Fall 2010 No rth la n d â€™s Lite ra ry a n d Vi s u a l Ar t s M a g a z i n e
Letter From the Editors
Reader dearest, a sundry of experience awaits you. See Chicago through the eyes of a Bean. Come schnoz-toschnoz with an inquisitive ungulate, and, if you happen to be a Taurus, do so with sympathy. Learn the truth about redheads and swingsets. Beware the vengeance of small rodents. You may come away with the urge to purchase a pair of really fabulous socks. As you wander through the literary and the visual, please linger over our four contest winners and their variations on the theme “rhythm”. We would like to applaud the runner-up contest winners, Jake McGinnis and Evan Flom. Jake’s story, “The Leaning Cedar”, gives the reader a fly rod, then speaks of the wisdom one may fish out from within the cadence and flow of a trout stream. Evan’s photograph Awake for Daybreak, visually stunning and powerfully grounding, is imbued with beats created by the Earth, the sun, the clouds, and the wide canvas of water. Congratulations to our first-place contest winners, Allison Mills and Mary Schaubschlager. Allison’s “A Dancer’s Heart” is the striking memoir of her past as a performer. Rhythm is scattered throughout the piece on both the macro and micro level: take a step back to consider the overarching necessity of rhythm; whip out your mind’s magnifying glass to appreciate the tiny imprints of pulse. Mary’s piece The Rhythm Within arrests the eyes with the universal urgency of time. It addresses the most intimate, persistent rhythm that weaves through us all and asks viewers to turn inward and listen. Back in October, we’d meticulously narrowed the contest theme down to “sensible haircuts”, “ectoplasm”, and “krill”, but Ross was struck by a benevolent muse who kindly suggested “rhythm” instead. This theme has been entirely appropriate; it runs through more than just our contest entries. In fact, the Fall 2010 Quartile is a seething mass of rhythm. In these pages you’ll feel it through the pulse of underground streams and the layering of banded iron; hear it in the pounding of a blacksmith’s hammer and the tapping of a dancer’s feet. You’ll see rhythm where you look for it, and we editors highly recommend you do just that. The Quartile is here in your hands not only to show off the phenomenal feats of our contributors, but also to pass on the beat of inspiration they’ve all been struck by. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. Next spring we hope to see your own creative energy come winging out of cyberspace into our email account. I’m looking forward to either being knocked off my chair by the thunder of your unique beat, or being uplifted by your wave of creativity, or, best of all, both. Enough shameless promotion. Onwards, I say. Welcome to the Fall 2010 Quartile! Very proudly yours, Emily Betzler and Ross Bye Mosaic/Quartile Editors 4 Fall 2010
Table Of Contents
Front Cover Purple Benjamin Hughey
15. Graduating Emily Zebrun
16. Time Allison Mills
Untitled Jared Ursin
6. Explosion of Sound Miguel Alvelo 7. Freedom Abby Lattanzio 8. Jake McGinnis The Leaning Cedar 11. Night Walk Jessica Brown Let There Be Light Benjamin Hughey 12. Raindrops Laurel Smerch Fern Emily Zebrun
Mt. Rainier Benjamin Hughey 18. Gemini Scorpio Waylon Stories The Beginning Elizabeth Downey 19. Libra Waylon Stories Untitled Jared Ursin 20. Untitled Sasha Eisenschenk 21. Untitled Sasha Eisenschenk
13. The Map of Disappeared Streams Clare Hintz 22. Lily Elizabeth Downey Untitled Mary Schaubschlager (sculpture) Taurus Peter Weber (photograph) Waylon Stories 14. Suicide Girl Emily Zebrun Burned Self-Portrait Miguel Alvelo
23. Cake Heaven Cook
24. Awake for Daybreak Evan Flom Aries Sagittarius Waylon Stories 25. Sun Baby Madeline Wiebel Leo Waylon Stories
33. Rhythm of the Paddle Sarah Weed 34. A Good Pair Kira Hefty 37. Colored Converse Amanda Early Cancer Capricorn Waylon Stories
26. Untitled Sasha Eisenschenk
38. Redhead Katherine Boyk
27. Untitled Jared Ursin
41. Blacksmith Peter Weber
28. Chicago Sky The Bean Miguel Alvelo
42. Untitled Jared Ursin
29. Swing Emily Zebrun Lightning Bugs Benjamin Hughey 30. Monsters Kira Hefty Pinhole Double Lens Self-Portrait Miguel Alvelo 31. Before The Mirror Jessica Brown 32 The Storm Abby Lattanzio
Aquarius Waylon Stories 43. Conversing Benjamin Hughey Virgo Pisces Waylon Stories 44. A Dancerâ€™s Heart Allison Mills 48. The Rhythm Within Mary Schaubschlager Falling Love Heidi Schraufnagel
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Explosion of Sound
