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Spring 2009

Spring 2009

Echoes Staff

Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Loizzo Co-Editor-in-Chief Kari Putterman Assistant Editor Julia Phillips Layout Editor Caroline Blehart Art Director Hazel Balaban Assistant Treasurer Daliya Poulose Assistant Art Directors Madeline Smith Shay Cornelius

Co-Editor-in-Chief & Publicity Director Leslie Ribovich Treasurer Sumaiya Khalique Head Copy-Editor Elizabeth Keene Webmaster Chenoe Hart Copy Editors Emily Kan Aviva Erlich Morgan Davies

Acknowledgements Special thanks to the English Department, to Professor Timea Szell for her continued help and encouragement, to Lucy Coolidge and Liz Glynn for their assistance, and to all the professors who support our publication.

Table of Contents

Poetry and Prose On Cherry Pie Amanda MacLellan ................................................ 7 The Third Movement Jessica Lowry ............................................ 8 23 lines Gizem Ozcelik ....................................................................... 19 Fortune Fading Kati Fitzgerald .......................................................20 To Icarus Elizabeth Yalkut ................................................................ 21 The Transit Museum Daryl Seitchik ............................................ 22 Things that Hide Caroline Blehart ................................................24 Timekeeper Amy Saul-Zerby ...........................................................25 Your Name Sharon Guan ..................................................................26 Withering Julia Phillips ..................................................................... 28 Rustam Elizabeth Yalkut .................................................................... 39 Hands Emily Handsman ..................................................................... 40 Maretta’s Life Jacket Patricia Hickerson ................................... 42 Girl Amy Saul-Zerby ............................................................................ 44 Maps Elana Seplow .............................................................................. 45

Artwork Suhaylah Dania Ahmed .................................................................... 13 Untitled Embry Owen ....................................................................... 23 Mongolian Rider Joyce Ng ............................................................ 27 Eiffel Tower Morgan Davies ........................................................... 31 Woman in White Asiya Khaki ....................................................... 38 Industrial Graces Nomi Ellison ..................................................... 41

Cover Art Light by Asiya Khaki

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On Cherry Pie Amanda MacLellan ’09 “But I haven’t written anything in almost two years!” she shouted. She held a forkful of cherry pie in her trembling fingers. “That’s a lovely sentence,” he said. “Write it down.”


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echoes The Third Movement Jessica Lowry ’09 The ice had been thin for weeks. “Do you want me to put that away for you?” Oliver asked, motioning towards the freshly washed chopping board beside the sink. Isabelle said nothing but continued to wipe the plate with a gingham tea towel, her eyes fixed on the evening sky outside the window as it transitioned from thin ice blue, to purple with a heart of gold. Without looking down, Isabelle turned on the taps at the sink and placed the salad bowls in to soak. The bubbles were rising above the steel lip of the basin and dampening her peach sleeves—the fabric around Isabelle’s wrists turning blood orange. Pieces of lettuce sat on the surface of the dishwater, their upturned green and purple edges forming little boats on a frothy, turbulent sea. Oliver reached for the chopping board, his arm brushing against the hip of his wife’s lavender skirt. “Don’t,” hissed Isabelle as she turned off the water with a twist of her wrist, her loose watch-chain swinging round, catching some bubbles and propelling them into the air. “Just—leave—it.” The countertop was full of the long-stemmed wine glasses Isabelle’s mother had given them last summer for their fifth wedding anniversary—the traces of red wine in each glass giving off a plum shadow under the white light of the kitchen. The dinner plates had only just been cleared from the table and sat in an ivory tower with bits of chicken and the occasional grain of brown rice sticking out from the ridges and sliding down onto the grey granite beneath. Oliver looked at the back of Isabelle’s neck as she stood at the sink. That good skin. “Come on, you two slow pokes,” came Stephen’s voice from the dining room, “or do we have to make our own pudding?” Isabelle lifted a tray of six glass bowls of treacle sponge out of the fridge and wiped her eyes with the backs of her soapy hands as she passed the platter to Oliver, “take those through…” “Issy…we can tell them to go…” Oliver said, watching as the bubbles dripped like melting gloves from Isabelle’s down-turned hands.


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echoes “I’ll go out and tell them you’re not feeling well.” “Here they are,” Isabelle sang out in a high, loud voice, throwing open the door for Oliver and beaming out at the guests, shaking the rest of the suds off her hands. “Sorry everyone…Oliver was trying to slip something stronger than treacle into Stephen’s pud.” “Cheeky!” said Susana, adjusting the clips in her hair and pursing her lips into a raspberry, “Just because it’s your birthday, Oliver… doesn’t mean you have to get everyone legless!” “It’s all right by me,” said Stephen, giving Oliver an exaggerated wink and moving the salt and pepper out of the way for his bowl. The puddings were passed around the table and Isabelle produced a pot of coffee, a kettle of tea, a jug of cream, a box of ginger biscuits, a tin of sugared cherries, a bowl of raisins and a saucepan of creamy custard that was still steaming a light, lemon vapour. Oliver shifted his freshly unwrapped gifts of a wristwatch (from Mark and Susana) and a bottle of Scotch (compliments of Stephen and Harriet) in order to make room for the fare. “Oh Isabelle,” Harriet said, watching a thin thread of golden treacle fall slowly from her uplifted spoon. “This looks absolutely delish.” “…anyway, we were just asking each other, why you were there,” said Stephen, sponge falling from his mouth and onto his tie which had a school of finely stitched silver carp across its green silk, “I mean, do you usually walk around the lake? I thought you were more Headly Heath people than anything.” “I don’t think we should…” Mark, Isabelle’s brother, had paused with a handful of raisins over his desert, throwing a quick glance at Oliver from under his spectacles, “maybe now’s not the right…” “Come on,” said Stephen, though his mouth was full of treacle so it sounded more like Comfh owyn. He swallowed, “It’s like in banks. You can never say ‘money.’ Or in funeral parlors, no one says ‘dead.’ Bloody annoying. Our best friends were in the papers two weeks ago, and we know about as much as much as everyone else…it doesn’t seem fair, is all,” he finished, eyeing the custard with a sausage-like


