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Copyrights remain with the artists and authors. The responsibility for the content in this publication remains with the artists and authors. The content does not reflect the opinions of the Arts and Humanities Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Council (AHSC) or the University Studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Council (USC). The AHSC and USC assume no liability for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions contained in this publication. Cover Art by: Sofia Berger
AN ARTS AND HUMANITIES STUDENTS’ COUNCIL PUBLICATION
Symposium Odyssey VOLUME 6
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Copyrights remain with the artists and authors. The responsibility for the content in this publication remains with the artists and authors. The content does not reflect the opinions of the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council (AHSC) or the University Students’ Council (USC). The AHSC and USC assume no liability for any errors, inaccuracies, or omissions contained in this publication.
LET TER FROM THE EDITOR In one of my favourite passages from Milton’s Paradise Lost, Satan looks up and out into Chaos to see “a dark/Illimitable Ocean without bound, / Without dimension, where length, breadth, & highth, / And time and place are lost” (II.891-894). This is perhaps the best way I can attempt to describe the moment of sublimity, of silence and of awe, that one encounters before embarking on a life-altering quest, path, or journey. Time and place become abstractions in spaces of infinite possibility. Thoughts become actions become new worlds. We wander out into the unknown; Odysseus sets sail. Journeys can be physical or spiritual, tangible or imaginary, spatial or temporal. We journey when we venture into the realm of literature, of poetry, or of music. We begin a unique voyage every time we enter into art’s space. When we read, we are decreated only to be created again. We are taken out of ourselves and return to the symbolic world anew. We are made to feel like Bernard at the end of (one of my most favourite, treasured novels) Virginia Woolf ’s The Waves: “So now, taking upon me the mystery of things, I could go like a spy without leaving this place, without stirring from my chair… The birds sing in chorus; the house is whitened; the sleeper stretches; gradually all is astir. Light floods the room and drives shadow beyond shadow to where they hang in folds inscrutable. What does this central shadow hold? Something? Nothing? I do not know…” As you sift through this publication, and as you take in all of the vibrant life and creativity embedded in these words by our talented writers, I urge you to become an explorer in unfamiliar waters. Let these poems, stories, and visual works carry you out to sea. May you return with utmost light and wildness. Camille Intson Publications Editor-in-Chief
W HAT W E ’ R E A B O U T Symposium is made of a collection of short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry that are original, inventive, well-written, and allow for a variety of personal interpretations. Symposium accepts creative work from any Arts and Humanities undergraduate student within the University of Western Ontario.
Symposium is published bi-annually by the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council of the University of Western Ontario. Semicolon is generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Student Donation Fund. The Publications Team would like to thank the Donation Fund Committee, the students who submitted their creative works, and the rest of the Publications Committee who volunteered for the creative review board. To view previous editions or for more information about Symposium, please contact the Arts and Humanities Students’ Council in Room 2135 in University College. SPECIAL THANKS TO THE PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE: Editor-in-Chief VP Communications Academic Managing Editor Creative Managing Editor Copy Editor Layout Editor
Camille Intson Alicia Johnson Roshana Ghaedi Aislyn Higgins James Gagnon Megan Levine
Table of Contents 1 Inherited Hands (Suite of Hands) by Emily Hayward 3 HAPPY by Shelby Hohmann 5 just ancient history by Monica Sharma 6 My First Love by Danielle Jan Pineda 6 Just Another Day by Chehalis Newbound 7 The Pumpkin Patch by Alexis Nicole 9 Trepidation by Chehalis Newbound 10 Dead Hands (Suite of Hands) by Emily Hayward 11 Happy Birthday by Megan Whitehouse 13 Nomad by Chehalis Newbound
14 To Pangaea by Jerika Caduhada 15 The Education of a Chinese-American-Torontonian by QingXiao Cui 19 oops I’m drunk and there’s a diva cup in the toilet by Jennifer Hillhouse 21 Games by Megan Whitehouse 23 Sometimes There’s Coffee by James Gagnon 25 Biological Hands (Suite of Hands) by Emily Hayward 26 the backyard by Alexis Nicole 27 Long Point by Alexis Nicole 28 From an Anniversary Speech, or In Memoriam by James Gagnon 30 Home is a familiar soul on a distant land by Zaenab Ojoawo
Inherited Hands (Suite of Hands) Emily Hayward My mother’s hands look like her mother’s hands. And my hands my hands look more like my mother’s hands with every birthday. My mother she hates her hands more with every birthday. They are the same as her mother’s hands. Weathered. Withering. Wrinkled. They have cracks, creases. Skin sags between sore joints. My hands they begin to look like my mother’s hands, her mother’s hands. The hands my mother hates. Strong. Sturdy. Safe hands.
