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summer

Illustration by Nicole Rifkin

The Ash Swimming Pool

It had been nearly fifteen years, and no one Ali knew looked much like the way they had when they were younger. She wrote Grace’s name on a piece of paper in red felt tip and held it at arm’s length in front of her. In the rush of bodies, the automatic doors that led to the baggage carousel barely had time to close before opening again. There had been some kind of strife—though not a bomb—and there were police, a couple of soldiers moving with intent back and forth through the building. The glass walls were stained with cigarette smoke. In the food shops there were near fights at the discount sections: half-price carrot sticks with hummus, blood-colored smoothies, pita bread. She was so afraid of planes that sometimes, at night, she thought she could hear their seizing rattle, the doomed click of an engine shutting off 36,000 feet above her house. In the e-mail, Grace wrote: I’ve got nothing but air miles, I’d love to come and stay for a bit.

Illustration by Sergio Garcia Sanchez

Mary When You Follow Her

In the autumn of Maria’s eighteenth year, the year that her beloved father—amateur coin collector, retired autoworker, lapsed Catholic—died silently of liver cancer three weeks after his diagnosis, and the autumn her favorite dog killed her favorite cat on the brown, crisped grass of their front lawn, and the cold came so early that the apples on the trees froze and fell like stones dropped from heaven, and the fifth local Dominican teenager in as many months disappeared while walking home from her minimum-wage, dead-end job, leaving behind a kid sister and an unfinished journal and a bedroom in her mother’s house she’d never made enough to leave—

Pastoral

Two tree-limb-switched heretics born of Baptist parents, we reveled in a Ouija. But the only black spirits we conjured were our own shadows which flickered against the wall like a private screening. Both of us church boys sweltered in June pews, our bodies a new gospel.

Art by Anna Schuleit Haber

Geometry

Although they are now in their forties and no longer live in the same house, Helen and Phoebe are still referred to as “the Campbell sisters.” This makes them feel less like people than a brand.

Photography by Ryan Spencer Reed

RNC CLE

Erika Meitner's poetry and prose, combined with photography from Ryan Spencer Reed, take us inside the city of Cleveland during the Republican National Convention.

Solstice vs. Equinox

When it comes to the workings of the universe, Albert Einstein famously said, “God does not play dice.” Einstein said nothing about the dreidel, however, which may explain why Earth and the other planets in our solar system spin like tops, a touch wobbly but more or less self-​correcting, whirling about in space toward whatever bang or whimper the future has in store.

Summer Reading

Our cover story takes us to Cambodia, which lies nestled between its more geopolitically powerful neighbors, Vietnam and Thailand. What the country lacks in regional influence it makes up for in the vitality of its waterways, particularly Lake Tonle Sap, which is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The Tonle Sap—​meaning “great lake”—​flows into the Tonle Sap River and intersects with the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. During the summer, monsoon rains force so much water down the Mekong that the Tonle Sap changes direction and flows back into the lake and swells it in size.