1. Between Grief and Sorrow
Grief staggers around the house
some thief has emptied.
It wants to tell you everything
all over again; blame is the story
grief hammers, hammering until your leg shakes,
your right foot won’t stop tapping.
It’s a dance for the shaken,
strung out with waiting, and now look
who’s back to guard the door:
fiction by Rebecca Makkai
There was garbage on the lawn, or maybe a construction sign, or (now that she was close enough to notice the flowers and ribbons) detritus from a prom. But it was late August, not spring. And no, it wasn’t prom garbage, but a small cross.
Celine had formed a cocoon of the summer’s clothes around her cello case in the back of the little red Saab, and driven no faster than fifty all the way from Vermont past Albany to home. Now that she was finally on these cracked and narrow streets she was crawling so slowly she didn’t need to brake to see the display. A white wooden cross, already weathered and tilting into more of an X than anything perpendicular. A sash across it: “Our Angel.” Red artificial flowers; crumbling brown organic ones. Stuffed animals around the base. A red ribbon at the top, the kind intended for oversized Christmas gifts, already frayed and faded from weeks of rain and sun.
Her first reactions were horror and empathy—cut, of course, with that strange exhilaration she’d learned not to feel guilty about when passing car wrecks on the highway. That fall, when she became fairly sure she was a terrible person, she at least had this to hang onto: she did feel sorry. For those first few moments, she knew she was sorry.
Robert Marshall on the gap between the man and the myth of the 1970s’ phenomenon Carlos Castaneda; Allison Schuette on the moment a marriage actually breaks; Amy Lee Scott on coming to terms with her Korean middle name; Francine Prose’s Hopwood Lecture on character and language, “Complimentary Toilet Paper”
Fiction by Rebecca Makkai, Aaron Hamburger,
by Gina Balibrera
The summer between high school and college I worked at a clothing boutique in San Francisco, taking polyester tube tops out of boxes, steaming them on hangers, and carrying them across the earthquake-dinted floorboards, which glowed golden in the midday-light, to the rounders for the shop’s wealthy patrons to admire. My boss, K-, lived in a studio above a flower shop and frequently aired her romantic woes.
by Monique Daviau
Last summer, I convinced my friend Chris that he and I should drive from Brooklyn to East Hampton, Long Island, to place a bundle of asparagus on the grave of a poet he had never heard of. I hoped to be very convincing when explaining that Frank O’Hara was my favorite poet, meant the world to me, and that I needed to make the pilgrimage. Fortunately, Chris is always open to using his Zipcar membership to drive down to the tippy-tip of Long Island for a day of cemetery-going, and on the day we’d planned to take the trip, the sun was shining and it was almost as if the city were throwing us out. Go see Frank! As a bonus: perfect beach weather!