The lights dim, the curtain rises, and a hush falls over the murmuring crowd. Shuffles are heard as some people shift in their seats, trying to achieve comfort. The stage where everyone looks in anticipation takes on a red hue, lit from above. A soft sound is heard, just barely a whisper. Gradually, it becomes louder, but is still gentle in melody. From the wing, a woman in red steps out and holds a black sash in the air. In beat to the melody, which seems to emanate from everywhere and nowhere, she taps her foot, head to one side, sash to the other. Side to side she moves her sash across her body opposite to where she turns her head. With this pattern, she tangos across the stage, almost waltz like, stepping in three. Around the stage she goes, sash always moving. The Spanish music begins to slow, as does her dance. She comes to a stop in the middle of the stage, head down, sash in front of her face, left heel tapping lightly on the ground. The music slows and quiets until it can barely be heard. In a burst of fury the music reignites. Fierce movements accompanying the now fierce melody, she becomes a red blur, dress twirling round and round, enveloping her in red satin. Black heels clicking on the wood of the stage, she spins faster, leaping across the stage, the tango becoming so much more than just a tango. The faster she moves the more passionate she becomes. Itâ€™s apparent in her eyes, their intensity, their longing. Those eyes show
her desperate need to escape; when she looks out into the audience you can see the wish she has that she was out there with them, and not trapped on this stage. Every time she steps out on stage to do another show, she hopes the music will free her. Every time it entraps her more and more. The same song, the same dance; an endless cycle to which she is a slave. She stops her dance, the band still playing its ferocious tune. Breathing heavily, so much so that her chest is visibly heaving, sweat running down her temples, her red satin dress just now ends its swaying. She sees her manager off on the wing glaring at her, the music amplifying his attitude: angry, demanding. The music reaches a crescendo of might and she leaps off the stage, running to the exit, a whirlwind of red satin and black sash dashing up the aisle. Now the music is her freedom song, gives her wings to fly. She bursts through the door and out into the night, not once looking back, but listening as the music grows softer the further she runs. With its last breath, the music dies away into the expansive night sky. Released from the music, she is free. -Abby Lattanzio
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The Leaning Cedar Runner Up Literary Arts
I once had a favorite pool on a rather wellknown steelhead stream on the south shore of Lake Superior. It was a long, gravelly bend, flanked on one side with cedars and the other with a beautiful forest of young birches. At its head was a bouncy riffle a hundred or so yards long, its chattering voice floating over the pool. The tea-stained water was just a bit over waist deep. I could stand at the tail, the water percolating about my legs, and make long, careful drifts for hours, becoming lost in the motion of the
casting up to the head, and had been for some time. It was late in the season and the fish were stale. I was ready for a change in my casting routine, and I noted a small cedar hung over the water on the far side of the pool, up near the head. It took me a half dozen tries to sneak a cast in there just right, but when I did, I nearly immediately snapped the line tight with a fish. I saw only a flash of silver, though, before the hook pulled loose. “That was a good one,” came a voice from the
river. A well-timed double haul would just barely deposit my fly at the head of the pool, and nearly any problem I ever faced, no matter how dire, could always be solved while I was calf-deep in that beautiful pool. It was a wonderful place to think. That gorgeous little bend did much more than force me to perfect those long, graceful casts. It taught me an encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge on steelhead, lake-run browns, and at least one great lesson that certainly would have otherwise eluded me. Life does, after all, have a strange habit of jumping up and screaming in one’s ear when one least expects it. Some of the lessons that I have learned needed to be made blatantly obvious before I could see them,
bank behind me. Seated on the ochre grass, his back to a small birch, was a young man with curly brown hair protruding from beneath a tan baseball hat. He was wearing waders and a flannel shirt, and a fly rod was next to him. His face was unshaven, and he showed his teeth in a warm, friendly smile. “It was the only one I’ve had all day,” I responded, stepping carefully from the water. He nodded. “It’s been slow the last couple days. A week ago was better.” He thrust his hand toward me. “I’m Stevie Nelson, I’m a nature writer.” I offered him my name, but failed to mention that I sold insurance policies. “So what do you write?”
