Volume 21 Fall 2019 2
Table of Contents
Letter from the Editor
Canals of Amsterdam Austin Beatty — Digital Photograph
Amsterdam Freestyle Austin Beatty — Digital Photograph
Oiseaux Salissant Jacob Martinez — Essay
Bottoms Up Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph
A Scientific Observation of Wildlife in the Netherlands Harriette Chan — Essay
Elephant Florian Okwu — Multimedia
Botanischer Garten Melanie Lau — Poem
Sunset Humidity Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph
Florence Skylar Jiang — Digital Photograph
23 Venice: An Acrostic
Kate Kwok — Poem
creative box Florian Okwu — Pen and Ink
blisters Alix Knice — Poem
Soul Explosion Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph 3
Autumn Cleaning Kelsey Day — Essay
Volkswagon Golf Austin Beatty — Digital Photograph
Irish Countryside Thoughts Ana Hein — Prose Poem
32 Early Mist
Austin Beatty — Digital Photograph
something small Jack Newton — Short Story
A Quiet Appreciation of the Luxembourg Country Side Melanie Lau — Digital Photograph
Grooming Swan Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph
Perfect Brooke Angell — Prose Poem 42 Silhouettes Beyond the Palace Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph 43 Street Singer Lipsky Zhou — Film Photograph (ILFORD Delta 400)
Jacob Martinez — Poem
Sweet Like Metal Florian Okwu — Multimedia
Home Caitlin Taylor So — Poem
Anna and Me Kaila Shugars — Graphite
Stepping Inside a Truck of Family History Journalism Committee — Feature 4
Mountain Doodle Sam Kisthardt — Graphite
“Industrial” Berlin, Germany Austin Beatty — Digital Photograph
A Journey in Family History Ava Budavari — Essay
Germany Train Station Austin Beatty — Digital Photograph
54 The Bulk of Travel
Melanie Lau — Digital Photograph
On the Train from Brąsov to Bucharest Ana Hein — Poem
Mutterings at a Museum Ana Hein — Poem
Reading the Museum Lipksy Zhou — Film Photograph (ILFORD Delta 400)
The B.S. Guide to Souvenir Shopping Journalism Committee — Feature
Travels Lauren Marie Miller — Postcards
64 a postcard from home marked “return to sender”
Olivia Loftis — Poem
Dublin Hongyu Liu — Digital Photograph
Maintenance Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph
In the Midst of Being Broke Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph 5
“Lint” Nick van Orden — Poem
Swan Skylar Jiang — Digital Photograph
A Band in Brussels Skylar Jiang — Digital Photograph
Venice: A Fantasy Kate Kwok — Short Story
Self Portrait Florian Okwu — Oil Paint on Wood
Coaster Collage Sam Kisthardt — Multimedia
Souvenirs Lauren Marie Miller — Poem
Urban Nation Serino Nakayama — Digital Photograph
Letter from the Editor All day long, we carry things around. We carry our books to class and our suitcases to buses. We carry coffee cups and backpacks and cell phones. We carry each other, through strung-out nights and veering time zones. We carry all these things, and we also carry places. Emerson students are known for their constant movement– we come from all different places, and we go to all different places. We’re travelers, transplants, always making and leaving homes. We’re memory hunters, scrambling for moments that we can look at later. We want something we can hold to the light, something we can see and feel, something that says, Things were wonderful once, and I was there. That’s why the theme for this edition of Black Swan is souvenirs. Because we are students, and we are travelers, and we are memory keepers. Because we share these memories–this proof that things were wonderful, once. I hope you enjoy this edition, this shimmering collection of memories. These memories come from both the Summer 2019 Travel Writing class and the semester of Fall 2019. I hope it can do any sort of justice to capturing the moments you’ve collected. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. You don’t need a postcard or a blinking miniature Eiffel Tower or even a (super awesome) literary magazine to know you have made a home somewhere. You can leave a place, but it won’t leave you. How lucky we are. Yours in haste, Kelsey Day Editor in Chief
Canals of Amsterdam Austin Beatty
Amsterdam Freestyle Austin Beatty
Oiseaux Salissant Jacob Martinez
The Saint-Eustache, just northeast of the Louvre, is built like a crusty baguette. All rough and weathered till you get inside. A strange mixture of a gothic facade and a renaissance interior, it’s somewhat of a godsend to tourists who are interested in Notre-Dame but just can’t seem to find it. Parents drag their kids inside as they dig their heels into the ground, and if one pushes hard enough to scrape the floors, then eventually someone will give in and wait with them outside. I was one of those kids stationed with my mother at the south entrance, free to run and scream all around the Écoute as my brother and father toured the interior. The Écoute is a statue that defies human anatomy, with its positioning, incredibly large size, and lack of body besides a head and right hand. And said hand is placed all wrong, with the thumb at the top and the nails pointing towards the chin yet parallel to the cheek. If you tried to copy it you’d have to force your elbow behind your back. The fingers curve out to invite you to rest, like you are a seashell in its palm, and he is bringing you ever so closer till he can hear the waves. If he was Goliath, then I was David, but not in war. He was simply resting his head as I played, his eyes looking anywhere but the church. If I ran around to the back of it, for a brief moment I’d be hidden from my mother. An almost-freedom granted for seconds at a time. After a few spins around the Écoute’s rear, I stopped in front of a pigeon with its tail facing me, and my tiny, four-year-old mind decided that this was a moment to act. Sometimes things are within your grasp and you have to take them. A pigeon’s wings are so soft and delicate despite being so dirty. It makes you understand why feathers fill pillows. But as you may guess, a bird does not like being held with its wings closed shut. Mine tossed and turned like a toddler with a tantrum and eventually turned to pecking. A bird peck feels like the beak is a shovel and you are the dirt. It digs and digs and digs deep into your hand till you can’t take it anymore and let go, watching the animal flap its wings in desperation as if it doesn’t realize it’s already safe once it’s in the air. 11
I ran to my mother in tears as my father exited the church with my brother in tow. She grabbed my still bloody hands by the fingers and emptied a water bottle on them, muttering curses under her breath that she thought I couldn’t hear. “What happened, sweetheart,” she cooed. “Did you cut yourself on something? Did you fall?” I shook my head, “Se… see burd dehd it!” [The bird did it!] My mother looked desperately at my father, “John, Jacob is bleeding!” He dug tissues out of his fanny pack. “It’s fine,” he said, and dabbed at the wound. “Kids are all fat anyway.”
•• When you’re 38.5 inches tall, Paris is a shithole. Most cities are. Sure, the architecture above you is nice, but when the streets are uneven I’m not looking up, I’m looking down. And when I’m barely taller than a table, I’m also constantly face to face with garbage. But I had to keep moving, as my mother was determined to find the cheapest ice cream shop in all of Paris. According to her, “Only the rich and fat spend more than 8 euros on an ice cream cone.” Duly noted.
•• Toddlers are the pigeons of humankind, but they don’t grab trash, they grab speeches. When my family and I made it to a tiny ice cream store by the name “Baiseur de Glace,” I had already listened on and on to my mother and father’s complaints about greedy tourist traps. How they wished someone would show them how it felt to just take all they had. And as soon as we walked in, the menus were hidden away. Prices changed on the spot since we clearly weren’t local. “C’est ridicule!” My mother screamed at the underpaid attendant, “En ligne il dit quatre euros!” The attendant placed down his scooper. “Madame s’il vous plaît se calmer.” My father led me outside while my mother continued her rant–“Non! Je ne le ferais pas–” and gently closed the shop door 12
after my brother. The winds were strong that day, good for flying, and had knocked one of the shop’s posters clean off its hooks. It lay on the dirty ground like a newly rolled out carpet, although this one proudly displayed a new Spongebob popsicle advertisement rather than an intricate design. Sometimes things are within your grasp and you have to take them. So when my mother finally strolled out of that ice cream shop with two half-off cones, she was too proud to even notice what I had dragging behind me.