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echoes protruding lower lip and adding another dollop to his plate where it steamed, clouding up his descending spoon. “Excellent nosh,” said Susana, leaning over the table and putting her hand on Isabelle’s, “don’t listen to him, you don’t have to talk about it anymore if you don’t want to.” Isabelle had been playing with her pudding, moving it from one side of the bowl to another and didn’t look up when Susana was finished speaking, but only continued building small mountains of sponge and knocking them down with her spoon. Bed rest, the doctor had told Oliver two weeks ago, Bed rest and she’ll be fine. Shock is all this is. Back to her old self in a jiffy. Terrible shock is all. As a result of these instructions, Isabelle, for the last two weeks, had become little more than a tuft of hair at one end of the duvet, and curled toes at the other. The hot cups of tea Oliver left in the mornings were still on her nightstand in the evening, developing a thin, cloudy film. At night, when he could no longer sleep, Oliver found her pale face in the vanilla folds of their sheets, Isabelle’s breath moving stands of her hair gently up and down and up and down, the upturned point of her chin crowned with moonlight from the window. He would watch her face until the light on her chin changed from blue to yellow as the sun rose over the rooftops. One night, Oliver had put out a hand and touched Isabelle’s cheek only because he was beginning to forget that feeling of her skin, like the outside of the peach, under his fingers. A worried look crept over her face and her eyelids had contracted—like in her dreams, she couldn’t remember him. Like Oliver was bothering her. Bed rest, however, had ended this morning when Isabelle had appeared in her slippers, standing at the sink with a crease between her un-plucked brows after remembering the invitations that had been sent out before the ice had been thin and insisting to her husband that they, Shouldn’t cancel. It’s your birthday. What’s your birthday without a party? Though now, now Oliver was beginning to wish he had rung round and said that his wife was still under the weather, telling the guests not to come.


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echoes “So why didn’t you take the dog?” “Stephen!” Harriet hit her husband on the hand with her sticky spoon, leaving some of his hairs glistening and standing on end, “Stephen, it’s obvious she doesn’t want to…” “Leave it, Steve,” said Oliver, removing his glasses and setting them on the table, looking at the part in Isabelle’s hair as her face threatened to become completely parallel with the table in her efforts to avoid his eyes. “What about Cheltam last week, eh?” Mark said, though not taking his eyes off his sister except to throw another anxious glace at Oliver and leaning over to lift up Isabelle’s chin with a single finger, “Never thought he’d get that goal in on time…” “The ice,” Isabelle said in response to Mark’s touch in a voice only a little stronger than a whisper and with her eyes directed upwards at the light fixture, “they said on the news that the ice had been thin for weeks—we didn’t want to chance it. With the dog.” The table went quiet. Oliver looked at his desert, watching the raisins sink into the golden syrup and hover, suspended in little amber bubbles. “Let’s not bring Inky,” Oliver had said, closing the front door behind him, checking to make sure it was locked and throwing Isabelle the keys. “I read something about ice this morning and he’s half-blind as it is… I don’t even know if he can actually swim…to be honest.” Isabelle nodded and wound her green scarf around her neck, fastening the silver catches on the front of her navy duffle and opening the driver’s door, “Tea and toast before walking?” she said, rubbing some ice on the windscreen with her glove, “I could do with a little breakfast myself.” They stopped at a white, clean place—a café a short distance out of town. Oliver watched the light brown, red and gold of Isabelle’s hair as she read the newspaper. The brown coffee. The brown bread. The orange marmalade and blackberry jam—all against a white tablecloth and white plates and knives and spoons. The quiet of all the sleepy people on a Saturday morning sitting at their tables with just


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echoes the chinking and clattering of spoons and cups and saucers and some hushed voices rising and falling. Isabelle’s voice, now and then, rising and falling. Her buttery fingers handing Oliver pages of newspaper as she poured more milk into coffee where it swirled for a moment, and then disappeared. Holding the mug with one hand, Isabelle scratched her neck where the scarf had been before.

That good skin.

