An early morning chill filled the mountain air. The cloudless sky was a tender shade of baby blue. A slight breeze filtered through the pines and blew down the mountain behind Max. He didn’t like being upwind from the approach team, but he had no choice. A magpie quacked behind him. It flopped through the trees in undulating waves, struggling to keep its long tail aloft. It passed Max’s right flank in a flash of black and white and then disappeared down into the trees.Read More
Into the Arthritis Pool
I stand in the pool at the JCC with my arms spread out across
the concrete walls.
I watch the fragile, timid bodies file down the ladder steps
like transparent silver dollar plants who are prisoners on a chain gang . . .
Do we seek our own river Lethe? A watery path through river Acheron, perhaps
finally arriving at the stream of Okeanos in Elysium . . .
Movement more painless in the warm water
and shared pleasantries.
The real question in my brain is, “how many more times will you be able to come into the pool?”
Or, “which of you will feel your wings beating faster and faster,
until you are lifted from your chrysalis being into a butterfly angel of no weight?”
What do we all expect? To arise from the water
as jubilant children in a lake?
To have one more go-round? To feel no pain? To dance in the rain?
Maybe only a fleeting respite from reality.Read More
Bridey McGuire knew she was pretty. Her thick, dark brown hair—a gift from her mother—framed her pleasing face in just the right way. She had a nice figure and a slim waist, and she fancied she could turn any man’s head.
She lived on Thomas Street in Homewood, Pittsburgh’s most exclusive suburb, as a domestic servant for the Shaw family. George and Elizabeth Shaw had a beautiful eleven-bedroom house with two children and three servants. The other servants were Peggy Griffin, who was Irish like Bridey, and Gretchen Lantzy, a German girl. Mr. Shaw had done well as an executive in Andrew Carnegie’s iron and steel empire. Most of the Homewood mansion dwellers were captains of Pittsburgh’s thriving industries.Read More
God must have put me here, for there isn’t a soul in this town that can tell me who did. In any case, I wound up on the stoop of the Goldfarbs’ trailer, assnaked, diaperless, and Pap said that I’d rolled my little self onto my belly so I could scarcely breathe. It was perhaps an hour before Pap came out and saw me. He took me inside and named me Elsa. That was in the summer of ’79.
Pap’s got a bum heart; it’s a wonder it’s still ticking and carrying on, and the sight of me, that nude ball of a baby, nearly killed him. He says ain’t it funny that the best thing to ever happen to him nearly killed him?
I say yeah Pap, it’s a riot.Read More
The voice at the other end of the line was garbled, husky, unclear. I thought it might be Santa, but he didn’t sound too friendly. I was a little over two as my mother held the phone to my ear, and I tried to puzzle out who was speaking to me. It was my dad, Frank Madia, on the other end of the line, and he was in the hospital. A terrible streetcar accident at the Pittsburgh Railways car barn, where he worked as a mechanic, took his right leg, my mother’s peace of mind, and her dancing partner.Read More