and that pool was the best teacher I ever had. One must also realize that the best of insights come on good trout streams. I found that favorite pool on a late October day that was unusually bright and windy. The birches behind me were blazing in all their autumnal glory, their leaves slowly being stripped by the persistent breeze and cast upon the water, where they floated downstream like a flotilla of small golden ships. I was standing at the lowest portion of the bend and
He grinned. “Not much. I do a lot of fishing articles and a ton of poetry, but I’m sort of a starving writer.” He turned away shyly at this last part, ashamed of his impoverishment. “Well, you’ve got to start somewhere,” I said, sitting down near him by another birch tree. Stevie and I talked for what seemed like hours. He told me how he’d dropped out of college because he couldn’t afford it and his family wouldn’t help him, and how he’d shortly thereafter, living in a tent,
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published his first article on fishing. Of course, as an average businessman I’d lived my life perfectly by the rules, never straying from the path that my father set out for me. I had a dishwasher, an imported car, and nearly nothing left of my soul. Stevie, meanwhile, lived in a tiny log cabin just a short walk from the river, and was an artist. Even though he lived on rice and beans and wore only secondhand clothes, I was envious of him. After all, Stevie had pursued his dream, while I had chased that horrible notion known as reality. I didn’t return to the pool with the leaning cedar again until the next spring, on a blustery April
On the last day of season I fell at the landing and I had the worst headache of my life. Some guy took me to the hospital in Superior and they did a bunch of tests. I hardly remember it, but I guess it’s called primary brain cancer.” I sat there silently, unable to speak, and unsure of what I could even say. “I guess the tumor is pretty small right now, but it’s getting worse. I have awful headaches every morning, and my memory is going to hell. I used to be able to tie flies, and I’d sell some to that fly shop in town, but now my fingers tingle too much to wrap the thread and hold the materials.” I opened my mouth as though I was going to
morning. A light snow had dusted the spruces with a thin layer of white, and there was still ice beneath the shade of some alders. The river was high and the fishing slow. I tried the pool with a tandem rig, a heavy stonefly nymph trailed by a colorful egg fly. After thirty minutes of breaking ice from the guides of my rod, I turned around, too cold to continue. I walked out of the water and, stretching to warm my legs, looked around. A solitary figure, wrapped in fleece and wearing a puffy wool hat, was walking slowly, with great care, toward me down the bank. It was Stevie. His beard was longer, and his waders bore two new patches, but otherwise he seemed the same as before.
speak, then shut it again. Thinking for a moment, I looked hard at Stevie. “So what are you going to do?” “Not much I can do. The doc gave me maybe a year without surgery, a bit more if I let them cut my head open and poke at my brain. I can’t afford that anyway though. So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to fish every last day of my life. It’s what I always wanted to do anyway.” “Hey man,” I said cautiously, “I’ve got money. I can help…” Stevie laughed. “Money won’t buy me any more time! I’ve got an old Toyota truck and enough cash to get me to the Rockies, maybe all the way to the west coast. I’ve got a giant bag of rice, lots of coffee,
“Hey stranger, how’s life treating you?” he asked, approaching me. “It’s been good,” I responded. “I’m ready for another season. How about you?” Stevie frowned. “I sold half a dozen articles over the winter, but I had to get a job sweeping floors at that damn department store in town.” I frowned. “Money troubles?” He grinned. “No, I had to pay the doctor bills. Last fall my balance was starting to get screwed up.
a sleeping bag, and enough flies to keep me busy all year. I don’t need anything else.” I looked him up and down, pondering his failing brain, the numbness in his arms, and the remainder of a life spent sleeping in the cab of a truck, alone and cold somewhere in the west. “What about your family?” He grinned again. “I haven’t spoken to my family in three years, and they don’t want to help me anyway. Apparently I’m just some bum now.” He Fall 2010 9
paused a moment, lost in thought. “I’ve thought long and hard about this, man. I know what I want to do. I’m just waiting until I get one more steelhead. It’s hard for me to leave the Lake Superior streams.” I dug my hand into my back pocket and pulled out my wallet, from which I produced a glossy business card. “You ever get into trouble,” I said, handing it to him, “just give me a call. I’ve always wanted to fish the Henry’s Fork and the Deschutes anyway.” Stevie grinned. “Thanks man.” And with that he turned away and continued up the trail, pausing occasionally as he teetered back and forth.
becoming dramatic and hushed. “But you know why?” I looked at him, smiling on the bank, and waited for him to continue. “It was the water, and the casting, you know, the rhythms of everything. It just made me lose myself, and the movement of everything, the perfect grace all around, it did magic for me.” I smiled. “So what now?” “I’m a columnist, thank you very much,” he said, chuckling, “a regular contributor to a little magazine out of Denver. And I’ve sold thirteen articles since June.” “It seems like you’ve got the whole world just
As is the way with a businessman, I didn’t get another chance to fish steelhead until the next fall. It was September, and the first of the leaves were just beginning to change. I wandered down to the pool, my head wrapped in the complexities of an insurance company. Someone was fishing there though, standing in the tail of the pool. It was Stevie. “How are you?” he asked, walking toward the bank. “I should be the one asking you that question,” I said, already noting that his walk was steady again. “I thought you were going out west.” “I’ve already been there. I’ve fished the Yellowstone, the Deschutes, the Snake, the South Platte,
laid out for you,” I said, still smiling. “Well, I think I’ve come to one big conclusion. No matter what problems you face, no matter how big they may be, you can solve them with a healthy dose of fishing. Sometimes you may have to hide from the world too, and sometimes you might have to fish a whole lot, but you can solve just about anything while you’re waist-deep in moving water. And you know something else? You’ve got a date with a steelhead that likes to hang out under that cedar. I’m sure you have a few things to sort out too.”
