Volume 11 Issue 3 October 2011
The Nature Issue
VOLUME 11 ISSUE 3 OCTOBER 2011
Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. RACHEL CARSON (1907-1964)
Getting Away with It All
Farmer John Becomes A Naturalist
Teacher & Student
The Central Bloom
ALEXANDER THOMAS SMITH
Nature as an Excuse
Death of the Bumblebee
Real World Progress
A Living Force
NUNO TEIXEIRA EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER
Front Cover ELLIE ANGLIN
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Morgan Alan
THE NATURE ISSUE
Production Manager Lakyn Barton firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing Editor Devon Butler email@example.com
Promotions Manager Lydia Ogwang firstname.lastname@example.org
Radio Manager Katie Parkes email@example.com
Brantford Manager Leisha Senko firstname.lastname@example.org
The theme of “Nature” was presented as a deliberately nebulous topic to the readers and contributors of Blueprint Magazine. Though an issue broadly related to environmental concerns was the predicted editorial direction, correlating concerns were also welcome for consideration - notions of “human nature”, for example. Though a distinction between the two was expected, the submissions for this issue reflect the inseparability of humanity from our environment.
Staff Contributors Joseph Brannan, P.G. Gallant, Joslyn Kilborn, Louise Lobb, Andrew Savory, Natalia Smiarowski, Sara Stacey, Jessi Wood
CONTRIBUTORS Emily Bednarz, Kale Cowper, Luigi DiGennaro, Symon Flaming, Gillian Foster, Emily Kennedy, Janet Kwon, Jasmine Javid, Emmanuel Xerx Javier, David Lim, Sarah Michelle Ogden, Michael Radivoi, Keevan Robertson, Alexander Thomas Smith, Ian Spence, Nuno Teixeira, Dan Zybala
ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher & Chair Erin Epp Executive Director Bryn Ossington Advertising Manager Angela Taylor Vice Chair Judith Brunton Treasurer Thomas Paddock Director Mike Lakusiak Director Jon Pryce Corporate Secretary Morgan Alan Distribution Manager Ryan Tang
As the world faces an irregular climate, food shortages, pollution and an increasingly insecure global justice framework, issues concerning environmental protection become paramount. But in the public consciousness, it seems that the environment has waned from the large sphere of attention it once occupied. As young people face mounting debts, rising unemployment and a generally tenuous future, it is regrettably easy for such long-term concerns to become diminished. Whether a pressing or passing concern, each individual has a role in the preservation of our world - blemished by a role, either passive or aggressive, in destroying it. Though there is easily no issue of greater concern, complacency and non-action cloud our obligation to the natural world.
Morgan Alan Editor-in-Chief
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COVER Art by ELLIE ANGLIN
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NEXT ISSUE On the theme of “Queer” Submissions due November 11 On stands November 23
This piece is entitled “Flower Spectrum”. It is an attempt to to represent the colour spectrum with flowers, using photo collage and paint on canvas.
Aotearoa DEVON BUTLER
I think about William Wordsworth most when I’m laying lethargically across my couch, staring aimlessly into a bright television set. I suppose it should affect me differently; like when I’m trekking across a beach to spot a colony of yellow-eyed penguins, or silently gazing up at the Southern Cross. I should feel a jerk of emotions, calmness and retrospection. I should embrace the legacy of the romantic poets who paint the ideal portrait of escape and enchantment. Yet when I’m encompassed by exotic and serene landscape, I feel unsettled. I have to remind myself that soon, I will be back in that familiar groove in my overstuffed brown couch staring blankly ahead wishing I was somewhere meaningful.
