SmokeLong Quarterly
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by Michelle Zellers

art by Robinson Accola
art by Robinson Accola
The structure of this house is giving way. The porch, never any good, now leans so far that I bend my face with it to protect my eyes from both from the sun's glare and the sight of it tilting in the mud. A rain, yesterday, bleared the colors here: gem green and silty red-brown now swirl like the water I use to clean my paintbrushes. In this weather, I wonder if my memories could melt and take the universe along.

Another time, Mom went out to buy milk and grape juice and Dad was to supervise my finger painting. He could never stay awake when we played. A sadistic child, the kind who held magnifying glasses over sanguine ants, I got ideas. I crept where he lay and touched his nose, skittishly at first. At last I patted my messy hands over his cheeks. He was mine. Not Mom's—he was not for Mom who picked him with purpose and gave up everything, but for me who paid nothing and got to discover him. Dad had big pores. Even through the bright, gloppy purple I patted on, I knew his whiskers could grow. I studied my father that day. I kneeled close to him on the carpet and curled a finger around the bone that holds the eye, imagining his skull. My finger rested there, a comatose little worm, and it was there when Mom got home from the store and found a cold Daddy on the couch.

Bigger now, my index finger still touches the memory. I flex it. It's damp August on Hill Street, and somehow in the watercolor wet I realize something I've always known. I'm scared. There's a string—a kite string in my memory—dangling from the sky and offering to lift my feet as soon as I give myself leave. I think I could get to where my father is. Instead I frown and sink through wet weeds, a woman on a Michigan lawn post-rain.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.

Michelle Zellers is an undergraduate English and Political Science student at the University of Michigan. The 2006 publication of her children's book, Maya's Magic Carpet, was made possible by the literacy organization WE READ, and hundreds of free copies were distributed to Detroit Elementary School students.

Read the interview.

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly on an as-needed basis.
Issue Twenty-One (June 15, 2008): Paper Mouse by Bob Arter «» The Folk Singer Dreams of Time Machines by Matt Bell «» The Bone Orchard by Randall Brown «» Disease Relics by Blake Butler «» We Decided to Make Porn by Brian Allen Carr «» The Baby Drop-Off by Natascia Casey-Dean «» The Cougar by Dave Clapper «» Anointed by Myfanwy Collins «» Sister Earth by John Colvin «» Soap by Katrina Denza «» The Interpretation of Light by Murray Dunlap «» The Hole by Ashley Farmer «» Repair Man by Kathy Fish «» In the Kitchen She Wakes by Stefanie Freele «» American Gothic by Scott Garson «» Lobster Girl by Alicia Gifford «» Pen and Notebook by Natalie Goldberg «» Memento Mori by Rosanne Griffeth «» BiC by Steven Gullion «» Parting by Evelyn Hampton «» Tuesday by Lindsay Hunter «» Waiting on Lombard Street by W.P. Kinsella «» Johnny by Nance Knauer «» Like Swimming by Jeff Landon «» Feeling Sad by Darby Larson «» Alone With Cooper by Ellen Meister «» The Angel's Visitation by Corey Mesler «» South Dakota by Mary Miller «» California Fruit by Meg Pokrass «» Home Made by Bruce Holland Rogers «» Handful of Dirt by Jim Ruland «» Steam City Girl by Paul Silverman «» Sugar by Claudia Smith «» The 13th Toast by Amy Sparks «» Gathering by Kelly Spitzer «» Tiny Shadows by Maryanne Stahl «» Double-Exposure by Thomas White «» Epistemology by Joseph Young «» Why This Isn't a Good Story to Tell by Shellie Zacharia «» Liquid by Michelle Zellers «» Real Estate by Bonnie ZoBell «» Interviews: Bob Arter «» Matt Bell «» Randall Brown «» Blake Butler «» Brian Allen Carr «» Natascia Casey-Dean «» Dave Clapper «» Myfanwy Collins «» John Colvin «» Katrina Denza «» Murray Dunlap «» Ashley Farmer «» Kathy Fish «» Stefanie Freele «» Scott Garson «» Alicia Gifford «» Rosanne Griffeth «» Steven Gullion «» Evelyn Hampton «» Lindsay Hunter «» Nance Knauer «» Jeff Landon «» Darby Larson «» Ellen Meister «» Corey Mesler «» Mary Miller «» Meg Pokrass «» Bruce Holland Rogers «» Jim Ruland «» Paul Silverman «» Claudia Smith «» Amy Sparks «» Kelly Spitzer «» Maryanne Stahl «» Thomas White «» Joseph Young «» Shellie Zacharia «» Michelle Zellers «» Bonnie ZoBell «» Cover Art "Five Years of SmokeLong" compiled from art by Marty D. Ison, Robert Dornberg, Malina, and Rebecca Gullickson «» Letter From the Editor
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