On the day of the inquiry, my grandmother stayed home in her apartment, drank red wine on her couch, and watched back-to-back episodes of The Passionate Eye on CBC and growled, ‘All those goddamn people are crooked anyhow,’ and then she ordered in Chinese food and fell asleep for centuries. At the inquiry the man running the show walked to the front of the room and said that he had lost our book of names. My grandmother kept the list of names in the guest room, bottom-left corner of the bookcase. She opened the book and said, ‘This is my last birthday,’ and fell asleep again, while her apartment building rotated on the bird spine of a sundial. I went to the inquiry but never told her. She wouldn’t have liked it. The man at the front said without memories there is no past and furthermore everything you need to know is on The Passionate Eye on CBC. I went back home, hands empty. There was no inquiry in the place where her mother was from because they burned the Jewish men on the beaches and the Jewish women were the smoke. ‘Do you know how to name children?’ my grandmother said to me. ‘You take the initials of their dead relative and use them again and again so that the letters are never lost.’ This is written in a secret language. I often slept in her guest room except when I slept on the couch in the living room. I realized that the upholstery was patterned with her initials when I woke up to find her initials tattooed into my cheek. Alphabet welts, they faded but stayed.
Recommended Reads | Spring
The Secret Loves of Flowers
‘The flirtations of insects and plants are furtive, hidden and often so brief that if you literally blink you might miss what exactly is going on.’
Dino J. Martins on moths and orchids, from Granta 153: Second Nature.
‘The origin of the dysfunctional family: spores. / Friend or foe? True fern or ally?’
Poems by Sylvia Legris, author of Garden Physic.
One Muggy Spring, Thanks, Dot and Secretly Try
‘And the trees were safely tucked in. Their roots were rallying in the soil, in this coil. Would the woman also take a turn for the better in her last decade?’
Three stories by Diane Williams.
Ladies! Be Your Own Grave
‘walking alone down a country road – / distracted by the slightly annoying and toxic / first green of spring, eyes overflowing’
A poem by Emily Skillings.
‘Whatever the aftermath, you won’t see the city again except through the agency of absence, recalling this semi-emptiness, this viral uncertainty.’
From 2020: China Miéville on the UK government’s response to coronavirus.