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Works-in-Progress

Authors’ note: This essay began after a conversation about writing and our shared interest in documenting the origin and evolution of our identities as writers. We build all our collaborative essays by responding to one another’s sections until a natural endpoint occurs. In this case, Julie wrote the first section, . . .

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Questions Directed Toward the Idea of Mary

 

Was it the voice you feared, or its shadow?

Did you long for His touch or was suffering enough for you

               to know He was there?

Do you resent my juvenile hungers?

Do you wish for me the freedom of a vast barren plain? . . .

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Machinery

 

My father loved every kind of machinery,

relished bearings, splines, windings, and cogs,

loved the tolerances between moving parts

and the parts that moved the parts,

the many separate machines of machinery.

Loved the punch, the awl, . . .

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Leo’s Bomb

When the bomb goes off Leo is thinking of dogs. In particular: how he doesn’t like them.

It’s something about their eyes, which blink with an odd depth of understanding that appears almost human to him. A few years back, he read a story about a St. Bernard who remained by his owner’s grave for five years after the man died. . . .

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Invasive Beauty

No other creature holds the same romance
in the minds of Icelanders as herring. 
   —Anita Elefson, historian, Herring Era Museum

I sit at a tiny coffeehouse nestled on the southern rocky coast of Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula, a finger of jagged volcanic rock that juts out from the western shore. . . .

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The Goal Now Has to Be to Listen: An Interview with Barry Lopez

INTRODUCTION

Barry Lopez is one of the world’s foremost thinkers and writers about human beings and their place on this planet. Few writers have thought more deeply about that relationship or have written more powerfully and eloquently about it. The stories and meditations in his expansive new book Horizon (forthcoming in March 2019 from Knopf), . . .

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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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She Did Not Speak

Wir sagen uns Dunkles
                       —Paul Celan

 

It began so quietly that no one could hear it.

How to begin a story that can never be told? For a long time, I started to tell the story by not telling it, . . .

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