My mother’s mother used to say that it took four generations to get the black out.
Throughout their enforced stay in the United States, as their papers were tidied up and then during their journey across that continent, Mrs Ballard seemed to wear the same dress, long and straight—knitted out of string, you would have said with a white collar, sometimes with points, sometimes rounded, held together at the throat by a cairngorm.
The people who shared his reluctance to speak about death, often for a different reason told him: now that you are in the States, you are safe, all will be well, you will learn the language and become American.
A man, whose name I’ve thankfully forgotten, came up to me and said something that I’ve thankfully forgotten. It happened in a city whose name escapes me, on a day I don’t remember, or on a night I don’t remember.
This meeting, at this extraordinarily slow speed, remains unforgettable: the slow handshake, the unbelievably polite tip of the hat …
The only truth is that every one of these stories was not told by me, but by a man about whom I once told a story, and in which I claimed that he had told a bad story. But that is not the point of this story.
Nobody is wholly responsible for what they are.
A very merry issue day to you, dear readers! There’s Guernica’s PEN World Voices Festival Panel, features by Mary Costello and Nina Martyris, interviews with Cheryl Strayed and Paul Chappell, art from Adel Abidin, fiction from Patrick White and Ror Wolf, and poetry from Cynthia Cruz and Adam Houle. Read, reread.
I loved her sad eyes, her rare flashes of anger, her lips in my hair. She was the only creature that loved me, and I would let myself be torn into a hundred pieces for her sake.
There was no time to stop and ask for mercy and protection.