Features

Saving a life

My mother hanging sheets on a line 

in ’47. The wind believes it won the war, 

just like the rest of America, 

and swirls her black hair in a manner 

the photo likes to recall. 

Her simple skirt and blouse 

are proud of her youth.  . . .

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Lotioning My Mother’s Back

Because she lives alone and my hands reach

where hers can’t, she asks of me this favor.

 

It is narrow and soft, my mother’s back.

When I massage in small circles, my mother

 

circles her own mother, . . .

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Standard Hole

My truck’s compromised radiator steaming, I pulled off for pepper flakes, expecting nothing more than having to call Triple A if I couldn’t fix the situation. This was in the parking lot of a place called Halfway Barbecue, down on Highway 176. I ’d chosen to take back roads all the way to the South Carolina coast in case something like this happened. . . .

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None

1.

Hazel Hicks was the first “None” to graduate Crossley State College as a religion major. Hazel herself thought it nothing special. She thought it an obvious choice for someone like her. Which is to say, a person who took every form of life seriously but who found all creation stories implausible—even the most entertaining and compelling. . . .

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Hao

 

1966

Qingxin remembers that the character 万comes fromin the Oracle Bone Script—a scorpion with large pincers and a poisonous sting at the end of its jointed tail. How does a bug come to mean ten thousand, as in “毛主席万鋸”—Chairman Mao lives ten thousand years, . . .

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Flat Earth Dream Soliloquy

I like the innocent parts of Flat Earth, the bits about reinventing knowledge, but I hate the part that’s borders and brutalism. I get the desire for an edge because I also love the feminine tilt and the endless dip of the heliocentric, but Flat Earth feels like a gender homesick for an atlas of endless shale beneath us. . . .

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Rebellions of the Body, Creations of the Mind

Fourteen doctors puzzled over my symptoms before a fifteenth finally presented the results of an eight-hundred-dollar allergy test explaining my seven years of debilitating digestive issues. I stopped eating everything on the list—basil, oranges, raspberries, artichokes, asparagus, mustard, melon, oregano, papayas, plums, yeast—and I improved. At that time, I anticipated neither the extent of the illness nor the ways it would weave through my existence, . . .

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The Carcass Chronicle

We found the elk’s carcass in the morning, just downhill from the pasture fence where she lay sprawled across an iced-over stream. Carcass is a harsh word for that once-graceful animal, a cow elk whose small head and hooves made me think she ’d only lived a few years. . . .

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Is All Writing Environmental Writing?

We are in the midst of the planet’s sixth great extinction, in a time where we are seeing the direct effects of radical global climate change via more frequent and ferocious storms, hotter drier years accompanied by more devastating wildfires, snow where there didn’t used to be snow, and less snow where permafrost used to be a given. . . .

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Afternoon Sun at the End of Summer

 

The children wade naked and thigh-deep

in stone-colored water. They duck under

and come up flinging drops from their hair.

Wind raises gooseflesh on their arms.

Touch is the miracle, wrote Whitman.

Touch is the earth’s language and the children

speak it. . . .

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