Photo by the author.

It’s strange how much of your life hides in plain sight. The typewriter has been sitting on the shelf in our living room for years now, on display beside photos and ornaments, books and more books. There’s a sincerity to its presence, the dusty anchor of the reading and writing lives that are somewhere near the heart of our home, and the quiet beacon linking generations – the machine originally belonged to my father in-law, who brought it with him when he immigrated to Canada from Germany with his parents in the 1960s. …

Try making bread, everyone said. Flour, salt, water, heat. Tap the veins of civilization and marvel at the primal embers of human creativity that still glow within you. Alright, Spenser thinks. It might be fun to try. Spinning it silently in his own mind as everyday alchemy right there in his tiny kitchen. Flour, salt, water, heat. Earth, Ocean, Fire and Air.

The instructions for the starter are too simple to believe. 5 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons water. Mix, cover, let it sit. How can this work? Discard all but a tablespoon of the starter the next day and repeat…

Original photo by Jonathan Larson (

And then one day the whole world just stopped.

I’m not sure exactly when I discovered the owl’s nest on the 24 hour live camera. Something strange happened to my sense of time early in the pandemic. Things started slowing down even as they sped up. I felt like I was somehow moving underwater and plummeting through endless space all at once. I found the camera in the middle of March, I think, when my growing obsession with bird watching was moving in step with increasing social restrictions. Stuck at home, I was monitoring and servicing my backyard feeders with…

This Is Us

Notes on a childhood memory

Photo courtesy of the author.

My earliest memory, and thus the beginning of my selfhood, has absence at its heart. I don’t remember much about knocking out my front tooth. By that I mean I have an incomplete, fragmentary recollection of what happened Before and what happened After. I remember sliding around the kitchen floor in my socks. Getting a bit of momentum, sliding toward the stairs at the back landing, then turning around and doing the same in the opposite direction. My mother was in the kitchen, too, moving between the sink and the stove. My sister was sliding with me, sometimes in front…

Photo by the author

The trucks rolled up shortly before 9, the rising sun slowly pulling the chill of night-rain from the damp earth. The crew made their way into the neighbor’s backyard and by 10 one brave climber was digging spurs into bark. The gas-powered thieving had a strange elegance to it, slow and strategic limbing all the way up, the most unwieldy branches hastily knotted and threaded to the ground, the process moving higher and higher, then a climactic reversal of direction as sections from the top half of the now bare trunk were lopped off to fall in huge concussive blasts…

Photo by Matt Hoffman (

A brief afternoon shower, not even enough to cool the air, and after it passes Spenser is struck by the way the summer light clings to everything. As if some cloudborne tide had washed over the earth, and in receding, stirred up primal brightness and life, spangling every treetop and rockface and rooftop in a slimy glaze. Pavement, lamp posts, windows— all cast in an unnameable sheen of purple and orange. It’s impossible to imagine a colour that nature can’t produce. The air itself is infused as the sun sinks low, flaring hard.

The air is warm and sticky with…

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on

I awoke last Sunday with a heaviness in my chest. This is not a metaphor. My first conscious sensation was of a subtle yet undeniable weight right where I imagine my heart to be. The sensation was difficult to articulate. Not quite a tightness or pinching, nothing, in fact, that I would describe as in any way painful. This was . . . …

Perhaps awareness of one’s mortality is the first spark of self-loathing

Photo: Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images

As a child I feared you, fear as cold and hard as a stone from the river. I imagined your frailty as something monstrous, something otherworldly. All rotten gums and cavernous wrinkles, you were ruin and disaster, the vandal from the gloomy future come to slowly leech my essence, the horrible witch already haunting the bright red alleys of my young body.

I saw you on your deathbed. The bed was always white as mountain snow and I was always somehow looking down on you — myself — from above. …

Photo by Jonas Weckschmied (

Longshadows in the slow fade of a late summer afternoon. Tristan’s body in the dirt. Memories. Brainshapes. Apparitions.

They awake together, bleary eyes meeting across the space between their beds as the window begins to glow. Stretching. Blinking. No words. Old bones of the house beginning to flex and creak as they warm in the sun’s rise. …

Photo by Craig Johnson, San Diego, CA (Wikimedia Commons)

I know the call by heart. I’ve known it for almost as long as I can remember.

Little roller up along first. Behind the bag, it gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!

I know these words and I can hear them in my head in the honeyed, steady cadence of Vin Scully. Long before I ever came to know who Vin Scully was, the words have been there.

Little roller up along first. Behind the bag, it gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!

For some, the story is a tragic…

Gavin Paul

English Professor. Author of "Conspiracy of One," a small book of short stories, and “The Coward," a collection of essays.

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