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grief

<p><i>If All the World and Love Were Young</i>. By Stephen Sexton. Penguin Books UK, 2019. 125pp. PB, £9.99.

Lived Experience

Walt Whitman read of his brother George’s injury at the Battle of Fredericksburg in the New York Herald on December 16, 1862. Fredericksburg was but one battle among many, though it lasted five days, and nearly ten thousand Union army soldiers were injured there. Each day, another long list. Whitman left New York hurriedly to find his brother, knowing that many of his readers scanned the same paper each day for the same worrisome reason. Many scanned every paper, everywhere in the country. To be alive in that moment—not just to be a person named Walt Whitman, but to be a person at all—was to know the public, social, and emotional burden of war.

Reaper Madness

When your four-year-old begins talking incessantly about death, there are a few tactics for dealing with it. One is curiosity. Why do you want to die? Why do you hope you die today? Why do you love to die? Why do you want to kill yourself? The four-year-old doesn’t know what death is, not really, and so he cannot truly answer the question.

By Kaylani Juanita

Starfruit

Late one night, Sun and Moon decided to chase a shooting Star. They'd never seen Star up close, and tonight seemed like a good night for it.

Death of a Cat


Little beast on the metal table, she took
the needle into her forepaw 

and didn’t flinch. The medicinal death
fit itself inside her, ran the blue and red map,

burned up into her lungs and brain
and heart, which slowed,

and she slept until there was no breath left
and her body emptied itself of air.

Illustration by Anna Schuleit Haber

The Pardner

It has been a year and five days since Mayowa lost her daughter—lost, because she cannot say the other word: suicide. 

Trout

Two years after her mother’s death, Jane’s boyfriend asked her to marry him, and nine months later, they moved across the country to start their new life. Jane was twenty-nine, ready to step away from Phoenix after a hard few years. Ryan had taken a job at a recording studio in Tennessee, and he pointed out that the public schools there were as bad as the ones in Arizona, so she could easily fail teaching fourth graders in either place. Her father was a kind, if distant, ichthyologist, and he seemed to think the move was maybe not ideal, but maybe not a bad idea. Jane was excited to start over. She’d been adopted when she was six, and she thought of six as the beginning of her real childhood. As they drove out of town, she decided twenty-nine was the beginning of her real adult life.

Illustration by Jen Renninger

Kodak Moments

The summer I turned twenty-six, I stopped taking pictures. This wasn’t just out of character—this was abnegation of character, so foundational was my belief in a photographic clenched fist around the past. I have always been a writer, but I’ve never been a competent diarist; until that summer, I had measured out my life with photo sleeves.

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