We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.
I had three wishes
& I did not ask
for beauty so beauty was not
what I was given
I’d asked for a sharper tongue
a calmer disposition
larger hair I was given
those in some fashion &
separately I was pleased with
the things when they came in
their bow-tied packages
but together they grew on my body
a birthmark, a brutal red leaf
just below the first layer of skin
behind my knee
again I was given three wishes
I only had need of one
& asked for the birthmark
to be taken away
in my mailbox arrived a gold-laced
envelope: in it ancient eggshell stationery
tutting in cramped handwriting we can
only add, nothing may ever be taken away
so I wished for beauty finally
to have its way with me
and beauty I was given because
I had the strength to ask
was given its bipolar its nightly
pulling of teeth
and the eventual sprouting
of the birthmark into
a forest from the back of my knee
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Our well-being depends on a better understanding of how the logic of labor has twisted our relationship with pleasure.
“I was my father’s son. My father was Nai Nai’s least favorite.” A Taiwanese American man, driven from home by a secret, reevaluates his childhood memories of his grandmother.
MacArthur Genius Kelly Lytle Hernández makes the case for why U.S. history only makes sense when told as a binational story.