The Grid / by Sarah Sorensen

     It was Thursday, popcorn and latchhook night.  One medium white plastic mixing bowl filled with swirling hot plate gadget popcorn, four grinder twists of sea salt, two tablespoons of real butter dropped to the west and east sides of the bowl. Complete. One basket of tiny pre-cut yarns in magic neon colors, one semi-rigid plastic grid. Grid pre-stained in a rough image of a psychedelic unicorn, to be loosely followed. The latchhook, a plastic handled piece with a hinged, flapping jaw. Ready.  

    She glanced at her glassy black reflection in the kitchen window and squinted hard to see past herself out into the endless empty of night. Her land stretched out before her, much like her life, those two best things bequeathed by her mother. She ran her tongue down her sweet salted index finger and smiled. The ghost of herself smiled back. She reached toward it; it looked like her mother’s younger self.

    She opened the kitchen window just a little to let in the cold hazard of Michigan snow. It wet her hands and numbed her fingers as she adjusted the height of the window with the small wooden “A” block, apple image forward.  

    “When it is all yours, what will you do with it,” her mother had asked, her thick-tipped fingers extending out toward the land, while she sat on the front porch and smoked her governmentally sanctioned joint. “What will you do?”

    “I will just let it all grow wild,” she’d answered.

    “You’d tease an old dying woman and tempt me to give it to the state,” her mother had said, tapping ash and exhaling smoke.

    She could picture the landscape of those hands, the blue and purple veins running under her mother’s thin skin. Ice over water. Those hands worked so tirelessly in the belief that it all mattered, the dusting, the scrubbing, the mowing, and weeding. The mother believed in beauty; she toiled for it. And what if all that tending had ruined her a little? It seemed sad to picture hours wasted with the toilet brush, the mop. Her frail right hand shook as she brought the joint to her lips, inhaling long. The eyes closed and the skin over them reminded her of the tenderness of baby birds, the vulnerability.  

    “Okay, Mama,” she had said.

    There was a photo of her mother on the wall of the kitchen. It was a black and white of her in a pale one piece bathing suit, her hands thrown up in the air, her long curls uncurled and wet, dripping down her face and chest. She never stopped wondering about that woman. She didn’t know that mother and she wouldn’t. What she wanted to know, she would have to invent.

    Her hands worked the latchhook, pausing to nibble the popcorn or sometimes, to uncurl a long curl of hair. She loved the feeling of it springing back, willfully taking its shape.  

Already the land was getting un-manicured, feral, and so much like her unwashed body, a reminder of the peace of nonresistance, of letting nature.  




Sarah Sorensen has most recently been published in Whiskey Island, The Audio Zine, Dirty Chai, Cactus Heart, Embodied Effigies, Your Impossible Voice, Gone Lawn, and Monkey Bicycle. Find her at