“What do you want to do for your birthday,” she was saying between crunches of toast, “I’ve invited the usual set for dinner since it’ll be a week night, but if you maybe want to go the theatre on Saturday, I can see about…” She kept going but Oliver was watching the red marks on her neck as they faded to rose and then back to cream leaving only one blue vein on the left side of her neck for colour. He always felt slow next to Isabelle. Not. Quick. Enough. But he loved it. Loved listening to her talk about her students and hated telling her about his days at the Bank—worrying that a dull story would lodge in her mind, somehow blocking her quick laughter. “We should go,” Isabelle said, digging into her pocket for change, “I want to get home before Mum calls—I missed her last week and I wouldn’t put it past her to drive down this afternoon if she has to leave another message and I don’t have enough celery to make her that awful soup she likes. Oliver? Are you listening, Oliver?” she said, touching his arm, “Are you ready to go?” Are you ready to go? Stephen had asked him after the concert six years ago, standing on the corner of Housworth Square. Oh hang on a tick, Stephen muttered, looking into the crowd that was gathering, There’s Mark Forrester, Mark! Stephen had introduced Mark by clapping his old school friend on the back, causing the latter’s glasses to fall off. Have you met my sister? Mark had said, leaning behind him to a larger group and tapping a girl on her shoulder, This is Isabelle, he said, the girl turning her eyes, the colour of the undersides of two mint leaves, onto the men. Pleasure, she said, extending a pale hand into the warm night air.


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Suhaylah Dania Ahmed ’ 09


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echoes Did you enjoy the concert? asked Stephen, rocking back on his heels and brandishing the program. I thought the cello was lovely, Isabelle said, adjusting the silver clasp on the pink coral around her neck, but I thought it was too loud during the third…what’s it called? Movement. The third movement. It’s meant to get louder, Oliver had said, though he said it so quickly and without thinking, that it sounded more like it’smeantogetlouder. He flushed furiously. It’s meant to get louder, he tried again, pulling at his collar and looking down. It’s meant to get louder as it moves toward the end. He was sure his face looked something like a bright, candied apple. Really? Isabelle had said leaning down to catch his eye, I thought the third movement was when the instruments were meant to fade out? Her face smelled like vanilla, honey and new daises—all the things bees loved. It’s really not fair, Miss, Oliver said, without raising his face, to argue with me when you’re wearing a dress as pretty as that. The sun was just starting to break through above the lake when Oliver parked the car—Isabelle was now on the topic of the menu for his birthday dinner. The boats were scattered and frozen in the lake at odd angles like cockroaches, surprised on the kitchen floor the second after the light comes on. The reeds were still standing, their green, knife-like tips showing through the ice. Pennies of red and yellow leaves sat frozen to the ground making a carpet of frozen jewels beneath the frosted tree branches that reached outwards, like a lady’s fingers gloved in lace. “We should have brought the dog,” Isabelle said, looking out over the pond, “the ice doesn’t look thin.” “You never know,” Oliver said, watching his breath move outwards—hanging in the air before it folded in on itself and was gone.

“Look at that lad.” “Where?” “There. On the boat.”


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echoes Oliver squinted out over the ice. A green bobble hat was moving amongst the frozen boats, slipping and slipping and climbing on the holes, an abandoned bicycle sitting next to the shore. “Kids.” Oliver muttered, turning back to Isabelle who was tying up her hair and laughing, “I might need another hot drink after…” When he thought about it later, Oliver couldn’t remember if he heard a crack. There was a splash, and then silence—like solo hasty applause before the end of a scene that cuts off in an embarrassed pause when others don’t join in. The splash, and then silence made Oliver turn from Isabelle and look over the surface of the lake where the tops of the reeds shuddered though there was no breeze. Oliver thought he had imagined the noise and was about to look back towards the shore when he saw the black water, moving like chocolate sauce on ice cream and then, more quickly—spilled ink across a sheet of paper. Isabelle grabbed the sleeve of Oliver’s coat, her half-up hair falling around her face and her eyes growing wider so that her upper lashes now touched the tops of her eyelids. “Where’s the boy?” They both stared over the silent scene. Suddenly, arms. Like the beating black wings of a crow against a marzipan-white October sky, the boy’s arms rose up from the ice for a second, and then sank beneath with a second splash. Despite his instructions to her to “stay on the land,” Oliver found himself next to Isabelle as he skidded towards the hole, grabbing the hulls of the boats for support and brushing past the reeds that sent up small puffs of frost as he stepped on them. “Don’t stand,” Oliver called out to his wife as he got down on his stomach, searching the surface of the glittering black hole for any signs of life, “spread your weight out.” They lay in silence and Oliver had the sudden urge to laugh in his panic. Turning to the side, he looked at Isabelle, her eyes focused and narrowed on the hole, like she was reading a book in a different language and didn’t want to be disturbed. A pink hand—a strawberry coloured star—reached to the surface of the water. Fingers grabbing, stretching, curling around the sunlight. Oliver reached out, but Isabelle got there first, her hand closing around the smaller palm. “I’ve got you,” she said, though they could see no face, “don’t be afraid. I’m


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echoes here.” However, the moment Isabelle grabbed the hand, her body began to slide, the weight on the other end of her arm pulling her forward. “You’re slipping… Isabelle…you’re slipping!” Oliver put his arms around her waist, pulling her back.

The pink fingers were still clinging to hers.

“Pull me!” she said, “I can’t…I can’t get hold of his arm without letting go.” But there was no stopping Isabelle’s slow movement towards the water that lapped against the side of the hole, splashing up and stinging Oliver’s face like the flecks of a cold, blunt knife. As the boy sunk, Isabelle’s arm descended into the water. She turned her face to the side, “Oliver! Pull harder.” Her cheek was flat on the ice. That good skin. That good skin on the white ice. Isabelle’s good skin descending into darkness. “Isabelle…” Oliver said quietly and then, more loudly as her elbow slid into the water, “Isabelle. You have to let go.”


