry is
putting in the tomato plants, the last frost is
safely behind us. The hearty cold-weather
plants have a head start--already flourishing in
the black Iowa soil under a generous June sun.
I play at planting myself into the
garden, squishing my toes into the cool earth.
I grew myself on this farm. Father let me
know early on he was a farmer of com and
soy beans--not of motherless little girls.
I asked about my mother when I was
ten. It was rare that he spoke of her. He said
he had received her address from a cousin of
hers--an Irishman who worked the farm in the
spring of 1953. My father wrote to her saying
he needed a wife to help out on the farm
because his parents were dead and his brother
was never found after WWII. She wrote back
to say she'd come if he would pay her
expenses and send a photograph of himself.
My father was a handsome Swede, so
she arrived within a month with trunks full of
fine Irish linens, crystal, and clothes too fine
for farm life. And of course, the mirror,
carefully crated for the long voyage.
They were married in the Lutheran
Church--though my mother was a Catholic. I
have a small black and white picture of them
on that day, standing in front of a rose trellis
on the church grounds. Both are nearly thirty
and it is obvious they are strangers. My
mother is wearing a simple white dress but her
elegance is awkward next to my father's stiff
I look into her face, sometimes, to see
some sign that she would abandon her
husband and four-week-old infant exactly one
year to the day the photograph was taken. Her
small frozen smile reveals nothing. But the
fact that her hair was red doesn't show either.
Geoffry is watering the spindly tomato
plants and squirts my legs with the hose.
"Hey!" I squeal and lift the skirt of my
faded sundress to try to keep it dry.
"Dance, Partner," he does his
Yosemite Sam voice, "dance when I says
dance!" He fires the hose at my mudsplattered
I hear myself giggle like the happy
little girl I never was and I am amazed this
man is my husband.
We met at University Hospital in Iowa
City. I was working Pediatrics a few years out
of nursing school and he was an M.D. doing a
Pediatric Fellowship. All of the single nurses
and a few of the married ones were in hot
pursuit of this unattached doctor who looked
like Robert Redford's younger brother. I
watched their brazen moves in awe. What
must it feel like to have such uncompromised
faith that one deserves to be loved?
Little did I know that it was my total
unwillingness to even stick my toe in that
water that made me irresistible to him. I was
beyond "hard to get"--I was on another planet.
He likes to say he remembers how unaffected
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
I was. That I was calm, helpful, but
completely void of anything other than a
professional nursing demeanor.
When he learned I wasn't married or
engaged, he said he would torture himself
with the idea that I was the most beautiful,
alluring Lesbian he'd ever met.
He says he loved me at first sight.
That right there made him suspect.
My dress is drenched and clinging
heavily to me as I try to wrestle the hose away
from him. I feel him let me win so I spray
him unmercifully to punish his patronizing
"You think the fat pregnant chick can't
handle herself, huh, Bub?" I have my thumb
over the nozzle to spray him good and hard.
"Fat? You're all baby, Madame," he
puts both hands over his crotch where I am
aiming, "besides--I know you can take me
whenever you want--I only live and breathe by
your grace--Oh Goddess of my life!"
"Don'tcha forget it!" I toss the hose
aside and marvel at how it's only taken him
ten years to nearly convince me.
My father was not unkind--at least not
intentionally. His life had a single focus-farming--
and there was not one word, gesture
or ounce of energy directed elsewhere. I
understand that now.
I was cooking and cleaning by age
seven. I did all the laundry and ironed my
own school dresses. I did not imagine this
was unusual. Father had his work, I had mine.
By junior high, I began to visit the
homes of friends. I saw mothers doing what
I did and I heard my friends complain about
keeping their rooms clean or doing the dishes
when it was their turn. Of course, the farm
kids had more chores than the kids in town.
But it wasn't the work I minded. It
was when I saw how mothers love--the
fussing, the reminders to do their homework,
the home-baked birthday cakes and the hugs
my friends would shrug off--that's when I
knew there was something terribly wrong with
me. I would look into my father's eyes for
some tiny spark of something .. .in the split
second before he would turn away, I would
see two long, dark, tunnels .. .1 never saw if
there were lights at their ends. That's when I
would go to my mother's mirror to meet a
gaze that never varied or veered away.
