Barbara Lock

Barbara Lock’s writing appears in STORY magazine, The Forge, Superstition Review, Yalobusha Review, and elsewhere. There’s more about her at


  1. One time I punched a wall that I thought was made of plasterboard but was in fact concrete. Either way, I would have broken my hand. The side of my fist near my pinky crunched up and my girlfriend told me I was a lunatic. Stop it, stop it, she said. Then she covered her face with a shroud, which irritated me to no end.
  2. I wore a white wool sweater in the style of Irish fishermen last year which placed me fifteen years too far in the past, or possibly the future. It’s hard to know. My appearance was very similar to what you see now, which is to say approximately young, though male. I kept my pace steady and would have gotten there in time if I hadn’t fished around in my bag for something to drop.
  3. There are bridges being constructed and deconstructed all the time. I can tell you about Tappan Zee, Sakonnet, Charles, just off the top of my head. The things we think of as static are not just rarely so, but never so.
  4. I am thinking now of a girl in a nightgown with a ruffled hem. She plays in a driveway next to a house lined by lilacs that make the house, for exactly nine days, the most sweet-smelling place in the universe. After that, it smells like Tang and kitty litter.
  5. A woman I once knew used to dislocate her own shoulder to scam drugs from hospitals. One time she roared up to the ambulance bay in an old Town Car, popped her shoulder out, cursed and screamed until they came with a stretcher. What a story she spun for the doctors! Said that she served in the military in Spain, worked the pile after nine-eleven, took care of orphans, the like. The psychiatrist declared her incurable and she was discharged with a parking ticket.
  6. Four bas-relief carved stone ropes flank the bay window of the brownstone where I used to live. The segmented ropes look like worms, or perhaps a certain type of plant, though I couldn’t tell you which one. I’ve had a difficult time recalling plants along with birds, brand names, varieties of cheese. The spiral of the detail runs clockwise up. At the top of the windows, the stone rope gathers into a swirl above a central rosette. The rosette is not a window, but it’s made of glass or some other translucent material and the morning sun lights the face of the rosette such that it radiates like a beacon into the park.
  7. Sometimes I jump from one time and place to another with insufficient preparation. Indeed, this is the rule. The key to enjoying yourself in this situation is to avoid judgment. I can’t be all things to all people, I tell myself. There is a sadness that never goes away. The man knew this, and he followed me, sat beside me, put his arm around me. I’m not who you think I am, I said to the man.
  8. A tree looks like a fistful of dripping wounds.
  9. The flash from the man’s digital camera blew onto my face and collected my skin in a sort of vacuum. I wasn’t removed from the sidewalk. I was still there, and as I expanded and looked out at the little mirrored triangles spreading across the park, up over the moraine boulder and the sycamore trees, the man pulled his camera from his face so I could see his eyes. When he blinked, a thin translucent membrane spread across his corneas, making his irises appear briefly blue, though they were not.
  10. I am remembering the time that my mother threw a party and afterwards I wondered who was in love with her. Someone was in love with her, one of the guests, or perhaps two or three. A situation of passion suspended in the air as a sort of mist, something I could see, but I didn’t know how to pin it down. Situations like this one are happening to me all the time, contemporaneously with each other. It is difficult to know where to land. I still must eat and drink. Basic bodily functions must be exercised.
  11. In the park across the street, shards of a mirror arranged themselves into the shape of a flower, then a bell, then a fountain. The shapes hung over the sky above the playground where toddlers and 6 year-olds hid behind skinny metal poles, covered their eyes with their hands. You must be hungry, said the man. He rubbed his hands on my back. I could eat, I said. The man moved to grab my wrist, but then I was gone.

Continue Reading...