the Poudre, and more mountain creeks than I can even remember. I came back. I guess I couldn’t resist the big lake.” A giant grin was plastered on his face. “And things are looking up. The brain tumor that I have isn’t as bad as they suspected, and it’s actually getting smaller. I might have a chance, man.” “What?” I asked, a smile instantly forming on my lips. “It’s a miracle!” His tone suddenly changed, 10 Fall 2010
Confounding questions swirl in moonlit night, suspended in the sky of my clouded mind The absolutes distilled by day, pure in abstraction of their own construction, never hold up here.
stars at the edge of meaning, answers exposed for the open eye. For all my time on tiptoe, peering, the moon has been the keyhole while all along I have been the key.
I understand a world of whorled confusion, the comfort of reality,
mirrored in expanse of sky But wind in whispers leaves me steeped in the stark clarity of black and the stare of stars extends Too far, a towering tent, the moon at the apex, my own fluorescent fingerprint But as I reach, I see now
Let There Be Light -Benjamin Hughey Fall 2010 11
Throats parched And heads spinning
A quivering snout and a pair of oil-drop eyes belonging to a long-toothed guest peek out at me from a fold of blanket then disappear as I recline in bed. her tiny claws itch as she explores up a pant leg, whiskers flickering against my skin and her long tail trailing behind her.
When it’s as if Everything is fading Let’s crawl into the shade And get ourselves some rest We’ll drift off to sleep Try to realize we are blessed And listen to the raindrops fall
I picked her up too roughly this morning, and wonder if she has forgiven me.
Try to forget about all this for awhile And listen to the raindrops fall
I am hopeful when she reappears, skittering with a rat-a-tat–across my keyboard I offer my hand for her to climb
We’ve been through some dry times Even though the sun was out Guess it got that hot The joy faded out So let’s crawl into the shade And get ourselves some rest We’ll drift off to sleep Try to realize we are blessed And listen to the raindrops fall Try to forget about all this for awhile And listen to the raindrops fall -Laurel Smerch
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her bottom teeth scissor apart as she sinks them into the meat of my finger. She is gone in a whisper of fur on cloth. -Emily Zebrun
The Map of Disappeared Streams
Metro has a map of Portland streams now buried under concrete, speeding cars, metal, lawns, brambles, houses: a grid of alienated logic, crossed by a different choreography, as if the surveyor’s pen had slipped by accident. I wonder about the first cataloguer, one C.W. Burrage, up to 1866, (the Civil War had ended, the Ku Klux Klan begun) limning those lines.
there are rivers snaking underneath your rigid callous. Parsing the map is not enough. You must risk bruising your hands to pull up the concrete, must risk the rushing water that might swamp you. Are you more afraid of the delight or the horror? You don’t know the future unfurling from the smallest chink of action. Resilience only turns brittle
What for? if you stay grieving over your paper map It was so long ago. and forget to trust in the deep unknown. Perhaps those flowing waters will surface someday. -Clare Hintz I imagine someone piling concrete rubble so that the water spirals again. I imagine the city’s lighted veins arcing on their eventual way to the sea. I imagine a city made by hand and laughter-fed hearts, sunflowers, evening cribbage, gardens and yellow bicycles. Perhaps there will be salmon joyful enough to understand the wisdom in bewilderment. Salmon we love because they swim upstream. It’s the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences. Can you see me underneath the paved road, see me instead of the certainty you drew on your map? I am blue, not black. Can you learn to say, I’m sorry. Can you learn to bring forth life as much as destruction? You cannot exist isolate;
-Mary Schaubschlager (Scuplture) Peter Weber (Photography) Fall 2010 13
The backs of my hands are mottled with blue; it stains my nailbeds; I find it caked under my long fingernails as if Iâ€™ve been digging in some alien soil. Why didnâ€™t I just wear gloves? Looking down at my hands, poised over the basement sink
and when that stopped being magic. I duck my head under the cold stream and watch as the color drains from the tips of my hair as blue as the dye embedded in my lifeline. -Emily Zebrun
I wonder when alchemy became part of my everyday life when I became one of those Avalon-born girls with hair the color of Cherryaid and cyanide who wears her beliefs etched into her skin
Burned Self-Portrait -Miguel Alvelo
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Baby used to wear bracelets up to her elbows (rows and rows of glittering rings) and every one meant something different to her: the big plastic one decorated with pastel icons of the Virgin Mary strung on elastic â€“ a gift from her nature-worshipping father, and her mother gave her the delicate metal one made with old typewriter keys. These, plus exactly thirty-seven more jeweled baubles (Baby counted once, urged on by curious lunchroom friends) not counting the two watches she wore on her left wrist set exactly one second apart (In case I need to jump into time, sheâ€™d say.) Gradually, they began to drop off her wrists like a jingling, kaleidoscopic autumn leaving bands of pale skin to show their passing. She shed them like teeth cutting new ones on the bones of the world. -Emily Zebrun