Geoffry's pager is beeping. He has to
hunt for it under his discarded shirt by the
garden tools. He reads the number. "It's the .
E.R.--how much you want to bet it's one of the
"Every Saturday--it's their horses." I
stretch and rub the twinging muscles in my
lower back, following him into the kitchen.
While he calls, I admire our latest remodeling
job. We knocked out the wall to the dining
room and added big windows and a skylight.
It's done in yellow, slate blue and white.
Since our marriage, we have systematically
redone every room in this two-story
farmhouse in an unspoken covenant that this
is a new and different life from myoid one;
one full of light and color.
"I have to go in--a two-year-old with a
spiked temp that won't come down--'get to
practice my lumbar puncture skills."
"God, if it's meningitis, don't bring it
"Probably nothing--strep throat or
chicken pox on the way. I'll call ifI'm going
to be long."
"I love you!" I called after him.
He is the first person I ever said that to
or heard it from. He said it to me six months
after he finally convinced me to date him. I
said it back another six months after that. He
is a patient man.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
Even when my father was dying of
prostate cancer and I was caring for him at
home because he would not die in a hospital-we
never said those words. Even as he sold
off his five-hundred acres and signed the
house and five acres over to me for my
inheritance--we never said those words.
I knew how to live with-out love and
its unfamiliarity was breathtaking. I was
convinced that if I dared to <;limb out onto its
precipice--it would fall away like a cliff in a
Roadrunner cartoon and unlike the coyote, I
would not survive the dive into the canyon.
While Geoffry is at the hospital, I busy
myself in your nursery. I count the receiving
blankets and tiny undershirts that you will
surely outgrow before it's cold enough to wear
them. I'm fighting off a rising panic. I'm
trying to perform mundane monotonous tasks
to occupy my mind. But the panic is breaking
through--little leaks form in the dam--trickles
of cold fear run down my back.
The fear is so unspeakable my hands
leave the soft folds of cotton flannel and press
hard against my lips. You can paint and
remodel all you want--it's still the same
house! You can give her a husband and she's
still that cast-off baby! Who does she think
she is to try to be someone's mother? You
can't take it--you'll run away just like I did!
I hear these things in my mother's
voice--a voice I know I invented because there
was never one there. But her truth is as
undeniable as her absence. That, I did not
I crawl to the rocker and climb into it,
shaking and sobbing. I am biting down on a
baby washcloth. I rock us both and try to stop
I concentrate on the rocker--it is the
one your father was rocked in by his mother
who is now an alcoholic living in the south of
France, divorced from his surgeon father in
Chicago. But Geoffry was out of college
when all of that happened so he did have a
rocking chair and mother's arms when it
There is this belief you see, that grew
inside of me next to you that says I will go
crazy as my mother must have and I will leave
you and your father.
I hold you tightly in my womb. I am
afraid to let you out. I am afraid for the cord
to be cut. I am afraid for you to be separate
from me. As long as we are one--I can not
"Mom--I need the yellow chalk. I
have to do the sun and it's really big!"
"Here you go." I pass you the thick
hunk of chalk that looks like a stick of butter.
"Thank you, Mommy."
I feel my heart lurch with love for you,
my sweet Hannah ... your tumbles of red curls,
cornflower eyes and determined spirit.
Everything you say and do is a magical
surprise and yet intrinsically familiar.
I roll onto my back and listen to you
sing a nameless tune that matches the rhythm
of the puffy clouds drifting overhead.
We are in our favorite spot on the
farm ... on the top of a small hill where big
headed purple clover crowds around a slab of
cement that caps an old well. We are drawing
chalk pictures on it after having a picnic of
cucumber sandwiches and pink lemonade.
When I was a little girl, the well was
covered by a rotting wooden lid. Father
forbid me to play near it but I could not resist
tasting the sweet clover. I'd come home with
it stuffed into my overall pockets.
He gave up and leveled the well's
single layer of remaining stone perimeter,
covered it with new wood planks and
smoothed cement-like grey frosting in a
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
perfect six-foot disk.
I was itching to write my name as
Father stood back to admire his work. "Don't
even think about it," he grumbled, noticing the
stick in my hand. Even then I wondered why
it mattered out here where no one would see
it--what harm could four little letters cause?
Absent-mindedly, I pick up a piece of
your blue chalk and write my name: J-I-L-L.