of getting wet. I’m disenchanted. I’ve lost the connection I should have to the land which sustains me. And still, I have little concern for threats about respecting the land. Global warming is a sham, surely. I have little belief recycling has any benefits and ‘going green’ has become nothing more than a marketing ploy to appeal to the desperate humanitarian in consumers. Maybe some eager advertisement tells me that one person can make a difference towards a cleaner planet, but it isn’t in the hands of one person to ensure our earth is sustained, it’s in the hands of corporations and developers, politicians and scientists. It doesn’t matter how
If I’d never known development, technology, and expanding population, maybe I’d be more content in an insulated brick building. If I had grown up playing in trees and forests instead of on plastic slides and monkey-bars, maybe I wouldn’t be so disillusioned. I can’t help feeling that I’ve disappointed Wordsworth, and all the other writers who’ve discovered the healing powers of nature. I didn’t embrace the moments; I didn’t savour the scent of crisp mountain air. I didn’t find myself, or my life’s purpose. I can never seem to walk out my door into an unpredictable world without some struggle. I watch the leaves change colour safely from a streak-free window or the back seat of a car. I observe the snowy caps of mountains from a plane window, as I jet past, on my way to somewhere else. I walk through jungles of concrete, tough pavement and indifferent people, wondering what it would be like to hear nothing but wind brushing against tired leaves and the gentle baas of sheep. If I’d never known development, technology, and expanding population maybe I’d be more content in an insulated brick building. If I had grown up playing in trees and forests instead of on plastic slides and monkey-bars, maybe I wouldn’t be so disillusioned. I could be planted on the ground, instead of high above, on a metal swing. I wouldn’t feel more comfortable on a grey day wrapped in a hand-knitted blanket but would long to splash about in the rain without the worry
much recycling I do or whether I buy a reusable mug, trees will be continuously chopped down and oceans and rivers polluted by people with more power than I. What can I possibly do for the world when I can’t even part from the comfort of my own house? When I feel overwhelmed by the unpredictability of the outside world and its future? I think back to when I was caressing the soft wool of a lamb in New Zealand; when I saw its powerful waterfalls, volcanic rock and eerie glow-worms. When I lost my breath on top a snow-capped mountain or felt the sting of wind splash onto my face from the Wellington harbour. I feel comfort. I feel optimistic. But it’s easy to feel this way when I’m living in yesterday, safely tucked under a blanket, removed and distant. The legacy of great romantic writers couldn’t have reason to doubt my fondness for the outside world, however frightening it may be. For all I lack is appreciation; appreciation of the moment, of the world that allows for so many possibilities. This epiphany comes to me on a cloudy day, when I’ve already committed myself to an unproductive afternoon. It comes easy when I’m removed and unfeeling staring at photographs that don’t dare capture New Zealand’s rustic beauty. It comes too late.
September 4 EMILY BEDNARZ
Power lines shaped like medieval kings replace the white pines clinging to an autumn sky The brick tells nothing but wet or crumbling or dead Stinging comfort of a dry and pale Echinacea a soft warm cloth to wipe the table Every season brings its memories
Majestic SARA STACEY
Bows and curtsies, creaking as spindly fingers twist and turn towards the sky. Pushed by some unseen force to the point of nearly breaking, then thrust back to mellifluous comfort. Hums and whistles, singing as the wind blows through, whispering ancient secrets through its branches. It maintains its proud composure until the ceasing of the haunting wind.
Nature as an Excuse MICHAEL RADIVOI
Too often, I find that people use nature as a scapegoat for failure and irresponsibility. At least, these are the ends nature may be cited for at best; at worst, nature is used to perpetuate the idea that we are inherently a depraved, craven, wretched, miserable lot whose marginal gains and successes are curious matters of happenstance, dwarfed by our monumental stupidity. “I’m only human.” This is a phrase that many reading this article will undoubtedly be familiar with, and quite possibly have used to legitimize innumerable mistakes, missteps and misadventures; that great abdication of all responsibility that places fault on our tragically inherent inadequacies; that great surrender to the limitations of this pitiful and sordid vehicle of dust. I believe that this attitude is one that can be used to legitimize complacency and apathy. I also believe that this attitude is the rule rather than the exception. The Canadian-based group, People for Good, challenges us to defy this very notion. In one of their televised public service announcements, a pregnant woman is standing in a full subway car. A man gives up his seat for this woman, and in order to accentuate the gravity of this seemingly innocuous act these two actors dramatize it by yelling at each other, catching the attention of those around them. The announcement ends with the words “If good deeds were more common, they wouldn’t stand out so much”. I do not believe that the goals of this group are futile, although I’m not so convinced of this as to believe the contrary an untenable position. I’m not going to act like I agree with the whole of this group’s message. I don’t. Its simplicity and lack of definition verge on naivety. What I applaud is the underlying assumption of this group’s effort. It’s depressingly simple. In order for this group to proceed trying to change people, they must assume that people have a capacity for change. The message behind this group isn’t underscored by the belief that ‘we are only human’; it’s steeped in the belief that although things appear dreadful, we have the capacity to strive for something better. It’s idealistic. This bleak and belittling perspective of humanity is not only something we internalize: It’s something we loathe in
The message behind this group isn’t underscored by the belief that ‘we are only human’; it’s steeped in the belief that although things appear dreadful, we have the capacity to strive for something better. It’s idealistic. those around us with whom we - for reasons we cannot quite understand - share a species. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of attending a performance of Misanthrope by French playwright Molière in Stratford. Alceste, the protagonist, is a man of highly developed moral character who bemoans the hypocrisy and depravity of French society. The play’s eponymous misanthrope, Alceste believes that the only surefire solution to his plight is to isolate himself from all humanity. This all-or-nothing attitude is one I’m sure many of us espouse; if not constantly, then at least when our capacity for sympathy and solidarity diminish in the face of one or another unsavory attitude or action of our fellow Homo Sapiens. This attitude that humanity’s nature is one of depravity and misery, while entirely tenable hinders any hope – no matter how unlikely – that we could transcend these shortcomings. Whether or not this attitude is made manifest internally or is used to condemn other people, it has no place in a personal or societal perspective that wishes to progress. The belief that we are inherently wretched, miserable, and stupid is a veiled surrender to complacency and mediocrity.
