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Illustration by Jon Krause

Personal Day [private]

I woke on my personal day feeling impersonal. I’d slept long and late, so much I barely recognized the time of day in my bedroom, dust made obvious in the hard light, no job or appointment or interview to rush toward. I needed nothing and was needed nowhere. I almost doubted I was alive. In fists I fingernailed my palms, to make sure I was still in there. Hands above eyes, I watched the skin flush and release the dimples.


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Photo by Valerie Schmidt

The Useful Village

There is no cinema in Sumte. There are no general stores, no pubs, gyms, cafés, markets, schools, doctors, florists, auto shops, or libraries. There are no playgrounds. Some roads are paved, but others scarcely distinguish themselves from the scrub grass and swampy tractor trails surrounding each house, modest plots that grade into the farmland and medieval forests of Lower Saxony. There is no meeting hall. All is private and premodern. You can’t quite hear the eddying rills of the Elbe—the river lies a few miles to the west—but in the cathedral silence of an afternoon in Sumte you might easily imagine you hear flowing water, or a pan flute, or the voice of God. You’re in the great European nowhere, where cows outnumber people and the darkness at night is as unalloyed and mysterious as a silent undersea trench.

By Juan Carlos

Prince of Peace

San Salvador’s upstart mayor, Nayib Bukele, has promised a new way forward for a city besieged by decades of violence. His biggest obstacle, however, may not be the city’s gangs, but the city’s idea of itself.