MĂŠlange 2012-2013 Editor-in-Chief Carlie Hruban Revisions Editor Nat Raum Managing Editor Jacqueline Betz Staff Jessica Berger Lucy Burchell Anzhi Cao Alexa Corse Ellie Grabowski Sarah Herman Isabel LaBonte-Clark Criss Moon Alex Rallo Kendall Reitz Lindsay Sanders Samantha Silverman Kendall Sinosky Faculty Advisor Ms. Diane Levine Cover photograph by Georgie Crompton 1
Table of Contents
My Earrings Are Squids Reckless Childhood
Stephanie Histon ‘14 Breyuana Heriot ‘13
bloodbuzz baltimore Heirloom City Rising Coming Home Where the River Meets the Sky The Year-Long Nightmare Pourquoi? Labyrinth I Heard a Beep When I Was Born Ophelia The Ringing of the Dining Room Telephone The Box Mount Sinai It Is a Truth Universally Acknowledged... Just Count To Five Moonglow Mortality It’s All Smoke Phantom Romance, Part I Phantom Romance, Part II Ode to the Irreconcilable The Queen You and Me April Showers City on Pause Driving and Gliding Un-Sculpted Punctuation A Day in the Life of a Tire Phantom Romance, Part III The Night Curse This is America The Boys of Summer My Home Away From Home Dirty Money Nothing Lasts Forever My Self Portrait Ame Eternelle Us Pentheus Dickinson Imitations The Home That Changes The Lies She Told
Criss Moon ‘14 Nat Raum ‘14 Jacqueline Betz ‘13 Alice Sheehan ‘14 Kendall Sinosky ‘14 Kendall Reitz ‘14 Usma Hosain ‘15 Alexus Roane ‘14 Georgia Carroll ‘14 Logan Baumbusch ‘13 Carlie Hruban ‘13 Breyuana Heriot ‘13 Chinyere Amanze ‘13 Alexus Roane ‘14 Liza Davis ‘13 Lucy Burchell ‘14 Alex Rallo ‘15 Anonymous Anzhi Cao ‘13 Anzhi Cao ‘13 Liza Davis ‘13 Aidan Lorch-Liebel ‘13 Zipi Diamond ‘16 Nat Raum ‘14 Nat Raum ‘14 Emma Afrookteh ‘13 Jacqueline Betz ‘13 Carlie Hruban ‘13 Logan Baumbusch ‘13 Anzhi Cao ‘13 Alex Rallo ‘15 Charlotte Lynch ‘14 Jessica Call ‘14 Christine Wyatt ‘14 Alice Sheehan ‘14 Nat Raum ‘14 Breyuana Heriot ‘13 Nat Raum ‘14 Kendall Reitz ‘14 Charlotte Lynch ‘14 Liza Davis ‘13 Logan Baumbusch ‘13 Nat Raum ‘14
4 5 6 7 8 8 10 11 14 14 18 19 22 23 25 26 27 28 28 29 29 30 32 33 33 34 35 35 36 37 38 39 40 44 44 45 48 49 49 52 57 60 62
Still Movement My Gong Gong Coincidence
Untitled Halcyon Elemental Bambuseae Love is mean Saguaro Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Stardust Wanderlust Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Untitled Gallery Untitled Untitled Cavernas de Camuy Untitled Apothecary Untitled Baby Time Taken Untitled Untitled Farmer Self Portrait Tracy Untitled Untitled Untitled Orchard Stroll Untitled Untitled Untitled Afternoon Espresso
Brian Choo ‘14 Brian Choo ‘14 Lindsay Sanders ‘14
66 70 71
Laura Hawes ‘14 Kendall Reitz ‘14 Anna Yung ‘14 Nat Raum ‘14 Nat Raum ‘14 Tempie Whitcomb ‘16 Samantha Silverman ‘15 Annie Sadler ‘13 Carlie Hruban ‘13 Jenna Hong ‘15 Georgie Crompton ‘13 Tempie Whitcomb ‘16 Nat Raum ‘14 Kendall Reitz ‘14 Georgie Cromptom ‘13 Sam Silverman ‘15 Feddi Roth ‘15 Kendall Reitz ‘14 Anzhi Cao ‘13 Nat Raum ‘14 Isabel LaBonte-Clark ‘14 Isabel LaBonte-Clark ‘14 Isis Cabassa ‘15 Isabel LaBonte-Clark ‘14 Nat Raum ‘14 Georgia Carroll ‘14 Samantha Silverman ‘15 Jenna Hong ‘15 Isabel Labonte-Clark ‘14 Tempie Whitcomb ‘16 Samantha Silverman ‘15 Lizzie Smith ’15 Isabel LaBonte-Clark ‘14 Isabel LaBonte-Clark ‘14 Isabel LaBonte-Clark ‘14 Kendall Feitz ‘14 Lizzie Smith ‘15 Georgie Crompton ‘13 Annie Sadler ‘13 Annie Sadler ‘13 Lizzie Smith ‘15
5 9 9 12 12 13 13 15 16 17 17 20 20 21 24 42 42 43 43 46 46 47 47 50 50 51 51 54 54 55 55 58 58 59 59 66 67 67 68 69 69
a bowl of red wine later, the world unfurled itself for you. and then you drank the sun, too, with raw red lips and let your body bloom. and your long hair slid down your bare back and the fields felt you, too. so you watched, in awe as little cities lit up under thin skin, as if every citizen was blushing in plain sight. maybe it wasâ€”yes, it was, just the night before you had snuck past alleyways which wove themselves around your quiet child heart where boys had been brutal and beautiful to you. and yes, you had slammed your feet down on hot cement and sped along the shores of Prettyboy Reservoir determined to save the sun or a pair of piano hands or maybe your young mother from sinking but the lake bled anyway (like your lips) and baltimore began to leak blue.
It’s a curtain, a rope, a lethal weapon. It’s two feet of intricate blonde tendrils that I got from my mother and she got from her father, who got his from the enormous Irish family that crossed the sea a century ago. I’ve drowned it, singed it, stifled it with chemicals in a futile attempt to “relax” it. But then I gave up, because it’s me, and it was high time I let my hair down.
The window faced east toward nothing in particular, squinting blindly at the rising sun in its only few minutes of glory. Each rectangle reflected the golden orange light like the back of a fiery beetle, copied by the rows of identical panes of glass that lit up the building with a new day. The moment—for it was just a moment, not permanent enough to be called a phenomenon—struck a chord in the few observers awake enough to witness it. It was almost a ritual, of sorts, to these early-goers, and in particular to one small form cutting through the water below in an oversized boating jacket. She had been there for hours. She had seen it all. It’s a strange thing, being on the water an hour before and after dawn. First, the world is dark, the sky such a deep black and the stars shining so brilliantly that it seems like it must be just past midnight. The normal sounds that filter in from the city are faint and few, like even those producing them are sleepwalking in the predawn light. The streetlights paint bright white and yellow streaks on the black water that swirl together like the palate of a messy painter. Then, the sky starts to slowly filter into foggy, dim light peeking over the horizon. The entire world is grayscale, colors and shapes blurring together as real things disappear, dreams solidify into reality, and you fall into a state of constant dozing, as if you weren’t meant to be awake at this hour. The heady scent of brine and the splash of cool water on bare skin gives this twilight zone a strange kind of hyperawareness, as if the swishing of the oars and the calling of the coxswain are happening just below your still sleeping conscious brain. And at some instant, always around the same time but always unexpected, you suddenly blink and realize that you can see color now, and detail. The yellow-gray sky is bright enough to be called day, and the tip of the sun’s violent color is visible over the horizon. From then on, the world starts spinning faster and faster. Dawn sprints in with a burning vengeance, setting fire to the atmosphere with brilliant flames of purple, pink, and gold. The sun follows, a star boiling on the brink of an explosion of light. All of a sudden, the unlit world of dreams is jolted by the intersection of the real world waking up. Cars invade the silent streets and tumble over the Hanover Street Bridge in a cacophonous melody of screeching metal that assaults the ears of the rowers below. The city’s volume is turned up to full blast, and it projects the blaring misery of the early morning commute until the quiet little inlet remembers how close to civilization it really is. Oncoming daylight rushes in to define the ugly landscape that darkness mercifully hid—construction sites, floating garbage, the urban sprawl pressing in. The horns blast, the windows glare, and the whole city is now privy to the last vestiges of this. 6
In the end, though, it’s still the sunrise that’s the most spectacular. Those precious few minutes where the sky is scorched by the coming star and the air is golden-blue, the entire scene holding a sense of quavering mortality. The impending invasion of thousands of Baltimoreans only makes it more precious to the few already up and awake. And just as surely as this moment is destroyed every morning, every night after midnight, it will start again. -Jacqueline Betz
Finally, approaching my final destination. I’m nearing the end of this endless journey. Now, She’s coming to rest, down, laying down, able to sleep, for the first time in years. After all this time, we are coming to the end, of two very different [or were they exactly the same?] travels. We approach the end, with peace, and each other, a kind of quiet companionship, while still in our everlasting solitude. I can’t tell anymore, am I wrapped in her arms? or my own? We are getting there, almost finished, decrepit and alone in our finality, yet together in our love and our life, ready to sleep, ready for this, ready.