"Very good, Mommy--you are a good
speller. When I go to school I will be a good
speller, too. Watch me write my name."
You write your name in huge rainbow
colors across your sunny sky.
"Beautiful," I say and cannot resist
touching your tawny arm. You just turned
five and I'm astounded you will start
kindergarten in the fall.
"Tell me about when I was a little
baby in your tummy," you ask as if reading
"First you were so tiny you could
swim around and do somersaults--"
You giggle as you roll over to snuggle
with me on the guilt.
"Then you got so big, it was time to
come out and see the world."
"What did you and Daddy say?"
"We said, 'Hello, Hannah, we've been
waiting for you!'"
"I was too little to talk so I cried and
wet my diapers!"
"Yes, but you grew so fast and learned
so many things--"
"And you and Daddy love me to
I hold you to my grateful body and feel
my tears trickle into my ears. "We love you to
pieces, Hannah banana!"
When you are older I will tell you
more. I will tell you how you were born in the
middle of a June thunderstorm and that you
came so fast and so hard that your Dad nearly
had to deliver you himself in the hospital
parking lot. It was as if you were bursting
into the world as a part of the storm exploding
With your sudden birth, came the
sudden death of my fears. I knew the first
time I held you I could no sooner leave you as
walk out of my own skin. When I was
nursing you on your four-week birthday, I
contemplated my mother's ability to go to bed
one night in this very house, get up the next
morning and walk out of the door never to see
her baby again. As I kissed your tiny fist, I
decided I would never understand how or why
she did what she did--but I claimed the
freedom to know with certainty I was not
condemned to do the same.
"Mommy, why can't Carrie come over
We are kneading bread dough. You
look like a Pillsbury commercial with just the
right amount of flour dusting your freckled
nose. "Carrie is visiting her Grandma in
"Peter Rabbits?" You smile
"Yeah, Peter Rabbits in Cedar
"I have a Grandma," you say as you
tum your wad of dough and make small
punches into its underbelly.
"Yes. Daddy's mother who lives far
away in France."
"I don't mean her ... your mommy is my
"Well, she would be--but she's not
here, remember? She went away when I was
You sigh as if trying to reason with
one of the toddlers in your play group. "She
did not go away ... she's right here."
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
It's all I can do to not raise my voice.
I feel my anger rise and take a breath to push
it down. It's not meant for you. "Honey, I
know my mother left me--I'm sorry you don't
have a Grandma like Carrie's--"
"Mine is more better than Carrie's.
You don't know everything!"
You thump your bread dough and I
wonder why I can't ask you what you mean.
Geoffry and I tuck .you in and spend
some precious time alone in the porch swing.
We bought it the summer you were born and
have swayed through many a sunset since
then. Tonight's is especially vibrant. Gaudy
streaks of pink and orange that remind me of
one of those lit-from-behind Biblical movie
backdrops. A full moon is rising, turning the
long grass into Christmas tinsel.
We breathe warm heavy air and listen
as the spring peepers sing and June bugs hurl
themselves at the screen door. A few
lightning bugs swirl in slow motion over the
garden and I'm almost sorry you're missing it.
Geoffry sighs as if finally releasing the
stress of his day.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"I had to report two child abuse cases
today," he rattles the ice in his empty ice tea
glass. "There's worse things than parents
leaving--some of them should leave."
"I know ... " I begin to knead his
knotted neck muscles and am reminded of the
bread dough. "Hannah said something a little
"She said she has a grandma like
Carrie's .. .I assumed of course she was
referring to your mother. Even though she's
never seen her, she talked on the phone with
her that one time. But she got all huffy and
said she was talking about my mother--who,
she says never left --and when I tried to reason
with her, she said, 'You don't know
"I thought we had a few more years
before she found out we don't know
everything," Geoffry chuckles. The neck rub
is taking effect.
"It was so strange how she said it...I
guess you had to be there."
"Oh, she's probably just putting
together how families are supposed to be and
doesn't want to be cheated out of a grandma."
"God, I never thought about it. .. not
only did she do this thing to me--she did it to
my daughter, too." I want to strangle her!
Geoffry leans back into the swing and
puts his arms around me. I struggle to not let
my past contaminate my present.
"Don't worry," he kisses the top of my
head. "Hannah doesn't need either one of our
mothers--she has all the love she needs right
"So do I," I say and lift my face to his.
