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loneliness

Reunion

He was doing the dishes, midmorning, when he noticed the white car drive by, and drive by again. A quiet street, on the way to nowhere. At eleven, the school bus would show up, to deliver lunches to the children who couldn’t go to school. Otherwise, almost no cars he didn’t recognize.

Second Wave

This past February, I hired a cab for a pandemic-fatigued trip with a friend to the Himalayan hills in Himachal Pradesh, down the Old Manali road. It was a drowsy afternoon, the summer heat landing thick on the windows. My friend and I drifted in and out of sleep as our driver wound along circuitous roads. Listening to old Hindi songs, I started counting the Semal trees on the roadside, perched on the hills. Also called silk cotton trees, they blossom at the end of winter: leafless trees holding vibrant clutches of big red flowers.

Degrees of  Loneliness

“No man is an island, entire of itself.” So observed John Donne, memorably, in 1624, a year before bubonic plague beset London, killing some forty thousand people. No man is an island—unless isolated, a cognate word whose currency manifests in the term self-isolation, the act of removing oneself from public life until, in this instance, the current plague, a virulent strain of coronavirus, has lifted.

Illustration by Ryan Floyd Johnson

Tiger Ghost

Bridget is on her way to Mong Kok to buy a goldfish. She’s been told that they bring good luck.

Arch of Hysteria

I want my web to hold. I want to repair
what I have made. I was not given the gold hive.
In me seethes the silk of invisible worlds. Spinning
my body inside of hairline emptiness, I project

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 Jon Krause

Personal Day

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....

Place Like Home

I was asked to show up with a side dish. I made
A slaw of my longing. I had to keep it crisp. Nothing goes

Bad in a backyard, if you catch my drift. In a
Backyard everything is available like a catalog

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