Category Archives: Smith, Curtis

Creative Nonfiction: River of Ghosts

by Curtis Smith

A department colleague retires, and when she cleans out her desk, she brings me a shoebox. For twenty-plus years we’ve taught special learning in a public high school. We share a history. We have, in the reticent vernacular of rural Pennsylvania, seen some things. In the box, hundreds of snapshots. Clowning boys. Girlfriends with arms draped over each other’s shoulders. The stiff poses of school-picture day. A few in their graduation gowns. The photos are ten, fifteen, twenty years old. There’s Joey and his mullet. There’s Sammy in her Frankie Says Relax T-shirt. As we sift, we exchange the fragments we know of their lives—the ones who’ve learned trades. The ones who have children of their own. The ones who’ve gone to jail. The ones who’ve died. (more…)

The Dogs

by Curtis Smith

Anne pauses outside her mother’s bedroom door. The darkness ripples with the sheriff’s beefy moans and the box spring’s twang. Anne tiptoes downstairs and steps onto the porch. The alfalfa-scented breeze strikes her face. Above, a smothering of clouds, a vista of blue and black. Lightning in the distance, a crooked vein of white, then thunder. Anne walks beneath a maple’s bobbing limbs. Before his wasting, her father had strung his gutted deer from the maple. Later, beneath the tree’s October-red leaves, her mother married the sheriff, a man everything her father was not. The lane’s gravel brushes Anne’s bare feet. Raindrops strike cool upon her neck. (more…)