We can hear the footfalls of a millipede next to our tent. Six miles to the southwest we also hear the clattering of ceramic plates and the clinking of wine glasses. People are laughing. The atmosphere carries almost no moisture here, but still brings these voices across the great canyon… Read More Listening Loudly
I’m about thirty yards from the fire. The storefront is gone. Fire trucks are only now arriving – sirens screaming, red lights pulsating in the hot tropical night. Maybe it was a café. Not a store. Broken tables and chairs are strewn across the sidewalk. I go up on my tiptoes to see over the crowd, to see if there are bodies in the plaza, among the shattered glass and bricks.… Read More Why Autonomous Cars Will Never Take Us Home
You didn’t get the valuable things, the meaningful things, the parts of my identity that really define who I am, my core, me. You broke into the Louvre, and you made off with the trash can.… Read More The Identity-Theft Paradox
Fifty yards to the boat. I had to rest. I thought I could just float on my back for a moment. But the freezing water had cooled the blood that now reached my core. My heart felt like an anvil in an empty blacksmith’s shop at midwinter.… Read More Escaping the Mainland
A half hour out of Iquitos, a solitary cluster of stilt and thatched-roof houses came into sight. A narrow pathway continued to the houses, but Jorge cut the motorcycle’s engine and said we would walk the remaining hundred yards. Without the breeze from the zooming motorcycle, I was again aware of the oppressive tropical heat and the suffocating humidity. I also became aware of a new set of sounds: no longer the drone of the city, the honking, the shouting, the exchange of shipyard commodities. Now my ears were tuned to the laughter of small children, the barking of wary dogs, and the thrumming of a million equatorial insects.… Read More Rice and Beans, Masato, Bad Potato Salad
I am about to share a pre-Lenten dinner with six strangers. They have welcomed me into their quarters, have set a place for me at their table. I’ve spent all day trying to reach them, trying to reach this very place.
Earlier in the day, riding in the back of a truck, I had closed my eyes, folded my arms around my knees, and let my head rest. The woman seated next to me had leaned into my ribs. I heard someone shouting from the roadside, and I sat up slowly…… Read More A Refugee in Cajamarca
He was not old. Perhaps forty years of age. He removed his hat, put his head back and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and exhaled. I was dizzy with the bewildering disclosure of slavery. In my lifetime.… Read More The Brazilian Slave