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ECHOES


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ECHOES

Spring 2011


Staff

Editors-in-Chief

Caroline Blehart & Kari Putterman

Layout Editor Kate Welsh

Assistant Layout Editor Lauren Harvey

Treasurer

Elizabeth Keene

Managing Editor Abigail Arnold

Head Copy Editor Elizabeth Keene

Copy Editors

Abigail Arnold Cecille de Laurentis Carly Silver Tara Sonin Angela Wang

Publicity Director Tara Sonin

Echoes is a literary magazine founded at Barnard College that publishes poetry, prose and artwork of the Columbia University community.

Sponsored by the Arts Initiative at Columbia University. This funding is made possible through a generous gift from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation.


Table of Contents Writing

Field by Anne Brink Camp by Tara Sonin Take a Number by Juan Lamata Mark Rudman by Katie McNeirney Ripen by Kate Welsh In the Basement of the New Yorker Hotel by Wayne Lee Meditations on a Plum by Anna Ziering Daddy’s Little Red Cocktail Number by Maggie Hutton Self-Reflection by Anne Brink Concrete Jungle by Marissa Tremblay Honey by Kate Welsh Flying Downstate by Natalie Korman

Art

Horseteeth by Eshaana Sheth Port Meadow, Oxford by Alex Brinkman-Young Untitled by Allyza Lustig Untitled by Barrie Sterling Untitled by Gabrielle Lewis Girl with Blur by Eshaana Sheth

Cover Art: Untitled by Gabrielle Lewis

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Field

by Anne Brink

It is early morning, and we walk through the field to find them, over the grass to find them. And looking under the branches, the bushes, the ground beginning to unthaw, exposing the path beneath our feet. We can see the sun rising above the trees as snow melts in springtime. I found one and it was frozen. The body frigid, dark, as if it had been lying there for a time. Time to pray, but not soon enough to save. I could feel the heart, as though still beating in my hand, bloodless now as I placed it on the woodpile beneath the tree. In springtime the wind is cold. I lay down shuddering, as though it were I and not him cracking apart, the frozen earth no match for the sun. Nothing can prevent an inevitable disintegration. The pile lay next to a hollowed-out apple. The flesh long gone and only the raw skin remaining, uneaten in the morning.

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Horseteeth

by Eshanna Sheth

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Camp

by Tara Sonin

We sit on the swing set and the irony doesn’t escape me that we are facing each other, but like a crescendo keep ascending in opposite directions. It reminds me of when you play the flute– As the notes always reach for something higher soon you’ll be on a plane where I can’t follow. I tell you I’m afraid of losing him that I want it to be over, but I am afraid of the loneliness with your silent wisdom, you hold my hand and we finally swing on the same beat back and forth, back and forth: familiar and unchanging. What I don’t say is that I’m afraid you’ll go away too because this place is my home where memories of monkey bread, rolling down the hill and smiling through our fingertips are suctioned tight like jam jar lids. because the moment we met, you breathed life into me and locked the door tight behind you. You smile and you say in softened tones that it will all be okay because I am strong. Friend, what you don’t know is that this place (and you) have made it so. Now I remember: our names are written in permanent marker on the wooden bunk beds of The Cottage so even when, a year from then, I am alone we are always together here. Up we went, towards our borrowed little scrap of time and you, in the costume shop piecing our love together with purple thread.

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Take a Number by Juan Lamata

The world called today it wants another long poem about the moon or some such tired but still astonishing thing. It asked specifically for a dozen allusions to Orpheus a healthy dose of melancholy and one line of despair. Regret’s in high demand these days and people are talking about ephemerality and the imitable nature of “day.” Really we’re swamped with orders for six-part quatrains on tropical steam, litanies on the effects of door jams on tachycardious hearts and dogs. One woman asked for ruminations another wanted plain verse in order of importance and by date of composition. So please be patient. We’ll get to your request once we’ve processed the backlog for explanations on the importance of grinding waves and hollowed bird bones, sun-smattered window light and the rumors of a settled and expanding happiness that lingers long after the night.

