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Byron Kim, Synecdoche, 1991. Oil and wax on luan, birch plywood, and plywood, 120 1/4’’ x 350 1/4’’ (© Byron Kim. Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art/Richard S. Zeisler Fund)

Black and Blue and Blond

In 1517, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, feeling great pity for the Indians who grew worn and lean in the drudging infernos of the Antillean gold mines, proposed to Emperor Charles V that Negroes be brought to the isles of the Caribbean, so that they m [...]

Olivia Mueller

The Summer of Ice Cream

About a year before the summer of ice cream began, my father called Tayo and me into the living room and told us that he would be leaving his job at the Kodak plant in Salt Lake City. He asked us to sit on the couch and he sat down next to us, and then he stood up and sat down again.

André Wee

Kitty Hawk

Until her father died, Sissy Willard’s parents took her and her two brothers out of school every year at the end of April to spend a week in Kitty Hawk, and every year they stayed in the same old beachfront high-rise, the Ocean Vista.

Stephanie Shieldhouse

Map-Reading

She sounded good over the telephone. A soft rich alto voice, full grown. She was now twenty-​two. Benton was fifty-​one. A half-​sister he had never had a conversation with in his life. Kate. Katie. 

Elegy

Gathered in the yard, shed-side, pokeweed, 
black walnut, pecan tree all leafed and 
umbrellaing. My grandmother, the relatives

Jen Renninger

We a Baddd People

Lou Marie, my grandmother, is telling this story. It is a story about before, before she was old, before she became the drawl, the accent, the presence behind the white door in her own daughter’s house, with only her hair to keep her from looking like a heap of almost defeated life, long ebony hair styled by her own hands to look like Veronica Lake’s.

Witness This

Every April we unsheathed sofa cushions from their glassy wrappers,
perched tea on our laps, and became an audience for his four-decade

Erich Hartmann / Magnum Photos

The Debt

The plane landed in Fort Lauderdale and Dick and Royce (Royal) were picked up by a pretty young woman wearing a tank top, shorts, and silver antlers and driven to Hertz. Royal’s brother Brandt arranged such things—or his secretary Jacki did (“Bag claim F. Laud surprise,” she’d texted.) When things like the Lexus Reindeer unexpectedly appeared, the secretary knew it made Royal’s day. It took his friends—it took him—a while to sort it out: Jacki’s kindness, perfectly paired with her taste for the absurd.

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