Ev Waugh

I once told my brother that in another time, place, and politic, he was a shaman. He told me that there were snakes in the sofa, that I was an opera singer, that when he was five, Satan screamed in his ear so he wrapped his hand around the Oldsmobile’s tailpipe, searing off skin. He told me that there is a hernia destiny in his guts, and so he stopped working, excused himself from a lifetime of day laboring. 

In this place and politic, he’s a schizophrenic in a group home. Risperdal fixes him, kind of. Still insane, but inert. He stops breaking into cars, stops buying spice at Exxon, settles into a sedentary life, flattened, fattened, doled meds in an always-staffed home—better than what we had, neither of us needs to say. 

One time, neither of us had any money to go to Exxon. Facilitator of sacrament, he walked the miles to Safeway, stole five plastic canisters of ground nutmeg. We gagged down spoonfuls of it, and the dryness made it nearly impossible to swallow, the sides of my throat sticking together. Both said we’d vomit, neither did. I lay there, feet hanging over the creek, waiting for the trees to start moving. They never moved. I felt nothing, hallucinated nothing, was no different at all, while my brother stared up at a sky that glittered and swirled, sang out from his belly a song against the setting sun.

Ev Waugh writes from a railroad town in the Susquehanna Valley where she spends much of her time, spare or otherwise, noticing the birds. Find her at