A Distant Episode

The distant past returned—what part of it, he could not decide.

A Farmer’s Life: Xiwuqi, Inner Mongolia

For my vacation last summer, I visited the Bateer family in Xiwuqi.

A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route

Neither blood nor belonging accounted for my presence in Ghana.

A Lebanese Feast

Lebanon’s dreams of a homeland were fading with every rocket launch.

A Letter to Robert Pinsky

We caress the rough. Sensuous, delectable, and yet sorrowful.

A River of Stars

For all the stories they’d concocted, the real one electrified them.

A Small Blip on an Eternal Timeline

I grabbed him by the face and told him life only comes to a person once.

A Smile of Fortune

She favoured me with an even more viciously scornful “Don’t care!”

A Taste for Winter

She is very rich. She will leave me everything when she dies, he says.

A Windfall

She flicked a bit of citrus on her tongue. Her laugh was hard and high.


The guards ripped off Mara’s clothes, pinning her head against the wall.

Across the Sea: A Sequence

The stones here carry the island’s low cry inside them. A landlocked grief.

After Saddam

He said he had come back to the prison because it was home.

Aim High Olongapo

From the flight deck Gray could see home, wherever that might be.

All Good Things Are Surprises

So, Ida, are you a Jew or a nudist? Do you believe in Hanukkah?

All That Floats

Devanand Simon was twenty-five when the bodies fell from the sky.


He longed only for Claire’s strange seriousness, her silent focus.

American Idol

Karen was, in that moment, nothing, emptiness. She was oblivion.

And Yet Beauty Lives

We are like a village here, separated from the rest of the world.

As Is

When she sleeps, Shakespeare writes one more sonnet we’ll never read.

Badger Mountain

Keely finally stops crying when they step outside. The shock of cold.


I could not tell what visions were vanishing in the dying slave.

Be Patient

The dead children were wheeled away, covered with white sheets.

Before the Borderless: Dean Rader/Cy Twombly

Reader, you and I stand once more before the borderless.

Best Advice

My advice can be succinctly expressed in three words: Persist, persist, persist!

Border Patrol

We loaded the packs and started down, into the bluing of dusk.


Three fingers had been cut from her right hand, two from her left.


When we’re all together like this it feels like hope is a possibility.

Bring Us a Souvenir from the Next War

Be glad the numbness in your legs isn’t reading on your face.


“Why don’t you call yourself Butterfly?” he said. “A pretty thing like you.”