The Passport

“The document is elegant. No one can dispute that. The deep navy blue of its slightly pebbled cover, the understated gilt imprint of the royal arms of Canada, which somehow looks faded even when new — the passport is a classic. Its cover may be harder, more durable, the pages inside more decorated than when I was a boy, but, in the hand, its familiarity is heavy, anchoring. A passport is a little book printed for a single situation, the condition of being between countries. To hold it is to be going from home to elsewhere or from elsewhere to home. Over time, the booklet assumes the association of distance and belonging, of leaving and returning. This year that association, often subtle, like a half-remembered smell from childhood, clarified itself in the atmosphere of trauma that overtook the world. This was the year when we remembered what it means to hold a Canadian passport.”

Stephen Marche – Literary Review of Canada – July 2020


The Snowman

“In the darkness the engines sputtered and the boat shuddered and then there was only the lapping of the waves. The refugees on board, crammed to the brim, knew that many had died on that stretch of the ocean between the Colombian coast and the Darién Gap. The smugglers inspected the engines, made phone calls, shrugged. They shared no language with their cargo. In the silence the refugees began to pray, the Muslims, the Christians, the Nepalese, lifting their voices in a jumble of aspirations, when from under the surface of the waters a beast with an enormous back – some kind of whale or snake? – brushed against the side of the boat. The refugees let out one countryless scream.”

Stephen Marche – Tortoise – August 2019

That Time We Beat the Americans

Stephen Marche – The Walrus – March 2012