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Migration

Illustration by Ryan Floyd Johnson

Stray Fragments

Think about losing things when you are a child, and how losing things thrusts you into a state of absolute despair, even if what you lost is relatively unimportant: toothbrush, sweater, homework folder.

Adults. We are like balloons inflated to their largest capacity and then thrown into the air, unknotted: darting, hissing, flying, farting through the room to the delight of children who will step on them when they finally fall—deflated, useless.

If time in our lives could be shuffled—if it were sectioned into discrete events and recombined—would the story add up? Or does there need to be some kind of order, even if it’s not chronological, for the pieces to form a narrative?

Nuestros hijos llevan todo el día rascándose tan fervorosamente la cabeza que uno de ellos se había sacado ya sangre y ahora daba alaridos de pavor al ver que en su dedo índice titilaba una gotita rosa.

Nos sentamos en una banca y me dispuse a espulgarle la cabellera. Me entretuve aniquilando colonias enteras de piojos y liendres.

 

The light of the desert, where we are headed—I imagine it very different from this one. I imagine it a brutal, empty, future light.

Where is the heart of the United States?

It’s somewhere in the border.

Illustration by Sergio Garcia Sanchez

The Moving of the Water

Mrs. Anwen Bevan, retired administrative assistant to a vice president in the Utica Mutual Insurance Co., devoted a portion of each day to strategizing about her yard. It was rectangular, fifty feet wide and eighty feet long, hemmed in by the yards of three neighbors. To the left and right, chain-link fences ran the length of her property. Between these at the far end was a ramshackle low stone wall, remnant of an early era of wall- and fence-making in this neighborhood. Mrs. Bevan did not want her yard to be overrun with trees, flowers, and vegetables, or serve as a haven for birds, insects, bees, or squirrels, as was the case with the Cavallo family on her left.


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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.”

Photos by Lauren Markham

Northbound

December 14, 2015

The second installment of #VQRTrueStory—our new social-media experiment in which stories and images cross platforms, from Instagram to the website to the magazine—features Lauren Markham reporting on migrants in Central America.