Fall 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 4 FictionOctober 1, 2005 |

Digesting the Father

   Such a woman is the infected carrier of the    past—before her the structure of our    head and jaws ache—we feel that we could    eat her, she who is eaten death returning,    for only then do we put our face close to    the blood on the lips of our forefahers.             —Djuna Barnes   When I was a little girl, my mama drilled me with her own personal catechism for survival. She said, "These are some things you will learn. Love," she said, "it's a balled-up fist you hit yourself with, but you like it that way 'cause the beauty of contusions is that they disappear." She said, "Money, the need of it, the want of its breathe-easiness, can kill a man sure as a loaded gun held to the head. And God? God's a shrimp of a word with a big meaning, bigger than our brains can cipher. He keeps to himself. It ain't his place to say. Some days he looks like your daddy. Some days he looks like dirt. No one can l

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Kellie Wells was awarded the Flannery O'Connor Award and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for her collection of short fiction, Compression Scars. She is the recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award for emerging women writers. “Digesting the Father” is an excerpt from her novel Skin, forthcoming in 2006 from the University of Nebraska Press. She teaches in the creative writing program at Washington University in St. Louis.

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