Our neighborhood has a sidewalk chalk artist, and I think she’s a girl. Twelve, maybe thirteen. It’s the curly-Q letters sprawled across the concrete pads ...
Ann Kathryn Kelly reads her essay "Angie"—first published in the tiny journal in January 2019—for the Unlatched Open Mic Podcast, produced in London.
Ann Kathryn Kelly reads her essay "The Pull"—first published in X-R-A-Y Magazine in March 2020—for the Unlatched Open Mic Podcast, produced in London.
The revolving door into 75 Francis Street, one of three entrances into Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, conveys people from the city’s congested streets into its halls like a major vein into the hospital’s heart.
Publication in December 2020.
In my garden, one of the first of my summer plants to push up from the ground in late May, after the spring bulbs have gone by, is my “bleeding heart.” My sister-in-law, Jane Ann, an avid gardener, divided hers soon after I’d moved into my first home years ago.
My brother Sean and I had a routine the summer we spent in hospital waiting rooms. He’d pull his laptop from a bag and work his way through a stack of company emails. For those times he needed to join conference calls, he’d take them from his cell phone.
I was at the final winery I’d be visiting in the Chianti region, seated at a long farm table with others I’d met only an hour earlier, enjoying wine pairings with a seven-course meal. The next day I’d board a train south to Chiusi, near the Tuscan-Umbrian border.
I hiccupped and slid into the booth beside Shelly. Wiggled out of my down coat. It was March, slushy, with a bite in the air. Colleagues Tina and Shelly joined me every Thursday for happy hour. “We got chicken nachos, they should be out any minute."
A breeze swept off the water and into the car’s window as we crossed the Tobin Bridge toward home. The air smelled of changing leaves and whispered of impending autumn, promising relief from the stretch of late August heat that had spiked into the 90s.
Dispatch, from a May morning. The birds don’t know. They didn’t get the memo. Their songs outside my window on this May morning as sweet today—more than a month into our state’s shelter in place order—as it was before everything was shuttered.
I’ve felt the pull for years, to see what’s out there, how it differs from what I understand of the world. I’ve traveled distances to feed the pull. One destination, in planning, thrilled me. Africa’s “Big Five” beckoned: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo.
I called it Angie. It made what I had sound less clinical. I wanted the term for my diagnosis, cavernous angioma, to roll off the tongue. Ironically, Angie is close to my given name: Ann. Family and friends call me Annie. Angie worked. A yin to my yang.
It snuck up on us. We see this now. Outside of a handful of specialists—epidemiologists, scientists, one whistleblowing doctor on the front lines in China who is no longer with us—we ignored the rumbles, the shifting ground, the building pressure ...
It’s the news, it must be the news. Why else would I dream something so horrific? Night after night, tales of violence recounted from breathless newscasters. On America’s city streets, in Kabul and Delhi, London and Paris, in Islamabad and Istanbul.
My skin, this January morning, thirsts for moisture. For lotion, a balm to soothe the itching, constant, that nags me; punishment, for huddling too near the wood stove. My lips, chapped. I gnaw, working my teeth against errant snips of lip skin.
“A fiction writer starts with meaning, then manufactures events to represent it. A memoirist starts with events, then derives meaning from them.”
I spent my 2017 Thanksgiving in Barcelona. It was a departure, in many ways, from how I typically celebrate this U.S. holiday with family at my New England home.
There’s no better way for me to remember to appreciate my blessings than to travel, and to begin to understand how the other half of the world gets by.
© 2020 - Ann Kathryn Kelly
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