Swallow the Ocean: A Memoir
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Set in 1970s San Francisco, Swallow the Ocean is redolent with place. In luminous prose, this memoir paints a most intimate portrait of what might have been a catastrophic childhood had Laura and her sisters not been resilient and determined enough to survive their environment even as they yearned to escape it.
which screwdriver he would need before he asked. When my father finally latched the trailer to the car, I followed him into the house. We weren’t in a talking mood anymore. My mother was in the kitchen pulling things from the refrigerator: Miracle Whip, mustard, bologna, packages of individually wrapped yellow cheese, and grape juice. My father urged her to finish loading the cooler so he could put it in the car. My mother did not like to be rushed. Like a large rock in a stream, time flowed
find all the letters of the alphabet on road signs, or who could sight the most out-of-state license plates. My mother didn’t play. Even packed tight into the station wagon, it was getting so you couldn’t be with both of them at the same time. I sat back in my seat, my mind fumbling over the story. Poor Isaac. I shrugged Amy off my shoulder and turned towards the window to watch the open country. Amy, awakened abruptly, turned to me. Her face was crumpled up, eyes beseeching. All she wanted,
didn’t cut her any slack. Amy and I were wearing pink and white nylon shifts, faded from much washing. Matching, because my mother always bought two of something she liked, which was fine in the beginning when the clothes were new and I wore the small dress and Sara the bigger one. By the time the larger dress was tight on me, and my mother still insisted that Amy and I wear them, the whole matching business lost its charm. Sara’s nightgown barely covered her knees when she stood up. The
sat the dolls down on the floor. I held Jo’s stiff arms, which flexed from the shoulder and made a motion for braiding hair. “I’m hungry,” Amy said, after a while. “I know.” “We could get cereal.” I shrugged. “I can go very quiet,” Amy said. I was hungry too—we hadn’t had dinner—but I didn’t want to risk rousing my mother with a trip to the kitchen. She seemed agitated tonight. Though she was almost never directly violent with Amy or me, it was still best to stay out of her path
she’d refused to wear them. She thought that this, along with continuing to read in bed, had made her even more nearsighted. “Wear your glasses so your eyes don’t get worse,” she said. “And don’t listen to what anyone says.” Then she went to the bookcase and dug out a 1940s hard-cover version of E. S. Nesbitt’s The Enchanted Castle. The book didn’t look all that promising. The dark gray cover with just the title engraved on the front gave nothing away. The corners were dented, the pages