Gilan Province
By Jenn Monroe

Did you know there is a rainforest in Iran along the coast of the Caspian Sea, lush
with humidity? Within it, the City of Silver Rains, Oriental Beech, Ironwood, Persian Silk
Trees. “Lichen-covered branches twisting together and only dead leaves in the deep shade
of the forest floor.” I did not know until yesterday, when, on the radio, an Iranian hiker
was asked about being an environmentalist. When he said the word “forest,” I had to stop
the car. This is not my father’s Iran, nor the one I learned about as a child. We sang
about the Shah “chewing on his underwear” on hayrides. When I was 10, I wrote a letter
to an American hostage, Bruce, and he when he was freed, he wrote back. It is pressed
into a scrapbook among fading newspaper photographs of my softball team. My mother
warned me against showing it to my uncle, a Vietnam vet. Not all homecomings are the same.

By Jenn Monroe

When an eight-year-old boy
and his eight-year-old best friend find
his father’s .22, loaded, in the bedroom,

and when that gun
goes off, as it must,
and kills the best friend,

and when I get
a call to find out
everything I can,

and when I am able to get names
because I know the mother
of the EMT who was on the scene

and when the next morning my answering machine
is lit up with messages filled with slurs
I would never repeat,

and when my complete focus
is now
on this story

and when some days later at the funeral
the mother who has lost her son invites
his grieving best friend to sit on her lap,

and when at the reception after I am embraced
by the family as the conflict between
employment and compassion is palpable

and when my editor
says congratulations
for seven front page stories,

that is the end of the world.

Jenn Monroe is founder/editor/executive producer of Extract(s): Daily Dose of Lit, and the author of the chapbook Something More Like Love (2012, Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in a number of print and online journals, most recently burntdistrict, Contemporary American Voices, and The Rusty Nail. She is a full-time faculty member at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, where she teaches undergraduate courses in creative writing.