Always Spinning Rebecca McLaren
HAPPY Shelby Hohmann The uniformity of the dull, grey sidewalk entrances me, Almost enchants me. Resolute in its singularity, remaining firm under my feet. With each step, the sidewalk remains, And will remain, for I don’t know how long. Longer than I will, I’m quite certain of that. Some force unknown pulls me from the unassuming sidewalk’s grip: A sweater that isn’t where it should be. It’s tiny, but seemingly full of life, with colours so vibrant they leave a sweet taste in your mouth and the word “HAPPY” plastered on the front. It’s a little girl’s sweater, of course. Little girls are always supposed to be HAPPY. I consider my own childhood as I stare at the sweater. Coloured by innocence, warmth, and that inexplicable childhood joy, Almost all my memories are fond. I’m sure the little girl who used to own this sweater has a life That is not unlike how mine used to be. Deriving pleasure from simplicities, And wearing sweaters that say HAPPY while being just that. But what happens to little girls when they get older? Do they shed their HAPPY sweaters and youthful vigour like an old skin? I know I did. Perhaps not as suddenly as this sweater appears to have been left, but sudden enough. Little girls are always too adamant in their desire to grow up; I know I was. The sweater is splayed out, Discarded so carelessly, it’s as if the little girl who used to wear it knew that being HAPPY in actuality is not as simple as wearing a colourful sweater. I hope the little girl who used to own this sweater
Never understands unHAPPYness as well as I do. I stare at the sweater for a moment longer, wistful. Then, I force my eyes back to the sidewalk and continue on my way, leaving the sweater behind me.
Ground Up Rebecca McLaren 4
just ancient history Monica Sharma i have scrubbed my skin raw, trying desperately to claw out the dirt that insisted it was race to drown myself out, to paint myself white i have altered my accent, making it prim and proper to pertain to the prevailing population violently rejected my language, shunning the harsh sounds and foreign notes cutting out my mother tongue piece by piece assimilating myself into what they call British culture yearning desperately to be part of the hegemony, not the minority they claim the British empire was over a long time ago and yet the traces it has left continue to haunt.
My First Love Danielle Jan Pineda Now I know How a parched flower feels Once it gets that long awaited rush of water And as I surrender myself to the current Of that satiating ocean I think to myself, I knew before that humans were capable of love But I did not know how much And now here you are Making me test the limits
Just Another Day Chehalis Newbound 1979, Cleveland. 2018, Norfolk. March into the barrelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye. Bang. Squeals down the line. Mondays are pig days. Surgical stench of singed hair. Toss your blue coveralls into the white bin. Careful, the floor is slippery. I just stand by the washers but my hands still come away red.
The Pumpkin Patch Alexis Nicole I didn’t want to go to the pumpkin patch. Getting dirt on my Vans and standing in a field while Maisie took forever to find the perfect pumpkin? No fucking thanks. Maisie was the one who liked carving them, so why did it matter that I went? Mom just spouted some drivel about “fall family bonding” and shoved me out the door. The trees bordering the farm outside town erupted in a glow that reminded me of the lit end of Dad’s cigarettes. I breathed in a cloud of apple cider and cinnamon wafting over from the farm shop until the wind made me bury my face in my scarf. “Can you please try to look like you’re enjoying yourself?” “What? I’m here, aren’t I?” Mom’s eyebrows raised, pinching her forehead into two distinct lines. I knew she wanted to say more, but she wouldn’t in front of Maisie, who was skipping along the pumpkins singing “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
“Aidan, can you help me carry this?”
Maisie was struggling to pick up a pumpkin bigger than her head. I shuffled over, stumbling slightly on the uneven ground and heaved the pumpkin into my arms. I managed to grab a handful of dirt in the process and a gust of wind blew it into my face. Sputtering, I tripped backwards, losing grip on the pumpkin which dropped and split open, spilling its guts on the ground.
