Author: Sofia Samatar

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The Smallest House

If you know the Friendly City, you are familiar with its smallest house, tucked into an alley against the wall of the Finnigan’s Cove restaurant. At the moment, the main features of this tiny domicile are a pair of gazebos (one crushed), a white picket fence, a front door, and a window with green shutters.

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Softness

“Towns,” writes the poet Anne Carson, “are the illusion that things hang together somehow.” Today on Collicello Street, the illusion is particularly strong.

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Night Walks

The city bakes under the heat dome. In the suffocating weather, we become night walkers, transferring our outdoor time to the hours of darkness. We go out at nine p.m. when the sun no longer burns, though the air is still close, heavy and enveloping like a fur. It’s not quite dark.

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Dappled Things

Surely this is the most pleasant environment for walking: a shifting patchwork of brightness and dimness, a quilt of light.

The Musical City

The June heat brings changes to the soundscape of the city. Winter is muffled and still; summer is loud, crackling, brash, and tuneful.

Work in Progress

There is a house in my neighborhood we call Finnegans Wake, after James Joyce’s famously dense, fantastically challenging novel. During his many years of writing this book, Joyce called his manuscript Work in Progress—a name that suits my neighbor’s unpredictable, chaotic residence.

The Language of the Flowers

“What is natural about being human?” asks the poet Harryette Mullen. “What to make of a city dweller taking a ‘nature walk’ in a public park while listening to a podcast with ear-bud headphones?

In Deep Time

On this warm, cloud-flecked day, the city wears its summer palette: green and gray with occasional pops of brighter color.

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