Where the River Meets the Sky
The gentle brush of the oars skating over the rippled surface of the water behind me whispers a subtle request for me to sit easy, allowing the shell to steadily lose momentum as we glide until we are painted into the timeless pre-dawn landscape. As the ripples settle into the opaque glassy mirror cradling our boat, the only disturbance is the rustle of a soft wind whispering through the tall reeds along the shoreline. It tosses my long, wispy hair and carries away beads of sweat from my forehead like a honeybee sipping nectar from a blossom. The jovial honks of a Canada goose echo faintly in the distance. I look for him over my shoulder, but he is lost in a glimpse of the morning miracle just starting to peek over the horizon. I too melt into the warm amber rays dancing across a vermilion stage that spreads out and consumes the furthest waters in its fire. Dark blue clouds outlined in a golden ribbon hover above, almost touching the refulgent city skyline along the horizon. Holding my oar in one hand, I stretch out the palm of the other and place it on the still surface of the water. My palm is now part of the mystery beneath me while the posterior side faces the sky. I feel the pulse of living dreams hiding beneath the surface while at the same time embracing the warmth of the visible possibilities that are illuminated by the glow of the rising sun. The water is one body. My hand is as much here as it is on the horizon, where all dreams both feasible and visionary meet and are indistinguishable from one another because on the horizon, nothing is out of reach. This is the magical time of day where, like the rays of the sun, I can dance along the boundaries between the concrete and the intangible.
The Year-Long Nightmare
Infinite goosebumps are dri pp i n g down my spine. The pugnacious, cold air attacks my raw lungs like sharp icicles. I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing in this dark, bleak room. Chills, shivers, and fears all rush past my face in a blistering breeze. The piercing silence is shattered by a man’s booming voice. “Welcome to AP Latin” 8
J’ai ouvert le livre, J’ai lu l’histoire, Et j’ai pensé. Qu’est-ce que c’est racisme. Et je m’ai demandé beaucoup De questions pour lesquelles je n’avais Pas de responses. Pourquoi, J’ai demandé. Pourquoi est-ce Qu’il existe? Pourquoi est-ce que Le monde des caractères peuvent Accepter les gens des autres races Mais les adultes dans ma vie ne peuvent Le faire. Pourquoi? Les personnes avec un visage D’une couleur différent ne sont Pas vraiment différents. Ils sont Des humaines, aussi. Alors, Pourquoi est-ce que nous ne Pouvons pas les respecter Comme humains et pas Comme les étrangères Parce qu’ils ont un visage Différent. Dans l’histoire, ils aiment Tous les personnes. Il n’y a pas de Problèmes avec les différences. Est-ce que c’est tellement Difficile d’accepter les Autres qui ne sont pas Comme vous? Comment est-ce que les gens De ma monde ne peuvent pas Aimer tous. Comment est-ce que C’est possible?
Peut-être c’est quelque Chose que les enfants Ne peuvent pas comprendre. Ma mère me disait “C’est trop dangereux de Demander beaucoup de Questions. Soyez prudent.” J’étais triste, Pour moi, ma vie, La vie des autres Qui souffrent discrimination. J’ai beaucoup pleuré. La tristesse de ma vie était Ça. Nous ne savons pas Comment accepter les personnes Différents. Nous ne savons pas Comment être humains. Alors J’ai fini l’histoire, J’ai fermé le livre, Et j’ai pensé encore.
I long for something to break this curse. To release me from the deep, soulless abyss inside of me. “Let me go!” I scream to myself As I struggle to sever the chains that hold me victim to the evil inside of me. I fail. Again. And yet, I search Every day for my freedom from the dark shadows. Every day is the same. Every day, there is only night; There is only confusion and darkness and sorrow. Most of all, there is no one else But me. 11
Love is mean
I Heard a Beep When I Was Born I heard a beep when I was born a monitorâ€™s metal cry like sheep in April I was sheared then felt a patient die
a smile lifted daddyâ€™s cheeks basked in butter moonlight which hit me with My Song, unsung ticking through dark midnight but the next room over, in anguish a daughter lay in bed eyes were wide but no soul was tied inside her withered head the beep-beep-beep became a flood as wrinkled eyes closed shut my fat cheeks filled with purple blood and short, sweet breaths were mine!
This branch, it swoons under my weight, too full, Shock full of ache. Too heavy with hard pain That fills my heart. I sing, too late my sweet Savior, too late. My body falls with such Grace! My happy heart slows its cruel beating. No love, no fear, I willingly sink now. Tranquil as night, soft as feather, I let Go for you. Do not be tempted to look Upon my face, for my hair is a web Caught in too strong a summer breeze. If thou Shalt look, mine eyes will turn thou into rock, So much like Medusa I have become! This sweet smell fills my lungs, getting heavy. Glistening I am in this pool full of life All around, yet it grows too dark for me. Like Eve, I am tricked by your lies and words. The leaning tree, oh how you smile at me. Dear water, you hug my skin too tightly, Petting me gently as I become new. Forget the old, oh how it has begun To smell, rank with foul life too abundant! 14
Oh no more cruel slanderer shall I listen. Your foul words are a new dew dripping from My ears in the rising morning sun. Thou who has helped to raise me may no longer Need to worry, for I have jumped from thy Gentle nest, taking wing I dive deeper still. None can stop me, my dress tightens its grip, Whispering to me yet I cannot say Words back to her, for my voice become hoarse! Now thou shall never get thy chance to take What I was so ready to give away once Before. It will be carried, nay buried, With my dear heart and soul. Oh how I wish My strength was comparable to thee, Strong Hercules who kills that wretched beast! Hydra, oh hydra squirm under his great Arms! I, who am too weak, cannot do it Any longer. I shall fade into Unknown oblivion! Dear, sweet, my love Hamlet, I leave you now, unsatisfied As ever, no kiss upon thy lips, nor A word in thy direction that you shall Receive from me! No longer do I think Of you, may the sweet worms devour Thy too, too solid flesh! Goodbye, my sweet, How I do love you so!
The Ringing of the Dining Room Telephone
When I was a little girl, I had a neighbor named Elsa. She used to live four houses down from me, by herself. She never had any children or any relatives that I ever met, she simply had a wreath on the front door and a pretty porcelain flower vase that was always empty. Elsa was old. She wasn’t wrinklyskin-old or prescription-glasses old. She was lie-in-bed old, and need-helpwith-the-phone old. She had bedroom slippers at the door and a collection of walkers and canes that stood in her living room like a line of gleaming trophies. And one day she died. Quietly and with the ringing of my dining room telephone. My family went to her funeral one morning, mourning. She had a niece and nephew in attendance, a few other neighbors, and my family. No more than twelve people in total. I cried that day. I cried because I didn’t believe she was dead, and I cried because I knew she was dead, and I cried because no one else was crying, and I cried because I didn’t want her to be forgotten. And I went home and stopped crying and I forgot about her, slowly, like a sigh. I had a grandmother named Elizabeth. She used to live eight hours away from me, by herself. She had three daughters who loved her and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and people that I never met; she had several pretty porcelain flower vases and they were never empty. She might have been old, but I never noticed. She wasn’t wrinkly-skin-old or prescription-glasses old. She was grocery-store-adventures young, and discuss-the-current-crisisin-Iran young. And one day, when I wasn’t a little girl any more, she died. Quietly and with the ringing of my dining room telephone. My family drove up to her funeral one weekend, mourning. There were aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews nieces, children, grandchildren, people from all over. There must have been over a hundred people in total. I cried that day. I cried because I didn’t believe she was dead, and I cried because I knew she was dead, and I cried because everyone else was crying, and I cried because I didn’t want her to be forgotten. And I went home and stopped crying and—
I don’t want to forget her.
More than anything else I don’t want to forget her. But I can feel my memory leaving me slowly, like a sigh. Her features blurring and her scent fading like old perfume; her picture on my bookcase being slowly covered in dust.
I wish I knew the story of the person lying next to me. situation the same place the same position the same bed the same But no introductions. Two years without communication without a simple How did you end up in here? Who did you leave behind? Or did someone leave you behind? no, too personal. But no talking Two years without talking to anyone Trapped in a box, if you will. Most travel to the north but I I was trapped here in this box. Itâ€™s my fault. My fault for not listening to her for not paying attention to her orders for not staying inside when she asked me for not falling to the ground fast enough for not surviving. Because of this, I am trapped in a box. Alone. With a hole in the back of my head and no one to talk to about it.