•• I see the family march together like strangers. They almost form a shape, a flock, but they bump into each other as if they had all just left the nest. The youngest’s cone breaks slightly. I swoop for the piece, only for a rodent to swipe it from under my claws. Some say that rats are just pigeons in the daytime. That once night rolls around they return to their four-legged form and scavenge till morning. But why would I give up my wings?
•• “Jake, sweetheart, what is that?” she asked a while later in our hotel room. I grinned with missing teeth. “Spungbob.” [Spongebob.] “And where did you find Spongebob?” “Uh…” My smile fell. [Well…] She gritted her teeth. “Jacob Allen Lee Martinez.” “Gwund.” [Ground.] “Did you steal it?” “Nuh-uh.” [No.] “Jake,” She said, rubbing her temple. “You know that taking things isn’t right!” “Muhmuh,” I began, looking up at her with buds of drool dripping from my mouth. “I do not exist in purity. I have not existed in purity since I was conceived. What is sinful changes through generations, and who really gets to decide what is and isn’t? Certainly not you or I. And isn’t it so telling that you ask if I took it versus why 13
I may have? Because you don’t want to be challenged. Maybe I took the poster in rebellion, to prove that capitalism doesn’t control us, that we can’t be grabbed by it and stay docile. That we can peck at its hands like a pigeon in fear. Or maybe I took it in the execution of simple childlike desires, the age-old game of finders keepers. And really, when you consider it, is there actually a difference between the two?” “Alright,” she smiled, zipping the poster into her suitcase. “Just don’t do it again.”
•• La Tour Eiffel is a staple of Paris. People come far and wide to climb its steps, take in the view, and smell bird shit. My parents only wanted to take my brother and me to the first level, just high enough to get a view but low enough where if we fell the corpse would be mostly intact. And they stared and stared off into Paris from the railing, like the city’s soul was bare for them to see. I was too short. So while my brother could peek over the edge just barely, I turned my neck to try and peek through the railing’s gaps. Looking through the slits in the metal in search for any glimpse of a view worth seeing, but found nothing. “Muhmuh!” I tugged at my mother’s dress. [Mama!] “Just a second sweetheart,” she turned to my father, “God, John, isn’t it beautiful?” He smiled. “Almost like flying.”
•• I see the boy for only a moment. He stands back at the railing and stares at his feet. Inconsequential, really. But he is listening so clearly to the words around him, winding them through his fingers for as long as he can. I land on his shoulder so softly that he barely feels the weight. We are alike, I want to tell him. We grasp at scraps. His jacket is too big and dirty, like his hair, as if he rolled on the sidewalk rather than walking. I pick off the bit of croissant left on his cheek and tug on his hair before flying off. The adults are too 14
focused on the city to see him follow after me. I glide over tourists too busy to realize the whole isnâ€™t the best part, and then I land on a trash can. Thereâ€™s a bit of bread that just missed the bag, and I grab it. Taste the remnants of butter long dried and crust past hardened. He grabs onto the metal rim next to me and glances back at a couple nearby. They talk of writers and pickpockets, and all the boy does is listen. He looks at me and tilts his head. Thieves? his eyes ask. Us? I let my feathers catch the air. Yes.
Serino Nakayama 15
A Scientific Observation on Animals in the Netherlands Harriette Chan
Carassius auratus (Goldfish) Before I left to study abroad in the Netherlands, my mom told me that she would need a large plastic tub. “Why do you need that?” I asked. “I bought some goldfish, and I’m putting them in the tub so they grow big,” she said. Well, okay then. I have heard before that a goldfish will grow as big as its environment will allow, and if you release a goldfish into a pond, it will grow into some terrible goldfish monster. My mom explained the process to me. “I want to grow them to their full potential. They can be up to twelve inches long. I feed them tons of food, and they need lots of water,” she explained. “I clean the tank every day because they poop a lot and make the water dirty faster. A tub is easier to clean than a tank.” Keep them clean and keep them fed. That’s how she raised my sister and me. My mom told me that back in the Philippines, when she was a little girl, her grandma brought some fish home. They didn’t have a fish tank, so they put it in a glass pitcher filled with water. She would watch in awe as the orange fish flittered behind the pitcher’s curved glass. Of course, she got herself a real fish tank in America, a tank filled with plants, rocks, and plenty of colorful fish darting in and out of view. The day before I left for Amsterdam, I watched my mom preen over three small goldfish swimming in a tub that was much too big for them.
Columba livia domestica (Feral Pigeons) Amsterdam pigeons don’t give a shit. To be clear, there isn’t a pigeon in any city that gives a shit, but Amsterdam pigeons have their own particular attitude. For example, back in Boston, the pigeons are fat little kings sitting on their concrete thrones, strutting down the street like they just found a McNugget on the ground. The pigeons in Amsterdam, on the other hand, are less pompous. They aren’t kings but princes of chaos. They don’t care; they will weave between people’s feet and fly low to the ground as if aiming for tourists’ heads. I saw a pigeon sitting for the first time in Amsterdam. I didn’t realize that they could just plop down on the ground and stare at passersby with their beady orange eyes, observing us as if we were exotic animals on their turf. No pigeon, I am not the wildlife. You are the wildlife. Pigeons in Boston don’t sit; they’re always on the move. But that isn’t to say that Amsterdam pigeons are lazy. I once saw a valiant pigeon rush into a flock of tourists in an attempt to pick up a French fry. It dodged people in a panic, fluttering its wings when a foot stomped too close, while the tourists didn’t stop. They just moved past the nervous bird, ignoring it or swerving out of the way. As I walked past it in its nervous state, I wondered why it didn’t just fly away. Velocipede (Bicycles) Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Bikes aren’t animals. To that I say, yes, they are. They are wild things that dominate the streets of Amsterdam. They are stealthy. You never hear them coming until it is too late, until you hear the fatal dinging of a bell and realize you are in the jaws of the predator. I was crossing the road at Museumstraat when I heard that dreaded ringing of several bells. I looked to my left. There were two bikes coming. To my right, another one. I was already in the middle of the road. Now I was dodging bikes and fluttering around in a fearful 17
panic. The bikes didn’t stop, zipping right past me. I jumped out of the way of one bike only to find myself in the direct path of another. I made eye contact with the lady on the bike. She was not stopping, and I was frozen in fear. “Oh fuck!” I yelled. This is it. This is how I die. She swerved in a screeching halt to avoid hitting me. Balancing lopsided on her bike, she glared at me. “Chi e tua madre?” she yelled, then pedaled away in a huff. I’m pretty sure that roughly translates to “Who fucking raised you?” in Italian. I shuffled quickly out of the road and into the safety of the sidewalk, thinking, “Don’t bring my mother into this.” Cyprinus carpio (Koi Fish) Kasteel Well is a moated castle in Well, Netherlands. It’s the home of Emerson College’s study abroad program, as well as several large koi fish. If you stand on the bridge above the moat, you can see them gliding under the surface. Gold, orange, white, and gigantic, they are the monsters of the moat. I wonder if they were born here, the sons and daughters of Dutch koi fish. Or were they brought here in a plastic tub and unceremoniously dumped in? I texted my mom and asked, “How are the fish doing?” She responded a few minutes later with, “Getting bigger and fatter every day!” Pavo cristatus (Peacocks) Two peacocks take residence in the castle’s gardens. When I first got here, I was told that I had the best view of the peacocks from my window. I saw them this morning, strutting around the garden. There are two of them, a plain-colored female and a bright blue male. I’m not sure why, but I decided I needed a picture of them. I grabbed my camera and threw the window open, climbing 18
onto the window ledge. I leaned out and started snapping photos. Click. I zoomed in on the male peacock. He zipped between shrubs while the female peacock followed him. Click. I leaned out more to get a better angle and balanced on the ledge. Click. I looked below and saw the moat. It rippled with the plop of raindrops. Click. If I kept leaning, would I fall? And if I fell into the moat, would I turn into one of those koi fish, condemned to live in this moat forever? Click. Or at least until someone scoops me into a plastic tub and takes me home. Click. I grabbed onto the window ledge and took a second. Then I slowly lowered myself back into my room and closed the window.
