What is it that we owe to each other?

illustrated image of a field of bright orange and yellow calendulas with an eye in the center with long eyelashes and the reflection of the light of the flowers within it
Art by Kristina Closs

The First Toast

by Aria Aber

What is it that we owe to each other?
I drink to the moment that rises
like a calendula flicker
behind your eyelids.
I drink to the world
still veiled with the words
of childhood, our faces warm
in history’s collateral light.

from Hard Damage

we were Palestinian in every timeline

Illustration of the silhouettes of adult bodies with a child suspended in the middle in a globe. On the sides, images of bodies within bodies. The background is a kufiyah pattern
Art by Kristina Closs

from UNIVERSAL THEORY IN WHICH EVERY FAILED GESTURE 
TOWARDS LOVE IS A SOULMATE FROM AN ALTERNATE TIMELINE

by George Abraham

Let’s say god is every failed history of speculation – say history 
is the space between two lovers endlessly out of reach –  

we feigned divinity & it got us this far – this is how I know 
we were Palestinian in every timeline – ancestored from earth 

to earth, our infinite loops of breath are how the universe loves itself 
back, perpetual – proof that every love language boils down 

to recursion – the only country I can surely Return to is a people
who sent the timelines spiraling with their stubborn & earth

-laced fists. None of this is speculative – there are people inside 
the people we were born into & all of them survived 

so many unspeakables. In this life, we will cry over foaming
qahwa as you tell me only one of us can Return to the country

we call home, before distancing ourselves a plane ride we’ll never 
take. You tell me all will be well. Say, we know the shattering of space

-time’s topology as inheritance; in this way, we’re chasing 
each other     though neither of us are chasing     back – 

__

for more of George’s poems, check out Birthright

and memory itself has become an emigrant

I spent yesterday in a surreal fog as I worked on the Stanford obituary for the poet Eavan Boland, who was a touchstone for me and countless others. All the words I have for today are poured into that piece, so I will leave you with that remembrance and this brilliant poem, which encapsulates many of the themes Eavan wrote about with such precision, compassion, and depth.

Toby and Eavan.jpg
Eavan Boland and Tobias Wolff enjoying a moment of mirth at a creative writing dinner, 2015. Photo by me. 

“The Lost Land”

I have two daughters.

They are all I ever wanted from the earth.

Or almost all.

I also wanted one piece of ground:

One city trapped by hills. One urban river.
An island in its element.

So I could say mine. My own.
And mean it.

Now they are grown up and far away

and memory itself
has become an emigrant,
wandering in a place
where love dissembles itself as landscape:

Where the hills
are the colours of a child’s eyes,
where my children are distances, horizons:

At night,
on the edge of sleep,

I can see the shore of Dublin Bay.
Its rocky sweep and its granite pier.

Is this, I say
how they must have seen it,
backing out on the mailboat at twilight,

shadows falling
on everything they had to leave?
And would love forever?
And then

I imagine myself
at the landward rail of that boat
searching for the last sight of a hand.

I see myself
on the underworld side of that water,
the darkness coming in fast, saying
all the names I know for a lost land:

Ireland. Absence. Daughter.

from The Lost Land