“Fucking hell,” I muttered. “Sorry, Maisie.”
I side-stepped the mess, trying not to get any on my shoes.
“It’s okay,” she said, barely above a whisper, staring down at the carnage.
“Apologize to your sister!” Mom said, one hand on Maisie’s shoulder.
“I said sorry. Can we just go?” ***
I never minded picking pumpkins when we used to with Dad. We had hot cider on the way home, and Maisie always made him play Halloween tunes in the car, but it was years since we’d done that. The week after Maisie’s sixth birthday, Mom told us about the divorce. She was standing at the sink, twisting a tea towel through her hands like if she didn’t have anything to hold onto she might punch something. “He’s going away,” she said, avoiding our eyes. Like “going way” meant a business trip and not that he had dropped out of AA and lost his job. I’d taken Maisie out to ice cream that night so we couldn’t hear the argument that ripped through the whole neighbourhood. He was gone the next morning.
“You’ll carve one with me, won’t you?”
Maisie stood by the broken pumpkin, her smile wide like a jack-o-lantern. I hesitated before nodding and mirroring her smile. We started trekking back to Mom who was talking to an employee, gesturing widely to the mess I made.
“Do you think Dad still comes to pick pumpkins?” Maisie asked. I wrapped my arm around her in a half-hug and pulled her close. “I hope so,” I said.
Trepidation Chehalis Newbound
Jugular Rebecca McLaren
The difference between a vacation and a trip is a certain level of resignation. Jumping from the high diving board because the line for the other one is too long and your friends all came to watch you jump.
Dead Hands (Suite of Hands) Emily Hayward Polished, pale, purified hands. Folded on a still chest wearing a best suit. No rings not even the one with diamonds. No bracelets, no watch to keep time; those need to be kept safe like the memories. Only memory remembers those hands before. These are not the same hands. Pumped with chemicals. Unmoving, unhealed. Knuckles wrinkled, pale, polished, skin covers hands attached to wrists that were once her hands. No more.
Happy Birthday Megan Whitehouse I don’t like my birthday, I just don’t. Mum would ask me every year what I wanted to do for the occasion and every year I had to disappoint her with the same apathetic response that I didn’t really want to do anything. On my 14th birthday, the 26th of September, 1987, I stumbled into the kitchen to find Mum cooking up scrambled eggs on toast; she knew it was my favourite. She ruffled my hair and tried to kiss my forehead before laying the plate down in front of me. The eggs were from our chickens on the farm and they tasted so much creamier than the ones you can buy in a supermarket, they just melted in your mouth. Around mid-morning, Dad came into the kitchen with Sam, my brother. He was 16 and stood about a foot taller than me. Dad was wearing his khaki hunting gear and Sam had his hunting cap on, my stomach dropped. Sam’s 14th birthday was the first time Dad took him out shooting; I guessed it was my turn now. Ten minutes later there we were, Dad, Sam and me all in the Jeep heading towards the moor. The tires churned through the hardened soil with ease but with every bump my knotted stomach bounced and fell in my body. The car was built to handle the land but I wasn’t. Once Dad found a good spot to park, we all hopped out and the gun landed in my arms. I didn’t like the way it felt, big and unwieldy. It dwarfed me. Eventually Dad spotted some pheasant trails, so we peeled off in pursuit of the little footprints until we came across the birds just a few metres away from where we stood. Dad hushed us, then crouched down slowly before beckoning me to come forward. He had taught me how to use the gun before. We had been practicing with cans for years, so I knew what I needed to do. Every weekend Dad would have Sam and I see how many cans we could knock off the fence by the barn with our oversized rifles. Sam always hit the most. I could barely hit one. I looked at the pheasant walking obliviously through the grass and then at Dad whose eyes were focused on the bird with eager excitement. My breath quickened and my heartbeat pulsed in my ears. Shooting cans was fun but shooting the bird made me feel uneasy. 11
I reassured myself that I had nothing to worry about. I couldn’t even hit a can, what were the chances I could hit a moving bird? I closed my eyes, held my breath and took my shot. I heard Sam cheer and felt Dad’s arms embrace me. “Well done son! On your first shot as well” he bellowed. Dad patted me on the back and for the first time I felt like he was proud of me; but it didn’t make up for the knot that my intestines were tying themselves into as I carried the carcass of the pheasant back to the car. Mum cooked the bird for dinner that night and as she laid the magnificent feast on the table in front of me I couldn’t bring myself to look it. Dad carved the bird and laid three slices of meat on my plate. I picked at the vegetables but did not touch the meat until Dad asked me why I was being so fussy with my food. I wasn’t ready for the argument just then so I ate my meat quietly and made myself sick that night after dinner. My throat burned and my mouth tasted foul as I climbed into bed that night and tried to relax. I saw the pheasant trying to fly; its snapped wings were desperately trying to lift its body off the ground. I heard its screech as the bullet sliced through its feathers. I tried to run to it but my legs failed to propel me forward. I couldn’t move. I woke in a cold sweat.
