Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Come join the family darks
who graduated the public schools, skulls dilated
as large as exotic house plants. So
far everything in life has grown from
seed, watering. There has been bitterness, too,
in the night, nights of too many
stark tears, the darkness a peculiar
skittering, skittering in the ceiling—
shy as a vanishing fawn; dark the fabled tree
where a stillborn baby was buried
dark in a shoe box somewhere back
that you have heard rumored since
a marvelous family get together when Uncle Lee
drank so much he took a pee
and out of his piss sprang the first flowers of spring.
But if someone who was nobody’s brother or
sister’s favorite foolish foil sisterly meddled
in the middle of a fabulous story, inces-
tuous inbreeding, stolen kisses beneath
flowering trees, animal gropings in the hay,
shit, mush, pig crust underneath the straw,
a mouth twisted in disgust like a backwards cap,
he would be handed a gravedigger’s shovel
unwashed from a throwaway pile and pointed
in a dark direction; he would be told
—sorry, they whispered and gestured, see—
to do the job that was too dark for you or me.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
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.