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“Hill,” by Margaret Reges

Tangled against the river the red-gray thump of the feet of deer in the half-frozen mud and the sear of dry branches torn from the living, a yellow-orange strip of barkless wood on the trunk and the tender wet where the branch was torn crystallizing in the cold, and trees like a mesh of black oil.

“The King of Hispaniola,” by Chidelia Edochie

fiction by Chidelia Edochie

I spent that Christmas Eve with my schoolmate Bibi and her parents at the National Palace, comparing the sizes of presents and our thirteen-year-old breasts with the other daughters of cabinet members and businessmen. All over Port-au-Prince younger children were taking off their shoes and filling them with hay so that Papa Noël could lade them with gifts as they slept. In the palace chandeliers gleamed down on us, everyone so drunk off of anisette punch that the whole place smelled of sugar and rum and salt from their sweat.

Bibi’s father, Mr. Mesadieu, kept an arm around President Duvalier as if they were brothers. The whole country called him Baby Doc—not fondly—and I’d heard Mr. Mesadieu refer to him as le bébé idiot. Our textbooks said that the Duvalier family had been the savior of Haiti, though our teacher often let it slip that he found the extravagance of their lifestyle distasteful. But I knew that Bibi liked him.

MQR 51:1 | Winter 2012

Julian Levinson translates and comments on Moshe-Leyb Halpern; Derek Mong considers English as a second language; Natania Rosenfeld muses on her mother-in-law and Louise Bourgeois; Stefanie Weisman goes in search of E. B. White.

Fiction by Alan Cheuse (with help – a lot of help – from Herman Melville), Bernardine Connelly, Chidalia Edochie, and Peter Levine.

Poetry by Nicolas Born, Victoria Chang, Moshe-Leyb Halpern, A. Van Jordan, Nick Lantz, Margaret Reges, Brian Swann, and Ann Marie Thornburg.

Plus: A review by Raymond McDaniel of Maggie Nelson’s “The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning.”