Botanischer Garten Melanie Lau
she the wildflower tucked between bath mats of mossy rocks listens to the noisy silence of her home raindrops ping off bulbs and berries falsetto notes amongst the low hum of foliage lily pads sleep atop still water their breath a quiet conversion the grasses beside her strain their necks stretch toward the clouds for a quick drink as cobblestone crossroads slicken from the drizzle of a Saturday morning in Berlin the wildflower grows the rainwater fills her spiritually each part of her body drinks swells functions she feels no guilt over pleasures of the flesh her stem, her leaves are in the right place at the right time she rises quickly to the clap of thunder thanks the sky for exploding the wildflower decomposes she loses petals to the soil feeds pollen to the wind parts of herself rise to the top of puddles but she does not stress about her body anymore the rainwater melts the wildflower down to her constituent parts carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nutrients all return underground 21
she knows there are no earthly troubles here they left when the rainwater washed them away there are no earthly troubles here
Sunset Humidity Serino Nakayama
Venice: An Acrostic Kate Kwok 1. Velvety Two scoops of rich caramel, rolled into fists, dripping with perspiration and frost. Upon close inspection, the texture almost resembles soft leather, with a waxy, shiny finish. But this is not a feast for the eyes; it’s a sensation exclusive to the tongue. You take a bite—a shockwave of iciness, then a smooth sweetness gliding in, like snow melting in fire, leaving a resounding aroma of roasted pistachio on the tip of your tongue. Such is the magic of gelato. 2. Ebb Sitting on the docks, you wait for the never-coming waterbus. The world has shattered itself in a bottle of lapis lazuli and swum back up again, drenched, broken, but beautiful. Ripples form the canvas; white sails adorn the paper; the distant cries of seagulls were the constant background music in this outdoor art exhibition. Watch as the white tips of the waves glisten in the dying pink sunlight. Watch as the water rushes towards the dockyard in a sweeping motion to engulf you, to retreat just as suddenly at the breakwater. Boom, hiss. Boom, hiss. Listen. 3. Nocturne The sound of exploding fireworks accompanies your feet dragging home. You can’t see them clearly; they’re too far away, but you hear them screaming in a split second of glory. It’s a synesthetic spectacle: the high-pitched reds harmonizing with the steady bass of purples. The golden semitones levitating in mid-air, decorating the symphony. You want to fall asleep, but you never feel more awake than this moment.
4. Icon The towering, marble sculptures are scrutinizing you. There’s Hercules, arms outstretched in victory, giant foot stepping on the hydra’s carcass. There’s Atlas, back drooping, kneeling in perpetuity as he takes the weight of the whole world in his hands. You walk past them silently, holding your breath lest it disturb their sacred vigil. They were here before you, and long will they remain after you. 5. Circle Every street here starts with Via. You walk into one at random, taking your chance, and find yourself going in circles, each nook and cranny looking eerily familiar. Should you go left, or double back to that cobblestone alley? The clock is ticking; time is running out. Hurry, hurry, across the cobblestone pavements, past the hydrangeas beckoning on balconies, past the rusted water pipes and latticed windows. Where is it, that blurry destination you want to reach? 6. Etiquette No minimal spending, no fuss—flip open the menu and point at the name of the most pleasant-looking Italian dish. Scrumptious mussels, simmered in white wine. Grilled sea bass with a dash of lemon and thyme. Cocktails. Lemon sorbet. The only table manner that you need to focus on is eating to your heart’s content.
creative box Florian Okwu 26
Alix Knice It seems like everywhere you go, every journey you make, you leave with a new blister. They hurt, of course they hurt, but I can’t just stop walking, can’t stop adventuring, can’t stop wandering aimlessly, with nothing more in mind than to see everything I can. You forget the pain; forget to worry about it as you wander through streets, through museums, through shops, through markets, and everything else that each new city has to offer. Each blister is like a memory, like a gift. They hurt, of course they hurt, but who am I to deny a gift from such a beautiful place? It could’ve been a postcard, or a little toy, or a mug, but instead the city decides to brand me personally. And isn’t that the greatest gift the world could ever give you? The gift of experience, 27
of exploration, of walking until your feet are so sore, you think youâ€™ll have to stop but never stopping. They hurt, of course they hurt, but Iâ€™ll be able to rest later. For now, I bandage them up and keep walking.
Autumn Cleaning Kelsey Day
Ten thousand feet in the air, I crumpled like a tin can. My knees hit the ground, my vision squeezed into white light, and I caught myself on my palms, heaving on the side of the mountain. “It’s okay,” Vamsee said from behind me. “It’s okay, it’s natural, it’s okay.” I met Vamsee yesterday afternoon. At the time, I’d been sipping crystal wine and dangling my legs over the porch. Now, I was splayed at his feet and barfing. He pulled my hood over my ears. It had fallen down when I pitched forward to puke. “Your ears,” he said. “It’s cold—your ears. You are okay?” Wave after wave of sickness tore through me. He’d packed lunch for us—cheese sandwiches, bananas, nuts. When we’d reached the top, he handed me the food and asked me how I was feeling. Dizzy. Cold. Absolutely exhausted. Wild, alive, and extremely nauseous. I had choked down the food and said I was fine. Now his food was making a roaring reappearance. “I’m sorry,” I gasped, trying to block the view. “God, I’m sorry, I’m sorry—” “Why are you apologizing?” “I’m sorry—” Tears and snot and vomit. Not enough oxygen in the air. Shaking, all over. “It’s elevation sickness,” said Vamsee. “It’s normal, it’s okay. You are okay?” More vomit. White foaming gushes of it. “Okay, that is quite a lot,” he said. “I’m sorry. God, I’m sorry, this is so gross, I’m sorry.” I’d never vomited in front of someone before. It was the ultimate vulnerability, the ugliest way someone else could see you. “Don’t look,” I said. “It’s okay,” he said. “It’s okay.” He helped me to my feet when I was done, and this man, whom 29
I barely knew, offered me his water. “No,” I said, “no, no, I’m not putting my barfy mouth on—” “It’s okay,” he said. I shook my head and took out my own water bottle. Empty. I pretended to drink it anyway. Then I dug around in my bag for the Korean mint another hostel-mate had given me. It was a green sphere that tasted like charred apples. “I’m fine,” I said. “It’s better now that it’s gone.” “Good,” said Vamsee. “That’s good. The elevation here, it is hard on the body.” We still had a three-hour hike back down the mountain. My ears were ringing. “I can keep going now,” I said. “You are sure?” “Yeah. I’m good now. I just needed to get it out.” I tried to hang onto my body, to stay hitched in my skin and wrapped around my bones. We started walking again. The Alps towered around us like jagged bones. Tangled weeds swayed by the path. Vamsee paused every few minutes, turning around to ask if I needed to rest. “I’m okay,” I said, again and again. “I’m good now.” The world felt dreamy, sputtering, like my vision lagged a split second behind. I followed the wavering red backpack in front of me, casting aching eyes to the mountains, thinking the Alps were the child star of mountains: young, ruthless, famed. They knew they were gorgeous, they knew you didn’t belong here, and they knew they didn’t owe you shit. That’s why I liked them. There was something enchanting about their grand indifference. I stopped at odd intervals, staring into the frozen peaks, heart buckling in my chest; this was the type of beauty that could destroy you. This was the type of beauty that should destroy you. We walked. And walked. And walked. Vamsee told me about India—the caste system, the science classes that were taught in English. We clambered over rocky hills and squelched through mud. We said bonjour to passing hikers. I told Vamsee about America—the sprawling south and angry news, the 30
ancient tiny mountains that I came from. Fog rolled through the valley. It left mist on our noses. When we finally made it back, I was scraped to the bones. Eroded to my center. It felt like years of me had fallen off my skin. We sat at the bus stop together. The sun was gentle, the air rich again. Engines coughed down the street. “You are okay?” Vamsee said again. I imagined myself as a cup, emptied out. Scrubbed clean, turned over. So much new space to fill. “I actually am,” I said. A woman sat down between us. We grinned at each other over her head. I was ravenous to rebegin.