"I need bug jars, Mom," you announce
We made French toast and we're
pigging out. You have peanut butter, jelly
and syrup on yours.
"Because Carrie has lots of jars full of
bugs. You can even catch lightning bugs, but
you should let them go or they'll die."
"I don't think we have any jars--we
"But I need them, Mom, let's dump out
this jelly." You tip the jar to a dangerous
angle to illustrate how easy it would be.
"There might be some old canning jars
in the cellar." Our cellar is the last vestige of
my father's domain. I never went down there
as a kid and I still avoid it. His work bench is
there, along with boxes of old tools, piles of
broken, cast -off furniture, junk going back to
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
his father's time and maybe another generation
before that. All of it covered with dust and
cobwebs, the walls are crumbling from
moisture. Geoffry and I have talked about
calling someone to haul it all away but we
haven't gotten around to it. It's not like we
need the space and it's too damp to be of any
use, except as a tornado refuge and we have
one little place at the end of the stairs cleared
for that. It would take a tornado to get me
down there. Or, to get something for you.
We make our way down the wooden
stairs that seem spaced too far apart. The light
switch is at the work bench so I'm using the
half-dead flashlight from the kitchen drawer.
Damn, why didn't he put on a handrail! I feel
you squeeze my hand, reminding me I'm the
mother and have to be the brave one. "We're
almost there ... three more steps."
We both let out big sighs of relief as
we reach the bottom. I flip the light switch,
illuminating a naked bulb that sways overhead
like a noose.
"Look at all this wonderful stuff!"
You release my grip and skip over to explore.
I find some empty jars on a dusty shelf
next to some ancient home-canned vegetables
floating in murky water. They look like some
obscene collection of laboratory specimens. I
grab a few empties and tip each one over to
knock out the dead bugs. Good, now we can
In the half light, I see you bending
over the gaping mouth of an open trunk.
"Look, Mommy--these are Grandma's
pretty things! All her pretty things!" You are
wearing a straw hat with yellow flowers on
My heart pounds wildly and the fetid
air tightens its cloying grasp around my
throat. Father said he'd gotten rid of her
Somehow I manage to stand next to
you, I'm shaking so much the glass jars are
rattling against my chest.
"See, she wrote this pretty book, too."
You hold up a pink leather book with
embossed lettering, My Diary.
"My God .. .let's get this stuff upstairs."
The trunk is heavy, but sheer
determination helps me yank it up the stairs.
I collapse against the hum of the refrigerator
to look at the diary as you busy yourself trying
on her dresses.
I hold the unopened diary against my
thumping heart and breathe a spontaneous
prayer--Please let this be something good! I
open it and some loose papers fall into my lap.
The first is their marriage certificate, dated
August 4, 1953. The other is a birth
certificate: Jillian Nuala Peterson, born
February 5, 1954 to Maura Marie DelahuntyPeterson
and Karl Olaff Peterson, an 8 lb.
It is my birth certificate--the real one-Father
must have given me an altered copy
when I needed one for nursing school. The
altered one named me Jill Ann Peterson and
listed my birth date as July 5, 1954. I quickly
count months on my trembling fingers. He
was not my father! She must have been three
months pregnant when she arrived from
Ireland. I was not one month old when she
left--I would have been six months old. If I
was not his daughter--why would she leave
me behind with him?
I know I hold the answers to all of my
questions in my sweaty hands. I'm tom
whether to start at the beginning or skip back
to see how it ends. With all the self-control I
can muster, I carefully tum to the first page.
I will read it as she wrote it--one page at a
She begins in 1952, describing her
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
village and her lonely life there. Her parents
have been dead a year. She was an only child
and now at twenty-seven she lives in their fine
old house on the hill overlooking the village.
Maura describes many suitors--none are to her
liking because "I will only marry for love as
my own dear mother and father did .. .I would
sooner live the life of a spinster than settle for
less." She knows the villagers think she is full
of lofty ideas and imagine she is too good for
the local men and just because she got her
Literary Degree from Dublin University.
I skim through such entries until she
begins to write about a young Priest new to
the village--Father Edward Blake from
England. He is nearly thirty and she is drawn
to his sensitive soul and poetic spirit. They
discuss literature and nature. They collect
wild flowers from the glen and press them in
a poetry book. They fall in love.
