When I was thirteen, my boyfriend’s mother used to drive us to Sugarhouse Park. At Sugarhouse Park, she would sit us next to the rocks by the river. The river came from the mountains. The river came over the rocks. The rocks made the river flow hard. The rocks gave the river what gravity and slope couldn’t. Bubbles. My boyfriend’s mother made us sit by the bubbles to inhale the negative ions that she promised would make us happy. We sat by the river as it rushed and as it bubbled. We breathed in the bubbles, happily. On the ride home, my boyfriend drove. I sat in the middle. His mother sat to my right. I held a bag of Doritos between my legs. He fished for chips. He fished with his finger. His eyes looked straight ahead but his finger never stopped. His mother told us about a river too far away where the water fell fifty feet. The whole canyon was full of ions, negative ones, each looking for some positive ion to catch itself onto, to tickle its magnet, to pull the whole fabric closer to its edge, to threaten to punch through the plastic and make something purely invented, real.
—Published previously in Where the Tiny Things Are: Feathered Essays
(Punctum Books: Peanut Books imprint, 2017); appears here under Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International
is an essayist, a poet and professor, and the author of, most recently, Processed Meats: Essays on Food, Flesh, and Navigating Disaster (Torrey House Press, 2021). She is co-author with David Carlin of The After-Normal: Brief, Alphabetical Essays on a Changing Planet (Rose Metal Press, 2019). Her previous books include Sustainability: A Love Story (Mad Creek Books, 2018), Where the Tiny Things Are: Feathered Essays (Punctum Books: Peanut Books imprint, 2017), Egg: Object Lessons (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), Micrograms (New Michigan Press, 2016), Quench Your Thirst with Salt (Zone 3 Press, 2013), and This Noisy Egg (Barrow Street Press, 2010).
Ms. Walker’s work has been published in Orion, Boston Review, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, and The Normal School, among others, and her essays appear in multiple editions of Best American Essays. With Rebecca Campbell, she curated 7 Days, 7 Artists, 7 Rings: An Artist’s Game of Telephone in 2010 for The Huffington Post (now called HuffPost). She also edited Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction with Margot Singer (Bloomsbury, 2013) and The Science of Story: The Brain Behind Creative Nonfiction with Sean Prentis (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020).
The recipient of an NEA fellowship (National Endowment for the Arts), Ms. Walker is Professor of English at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and a nonfiction editor at DIAGRAM.