Photo: Richard BH

Lilac Stitches

I met my future stepmother in a Leningrad subway when I was eight. Luda was a twenty-year-old transplant from a small Ukrainian town, painted with shiny scarlet lipstick and heavy eyeliner and hanging out with her best friend, prowling for adventure and male generosity. Instead of finding easy fun, she got hit on by a single father in a fake fur coat, thirty-five kopecks ... [Continue Reading]

Photo: Dr. DeNo

Walk It Down

I caught my first salmon off the seawall in Kotzebue, Alaska in the very early morning of August fourth. I used a snagging hook: a three-pronged weighted beast of tackle that bent my rod backward when I cast. I worried about those standing by and what a rogue hook this size could do, how it might catch something on land instead of in sea. Snagging is illegal in most ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Carrie Ann Images

The Morning After

Paper gown and stirrups, white walls and a tray of gleaming tools: he held the syringe over me and said, “It’s a special kind of anesthetic. We won’t be putting you completely under—you’ll still be lucid—but you won’t remember anything.” Then he slid it in. I stared out of the window at a little pond just beyond the parking lot: gray water against gray ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Laurel

From the Hearth in Périgord

When I first approach the five-hundred-year-old farm, I am not sure I’ve come to the right place. The address Danièle Mazet-Delpeuch had given me a month earlier when I called her for an interview was simply “La Borderie,” the name of her French home and cooking school sewn into the fringes of a diminutive village in the rolling hills of the Dordogne, a region of ... [Continue Reading]


Fire Ants

  In those first months living in El Salvador, had I walked down a village street and seen young men leaning against gaping doorframes, their eyes steady upon me, I would have read the wrong story. Then, I could barely speak, let alone interpret what signs I might have seen: a flash of black ink on skin; aerosol piss scrawled across cinder block walls. I might have ... [Continue Reading]


Writers Respond to Typhoon Haiyan

On ordinary days, this is a magazine of creative nonfiction, inspired by travel, written by women--by which we mean that Vela publishes writing that endeavors to express what is real in a manner that is both curious and connection-seeking, and we do so in the spirit of solidarity. And when but in the wake of faraway disaster does such work matter most? As everyone knows, ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by ecstaticist

The 99

“Her dad’s a playwright, her mom’s a painter,” my daughter said, referring to a friend whom I hadn’t yet met. “But everyone in Vancouver’s an artist. Even the bums are artists.” “Then how do you tell the difference?” My daughter liked when I asked theoretical questions, and I liked to encourage her critical thinking. She turned her nose to the ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Graham Reznick


It was a ritual Biko and I had performed thousands of times over the last five years, so I had no reason to think that December evening would be any different. We had just returned home from a walk when he nudged my knee with his long snout and flopped to the floor, legs akimbo, his white, furry belly turned to the ceiling. Scratch my tummy, please. Since I had first met ... [Continue Reading]

Luz-Profunda-Photographs-Miriam-Sanchez-Varela (11)

Deep Light

Deep Light is a photo essay showing a fragment of the life of the blind in an oneiric space: water, origin of life, representation of the infinite. Here, the blind submerge themselves and strengthen their senses; here their supposed lack disappears, and they are free. Encountering this part of their world revealed several dimensions I identified with emotionally. I ... [Continue Reading]

Photo by Massimo Margagnoni

On Being Unalone

Photo by Massimo Margagnoni For twenty-five days I live in a northern house. I have the place to myself. I am out in a nowhere. The house is thirty kilometers from the nearest town; outside is a valley, and around the valley, long, narrow mountains. Beyond my window, down in the fields, is a herd of Icelandic ponies. I see their small shapes moving in the low and angled ... [Continue Reading]