“Let go, Isabelle,” Oliver said, his voice low and urgent, like he was telling her to remove a burning hot cross bun from the toaster. Oliver was no longer pulling Isabelle’s shoulders back, but had placed both arms around her forearm and was shaking it, trying to rid the hand that was holding Isabelle of its grasp. “Isabelle—let—go.”

“He’s still squeezing my fingers…Oliver…stop it! I can pull him!” “No. You. Can’t. You’ll go in as well!”

“Wait,” was all she said but Oliver reached forward and grabbed her arm, pulling it upwards with all his strength. Her blue fingers, still curled, gripped an absent hand and pointed towards the sky. There was a bubble. Then silence. The ice underneath them thumped as something heavy rolled through the hidden water. The raisin dish was empty and the cream for the coffee had been passed around twice. Outside, the sky was completely black. The


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echoes trees shivered and the squirrels turned over in their sleep. “And then the boy let go,” finished Oliver, sitting back in his chair, “The boy let go of Isabelle’s hand of his own accord. There was nothing more we could have done.” “You tried. You did the best you could,” said Stephen, putting his spoon back into the empty bowl. “Jesus Christ.” Harriet was wiping her eyes with a napkin and reached across the table for Isabelle’s hand, ”You’re so brave. I’d have been a gibbering wreck.” “Yeah, well... I’d have started shrieking,” Susana muttered, swirling the last of her wine around her glass. “Totally useless—at least you two did something. The papers should have given you more praise. ‘Couple tried to rescue boy.’ Please. Someone should tell them the whole story! Isabelle, the lamb, holding on until the boy let go of her fingers. You’re a hero, love.” “There’s no way you should feel responsible,” muttered Mark. “The ice had been thin all week, we all knew that. Blame the boy’s parents, eh? Where the hell were they?” “Well, I couldn’t have done it,” said Harriet. “Would you really have gone in, Isabelle? If the boy hadn’t let go of your hand?” Isabelle looked up, her hair hanging limply from her temples. “He was only a kid.” “Nine?” “Ten. He went to the comprehensive down the road. His mother told me he was good at art.” “Stop it,” said Oliver quickly, knocking over his sherry. The rusty red moved across the lace of his tablemat—jumping from stitch to stitch. “Stop it, Isabelle. We’ve told the story now. Let’s just leave it. ” “Let it go, you mean,” Isabelle said, rising and collecting the dishes that shook in her hands, “you want me to let it go, Oliver?” “What about some seconds?” said Mark hastily, looking from his sister to her husband, “Any chance of some more, Bella?” Oliver listened as their guests made their way down the driveway, the opening and shutting the car doors and their callings of


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echoes goodnight to each other over the sputtering of engines. He could hear Isabelle in the kitchen, wrapping Clingfilm around the leftover chicken. “Thanks for the party,” he called, leaning his head against the front door and closing his eyes. “It’s your birthday,” she said. “Wouldn’t be your birthday without a party.” She had turned on the sink again and the sound of running water drowned out her last sentence. “Sorry?” Oliver called, turning from the door, “I didn’t catch your last.” He pushed open the kitchen door and saw Isabelle hunched on top of the counter with her shoes discarded on the floor, placing her stockinged feet in the sink where the water was rising over the edge and trickling onto the floor. Tears were making dark tracks in the apricot powder she had applied to her cheeks before the guests arrived, dark streaks running down her face. Slowly, without looking at Oliver, Isabelle lowered her whole self into the sink, curling up her knees and crossing her arms over her chest, the lavender skirt billowing upwards like a sail as the water ran over the side of the counter. “Go away,” she said, turning her face to the window and putting her arms over her head. And then added, though muffled, “Please.” The water continued to move across the countertop picking up flour, rouge sultanas, toothpicks and hair. It fell to the floor where it gathered dust and moved, like a thick cloud, towards the toes of Oliver’s shoes. Together, though separated by the water, they wept for the life they had lost.


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echoes 23 lines Gizem Ozcelik ’10

I am going to write a book about us I used to say, one day, the insides of us spread over hundreds of pages, into thousands of words. I didn’t want chapters no, just pages and pages. You warned me that if I wrote you away into words, I would never forget the way you drank your coffee or how you used to pucker your lips while you slept. You knew how jealous I was— you dared me to share you with the rest of the world. But now all I can promise you is a poem. I am a poet after all, don’t you remember? I’ve done this before. You only get a poem when you are no longer the one I read them to.


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echoes Fortune Fading Kati Fitzgerald ’11 I write to you in love letters sent as cargo down the Merrimac, Connecticut and Hudson to arrive at your 9th floor door wet, ragged and faded— A fortune from a girl of eighteen who tells you with the utmost conviction— The search is over. You’ve nowhere left to wander.


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echoes To Icarus Elizabeth Yalkut ’11

It must have been like this, flying. The reckless effort just to begin, the inarticulate fear of the gods mocking even that, the spiky pleasure ratcheting up your spine when you got lucky. And then the panic as your body began to come apart, heat coiling low in your back and belly and spreading, light fluttering behind your eyelids and underneath your fingernails— and then the moment when you shattered, when your feathers began to drift away, and wax slid off your skin like sweat while you gasped for breath in the wind as sharp as the bones in your wrists. Yes. It must have been like this.


