All posts tagged: Dispatch

Dream Ladders

By MATTHEW SCHULTZ

Immovable Ladder at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; Jerusalem

Israel and Palestine

The story of the Immovable Ladder is this: it was left on a balcony of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem by a careless mason in 1750 and has sat there ever since. The six orders of monks, in whose ruthless stewardship the church is kept, have divided the church into blocks of turf, which they guard with fervor, and sometimes with fists.  It’s unclear to which sect the balcony (and by extension, the ladder) belongs. Any attempt to answer that question would be a threat to the delicate status quo that keeps the monkish violence at bay. And so the ladder sits. Undisturbed.

Avery FarmerDream Ladders
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Non-Native

By CATE LYCURGUS

Sand dunes at Tolowa Dunes State Park
Tolowa Dunes State Park, California

Sandy showed us how. She placed the shovel’s tip a few inches from a tuft’s base. Angled the handle back a bit, just enough to loosen the grass before she lowered, hand-pulling. This way, she explained, down to the source. Awards went to the biggest pile, longest root (you cannot burn grass off the dunes; the network just shoots back again), cleanest area too. Tawny tips waved in small breeze from the lagoon, off the lip of sea. But the grass is pretty, C said, and somebody murmured, agreeing. He traced the rake in arcs, looking down, but couldn’t swirl it far. European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) grows in clumps from rhizomes that spread four meters each year, so it’s no surprise beachgrass defines large stretches of Pacific coast. Pretty till you get a spine in your glove, E admitted, wincing. Until you get down close.

Isabel MeyersNon-Native
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The Cloak Room

By MARIA TERRONE

St. Joan of Arc classroom and cloakroom revisited, 2018

St. Joan of Arc classroom and cloakroom revisited, 2018

 

Queens, New York

 The very sound of it was foreign to our ears. Who wore cloaks? Vampires. Stealthy spies with hidden daggers. And men in top hats who appeared in movies and old-fashioned story books. Certainly no one we knew as first-graders at St. Joan of Arc—except, perhaps, for the nuns whose sleeveless black capes swirled in their hurried winter walks through the schoolyard to the convent. But their habits covered every inch of skin up to their necks; even their brows were partially obscured by fabric stiff as cardboard and white as their bony hands—the only other flesh exposed. So, on second thought, we couldn’t really say we “knew” the nuns when their very bodies were concealed and their lives outside the classroom a mystery.

Isabel MeyersThe Cloak Room
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Riding with Wolfman

By LEATH TONINO

Sawatch Range of Colorado

 

I’d been backpacking solo for twenty days in the mountains of Colorado, only a biography of Mozart for company, when my feet finally got the message up to my thumb that they were tired—so blistered, and achy, and sun-deprived and tired. My thumb, being a crafty little digit, waited until the trail crossed a road, then sprang into action with all the springiness a thumb can muster. One minute I was a resolved nature pilgrim, the next a common drifter hitching a ride to junk food.

What pulled up beside me almost instantaneously was not so much a Suburban as a rumbling patchwork of rust and mismatched panels. The tailpipe, or the little left of it, screamed a warning of danger, but its cries fell on my feet’s deaf ears. I stepped to the lowered window, thinking of ice cream and nothing besides ice cream.

Flavia MartinezRiding with Wolfman
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Nobody’s Home

By ELLEN BIRKETT MORRIS

Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville protest

I hear the call, one voice:

Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.

Then the response, many voices in unison:

Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge. This simply cannot be allowed to happen.

Light from cell phone screens illuminate clusters of people standing in the street. Around two hundred of us, young and old, parents and children, stand in front of our senator’s condo. The road is blocked on either side by police cars, who mute their lights so they don’t hurt our eyes.

Flavia MartinezNobody’s Home
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El Putxet

By FLAVIA MARTINEZ

Barcelona Montjuic

I woke up early to finish some reading, but have been in bed for hours scrolling through Facebook, with little fingers and tired eyes fixed to the screen, and now it’s 1 pm. Though the streets of Barcelona are sunny most days, only secondhand light teases in from the center courtyard of the apartment building, and sometimes in here I forget what sun is. It’s the only bedroom that faces inward, the one my host mother lived in as a girl. This was her childhood home.

Flavia MartinezEl Putxet
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Boarding Pass

By JACINTO LUCAS PIRES

Translated by DEAN THOMAS ELLIS
Airplane wing
I wake up on a plane. The flight attendant asks me if I’d like to eat. She has a red mouth and looks like an out-of-focus Kate Winslet, which makes me think of my wife, or, should I say, “ex-wife.”  What an odd title for such a serious, blissful woman. In the dream I am on the way to Brussels to ask the president of the European Union why Europe is collapsing. “Would you like anything else?” On my fourth attempt, I manage to break open the transparent wrapping, and bite into the snack cake. The flavor of plastic orchards beneath wide stagnant skies. I wake up on a plane.

Isabel MeyersBoarding Pass
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The Iron-On Labels

By SUSAN HARLAN

Campground and picnic

In the late eighties, when I was twelve, I went to a camp called Walking G Ranch. My sisters went, too. It was in the mountains of California, in Taylorsville, but now I have to look that up on a map because when you’re a kid you never know where you are. It was a working ranch, and we all got up early in the morning to take care of the animals – milk the cows and feed the pigs their slop – and sometimes at night, my friend Anne and I slept in the hayloft. On other nights, we rowed out to a little island in the middle of the pond. It felt immensely far, but it was just a pond.

Flavia MartinezThe Iron-On Labels
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An Almost-Spring Saturday Night, Providence, RI, My Son’s Fifteenth Birthday

By KIRSTIN ALLIO

Basketball hoop in Providence

Three of them are shooting hoops in the echo chamber between our house and the neighbor’s, close clapboard and winter-washed cedars walling in the narrow driveway. Someone is the swaggering smuggler of an enormous speaker, and the bass ricochets off the concrete. There’s a wife-beater, boom box vibe even though it’s Spotify. In my small-town childhood only boys without cars had boom boxes, and they slunk down Main Street blasting Metal to distortion, trailing smoke, projecting danger. The boys at the boarding school up the hill, ravaged stoners, were less aggressive but more alienated.

Isabel MeyersAn Almost-Spring Saturday Night, Providence, RI, My Son’s Fifteenth Birthday
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Letter to a Ghost

By SAMANTHA ALLEN 

Tehachapi, California

tehachapi
When I was twelve I was admitted to the hospital in Tehachapi. We shared a room, the only one open in the rural clinic. You handcuffed to the bed, me straining for air.

Julia PikeLetter to a Ghost
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