cover image of Meridian issue 45, blue and gray icy landscape with night stars

Contributors: Kelli Russell Agodon, Benjamin Aleshire, Lisa Allen, Heather Bourbeau, Kathryn Bratt-Pfotenhauer, Jared Carlson, Jessica Dionne, Claire Dodd, Ryan Drendel. Tristan Durst, Liza Flum, Erika Goodrich, John Harn, Ann Hudson, Charlotte Hughes, Spencer Hyde, Joanna B. Johnson, A.C. Koch, Haesong Kwon, Kevin Martin Lanahan, Naomi Ling, Victoria McArtor, Marsha McSpadden, A. Molotkov, Matt Pasca, Ayesha Raees, Rochelle Robinson-Dukes, Mira Rosenthal, Rabia Saeed, Amanda Maret Scharf, Charlie Schneider, Hannah Smith, Leela Srinivasan, Erica Stern, Jessica Tanck, Sasha Tandlich, Greg Tebbano, Aneeqa Mazhar Wattoo, Haolun Xu, Katie Bowler Young, and Winniebell Xinyu Zong. 

Interview with poet Brenda Hillman. 

Cover art by Dave McClintonOrder your copy today!


We Were Happy

“Now, when you go out of the house,” I say to my two new American students, “You move your object to the lower shelf.” I put the pewter fish on the lower desk shelf to show them. “You see? Here. I am the fish, so when I leave, I put it here.” The white girl is nodding, but the black one looks confused. Liz. Kiara. I must learn their names. “And when I come home, I put it again on the top shelf, like so.” I demonstrate. “Okay? You understand?”

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That should have been the end of it. An unexciting stop on an otherwise interesting journey. Unfortunately, I had not kept an eye on Ruby. While the rest of us had been gnawing fried bread and swatting flies, she had been chatting away with our hosts in a manner that was far too loose and animated to be strictly decent from a Kyrgyz perspective. They seemed taken with her — the man, his mother, his sisters, and his aunts. So taken that when we all stood up to go, they said she should stay.

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They went every Friday. It was something he looked forward to at the end of a hard day at the end of a hard-earned week. Not something they had to discuss. Five o’clock would come. Flora would put on a nice dress—maybe the pale blue one that uncannily matched the color of her eyes—and he’d pop his gingham fedora off the rack, adjusting it to just the right tilt in the wood-framed mirror in their entrance hall. In the mirror, wearing that hat, he could see himself as he’d once been—an infantryman in the Korean War who viewed the Pusan

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