-Nat Raum 20
-Kendall Reitz 21
Now they were near. Twenty-eight faces represented a spectrum of shades and cultures, blending into one despite the clashing colors and the clashing voices; voices that were stucco laughs and amused groans which echoed through the trees and resonated in the clouds. The faces did not notice the clouds which evaporated like morning dew in the indigo sky, no matter how brightly the skyâ€™s eyes twinkled the childrenâ€™s eyes focused on the screens and the ground; the ground which was embedded with the footprints of hundreds, thousands, millions of others who came before the twenty-eight students who walked erratically, and lived irrationally in a state of hope and happiness, this hill was merely an extension of their utopia which was housed in the tree of knowledge, which they had come to realize was the door into Eden and whoever had said that hell was fire and brimstone must have been mistaken, they had decided, as ignorant bliss was true eternal damnation so they thanked the apple for freeing their ancestors thereby freeing them. This youthful arrogance was not indifference, it was not why the stars did not captivate them, it was simply hard to see the light from the stars while being blinded by the light of flashlights and cell phones and tablets and in all their youth, and all their brilliance (the two are somewhat synonymous), they failed to appreciate the irony of looking at Pegasus, Caelum, and Orion on an 8 x 12 screen when eternal versions were chiseled into the sky long before they, or anything, came into being. The stars being one of the few things that were born and not merely a recycled version of older energy, but who would dare tell the exuberant youths, who ran up the hill as if on Pegasusâ€™s very wings, that they were not originals, that they were walking in the very footprints of those from which He had pulled a rib and formed them; the blood from the feet of their dark ancestors still wet on the path that led to freedom and the heavy footprints of the horsemen who chased the enslaved and broke them and whipped them until they were slaves, ignorant to, or un-concerned with, the doom they were bringing to the black flesh and to their own white souls. But that was then. And the amalgamation of thens and nows which make up the entity of time was irrelevant to the children who walked in the blood soaked and doom bringing footsteps of their predecessors with none of the Earthly heaviness that weighed them down at home, and the oracle-like force of history, which tells us not only where we have been, but where we are going with surprising accuracy, was unimportant to the children as they had no idea where they were going and did not care because they were young so they were immortal and could walkon and on forever if they felt so inclined and they would be, happy. Sadly, this lost Eden was lost on the children who were not merely tainted, but maimed, by their phones, their lights, their computers; they were lost in the flash of a camera. They saw the trees not with their own eyes, but 22
through the screen of a device and paid more attention to their own laughter than to the ethereal and timeless song of the wind, and this would have continued if nature had not proven, as it must time and time again, that it is as close to magic as man will ever get and one of the children would later point out the great tragedy that man will spend his life reaching towards the sky in an attempt to find heaven, never realizing that heaven is in the Earth until that man himself is in the ground, but for now phones were cut off and tablets slipped into backpacks and cameras put away as Nature turned on all her lights at once. And then they went out again. And then random flickers of light began as hundreds of thousands of fireflies showed the children why their screens were blunt tools incapable of comprehending nature, never mind imitating it, and the children appeared from the flash just as the fireflies had merely appeared, and the fireflies seemed to continue appearing, so the children sat where they were and strained their eyes in an attempt to see the end of the field the fireflies were illuminating, but they could just as well see the end of the field as they could the end of the seamless indigo sky overhead, and they felt that at seventeen years old they were watching their own death. They ceased to be merely observers of nature and became worshipers and the hubris of believing that they were forever like the sky or the stars or the fireflies, shamed them, but they found it impossible to remain anything but awed at Nature’s small example of her power and though it was a funeral, they were not sad, they were humbled and proud that they had been found worthy to be a A buzz of a cell phone and a whispered command telling them to return to their dorms broke the magic. As an entity they stood and bowed at Nature’s temple, and like Moses returning from the mountaintop, they took out their tablets, but instead of ten, they had only one commandment, and it was simply “be now”. So, they flew on the fumes of their own awe down the hill and they were and they would continue to be.
It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged… In life, when people change, they change. Some, for the best And some, for the worst. But you are mistaken in believing, That in that change, we can ever return to what we used to be. Because I don’t know about you, But I don’t own any time machines. 23
Just Count to Five Mary: One: I refuse! Aspirations escape me not for I wish to dream and explore the world. Why must my fortune forsake me? Mary, straighten your back and make shallow your breath. I am no longer a child yet the reprimands fly to me incessantly. Those bones know not of true agony and dismay. Whales knock me down whilst they bruise and beat me up. The doom moves closer to me, wishing to caress my bosom with forged intimacy and grandeur. Two: Today, my sojourn begins. We must go onward to the merchant. The undulations of the strings do cause my young maiden hands to shake. The pansies in my window sill mesmerize me with their death threats and declarations of abandonment. Petals falling one-by- one…like wax, they seal the letters of my fate. Ice hardens on the window pane, numbing my body and opening my dull sense to the plucking of strings. Three: O, wretched girl! Weak and unfathomable girl! Seeking shelter from what you are called to be. Beautiful. How criminal that word is! It slices the hearts of the girls. They want to frolic through the meadows. For just a little longer, they wish for and covet a bed of roses. Beauty beseeches them with its tendrils of grace and allure. Straighten your back. Prepare yourself. Hallow breaths. Four: Life is pain. Full of grief, life finds us. The clock is ticking. I want more than I can. Life is unfair. The clock tolls me away. Toward him. Mr. Sargent. Release me! I beg. Please, release me. ‘Tis much too tight. My fancy runs ‘gainst the cage. Chastity. Purity. No love. Just air. —Miss Turner, your corset is finished. Might I place your shells upon your collarbone? —Yes. Please. Based on a portrait of Mary Turner Sargent by John Singleton Copley.
The moon fell out of the sky, still glowing from years of being kissed by the sun. It is much smaller than the scientists say. It fits in my palm. The size is closer to the way it looks from earth when it is in space. I roll it around in my hand, admiring its soft luminescent shimmer. Itâ€™s a quiet kind of beauty, very different from its great love, the sun. I hold my breath. I am in awe. I want to keep this beautiful space treasure forever, all to myself. I want to put it in a mason jar in my room so at night, when I go to bed, its soft glow will lull me to sleep. I find a mason jar and place the moon inside. The moon levitates, floating directly in the center of the jar and emitting its soft glow. I lay in my bed staring at it but I realize that something is missing. I get out of bed, put on my shoes, and walk outside with an old butterfly net. I look up at the sky and see the twinkling of the stars and constellations. I take a running leap and jump up towards the sky, raising my butterfly net up high to catch a net full of stars. When I look into the net, the stars glitter and twinkle like iridescent confetti. I bring my butterfly net to my room and pour the stars into the jar with the moon. The stars twinkle brighter and move in a dance like motion around the moon. They seem so happy to be reunited with their old friend. I look back and marvel at the jar. I have never seen anything so beautiful in my life. The stars started to move around with an obvious purpose. After a few minutes, they all stopped; they had positioned themselves in groups, making up constellations. I recognized many of them: Scorpious, Ursa Major, the little dipper, and a few others as well. At last, my mason jar planetarium is complete and I can finally go to sleep. The next morning when I wake up, something is wrong with my jar. The stars have fallen to the bottom of the container, and their splendor from the previous night has been reduced to a dull glow. The moon no longer appears golden. It is now a pale silvery- gray. I frown at their conditions. I decide that I will have to monitor them over the course of the day. I cover the jar with a small cloth and get ready for school. My day at school is strange. None of my friends are normal. Everyone seems incredibly off. They walk around in a confused haze. Something is definitely wrong. I think of my jar and feel guilty. It must have something to do with the absence of the moon. When I get home, I quickly check on the jar. The moon is now a dull gray and the stars have stopped glowing altogether. I look out my window and see that the sun is setting. In a few hours it will be unnaturally dark. I know what I have to do. 26
When darkness falls I put on my boots again and go outside, holding my mason jar. I survey my surroundings. I canâ€™t see anything, and the darkness is eerie. I realize that I cannot keep the moon and stars to myself anymore. They are beautiful, but they are unhappy away from the sky. I also know that no one can keep something like the moon just to herself. The moon and stars belong to everyone. They belong in the sky. I also think about the poor sun, who must be missing her beloved moon. I take a deep breath and unscrew the lid on the jar. I hold it up to the darkness and watch as the moon floats back up into the sky. The stars follow, one behind the next like a little celestial parade. The moon and stars start to gain their glow back. The stars jump back into their places and shape each constellation, and the moon looks more radiant than ever. The world seems right again, and I am no longer sad not to have the moon and stars all to myself. They are meant to be in the sky, shining brightly so that everyone in the world can appreciate their incomparable beauty.
I bite down on my lip, hard enough to bleed, But I do not notice until I taste copper. At night, I donâ€™t measure the hours, But I feel them passing over me Like geese on their winter pilgrimage, Their shadows skimming the ground. Sleep does not find me until morning, Just before the alarm, And I must paw through the pulp Of unfinished dreams If I ever want to get up. My bones can break. I know because Iâ€™ve felt them throbbing. They have snapped before and they will snap again. My body is as brittle as toffee. And my only claims to perfection Are my flaws.
-Alex Rallo 27
It’s all smoke
The smoke from the fire wafts towards us. I look at you; you look at me, each of us missing the others glance. Finally. Eye contact. The look in your eyescould cut diamond. The pain you feel burns me. As my skin turns to ice, my betrayal cuts me even as it destroys you. I’m sorry darling, but it’s my nature. I can’t help it. I will always run from you. From you who loves me. My body will die. But it is my instinct that I cannot control. I cannot stay in this place much longer. I must d i s a p p e a r. The smoke turns to fog. I walk away from the warm fire. I walk into to black woods, alone. I won’t look back. -Anonymous
Phantom Romance, Part I I float outside the window. I see her with my brother again. She dated me first. Then she crawled into his bed. I jumped off the building. Their wedding was after my funeral. Now I am back. I penetrate her womb. I will be their child. I will suck her blood and give her pain. I will waste their money. I will cause them trouble. But they will love me anyway, Because I will be their child.
Phantom Romance, Part II
The ghost follows the young man, Follows him to his college, Follows him to his home, Follows him to his girlfriend’s home, Follows him everywhere. The young man cannot see the ghost, Cannot feel the approach, Cannot feel the breeze, Cannot feel the touch, Cannot feel anything. The ghost is heartbroken; It cries and it yells, But still no response. So it makes a decision. When the young man rides home, He suddenly loses control. He falls into the river. He stops breathing. The young man wakes up again. He sees the strange ghost. “Give me your hand.” The ghost hands over a ring made of moonlight.
