Rites of Passage

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  “I believe that pain can be a rite of passage into learning.” — Guillermo del Toro
“Death is the least civilized rite of passage.” — Louise Erdrich


Antoinette Mehler • All We Are

Frozen toes swelling like tubers, black against the snow. Gored horses. Angry bulls. Flames. But one night, just before dawn, just before I woke, brown soil that crumbled, moist and warm, between my fingers...


Ellen McGrath Smith • Palm Olive

“I really do have an appetite now I've seen my heart of hearts,” my muh said, standing up from the chair and gaining a good 15 pounds in the process...


Robin Carey • Postcard

Three things I knew for certain about my old man. He threw a wicked knuckleball. He liked to fish for trout. And he’d walked out on us without a word when I was twelve years old. Then this other thing, this postcard that arrived in our mailbox a couple of months ago...


Mariah Smith • Raven Rock

I’d been in the loop of the Forever War on Terror for all of my 20s and half of my 30s. It colored every aspect of my life now and every part of my being... I had absolutely no idea who I would be when I took off the uniform...


Lyn Stevens • Cleaning House

In July, shortly after I graduated from NYU, my mother called to say she needed my help. She was leaving my father, moving out of the house. She begged and needled and blackmailed me with the silent treatment when I balked...



Annie Dawid • Extratemporal

For six days and nights, he remained immobile, pinned between the decomposing body of his older friend, behind the steering wheel, and the passenger door, which had smashed into the rocky terrain... the October night chill kept Richard’s body from swelling and stinking, yet it ensured Kenny’s future as an amputee: frostbite took both feet and three fingers on his left hand...



Scudder Parker • Chamois Shirt

...This Christmas, my daughter gave me
another shirt, which provoked the
problem of infinity

                             • Getting to Work
... I took the thin blade
from the hacksaw, cut twice, close,

... Dad looked at me as at a genius.
I was ten. I fell in love with work.

                             • Building
...These buildings possess me.
I pretend I plan them but become
part of their plans. I built a pole shed,
twenty feet by fifty just before I left
the life I’d built with my first wife.


Diana Sher • In the Cardiologist's Office

... There is no word even in poetry for my terror
His chest, which is shaved, is disturbing me.


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