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echoes The Transit Museum Daryl Seitchik ’12

On the bus back from the city I saw a broad lady reined by overcoat pause in the studded crowd. Ten minutes later I remember her, how the storm washed the sepia sidewalk, how all the pedestrians stopped before the finished painting: this street was not dark or any one color but a stained glass wreck of angles and men. I saw the truest mess soak through that street. And now I press my brow to my water-veiled window as this vehicle sighs into Short Hills. Out there, even the remotest puddle holds its pose. The unfeeling foot hesitates over its own reflection, then stumbles back into the black and white photograph of this drenched town, so false under glass.


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Untitled Embry Owen ’ 12


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Things That Hide In the style of Sei Shonagon Caroline Blehart ’12 The chipmunks under the back porch. The partners to socks found in the dryer. The nervous child behind the mother’s leg. The sun during the rain. Smiles behind fans. The earthworm beneath the rock. The flower behind the leaf. Women behind their modesty. The meanings behind the words. The artist behind the work.


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echoes Timekeeper Amy Saul-Zerby ’09

I have danced with madness and the fish of hope swims through my veins

There’s a silver clock

tracing copper

in my wrist now

origins onto

and an ache in

skeletal piecemeal

the joints


but I just keep



and altogether

and rewinding


Springing forward,

I have stuck

falling back.

my foot through

Looking forward,

the window

and falling

and thumped


violet curses into the palms of my hands then kissed you with my fingers


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echoes Your Name Sharon Guan ’12 You called me to leave my people. To a country that broke my heart You led me. I listened, But in place of words, The people here gibbered And gabbered away. Their tongue was not my tongue. I spoke with my gestures Because my voice I left behind. A net of noises entangled me In this land. Your voice blended with theirs, Became nonsense to me. I wept. But You left me notes in people’s smiles, In unexpected friends, In their embraces. Slowly, I imitated their gibbering And gabbering, Chewing on each syllable Until I savored the meaning That dripped from nonsensical sounds. Years passed. The syllables I swallowed Became words. My words. How they delighted me! With them, I called this land my home.


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echoes The sounds caressed my lips And told me something again and again. Every sound I heard And now understood Whispered Your name.

Mongolian Rider Joyce Ng ’ 1 1


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echoes Withering Julia Phillips ’10 They’re lying next to each other on the wine-bottle green sheets of his bed. His door is shut, the full-length mirror hanging on it darkened and still. She can hear his suitemates’ friendly shouts, their feet pounding in the hall and briefly shaking the air. Her eyes are open, and Andrew is looking at her. “Did you play video games as a kid?” Katie asks. Her thin voice surprises the room. “Sure,” he says. “I’m a boy.” “I’m not,” she reminds him, and he says, “I noticed,” but she hurries past his words—“Well, I’m not and I still played them. Did you like ‘Resident Evil’?” “Of course.” “Terrifying,” she says. “What a game. And ‘Earthworm Jim’?” “Oh,” he says. “Never played it. But I remember. He was a scientist, right?” “A spaceman. Space-worm.” Stupid, she tells them both, silently. He hasn’t moved his eyes from her face and it’s very frustrating and makes her say inane things. Katie lowers her eyelids, looking down at the long stretches of their bodies turned toward each other and the impassable stretch of green cotton between them. “Did you love that one or something?” he asks. “Not really. Not especially.” She and her sister used to play it with their cousins. Andrew’s body is a slab of muscle and bone balanced as delicately as possible on the bed but still pulling all the mattress in toward him. She has to lean away slightly so she doesn’t tip. From out under the haze of her eyelashes she can see the breadth of his chest and upper arm, the waistband of his dark blue boxers and his narrower, far-away knees. She thinks of rolling onto him. She can’t help it, look, she thinks of the bend in the mattress and this is where it gets her, the hardness and warmth of his body underneath that longsleeved shirt and now she feels all the blood in her whole circulatory system rushing into her face. Katie’s blushing and sure her cheeks are swollen and Andrew’s still watching her, she can feel the extra, strange


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echoes heat of him doing it. “You like my sneakers?” “What?” she says, and he wiggles his distant feet at her. The edge of the bed flickers with motion. “I see you checking them out. Don’t think I haven’t noticed.” “Oh, yeah,” she says. “Looking good,” please let this flush go away, don’t let him say anything. He wiggles his feet for a few seconds more then laughs privately and lets them rest. She wishes she were drunk. On the walk across South Campus she called Jessica, who didn’t answer so she called twice more until she finally picked up shushing. “I’m at the public library,” Jess said hoarsely, “can I call you back?” “No,” Katie said. “Why are you there?” “My internet’s not hooked up at the apartment yet. Hold on.” Katie listened to her sister rustle papers together, apologize to someone unheard, switch the phone clumsily from one ear to the other. Listening to the brush of her sister’s distant hair on the receiver, Katie wondered if it was hot enough to melt pavement there, if Jess was blond from the sun yet, if all the cars were painted yellow and red. The cell phone buzzed as Katie looked out across the dusky lawn, past the evening-time Frisbee players and the Italian students’ house on the hill. “I’m here, I’m here,” Jess said. “How is it that you still don’t have internet?” “What is there to say, they just haven’t put it in yet. The cable guy keeps stopping by while I’m at work. What’s up?” “I’m going to his room now,” she said. “Oh!” Jess said, “Andrew?” and Katie exhaled, and her sister corrected herself: “Of course. Well! What are you going to do?” “I don’t know. You tell me, what am I going to do?” “What do you want to do?” At that Katie actually laughed, no more quick expressive


