Magazine June 22, 2020, Issue

The Root of the Matter

A girl plays outside during the coronavirus outbreak, Brooklyn, N.Y., May 17, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

Minneapolis on the last day of May. It was a beautiful blue afternoon, and we were doing yard work. Daughter was cutting up dead branches; Wife was weeding and pruning. I was working on a particularly stubborn metaphor. 

The root system of a bush, to be exact. The bush had expired over the winter, and had not come back to join its brothers. (I realized I just gendered the bushes without checking their pronouns, and beg your indulgence in these unprecedented times.) When a tree dies, it just stands there, like a person who turns into a showroom mannequin. Eventually it

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