I don’t like my birthday.
Nomad Chehalis Newbound Laundry basket closet Backpack buckled up Brown disposable napkins sop Cupholder coffee spill. Little donkey and two horses in the field past The tiny condemned school A single gas stationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s overinflated prices. Play playlist. Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle. Train tracks test suspension before a Right turn onto the road Plagued by semi trucks driving the speed limit. Brown spotted cow, brown Spotted horse, brown spotted Pony munching on some hay. Half-mile reek of septic-tank piss After the cheese shop advertisement The perfectly groomed quarter-mile track Always reliably empty.
To Pangaea: Jerika Caduhada How did it feel when the water broke you apart? Did you try to draw your countries back in, like a mother and her world-curious teens, one foot out the door at 18 When the oceans cleaved you open, did you weepâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; or did you fear the tears would run rivers down your skin, carve more borders with currents that corrode the softest parts of you Does it hurt to be stretched across the earth, on the seas that split you? Do you resent the ancestors that shattered but remade themselves whole in ways you no longer can? Pangaea, where has your centre gone? Do you remember what it was like to be whole, to trace yourself, one side to the other, without it being a game of connect the dots? Do you allow yourself to forget?
The Education of a Chinese-American-Torontonian QingXiao Cui One morning during my second year of high school, a group of young men showed up to my house without warning, disassembled my desk, and carried it off while I stood in the corner watching, barefoot and still in pajamas. Give that back, I wanted to say; it’s mine. I had been living here in Chesterfield, Virginia for over eight years—legally—and suddenly, work and visa complications were twisting my life into something unrecognizable. How was I supposed to focus on academics, or anything, when my home was literally coming apart? Do homework on my computer sitting on the carpeted floor as our furniture disappeared piece by piece? Survive the long car rides during which I sat all the way in the back, breathed and breathed, and hoped nobody would crack and finally start yelling? Sleep on twice-folded sheets on the floor of my aunt’s internetless condo? Toronto was a “great city,” though, just like my history teacher back home in Virginia had told me upon finding out about my impending move. My parents and I spent the first few weeks buying furniture, figuring out our new phone plans, and exploring the mall and public square right across from the block where we lived, marveling at their dynamic people and architecture. We weren’t the only Chinese people in the neighborhood anymore—finally. Eventually, I was forcibly introduced to my new (actually about 86-year-old) city high school—the very one an alumna had warned me about. Going to a new country is never easy. Transferring schools in the middle of the term is never easy. Homesickness is never easy. But it was more than that. In the cramped hallways, traffic was constantly blocked by the oblivious crowds of students and the heavy doors (whose idea was it, I wondered, to install all of these doors?), and the air smelled like sweat in the summer months because the AC always “broke” at that time of year—I was suffocated by the simultaneous hugeness and closed-ness of it all. What was wrong with these people? Didn’t they care more about their students’ health than their budget? Didn’t they know I used to be an honors student? Why was I learning math from middle school and somehow doing worse than I used to? Why hadn’t the entire student body led a revolt yet? Why didn’t a single person—at least through my jade-coloured, bitter, homesick vision—care about a single thing that mattered to me? I resolved to do internet research, or something, and figure out how to take charge of my life. Surely, Google had the solution: distance studies? Homeschooling? I was already in tenth grade—too late. I asked around at private schools in the city, only for my teachers to inform me universities looked down on them as “credit mills.”
