At La Fiesta Brava, my sister tells me that her girls, my nieces, aren’t biologically hers. She had another woman’s eggs fertilized by her husband’s sperm and inserted into her body. The eggs she chose, she says, were those of a woman they selected because she seemed most like her husband, a dark-haired entomologist with brown eyes and pale skin. The donor is a dark-haired ornithologist with brown eyes and pale skin.
This issue is packed with other luminaries: Nikki Giovanni, Lolis Eric Elie, and Wendell Berry express the tenderness of our closest relationships. Randall Kenan and Thomas Pierce, contemporary masters of Southern fiction, offer new otherworldly short stories. Lauren Groff pens an essay mourning the depletion of Earth’s resources and ponders the possibilities of the next frontier. As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. King’s death, Benjamin Hedin goes to Memphis, where its citizens—like so many of us in the South—still bear the burden of history: mourning the sins of our racist past; attempting to atone, however imperfectly; and finding a way to move forward.
I’d go to the bar early to watch them sound check—I loved the “check, check . . . check one-two-three, check one-two”—and then I’d sit with Matt while he ate his free meal and ask how he was doing so I could report back to our parents. Was he eating okay? Was he happy? Did he have enough money? He never had enough money and there was always something lost, a jacket or a wallet or his keys, which made me nervous. I had never lost so much as an earring.