Black Lawrence Press

A Single Throat Opens

Excerpt from A Single Throat Opens

So let me tell you about our house where I am a teen. I am fighting with my father. He does not stop talking when he drinks. He does not stop making joke after joke. He is still alive. He is still alive as I write this. He is still alive and all the time I wasted asking him to stop drinking, or calling him a drunk. All that time I regret with no end. In the future I will want nothing more than to hear his slurred voice tell me whatever bit of celebrity gossip he heard the night before. I will want nothing more than the night before. I will want nothing more than a drink with him. I will want nothing more than a drink, then another, then another. Then, I will want nothing.


Where is rock bottom? And how long can someone live there?

I’ve seen trees growing from rocks on hikes I use to manage my demons, to avoid rock bottom. Though I suppose the trees are actually growing from the soil and moss that accumulates on top of the rock. And sometimes the roots of a tree engulf a rock; it looks supernatural. I always give some of the water from my bottle to these trees, it seems like they are fighting so hard. They deserve it.

I’m going to resist my urge to research this growing from rock and believe in it as a miracle for a while. I want to believe that rock bottom exists and people can grow from it.


  • All good writing confesses things that the writer is not always ready to admit at that particular moment: an offering to the world to do with it what it will with no flinch of the wrist, no last second tug backward into the chest to keep our stories and ourselves safe from harm. What Michael Schmeltzer & Meghan McClure know about these confessions is that they are also collaborative—self and other, the blank bubbling of the world and the shaking truth—us as flawed humans cannot move through the world without the world. In A Single Throat Opens, Schmeltzer & McClure explore a landscape that has too much of everything, defining what is left & what they are, all the while tethered to their language and each other.

    — Brian Oliu, author of I/O: A Memoir
  • McClure and Schmeltzer have concocted a compelling, lilting whisper of a work that defies genre. The blending of their words reminds me of a hushed table in the corner of a small café toward closing hours, where a candle trembles between the confessions of two shadows, leaning into one other. At times, it’s impossible to discern between the two voices, so tied are they in their reverence and reckoning, their lies and longing, their desire for the burn of drink mixed with the shared fear of it in their blood. The lyricism of A Single Throat Opens will make every listener thirsty, parched on the last page for more. This book is a yearning.

    — Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir
  • In their moving collection, A Single Throat Opens, “M” and “M” invent multiple languages and forms with which to explore the altered consciousness of children of alcoholics, as well as the raw and slippery nature of “truth”. This nuanced and experimental collaboration—epistolary, rich in metaphor, investigative, reconstructive—is not only a gorgeous work of shared art-making but the document of a hard journey. It’s as if two immigrants from a ruined village found each other years later in a new country and, after a long, imposed silence, were able to practice the sustaining dialect of their troubled home country—a language which, translated here so precisely, so adeptly for the reader, opens into unexpected light.

    —Lia Purpura, author of Rough Likeness

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