What the heck. If I'm going to move my blog over here, I may as well include the feather in my cap. When I was notified (by email!) that I'd won a Pushcart, I thought one of my students was playing a trick on me. I hadn't even known I'd been nominated.
Published in The Gettysburg Review, Autumn 2010
Reprinted in 2012 Pushcart Prize XXXVI: Best of the Small Presses
My father sits at the edge of his bed, insisting on his shiny concert shoes. Their lack of traction on a polished floor is treacherous for a man who can no longer stand up on his own, a man who has seized and used every moment of living left to him. But the shoes are not negotiable, nor are the button-down shirt or the pants that need to be safety pinned to secure them to his wasted frame. In an hour or so, my father will find the weight of his clothes unbearable. In a few hours, my father will be dead. But first there is a final concert to play, and there is the proper attire in which to play it. I watch as my mother helps my father get into his clothing for the last time.
Earlier in the day, I held my father’s mottled hand, the baggy skin flaking away, but the grip still sturdy from a lifetime of scaling the strings of his viola. For much of his career, my father was the assistant principal violist of the New York Philharmonic. “You have to know when he’s going to start,” my father whispered from his pillow. He took a noisy, shallow breath in, and released a long, rattling exhale. “You have to know when he wants you to play the beats.”
Well, of course! I thought. Not a black-hooded hooded figure with a scythe, but a conductor with a baton. “You know when to play the beats, Dad-ling,” I said gently, though I hadn’t been a gentle daughter.
“But you don’t!” he said, with more strength than I thought he had left. He hadn’t been a gentle father.
“Well, I’m not the musician,” I said evenly.
He took several percussive but unhurried breaths. “It’s deceptive. It begins with a rest.”
“Oh. A rest.” I pronounced the word lingeringly, softly. “That sounds like a good
I've been blogging since 2010. When I've got writer's block in every other way (frequent), this low stakes riffing to think has been a constant. Over the digital years, I've had a half dozen or so blogs including a travel blog and a reading blog, both on Blogger, and an all-purpose blog on tumblr where I wrote about education, social equity and anything else that sparked me. I also posted some of my published print work on my website. My shit is all over the internet. I'll be using this space for the occasional blog post, now.