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Time Soon I will die. But today I lay my hands on the cold weaving of red, black, and gray of a banded iron formation. The rock outcrop, worn by glaciers, rain, and millions of years, juts out from a clearing off a dirt road in northern Minnesota, near the Sudan mine. These rocks, known as BIFs, are layered masterpieces of quartz and jasper that represent an ancient time of anoxic oceans. Such low oxygen levels allowed for these minerals to crystallize out of the seawater, painting the ocean floor. With my hands spread on the rock, I imagine going back—salt water fills in, animals disappear, photosynthesis becomes a dream, volcanoes crack open, meteorites hit, and the world changes. The crystals beneath my fingers fade, melting back into the water, crumbling like wet sugar. Geology is about time, about seeing beyond and before the present moment. In geology, a millennium passes in less than an eye-blink. Deep Time has seen many mountains, many seas, many coastal plains—it has seen the history of our Earth. Picturing an Earth that we have not seen is difficult, but old stories weave memories through the rocks, retold through the alphabet of sediments and minerals, the sign
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language of fossils and glacial striations, the pauses in unconformable contacts between rock layers. A sandstone may look bland as oatmeal, but its crossbedded planes tell of vast rivers, beaches, or dunes. For millions of years, the wind, waves, and currents rounded and sculpted each grain. Yet such patient artistry is only a few heartbeats in Deep Time. People, however, live like mayflies in the path of Deep Time. We live in cyclic routines: birth, childhood, puberty, adulthood, maturity, aging, death; alarm-clock, breakfast, walk the dog, class, work, meals, the gym, Friday nights, a nightcap, and goodnight. Our e-mails annoy and obsess us, our kids lack attention, and sleeping in is a luxury. We spend, waste, and putz with our time. We take for granted our momentary existence—losing ourselves in the majesty of mountains or the serenity of the sea, captivated by their false eternity. But war, tsunamis, weddings, cancer, funerals, rape, and birth remind us of our mortality. We are mortal, as mortal as mountains. So, spend an afternoon outside. Abandon cement, walls, and electronics—find a spot where the
sunlight plays with the leaves, making puzzles on the ground. Under the light, dig below last autumn’s remains to the damp soil, feeling sow bugs crawl over your fingers. Dig deeper, past the squirming bodies of worms, letting A-horizon particles settle under your fingernails. Death reincarnates life; leaf litter, insect skeletons, old bones enrich the soil. Know that this thin veneer of dirt is what supports the entire biosphere. Pause—listen to the sweet warbles of a House Wren and the raucous clonk-la-dee of a Red-winged Blackbird. Acknowledge that you must stay grounded while they take flight.
this Earth. Every minute, 108 people die; when will your minute be? Our Earth, our green-blue oasis, is a bacterium on the fingernail of the galaxy and there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in trillions of possible universes. Where does your stomach, the Earth’s mantle, an oxygen-rich atmosphere, a mayfly, fit in? Could you hold the hands of someone dying and tell them how important they are?
My own hands are small, pale against the red jasper knob pushing against my thumb. I lift my palms, tracing my fingertips along a twisted, dark gray band. After a few feet, it pinches out, reemerging four inches away. BIFs and anoxic oceans are ancient to Afterwards, return home and make a meal, us, but they are a fleeting, rockbound memory in Deep invite others. Cook and laugh in the kitchen—wine Time. Time is transient, as ephemeral as thought. But for the sauce and wine for the chef! Dispose of cumtime is created, observed, constructed—built crystal bersome clocks and cell phones; play music instead. Reserve a moment of silence before eating, hold hands by crystal, second by second, eon by eon. Look at your with your friends, your kin; breathe deep, knowing that own hands—imagine them cradling a pebble, building the atmosphere is an earthly gift that took mega annum mountains, kneading bread, smashing stars, and caressing a loved one’s cheek. Time is what you make it. of photosynthesizing years to create. Then fill your stomach. -Allison Mills But your stomach is only one in over six billion on
Mt. Rainier -Benjamin Hughey
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When you were born, the world let out a sigh of relief. Finally it had realized its greatest gift and witnessed its greatest accomplishment. Unfortunately the world thought you were someone else. You are actually quite averageâ€Ś
As you are walking down into the ravine, a shining piece of metal catches your eye. You approach it, cautiously and eagerly. You wonder what it could be. Treasure? A golden fleece? You stop in your tracks. Your jaw drops in anguish. You have found the scattered remains of c-3po.