Fine, then. I would wait until college. But I couldn’t make myself care anymore. My twelfth-grade biology teacher caught me finishing my homework at the beginning of class and reminded me I was going to university next year. I barely stopped myself asking her: How do you know I am? Wasn’t I, though? My life was never my own, I began to realize; I was trapped into paths mapped by someone else. Government; family; common societal practice: that stretch of road from Virginia to Toronto; systematically feigning happiness for someone else’s sake; a steady march from kindergarten to post-secondary broken up by three moves, immigration policy, and a twisted, desperate desire to get as far away from it all as possible. At that point in my life, I told anyone who would listen: I wanted to pack a suitcase and travel the world and learn all the languages, personally seek out the wisest people. The most rigorous schools. The most out-there life. The best version of everything that I could never have where I was. Yet… I’m grateful for where I was. Had I been allowed the stability of a deeply, fully American education, I would have remained ignorant of anything that wasn’t American. The white American suburbia of Chesterfield had a fantastic education system in terms of organization and academics, maybe, but from where I am now, it all seems a bit one-sided, simplified— because it was, well, Americanized. Past me was in love with a country I didn’t understand; current me is in love with a world I’m growing to understand. Accepting my past ignorance was just the beginning. When college—or, “as we say in Canada,” university—application season finally rolled up, I was still one angry teenager. When my teachers reminded me how expensive tuition was for American schools, how Canada had some great universities, too, I ignored them. I clicked through the Common Application for Ivy League schools until my fingers were numb. I still wanted out of this “great city,” this place that was so convinced of its superiority to the United States, even though I knew I’d encounter that kind of arrogance in an American university, too, especially at an Ivy League college. Hadn’t I lived through elitism on a smaller scale already, not to mention come this close to buying into it for life? I had grown up enveloped by U.S. American self-surety and believed in it for years, after all. Toronto still fills me with so much wonder, but we here are also far from perfect. At the time, my thought process was: there was nowhere to run to, but at least I’d be making a conscious choice to break away, even if my polymath-world-traveller dream wasn’t feasible just yet. And now, here I am, a sophomore—or, as is said in Canada, second-year—student at Western University, rejected by every U.S. school but one (non-Ivy League, of course)—thank God. 16
Thank God the United States rejected me in just about every possible way while I clung to it blindly: as a resident, as an immigrant, as a student. There’s still so much to see and do. Canada alone is huge. The world is gigantic. My birthplace of Beijing is so distant and alien to me after seventeen years of only being familiar with North America, and it took me six years of studying German to finally go to the country, but that’s two more places that aren’t the United States. That might be only four countries, but it’s a beginning. I’m just beginning. I still miss that fancy three-piece desk of mine—it was very pretty. And out of all seven schools I’ve attended, my second high school is still my least favorite (and will therefore remain unnamed). Still. Maybe I’m clawing my way out of this pre-worn rut, no matter how slowly. Maybe I’ll still learn all of the languages, seek out the rest of the world where I’ll be for life, breathe in all of its simultaneous finity and hugeness.
October Bus Rides Shelby Hohmann 18
oops I’m drunk and there’s a diva cup in the toilet Jennifer Hillhouse fumbling fumbling these feeble fingers ten made bogged with drink and hurried consciousness I’ve only ten one minute but they’ve failed to meet the challenge I’ve proffered and now pinnacle twenty first century engineering floats buoyed by my porcelain piss calling the taxi’s motor pricks my body’s appetite for motion complacent chimera I’ve become bolstered by what I fail to understand I find more humanity in the toaster now than the soft calls of my flesh Newton materialized in my jests at domesticity am I now the fabled creator and understander because I coerced the Bose to fervent buzzing? “actually it’s a banger” I hear unworthy of their place among modernity my swollen fingers persist – reluctant to know their inability 19
stop for god’s sake there’s a party going on and you’re really screwing this up you ten idiots why are you attached to me forsaken lushes perform dirty dives at last the paragon grail in hand and once again my grateful submergence
Let me Go Hafsah Jasat 20
Games Megan Whitehouse The first time I saw my Mum cry I was five years old. “It’s just something silly. Don’t worry darling,” she said, pulling me to her chest. Her tears trickled down onto my forehead but I didn’t mind. We used to play games, Mum and I. She loved games. Sometimes we would run really fast up the stairs to get away from the aliens and Mum would lock the door to my room, and we’d both hide under my bed because if the aliens couldn’t see us, they couldn’t get us. That was what she said. I liked that one. Sometimes she’d tell me to jump in my closet while she went and scared away the monster that was trying to eat us. I had to close my eyes and put my fingers in my ears. She’d tell me to count to 100 in my head and by then she’d be back to come and get me. I didn’t always understand why we played these games, but Mum always told me that we’d won afterwards. The monsters or aliens or whatever was trying to get us were gone, and everything was all right again. After the game was over, she’d kiss the top of my head. I always liked that part. I liked when she came back. I used to tell my friends at school about the aliens and how we fought them, and they could hardly believe me. I told everyone about how brave my mum was. Even my teacher, Mrs. Williams, seemed surprised. There was one evening when Mum had heard the monster getting angry in the kitchen. She whisked me upstairs and told me to stay in my room.
