Pica

My sister and I huddled behind the curtains at the front window, watching our mother bring the newspaper in from the driveway. She shook it from the plastic bag as she shuffled up the steps in her houseshoes. My sister ducked out into the living room as Mom came into the house, and I followed.

She stood still in the doorway, holding a folded-back page close to her face as though she were scrutinizing the pica measurements. Once, our dad, a section editor for the Herald, had explained to us the way a newspaper took shape, how the font and typesize were carefully regulated for the reader. There were rules, he’d said, and following the rules made things easier for everybody. Later, when I was pregnant with my first child and craved potatoes with the dirt still on them, I loved the divergence of the word “pica”: an organizing element in typography, a sign of organic insanity in pregnancy.

I tugged at the bottom of my skirt and my sister pulled my hand away. We watched our mother reading. Her lips moved as she read through Dad’s obituary in her head, as though praying, as though searching for something to suckle.
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3 Comments

  1. Nice job! I just learned the “insanity” definition of “pica” and love how you used it here. Thanks for bringing a bit of literary creativity to a day that needs a jolt of inspiration.

    Reply
  2. Thanks, Jo! That definition is pretty new to me, too!

    Reply
  3. sue z

     /  July 29, 2013

    I’d never heard of that definition either. Nicely written! Can’t wait to read more.

    Reply

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