Irish Countryside Thoughts Ana Hein
I’ve found the land of infinity: Ireland. It doesn’t end; it doesn’t begin; it just is and is and is, and that is that. Green forever, backwards and forwards and sideways. Herds of grazing sheep and cows—and even the occasional cozy-looking cottage—add variety to the landscape every now and then, but the green permeates everything here except the sky, the brightest, strongest blue I can remember ever seeing. I don’t even like nature scenes that much, but this one has my full attention. I keep craning my head around the bus, trying to get a good look at everything; I probably look like a broken bobblehead. I long to run through the fields we pass, go full Sound of Music, and lay down to watch the clouds pass and write poetry and read and just be. There is more—so much more—than the eye could ever see here. I feel content in that knowledge, strangely enough. Usually, I’m nothing but unfulfilled wants and desires, an endless craving for an unspecified “more” that is never satiated. I take a look at a place, I’m happy for about five minutes, and then I’m thinking, “Okay, but what else is there?” It happened in New York, it happened in Philadelphia, and it happened in Brussels. I need to see everything, do everything to be completely satisfied, but not now, not in this moment. I will never see every beautiful, glorious, wondrous thing in this country—in this world—and the thought does not ignite blind fear or panic in my gut. I’m totally fine. I’m happy taking in whatever lovely scene is presented to me, and will make do with photographs of the rest. I’m full with just a passing image looked at through a grimy bus window covered in bird shit. It’s bliss. This is bliss.
Austin Beatty 33
something small Jack Newton
A cow touched its nose to the back of my neck, a velvety, whiskery snuffling. “I am not grass,” I said, thinking of my hair, which had grown long and unruly. “Please do not eat me.” An endless maze of stony pathways had given way to a wide plateau, where cows grazed on crisp winter grasses mingling with tiny, blue flowers. It was a welcome change for tired feet. There was a village visible on the next hillside. I bent down to examine the flowers. They reminded me of things long past: bright-eyed animals, old trees, scratchy fabric. A hand on my shoulder startled me. It belonged to a man wearing a leather hood and carrying a walking stick. The sunshine seemed to glow around his face. He smiled widely and waved a greeting, patting the inquisitive noses that approached. “How surprising,” he said, “to find a man among my cows, but a pleasant surprise.” “Thank you, my friend,” I said. “I am a traveller, coming this month from Gandaki.” His coat was large and spacious; it formed a cone when he sat. He drew from within the coat a squat tin tea vessel and offered it to me. I accepted, though I had not yet decided whether I truly enjoyed the taste of butter tea. It has a distinct flavor of cow. “Please, call me Dao—your comrade. The cows are my cows, my family. I love them.” He chuckled in sibilant sounds. I took a deep draught from the tea vessel. “I see why. In all the time I have spent living, I have never seen an angry cow. They are so calm and dignified.” “You must not be a herdsman,” said Dao. “I have seen many angry cows. In the south, the people do not eat them. Have you been there?” “Long ago,” I said. “I did not see any cows there.” Dao leaned in, the conical coat sloping over. “The southerners believe the cows are holy. I agree, but I also believe that my cows are 35
the most holy, for they live in meditation, and in death, they provide me with the means to live. In life, I meditate on their words. The herdsman is a translator. I learn from my animals and someday, I hope to gather enough wisdom that I might share it with those around me.” “Like a monk.” “I do not presume to be a true monk,” said Dao. “But in a humble way, we are all monks. What do you do? What is your meditation?” I contemplated this for a moment. “I am not sure,” I said. “My family were all monks, I think. Everyone had their art but me. It is hard to remember; I have been away for many years.” From far away came the booming sounds of what must have been a great bell. “Night is approaching,” said Dao. “It is time to bring the cows home.” I had never felt more awake. The blue flowers, purple in the dimming light, seemed to glow around my feet as we trailed through them. A great ravine divided the plateau from the steeper slopes of the village. A thin, rattling suspension bridge spanned its breadth. Dao told me it was built long ago by the naga, a water spirit in the form of a snake that lives in the river below and watches over the village. At sunset, we followed the cows over the bridge. I felt nervous at the lumbering of the cows, fearful any misplaced hoof could send us all to a watery grave. The bell kept ringing, again and again, as we made our way across, growing louder as we approached the village. “Who is ringing this bell?” I asked. “He must love the job.” Dao laughed, barely audible over the ringing, and raised his voice. “Yes. He is called Zi, the one who becomes quiet, something small. Our local monk. He has taken a vow for twenty years of total silence in order to learn the secrets of our world. At morning and at night he rings the bell. He loves it because it is the only way he can make noise. As much noise as he wants.” Our home was built into the hillside. The slopes were so steep that the buildings, terraced crop-gardens, and livestock pens crowded 36
each other, a tight coexistence. Stairs branched off the main path at several locations, leading to alcoves where house doors hid. Irrigation canals ran parallel to the path, and at one point, water flowed over my feet because someone had diverted it using rocks. Dao led me past a round hut perched alone on the hillside. A spindly staircase wound up and around the rocks to reach it, and on the roof was a scaffolded structure. Inside loomed a round shape, presumably the bell we had heard. “This is the house of Zi,” said Dao. “Underneath, in a cave, is the shrine. Zi takes care of it and we use it to pray.” “Would he mind if I visited it tomorrow?” I asked. “I would very much like to see the bell and maybe learn something about him.” “Make sure to bring him some rice or beans,” said Dao. “He is hungry in the morning.”