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echoes breaths, she laughed out loud. “I don’t know. How should I know.” The air was balmy tonight, full of mid-March promises: soon enough there’d be sandals, lawn chairs, flower beds. She’d spent three and a half years in Pennsylvania, enough time to know that March thaws meant April Fool’s Day blizzards, so she was wearing a sweater and had tucked a knit cap in her purse just in case. Jessica was on the other side of countless rivers and two mountain ranges, standing in the middle of a desert in front of the Albuquerque public library. She was probably wearing a tank top. She had her patient voice on and Katie couldn’t stand one more week of listening to these same gentle, prodding questions when what she wanted was a clearly drawn map of this boy’s mouth and tongue. The sun had just finally set and the air was pink, thinning, its color slipping over the leaves and dark trunks of trees. Katie tucked her free arm close against her stomach. “Listen,” Jess said. “It’ll be fine. Just tell me everything he said to you.” Andrew told her once that he played hockey in high school. His body is still a defensive one, a dented sheet of iron, something unmovable. She tries to picture him before college, or younger even by a few months before they met in Orgo junior year, but it’s impossible. He just doesn’t look like a child. He is lying next to her expecting something adult and she doesn’t know exactly what that is. Her hands are tucked under her chin like some tiny animal sleeping against her skin. She’s comforted by her own body, using her hands to steady herself against the force of his skin and his smell beside her, weighing herself down in the rich sea of green sheets. She just stopped biting her nails last spring semester and she finds herself testing the sharpness and length of them against her palms all the time; she tightens her fingers into fists now and feels them solid and sure. He’s still looking at her. He has curly hair. Would she ever be attracted to someone with curly hair? He called her this morning from the supermarket to ask her favorite kind of beer. “Why,” she said, cagily, and he paused then said, “You said we would hang out tonight, I wanted to make sure I had what you liked.”


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Eiffel Tower Morgan Davies ’ 1 2


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echoes “Okay.” She’d been doing her homework when he called and as she listened to him she wound her pencil through the fingers of her right hand, twisting it up and down in the air. “Or wine?” “I don’t know,” she said. “Don’t get me anything.” “You don’t want anything?” “It’s weird, no,” she said, and then they said their goodbyes. She called Jess and woke her up to recap, and immediately afterwards texted Andrew: six-pack bud light please. The “please” had been Jess’ suggestion. One dark, half-empty bottle stood at the edge of his desk now. She’d been too nervous to finish it while he watched her. “Do you have pets?” she asks. “A dog.” She hates it that he waits a second every time after she speaks, as if listening to the room ring with her words like the echoes in a cave. She’s not going to say anything else. And that he answers so casually, pretending that lying here in the dark at quarter to nine on a Friday night and talking about his pet is perfectly normal. Both of these traits are extremely hateable. “What’s his name?” she tries. “Frank,” he says. “But it’s my mother’s dog, really. They hang out all the time now that my brothers and I’ve moved out.” He laughs and she does too, and it’s as awkward as she expected to laugh together without moving a fraction of an inch, but they manage it somehow. Katie flexes her fingers against her neck in triumph. “You’ll get there,” her sister said. “You’ll sit down on the bed if you’re bold or in his desk chair if you’re not but eventually one of you will come up with some excuses to both move to the bed, like you’ll watch a movie lying down or maybe you’ll say you’re tired but not quite tired enough to leave or maybe he’ll say something idiotic like he’d love a back massage and do you give good ones. So you’ll sit there talking and talking about everything you haven’t had the chance to talk about before, from classes and teachers you’ve had together to dining hall food to Thanksgivings when you were growing up to the scenes in your recurring nightmares, and this is exactly the time you


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echoes ought to be listening to him but you won’t be cause you’ll be too busy watching his body and willing him to scoot closer to you and it’s going to take up all your concentration.”

“You make it sound like animals.”

“Well, that’s what we are,” Jess said. “Or what I am. Maybe you’re too good for all this stuff but come on, Katie, don’t you want him at least a little bit?” She shrugged and her sister waited in New Mexico for an answer. When none came, she said, “Should I stop, then?”

“No,” Katie said, “you can keep going.”

In January of sixth grade she was sick with the stomach flu for four days: one long weekend spent eating dry toast and Mott’s applesauce, lying in her parents’ bed reading Roald Dahl, starting her homework at the dining room table then saying, “Oh, I can’t,” to her mother, holding her narrow stomach, being sent upstairs to rest. Jess was in her freshman year of high school then and spent her weekend afternoons trying to curl her hair in the first-floor bathroom and evenings somewhere else, leaving behind the plasticky smell of cosmetics and the sharp one of burnt hair. Katie laid like a snail in the middle of the hall and felt the cool hardwood press back against her body. The next Thursday she, mostly recovered, went to David Hinckley’s house and discovered that her friends had passed without her from roller-skating and make-believe to spin the bottle. This second game, seemingly, required a steady circle, one that would not waver to make room for her. The places had been carefully considered and could not be disrupted for her horsey knees or cracked, awkward hands. That week, she called her father to pick her up early. By the next, the cement of their ritual had set and her place was on the couch, watching that fat-bellied Fanta bottle spin, studying the rough plaster on the basement walls, memorizing the backs and bent faces of the participants in that circle so that she can still recite them today. Amy, Alex, Maddie, Zoe, Adam, Becca, David, Gabe. Katie perched above them and sucked on her cheeks as the bottle spun, or gasped and laughed when it came to rest. That was the only way she was asked to play.


