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Literary

Mamita

The morning after the storm, Carlotta climbs onto her roof with a mug of orange tea and looks over Hialeah Bay. It stretches, glittering, to every horizon. The waves swept the flooded yards and streets of chemical slicks and litter. The winds blew away the stench of moldy homes and rotting plants. And the rain […]

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Now Watch as Belinda Unmakes the World

She begins with the grass that runs along the border near the bottom. She’s careful, as the tea-stained linen cloth is beginning to fray from the hundreds of times she’s pulled it in and out of the canvas shopping bag where she keeps her sewing. She pulls each stitch carefully, her movements a kind of […]

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Nothing Less Rare, Nor Precious

The sparrows left my chest the day I brought you home from the hospital. At first, I thought it was the crying–you were a loud, red-faced little thing–but they didn’t come back even after you quieted down. I began to miss the brush of wings against my ribs, the soft prick of little beaks and […]

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The Knives of Her Life

The night my step-dad found mum in bed with another guy was the same night he gave me his Swiss Army knife—the one he’d spent hours whittling wood with outside on our balcony. He jammed his clothes and books into a knapsack and told me he was sorry I wasn’t his for the taking. I […]

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Opening Move

You ask Teacher to put you in the Open category of the chess tournament, instead of the Girls category. You point at the other representatives she’s sending. “They’re in the open category,” you say, and you’ve beaten them all before. “There are very strong players in Open,” Teacher says. “The top-rated player in Open has […]

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Heartwood

When we boiled sap in the sugarhouse, I couldn’t breathe. I stood next to my father while heat billowed from the stainless steel evaporator, sap moving through the flues. It frothed with leaves and slowly became syrup. The maple smell, intoxicating and sweet, reminded me of Violet. I shoved logs in the firebox, then pulled […]

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The Magician’s Assistant

The magician comes home, but his assistant has disappeared. He checks in his hat. He checks up both sleeves. He checks beneath the Table of Death and the Goldin box where he used to saw her in half and once, after too much wine, let her saw him because, she said, one of him wasn’t […]

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Love Letters on the Nightmare Sea

I thought the tendriled horrors were angels when we woke at sea that disastrous night and saw them falling on the waters. Now, Suneeti, on this abandoned island, they are radiant in the setting sun, their translucence licked gold by dusk. The first one crashed onto the deck of our little boat. Its body was […]

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Shelter

My hands ache, ache, and when I look at them, I don’t remember them looking like this. Maybe it’s the skin, paper-dry and thin, like an old person’s. Do my hands look like this? I puddle cream in my palm and work it in, wringing my hands. Polishing them. Scales. I should be doing scales, […]

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America, America

I The night before I leave Onitsha for Lagos, I tell Mama that I now live with a man. Full-time. As a married couple, as man-and-man. We sit on the faded red and black chequered cushion, in the spacious parlour that is home to chirping crickets at night, and geckoes and spiders by daytime. With […]

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