•• The rooftop bell was a mighty, cast bronze monolith, but the metal shivered before the old man as he beat it with a mallet. There was surprising strength in his wiry arms, which did not diminish as he rang the bell twenty, thirty times, countless. I felt the bell’s vibrations in my chest, filling the hollows in my body and bolstering my strength. The monk was speaking, and the villagers listened. At long last, when the final peal shivered away into the cold dawn air, Zi carried my offered bowls down into his lodging. I sat against the columns supporting the bell, listening to the last remnants of the sound reverberating against the mountains. I leaned over the hatch. The interior of the house was sparse; the only furniture was a low bed. Ledges built into the walls served as shelves where small candles sat. Their light danced over the floor and edges of the walls. The monk himself sat in the middle, eating. “Hello,” I said. “Monk Zi, may I enter?” He turned to look and smiled at the sight of me. I clambered down the wooden stairs, which were steep enough to be a ladder, and sat before him. He offered a bowl. Not wanting to be rude, I took a pinch of rice and looked around. In the faint light, I discerned small bouquets of the blue, plateau flowers next to the candles, as well as sheaves of square paper. 37
“Are these from the grazing plateau?” I asked, pointing to the flowers. Zi smiled, popping a generous ball of rice into his mouth. The lines on his face deepened, little mountain ranges and river gorges, dimly lit. If Dao had sunlight in his face, Zi had candlelight. “And these, you write them?” I pointed to the papers. He indicated an inkwell next to the bed. “You must have learned so much in all your years of silence, Monk Zi,” I said. “I am a humble traveller in search of wisdom, a monk in my own right, if I may. Dao asked me what I study, and I did not know. But after a night in your village, I think I have decided: I study the ground, the flowers, the rocks. Small things. May I ask you to share something that I may take down the roads? Something I might pass on?” He stood, bowls empty, and signed that I should follow. We left the dwelling and climbed down the stairs to the cave. Zi moved without thinking, his feet finding the precise holds to keep steady, but I wobbled with every step, thrusting myself back against the cliff face each time. The cave ceiling was barely high enough to accommodate either of us standing, but I followed Zi to sit, legs crossed, before the interior shrine. It was carved directly into the cave wall, a ledge with designs of gods and animals, bright-hued pieces of fabric, and more candles, wider and with more wicks than the ones in his house. Interspersed among the candle cups, as inside, were tiny flower petals. “The flowers remind me of when I was a child,” I said. “Where I was born, there were flowers like this. My father used to grow them in little bowls near the windows. These are not the same flowers, but they are similar enough to bring back all the memories.” Zi pressed a petal between his fingers and looked at me, head cocked, as if to say Go on. Remember. “Under each bowl was a woven mat,” I continued. “My sister made them. She was much older and knew all about that craft. The fabric was coarse, and I remember it was so different from the soft flower petals. She died when I was young. When my father finally followed her, a few years ago, I began to wander. I had no craft to 38
keep me there.” From his robe, the monk drew forth a square of paper and offered it to me. The calligraphy was beautiful, each line perfectly crafted, but my skill with the script was still lacking, and I struggled to read it. Each plant a star, each star a blossom, each night a garden. “The flowers are Earth’s poetry,” I realized. “And you, the bell, is that your poetry? Is that your speech while the words are away?” Zi folded the page into a smaller square and set it on the shrine. He tilted a candle until melted oil dripped over the paper. “I wonder if you are afraid, Monk Zi,” I said. “After twenty years of silence, are you afraid? Are you afraid that when the time comes, no sound will come out? Or that the people will not like what they hear?” Turning back to me, the monk blinked, perhaps sadly. “For almost a decade now, I’ve been walking through this country,” I said, tracing a fingertip over the worn stone of the shrine. “It has been a wonderful time, but I think home is calling. Yet I am afraid, Monk Zi. Because I know that when I get back, the poetry will be gone, the bowls empty, and my family nowhere to be seen.” He reached out, touched my forehead, and then his own. Here there is not a discrete word for meditation. It is either thinking, dreaming, or both. Zi was in the process of becoming quiet, something small. But, as I came to understand, teaching is not necessarily un-quiet. The poetry, the papers, the hand motions: all this was something small that could pass between two men without spoken words. Thus, I too fell silent, and we stared into the dancing candlelight, alike in thoughts and dreams. Over long minutes, the small pocket of quiet inside the cave seemed to radiate outwards, quilting the world outside in a state of nothingness, filling up all the spaces in between. The darkness behind closed eyelids. The space under a warm blanket. The hollow inside a bell. The footprint of a cow. The steam inside a half-empty tea vessel. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw it had begun to snow. I breathed in time with the flames, exhaling as oil dried over the paper square, inhaling as cold air strayed into the shrine. Was it hours before I finally returned from this trance? Or was it a singular 39
moment in time? Later, when I crossed the bridge, the snow had lightened. Occasional fat flakes appeared like pale blue petals falling from the sky. And as I wended through the herd of cows, their breath warm against my hands, I could hear the bell ringing in time with my footsteps, leading, pressing on towards a quiet home.
A Quiet Appreciation of the Luxembourg Countryside Melanie Lau
Grooming Swan Serino Nakayama
Brooke Angell I envy the people that can fall asleep at night. Ignorant, their eyes drift closed within moments, eyelids shut tight until the morning comes. Most nights, I can’t sleep. My thoughts refuse to die; there is a worm that burrows its way into my brain—digging and digging and digging. I can hear its relentless, slimy whisper in my ear, telling me that I’m not good enough, I never have been, and I never will be. So when these thoughts come, as they inevitably will, I imagine that I’m some(one)where else. I think of my upcoming semester abroad. How, when it comes, I can slough my tainted skin and leave my old self behind. I daydream as the clock strikes 3:00. In my head, I am sitting in a cafe in Paris, a maroon beret atop my rich brown hair that reaches past my chest and no shorter. I am wearing black tights, my legs shaved without a bit of stubble or in-grown hair. On my feet are black suede flats with no speck of dust in sight. I sip my vanilla latte as men stare at me, wishing they were with me. The girls want to be me. In Paris, everything is perfect. And I know I will be perfect once the fall comes, and I won’t have to worry about anything ever again. Perfect, perfect, perfect.
Silouhettes Beyond the Palace Serino Nakayama
Street Singer Lipsky Zhou
J’aimé, J’ai aimé. Yesterday you warmed my bed Tonight I sleep alone. Why do the pieces fall so softly? I recall every breakup and every crash and burn so clearly With pillars of ire and worry Yet ours was so simple. Maybe that’s worse. I look at photos of you and I imagine them as they were taken Sweet smiles of a first kiss Strong embrace on a cold beach Warmth in a dark room And yet now my blankets are so cold. I always thought I could warm them myself I always thought I could stand strong I always thought I could look at you Venom on my lips Pain in my throat And just let go. But I never thought I’d have to. The stories I live always seem to end the same But you were so gentle Are so gentle still How can I fault you for something that had to happen?
So tonight, while my pillows are cold And my sheets are scattered And my blinds are closed And I take in the space left behind by the items you didnâ€™t Iâ€™ll warm myself with the memories of you. And just be glad That the bit I kept Was love.