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echoes “Are you comfortable?” Andrew asks. She nods, her face pressed against the pillow. He shifts, barely. “My arm’s asleep,” he explains as he slides it out from under his side and lays it, massive, masculine, on the sheet between them. She lies there in silence. His room smells like deodorant and hops. His bookshelf is spare, the books tilted and narrow. She thinks to ask him what his favorite is, and tries to come up with her own answer if he asks her which he probably will if they start talking about it. He lifts his hand and puts it on her cheek. At the eighth-grade graduation dance Mark Cohen asked her to slow dance. She was wearing a blue flowered dress and a pair of her mother’s modest heels; he was in a black dress shirt and red tie. They’d spent the year in Honors Algebra together on facing sides of one small table. They were about the same height. He lay his hands high on her waist, his elbows at right angles, and made his shoulders stiff with muscle. An Eve 6 song played. She still can feel the bunched wires of his tilted neck, the fuzz there stiffer and darker than she’d expected. The lights flashing in primary colors, the hiss from the stereo system. He drew his fingers in across her dress and she stepped closer, their cool cheeks brushed together, and then the song ended. A teacher’s voice came over the loudspeaker. Mark kissed her on the cheek. His lips, dry, warm, rough on her skin, rested there only a moment, but they are on her still, hot in memory, the closest that a boy’s mouth has ever been to her. Until tonight. Maybe. “So you’ll waste all this time saying things, and it’ll get later and you’ll panic a little because you had to go to the gym or walk your dog or something else important early tomorrow morning,” Jess said. A car beeped in the background and she said, “Sorry. Can you hear me? And he’ll get nervous, too, about the time and maybe one of you will mention it but instead of using it as a reason to leave it’ll be an excuse to get closer. He’ll touch your back and you’ll touch his chest and somehow the lights will be off by then. Maybe they were never on. You’ll kiss. From there things will be easier.”

“Huh,” said Katie. Her stomach felt upset.

Jess apologized again. “I know it’s awfully drawn out but I promise you when you’re there it’s exciting.”


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“Is that what your first kiss was like?”

She laughed. “Uh, no, that was in a matinee showing of The Mummy Returns. But this is pretty much par for the course: substitute in a couch for the bed, or his band’s latest CD playing in the background, but the awkward dance remains.”


“It is,” Jess said. “I like it.” Then— “Not that I’m hooking up with tons of kids every weekend, so don’t go telling Mom anything like that.” This was a rushed addition, an unconvincing one, and Katie didn’t respond to it. She rolled her eyes at the campus at large and switched her phone to the other hand. Andrew’s hand is as big as a baseball mitt and as warm, but he is gentle, stroking her cheek with his thumb, touching the corner of her mouth. Katie watches him and he’s looking at his own fingers on her face. His forehead is smooth and unworried. Her skin is very hot, uncomfortably so, burning, tingling underneath. He doesn’t say anything. (Let him not say anything.) His broad thumb draws delicate circles across her lips. She feels sick. Her eyes are open. Her heart is beating like a wounded bird under her hands, her fingers are tight and damp pressed against her neck. He slides his hand to her chin and holds it lightly, doesn’t say anything. The room is warm from their bodies and the hall outside is quiet; she doesn’t know what time it is; his suitemates left long ago, slamming the outer door behind them. On his sheets both of them are quiet and waiting.

He goes to kiss her. She turns her face. He stops.

“It’ll be fine,” Jessica said, a little bored already. Katie was standing at the door to his dormitory, rubbing the wool of her sweater’s arm, listening for last instructions. “Just relax. Okay? Are you relaxed?”

“I’m scared shitless,” Katie said.

Jess laughed. “Well, then.” To her sister fright is taking a cab


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echoes home alone from the club, a too-light hair dye, a razor blade accidentally snapping free in the tub. She’d called Katie three months after moving to Albuquerque and said, petulantly, “You know I haven’t gotten laid in sixteen weeks?” Katie had been writing a paper at the time on Islamic philosophy. It had been a short, thorny conversation.

What did she know about terror?

“I’m sorry,” Katie says. “I’m so, so sorry.” He’d taken his hand back. “I’m so sorry,” again.

“Don’t worry about it,” he says.

She sits up. “I’m so sorry.” “Katie,” he says, “stop. Don’t worry about it, okay?” She sits on his bed and looks at her knees until he stands up, the huge mass of his body wavering briefly as he pushes himself from the mattress and then steadying over her. He’s very tall. She looks up at him, his face far away. “I just kind of freaked out for a second.” Her heart pounds harder with this admission than it did before. He is a dark shadow in front of her, his reflection taking up all the space in the mirror on the door, any expression in his mouth or eyebrows unreadable. His hands are on her purse now.

“Do you want me to walk you out?”

“No,” she says quietly. “It’s all right.”

Waiting for the elevator she calls her sister, who picks up somewhere loud and distant. “How’d it go?” she shouts.

“What do you think,” says Katie.

