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Photographed by Angie Cruz

The Other Chile (Cecilia & Patricia)

1. I misplace an earring in my hotel room in Santiago, Chile. So I ask the head housekeeper, Patricia, if anyone has found it: a silver lotus leaf, not valuable, but special to me because it’s a good luck charm.  “Nothing can get lost he [...]

Life Is Why

  1.  The average adult has eight pounds—twenty-two square feet—of skin. Healthy adults can lose a liter of blood before going into shock, and vital signs help monitor the onset and stages. Unlike adults, children can lose nearly ha [...]

Photo by Mirissa Neff

Neon Havana

1. Havana may be a metropolis of two million souls, but you wouldn’t know it by looking up: The night sky here boasts stars as dense and bright as you’d glimpse among the woods of Maine. For decades now, the city’s lack of electric light has [...]

Photo by BIll Driver

Dropping In

From the early ’60s to the late ’70s, the Desert Gardens Ranch nudist colony was secreted away in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains. This is Desert Hot Springs, California, two-ish hours east of Los Angeles. The story goes that the grounds were built as a hush-hush haven for Al Capone, and, after things went south for him, a pair of entrepreneurial nudists bought the place and set up shop. In its prime, Desert Gardens Ranch offered a lifestyle of seclusion and liberation, of year-round sun and bathhouses, an in-ground swimming pool and a water well for landscaping and, not ironically, laundry facilities.

Photo by Rianna Pauline Starheim

Rainbow Weather in Kabul

In Afghanistan, kite string is run through crushed-glass powder before it is coiled. Kite strings bite. My instinct when I’m cut is to grab the string tighter. But I have to let go. I’d rather be up with the kites. Catching the wind with the helicopters, the mountains, the birds—warblers, crows, rosefinches, bluethroats, blackbirds, doves.

Photo by Neil Shea

Subway Rorschach

In the new city we carry our newborn son down the block and into the subway. His first journey, diving under rivers, piercing webs of pipes and wires, rattling past ghost stations and lunch boxes lost by the sandhogs a century ago. They say in new cities you are given grace—some time in which to believe anything, to dodge blame, to gather memories that years from now will fall like hail on unlucky relatives. Who knows? We’re tired and the kid, this lump, warm and dense as dough, is getting heavy. While the car idles (and before he spits up) a woman speaks to his bobbling head and says, “Mixed-race babies always have that look.”

Photograph by Jeff Sharlet

Not Even My Own

I thought they were wild but I’m told irises rarely are. Planted; invasive; European, mostly, or Asian. But there are natives, too. These, with their ribbed yellow tongues, resemble an iris called the wild flag, which grows from Nova Scotia to Sitka. How might it have come to this small valley? First a bulb, then a garden, then flowers, planted; now flowers, wild. Escapees or refugees, invaders or simply the left behind.

No Republican Shall Inherit

Jared: “Now this was the mid seventies. I was on an airbase in Florida. We had to keep the fighter planes loaded because, you see, this was only twelve years after the missile crisis. We had to be ready. Who knew what the Russians were up to? We were geared up. We were ready to fight.”

Photo by James Sprankle

Faith and Its Limits

1. Connor’s only two, but he’s big for his age. Healthy. Bumping and charging around Dr. Katie’s examination room like it’s play time. Terrific two. And he is healthy, except that he needs a new liver. Sooner rather than later. His blood t [...]

Alex Potter

Farhad

Ahlam, twenty-seven, was visiting Germany for a conference in the spring of 2015 when war broke out in Yemen, her home country. Her family urged her to stay, so she applied for asylum. “For me, it’s a new life,” she said. “This is what I really want. Most of us, we just came for a safe place, a place we can really do something that we can’t do in our countries—maybe because of the war, maybe because of society, maybe because we don’t have freedoms. I never felt freedom and I never knew what independence meant until I came to this country. As a woman in Yemen, we can’t do anything. Independence is for the men.”

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