by Jane Anne Phillips
It was my birthday. I was half child, sensing by their feel the scenes I would remember. My mother tore lettuce with her brown hands. My brothers, hurrying up to wash, ran through the kitchen smelling of sweat and crushed grass. Outside my father stood over the grill, weight on one foot, hand on hip holding a hotpad I'd made at six. Chicken, basted red, crackled and smoked.
How old are you this birthday Miss? Thirteen? my father asked. I nodded. Thirteen, he repeated. Pretty soon you'll be fifty-three and won't know where time went.
His heavy face, behind the curtain of wavering heat, was framed in an old fishing hat. On its bill a pink striped trout jumped gracefully from the water, hooked -- tense body a glistening, deathless curve.
Jane Anne Phillips (American, born 1952), who grew up in West Virginia, is a novelist and short story writer. "Pretty" is included in Models of the Universe: An Anthology of the Prose Poem, edited by Stuart Friebert and David Young.