Ode to the Irreconcilable
Aphrodite will not hear my desperate cries, So I must dwell on with these pains held dear. I shall be glad to face my promising demise, For the Sun’s curious gaze, I shan’t bear. I will no longer beg for strength, Nor remember those dreadful tears. I state my case, and stand against The security of my limbs, of my years. Let me be conquered, if I must. But I fear my dear Melancholy will be disenchanted By the utter nothingness I possess. 29
She’s lived for centuries, technically. None of what’s left of her was part of her when she was really alive, except her eyes. She’s been fixed, had broken parts replaced, had new skin stretched over scars. She’s sat on the same throne, been paraded around the same cities, proclaimed the same words for hundreds of years. The only difference each time is who’s telling her to lie. When she’s barely four years old, the world collapses into chaos. The anarchy of the apocalypse continues for twelve years until the force of the New Order subdues all opposition and creates the world anew. They build new cities, shinier than before, and leave the wastelands to die. When she’s seventeen, they find her digging for scraps outside the New Capital. Her hair is matted, her ribs showing through her tattered dress, her teeth yellow and broken. But her face is proud, her eyes fiery. They take her into the city with a promise to bring her friends and family into prosperity. They bring her to the largest hospital in the city and put her to sleep. When she awakes, she’s been reconstructed--new body filled out from malnourishment into strength and health, new hair made sleek and shiny, new teeth straightened and bleached to a pearly sheen. They left her eyes, the bones of her face (they had to give her new skin over the scars of years of disease and poverty). They show her that her family is safe and happy in a sumptuous house, and they tell her that they will stay that way if she does what they say. She follows them from the hospital to a house built for her. It’s everything she’s dreamed in halfmemories of the world before: There’s warmth, light, comfort. Every day, she awakes and is taken to a training facility to be the face of the New Order. She learns to eat, speak, dance, walk, and live the way they want her to. She gradually is trained to their commands, learns their words, begins to adopt their thoughts. They start to take her out to the public, setting her up as the Queen of the New Order. They speak through her of how they saved her from death in the wastes, how they taught her civilization. She smiles and gives them her voice, because her family is saved. Her mother, father, three younger brothers, and four younger sisters are safe, fat, and happy. She speaks for them, dances with their joy, walks through their city. Soon enough, she’s ready to be sent to other cities. New Uropaea, New Russkiya, New Graeka...all welcome her with cheers and love, having seen her performances in the New Capital. She performs perfectly in New Straya, New Asiatica, and New Brasilivia. But when she comes to New Fraykiya, she can see out the window of her transport. She can see the wastes, and she can see white uniforms--those of the New Force--bludgeoning the Wasters. She sees 30
the wastes burning. It sparks memories, and she starts to ask questions. They don’t like that, and they cancel her appearance in New Fraykiya. She cries, and they don’t like that either. They take her back to her house, to a blank white room. They tell her to keep saying their words of peace and prosperity, and she refuses. She wants answers to her questions. They don’t like those questions. They leave her in the white room after she refuses to stop asking them. She screams, she’s silent. She cries, she talks. For days, this continues without end. Finally, they decide to make her cooperate. They bring her father into the white room, hands locked behind his back and his mouth silenced. She screams, sobs, and pleads, but it’s no use. They hold her arms back as she tries to free him, using the nails, teeth, and muscles that they gave her as weapons. But they are stronger. Her sobs turn silent as she chokes on her tears. A single tear trickles down her father’s cheek when the cold, black metal of the gun is placed to his head. A second later, the white walls are red with his blood. She is silent after that. She doesn’t respond when they come in to give her food, or when they call her name over the speaker in the room. She sits and stares at the blood splatter on the wall. Sometimes her gaze shifts to the trail on the floor that her father’s body had left when they dragged it out. She barely blinks, but a constant trickle of tears roll down her face. She doesn’t eat or speak for three days. On the fourth day, when the men clad in the immaculate white uniforms of the New Force enter the previously immaculate white room, she launches herself at them. Still silent, she claws at their faces below their visors and kicks as hard as she can, anywhere she can. She doesn’t stop even when her hands are pulled painfully behind her back and threaten to wrench her arms out of their sockets. She fights so hard that she does pull the joint apart. She doesn’t scream, just falls to her knees as the years course down her cheeks. They don’t care--they can rebuild her. Her hair is again matted into knots and tangles in front of her face, hiding all but the fire in her eyes. A few hours later, they bring her mother into the room, along with her seven siblings. She cannot move, but her jaw drops and the tears start afresh. Her siblings don’t understand what’s going on, their eyes wide and frightened. Her mother’s eyes are closed, rocking on her knees and praying to the old, dead gods. Her youngest brother and youngest sister are held in the corner, made to face their mother and older siblings. This time, when they put the guns to the back of her family’s heads, they make sure she is painted with their blood. She is obedient after that. Her youngest two siblings are kept in a cell in the 31
basement of her house--a comfortable cell, but a prison nonetheless. They are under constant guard, but she doesn’t fight anymore anyway. She does what they tell her, speaks their words, walks their path. They dye her hair red as a permanent reminder when they fix her shoulder and re-nourish her. They have painted her with their colors. She resumes her performance tour. She smiles when they tell her and dances for the masses, laughing as if she has no care. They fashion a throne for her and sit her on it in the New Capital. She walks the world like the queen they made her, but the fire in her eyes is gone, quenched by the blood of her family. That was centuries ago. The New Order fell, followed by World Reborn, Quest of Civilization, and, most recently, Pinnacle. Each has made her into their own figurehead, a puppet for their speeches. They’ve kept her siblings alive in her cellar. They’ve changed her walk, her speeches, and her clothing, but some things have remained since her beginning. Her eyes remain dead, and her hair remains blood-red.
You and Me
we lay down in the day
late afternoon: almost teatime, you say
so we don’t move but watch the clouds and turn them into
there’s a frog, a carrot, and there’s a train to carry us far away from here we lay down in the night
middle of the night: almost the witching hour, you say
so we don’t move but watch the stars and name them
there’s a SARAH for you, a JESSIE for me, and there’s a YOU AND ME to lead us to paradise -Zipi Diamond 32
April Showers It smelled like rain that day. What happens to bagworms when it rains? Do they wash away in the storm? Or do they wait it out, Curled up like pillbugs, The way I do, Nursing the aches I shouldnâ€™t have And staring at your wilted freesias. It rained a lot that year.
City on Pause
I lay back and let my hair spread out like a sunburst, suddenly in tune with the Earthâ€™s rotation. Never had a city felt so idle, as if someone had pulled a plug and stopped time, leaving me to bask in the glory of the gritty concrete and the smell of gesso and turpentine. Surrounded by red brick and a sky so pristine it seemed it must have been painted, I was naked; I was entirely stripped of the falsehood that was my normal life and left in my purest form. The souls and spirits of those who had lain in the same place before me and who had at one point felt the same ephemeral bliss descended upon my relaxed form. Even after they had left, their hope clung steadfastly to every atom of the air; these red brick halls were where my childhood dreams came alive and traipsed around the streets at their leisure. Their idle chatter blended with the hum of the air conditioner and muffled city traffic to create a tranquil background for my wandering thoughts, every so often interrupted by inexplicably soothing police sirens. This place, shaped by thousands of artists and having taken on a piece of the spirit of each person to ever set foot there, was home, and it was more like home than anything had ever felt. Like souls from twenty years before had run barefooted through the same coarse grass, dangled those bare feet from the same rusted balconies, smiled at the same beautiful sun and felt the same gentle breeze that was now causing the hairs on my arms to stand on end. I was a mere speck, yes, but I was a speck who would always be a part of this endless history.
Driving & Gliding It’s me driving no I’m gliding on the water
The tires print their tracks trailing on the ocean’s surface No ripples or waves just smooth and steady I can’t hear the roaring motor I can’t smell the gasoline All I can taste is the salt swirling in the air Thick mist masks the sea but ahead I see it That massive rock just sitting there waiting That cliff I stand atop now with the others transported back to summertime Coarse rock scratches beneath our toes Fingers intertwine and we begin the plunge I can’t hear the shrieks I can’t taste the salt air All I feel is the drop in my stomach as I fly into the turquoise tide
-Emma Afrookteh 34
Un-Sculpted A stranger’s face catches my eye as I walk past. Her eyes are too small and expressionless, Set too close to flat eyebrows, and too high in an oval, lax face That hangs suspended in an awkward ‘hello.’ It’s a pale waste of a face, that one, So far from what it could be— The eyes could sparkle with lucid wit, The lips could quirk into a pretty smile, The brows could twist with character. None of that would be far-fetched for the person they represent. And for a moment there, I almost see Something different— Something shaped more finely than this rough slab of clay, Something shaped with the skill of an artist, One who knows how to work an appearance Into the contours of its greatest potential. But then I blink, and realize that the face is mine, And that illusion is just a desperate hope, Nothing visible outside of my deceitful brain. I pause, then move on. I don’t look back.
Punctuation “Larger than language,” That’s what I am. Or maybe I’m too small for even a sentence, and should just be confined to punctuation.
A Day in the Life of a Tire
I am not happy. I am not excited. I really am anything but ecstatic for today. Today, I have matured. I am old and am finally moving on from the store, from the garage, from the trunk as a spare, to the axils. I will shortly be screwed into place. I remember not too long ago when I came out of the factory, hot and smelling of burning rubber. I was young and ambitious then, ready to be attached to a semi at any moment. Though life has made me hard, and filled with wiser air. Despite the obvious fact that I passed all the tests and was by no means defective, I was not top of the line. It took me a long time to face it, but I was a mediocre tire. There were hundreds, thousands, millions just like me and even more that were better than me. It saddened me to know, but once I realized it, I could be content with my shelf life. I did not mind everyday being crushed by numerous other tires that, over the days and months and years, had been thrown and piled on top of me. I like to think these days made me tougher, and helped me to appreciate the down time I had. I became quite funny, for I had so much time to perfect my jokes and my stories. Even if I was made fun of by the bigger tires, I was quite okay with my standard size and tread count. I grew to love my standard-ness and became overly comfortable with every inch of my rubber. Then the day came when I met Sally. She fell from the hands of a brutal looking man-slave one day. Fell right next to me, and I instantly fell in love with her. She was black and shiny, very new. I liked the way her tread snaked through her jet black exterior, and I liked the way she rolled. Though I was nervous at first, after a few days I finally gained the courage to talk to her, and we hit if off, and before I knew it we were touching rubber. Needless to say, Sally and I loved each other, and I was horrified when that man took her away from me. He was old and bald, and licked his lips far too often. He waddled up to me and my brethren and breathed heavily as he navigated his way through the teetering piles and rows of tires. I thought we had escaped his stench and gaze when he saw the sign. The sign that stated Sallyâ€™s tread, circumference, and (most immodestly) her weight. The awful man took one lingering look at her and I knew she would be gone for forever. We said our goodbyes, and I wished her luck, hoping desperately that she not pop when the man sat his weight upon her when he got in the car. After Sally left, I didnâ€™t have much to do, besides think about her. It was a long, lonely week before something happened to make me (falsely) assume something better was going to happen. A young man, with flowing blonde locks and gracious eyelashes entered the store on a Thursday, claiming that his father was forcing him to be proactive and buy a spare tire. The boy was awkward and it seemed as though he had just recently discovered the very apparent fact that arms could move separately from the body. He stopped at each tire and carefully inspected every thing about said tire, short of having a conversation with it. I 36
was certain he would look right past me, but something caught his eye. Maybe it was the designs in my tread that Sally had admired so much, or maybe it was the rather crude drawing a boy had tattooed me with a few days earlier. The boy bent down as to examine me. His crystal clear eyes were soft and understanding and his lip curved upwards, revealing a goofy smile. He had chosen me. I was finally good enough. The boy saved me from the piles and with tender, soft hands rolled me out into the world. The air was magnificent and rubber free, and the world was so wide open and big. I got too excited, however, because I jumped over the curb and somehow wiggled free from the blonde boys arms. I began to roll, and stop I could not. I rolled down the street until it curved and I began rolling through the woods. I rolled for days and days until finally I hit a big enough tree that knocked me flat. As the air slowly hissed from my black rubbery skin, I looked around. What a peaceful place to pop.