‘Don’t make a sound sweetheart’ she whispered.
After she went downstairs, I could hear shouting and things being thrown around. I heard Mum scream as the monster hurt her, and for the first time, I felt scared. My legs trembled, and I felt my heart beating loudly in my chest. I didn’t enjoy the game anymore. I wanted to help, but Mum had told me to stay. After a moment, I couldn’t hear anything anymore, just silence. A little while later, Mum came up the stairs. Her face was red and puffy. As I watched the tears fall from her eyes down her face I felt as if my heart might burst. I kissed her cheek gently and wrapped my arms around her neck. I 21
asked her if the monster was gone.
‘Yes darling, he is gone for now, don’t you worry’ she said.
When I was at school a little while later, I told my friends how the monster had hurt Mum pretty badly that night but that she was okay. She was brave, my Mum. That day Mrs. Williams asked if she could speak to me during lunchtime. She told me I wasn’t in trouble; she just wanted to ask me about Mum and all the games we played. So I told her, I told her all about the monsters, and how Mum fought them off to keep me safe. I told her how last time the monster was too strong and he had hurt her. The next day, when I was working on my jigsaw with Dad, the men in uniforms came to our house. We had been working on the jigsaw every day for two weeks. It was supposed to be a farm. The men said that they needed to speak to Dad. I didn’t understand what had happened. When they put the handcuffs around his wrists, I started to cry. I ran to Dad and clung to his legs, digging my fingernails into his brown corduroy trousers, clutching at his body in the desperate hope that if I used all of my strength they might let him go. I screamed at the men. I told them to leave him alone through the tears that were falling down my hot cheeks. Mum pulled me away. I tried to escape from her arms. I wanted to run to Dad, to save him from the men. But I couldn’t free myself from her grasp. Dad turned around, as they were about to put him in the car. I could see that he was crying too. I never thought I’d see Dad cry.
Sometimes There’s Coffee James Gagnon The salt stains on your jeans The car ride peppered with questions You can go to a time Where the seasons were just seasoned– Sadness may permeate But sometimes there’s coffee Chapped smiles Bruised fist Sore thighs Grey skies– Sadness may permeate But sometimes there is coffee The frost that nips your ears The warmth before the rain Water filling your nose Something more than pillows Dried your tears– Sadness may permeate But sometimes there’s coffee To your first accident The final day of class The last promise you kept “Please, sign my cast?”– Sadness may permeate But sometimes there’s coffee
The taste of regret The odour of sorrow The sound of a grin The touch of your lips On mine. Sadness may permeate,
Reuse Me Rebecca McLaren
Biological Hands (Suite of Hands) Emily Hayward Blue veins push blood to joints. Creases puncture white epithelial tissue as it sags around bones. Nails tetured and brittle, but glossy with varnish. Shaped with precision. Apply Polysporin and Solarcaine to bloodied scrapes on knees. Rub backs hunched over toilets with heaving stomachs, as afternoon cartoons play in the next room. Dragon tales, dragon scales, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s almost time for Dragon Tales. Hands that make hot chocolate after snowman building, treats on birthdays. That clap during nursery rhymes. Robin in the rain, what a saucy fellow. Robin in the rain, mind your spots of yellow. Hands that work miracles more miracles than any god could ever work. That any one could ever clone.
the backyard Alexis Nicole the grass was long too long creeping along the rotting fence where the bushes harboured mosquitoes at the maple tree my fingers grazed the grooves of our initials hacked into the bark as leaves swirled trailing a hint of your apple shampoo maybe tomorrow Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll cut the grass.
