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Unmanned [private]

Serrekunda’s beach, the Gambia’s biggest tourist draw, empty again. Two years ago it was fear of Ebola. Now, political crisis, checkpoints, soldiers with AK-47s, bazookas. Alex Sesouy, a tourist guide, had time to talk. Still, he hesitated. "I di [...]

Photo by Karen Ryan

Walking Away

  1. How about it? one of the men said to Karen on that first humid night in Tahiti, March 1970. The Endeavour II’s crew still numbered a few short. Her decision was immediate. She sent a letter to her supervisor at the airline she worked [...]

Photographed by Rachel Cohen

Cohen

March 1, 2018

  1.  “Actors” was painted by Max Beckmann in 1941 and 1942 when he was a refugee from Nazi Germany in Amsterdam. It is the painting I photographed most in the years we were living in Cambridge. I tried repeatedly to write about it, [...]

Photographed by Angie Cruz

The Other Chile (Cecilia & Patricia)

1. I misplace an earring in my hotel room in Santiago, Chile. So I ask the head housekeeper, Patricia, if anyone has found it: a silver lotus leaf, not valuable, but special to me because it’s a good luck charm.  “Nothing can get lost he [...]

Life Is Why

The average adult has eight pounds—twenty-two square feet—of skin. Healthy adults can lose a liter of blood before going into shock, and vital signs help monitor the onset and stages. Unlike adults, children can lose nearly half their blood volume and still have a blood pressure holding steady. With shock, “adult vital signs go up the mountain and then drop off,” our EMT instructor Nancy says. “Children’s are like, ‘I’m okay, I’m okay—DEAD.’”

Photo by BIll Driver

Dropping In

From the early ’60s to the late ’70s, the Desert Gardens Ranch nudist colony was secreted away in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains. This is Desert Hot Springs, California, two-ish hours east of Los Angeles. The story goes that the grounds were built as a hush-hush haven for Al Capone, and, after things went south for him, a pair of entrepreneurial nudists bought the place and set up shop. In its prime, Desert Gardens Ranch offered a lifestyle of seclusion and liberation, of year-round sun and bathhouses, an in-ground swimming pool and a water well for landscaping and, not ironically, laundry facilities.

Photo by Mirissa Neff

Neon Havana

1. Havana may be a metropolis of two million souls, but you wouldn’t know it by looking up: The night sky here boasts stars as dense and bright as you’d glimpse among the woods of Maine. For decades now, the city’s lack of electric light has [...]

Photo by Rianna Pauline Starheim

Rainbow Weather in Kabul

In Afghanistan, kite string is run through crushed-glass powder before it is coiled. Kite strings bite. My instinct when I’m cut is to grab the string tighter. But I have to let go. I’d rather be up with the kites. Catching the wind with the helicopters, the mountains, the birds—warblers, crows, rosefinches, bluethroats, blackbirds, doves.

Photo by Neil Shea

Subway Rorschach

In the new city we carry our newborn son down the block and into the subway. His first journey, diving under rivers, piercing webs of pipes and wires, rattling past ghost stations and lunch boxes lost by the sandhogs a century ago. They say in new cities you are given grace—some time in which to believe anything, to dodge blame, to gather memories that years from now will fall like hail on unlucky relatives. Who knows? We’re tired and the kid, this lump, warm and dense as dough, is getting heavy. While the car idles (and before he spits up) a woman speaks to his bobbling head and says, “Mixed-race babies always have that look.”

Photograph by Jeff Sharlet

Not Even My Own

I thought they were wild but I’m told irises rarely are. Planted; invasive; European, mostly, or Asian. But there are natives, too. These, with their ribbed yellow tongues, resemble an iris called the wild flag, which grows from Nova Scotia to Sitka. How might it have come to this small valley? First a bulb, then a garden, then flowers, planted; now flowers, wild. Escapees or refugees, invaders or simply the left behind.

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