Phantom Romance, Part III They say I am crazy. They put me in this cell. They send me to a shrink. I never resist, Until they take away the mirror. How can I see him without it? How can I feel him without it? How can I kiss him without it? How can I live without it... I find the chance to steal a blade. I cover myself with the quilt. I cut my throat peacefully. I close my eyes but see him. Then I am free. I walk out of the cell easily. I find a mirror in a corner. But no! Where is he? Why canâ€™t I see him now?
-Anzhi Cao 37
The Night Curse
The night is a drought of sleep On dry, dead dunes, Endless heat waves worming Through her sheets, where she sprawls On her mattress, restlessness Reaching over every stretch of her mind. Her thoughts are glossed in dew, Reflecting in a thousand tiny surfaces The image of you, where memories Glide on the same circuit, And with a poppy-red pen in her hand, She revises lines in the screenplay of her life, Leaving whole dialogues scratched out of existence. Pills no longer fertilize her dreams. Once, they championed the cleansing Of thoughts from her psyche Through a soft whisper that faded Into milky white consciousness, But the drugs have no power now, Like a warrior past his time. Her thoughts are the curves of catacombs, Echoes weakening along the walls. She is trapped in the same dusted labyrinth, Row after row of dirt-caked caskets, and slowly everything is sinking to ash. She senses the transition to day As the Sun rises through its portal of sky, And relinquishes the nightlong scale of grey To a dial of radiance and teeming, Where alarms are silenced, And cars, one by one, rush over roads, The way ants march to their hills.
This is America
The exchange student came to America and complained that the family she stayed with never ate ‘American’ food because they were Asian. And you just want to shake her and say, “Sweetheart, that is America.” America is first-generation immigrants getting good grades in private schools on scholarships. America is Pop Tarts, big yellow school buses, and grades 1-12. America is shouting ‘O’ at an Orioles game during the national anthem. America is loving to sing the national anthem. America is old saloons, tumble weeds, and cowboy shootouts. America is underage drinking and eating disorders. America is neon marshmallow peeps on a stick, and Hershey’s chocolate. America is driving down the road and seeing three different places of worship for three different religions advertised in three different languages. America is sprawling roadways, arching highways and mass school shootings. America is flying six hours in a plane to get from coast to coast. America is Mexican food, and Italian and Korean food. America is having one classmate so Greek she keeps olive oil by the gallon in her house, and having another Asian classmate who does the same with soy sauce. “Sweetheart, that is America.” America is patriotism, hillbillies, and worldwide entertainment. America is Hollywood, and flags on every door. America is front porches on every house. America is stealing ideas from other nations and passing them off as our own. America is buying out the competition. America is the young, the brave, the independent. “Sweetheart, that is America.” America is a fear of terrorists. America is those fly over states. America is a powerful military, a nosy older brother. America is ice cream and lemonade in the summer, frogs croaking and big yellow moons. America is imagination, creativity. America is champions and passion. America is Bruce Springsteen blaring ‘Born in the USA’. America is doing something solely because it has never been done before. America is perpetual contradiction. “And sweetheart, this is America.” 39
The Boys of Summer
Bryce was dancing again, her arms wide and her hair long and her feet stomping in circles while she twirled with the twangy banjo music that never gained a rhythm or pattern. There was soft chatter flirting with the music and a slight grin at the corners of her mouth as her black hair whipped across her face. They were watching, boys of summer, lounging on stained couches with lazy altered eyes and hair that curled at its ends, begging to be trimmed by thick accented men in sterile barber shops that smelled like gumballs and blue-liquid- soaked combs. As she twirled, the colors of the room blurred together and she caught sight of the girls in the corner. They had all been friends once, brought together by shiny hair and a love for silky cream dresses. There had never been a falling out, just a slow and gradual disintegration. Bryce lost interest in the huddles full of giggles tangled with malice, and they developed a deep disgust for her bare feet and raspy voice. They watched her with heavy lidded eyes, occasionally turning their heads into each other and whispering things that curled their lips and bared their teeth in loud, cackling laughs. Then, their expectant eyes traveled in the direction of the boys of summer. She was aware of the eyes and the fascination and the tall tales and yet she was thinking about the voices in her head, which curled like thin cheap smoke inside of her. They seemed to return in the moments she noticed the way her thighs looked like puddles on leather car seats and when she dropped things in front of school boys in crisp white shirts and pressed khaki pants. The voices werenâ€™t negative, just there, detached, a pulsing third party, speaking in an unidentifiable dialect with loud voices, neither male nor female. The first time she heard them, she was ten, on the last day of elementary school. It was raining, hot fat drops that made her skin feel sticky and caused her sharply-cut bangs to cling and part into upside down Vâ€™s. From inside an old red minivan parked in a bank parking lot, she was left alone as her mother darted through the afternoon storm. She watched as the raindrops raced down the glass, faster at first before slowing down at the bottom, and then shoved down again by another, and she knew that this was the ending of a chapter that would commence with a flurry of heavily chaperoned pool parties, bowls of cheese puffs, and sleepovers followed by pancake breakfasts made by a friendâ€™s dad. In the midst of watching raindrop races and envisioning a life in a new school, the voices made their first appearance. They were loud, almost a yell, with an unintelligible phrase that was said too fast or too deeply in her subconscious to be understood. Her small head whipped around in each direction. When she realized the voice came from within, she stared down at her jelly sandals, took a breath and 40
slowly closed her eyes, imagining the raindrops race in violets and blues on the black backdrop of her The boys of summer were laughing now, loudly and hoarsely, and yet still fixated on the girl with whom they had each occupied dark corners in loud rooms. They had all thought she lacked any flaws. She was quiet, soft in all the right ways, with almost yellow eyes that listened and blinked and smiled at those who deserved them least. She was deeply troubled, a cliché in her devastatingly acute beauty and inability to make choices that didn’t leave her with a profound feeling of disgust on Sunday mornings. They were aware, in a deep non-teen boy part of themselves, of the ways in which she deserved, needed, and warranted more than they were willing to give. But her name was Bryce and she wore cotton dresses in deep summer heat and a silver ring on each finger, so they either forgot or were drowning in hormones and cheap beer that stained. They were in a cabin, upstate. It was consumed by summer air and hollow plastic-framed screen doors that were left ajar on each end to let in the smell of firewood burning outside. As she turned and the voices came back in quick bursts, she saw the glimpse of the sun as it made its journey into the ground. She wondered, despite the science of it, where it went and if it was better there, beneath the thirsty grass and the chalky soil. From the time she was young, she had liked the idea of the burning orange sun sinking under the ground, illuminating the intertwined roots that reminded her of her mother’s long thin fingers entwined with her little-girl bob on movie nights in their summer home. The sun would sink past the roots and into the darker places of the earth and wait, until on cue it would begin to rise again. The concept let her sleep at night, gave her answers to things she couldn’t understand, and settled irrational fears she was too embarrassed to share. The music stopped playing and she took a breath, the voices gone. Her hair settled around her shoulders as the boys of summer shifted their eyes from her rising and falling chest, to each other, to the falling sun. Through indecipherable grunts that struck her as resembling those in her head, they stood, stretching their lanky limbs in a fog of laziness and complacent happiness found only in summer and in a beautiful girl with an insatiable desire for something that didn’t exist. They pushed past the flimsy, loud doors and breathed in the fragrant fire air.
My Home Away From Home
I remember my first arrival to a place that I now consider my second home; it was a mysterious night of nerve-racking ambiguity. The anxiety boiled over in my heart and I felt my blood rushing like lava down the sides of a volcano. At the time, I would have called it nervousness, but the feeling was more than I could comprehend or handle emotionally. I walked down the long driveway, surrounded by darkness, towards this house that projected a glow of infinite warmth. I knocked on the side door and was greeted by a woman with the sweetest soul. I took off my coat and shed all my fears, walking into an embrace with my arms and mind wide open. My friend then gave me a tour of his house. I remember thinking how ornate all of the rooms were and that everything looked like it came straight from a home magazine, but the setup was more genuine than that. It reminded me of the rooms in my own house. As we walked towards the dining room, my nose tingled at the delightful aroma of tomato sauce, fresh basil, and steamed shrimp. We all sat at the table and bowed our heads. As I closed my eyes, I listened attentively as his father led us in prayer. He thanked God for our delicious meal and having me as their guest, and then concluded the blessing with high hopes for a rich experience. I felt encompassed in richness already but my soul grew content as we all said Amen and began to eat together. We talked about everything and anything, which peeled away the mystery and blended me fully with this family. After dinner, we worked as a team to put the dishes and left over food away, and then my friend and I headed to the basement. We played kid games like old maid, pickup sticks, and Connect-4, our favorite. I played red and he played black, and we were the perfect blend of my passion and vibrancy and his mysterious reserved tendencies. Such an idea, as well as my own enjoyment of our game, left me captivated. But shortly after, it was time for me to go back to my own home. I gathered my belongings and gave everyone my regards, but as I departed a sign caught my eye. It said, â€œIn our home we let love abide, and bless all those who step inside.â€? It was, in fact, a dwelling of love. Sheer happiness latched itself onto my spirit as I walked out the door, eager to return.