Taxidermy JOSLYN KILBORN
She decided it was time to stop. Ignored her pale reflection as she packed her paints and brushes in a box where her face couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yearn for their costume. Walked into the world naked, scared, bravely masked no more. Found herself alone in a mirrored box that lifted skywards and couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss the batting of her own unflourished lids and lashes. Still beautiful, even as her brows increased to bush. Encouraged, she tossed her shears and gave up pruning the small garden patches she had always tended. Marveled as her feline bits grew dark and thick, and pet herself more of-
ten, hid secrets in the pockets of her fur-lined flesh. An ocean tide of coarse fuzz began to foam across her sandy waist, she was not alarmed. Nor as it curled a pool under her breasts or dripped a slow, rough whisper down her thighs. Surprise passed the morning she woke with back pains and an extended tailbone. She sat sweat-soaked and clockfixed through work that day, warm and trapped and itching in her blazer. Dreamed disrobing in a square of sun. Dreamed her tongue against her tabby drab. Dreamed hopping birds and spooling yarn.
Death of the Bumblebee NATALIA SMIAROWSKI
This day brings the heartache in dreamers. We used to be searching the start for meanings, sliding our hands against stars, scrying to find the future, looking for omens in the night. Now we use the dry papers of science to understand how we will destroy the earth. It makes me feel like I am at the bottom of gray ocean, hope lost. What would Nikolai Korsakov say when the last bumblebee dies? Where is the poetry in old growth forests slowly dying?
Where is the justice of democratic governments that choke the rights of people, where is the dignity when a boy asks to bring his food from the soup kitchen home and is told no? Our lips are forced shut so hard the blood runs down our chin. Should we press cardboard signs to our chests? Make mute shouts in a system that corrupts and brings down. These are the broken hearts of dreamers, sleeping against the budding weeds of Wall Street. This is our struggle â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to know that the destruction of our earth is near but to be powerless in changing it.
Getting Away with It All SYMON FLAMING
As I skip rocks at sunset from my campsite’s cloistered shore, I grab the pocket guide More Moss to Live Off: Eighth Edition – promising the secrets of enlightenment on a gold foiled star – and toss it in too. I watch as it skips even worse than my watch did. And my anxiety floats there. I imagine, Each day acted in the round. I imagine the orchestra poised: And! Bay fog lifts, ghost of this shrinking theatre, to un-curtain insects waltzing the still basin. Bring out symphonic chickadees! Bring on woodpecker percussionists! To goad us trespassers bumbling with tent poles and bug spray. “Gouge Away,” I sing, stubborn to weather the blackflies. As warm air wafting from a foggy swamp buoys darting bats, the bullfrog still belches its slow metronome. Anxiety because it’s easy to think it’s just us in this lustrous bubble: nature and I entwined, the whine of cars on concrete left behind. Oh! malicious noise whose mere presence here might pop my ludic notions, might cause caprice enough for me to rip free these clothes and streak like mad lightning through the clear night’s milky sway. Here, where nature’s rated PG. Reeds turn in a soft breeze. Pine needles tinkle too. It’s easy, I imagine, in the heartbeat and sighs of the Algonquin night cradle, so I simply turn back to the show at hand. Step off, steady now, my paddle dips a J-stroke once and I’m afloat through the sky’s snoring reflection. A slow satellite over the water’s rippling dreams. My shallow arc is almost imperceptible as the whole world rests. I’ve littered in the lake, I know, guilty in whim, fancy and ignorance; I’ll take the blame, for who can be, among the reeds and the inverted world, enlightened as the rising moon allows?