-Waylon Stories -Waylon Stories
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Libra The love of your life will come walking down the street singing â€œdoo a ditty, ditty dum ditty doo.â€? You recognize the tune and begin to join in, but you find your voice hoarse because you screamed too much at your mother on the phone last night. Your love laughs at you and you smile back, trying to win back your pride. But the only thing you win is a swift kick to the chest for your insolence. -Waylon Stories
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Taurus Take a look around. Do you see that brunette woman sitting in the corner? Her left shoe is untied and she has a look of apprehension. Talk to herâ€ŚConsole herâ€ŚFor she is actually a horse. 22 Fall 2010 -Waylon Stories
Shawna stumbled and caught herself against the refrigerator, scattering magnets everywhere. She spent a few moments just pressing her cheek to the cool surface while the fridge hummed its condolences. When she had regained her balance, she rooted her palm against the freezer portion to keep herself steady, and opened the fridge door. Rows of plastic wrapped Tupperware frosted with condensation beckoned her with mysterious delights and thousands of calories better left uncounted. No more wine, Shawna observed, then scrutinized the Tupperware. What the hell. She reached blindly into the farthest reaches of the refrigerator’s belly and plucked up a foil-wrapped something. Upon closer inspection, a line of fluffy butter cream frosting (an enthusiastic shade of pink) smooshed out of a crease in the foil, gleaming with all the wicked decadence of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Shawna didn’t bother with a plate, shutting the fridge and staggering over to a drawer, her hand retracting triumphantly with a spoon. She took two steps away from the kitchen and into the living room; everything was two steps away in that crumbling ruin of a trailer. She plopped into an armchair, the kind that was almost painfully soft, designed to cushion arthritic joints. Cradling the forbidden treat in her lap, she peeled away the top layer of foil and basked over her prize.
It was more icing than cake, with a thick line of fudge and raspberry goo running through the center. The foil had smudged the white flowers and swirls that once decorated it, but Shawna vaguely remembered what it was supposed to look like. It was the top tier of her parents’ wedding cake—someone must have moved it from the freezer to accommodate whatever homemade good they thought Shawna would need after the funeral. She remembered just a few years ago asking her mother to throw it out; one evening two weeks before their anniversary, Bill just never came home, and after 60 years of waiting, there wasn’t much point in keeping it around anymore, though Shawna was impressed with how perfectly preserved it was. But Bill was probably dead now, and so was her mother, and Shawna was alone with the remnants of their broken marriage. When Shawna dug out a piece of cake from under piles and piles of frosting, it was sweet, and delicious, and moist. -Heaven Cook
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Awake for Daybreak Runner Up Visual Arts
Upon awakening, you will find yourself transformed. You will see through the eyes of the potato and you will hear through the ears of cauliflower. Your artichoke heart will bleed for the blundering broccoli as you watch them simmer in the steamy pot. Needless to say, your day will conclude in a vat of finely chopped cabbage, to be served with a side of salt-lick.
Your face will disappear like a fart in the wind. People will look at you and not recognize who you are, but they will sense that you are somebody familiar. They will speak to you about the weather and wheels, but all you can do is listen and nod because your mouth has been wiped away like ketchup on my chin after eating a super-size fry at McDonalds.
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Sun Baby -Madeline Wiebel
Leo You open your eyes and you begin to see things in a whole new light. People are kind and places are beautiful. Landscapes flow into your eyes like a visual poem: billowing, bubbling, and blowing away. When you turn your head, you look directly into the eyes of Simon, your childhood pet. Simon says that the LSD should only last for a few more hours. -Waylon Stories Fall 2010 25
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(Top) Chicago Sky (Bottom) The Bean
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Swingsets are homes for ghosts. Hollow metal frames rooted in sand make the same shadows as wartime gallows
A glimmering reflection, a romantic interpretation, a shining spectacular, of a great unknown.