FRUITY Diyana Noory 26
Long Point Alexis Nicole The long grasses on the sand dunes of Long Point Provincial Park become a symphony during the frequent thunderstorms. As the high winds rise up over Lake Erie, the grasses weave back and forth beneath the birch trees, like a conductor cutting his baton through the air. My mom used to sit in those long grasses. Not during thunderstorms, but when the wind would wield the sand as a weapon if you went down to the beach. She was protected up in the dunes. Protected from the wind and the sand, maybe, but not from what lurked among the grass. Long Point is one of the oldest campsites in Ontario, and also the most infested with Lyme disease infected ticks. The ticks come to Long Point as hitch-hikers, attached to the bodies of migrating birds to the large marshy swamp that encompasses most of the area. Lyme ticks are usually deer ticks, smaller than the head of a pin. They latch onto your clothing, your hair, your skin, and like to burrow in dark crevices. Make sure to check behind your ears and knees. When I was eight, Mom noticed the bullseye rash on the inside of her left wrist. She assumed it was an old burn from working around the campfire for the past few weeks, and promptly forgot about it. Until she started feeling fatigued, like she had the flu—in July. I remember seeing the rickety sign near the entrance to the park whenever we started our yearly camping trip. It declared in faded yellow letters a warning about the ticks, as if that’s all you needed for protection. Mom never saw the tick that infected her, but that didn’t stop the infection from invading her body. It’s a spirochete infection that has spiralled bacteria, coiled and ready to spring, which can easily pass your blood-brain barrier and affect your nervous system. Mom used to play soccer every day and now, over ten years later, she can barely walk around the block. Sometimes I imagine other families camping at Long Point, mesmerized by the mysterious long grasses, the rising and falling sand dunes. I wish they would take the well-traveled path to the beach, instead of the shortcut through the trees, like we used to. I wish they could see the invaders, ready to spring from the grass.
From an Anniversary Speech, or In Memoriam James Gagnon 1. I long to see you again. 2. I still remember the first day we met. 3. It has been six years, and I am reminded every day of the love you have given to this family, the love you have given me. 4. We see your contribution to your family in our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and it is a reminder that we will forever share our lives with you. Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa. 5. Always the type of guy to scrub the bathrooms clean before his fiancée came over. 6. I was blessed with a husband who I love so much that it hurt. 7. Remember when? 8. I would like to thank everyone who showed up today. I’m sorry for being so nervous, I’ve never done one of these before. 9. I did something so out of the ordinary the other day, I bought us flowers. One for you, and one for me. I feel like they made today a little more special, a little more beautiful. A symbolic gesture of how I will love you forever. 10. They always say that the first year would be the hardest. If you can make it through that then you can make it through anything.
FRUITY Diyana Noory
Home is a familiar soul on a distant land Zaenab Ojoawo There is an inherent kindness in the way Her eyes are soft, this is a person who knows loss. There is a confidence in the unwavering gaze I wish I had, this is a person who knows strength There is a bashful almost shy laugh that escapes as an answer to my smile, this is a person who knows love who receives love who returns the love they receive.
There is a recognition here, it says I see you, I know you, Your heart and mine have danced before. You are safe here. I feel your sadness, I know your hurt, I taste your anger, and I accept them all. Come as you are. You are already everything.
This is a quiet courage to not look away. These are pools of acceptance, this is a Welcome home, your journey has been long. This is a You can put down your heavy here, it is time to rest. These eyes are a reminder that foreign is not fear, that new is safe, that different is sacred Magic at work here. A kind one, A soft one, An almost forgotten surviving one. There is comfort here in the tears that almost spilled.
I see my own welcome; I see the reply. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s good to be home. Thank you for being soft, Do not ever let this world take away your tender. You are the home to your life, You have remained kind even as you burned. This blue is not the ocean drowning us, But the bright brilliant breaking sky of We are still here.