“This is about the dam” and “The rock man”
Taneum Bambrick

This is about the dam

Its orange bug light. Being in and outside the turbine shafts, blenders fused to bowls. The little road we used to get across. Flat waves shooting out a single fan. In the job interview I wore a dress unlike me. Tied at the back. I was introduced to a room of men. People of the dam are designed to protect you from what could happen while working. They administered hepatitis shots. Required us to pass computer tests on safety & sexual harassment. This is about the dam. When I fell out of a tree they threatened to fire me for climbing.  When he put his Happy Meal crown on my head they saw & threatened again. I was learning a one thing. At the end of the summer in an empty gym cafeteria I sat with my boss’s boss across a plastic table. I’m so sorry, she said & they un-invited him back. This is about the dam. The loop of houses beside the dam. Smudge out one of them.  



The rock man

I knew I loved Park with fish blood on his hands. The way he smelled like fish blood & smoke. Park was my boss so we never rode in the same truck even when he loved her he loved me so I sat with Ray. Ray said things I had to look up like nice beehive after I put my hair in a ponytail. Or when he got upset he’d talk about The Rock Man, which I thought was a wrestler but is a character made of rocks from a cartoon narrated by Ringo Starr. Being a rock is a very heavy life, Ray said while we lifted bags of gutted salmon out of trashcans into the truck bed. The one time Park & I spoke on the phone he told me Ray had gone home (the night before) to find his wife dead on a La-Z-Boy in their front room. I was at the river already, coming down. He let me in his truck. During lunch we went to Park’s house by the dam with balloons, newspaper, & flour. We blew tiny, cylindrical shapes, pasting them together to form a miniature Rock Man. We meant to give this to Ray. Park said his girlfriend was moving out. Her handwriting a red sprawl across the refrigerator. We waited for the papier-mâché to dry & he smelled like glue, kissing me, putting himself in my hands. I fell out of love with him & I did that to every man. That night when we found Ray—arm-pitting a bottle of Yukon Jack—he said The Rock Man had stopped by before us. He couldn’t stand so Park sat on his lap and held him. Two huge men. I slid the bottle in the freezer while Park promised The Man would come again. But we couldn’t. After they fired him, Park dropped hardened balloon pieces in a compartment in the back of my truck. I knew it came from Park before I opened it; I recognized the way the fifty-gallon bag was tied at the neck. I was ten years younger than him, doing the things I did then. 




Taneum Bambrick is a poetry MFA candidate at the University of Arizona. She works as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Her work has appeared in The Nashville Review and Gap-Tooth