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loss

Believer

The house is in need of repair, but is—
for now, she says—still hers. After the storm,
she laid hands on what she could reclaim:

Illustration by Gary Panter

My Interview with the Avenger

This is a story about heroes. Yes, it is also a profile of a famous man, a “celebrity,” I suppose, but it is first and foremost a story about heroes, what they mean, and the draperies of significance with which we decorate them. The hero in question came to us as unexpectedly as a micrometeorite, and little has been the same since his impact. Of course, nearly everyone remembers how and when the man now known as the Avenger first made his existence public. Most origin stories are cumbrous with mythic overlay. But the Avenger arrived in twinkly, almost pointillistic detail. There was nothing to add to the story to make it better; it defeated augmentation.

Love Song for the Mother of No Children

You followed Oleta Esteban every time you saw her. At the grocery store she was buying frozen peas, milk and bread, chicken broth, two bananas. Is this what women ate after they lost their children? Oleta looked as if she scavenged crumbs left for birds, seeds scattered. Brittle, she was, an old child, thin bones beneath yellow skin, suddenly, terribly visible.

You remembered her in a red dress and white sandals, Oleta before Dorrie and Elia died, arms bare, toenails painted. She dropped her sandals in the dark grass to dance with her children barefoot.

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