Found Objects: Proof That Hell Awaits

    A moving box (SMALL / PEQUEÑA), taped shut and cut open several times, is labeled with a Sharpie: LIBRARY / KNICKKNACKS / & Watches / & Dive Challenge Coins. Inside are journals, books, and a little wicker basket holding money from several countries, the first pen I carried vocationally, and an acrylic keychain […]

The Vanishing, Civilizing Art of Marginalia

    Sometimes the notes are ferocious, Skirmishes against the author Raging along the borders of every page In tiny black script. . . .     I smile at Billy Collins’s “Marginalia,” because I always used to scribble outrage or applause in the margins of my books. I used to dogear the pages, too—I […]

Found Objects: Postcard to the War Department

  A yellowed postcard was found recently on page four of an old edition of Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris, the top of which begins, as a continuation of the previous page, “Fools. On that day there was to be an exhibition of fireworks in the Place de Grève, a May-tree planted at the […]

What Bloodshed in Haiti Means for Us

    When I learned that Jovenel Moïse, president of Haiti, had been assassinated—after riots and demands that he resign—something inside me crumpled. Again? I was in Haiti during its 2010 presidential elections, along with the professional photographer who shot the image above, Patti Gabriel. We were the outsiders on a volunteer medical trip, neither […]

Invitation to the Dance

    Standing, I squint at the computer monitor while I try to curve my hip out as I tap my right foot. The dancers on the screen are holding plates of food, of course, as they execute perfect moves. This is “Jerusalema,” and I am a year late to the party. But I am […]

Independence

    Newt is an orange tabby that hangs out on the extensive bike trails in St. Louis’ Metro East. Chances are, if you are walking, running, or cycling in Newt’s territory and see a group stopped ahead, they are petting and making a fuss over him. If the humans are newbs they might be […]

Why Nobody Knows Moholy-Nagy’s Name

    Now that dinner parties are back, try this experiment. When you are introduced to someone new, ask them questions, anything you can think of that might touch on their professional expertise in some way. Then wait for them to parry, explaining that actually, their research is confined to the mating habits of the […]

When the Sum Comes as Surprise

  One of the few syntheses available to us is that it is hard to know what we are until we are mostly formed. Others may spot aspects of us at a glance, the way civilians once identified warplanes by their silhouettes, but they are all at different angles and have varying amounts of light, […]

Why We Need Lupin

    Two television shows eased me through the coldest months of the pandemic. One was—do not smirk— the PBS remake of All Creatures Great and Small. That show is so utterly wholesome, James Herriot so gentle and decent, the human foibles presented with such kindness and on such a small, everyday scale, that watching […]