Farmer John Becomes a Naturalist LOUISE LOBB
Does counting butterflies equal work? I’ve been delighted by the reds and purples, and awakened by a flick upon my fingertips. I’ve heard answers back when I call to the birds. Is that not more than you receive from your husband? I find the silence less disturbing here than in the cab of a Massey. The purity of wetland air teases the heron to tread on the river. Pardon me, for being Romantic. You see, I’ve shovelled the dung and spread the hay, called the dead stock, burned the dead cock, hit my thumb more times than I can remember, and I always remember where I put the gun. They built a grain shed in 3 weeks, but I was out picking orchids. Sawed and nailed the frame, but I was lifting rocks for milk snakes. Steel shingles, 20 ft. high, but I was – wasn’t there. If I take notes and pictures, I’ll remember – and pocket the feel of baby swallows and crayfish. Sucking through the mud, he found the world he was looking for away from the stench of manure, away from tireless hours in the combine He found his soul. He’d been hiding it since he left college in ’69.
SARAH MICHELLE OGDEN
Power IAN SPENCE
Real World Progress KALE COWPER
It is often difficult to reconcile the expansion of urban centers with the preservation of nature. Considering industrialization’s history, it is not too bold to suggest that the natural world and urban world are adversaries, locked in a competition for survival. Urbanized society finds itself in a game to where there can be winners and losers, though one of these competitors is unwillingly taking part. She is engaged, but unaware of the stakes. She desperately tries to regenerate what is being frivolously taken, but will
eventually lose. The leading competitor defines the rules of the game, although they are inherently flawed, as the winning competitors success is synonymous with their defeat. The competitor can’t win without it’s opponent, and its opponent’s defeat will cause it’s own demise. The only way to solve this problem is to change the rules of the game or, more accurately in this analogy, change what it means to win. From the dawn of the city, humankind has drawn a clear distinction between the urbanized world and it’s natural
Our relentless desire to advance has led us astray... we have to begin to question what it means to progress if nature and city are ever to attain true hybridity.
counter-part. Although methods of thought exist that preach ideas of man’s harmony with nature, the endless appetite of the city has shown where his true loyalty lies. The mechanical things we create are thought to progress us, take what is normal and make it into what is supernormal; this process that has allowed society to reach new heights of comfort and prosperity. Humanity has taken nature and made it into something it could never have achieved on its own. We’ve progressed; we’re winning... aren’t we? Our relentless desire to advance has led us astray. Many of the mechanical things we create, especially those that are dependent on natural elements like fossil fuels, work against nature and subsequently against humanity. We have to begin to question what it means to progress if nature and city are ever to attain true hybridity. When considering the world in its entirety there can only be one meaning of the word progression in regards to urban growth, sustainability and harmony with the earth. Other forms of progression are mere steppingstones towards these absolute ideals. If urbanized humanity could reach a state of authentic hybridity with the earth, its development would be timeless. Sustainability and harmony will be the climax of mechanical advancement, and rightfully so. Without it, we are working towards our inevitable demise. Our dependence on the consumption of oil, and the earth alike, is a prominent weakness in our system. Without a solution to this problem, humanity’s industrial and mechanical fields will regress in light of the fact that their model works in conflict with the preservation of that in-which it serves- itself. In other words, advancements within industries that ignore the preservation of the environment are advancements in industries that ignore the preservation of humankind. It seems as though the world is trapped in the utopian dream of early modernity. In that age, industrial development was synonymous with humanity’s progress. Our reluctance to abolish this system of thought has led us to the sad state we find ourselves today. The contemporary world is faced with a depressing paradoxical reality: that merely sustaining what we have will further develop our society. Although I cannot say how humankind will begin to change, one thing is imperative to the movement’s birth - the acknowledgment that there is a problem. Global warming is