Jess quiets down and then says, “Listen, no big deal, Kate-o. Next time, right?” “There isn’t going to be a ‘next time.’ I’m not like you,” Katie says, “I can’t just kiss these random guys. I’m not that way.” The line gives over to static and background conversations. Her sister’s breath is hardly audible. “Okay,” she says, “I’m at dinner, so I’m going to go.”

“Have fun.”

“Uh-huh,” Jess says. “You too.”


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echoes There is nothing so spectacular about this night because all in all what she’s been left with is an unkissed mouth and she had that yesterday and last semester and freshman year too. Nothing is different. Nothing has changed. So it doesn’t matter that his fingers lifting up the bottom of her chin counted as the longest a boy’s ever touched her, the first time she felt someone else’s skin rest comfortably against hers. There is no reason to leave his dorm room stiff jointed and almost stumbling, not looking at her own hands, disgusted with what she’d done and said and all the small, fearful steps that led her here, standing singly in this elevator. There is no reason to think, as she moves downward in this beeping metal, of a line that she is crossing even now; a line as thick and as bold as those delineating the fifty states in the laminated-map table mats of her and Jessica’s childhood: the border between it being acceptable and it being too late for her. Katie turns her head and closes her eyes but she still sees it stamped across her vision: there is a border and there is a sign and the sign reads too late and the land beyond there is growing sharper while what she’s left behind is hazy and unreachable. And Jess thinks she lives in the desert. Standing here is the most barren thing Katie can think of. She wants to believe that she still has time but it took her twenty-two years to almost be kissed and will it take her twentytwo more to learn to keep her face still? And who will want her then? And how could she have gotten here? But there is really no reason to think this, because nothing has happened, nothing at all. At the ground floor the elevator doors open and Katie is fine. She is the same. Outside the campus is dark green and black, punctured by the lights from scattered streetlamps. She’s going to follow the path back to her own dorm and she’s just fine.


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Woman in White Asiya Khaki ’09


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echoes Rustam Elizabeth Yalkut ’11

Love is a form of theft, and so when she stole his horse he had to marry her;

“For the ball, yes, I forgive her,

all the magicians told him so.

but tell your mother

She bore him a son, whom he killed;

that she took my heart with her that day, and for that I demand

when he himself lay dying,

a forfeit:

a little girl came in, and said, “My mother took

her life for mine.” The child fled in tears,

your ball one day

and her mother came

when she was little and she’s dying.

and cast herself at his feet. He kissed her face

Do you forgive her?”

and they died together.

What else could he do but tell the girl,

Author’s note: Rustam is a hero of the Persian epic Shahnameh; he does, in fact, father a child to a woman who is associated with the theft of his horse, and later kills his son in battle.


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echoes Hands Emily Handsman ’12 In a place where even the years do not age— trees stay green and the weather stays warm, she attempts to stall the years, attempts to stop building herself into her skin. Together, we smear through photographs, until she stops at one of a little boy, her brother, and says “I’ve always liked this one where he is looking at his hands,” and she points at it with a finger, an old finger, doubled over with wrinkles, a reptilian finger. Time closes in and I feel pressure to freeze myself, but I cannot, and neither could she. The pictures progress so quickly. Hands, but also hair and faces and fingernails change too rapidly. I do not know why I sit so quietly instead of dancing, but I do. The photographs, themselves, too, change with age—the saturation wrinkling into a faded yellow.


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echoes The color folds into itself as her hands fold into her lap and years fold into age. She should not have to be so very alone. I do not ever want to be so quietly alone. She thinks I do not prize the yellowing photographs, that I do not understand, but I rub my mind with them, and I try.

Industrial Graces Nomi Ellison ’ 1 0


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echoes Maretta’s Life Jacket Patricia Hickerson ’49 someone said her beauty shone a mile yet her marriage sank like an overloaded steamer in cold, rough seas clouds blackened above Maretta jumped ship vowed she’d rather die under the waves than drown in the marital cabin industry kept her afloat what had looked at the start like an ideal journey with Charlie Come aboard with me, darlin’ became more like Walk the plank with me, Marett’! He slept in his bunk till noon dreamt of being the ship’s captain drank all night on deck with his cronies beamed at the fancy ladies secretly yearned for a rich widder woman while Maretta labored in steerage bathed and fed the kids sewed layettes for the first class babies


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echoes baked pies in the furnace room milked old Betsy in the hold sent young Bobby with a goat cart peddling down the corridors the final storm and lashings of hellish weather ended the foul voyage the ship went down Maretta scrambled


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echoes Girl Amy Saul-Zerby ’09 as i dance down the halls tracing the rectangle followed by man-god who walks behind me snap snap snapping his fingers to the beat of my dance (how I wish he wouldn’t) “he’s an energy vampire” ça explique tout he thinks he’s Adam and you’re his Eve excuses, excuses they all think we’re all their personal Eve, Maria or Danielle never asking our names like they know us already until you want to scream or snap off his fingers that snap snap snap stealing the beat of your dance stealing the song in your head


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Maps Elana Seplow ’09 I assume that there is a point at which I stop Thinking of you as my coordinates My north my east my riverside walk I am waiting for that time That place where I will stumble wide eyed And heavy breathing from your overgrown I will see my eyes my nose my mouth The skin stretched across my bones unfold before unclosed lids In a body of water all my own that will wash the riverbed quietly Flush up against the earth and the stars.


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Echoes: Spring 2009  

Echoes Spring 2009 Edition

Echoes: Spring 2009  

Echoes Spring 2009 Edition