Monday, December 24, 2012
Monday, December 17, 2012
~This story was previously published in Indy Men’s Magazine (2003).
Sanders liked Tuesday on the subway, its sunken-in comfort, the lawyers happily moored in their battle suits. The papers thinned down and the tourists thinned out and the sleepy heads rolled behind their newspaper sails as the tracks dipped and swelled. Above the ground an August rain was falling, and at each station Sanders smelled it, warm and silty in the brushed cold of his mouth.
At Van Ness the man boarded the train, with a shaved head, a small paper bag held in at his belly like a dagger. Sanders was annotating the morning's news from the war, circling who was saying what about whom. But he sensed the man there, standing still, winnowing, gazing up the car. The doors slid shut and the man came up the aisle, glancing side to side, not looking for empty seats, but at the faces. Sanders reached down to touch his wife's thigh—she hated to be disturbed at reading—and he dipped his paper so she could see.
Her body stiffened on the padded bench.
She whispered, “Is this one?”
She lowered her paper, too.
Directly in front of Sanders sat a young Asian woman, perhaps Korean, hair so black and shiny it looked blue. The man in the aisle swallowed his breath when he saw her, and for an instant he froze, as if he'd forgotten something. Then his body carried him forward and he drew the paper bag away from what it concealed, and Sanders knew what he was.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Editor’s Note: Anna Leahy was on the inaugural Editorial Board of Redux.
~This poem previously appeared in Rhino (2003).
Hill Correctional Center, 1991
The boys huddle on the playground,
whistle and play kickball like inmates trading
cigarettes—one with his lips
threaded together and him not saying
but listening to all he can think of now,
and another’s stare like someone
who knows it is twenty-four hours from
here to there, there to here,
like a soldier remembering limbs,
and the variety of ways they laugh and touch
to distinguish and rank themselves—
and their hands, all their hands
like my hands, simple, almost indistinguishable
like rosary beads and their repeated prayers,
even the small shiny space between
the Our Father and the Hail Mary:
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever
shall be, world without end.
I know of their uniforms—light
blue shirts, dark blue trousers, repeated wear,
a way to equalize with fabric
the rich kid and the poor kid,
the straight-A student and the one
who was left behind like the sixteen-year-old
who tried to kiss me,
put his big hands on me,
the way it made me feel, the forgetting
of the prayer—O my God,
I am heartily sorry for having offended thee
and I detest all my sins—the need
to revise later, the rapist and the carpenter
and the murderer and the altar boy, all the same,
just look. What else can you do
when the priest asks you
to hit him to help him
atone for his sins and be forgiven
but pick up the sturdy two-by-four
or that shiny chain with the nails
and swing away?
Monday, December 3, 2012
~This essay originally appeared in Shenandoah (2002).
Feet are our primary proof of existence. We are first identified by them: the nurses take us from our parents, clean the blood and womb fluids from our bodies, stand us on an ink pad and then on our birth certificates. I asked a nurse why they did that when my second son, Tristan, was born. Why not a fingerprint? “The foot contains the more reliable markings at this age,” she said. “And we would hate to send you home with the wrong baby.”
We are a species of trackers. We follow our quarry and identify our enemies by the footprints they leave behind. We search for the fugitive, the absent parent, our ancestors by tracing their literal or metaphorical tracks. On a recent PBS program, an archeologist shined a flashlight on footprints in a newly discovered cave, where there were drawings and a stone fire pit. The footprints looked fresh in the dirt, as if they had been left there the day before. The archeological tests revealed that the prints were over four thousand years old.
Feet are our basic mode of transportation, our direct connection with the earth, evidence of gravity. The greatest track and field champions have always been those who win the sprints, those who can fly. We may admire the endurance of the milers and marathon runners, but it’s Jesse Owens, Bob Hays, Carl Lewis, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Michael Johnson, and Usain Bolt we truly love. They are the ones who remind us most of Hermes, the amiable fleet-footed messenger of the Greek gods. The brilliance of the Nike commercials was their exploitation of our innate desire to defy gravity, to be like birds or gods, invulnerable, able to walk on air.
Reflexologists tell us that every erogenous zone in our bodies has sensors in our feet. I’ve heard a reflexologist claim that he can, by simple pressure to my foot, make me cry, recall my birth, or have the most intense orgasm I’ll ever experience.