a widely accepted theory, yet there remain people skeptical of its severity. Climate change is not a problem that can be fixed easily, if even at all. If we are going to move forward in any regard we are going to have to realize that a world without climate change and oil dependency cannot be likened to our contemporary world. Our system is so intensely immersed in practices that oppose nature, that our emancipation from those practices will require radical change. Unfortunately the dynamics of this change will cause shifts among those in authority, and these shifts will cause alterations in the concentration of capital. Although this may sound appetizing (as it could lead to greater equality), it is presently stifling our ability to address the problem in full. The dominant analysis of the problem and dominant solutions are created around capital, and those in control of capital have made the laws that have been made to implement these solutions. Can there be a grassroots movement? Does the consumer have any power when the system they are a part of limits their ability to change? Sure, we can make decisions to buy more expensive “energy efficient” products but as long as solutions are centered on the accumulation of capital we can’t institute necessary change. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this is a slow start to the preservation of our planet. Maybe these solutions will make a difference, but they are still so limited. Despite our efforts, there needs to be change at the top if significant strides are to be made. Our dependency on the consumption of the earth, particularly fossil fuels, can only be truly fixed from the top down as it is engrossed in the very fabric of the way our society operates. Nevertheless, sustainability is possible; it is just contradictory to the way the world works today. I’m not claiming to have solutions, just that there should be an understanding of this problems severity. Ultimately the world of tomorrow will have to be one of a different type of progress. It will have to value the harmony of humanity with nature over the advancement of industry and the accumulation of capital. We will have to realize that when it comes to the preservation of the environment, it may take all our energy and innovation to maintain what we presently have. As Lewis Carroll cleverly remarked: “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”
Fly IAN SPENCE
The Wanderer ANDREW SAVORY
His feet straddle the exhausted beast beneath him, The wind disperses the clouds like blades of green grass and the light grows dim, The wandering child considers his existence, He had just left the lost city without much persistence, Why had he left? He gazes at the mystic atmosphere that engulfs the space around, High above an eagle screeches an echoing cry but he pays no attention, He cannot hear for he is not willing to listen. There was nothing for him at home, It was only once he had lost everything that he was free, He counted: One, two three, Three days left to live, Three days left to arrive, Three days left to survive. His hand grazes over his tattered shirt, At last it rests across his thumping heart, The mist surrounding him grows dense, Three days had past and he had built no defense, He longed to disappear, He yearned for eternal damnation, He could not right his wrongs, He had no fear. Slowly he admits defeat, He knows what comes next â&#x20AC;&#x201C; nothing, Without a beginning he had no end.
Silent Lake GILLIAN FOSTER
Nurture P.G. GALLANT
Instead of a padded room, they put him in a padded suit. It was a novel idea, and he couldn’t get hurt, or hurt himself, but they didn’t give him a helmet. I was uncomfortable when he sat down next to me at the table. He had recently started to take pills and deteriorate: his speech had slowed, and he had trouble delivering his thoughts. He told me how much he liked the pills, and how they managed his headaches. The weight of his body began to press upon me, and then he fell forward. He hit the ground head first and I was unable to determine whether the sickening crack was his skull or neck. Face to ground, dead weight pushing. I had never seen this man before, but his fall came with painful, emotional gravitas.
The Central Bloom ALEXANDER THOMAS SMITH
What is a flower if one cannot see What this flower may someday be? A bulb, a shoot, a stem, and one crimson flower All fuelled by the great sun’s power. If that star ceases to be, we all shall hear Screams and shouts in strife and in fear. As just like the flower under the sun’s power, The sun, our central star will now, or In another few thousand years die-off, And from then-on nobody may scoff. For unlike the flower, the sun will explode And rip every person from their cozy abode Leaving only particles of gases and dust For the ‘splosion will go right through the Earth’s crust. And now that this has been said and thought, I’m glad I’ll live to see the flowers in this pot.
Love, we have one life togetherTwo short months among the oaks in summer. Butterflies want to tell me your secrets, Bumblebees dance to usher autumn in. Love, like hanging laundry, takes time and patience, And patiently from a shadowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shrinking solstice My body clambers like a posy towards your sunny body. Like a gaucho, I long for your South. Penurious and stony, I am a vigilant beggared, I make enough money for pen and paper. Your loveâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enough to earn a living. Your lips are all the riches I needYour kiss, the intoxicant life-force That keeps a simple man in motion.
Rhapsody JASMINE JAVID
Touch my chords of varied hue Play me until I blend with you Reach the depths of my arduous soul Whose moods only your melodies can control. Let our rhythms s merge as our music meets With diverse harmonies, uneven beats. Let our hearts blend and palpitate With staccato temperament or a steady rate. As winds blow gentle or meander with change Essence is but one that we rearrange. But no time or composition can alter the song Whose message and feeling linger eternally strong.
