Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
How special it is to live in a special place,
one which is photographed by tourists
and included in packaged tours. Mr. Bondo
wishes he lived in such a place. Sitting
on his somewhat run-down porch, he'd be the envy
of those shaking their heads from a distance—
that shake which means "How lucky! I wish
that was me," and the mental list of bad choices
as their eyes pan above Mr. Bondo
to staggering heights of granite
rising from Mr. Bondo's heavily wooded yard.
And he would leave his almost-antique chair
and calmly disappear into the forest
to surprise himself with some newly-found den,
hardly hearing the motors anymore
and taking unto himself the tang of pine and juniper,
the soft and musky forest floor,
the afternoon of woods and pleasant footfall.
Mr. Bondo's photos of his special place
would be like those the tourists take,
and in which he provides a human scale.
The Law of Remarkable Resemblance
was born this good day, when Mr. Bondo decided
the world does not run on wires, or waves, or particles.
It runs, instead, on chains of tiny mirrors
that face each other like half-opened wings.
Excited resemblance finds itself
over and over in the face of each mirror
and spreads the word to its reflections.
They might, he mused, be influenced
by an observer, so he looks over the shoulder
of a resemblance and is instantly included.
At eight or ten he came to know himself
sitting on a window ledge, lost in the envelope
of a panorama, then a tunnel
in the air to the coast.
"Boy!" his mother yelled, and Mr. Bondo
lost his balance, grunting
like an animal phrasing a question.
Later, when window and view were one,
he'd forget the window seat
upon which he sat, and that he was looking
through the bay window, over the rooftops,
at cypress leaning from the sea.
These days, Mr. Bondo sometimes
holds a window, steps through it
and forgets it
because he knows the way back.
He was that way with a person once.
She lives over there, like a view
from her window, and Mr. Bondo waves.
Mr. Bondo is two people in the world
this afternoon on the viny campus
and two people again at the grocery store.
He is maybe one person in the dog's
deep brown eyes, and nothing
to the desert milkweed
whose meager thirst he satisfies.
He thinks there might have been three
of him for his wife, possibly four
when he would leave for walks alone.
Absent one, zero on the keyboard,
untouched while fingers took
one order of letters into another.
In this mood, his friends multiply
into unknowns. One turns a smile
toward him and into his eyes
and he knows; one of several backs
walking away and he knows. But who
is that in a story in Chicago, driving
past what he thought was her hometown,
ignoring the signs held out for her, running
right through a cloud of details? Mr. Bondo
thinks of a crowd on a ship waving
to a waving crowd on shore, and how
easily he could be in both.
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.
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.