AMINA CAIN

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The world is strange and heavy right now. We’ve been headed in that direction for a while, and now it feels upended. In the last year, one of the things that’s helped me most is ecstatic singing and chanting, because it cuts through my anxiety. Sometimes I go to Kirtan, which gets wild in the best way. In that moment of chanting with everyone else, I feel connected to them, and it seems possible we’ll be able to face everything together. Though for the moment, it seems we’ll have to face it alone.

It makes me think of that verse by Bertolt Brecht: “In the dark times / Will there also be singing? / Yes, there will be singing / About the dark times.”

And it takes me back twenty years ago to Chicago, when there were hootenannies with my good friends, Alex Branch and Luba Winship. They played guitar, and we all sang. Maybe I sometimes played the triangle or the tambourine—I don’t remember. We often sang the old Scottish folk song “The Water Is Wide,” which was one of our favorites. I have the sheet music for it still, which I have placed lovingly on a shelf above my desk. I think the handwriting on it is Luba’s. I’m shocked at how time moves, I suppose I always will be, but how warm and cheering those evenings were . . .


Amina Cain is the author of a novel, INDELICACY, and two collections of short fiction, CREATURE and I GO TO SOME HOLLOW. Her writing has appeared in GRANTA, BOMB, THE PARIS REVIEW DAILY, n+1, and other places. She lives in Los Angeles.