A Living Force DAN ZYBALA
The world is evolving, and patterns of change are cycling the systems of environment, sustainability, and human progress. In the coming years, climate change will become the most important subject in government summits, public talks, and manufacturing industries. As the environment reacts to carbon emission and greenhouse gases, we will find difficulties of common existence in the way it affects our earth as a living force in nature. With the sun getting hotter, the ozone layer getting larger, and the droughts across the world becoming more gruesome, the need for solutions weighs heavily on the carbon footprint our society leaves as a whole. To cut down carbon emissions by 13% gives an everlasting affect on the ozone layer, which has grown in diameter by nearly 100 yards in the last 15 years. The difficulties with our environmental shift is the switch to advanced economics, which has drastically affected the pollution produced by factories, now holding a 40% emission release on the earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s atmospheric capacities as a whole. Climate change has associated itself with the largest systematic
problem in the last decade, affecting the world in the ways we progress, evolve, and continue on in the modern world. As the environment reaches its full polluted capacity, the changes must advertently diminish the level of emissions and growth, in hope of reducing emissions for the future generations. The need for carbon tax has appeared to control the mass amounts of civilization who are demanding a change in the pollution of manufacturing, oil mining, car fuels and especially war. To see the light of this political and devastating topic, the world must connect and agree on a method in which safely changes the concerns into a well generated ecosystem that gains solution in the years to come. The acting framework of climate sustainability starts in our minds, proceeds into the minds of who we teach and presents a formal solution to how we live beyond the grim environment difficulties of our present day. With environment systems comes the progression of economy, leading right into the future of world connection in the balance of equal life, equal breath, and equal presence.
Vultura IAN SPENCE
JESSI WOOD Imagine, a world shaped especially for robins. The volume of worms needed to please such an environment would cause the soil to always be extremely fertile. The sky would be clear of all smog, planes, and runaway balloons. Open fields, where crops once existed in all their uselessness, would be replaced with forests, filled with all types of trees that robins like best. The only buildings that would be allowed to stand would be old barns and the tallest awnings, once meant for tended flowers and vines to creep up. The ground would be littered with pieces of soft debris of miscellaneous origins, used exclusively for nest making. Twigs would be in high demand, as would scraps of cotton and soft wool, and be therefore hard to find. Lower class birds would have to settle for second rate objects, like coins and shiny rocks. Home schooling would be the norm, with a high drop-out rate. The water would be perpetually topped with a thin layer
of bird feces, though few would mind; those that do complain won’t be heard; they’re not the majority. Intellect would be a burden in a world where the greatest talent is the essential ability to fly. A world that was once the embodiment of an ecosystem, and filled with a myriad of diverse species would simply become a circulatory system of red feathers, ebbing and flowing for the needs of the few instead of the many. Animals that might have co-existed with the robins would be displaced. Some would learn to adapt quickly, like the squirrels with their fondness of trees, and most insects, among some others. Most other species would be less fortunate. While a great many of the unwanted would have the good judgment to die off swiftly and quietly, others would linger, tortured by primitive memories of a world that could have allowed them. I’d much rather sleep in a bed then a nest made of sticks and bits of cotton.
Teacher & Student JANET KWON
It’s hot. The sun bears down on the water and there there is no shade for comfort. No trees, no birds, no sail. There is the light and there is the water. The boat gently glides and the slicing sound made by the bow is crisp and clear above the constant buzzing and humming of the insects unseen. All of this goes unheard; he only hears silence, the only interruption on this day is his fumbling about on the boat, looking for another drink or some other type of bait. The fish aren’t biting. They don’t ever seem to bite. Sweat trickles down his forehead and down his face. Salty as it lands on his lips. He takes his time to lick his lips. The saltiness reminds him of the taste of her skin. His tastes different somehow, slightly bitter, hers was almost salty sweet. Was it hot then too, he wonders. All this sun creates a new kind of oppression. His memories have changed, have become dull. Under the confines of his sandal, he makes the effort of crossing his big toes over the second and urges his body to produce that same sweaty anxiety. Eyes closed, he waits. The fishing pole snaps to life and the unnatural bend of the rod brings him back. There is no wind but he can feel goose bumps rise on his arm. He sighs.
