Olive Amdur

Monsoon

 By URVI KUMBHAT

Palm tree and building at dusk

Kolkata, India

From my window I see a boy shaking the bougainvillea 
for flowers. My parents talk of pruning it. They talk 
of little else. The tree, spilling wildly past our house into 
the gulley—where boys come to smoke or piss, lanky against 
betel-dyed walls—acrid ammonia, posters begging for 
votes, pink crowning above them. The boys linger even 
when it rains. Each drop caught briefly under 
the golden streetlight, and me, holding my breath. 

Monsoon
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November 2022 Poetry Feature: Anacaona Rocio Milagro

This month we welcome ANACAONA ROCIO MILAGRO, whose “Nine Twelve Poem” appears in our new print issue.

 

Anacaona Rocio Milagro is a poet born, raised and living in New York City, uptown Manhattan’s Washington Heights. Writing poetry since the age of four, she earned an MFA in Poetry at NYU’s Low Residency program in Paris, an MPH at Columbia University, and a BA with a double-major in Social Anthropology and Journalism/Creative Writing, and a minor in Art from Baruch College/CUNY BA Program. Her “Nine Eleven Poem” is now part of the Smithsonian Museum’s 9/11 archives. Her poetry has been published in The BreakBeat Poets Latinext Anthology, Narrative Magazine, LitHub, Oh Dear Magazine, and Raising Mothers to name a few. Her poem “Stillmatic” was released as a spokenword/Hip-Hop/Jazz single on all streaming platforms. Her father is from the Dominican Republic and her mother is from St. Thomas, The U.S. Virgin Islands. She is the single mother of two—Nirvana Sky and Zion. 

November 2022 Poetry Feature: Anacaona Rocio Milagro
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Podcast: Sindya Bhanoo on “Tsunami Bride”

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Transcript: Sindya Bhanoo Podcast

Sindya Bhanoo speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her story “Tsunami Bride,” which appears in The Common’s new fall issue. Sindya talks about her experience reporting from India after the 2004 tsunami, and how that experience eventually became a story about a journalist in the same position, told from a local’s perspective. She also discusses how the training and techniques she developed as a journalist have shaped her drafting and revision process for fiction, how food often makes its way into her stories, and how her 2022 story collection Seeking Fortune Elsewhere came together.

sindya bhanoo headshot with cover of issue 24

Podcast: Sindya Bhanoo on “Tsunami Bride”
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A Photon Takes the Shortest Path

By ALEX FOSTER

Every second, somewhere in the universe, a star explodes. All life within a trillion miles is condemned to apocalypse, all love forgotten. A supernova spits up a photon, a dribble of light, which rolls onward to another star and another before its path is intercepted by a giant, flailing planet Earth.

On which an ambulance, spraying its own red and blue photons into windows and lower eyelids, rockets down Michigan Avenue. Inside, a twenty-two-year-old woman sits upright on a stretcher, looking all around, proving her physical haleness by screaming at the top of her lungs, because until fifteen minutes ago, she didn’t know that she was pregnant, though she’d felt ill for some time, and then her water broke in a Starbucks bathroom.

At a moment of relative simultaneity, our photon is pulsing through clean air, through airplane windows and white linen kites. It skims a lake and pinballs in a web of sleek skyscrapers.

The woman, admittedly, would not have boasted a fully harmonious relationship with her body before all this; now, minutes after giving birth, things have devolved into open hostility. She’s clawing at her legs. She’s stubbing her toes on the steel door frame. Life is an improbability. It’s an unlikely confluence of pharmacological and genetic circumstances to be eight months pregnant and not realize. The ambulance swerves. She’ll be sick. It doesn’t help that she’s hungover. That her few bouts of morning sickness in the months past could be so easily blamed on margaritas and boxed wine.

A Photon Takes the Shortest Path
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Podcast: Meera Nair on “The Desire Tree”

 

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Listen on Apple Podcasts.

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Listen on Spotify.

 

Transcript: Meera Nair Podcast

Meera Nair speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “The Desire Tree,” which appears in The Common’s new fall issue. Meera talks about the long process of writing this piece, which explores loss and longing through a visit to a banyan tree in Kerala, India that is said to grant prayers. She also discusses writing from memories, finding the right length for a piece, and teaching revision strategies to her creative writing students.

headshot of Meera nair next to issue 24 cover

Podcast: Meera Nair on “The Desire Tree”
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Reading the Ashes

By ROBIN LEE CARLSON 

Watercolor sketches of stone and dragonfly

I walk slowly, each step sinking a little into the ground. With every footfall, a puff of ash curls upward, dusting the top of my boot and disappearing into the soft stillness of the day. It is a clear day with no clouds, but the air around me has a gentle haze, a film that sometimes resolves into particles, pinpoints of ash in a slanting ray of sunlight. It has been two months since the fire, but the rising ash and the smell of smoke are strong, stinging the back of my throat and settling into a familiar ache in my temples.

Reading the Ashes
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Tsunami Bride

By SINDYA BHANOO

As the parakeet-green municipal bus pulled into Cuddalore, Sai held his sign up as high as he could, his forehead burning from the morning sun. He did not want the reporter to miss him.

The sign was flimsy, made of two pieces of printer paper taped together, but it was sufficient.

He’d written SARA, THE NEW YORK TIMES in thick capital letters with a black marker. He knew of only a handful of women doing serious journalism, mostly Barkha Dutt copycats. His favorite female journalist was actually a character from the movie Gandhi. He had rented it when he was in college in Chennai and watched it alone. He was instantly smitten with the actress who played the Time magazine photographer from America, charmed by the way her short, wavy hair bounced as she squatted to the ground to take pictures of the Mahatma spinning cotton on his chakkaram.

Tsunami Bride
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“Can’t you see I’m a fool”

By LAUREN HILGER

 

I was once in a denim skirt and cowboy hat, spilling milk in a grocery store.
How many songs did I learn to sing I was the fool?
I am a fool. I know I have been a fool—
these are the early future concepts out of which I turned into myself.

“Can’t you see I’m a fool”
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