the ugly earring

ug‧ly [uhg-lee] offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance


Dearest M,

Before you were born, I dreamed you would arrive during the perseids shower. Like a flailing meteorite breaking through the earth’s atmosphere with a trail of dust and 130-year-old memories, you would land softly on our backyard lawn. Instead, you arrived during a sky of blue, on a warm summer day, long before the locusts broke into their ritual,  monk-like hum.

The first image was sunlight. The first sound was a cello.

Why is it the first face of a newborn is that of the dead?

Mother’s heat, breast, heart for you, purple lips and fingers.

Tomorrow you will be one.

Five teeth.

Little lizard queen.

Long arms and legs.


Whale calf.

Guardian of the backyard beetles.

Your sister and I sat on the bamboo mat with a blanket and two pillows, gazing up into the sky. We didn’t see them fall last year but last night they arrived. You, tired, wrestled in your father’s arms (and cried in mine).

The train comes nightly. You listen to the whistle as he points to the sky. “Stars.”

You point to the sky, too.

It’s the first one I see. A brilliant tail streaks across the sky.

“Did you see it?”

They say most meteoroids are destroyed when they enter the atmosphere, and only 500 meteorites ever make it to land (and only five or six are ever found).

Cosmic dust.

Shooting star.


Tomorrow, you will be one.


house of sleep

the houses in my dreams:


the first one is a farm house and inside is a bedroom filled with dolls. My great aunt zoe had a doll room with hundreds of porcelain faces – some with real hair and pincurls or eyes that opened and closed. Others were dressed in crochet dresses and a few held lace handkerchiefs she made by hand.

I often went to her doll room to explore, to touch, and occasionally untie the laces of their victorian booties.

When aunt zoe died, what happened to her dolls?

Near the farm house, the barn is on fire and a water leak inside the house has caused the walls to swell. The little dolls’ dresses are covered in mildew. drip. drip. drip. The water drips from the ceiling and lands in the bear claw tub overfilled with water.

Who left the plug in the tub?

Grandpa, what are you doing here?


I am alone in the abandoned glass house except for a monkey that lives in the overgrown rubber plant tree. When I was a child, I had a German Shepard  named Rojo and a monkey doll. Her plastic booties, life-like hands and ears were sewn into her stuffed-animal body. A little white bow hung untied next her right ear. I dressed her in my clothes.

Outside, Rojo waited for us.

Because it is dilapidated and worn, nearly extinct, I am loyal and remain here. The spiral staircase leads to a metal walkway along the roof tier. I greet the monkey up there and leave it bananas and bread.

It smells like my Grandmother’s greenhouse.

Alone in a glass house –  me, the monkey, and overgrown vines.

My parents explained the reason Rojo was put to sleep was because he bit the neighbor child who had raised his hand to hit me. A loyal protector.


Above my bed, hangs a painting of dancers in long dresses in a dark lit cave. The last house is haunted, and you mustn’t open the door to that room. They say the girl slit her wrist.

I pick the bedroom on the other side of the house. Near my window, there is a weeping willow and a pond. It’s beautiful here but I avoid that side of the house. There’s a spare bedroom, which shares the bathroom with the bedroom where she lingers. They say they are going to rent that part of the house.

But I tell them, they mustn’t disturb her – must not open the door to that room.

They’ve opened all the windows. They’re airing it out for the new tenant. I  hear the creak of a door, it’s coming from that side of the house. Why aren’t they home? Why am I going to that side of the house?

The door is open. The curtains are blowing, billowing, like the bottom flair of the dancers’ dresses in the painting. She’s not in the room anymore. No, she’s outside, sitting on the crooked trunk of the willow tree. She’s looking into my bedroom.

She’s looking for me.

Lover rushes into my bedroom – says he heard a scream.
I’ve awaken myself, too.
I explain to him one of the dancers – her arms stretched out from the painting.
She was reaching for me.