Clumps of dirt are flung into the air and land haphazardly around the barely visible figure. There is no moon tonight. No chance for even the flimsiest strands of light. The shovel makes the first sound, breaking into new ground, rocks and debris scratching its metal base. The sound
As the hole becomes larger the damp rich odour of dirt fills his nostrils and he must stop for a breath of fresh air. The wind blows its forgiving breeze and the smell of its chilliness, the distinct scent of fresh air and the mysteries it carries makes goose bumps rise on his arms.
of dirt as it hits the grass follows. He is determined and his work goes uninterrupted. There is dust everywhere in the air around him and, sand and grit under his nails. His hands, dirty from their work, look almost inhuman, a demon working through flesh and blood; a pair of divine hands at work. As the hole becomes larger the damp rich odour of dirt fills his nostrils and he must stop for a breath of fresh air. The wind blows its forgiving breeze and the smell of its chilliness, the distinct scent of fresh air and the mysteries it carries makes goose bumps rise on his arms. He holds his mouth shut. He dares not look the other way. He is calm in a way that makes his unease rise to the surface. There is no sound tonight but his mind says, “look.” No, it screams it and yells it, “Look!” His heart starts to hammer, hammer, the pounding so incessant, drowning out the voice and anything else. He clenches his jaw. He shuts his eyes. He presses his hands to his ears. “I will not look that way,” he states. His voice rings in the silence, bouncing off the house and the fence. “Dig, just keep digging,” he whispers. He puts his hand on the brick wall and feels his way inside. He dares not tread the dirt into the house. His hand is the only part of him he allows inside and it reaches for a switch. The lonely fixture on the brick wall comes to life. The bulb and glass are hanging by a nail, just on the verge of falling off. He could have sworn he heard a howling but there is only the squeaking of the nail. No howl. No moon.
“Let me make you a drink! We can go outside and sit on the deck,” the girl squeals. She tries to reach for the tumblers but they’re out of reach in the top shelves. Instead, she prances over to the fridge and pulls out a six pack of beer. “How about beer instead,” she smiles, and he nods. As they make their way outside, the girl screams and drops the beer. A bottle breaks and cold amber liquid pools around her feet. A shard of glass gets stuck in her toe and bright red blood starts to flow. Huge dark flies are buzzing and fluttering around on the deck. The man walks toward the cloud of darkness and the flies fly away in a swarm, their buzzing too close to her ears. She screams again. It is the body of a dead mouse. White maggots are clear against dark tufts of fur and the black-red of dried blood. There is a tail, thin with hints of white bone. There are no eyes left, just two dark holes in a lifeless body. The smell is foul, like compost but more pungent, like the smell of a newborn, distinct from what lies around it. “Don’t be alarmed, my love. Such is nature’s will, God’s will. What was once alive must die and return to our Father
above. Don’t be afraid. Let us bury this little creature… Come now, don’t be afraid,” he whispers in her ear, stroking her head. He tucks a wary strand of luscious hair away.
When did it become too much? It felt like one day, in one moment, suddenly the drumming of my heart was the rhythm of her dancers’ feet. Sunlight streaming in, reflecting off glass and water, the shine, that wondrous shine of her hair. Touch, that silky soft touch and I was taken away. Such natural beauty, seductive by nature, I couldn’t resist. Not my fault. Hers. Damn her. Holding my hand, she whispered it was natural, that all of this was natural, she kept giggling. Natural, I suppose, for a school girl, but I couldn’t take it anymore. When did it become too much to bear?
The wheelbarrow creaks, and the night is cool. The wheels need to be greased; they can barely balance the weight as they roll onto the grass. The metal handle snaps and like the
sound of a bat making contact with a ball, the night receives the sound in perfect clarity, the repeated snapping of bone, breaking into perfect little pieces; A mesmerizing rhythm, fish thwacking on concrete, desperate for water, for life. Her body is beautiful, bending this way and that. Those angles, those colours, so unnatural and yet real. He smiles. A modern art piece, a masterpiece, a human body in its natural form, contorted and twisted. There’s love, there’s hate, there’s confusion, and there’s even peace - so many beautiful natural emotions. Hair streaming down and her eyes trapped in that glazed look forever. No more giggling, no more silliness. Just as God made you, just as you should be. “This is right. This is God’s will. This is the law of nature. You’re born and then, you die. You have to die. Everyone must die. Nothing is forever. It’s the nature of things.” His eyes sparkled and his hands become animated again. Those divine hands at work again.
You see, there’s a nature to this kind of thing. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be alarmed.