marked by skill or cunning in achieving a desired end
It’s the time of year when the City urges contradiction most, encouraging you to buy street food when you have no appetite at all; giving you a taste for a single room occupied by you alone as well as a craving to share it with someone you passed in the street. Really there is no contradiction—rather it’s a condition: the range of what an
artful City can do.
walk leisurely and with no apparent aim
Whether stooping to remove a pile of horse flop or
sauntering off to his swank hotel, his hat had to be just so.
a man who is much concerned with his dress and appearance
And if that virtue is unappreciated, and nobody jumps up to congratulate him on it, his self-pity turns to resentment which he has trouble understanding but no trouble focusing on the young
sheiks, radiant and brutal, standing on street corners.
one of the administrative divisions of a large city
I tracked my mother in Virginia and it led me right to her, and I tracked Dorcas from
move about aimlessly or without any destination
rambling all through the City. I had the gun but it was not the gun—it was my hand I wanted to touch you with.
a waterproof overshoe that protects shoes from water or snow
And when I looked back at where I’d walked, saw myself standing there in street shoes, no
galoshes, wet to the ankles, I knew.
make attractive or lovable
It was nowhere as blond as Vera Louise’s hair once was, but its sunlight color, its determined curliness,
endeared him to her.
a woman advocate of women's right to vote
It was a renegade, almost
suffragette thing to do, and the neighbors and would-be women friends surrounded Vera Louise with as polite a distance as they could manage.
habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition
The out-of-state newcomer, rich and
headstrong, contented herself with luxury and even less of their company.
compete for something
Simply startled each morning by the look of him, they
vied with each other for the light he shed on them.
the act of gratifying a desire
He was given a fussy spoiling by Vera Louise and complete
indulgence by True Belle, who, laughing, laughing, fed him test cakes and picked every single seed from the melon before she let him eat it.
Her mother, however, had the final cut: her eyebrows were perfectly still but the look she gave Vera Louise as the girl struggled up from the floor was so full of
repulsion the daughter could taste the sour saliva gathering under her mother’s tongue, filling the insides of her cheeks.
open disrespect for a person or thing
And the lingerie case full of money that lay on Vera’s pillow the following Wednesday was, in its generosity, heavy with
giving careful attention to detail
So the yellow curls covered his coat collar like a farmer’s, although the rightness of its length in
fastidious Baltimore came from the woman who lied to him about practically everything including the question of whether she was his owner, his mother or a kindly neighbor.
sit or lie with one's limbs spread out
She is still
short account of an incident
The scene becomes an
anecdote, an action that would unnerve Vera Louise and defend him against patricide.
low or inferior in station or quality
He sets it down on the dirt floor and examines the house. It has two rooms: a cot in each, table, chair, fireplace, cookstove in one.
Modest, lived in, male, but otherwise no indication of the personality of its owner.
in a manner marked by extreme care or delicacy
Gingerly he retrieves his coat and covers the woman with the strange-smelling dress.
strong feelings of embarrassment
“But he’s golden. Completely golden!” So they named him that and didn’t take him to the Catholic Foundling Hospital, where white girls deposited their
delight greatly in
A vision that, at the moment when his scare was sharpest, looked also like home comfortable enough to
impossible to come to understand
But who could live in that leafy hair? that
a unit of length equal to 220 yards
He passes it by and then sees the roof of a cabin not five
a one-piece garment for a woman; has skirt and bodice
And in that room, the second one, is a box and a woman’s green
frock folded on top of its contents.
Can you see the fields beyond, crackling and drying in the wind? The blade of blackbirds rising out of nowhere,
brandishing and then gone?
stress or single out as important
The odor of the invisible animals
accentuated in the heat mixing now with out-of-control mint and something fruity needing to be picked.
Carry yourself the way you would if you were always under the reviewing gaze of an
impressionable but casual acquaintance.
uneasiness about the fitness of an action
How he was driving along, saw and saved this wild black girl: No
moving in an uncontrolled, irregular, or unpredictable way
He wants to brag about this encounter, like a knight
errant bragging about his coolness as he unscrews the spike from the monster’s heart and breathes life back into the fiery nostrils.
incapable of being retracted
If she should rise up and claw him it would satisfy him even more and confirm True Belle’s warning about the man who saved the rattler, nursed the rattler, fed the rattler only to discover that the last piece of information he would have on earth was the
irrevocable nature of the rattler.
with one leg on each side
Floating toward him parallel to the fence is a black boy
astride a mule.
move suddenly or as if unable to control one's movements
He would have said, “Morning,” although it wasn’t, but he thought the man
lurching down the steps was white and not to be spoken to without leave.
break apart or in two, using violence
Before, I thought everybody was one-armed, like me. Now I feel the surgery. The crunch of bone when it is
sundered, the sliced flesh and the tubes of blood cut through, shocking the bloodrun and disturbing the nerves.
move in a twisting or contorted motion
walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
Even his horse had understood and borne Golden Gray along with just a touch or two of the whip. Steadily it had
plodded, through valleys without trails, through streams without bridges or ferries for crossing.
wet through and through; thoroughly wet
I want him to stand next to a well dug quite clear from trees so twigs and leaves will not fall into the deep water, and while standing there in shapely light, his fingertips on the rim of stone, his gaze at no one thing, his mind soaked and
sodden with sorrow, or dry and brittle with the hopelessness that comes from knowing too little and feeling too much (so brittle, so dry he is in danger of the reverse: feeling nothing and knowing everything).