Maura believes their love is sanctioned
by God. Edward speaks of asking Rome to be
released from his vows so they may marry.
Months go by and Maura writes that it is
impossible to be patient though Edward begs
her to trust in him.
June 21, 1953 ... she knows she is
pregnant and tells Edward there can be no
more postponements. He is distraught with
shame and feels the pregnancy is a
punishment and a warning from God. They
must abandon this sinful behavior and
sacrifice their love to show God they are
sincere in their prayers for forgiveness.
Maura is devastated--her words are
blurred from her tears, "Edward suggests I go
to his sister in London to have the baby--she
and her husband are childless and will raise
the child with Christian love and financial
security. 'Damn you!' I cried--'How can you
ask that I give away our child? I would
sooner die! If! can't have you--our child is all
the more precious to me. I will hold and love
our baby as our love's covenant made flesh
and blood! "'
I turn the pages quickly, her story is
predictable now. I weep as I read her
desperate flight to America to marry a stranger
to give her child a name and escape public
humiliation and scorn--for herself and
Edward--but most of all for the baby who
would be known as the Priest's bastard.
Her time with her husband is more
misery. She writes of his obsession with
farming and his demands that she stay isolated
and work as hard as a man. She is more
lonely than she thought possible and
desperately misses her homeland.
As her pregnancy progresses too
quickly and she gives birth "prematurely" to a
large infant, her husband is furious in a quiet,
seething way. She decides to sell her mirror,
her finery--all of it--to afford passage for her
and lillian back to Ireland." There must be a
shop in Iowa City that would give her a fair
price. She will present the child as the
product of her brief marriage to a fine man
who died tragically in a hunting accident.
She writes in her final entry, "I will tell
Karl about my plans. Surely, he will be glad
to be rid of us and will help me get my things
to Iowa City to sell. I cannot wait to breathe
the sea air and return to my home. Father
Edward can preside at lillian's baptism and
watch her grow and flourish with her mother's
love--I will not tarnish his reputation. But, he
will face the consequences of his choice and
know I am the blessed one!"
Frantically I turn the blank pages-"
What happened--," I am sobbing aloud, "It
can't end here! Where is she?!"
I feel you put your arms around me
and hold my head tenderly to your little chest.
"It's okay, Mommy--I know where she is.
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
She's under our chalk pictures by the purple
"Do you think you'll be able to sleep?"
Geoffry asks through a yawn.
"Eventually ... you go ahead." I kiss
him and marvel at his ability to sleep on
airplanes. He turns toward the window and I
trace a circle on his back.
Flight attendants are offering extra
pillows and blankets in stage whispers that
carry above the jet engine noise. Some
passengers are drinking their way into
You, my little Hannah, are sound
asleep with your head in my lap. I stroke your
thick ripples of hair and still wonder how you
As you revealed, she was found at the
bottom of the dry well, her neck broken. As
so many questions are answered, more are
raised. Did she trip while walking on one of
her sleepless nights, careless and pre-occupied
by thoughts of telling Karl her intentions?
And he assumed she'd run off in the night,
leaving him to raise another man's child? Or
was she pushed to her death in his reactive
rage? But, if he murdered her--why did he
hold on to the evidence in a trunk in the
cellar? And,. there is the mystery of the
pocketbook he always said she took with her,
yet was found stored with her other things in
the incriminating trunk.
I tried asking you if you knew more
and you shrugged and said that's all--except
that she loves us and she's happy now.
We are taking her back to her Irish
village to be buried. Father Edward Blake said
it would be an honor and a privilege to preside
at her intemment--could I forgive an old man
who regrets choices he made out of fear so "
long ago? Living his life without Maura and
his child was more of a sacrifice than a loving
God would ask--he knows that now.
I guess it isn't important that I know
every detail of her tragedy. What matters is
through some kind of miracle, my mother's
granddaughter unlocked me from the prison of
my false identity and set me free. Now, when
I look into my mother's mirror, I no longer
search for evidence to support her absence. I
see the covenant of her love--made flesh and
blood. lust as you are mine.
Sue Boggio has been writing for most of her
life and this is first time to win a contest, Sue
is a Registered Nurse, She is currently
working on getting an agent and working on
her second novel.
' . '
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" ., " . • ' , !