Sweet Like Metal Florian Okwu
Caitlin Taylor So The feeling of belonging in a foreign city you’ve never visited is always unexpected You take in the new sights, and your heart settles in before you’re even aware of it You revel in the beautiful unfamiliarity in the calming silence so unlike the hustle and bustle you’re used to There’s nothing to replace the honking and screeching of cars the startled, angry, “hey, i’m walking here!” at every corner the silence here is a blanket, suffocating the noises you remember You walk down the same streets passing by several faces a light curl of your lips speaks a language you never learned but everyone can understand I see you. I know you. You walk into the same shops purchase the usual items: a drink and something to munch you take the cashier’s recognition as a good sign you’ve set a routine you’ve found your place Eventually, the longing will creep up randomly, abruptly, overwhelmingly when you instinctively look for the people you want to share this with and come up empty You hear the silence and somehow 47
it’s louder it was never a comfort but a reminder of what you left behind Your heart tugs you elsewhere and your feet can only travel so far the surrounding beauty never left it’s the impression of belonging that falls apart But until that inevitably happens until then you can imagine you can believe even if it’s just for a moment You’re home
Anna and Me Kaila Shugars
Stepping Inside A Truck of Family History Journalism Committee
Between 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Monday, a teal truck pulls up to the front of Kasteel Well. This truck is anything but ordinary. Students at Kasteel Well coming from class or straight from their beds walk across the bridge to step inside a miniature mobile grocery store. Inside, you can find a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, shelves of packaged foods and alcoholic drinks, a wide refrigerator, and much more. Every inch of the truck is filled with different items, and yet, like a grocery store, they’re all neatly organized and presented in long rows. At the front end of the truck behind the counter, you can find a friendly face: Joop Leenders, the grocery truck driver. Joop Leenders has run his family’s food truck business since he was sixteen years old. He is part of the fourth generation in a business that’s over a century old: 113 years, to be exact. Leenders talks fondly of how his great- great- grandfather first started this business in 1906 to sell milk, along with his three brothers. Each brother was in charge of their own district. Eventually, the brothers broke apart from the business and the grandfather who had started it all ended up the only one to continue working. Today, the company consists of two drivers and two food trucks. Leenders operates one truck and makes his weekly stops at various places, including Nijmegen, Groesbeek, Well, and Bergen Dal. Among these places, Bergen Dal is his favorite, a place where he took charge of for 25 years straight. Over two decades, Leenders has developed close relationships with his customers. He has watched newborn babies grow up to be teenagers leaving for college; some even come back as adults with their own kids. Leenders acknowledges the many changes the Digital Age has brought. Thanks to the internet, people can have their groceries conveniently delivered to their doorsteps. Nevertheless, Leenders believes this neither affects nor poses a threat to his business. The strength and success of his business lies in his door-to-door service and the personal connection he has with his customers. Many of Leenders’ customers tend to be older people who live too far away 49
from a supermarket. Sometimes Leenders is the only person his customers see and interact with in a whole day. This makes the experience of entering Leendersâ€™ food truck special and unmatched. Emerson students at Kasteel Well also get to experience this unmatched door-to door service. Leenders cherishes the interactions he has with different students every semester. He hopes that students can use their time here to fully explore Europe, including places right here in the Netherlands. He recommends visiting Nijmegen for a day trip, Bergen Dal for a nice walk in the woods, and Groesbeek for those interested in World War II history.
â€œIndustrialâ€? Berlin, Germany Austin Beatty
A Journey in Family History Ava Budavari
I was born because of a friend’s motorcycle and the sheer will to survive. 1956. Hungary has been under communist rule since the end of World War II. Statues of Lenin and Stalin are on every street corner. Hungarians are not allowed to make their own art or think their own thoughts. Starvation, poverty, and propaganda are everyday life. A man named John Budavari is a chemical engineering student at the Technical University of Budapest when rebellion breaks out against the Soviet dictatorship, and twelve days of bombs, guns, murder, and imprisonment by the government against its people break out. John gets selected to be an officer of the rebellion. That’s when he knows he needs to leave. Because if he stays, he will be dead within the month. He waits until a group of Soviet soldiers get drunk and pass out. John and his best friend race past them to the Austrian border on his friend’s motorcycle. A nonprofit in Vienna takes them in because they are soldiers and chemical engineers. Both of their families believe they are dead until two months later, when John and his friend send out a radio message letting them know that they are okay. When he is ready, John comes to America, knowing no English and having almost no money. He will not be able to return to his homeland until the 1980s, when the communist government falls. Had he done so before then, he would have been imprisoned and killed. He builds his American dream. He meets a fellow scientist and marries her. He has two daughters. Those daughters go on to have children of their own. One of those children is me. My grandparents raised me. Growing up, I spent more time at their house than my own, sitting on my papa’s lap and listening to his life stories. He told me about what it was like to grow up in poverty and to take care of his siblings when he was only a kid himself. He told me about how he had to move out of his home at fourteen years old and get a job working at a factory. He talked to me about stealing food to survive and how his education saved him. And, of course, he 52
torture, and starvation. He has been on fire, fell through a ceiling, and had the tips of his fingers sliced off by a ceiling fan. When I was born, he had terminal cancer, but he was so happy to be my grandpa that he defied all medical odds and survived and is still here almost twenty years later. He is so strong. A big part of me still believes that he can carry the whole world. When I came to the castle, I knew I had to go to Budapest at some point during the trip. My trip to Budapest over the travel break was a sort of pilgrimage for me, and with the help of my family, I worked to understand Papaâ€™s story and the legacy that I want to preserve. I walked through the building where papa would have been tortured and murdered had he not escaped from Budapest in 1956. Now known as the Museum of Terror, this building was where the Soviets imprisoned and executed people during the revolution. The walls were lined with the faces of the people that were killed. I remember holding back tears and just staring at them. I imagined his face up there and had to look away. There were videos of survivors, crying and talking about what was done to them and their deceased loved ones, and I couldnâ€™t process any of it. I just kept asking myself how my papa survived. And I guess the answer was that he did what he needed to do. He fought, and he got away, so he had a chance. I wish everyone did. I want people to understand what that time was like. I want them to know the people who were killed and those who survived. I want people to learn from this and to question everything. I want people to understand how the terrors of the past still haunt the present. I know my papa has seen things he can never unsee. I know that in so many ways; his life was stolen from him, and that is an experience I cannot even begin to comprehend. How did he survive? And how did I get so lucky to have a grandpa that has given me so much, so much that he didnâ€™t have? My life has been built on a legacy of struggle, despair, love, hope, and resilience. I was raised by a man that has defied all of the odds. He has always told me that I can do anything. He has taught me to fight for the people I love and to build a beautiful life for myself. I am grateful beyond words. I am so lucky. My papa has given me the 53
world. I owe my life to a friendâ€™s motorcycle and the resilience of one man. And I think for the first time, I really understand what that means. Thank you, Papa.
Germany Train Station Austin Beatty
The Bulk of Travel Melanie Lau
On the Train from Brąsov to Bucharest Ana Hein
It’s dark now. The forested mountains passing by, earlier covered in a shroud of blue fog that dripped vivid tears of atmosphere, can no longer be seen, so that means —of course—that they are not there at all. Does object permanence really exist in the travelling mind? If not for the occasional street lamp flitting past the frigid windowpane, I would entirely forget the scene so close at hand— might as well be off to the Ninth Kingdom instead of a hotel. I want to break the glass partition, slither away into the night, settle into the space beneath the earth, and rest my head against the story of a land I do not know. I hurdle forward and the landscape evaporates into night.
Mutterings at a Museum Ana Hein
You can’t see much at all— two feet speckled with grime, an arm bent at an uncomfortable angle, two heads, mouths aghast, and surprised, open eyes; everything else is hidden underneath a sheet. One set of those eyes isn’t looking where it should. Two people stand before this tableau: “I’ve been to a place like that.” “My parents went when they visited Germany.” “I wish I could travel more.” “I’ve only been to Paris.” “Only Paris.” And with that exchange, the tourists walk on.