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Mark Rudman

by Katie McNeirney

Yesterday we met a man in the Sprint store and he said you know I didn’t decide to write hundreds of poems in the voice of my turtle it just happened and we said yes sir those things happen sometimes. He offered us lime popsicles and we ate them and they were fairly repulsive and he said I also didn’t decide to be addicted to these. I can eat sixteen of them in a day you know and we said yes sir those things happen sometimes too it seems. It used to be Raisinets he said. Once I got addicted to Junior Mints that’s disgusting he said. He wrote a message to our professor it was cryptic though we were unsure whether that was intentional or not. My friend said so you’re a poet and he said yes and I teach at NYU and she said what do you teach and he said poetry. He said you know a good friend of mine asked me what I like about the Midwest and I sat down and wrote a three hundred page poem about it. Then he said my friend who is quite cynical though I think he meant intuitive asked me what I didn’t like about the Midwest and I wrote another couple hundred pages on that. The New Yorker wrote me last week wanting to publish it which as it seems happens sometimes too.

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Untitled

by Alex Brinkman-Young

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Ripen

by Kate Welsh

Pretend you’ve been to Georgia. Low whistle and then Sweet tits, round ass— You lookin’ pretty, peaches. Snap of a peach pulled off its branch. Smack of a peach put in a bucket. Sigh of a peach placed in the bowl. Stonefruit Tart: Peaches, plums, nectarines. Sugar, butter, flour. Vanilla, sugar, butter, almonds. You’ll make it just to say stonefruit. Cut some up with a butter knife. Parentheses of peeled suede skin in the sink. Arrange the pits

Continued...

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In the Basement of the New Yorker Hotel by Wayne Lee

Her head is made of plaster. She pokes it through a tangle of broken mannequin parts, surveys the wreckage around her in the basement of the famous hotel—the art deco banquettes coated with dust, ottomans losing their stuffing to the rats. Her hair is chipped, one ear cracked, one eyebrow gone— a definition of beauty no longer in vogue. If she could rise, she would hover like a moon over this rubble, dangling by chains overhead.

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Meditations on a Plum by Anna Ziering

No matter how fleshed and purple, there is the bite of yellow bile at the back. The curve of her cheek dimpled under the plum-lit moon; his fingers playing on her face. The fruit of Eden must have been a plum; the flow of round wisdom and a sharp afterthought. Drugged juices like wine from oak-laced barrels wind between those fingers.

Untitled

by Allyza Lustig

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Daddy’s Little Red Cocktail Dress by Maggie Hutton

I glance up from my Lite-Brite when I hear Mommy screaming: “Fucking Cross-Dresser!” As I crane my neck to see into the entryway, she heaves an armful of Daddy’s dress-shirts over the banister. The shirts sink like rocks, hitting the tiled floor below with a muffled whoosh. Pursing my lips, I wonder if now’s the time to tell her I spilled cranberry juice on the Oriental rug. My eyes stray to the caramel-colored carpet in front of the fireplace. The purple stain stares back at me like a one-eyed monster. “Adison, please!” Daddy shouts, racing down the steps after his dressshirts. “Let me explain—” With his back to the den, he doesn’t see me—which is good because I’m supposed to be downstairs in the playroom, watching a movie while Mommy’s upstairs having a grown-up conversation with Daddy. If I’d known my Arthur tape was broken, then I’d have told her to pop Fantasia into the VCR instead. But the static fuzz only appeared on screen after she left, so I went upstairs to play with my Lite-Brite. “Explain?” Mommy screeches, disappearing from the upstairs landing as she races into the bedroom. “How can you explain?” I decide not to mention the stained carpet. It’s probably best if I let her find the stain herself. That way I can blame it on Brownie. I glance over at him where he lies sprawled across the good leather couch, his huge paddle-shaped ears hiding his eyes. She might even believe me if I blame the dumb dog. I wrinkle my nose, wondering. If she spots my lie—like she often does—then I’ll be sent to bed without dessert tonight. Actually, the night might end that way regardless because I’m not supposed to drink juice in the den. “You’re a Fucking Cross-Dresser!” she shrieks, reappearing with more of Daddy’s things. “Adison, please,” Daddy whines, wringing his hands together. Mommy screams like an animal, her words too garbled and pitchy for me to understand, but I’m pretty sure she says Fuck again. I sniffle, rubbing my shirtsleeve under my runny nose to pick up the excess snot. In our house Fuck is a forbidden word. It strikes me as awful peculiar that Mommy would say it so many times—and to Daddy of all people. I lay down on my belly and squirm across the carpet until I’m peeking into the entryway from behind the over-

