So trite, my boss, stereotypically balding, puts his hands on my
shoulder while I was processing words instead of word processing. Are
you some kind of writer? he asks. When I don’t answer, his hands move up
to play with my earrings, which dangle parallel to my cheekbones. Can
you work late tonight? He wants to know.
So, I had to fuck him. Certainly, I can’t support myself off my anemic
symbolism, my flabby free verse. I need to keep my clerical skills
So the next morning, during dictation, in my embroidered white blouse,
crisp to the point of snapping, I remain unaltered. Our eyes meet: his
loaded with metaphor; mine without the least suggestion of allusion.
My children drowned. 16 months ago. 2 years ago. 6 years ago.
My children, just as naked, as now, just as submerged back when we moved
through the uncertainty of shelters, sustained by government crumbs,
their father is not my husband.
The voices talk, pharmaceutical extractions mute the voice shout.
Are there sharks under the golden gate?
I drive to the bridge God is there, but he blinks. I strip my babies and
listen to the smell of the bay. It fills me, the soft rays illuminate. I
do it again. Once more.
In your news reports, please include: I’m drowning too.
Allison Whittenberg is a Philadelphia native who has a global perspective. If she wasn't an author she'd be a private detective or a jazz singer. She loves reading about history and true crime. Her other novels include Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored and The Sane Asylum.