long since burned. The creak of their rusted chains and empty seatsâ€™ silence in the wind echo the groan of wooden beams under some dark and sudden weight. Someday, my children too Will be dead. -Emily Zebrun
A flash for a lady. In a humble flight the feeble man screams for a life. The starry night comes to life, in an illuminate waltz of heavenly rhythm. A bachelorette smiles, impressed by a glow. She mounts the dark steed, then slits his throat. -Benjamin Hughey
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The dark basement staircase reached up with its forked tongue to swallow four-year-old Hunter. He teetered on the top step, eyes large, grubby hands gripping the doorframe. One soiled overall suspender dangled off his bare shoulder. There were monsters down there. Monsters that existed in shadows, hiding behind cobweb curtains and under musty sheets. They played tricks on him, jumping from one corner to the next and sitting in stray
There was never enough light, especially when the small rectangular window was covered with a blanket. Only one monster existed during these times. This monster spoke to Hunter differently-- its voice was pitched at an odd angle with words that drawled slowly like syrup. It made Hunter’s skin prickle and the other monsters hide, their tears dripping down cracks in the walls. It spoke with belts and welts, bringing Hunter to his knees on the gritty floor.
puddles. When Hunter reeled around looking for them, they sniggered, long faces drooping like silly putty. They moved things around. Things Hunter got blamed for later when they went missing. Hunter could hear them whispering now, smooth words carried to him on the frayed edges of a moldy draft. “Come play, Hunter. It’ll be fun. We found your old teddy bear, Buttons.” He didn’t want to play with Buttons. He didn’t want to touch anything given to him by those cold
The taste of salt and iron grew ripe in his mouth as he remained hunched there. Waiting. Until the monster grew silent and crumpled into its own lumpy shadow on the floor.
hands in the dark.
30 Fall 2010
Pinhole Double Lens Self-Portrait -Miguel Alvelo
Before the Mirror
Of course you wouldn’t know just what started it, though there can be no escape from a disparate tone in the night sky, a star or two flattening the stretch between you and the world just beyond the window glass— Orion’s belt unstrung and flung
rising off horses’ backs with the mist But when you gather all these ends up like leaves fallen on the wrong side of the fence, they amount to so much more than you can stuff in this envelope of night, send yourself now as the letter
by uncaring Venus, unheard
you open here at your bureau; The faint scent of dust on the page
as the thin wind’s struggle to lift, to just shift one corner of dry, unmovable leaf.
caresses your face like the wind slipping through that grass, through your fingers until your hand falls,
And you’re wishing now for little bits of everywhere you’ve ever been, or maybe the quiet places that could never keep you this long, oh no, not forever,
the grass, those leaves lost in your mind.
For the bluffs that held you those three summer months, drew your gaze to the sky and kept the tall grass whistling around your feet,
Now all you know is a face in the mirror Stare into those eyes: Start looking for home. -Jessica Brown
For the bowl of cheap cereal you savored in the sun on the top of that ridge, a half-hour hike for one hell of a view and three bars of service, a call to your mother on Sunday morning, And for all those small crises, easy as the last day you awoke and stepped out into sunrise, leaned over the railing and breathed the optimism Fall 2010 31
White walls surround him as he lies in the bed that has become his prison. Two days ago different white walls enclosed him in a different bed. There the constant hums and beeps of machines were his daily existence, Snakes of tubes coiling around his body. Terminal, two months, the words haunt him Invade both his waking and sleeping moments Leaving no peace. Nothing could be done, nothing can be done, So might as well pack up and go home. He hates the pity in everyone’s eyes, Pretending they don’t know the inevitable. They don’t try to treat him as helpless. He wants to be normal again, a normal life. Gone is the pity, gone is the helpless feeling. Escape. He craves it. Two months leaves little time for “If you only had a year to live . . .” There’s nowhere to go, no one to turn to, for all the pity. He’d rather be left alone, but he knows if he does that, he’ll only wallow in his misery. Escape crosses his mind for the millionth time, a place without people to pity him.