Reading the Museum
The B.S. Guide to Souvenir Shopping Journalism Committee
What kind of souvenir buyer are you? How much do you usually spend on souvenirs? Will you end up regretting your purchases? Black Swan is here to answer your questions and guide you in making smart souvenir purchases based on the experiences of current castle dwellers. More than one-third of the castle dwellers of the Fall 2019 semester took part in a thorough survey conducted by Black Swan in which they reviewed their souvenir purchases and reflected on their decisions. Let’s dive into the results to see if you can identify with the trends and/or learn from them. The most popular souvenir among Emerson students were postcards. They are cheap, small, and usually feature a beautiful picture of the place you visited. Stick on a stamp and slip them into a mailbox and they will be a great surprise for your friends and relatives back home. Other popular souvenirs included books and clothes. Although they aren’t as cheap as postcards, visiting a local bookstore or vintage thrift shop can be a memorable experience in itself. In fact, many Emerson students visited vintage thrift shops to buy their souvenirs as well as local shops, souvenir shops, and museum gift shops. Museum gift shops were the most common place Emerson students bought their souvenirs; buying from them is a great way to support the museum and remember your visit. However, souvenirs aren’t only found in stores. You can find and collect souvenirs from just about anywhere. Some students at Emerson revealed that they collected rocks. It’s the memories attached to these souvenirs that make them special. People at the castle usually want to avoid putting stress on their wallets when buying souvenirs. Nearly half of the respondents of the survey revealed that their souvenirs mostly fell into the price range from zero to five euros. If you find that most of your souvenirs also fall within this price range, don’t feel pressured to buy more expensive souvenirs. You are not alone. But if your souvenirs tend to be more expensive, make sure you’re buying things you actually want. Here at Kasteel Well, most students don’t regret any of their purchases, even 59
though half of them bought souvenirs impulsively. Be rational about your spending habits, but also don’t be afraid to indulge yourself once in a while. The most common reasons why Emerson students chose not to buy particular souvenirs were because they were too expensive or too difficult to pack into their suitcases. Another thing to keep in mind is whether your souvenirs will pass through customs at the airport. Items, such as weapons or drugs, are definitely not allowed while traveling abroad. Another question to ask yourself while buying souvenirs is: Who are you buying them for? There’s no need to feel selfish if your answer is yourself. Exactly half of the respondents admitted that most of the souvenirs they bought were for themselves. After all, you know what you want. Still, we would suggest that you don’t forget about your family and friends. Buying souvenirs for others is a great way to give your loved ones a taste of your adventures in Europe. Buying souvenirs is always an exciting part of traveling abroad. When you bring these souvenirs back home, they’ll remind you of the experiences you had and the memories you made. Some notable souvenirs Emerson students treasure the most and will forever are: stuffed animals, jewelry, snow globes, dresses, satchels, tattoos, paintings, and so much more. Your favorite souvenir is often the most unexpected, so stay open-minded and you’ll surely be able to find yourself the perfect souvenir.
a postcard from home marked “return to sender” Olivia Loftis
take your high school diploma from hesitant hands. the back of your car doesn’t need it anymore. you see, i only kept it for the way it fit in the box, the one you wrote “xmas decorations” in cursive on. in the same script, you signed the dotted line to curse out the memory of me, as if your mind could exist without it. i’m a stamp in the corner of your postcard you can’t tell a story without sticking it to me, can you? even when you try, the basement floods, suspending words, because nothing sticks like me. greetings from ten to fifteen miles away! you see, i rest easy knowing that the space beneath the stairs is haunted in this house like the last one, and the one before, and the one your daughter only remembers in her sleep. what a spectacular ritual, packing truths away until they possess me. if i haunt you back, will she dream of me? you see, while she hides in foreign countries from my immutability, i stick your graduation regalia to its final resting place. 800 miles away from the cemetery gate, sealed christmas cards remind a cold mailbox to “keep the faith...” 65
greetings from disingenuous speeches! like something from the lips of your valedictorian or homecoming queen, i hope you taste the memory like you’ve refused to think of me for thirteen years, never mind the mornings you wake feeling rested— —make that seven. seven years since you almost stained a sheet-white wedding dress to save your last breath from naming a hospital cradle. didn’t you trust me to pass down the ritual? a lifetime since you wore my ring of fingerprints around your neck. find costume jewelry in our child’s backpack. i swear he hid it there beneath the unsolved equations and unpunctuated sentences boxed up with escape plans in the back of a getaway car. greetings from the dearly departed! p.s. you can’t know for sure if the past happened. i bet you still edit your performances; pathetic. 66
yet you have the nerve to speak for me? iâ€™d rather send your past as a present to myself, greetings return to sender! the joke is on you to think about me. to think my mother could ever cross me outâ€”â€”
Hongyu Liu 68
In the Midst of Being Broke Serino Nakayama
Nick van Orden I can’t find the right coins. Huh, why do I have so many five-cent coins? I can’t call them nickels, right? Dammit, I don’t have any quarters. Wait, is that a penny? Can I even call it a penny? My wallet doesn’t have any dollars; they would just slip out. I guess they aren’t dollars now. And my fingers are too big to grab anything I need. I keep coming up with nothing. I think I have a penny—I mean a one-cent euro? And a few nickels—wait, I can’t call them nickels. The cashier has a wrinkle in his brow Deep enough to set the stupid penny in; He can tell I’m not from around here. And nothing in my hand satisfies him It’d almost be better if I was holding lint Because then he wouldn’t realize I don’t know the difference Between ten and twenty cents. Now I’m just holding up the line. “I’m sorry about this. Here, just keep the change.”
A Band in Brussels Skylar Jiang
Venice: An Urban Fantasy Kate Kwok
Dear Madam, You are hereby invited to the 109th Annual Venezia Masquerade. Date: First Day of the Purple Moon Time: Midnight until dawn Venue: St. Mark’s Square, the courtyard outside Piazza Ducale All hybrids welcome, including but not limited to centaurs, chimera, sirens, nymphs, satyrs and cyclops. All fire-breathing animals including but not limited to dragons and wyverns must wear special anti-fire mouthpiece in order to be admitted to the venue. Humans: Not welcome. We are looking forward to your presence. Be enchanted. Yours faithfully, Lorenzo Orange Mayor, Venezia The gentle evening descended upon Venice like a bride’s pink-tinted veil. Blushing, the river took the fiery sun in its arm and rocked it slowly; with each passing second, the sky turned more colorful, bursts of orange and sakura clouds scattering like dragon’s breath. My eyes followed the gondolas as they crowded the waters. The other balconies around me were abandoned as crowds took to the canals, alleys, and bridges—paddling and running and finding their way to one common venue. An air of anticipation hung over the city of dreams, tingling under my skin, reverberating in my bloodstream, whispering a single sentence: It’s time. 74
