Meghan Brown has put together an alphabetical sequence of character studies at turns both poetic and prosaic, both rub of index finger against thumb and sweep of arm from full in to full out. An excerpt:
We only slept together twice, once after each funeral.
Our first encounter was unsteady and forgettable—we’d hardly known the woman. She’d been an elderly steel guitarist, the great-aunt of a mutual friend. After the service I’d slipped into the backseat, mistaking empathy for instinct, stretching for an excuse to live harder, faster. We weren’t dead, not yet. What else was there to do?
Months later, after my father’s memorial, we met again. It was dark enough. He kept the windows open. Surrounded by clean laundry in baskets, he peeled off my stockings leg by leg, kissing each exposed inch as it appeared, white and trembling.
My father was a grey-eyed jazz enthusiast with a rickety heart. My father was also a gentle man.
That night, it was difficult to pay attention. There was too much to think about. My skin, his skin, follicles and flaking cells, the muscle beneath, then bone. Life is for living, after all. Isn’t it? I’d known my father well.
I didn’t stay. House keys in hand, I watched the streets pass through the window. I had been unprepared for grief’s inconsistency, desire’s slow, inevitable pulse. We kissed briefly under the porch light. His hands were soft on my face. I should have closed my eyes.
36 pages. $10, includes standard shipping within the Continental USA.
Twenty-Six, by Meghan Brown