Dirty Money You won it in the dogfight last week, betting on Runt.
Pulled up in your cherry red convertible, honked,
looking me up and down from where I stand, hair uncovered, on the corner. “Hey honey, wanna give me some of your sweet?” you leer. I sigh, straighten, and open your scaldingly-hot car door. I do what I must. I open the door for the second time. Afterwards, 100 dollars richer, in dirty money.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Somewhere in the thick Of stolen kisses And coy glances, We began our list of lasts. Last smile, last hug, Last random, just-because phone call At one in the morning. Last slow dance, Last day of feeling More like a human And less like an object. We intersected once As each other’s firsts, But we’re on our own paths now, And it’s nothing but lasts. Forever.
-Nat Raum 45
-Isabel LaBonte-Clark 46
Cavernas de Camuy
my self portrait
my picture is one of a thousand words a thousand sentences a thousand thoughts a thousand ideas a thousand contradictions my face is one of those contradictions it is a mix between my biggest angel and my biggest demon the angel of love and security the demon of hate and abandonment my mouth is one of a thousand words maybe more words of beauty words of ugliness my body is of a thousand thoughts maybe more thoughts of confidence springing out from the inside thoughts of disgust thrown from the outside most thoughts not my own my skin is a thousand stories maybe more thoughts of confidence springing out from the inside thoughts of disgust thrown from the outside most stories not my own but i am more than the stories of my skin the history of my complexion the whispers about my body the jokes about my height the curses spilling from my mouth the history of my female organs the lines on my fingertips the number on my social security card the name on my birth certificate the child of an angel and a demon i am more than a reflection in a mirror because a mirror couldnâ€™t show who I really am
even if it tried -Breyuana Heriot
One night my soul Escaped me And she wandered, A vagabond in lust, Craving someone. She drifted door to door, And laid upon the lips Of those who answered A satin kiss, Laden with lies And sickly sweet with indifference. Five lips I’ve kissed, Differing endlessly, But only those Who let in my traipsing soul.
The thick trunk of a tall tree with an infinite number of loops that have a start but do not have an end, going around and around with new blissful pleasantries at every twist and turn that lie in the morning glow which would not shine without the shadows of a dim dusk but even then the loops are beautiful and infinite
-Samantha Silverman 51
The car behind me stops as I pause to look for oncoming traffic at a cross walk. I know who it is in the car; he follows me home when I walk from school every afternoon. It’s Carl Dellenburg, a creepy kid in my class. He’s obsessed with me. It’s a harmless devotion, and he knows that I, of course, have no feelings for him. But he stalks me home from school, follows me, and watches me all the time. I turn the final corner down my block and suddenly my knee is hurting again. When I was six years old, they had to replace my knee joint with a plastic joint that has a built-in tracker and monitor to collect data on whether the experimental surgery was a success. I get to my house and turn up the walkway. It’s lined with yellow daffodils my mother has planted, and I drag my fingers across the top of our red metal mailbox, a habit I’ve developed. I reposition my backpack to reach into the front pocket of the bag and dig inside to grab the keys for my front door. The key slides in, and the lock turns while Carl parks on the other side of the street. I glance at him as I step inside the door; he’s hunched over a notepad, taking notes on me. The inside of my house is clean, cool. I call to my mom; she’s in the kitchen baking for her book club tomorrow. I dump my bag at the foot of the stairs and walk down the short hallway to the kitchen. My mother is beautiful. She has honey colored hair, brown eyes and lovely hands. She looks up as I walk in, a smidge of chocolate on her cheek. She always eats the chocolate in the cookies as she bakes them. She smiles at me, and says “Hi sweetheart! How was school?” “It was school,” I tell her. She gives me a look and I continue. She likes to have details, and I don’t mind telling her. She nods as I speak; I forget that I am talking, and the part of me that likes to talk shows through as my mom smiles at me. It grows dark as we talk, and she begins to make dinner; she likes to have it made before my dad gets home. She puts water on the stove to boil and starts chopping basil with the French cooking knife she favors, a long, sharp one. I tell her that I was telling Lucy a funny story about her. The light changes and my mother looks up from the basil with cold, hard eyes. “You weren’t supposed to do that.” Her voice is equally harsh and cold; I am in trouble. “Elizabeth, how many times do I have to tell you not to blab about our family!” She turns toward me, gripping the knife. “Mom, what? Why, she’s my friend! I wasn’t saying anything bad about you.” She is overreacting like always; she has crazy things that upset her, and then she goes off, and that’s when you just have to ride it out. Smile and nod. “Elizabeth, are you listening to me? You have such a big mouth, and you can never keep anything to yourself !” She works her way around the table. I stand up, getting in a better position to face her. “You always were a disappointment! I should never have even had a 52
child. You didn’t turn out anything the way I wanted; I’ve grown to despise you.” She steps closer to me, spitting the words. I couldn’t believe this; this must be a dream, a nightmare. She stands up straight, looking at me. “Well, I’ve had enough, this is just too much, I can’t stand it anymore! I can’t stand having you around me anymore! I have to end it!” She lunges with the kitchen knife. I stumble back. No, no, no, this can’t be happening! “Mom, mom stop. What are you doing? Please, mom, stop! What are you doing?” I step back into the hallway, she follows me. The knife comes towards me again and I put my hand up to shield my face. There is a pain in the palm of my hand, and blood running down my arm. “No, mom, please! I’m your daughter! You love me! Please, mom, please.” “You? My daughter? No, no, you are not my daughter.” She lunges again; I stumble back farther down the hall towards the front door. “I have no daughter if you are she!” She steps again and gashes my shoulder. I scream. “Mom, please, stop, please!” I’m sobbing now, begging her to recognize me. I’m at the stairs and the hall light is off. In the murky darkness I see the gleam of the metal knife coming towards me again. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore and I can’t remember thought, so I turn and race up the stairs. I can hear her behind me, and my body is electrically charged. My ankles scream that she is going to grab them and pull me down. I get to the top of the stairs and grab the first thing I feel, the door of the bathroom. I slam it behind me but my fingers don’t work anymore as I try to get the latch down. I can feel her pushing on the door, trying to get in as I finally flip the lock into place. Mom is quiet on the other side of the door; I back up until I feel the cold tile wall behind me. And all of a sudden I hear her again; the knife comes through the door, scraping through the wood. She is screaming, disjointed words of disgust “I’ve had enough! I’ve had enough! Get rid of you! Just kill you, kill you! End it, end all of it.” There is blood on my hands, on my shoulder. My blood, seeping through my uniform, creeping across my body. “Kill you!” “No!” I sob, terrified of what will happen when she gets in. “No mommy, please, mama! Please just stop!” There is snot in my mouth, running down my face, mixing with my sobs and I can’t see. I can’t think, she is going to kill me, she is going to kill me. Stab me with that knife. It comes through the door again, and she is pounding, cracking the wood. “End it, end you. I hate you! I hate you! Just end it!” The knife. She is going to kill me with that knife. I look around only to find that I have nothing to defend myself and she is going to kill me. The towel rack! Something long and metal and solid. I am next to it before I have even finished the thought. It’s attached to the wall, I can’t get it off. I pull, and the arms attaching it to the wall wiggle, so I wrench it. It doesn’t move and the knife is through the door again, and she is slamming her shoulder into the cracked wood. “Mommy, please, please stop!” I beg. I pull down on the towel rack, 53
hanging all my weight on it, and it comes off. She has her hand through the hole in to the door now, searching for the door knob. I fall, wrenching the pole from the wall. I scramble to get up. She finds the knob. I am standing. She swings open the door, and she is there, the knife still dripping my blood. And I am terrified because I know now that either she is going to kill me or I am going to kill her. “Mama, mama, please! Please mama, please don’t. Mommy, mommy, please!” I’m still sobbing and my face is a mess; I can’t see through the tears and there is snot and blood all over. “Mama! Mommy, please!” “I hate you, I hate you! Never, horrible, hate you, horrible, terrible hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Her eyes are wild as she raises the knife. And then she is not my mother as she stabs down at me, cornered, nowhere to go and she is going to kill me.
Local News A 16-year-old girl was charged with one count of first-degree murder just hours after investigators found her mother dead in their home on Wednesday afternoon. Elizabeth Springs is being held at The Parish Detention Facility for the Criminally Insane after being diagnosed with severe paranoid schizophrenia. When arrested she claimed that her mother attacked her with a kitchen knife and cornered her in the bathroom. However, no knife was found at the scene, and Elizabeth shows no signs of injury or abuse. Police report that Elizabeth’s mother, Analise Springs, was brutally stabbed several times with the pole of a towel rack ripped from the bathroom wall. Investigators said Elizabeth remained at the scene of the crime and was still there, sitting with her mother’s body until her father arrived home from work and called for help. No one else was at the home, officials said. One investigator could only describe it as a “terrible, terrible tragedy.” Elizabeth’s father said that Elizabeth had never shown signs of schizophrenia until recent episodes of paranoid thinking taking place in the last six months. The family thought nothing of their daughter’s claims of having a tracker implanted in her knee, believing she was simply craving attention. The investigation and trial of Elizabeth Springs is still ongoing. 56
Dickinson Imitations 1. An insistent sound, The telephone—rang. In the distance— Screams—sprang into existence. Falling rocks—the building blocks Of the world came crashing down. The phone was ringing, Such an insistent sound. The end came next. All noise—subsided. The ring’s echo—divided. The Moon and the Earth—collided. 2. The step of unsteady feet Was—the first great noise. Hard shoes—molding the baby, Holding the world together. A breakthrough, Big and small. Courageous—for all. A falter, a slide. Humanity’s falling into place. A baby but running— Falling into His Grace.
