Posts Categorized: Nonfiction

Online Feature: “The Usual Spots” by Ira Sukrungruang

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Every morning, the dogs look for Katie in the usual places. When I open the bedroom door, they burst through the house in tongue-wagging hopefulness. Perhaps the one they truly love has returned from whatever mysterious place she disappears to most of the week. I wonder what that place is to them, wonder if they have created a second life for her, where she wakes and loves and pats other dogs. Are these the dreams they have when they snarl and twitch and sometimes howl in their sleep?

The morning always brings hope, and it is a mad dash into her empty office, then a rumble down the basement stairs, and finally a quick peek out the front windows where she would spend time filling birdfeeders or watering the flower beds. Once they have confirmed that she is not back—not yet—they do not despair. Never despair. They rush out the dog door to tend to morning routines, while I fill their bowls with food.

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Online Feature: “Up in the Trees” by Courtney Zoffness

I can’t sleep. My furnished apartment in Freiburg, Germany, has a TV that broadcasts a single channel, in German, and since I’m too tired to read but too wired to rest, I tune in for half an hour. I speak nicht Deutch—just a little Yiddish—but can still make out the tail-end of a news program on an Auschwitz survivor, replete with images of rawboned prisoners and the eminent entry gate (“Work shall set you free”); a preview for a film called Female Agents in which be-lipsticked vixens gun down unsuspecting Nazis; and the start of a sitcom called Tel Aviv Rendezvous in which a guileless guest shows up at a Shabbat dinner with nonkosher wine.

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Online Feature: “Masks” by Yusef Komunyakaa

It was the mask engaged your mind,

And after set your heart to beat,

Not what’s behind.

— W.B. Yeats, “The Mask”

Upon first glance at Tyagan Miller’s gallery of troubling and troubled faces, you might wish instead for a few classical portraits garnered from the Schomburg Collection. You could even long for a glimpse of the rural poor captured in Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson’s And Their Children After Them. Or, you might squint, hoping to blur these “high risk” faces until they become the sardonic images of Life Smiles Back, LIFE magazine’s compilation of photographs. You may squirm and shift your feet to run; but the faces captured here cannot easily be outdistanced.

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Online Feature: “Property Lines” by Kathryn Nuernberger

A pink azalea is the kind of thing that bushes up into a wild mess if a generation passes without pruning, and then a zealous man can pick at it bough by bough until it’s just one more stump to mow over. It’s the kind of thing that would come springing back from such a stump though, if someone let the grass go again.

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Online Feature: “Disappearing Rabbits” by Anne Owen Shea

There are things your mother will do for you that no one else will: cut crusts off your bread, sew together two soft scraps of cloth to make a blanket for your bed. She will allow you to stay home in the house when you get older because she likes having you around. Mothers want you to be close to them. They buy you gifts, a rabbit that you think is female at first but then turns out to male, a cross necklace for your first communion, a music box with a ballerina on a spring that twists in circle when you wind it up. There is a time in your life when anything is possible and then later on a time when nothing is. Eventually the music box stops playing music, and one of your rabbits disappears. And then you lose track of the box completely; the barbed wire cage becomes home to another rabbit that your parents buy to make you feel better. And then eventually the replacement rabbit disappears and there is just an empty cage, a few tufts of fur in the yard after the dogs run away.
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