“My Mother Says the Syrian Refugees Look Like Tourists” by Hai-Dang Phan

because she has just finished telling the story of our escape and needs to draw a comparison, return us safely to the present,

December 2015, we’re back at my sister’s childproofed house, keeping warm by winter sun, central heating, and our sweatpants;

because some do: “Ghaith joyfully snapped selfies, the Aegean glimmering in the background. He looked much like a tourist,” . . .


“Enough of Billy” by Castle Freeman Jr.

Three of McKinnon’s foreign cows were at the fence when Eli turned off the highway and into McKinnon’s lane. Great red beasts, shambling and shaggy, they looked like ruined carpets. They looked like buffaloes. But they weren’t buffaloes. McKinnon’s buffaloes were in one of his other pastures . . .


“Desire Lines” by Laura Spence-Ash

It’s 1975, and he’s sixteen. He feels the cold on his wrists and his ears; drifts of snow rise up behind him to the first floor windows of the high school. She’s across the street. It’s just the two of them, somehow. She’s hopping on one foot and he doesn’t understand why. Seeing him, she smiles, then waves him over, calling his name. He notices her pearl earrings . . .


“Take Stock” by Clarence Orsi

The stock photo accompanies an article about Germany’s legal recognition of intersex infants. Even though the photo has been chosen to embody the “third gender” mentioned in the headline, we have to begin by calling the figure in this photo a woman, for we cannot see a third gender until we define one of the primary two. The woman has porcelain perfect skin. Hair helmeted in a glossy pixie, she wears a stiff white shirt like a cross . . .

Artwork by Jane Davies