The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Thoughts unrelated to the sentences that birthed them

Rachael Conlin Levy
Courtesy of lopolis.

Caroline’s daughter, little Dorothy, is elsewhere, having reached the age of the disappeared — her voice shouting orders from behind the locked door of her bedroom or even standing present, her body a studded cast of her former self; if she is somewhere within it she is very, very deep.

— “A Short History of Women, a novel” by Kate Walbert

Do I like this because it’s beautifully written, for its well-turned phrase “age of the disappeared” and for its dead-on description of a teenager lost far inside herself? Or do I like it because I see me and my daughter in these words? Because I am the sadness hinted of when someone slips beyond your reach even as they stand before you.

The last time there was a ball of cells growing inside of me, it was Sherry.

And somehow that tiny ball of cells became a pink screaming baby who became an adorable little girl who became an anguished teenager who became the mysterious grown woman sitting here in the driver’s seat of a rented car in Cape Town, South Africa, asking me, “Are you scared?”

— “Cape Town” by Claire O’Connor, “Best American New Voices 2010.”

Here’s another set of sentences I scribbled down in my notebook and return to reread and gnaw on. I’m walking this cycle, this circle, the known and unknown, mother and child. In the beginning the path was simple, though exhausting, the baby a mystery that could be solved with a changed diaper, a swapped toy, a spoon of oatmeal. But now rocks have cropped up and I stumble and feel anxious in where my daughter is going, alone in her room. So I stop at the door, realizing my own mother might have paused here too and wondered if she, if they, if we, were lost.

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