" ~ ,
. ..... "
_ .... -'
- '. ,
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE 53
By ANTONIA MORAS
The flickering of the votive lights on
the aisle cast blue and red shadows across the
drift of blankets and down the long, white
cotton dress. Teresa continued to look at the
child, asleep in her arms, lifting her eyes only
momentarily whenever she sensed some
response was being called for by whatever the
priest had intoned at the altar. She was
vaguely aware that the boys and Domenic
were watching and following her lead, but her
attention was held by the baby, who remained
deeply asleep, one tiny pink hand curled up
against her cheek. Every so often the hand
twitched almost imperceptibly. The mother
had hoped that they could hold the baptism
quietly one afternoon, but the priest had been
insistent that the ceremony take place after
Mass on Sunday, so now she sat stiffly, with
her husband and sons next to her, hoping that
Daniela would not waken until the Mass had
It had been a long time since she had
forced herself to attend Mass, but her
responses were still automatic, and she could
admit that here, at least, was a link with her
past that had not been broken. The ceremony,
the words, the movements--all were the same
as they had been at home. She told herself
that this was as it should be, there should be
consolation here somewhere--that was what
she had been taught--but even as the thought
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
formed in her mind, she rejected it. The
words of the priests had never had any
meaning for her that she could hold onto. She
could name only one thing that was truthful
about her presence here: she found a kind of
peace in the colors and the lights and the
stillness--the reds and blues and golds
flickering and glinting.
Father Marchese had come to the
house on a Saturday evening when the men
were playing cards and she was sewing on a
shirt for one of the boys. She had been
surprised when she answered the door to see
him standing there; the priest had never
visited their home before.
"Good evening, Mrs. Bernadini. If
you would be so kind, I would like to speak
with your husband."
She noted, with irritation, that he
chose to speak in a formalltalian--slowly, as
if to be certain she understood. She stood
aside so that he could enter the hall, but then
she hesitated, unsure whether to show him
into the front room beyond the glass-paned
doors to one side or to take him back into the
family dining room where the men were
seated around the table. The sound of
conversation and laughter from the card game
flowed into the hall and she turned, asking the
priest to follow her.
The conversation stopped and all the
men looked at the priest when they walked
into the dining room. After a pause so slight
that only his wife noticed it, Domenic stood
"Father Marchese. Welcome to my
home. This is a great pleasure for my wife
and me. Would you accept a glass of wine?"
The priest sat at one end of the table
and nodded his greetings to each. Teresa
returned to her sewing table off to the side but
she did not take up the work again; instead she
watched and listened as her husband and the
Berto sat between his father and
Michael Cusak, his large eyes on the visitor.
The other men sat stiffly, looking at their
They had known Marchese since they
had arrived here from Italy eight years ago,
but beyond greeting him after Mass, on those
infrequent occasions when she still attended,
Teresa never spoke with him. From
conversations with the neighborhood women,
she had gathered that the priest was originally
from a town in the Abruzzi. He belonged to a
missionary order that had sent him here. He
was a thin, pale man with intense dark eyes;
his hands were slender and white. As he
talked, his fingers clasped and unclasped the
"How can we help you, father?" The
way her husband was now sitting--straight
with his shoulders aligned with the back of the
chair--suggested his reserve, and he, too,
chose to speak in a carefully correct Italian.
Domenic never attended Mass so she doubted
that he was any better acquainted with the
Theresa knew she disliked the man and
yet, almost unwillingly, she remembered the
afternoon she had received the news of her
mother's death. Domenic had not been home
and she had left the boys in the house and
walked alone, her sobs tearing her chest, to the
church. She had sat in a pew at the rear of the
church for a long time, unaware of much
around her. The priest had come up to her
silently. He had placed his hand on her
shoulder, and when she had looked up, he had
squeezed her hand in his own, nodded and
1995 ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
then walked away without saying anything.
His eyes meeting hers had been filled with
The priest sipped his wine and looked
at the small pile of money near the center of
"I am sorry to have disturbed your
evening. It is about the church that I wish to
speak. There is a need for work in the
sanctuary, for repairs. There has been some
damage to the wall. And we would like to add
a chapel--to the side. I would hope that you
could help us."
"Have you drawn plans for the
"No, but there is enough money now
for the materials--the wood and the stone.&qu
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