Beth Ann Fennelly

a Micro-memoir

Daughter, They'll use even your own gaze to wound you

1. Chicago, IL

My high school teacher loved that I loved libraries, so she promised that she’d bring me to her alma mater’s archives. One Saturday, we took the train in and I strolled around the stacks on an upper floor while she went into Special Collections, where she donned white gloves to turn manuscript pages. I dreamed along an aisle, inhaling that dear dusty library funk, fingering the spines. Wait; did I hear footsteps on the other side? I stopped, studied the volumes in front of me. When I was sure I heard nothing, I pulled out a heavy tome and found something lain across the shelf. My first thought: umbrella. Yet that flesh-colored tube was not there to protect me from rain.

2. South Bend, IN

My college roomies and I were out, walking from campus to Brigit’s, a bar so seedy that, after graduation, it’d be condemned. A Tercel pulled over and the interior light flicked on to halo a man consulting a map. Good Catholics, we inquired if he needed directions. Can you show me where I am on my map? So we stepped closer and discovered where he was on his map: through the center, dickly. I’m guessing it was Beth who began laughing, or maybe Denise, but in seconds were all hooting, we could barely stumble away, hysterically shrieking and pounding each other. He didn’t even wait for the green light before he skreetched away.

3. Fayetteville, AR

From dawn till noon I’d reviewed Wordsworth, cramming for my comp exam, and now as I ran through the park, sonnets metered out my pounding feet. A bicycle came from behind, a man swiveling to see my face as he passed. At the top of the hill, he stopped, turned around, and coasted back toward me. I could see his fist gripping something low on his belly. What zinged through my head: a bouquet. But that was no bouquet. I didn’t even slow as he passed, just averted my eyes.

I’d run nine miles that day with one to go.
I guess I’d learned by then what women know.


Beth Ann Fennelly's Three Micro-Memoirs can be read in the print edition of The Arkansas International 1.



Beth Ann Fennelly teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants from the N.E.A., United States Artists, and a Fulbright to Brazil.Her sixth book,Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-memoirs, will be published by Norton in fall of '17.