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ECHOES stuffed armchair. “You wore my clothes!” Mommy dumps more of Daddy’s things over the railing. “Only sometimes!” Daddy cries up. “Mostly, I wore my own-.” “Oh!” Mommy screams. I recognize the frilly blue beading of the dress she’s shaking in her hand. “Like this?” With one final flourish, she tosses it over the railing. Then she disappears again. A pained expression crosses Daddy’s face as he dives onto the stairs after his dress. Closing his eyes, he clutches it to his chest. I know it’s his favorite because he told me so. Balancing on the toilet seat as he settled down at Mommy’s vanity, I’d asked him which dress he liked best. He’d been naked except for Mommy’s silk robe. (Daddy said I should never apply makeup while wearing a nice dress. I’d shrugged and explained how little interest I had in makeup or dresses because running around doing somersaults was about a bazillion times easier in pants.) That was the night I called him silly and hurt his feelings. But I wasn’t trying to, honest. I just didn’t understand why he changed into frills and heels every night Mommy stayed in Charlotte for work—even on nights when we spent the whole evening making grilled cheeses and watching Sailor Moon. He said wearing dresses helped him breathe, helped him exhale when he felt like he’d spent all day at the office holding his breath. “Or this?” Mommy screams as she emerges, arms stacked high with about a dozen more shiny dresses. Her hysteria feels familiar, reminding me of this morning when I told her about the red cocktail number Daddy wore Tuesday night. I only told her because she made me —because I wasn’t supposed to keep secrets from her. With her face so red and her extremities trembling, I thought she’d looked an awful lot like my Tickle-Me-Elmo, but I didn’t say so because I didn’t want her to yell anymore. “Why would Mrs. Crockett say she saw you with some strange woman at the Exxon?” she’d demanded. I hardly remembered seeing Mrs. Crockett, but Mommy assured me that I did—that I even said hello to her before slipping into the family Buick with some strange woman. Hearing her talk about Daddy like that made me laugh. Mommy didn’t understand why it was funny. She thought I was sassing her. Her eyes welled up so fast, I expected her to cry, and I figured it wouldn’t be so awful if I just shrugged and said: “I was with Daddy.”

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ECHOES Hiccupping, she’d asked about the woman; why would Mrs. Crockett say I was with a strange woman if I was with Daddy? With each reply, her face grew paler and paler until she was white enough to blend in with snow. Watching Daddy scramble to collect the dresses floating down from Mommy’s outstretched arms, I balance my chin on my fist. I start wishing that Mrs. Crockett hadn’t seen us —or that I hadn’t said hello to her, even though I don’t remember that part. All I remember is driving aimlessly through town with Daddy—him up front in his red cocktail number and me fidgeting restlessly in my Arthur pajamas in back. When Mommy’s out of town Daddy drives me around in the Buick to lull me to sleep. (He says it always works, but whenever I wake up I’m at home in my bed, so I can’t know for sure.) If driving doesn’t work, Daddy usually takes me to the car wash, saying this oughta do the trick. That night the MasterCard machine outside was broken. A wrinkled yellow sign told us the car wash was still open, if we were willing to go inside and pay cash. At first Daddy said no, which made me start yowling because the car wash is always my favorite part. When Daddy tried explaining how he couldn’t just waltz in there—some bearded lady in a red cocktail number— I suggested he send me instead. At first he’d been hesitant, but we reasoned he could watch me from the safety of a shadowed gas pump in case any strangers tried to steal me. “Look at you!” Mommy shrieks. “After all this time! You’re gay!” “I’m not gay!” Daddy sounds desperate as he scoops the dresses into his arms. I don’t know what gay means, but hearing Mommy say it makes me cringe. “Oh no?” Mommy screams, dumping the shoebox full of Daddy’s makeup over the railing. “It’s just women’s clothing!” Daddy shouts in anguish, shielding his head from the falling cosmetics. “Out!” Mommy wails, banging her fist on the railing. “Get out of this house!” “Adison!” His eyes grow wide as he backs up toward the door. “What about Arlene?” “Get Out!” Mommy yells like she didn’t hear him ask about me at all. Daddy hesitates, but when Mommy reaches down and starts undoing the clasp on her shoe, his face falls. As soon as the shoe’s off, Mommy chucks it