-Isabel LaBonte-Clark 58
-Artist -Isabel LaBonte-Clark
The Home That Changes
It is a year after she left. The smell of old syrup greets you warmly as you walk in the door. The scent grabs your nostrils and slowly climbs into your nose, overwhelming you at first. The floor is so covered in wires and video games strewn about in a haphazard mess that it is almost impossible to see the dirt-caked floor. The walls are lined with faded brown panels, and you can see pen and marker scribbled across the ancient walls. The old red couch sits sagging and sad against the wall, the cushions flattened from too many nights spent there as punishment for something silly he had done. Above the couch is an old dusty window that he never bothers to clean. The chocolatebrown coffee table does not belong in the sad little house, as it is too big, and dominates the room. The lighting does not light the living room well enough, instead keeping it perpetually in the dark. Perhaps he never bothers to change the burnt out light bulbs, steadily causing the room to be darker as time goes on, always without her. As you tiptoe through the small doorway into the kitchen, you find carvings in the wood of the doorway. They are cruel and deep, telling the story of the unbearable fighting. In the bright, white kitchen sits the mighty table in the middle of the room, almost too big to fit. The table is white with skinny brown legs. The grout in between the tiles of the table is masked in an amber veil of syrup, which he never bothers to scrub away. The floor is covered in dirt, mud, and excess food that was never swept or mopped up. Footprints of the boy and the girl are visible, as they never wore shoes in the small house. The counters are filled with dirty dishes, and the food on them has slowly rotted and turned into sweet-smelling mush. All the while, the plates, bowls, and everything else wait to be cleaned. There is a small laundry room at the far end of the rank kitchen, and a mountain of foul and dirty smelling clothes looms ever closer to tumbling out the door. This is the house that she left. Before she left, it was clean and happy, but now it is dirty and not taken care of. There is a small girl who lives in the house, constantly breathing heavily because of the polluted air she pulls into her weak lungs. The air is only polluted inside the house, and she tries to leave as much as she can. She takes her inhaler regularly at that house, though it never seems to work for long. The smaller boy scratches his skin constantly, for the itchy and dirt-encrusted couch on which he sits aggravates his eczema. But the man does not seem to notice, or he tries not to for he is still wounded from her disappearance. This is all about to change. Almost two years after she left, another woman comes to take her place. This woman has long, flowing black hair. She is pale, but has a constant glow about her perfectly shaped cheeks. She is Winnie, and she is here to save the man. The house is no longer polluted by 60
the smell of syrup, for the table has finally been scrubbed clean. There are no more dirty dishes filling the sink and the floor is clean and white like it once was. The carvings in the doorway, however, cannot be cleaned. They remain, and send a pang through the man’s heart every time he sees them, though he has adapted the habit of looking away as he passes them. The living room is organized, and though the old red couch is still dirty, the window above has been stripped of its dirt and cobwebs. The room is lighter because the light bulbs have been replaced, such an easy task, but not for him. The girl’s asthma attacks have drastically decreased in number, and the boy hardly ever scratches his sensitive skin. The house is, once again, happy. Though, as the man will soon learn, nothing good lasts for too long. Winnie and the man can no longer be together. Once again, the man is left alone in this prison. The panels on the walls are beginning to look like steel bars, and it is getting harder and harder for the man to get out. The smell of syrup oozes back into the nostrils of the three living in the house, and though he does not mean for it to happen, everything returns to the way it was when he lost the first woman. He cannot seem to live without someone by his side. Maybe it’s his young age, but one cannot be sure. As the children grow older, they try to keep the house clean, but they can never do much without help. Yet, after a while, another woman appears at the door to the small, unkempt house. This one has short, blonde hair. She is tall and elegant, much unlike the man who seems to get smaller to the ever-growing children. The new woman takes the children away from the house often and tries to make them happy. Though the children do not like her as much as they liked Winnie, they would do anything to make the man happy and repair the house. Gwen is much different from Winnie, and leaves much more quickly; so much more quickly, in fact, that the house is never given the chance to get clean. Next comes Claire. Claire is a giant. She towers over the small children and the man, though her face always seems friendly. She has shoulder length light brown hair, unlike any of the women so far. Claire is nice, though sometimes the children find her strange. She does exactly as Winnie did. She repairs the man and the house, all the while trying to keep the children happy. She decorates the house with her paintings and other artwork, even if the children do not quite understand it yet. They like Claire, and Claire likes them, but they still miss Winnie. One day they go home, to the home of the woman who first left, and call Claire “Mommy.” They never make that mistake again. The man cannot seem to hold on to these new women, for they disappear almost as quickly as they arrive, some even too quickly for the children 61
to learn their names. The house gets worse each time one of these women leave. Sometimes the girl and the boy find the man seeming to be dead on the dirty red couch with brown bottles that smell of alcohol covering the un-swept floor and butts of cigarettes laying in the ash tray he seems to cherish more than the children. The house has its ups and downs as the women come and go, and with it the lives of the man and his children better and worsen over time. The girl and the boy do not understand what is wrong with the man that makes the women keep leaving, but they cannot control any of it, no matter how good they try to be. The man and his ability to pick up dates control their lives. The house never seems to stay a certain way long enough for the children to get used to it. The children also leave every other week to see the woman who left; when they return the man always seems happier than he was when they departed. The house that the first woman lives in now is much different than the man’s house. The woman’s house is always clean and healthy, while the man’s is grimy and rather appalling. The woman’s house has rules; the man’s does not. The children do whatever they want in the man’s house, even things like throwing tomatoes at the already-filthy walls. The man is too numb to care, however, or the brown bottles steal his attention too often, so the house just continues to spiral down with the man. Their lives never seem to remain consistent, just as the house never stays one way for a long amount of time, and it tears the children into pieces. They hate that they must live like this, but as they know, the man and the woman control their lives, and there is nothing they can change by themselves. -Logan Baumbusch
The Lies She Told
The lies she told got her out of trouble sometimes. She lied to her teachers about leaving her homework on her desk when she had forgotten to do it. She lied to her parents about her grade on a paper, hoping that the truth wouldn’t come out later. She lied about the people she was seeing over the weekend and the places she was going and the real reason she was staying late after school all of those days. These were the lies that almost made her feel guilty. These lies benefitted nobody but her. The lies she told were born out of a fear of the truth. The lies she told protected other people. She lied about the things he said to her and all of the fights they had, wanting desperately for her friends to accept what they were. She lied about all of the times she saw him to save him from her father’s wrath. She lied to him about how frustrated her mother was with the situation and how angry she was that his parents didn’t even 62
know she existed. She wished she didn’t have to lie about why she couldn’t see him after school. She didn’t want to lie about her fears and how if she were to be caught, she would lose the trust her parents had finally given her after years of intermittent suspicion. She didn’t want to lie to him about what their union meant to her. She didn’t want to lie about the love she felt and the hopes she had that eventually it would be reciprocated, even though she knew better. She wished she didn’t have to lie about why she really quit volleyball and how she didn’t want to do anything but art for the rest of her life. She didn’t want to lie about her anxiety disorder and the reason she had all of those headaches. The lies she told protected her. She spun a web of lies and buried herself deep in the tangled threads. She didn’t want to lie about anything and yet she felt she lied about everything. She lied about her hopes and dreams and plans for the future. She lied about what colleges she was looking at and what she wanted her major to be. She lied to cover up the fact that she preferred art in a school rich with athletes. She lied to cover up her laziness and apathy. She lied to avoid judgment, which she secretly feared despite fronting a casual attitude. When she was younger, she lied about simple things, and the lies were harder for her to tell; she felt a moral obligation not to lie. She lied about things like having practiced her piano piece for her lesson. And as she grew, so did the volume and the magnitude of the lies. She lied about her homework and her weekend activities and the money she had spent with her friends and what she had spent the money on. She lied to seem more approachable and less like the “freak” she was at her old school. The lies she told seemed necessary. The lies came easily and felt harmless. She lied casually and with a perfect poker face. The lies she told went undetected by those around her, even those who knew her best. The lies she told caused her to feel as though she didn’t know herself. The more she lied, the more she believed her own lies. She lied about the drugs she’d tried to seem edgier and she started to convince herself she’d done all of the things she said she had. She lied to seem like a rebel, because that’s just what was done in her circle of friends. She lied about the real reason for all of her headaches and began to think that maybe it was actually just the humidity or the light or the smell of the spray paint that was causing her to feel so faint and tense. She lied about lying and created an endless cycle. The lies she told bound her like a straitjacket. They were her suffocating salvation. -Nat Raum
My Earrings Are Squids
My earrings are squids, chiming softly in my ears, swimming through my sleepless brain, swimming down to the deep abyss. Down, down, d o w n to peer into my thoughts with one big, bright eye— —I follow their chimes to you. They say in dreams puddles become watering holes, where the grasses bend and sway welcoming the animals from the savannah to drink the ink of squids that were once jewelry. While a pale pink moon rises to bloom into a rose, drinking the rays of the rising sun— —I look to you. And the elephants sway to the beat of the ants marching up the tree into the clouds, As the girl digs a hole to the bottom of the ocean and swims into the rift to see what squids really dream of. Close two eyes and open a third to see squids dream of being jewelry while brains sleep and ants march. And you and I sit on this hill in the rising sun, 64
as we lace our fingers together and watch elephants sway, and roses bloom and hear squids chime softly.