I frowned at the bold font on the invitation card I had found. “Humans: not welcome.” A small issue, but an issue nonetheless. Carefully tucking the card into my handbag, I waited another moment for the crowds to thin before descending to the shopping street beneath me. In the alley, I found myself surrounded by a kaleidoscope of dazzling masks. Each shop boasted its own special collection: a set of three cat masks with realistic rubber whiskers. Blue feathers dyed in lapis lazuli adorned the eyes, which were made of two bright blue sapphires. A giant pirate captain’s mask, with iron hooks and an eye patch. A hand-painted porcelain mask, a black and white mask, a mask with a pointed nose, a ninja mask... A thousand hollow faces stared at me through carved-out eyes. “Buy me,” the cat brothers purred. “We will make you the star of tonight.” “No, choose me,” the face of Venus, a cheap knock-off, laughed. “I am the most bewitching mask you could ever ask for. Everyone in Venice will adore you.” A chorus of voices chimed in, asking, pleading, begging. But I knew better. My guidebook had warned me about the Whispering Masks, the kind made by sirens; they craved souls to fill their void. Once you wore such a mask, it would devour and possess you. You would not be the same anymore. “Now, what mask will fit our honorable guest?” The shopkeeper, a sturdy fellow with a pot belly asked from behind the counter. Listening carefully for the safety of silence, I bought three masks: red, pink and blue, of the simplest designs. I could not afford the more extravagant ones, since they cost more than twenty-five euros each. Fastening the ribbon, I put on the pink mask, the one with gilded glitter, feathers and crystals. This had to suffice. I stuffed the other two masks into my bag as souvenirs for my friends in Hong Kong and escaped from the thousand wailing voices behind me. Venice slumbered during the day but came alive at night. I wandered through the streets—squeezing through throngs of holiday makers only to stumble into a dozen drunk centaurs—taking it all in. The rich aroma of roasted hazelnut, with a slight pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, drifted through the air. The smell soon turned foul 75
when the wind brought the odor of sweat and sewage. Paper lanterns illuminated the cobblestone pavement with a warm yellow glow. The river’s surface reflected flickering candles like stars descended from Heaven. A wayward glass bottle or two floated aimlessly in the water, bobbing up and down. The tower clock struck midnight. Grasping the hem of my skirt, I skidded across bridge after bridge, snaked through narrow corridors, bumped into a satyr and a wyvern more than once, running, running, running. I was near; I could hear the soft fiddle and melodious harps already. As I emerged from a tunnel into St. Mark’s Square, a sudden huge open space unrolled before me. The magnificent spirals and terraces were made even more dazzling by strings of fairy lights. Flags with coat of arms hung at every major entrance of the courtyard. I couldn’t resist the temptation to take out my camera and capture a quick panorama. White marble sculptures of unnamed saints and gods stared down at the mortals mingling about, their gaze stern and posture stiff. The stained-glass window of the church glowed metallic green. Outside Piazza Ducale, the national museum, booths and food trucks selling flutes of champagne and little knickknacks occupied the entire boulevard, leaving little room for party goers to move about. I took a step back and marvelled at the sight before me. Venice, a city of dreams. It was the place of overflowing sweetness: barrels of candies and chocolate fountains adorned the display window of shops. It was the place of overflowing beauty: artisan masks were available everywhere, tantalizing visitors with the compulsion to take up a new identity, a new mystery to unravel. To be someone new for just one night. It was so surreal that it seemed to me as if the city had a shimmering quality to it, like a mirage. Why did this lavish, posh culture seem so unreal, so manufactured? Boom! Boom! Boom! Ear-splitting noise tugged me out from my reverie. The crowd exploded in cheers and applause, as two giant firedrakes soared through the star-studded night sky. Their red and golden scales reflected the raining embers. With a mighty roar, they breathed more fireworks in unison. Silver stars shot out from their mouth, white-hot; neon rainbows followed suit. I jumped and tried to 76
sneak a peek of the glorious fireworks, but I was too short and there were too many creatures in front of me. Horns, antlers, and wings obscured my vision no matter where I turned, so I gave up and stood on a bench, holding my camera up high in hopes of catching a glimpse or two of the show. The cheap mask pinched my skin. I almost removed it on instinct, before realizing that once I removed my mask, I would be recognized as a human. A fraud. I might be kicked out of the masquerade. I looked around me at the lions drinking from barrels, the chimera eating lobsters and abalones, and the centaurs fumbling with their wallets. They wore much prettier masks than mine, clothes that were somehow more magical than mine, and they definitely spent more money than I ever could. Venice was for the rich monsters; humans did not belong there. Dawn gradually arrived. I tore off my mask and regained my composure. The morning breeze kissed my cheek where the mask had reddened it. Just before the sun fully rose, in the moment of night’s lingering haziness and dawn’s clarity, I noticed an old man standing by himself at the dark corner of an alley. With trembling fingers, he took out his violin, and began a sorrowful tune. He sang of last night’s fireworks, his lyrics a shadow of the luxury he was not entitled to enjoy. Two seagulls landed in front of him, his only audience until a young mother put twenty cents in her child’s hand. He threw the money into the musician’s tin box. “Graci!” said the violin player. A weary smile lit up his face. Could anyone truly belong in Venice, where everything seemed like an elaborate but temporary dream? What happened after dawn, what happened after the masquerade, what happened when we all woke up from the dream? I gave my mask to the violin player. In the next masquerade, he could have a taste of the magic that he sang of.
Self Portrait 78
Coaster Collage Sam Kisthardt
Lauren Marie Miller I’d take this whole place home with me if I could Smuggle it into my carry on, refuse to declare it at customs Keep it hidden in a shoebox under my bed A secret treasure to open every once in a while (just to remember) Maybe I can do it in bits, under the cover of night Steal one more bite of food we can’t pronounce Steal another picture of that moonlit tower Steal some measures of the music floating down the alley We can steal sips of wine or beer or absinthe (pick your poison) We can steal another hour of waking moments (then sleep on the plane) We can steal more memories from the fabric of this town Stuff them under the toiletries in our backpacks I know we have to leave here eventually For real life For normal life For home life But here doesn’t have to leave us I can weave strands of this city under the skin of my palms And hold them tightly forever
Staff Kelsey Day Editor in Chief Creative Writing 2022 Souvenir: Silver Feather Ring
Head of D esign and Cover Co mmittee Creative W riting 202 2 Souvenir: Snow glob es
yama Serino Naka
Committee Head of Art VMA 2022 Souvenir: t from Train Ticke ath London to B
Head of Jo urnalis Committem e Journalism 2022 Souvenir: Piece of B erlin Wall
tinez r a M b Jaco over &
fC Head o ommittee C 22 Design ing 20 t i r W ve nir: Creati Souve r b Poste o b e g n Spo French
Melanie Lau Head of PR Committee Creative Writing 2021 Souvenir: Ruby Necklace
Head of Editing Committee WLP 2022 Souvenir: Business Cards
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mittee WLP 2021 Souvenir: Photographs
o De Sophia Abreg La Garza
e R Committe P & g in it d E WLP 2022 Souvenir: reign Book in a Foguage n La
Jack Newton Editing Committee Creative Writing 2022 Souvenir: Hats 85
Harriette Chan Design Committee WLP 2022 Souvenir: Rembrandt Bunny Plush
ylor So Caitlin Ta
e ommitte C m s li a n Jour 2 WLP 202 : Souvenir s Postcard
Kaila Shugars Art & Cover Committee VMA 2022 Souvenir: Keychain of Dutch Doll
Editing & PR
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Haley Brown Design Comm it
tee WLP 2022 Souvenir: Postcards
Hongyu Liu Committee Journalism 2022 Journalism Souvenir: f Local Food Memories o
Anna Lanza Art Comm
ittee VMA 2022 Souvenir: Polaroid o f Friends Taken 1st Day at Cas tle
Ashley Park PR Committee WLP 2022 Souvenir: New Music
o Caroline Ca
e rt Comitte A & g in it d E riting 2021 Creative W Souvenir: ds Art Postcar
Robbert van Helsdingen
Advisor Culture Studies Souvenir: Black T-shirt from Thailand
Contributors Prose & Poetry Brooke Angell Ava Budavari Harriette Chan Kelsey Day Ana Hein Alix Knice Kate Kwok Melanie Lau Olivia Loftis Jacob Martinez Lauren Marie Miller Jack Newton Caitlin Taylor So Nick van Orden
Photography & Art Austin Beaty Skylar Jiang Sam Kisthardt Melanie Lau Hongyu Liu Serino Nakayama Florian Okwu Kaila Shugars Lipsky Zhou
Journalistic Feature Caitlin Taylor So Yiwen Yu Hongyu Liu
Emerson students are known for their constant movement – we come from all different places and we go to all different places. We’re traveler...
Published on Nov 30, 2019
Emerson students are known for their constant movement – we come from all different places and we go to all different places. We’re traveler...