Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
I took my boy to hear an echo.
He wanted to hear one. I wanted him to.
We wended through a half-formed unintelligible
brushy wood to a place I knew called “cave.”
It had openings at both ends
and could be seen through, not into.
Nor was it a tunnel, strictly,
though it passed through the ground, though it went somewhere.
It was like stepping into a telescope
unseen, into the dark distorted center.
The walls were arched and laid with glazed tiles
orange, aqua, muddy green and so
streaked with nervous lines where water had run down,
where water must have trellised down still.
It was not clean. It smelled of piss.
Chicken bones, empties, old rubbers, mold.
Echo, I called. So did my boy.
But his voice was small—birdscratch—it
Got all lost inside the echo my voice made;
pale echo; barely one.
That was when I had a boy.
I’m quite sure I did.
I wanted one, back then, when I had something to offer,
when I wasn’t in this place, where light passes through me, when I wasn’t like this,
which is what,
when I wanted one,
as he, poor boy, wanted me.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.
Support us with a donation this giving season.