Red cars with yellow drop-tops wheeled around the front yard foot pressed hard against the pedal Blonde bimbos lying naked on the bedroom floor clothes scattered around them Boxing matches in the backyard sock em, bop em Girls almost burning houses down those pizzas weren’t so easy to bake Girls making lots of ‘doh so much ‘doh they can play in it Old men trying to steal their money and houses what a monopoly they live in Teenagers willing to get to home plate before dinner time but only if she’s a good catch Boys escaping with screw-drivers getting themselves out of a pickle Uno and they’re out uno and you’re out Living where the wild things are a dangerous world they live in Slaying blood suckers with blade in hand The boxes boom the man walks Liar Liar you can’t handle the truth Life was rough but sweet like a chocolate
I sat down in the middle of the lounge on a baby blue couch, onto which spiders could crawl freely from the wall, and sank deeply into its embrace. The fabric was rough and dull, and the cushion hollowed by use. I settled myself, wiggling around and releasing an invigorating sigh. The high, slanted glass ceiling let in the feeble sunlight that had fought to shine through the burgeoning grey clouds. I sifted through the snug grid of binders that protected the crisp papers in my backpack. All around me, silent strangers, eerily uniform in their activities, engrossed themselves in their smartphones under the tender sunlight. Passersby breezed left and right, a world apart, in the linoleum hallway. Here in the muted sanctuary the sounds of music barely reached me, but I could hear pure emotion floating from the practice rooms. The couch was warm under me, and I nestled my fingers under my thighs. The heat of life coursed through my hands as they burrowed deeper still in their newfound haven. The walls were calloused and grand, glazed with milky paint. Wizened white sculptures retreated into the walls as I took in their penurious state of neglect. I focused my gaze. There was no music then, just me and the sculptures. We drank the sun together, thirsty for more. Our stares seared into each otherâ€™s souls. We were one. Maybe in the past we would have interacted more often with the sculptures, whether to say hello and good morning, or to look absorbedly. Forget smartphones â€“ this is true captivation, to be involved with something real and intimate. When worlds collide, they mesh with the ease of silk. -Brian Choo
-Georgie Crompton 67
My Gong Gong
From the edge of the room, Gong Gong’s weary eyes – those of an aged hound – followed my toddler self intently. They watched as I spun the Mercedes keychain round and round, not too fast so as to tire my pudgy wrist, but not too slow as to relinquish the consistent, exhilarating tension brought on by the perfect spin that my efforts had created. The coolness of the green and black marble floor seeped through my tender feet that were centered beneath the simple, three-bladed fan that whirred soundlessly yet tumultuously. I began to wander, unobstructed, supervised by a black, brooding leather couch that excited my nostrils and an invisible, reflective table. Electric lights that hung around and above battled the constrictive greyness reaching in from outside. The soggy air did little to weaken the connection that existed in between my eyes and the keys, a simple entity that absorbed my focus and imagination. With a gentle bark, issued from his maraca of a voice box, he summoned me. “Yen Ren, lai,” he said. “Brian, come.” Only Gong Gong, my grandfather, was successful in drawing my focus. My haven evaporated, and the keys slowed to vertical. They scanned the rectangular room, locating the half-opened doorway where Gong Gong stood. At a distance, he resembled a lion, with his pepper mane swept back, outlining a relaxed face draped loosely with mottled, tawny skin. His face, anchored by dangling ears, was an old yet beautiful flower with luscious petals. We ambled towards one another as the clock sung. A brown, bony hand traced with supple, leafy veins reached for the keys, which were needed to drive to tea. Going to tea once more captured the imagination. The red restaurant hummed. At a table near the window, a man in a smart black apron neatly guided the trajectories of two pitchers into Gong Gong’s cup. One stream of tea and one of milk joined to form a smooth, silky solution. A spoon churned, creating a whirlpool racing towards the depths of the cup, seventy degrees from vertical. Gong Gong made use of muscles rarely fired, allowing the corners of his mouth to rise after his first sip. Gong Gong sipped slowly. His thin arms, enveloped by his worn and loved starched green shirt, the top button near the collar unused, guided cold, hard hands that inched gracefully up the path from the table towards his worn mouth. The din of the restaurant faded into darkness as our table rose into focus, into a spotlight of ecstasy. Gong Gong relaxed; yet his stoic posture remained unchanged as he looked through the walls of the rumbling red restaurant towards the great unknown. Gong Gong’s mind reached far and wide, pensive as it scanned past the white walls and wide windows. Cold, blazing light poured in from the windows, reflecting the fresh, untouched snow that rested outside. Cores of hazel defined ancient eyes that inquired of nobody and everybody, nothing and everything, infinitely ambiguous and intensely specific with their directive. With hands trailing his hips, he paced the shiny wooden floor without ever bending at the knees. His pristine body, slender and erect, fooled those without knowledge of his days of hard labor more than half a century past. I begged for a piggy back ride, to which 70
Gong Gong happily obliged, lifting fifty giggling pounds as if it were indeed a half century ago. Gong Gong once tried to teach me the game of Chinese Chess. We discovered an ancient set with a folded musty board and soft wooden pieces. As we took our seats at a small square table, his khaki slacks folded smartly with the contours of his legs as his immaculate green button-down shirt caught the wind and billowed behind him. The hands on the clock flew at record speed as Gong Gong deftly maneuvered his troops in pursuit of my general. He steadily raised his hands, a piece at his fingertips, and then rapidly clapped it on its new location. Gong Gong’s strategy was as fluid as his motions. He gave me hints, but no free hits, and I soon found myself cornered. Gong Gong sprang and captured the general with his solider. The win grabbed by the soldier was akin to the life grabbed by Gong Gong, who, from the roots of a laborer, became a landlord – a general – through hard work, skill, and a bit of luck. In the game of life, as in the game of chess, Gong Gong won. Eight summers later, Gong Gong’s voice, its qualities amplified by thousands of miles of wire weighed down with the might of the ocean’s water, traveled halfway around the world without a picture to accompany it. Despite being weak with illness, the only missing facet of his focused, rasping voice was its conviction and will. Weeks afterward, an infection, easily cured, tied Gong Gong to the hospital, a place which sickened him for a second time. This time, the voice that beamed over the phone was not his, but his son’s. Pnemonia came to Gong Gong, the aging general, and stole from him the coveted trophy of life. Even when closed, his eyes retained their steely, determined focus through their steely lids. Pneumonia only strengthened Gong Gong’s resolve to live, in death. Gong Gong, equipped with his grassy dress shirt open at the collar, was surrounded by his soldiers – the people whom he touched – to begin the infinitely ambiguous journey beyond life. His closed hazel eyes seeped even farther beyond through the void, searing a fresh path to be first and forever trod. Nowhere and everywhere, closer and farther than his eyes could see, lay a land of easy piggybacks, generals, and tea. That is death; to be dissolved in the happiness of life. -Brian Choo
A girl stood on the northern edge of a brown, grassy field, overlooking the light, shimmering water. In some places, the sun had shone with too much enthusiasm, suffocating the grass that has fought to live beneath it. In other places, where the ground was lower and had collected so much rain water it seemed as if it would drown, rich, green moss flourished, flowering several inches tall. Tombstones were scattered in semi-straight lines around the field. A woman sat in the grass, her knees folded next to her, also looking out at the water. “I come here once a year,” said the girl. “So do I,” replied the woman. “Gosh, it never changes. It makes you notice how you’ve changed. I can feel
what’s missing – the parts of me I’ve decided to let go.” “You’ve hardly changed a bit in your seventeen years,” the woman answered. “Sure, until now I’ve grown. I haven’t changed, though. That requires gain and loss. A replacement of self, I guess.” “You could say so. Has anyone ever told you you think too much?” said the woman, with a slight smile. The girl smiled slightly. “Yes, all the time.” “They were right.” “But what am I supposed to do with that information? Stop thinking? What happens then? Do I forget that I ever used to worry too much?” The woman shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. If you need to remember, you will. But it probably won’t matter to you at that point.” “But,” the girl looked frustrated. “I want it to matter. Because it matters to me NOW. Like, not just that, but things that make up who I am right now… I don’t want to forget them.” “Well, it’s like you said. You have to shed parts of yourself to change.” “But what if I let go, and then realize that… I let go of the wrong things. What if I don’t like who I become and I can’t go back? What if I lose who I am? What if thirty years from now I don’t even recognize myself ?” “You might not.” The girl stared at her. “Maybe not at first glance. But at the core, we’ll always be the same. No complications we ever add to our life, or people we let influence us, or boredom, or passion we experience, will ever take away our identity.” While she soaked this in, the girl strolled a few paces, the soft moss soaking up her feet as she stepped on it. She stopped by one of the tombstones and quietly said to it, “I don’t want to leave behind the things about myself that used to be the most important to me. They aren’t important anymore, I can already feel it. But I don’t want to let go of them.” The woman sighed. “You’re too proud. I remember that. One day the person you used to be won’t matter. You’ll be glad to have forgotten your old troubles.” “But that’s just it. I don’t want to forget. I don’t want the past seventeen years not to matter!” “Of course it matters!” she said exasperatedly. “You don’t think I got here without living through you first, do you? You can’t start a person at the end of their life. You have to build there. But the past isn’t bridges that can be knocked down. They are like the foundation of a building. Skeletal and inside out and wholly necessary. Sure renovations are made, rooms added and subtracted. But the original structure never changes.” She stared at her. “There’s no shortcut to accepting change. You just have to evolve enough to look back and realize that you are still the same person you always were.” 72