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Untitled

by Barrie Sterling

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ECHOES at him—which is the kind of thing that would get me in all kinds of trouble. As an adult, I guess, Mommy’s allowed. “Out!” “But my stuff—“ Daddy motions to his shirts, but his eyes linger on the disarray of cosmetics by the staircase. “Oh, but you have all your pretty dresses!” She gestures vehemently at the pile in his arms with her other shoe. “Out!” Swallowing hard, Daddy nods and mutters under his breath. He turns, struggling with the doorknob, his hands are so busy clutching the many glittering dresses. The latch finally releases, opening up a sliver of the outside world to the pandemonium in our foyer. He glances back, his mouth open like he’s got one last thing to say, but then Mommy flings her other shoe. By the time it hits the door, Daddy’s already disappeared behind it. Then Mommy collapses in a heap on the landing, her head buried in her hands. Hesitantly, I crawl into the foyer. Even though I want to run after Daddy, I stop at the bottom of the burgundy stairs to pick up an open tube of lipstick. The lipstick itself is unscathed, safe inside its hollow brass tube. Sitting cross-legged on the tiles, I wind up the lipstick as high as it can go. It’s his favorite, the one I deemed wild berry pink –after a crayon from the box of fifty Daddy bought me for my elementary school debut this fall. Frowning, I set it back down on the floor. For a long time I sit there, listening to Mommy whimper as I gaze down at the smudged magenta lipstick lying across the black and white tiles.

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Self-Reflection by Anne Brink

She was just another one, they said to suffocate in the wake of the waves. It was messy, they said like shiny fish scales being ripped apart in netting, the remaining pieces floating above. It hit me in a kaleidoscope of colors, she said knocked me down from the inside like stars explode when they die. Wiping the wind from beneath her shoes, she still couldn’t feel anything. She was cold and it wasn’t funny. When summer finally came, she said I woke up and stared at the painting, Georgia O’Keeffe’s cracked pelvis bones bleached bare and white in the desert sun. Daring to see my reflection, I realized I was ready to be reborn.

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Untitled

by Gabrielle Lewis

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Concrete Jungle by Marissa Tremblay

Sallow concrete catches on my knees, Their tight skin freckled from the persistent Texan sun. I pull myself up from the metropolis of boxes and crates and bags and furniture that entrap me. This enclosing place, its concrete walls and floors and skies, Its stench and layer of smothering that No matter how hard I scrub still coats every inch of my skin, Let’s abandon it. Let’s abandon it! Let’s slam the heavy door of this prison cell behind us, Skip the key into the thin brown waters of the drainage creek Over there, Get into your dusty hatchback and head north, Away from our constructed, normal existence, Away from what our folks have always wanted for us, Away from familiar, And let’s just be. Let’s be where the only people we have to see Are each other. Let’s drive so far north that we reach those frozen waters That only the enduring tundra dares to touch.. Allow the chill to freeze that suffocating layer solid, So that we can pick it off in small chips, Like mudcracks, So that we be as brave as the barren land. And then let’s head west, To that impossibly tall expanse of mountain Where we can feel small, insignificant, Part of something real again. Where we can breathe in air and pollen and fragrance Unadultered by the industrial junkyard we left long ago.

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Honey

by Kate Welsh

men squeeze the love in their beloveds -Pablo Neruda, “Ode to Spring” once you told me you like being drunk and not knowing whether you were speaking spanish or english just going up to girls letting charisma ooze from your tongue through your white white teeth letting it sink into the shallow bronze of their backs and down their throats in dark corners with people / pressed against you which makes you and her that much closer and still very far away her hair is a veil and when you ask her its color she shrugs but then you smell it again and decide miel—honey—which you call her for the rest of the night of plastic crowns and the sting of lime after tequila which goes down easier with a little bit of sugar from her not salt / and peppering her with fingerprints especially around her hips like you’re stirring her with a honeydipper and there you go / oozing again before you drop yourself and herself into a hostel bed with scratchy porcelain sheets stuck to her you are nothing if not sweet you golden boy you are nothing if not gold when you wake up in the morning with her back to you and the sun on the plaster quiet before you leave / sometimes men squeeze the love in their beloveds and all that is left are their beds.

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Girl with Blur

by Eshanna Sheth

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Flying Downstate by Natalie Korman

This is a strange place this great state of California where there are grinding masses driving their glinting cars with hot black tires so many crushed crashing in the shiny pale desert cities bay forest cities and then there are mountains and crevices and hills and shadows where there is no one but the brown earth no one no one at all And maybe it is mapped and charted and all accounted for sir and maybe no one breathes there in those hills but birds and lone geologists in their khaki shorts and khaki hats and their skin is khaki from the dirt but I thought as I flew from Oakland to Burbank today well if we were to crash it would be here that’s best I would prefer to die there in the warm prickly bosom of the mountains than the cold sea for even if I knew the secrets of the deep it would still be cold but these hills are soft and brown and lolling like a beached lover licked by waves like a movie star lover whispering things you will forget by sunset

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