Cover Photo: The Dead and Other Unchosen Things by Andra Nicolescu

The Dead and Other Unchosen Things

We only used this table for special occasions, for Christmas and New Year’s and birthdays. And for the dead.

  that that there’s nothing to understand

  not even about the birds’

  innocent idiom.

 what about life?

what about death?

The night that father died, or maybe the night before, I dreamt Chagall painted grandfather’s death. Profusions of flowers and infinite shades blue and dancing violins and revolving moons and grinning roosters, churning in a magnificent constellation of paint. Even an angel, see! And grandpa and grandma, having taken flight on their wedding day, rising in flight, away. Above the village, beyond the chimneys, forsaking the earthly realms they loved so well. But I wasn’t in a village, unfortunately, though grandpa’s village was just like Chagall’s, of that I’m certain. The kind of place where you’re born a refugee with a displaced soul and implacable mind, unrequested life unrequited, carelessly misplacing between imagined borders.

Andra Nicolescu is a Romanian-American writer and human rights lawyer based in Geneva, Switzerland. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Glimmer Train, Catapult, Blunderbuss Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Andra is currently at work on her first novel, Midnight in Exile, and a hybrid intertextual family memoir centering on the literary lives and times of her Romanian grandmothers . You can find her at and on Twitter and Instagram @AndraOtilia.