He stares at the ivory keys surrounding ebony, caressing them, remembering how it felt To play a masterpiece. It was so long ago. He hadn’t played since he fell sick and was Almost afraid that he had forgotten how. Running his fingers over every key, eyes closed Remembering the feel of those glossy keys, the pump of the pedals. He allows his fingers to fall down where they lay, striking a dissonant chord. The sound of its clash fills his ears, wraps around his mind as slowly his fingers Move to other keys, pressing, feeling the notes he had once so treasured. He begins to drift, To sway with the music he is creating. Out of some long-forgotten past a melody comes to him. Feet move to pump pedals, Hands slowly at first, struggling to grasp the notes, to find the keys. Quicker now, the fingers begin to fly bringing the old melody to life Cascading down the notes fill the room, echoing off the walls. He feels the music take him away, his heart lighten, the sickness disappear. Rocking back and forth, eyes closed, in time to the melody Now it softens, a slight pattering of rain drops on a window pane,
gentle rain Becoming more pronounced, the keys falling harder as the rain increases to a downpour. The thundering lower notes of the left hand communicating with the blunt staccato rain Of the right hand, flourishes as the wind swoops in, louder and stronger, clashing chords Lightning strikes down, swaying and rolling faster, harder, crescendos into a dramatic frenzy Until . . . All is silent. He pauses, caught up in the storm of music about him. His mind races as he thinks of everything that has happened since that dreadful news. Taking a deep breath he lifts his hands and puts them gently on the ivory keys. He pauses, savoring the mahogany smell of the old wooden piano, The same piano he so expertly played Only weeks before the sickness claimed him. Another deep breath and he starts the melody again, Soft, gentle like early morning rays of sunshine warming his face After a night of storms and fear. The melody ends, dies away with barely a whisper, A single melancholy note suspended in the air. -Abby Lattizano
32 Fall 2010
Rhythm of the Paddle -Sarah Weed
Fall 2010 33
A Good Pair
“Drop yo’ money like a sock. Come on now, I know you got some.” The beggar was sitting on his cracked pail in the glow of his usual streetlight with his empty eggnog carton. Peter tried to ignore him as he waited for the crosswalk light to grant him safe passage across the frenzied intersection. He’d had a long day at the office watching stock deals fail and his client base decline. “Those some nice shoes ya got there, but I bet they don’t keep yo’ feet too warm when it get cold,”
Peter continued home to his small, empty apartment in a haze of contemplation. Ptolemy. It was an odd name, but one he’d heard somewhere before. He threw a frozen pizza in the oven and fell asleep on the couch while it baked, only waking when the fire alarm went off in the kitchen. The beggar was waiting for him in the usual spot the next day. It was cold and the first fluffy snowflakes of the winter were cycloning through the streets and alleys. They gleamed in the light throw from all
the beggar said. The comment was amusing, not his normal banter. Peter, for the first time in the two years he had passed this man on his route home, really looked in the beggar’s direction. The beggar smiled up at him, dark brown eyes sparkling, nestled deep within a crosshatching of wrinkles. The few teeth he still possessed were set haphazardly in his gums. His clothes were torn and soiled, every edge frayed with strings hanging like cobwebs. But Peter’s eyes were instantly drawn to the man’s ankles. His tattered, high-water pants revealed vivid yellow and orange argyle stockings. They were clean, new. They reminded Peter of sunlight breaking across
the cars, streetlights, and buildings, adding yet more busyness to an already chaotic world. This weather had always made Peter grin to himself in the past, encouraging impulse buys of sweaters from Saks, hot chocolate mix, and Baileys. But there was no occasion for such buys this year nor the money. “Evenin’,” the beggar greeted him at the corner with his jack-o-lantern smile. Peter meant to just pass by and ignore him, but the crossing light detained him yet again. “What’s yo’ name?” Peter fidgeted and juggled his briefcase from one hand to the other. “Yo’ shoe is untied.”
the grey Lake Michigan. A spot of light in a dreary world. “Name’s Ptolemy,” the beggar introduced himself. A woman shoved Peter from behind and he was suddenly caught up in the current making its way across the crosswalk. He caught his feet and began to move forward mechanically. “I’ll talk to ya tamorrow then,” Ptolemy called as Peter walked away.
Peter looked down and saw that, yes, his leather shoe was dragging its laces. He bent down to tie it quickly. “Peter.” “What’d ya say?” “Peter,” Peter said just loud enough so that the beggar would hear and glanced over at him. The beggar was wearing the same dirty clothes, but different socks. New socks. Today they were thick with rainbow colored stripes. Peter frowned, pausing
34 Fall 2010
longer than intended. “Nice ta make yo’ acquaintance,” the beggar said and extended a chapped hand. Peter nodded brusquely, glancing at the crowd around him then put his head down and walked away. Every day for the next week was the same. The beggar attempted to make conversation with him each time Peter passed. At first, Peter meant to change his route home to avoid being confronted, but his curiosity always got the better of him. Every day, Peter was transfixed by the socks he wore. They were always new and always different. Bright red, lime green, baby blue, maroon, pearly white, chartreuse. Argyle, plaid, plain, striped, patterned with Santa and his eight rein-
are negative.” The beggar looked at the numbers on the papers he had picked up with frown. “They still big.” “Yeah, in the wrong direction,” Peter said. “Keep them. I don’t need them anymore.” The beggar looked at him with a wide smile. “Thank ya.” Peter walked a few steps forward to pick up his briefcase, which had been kicked by a few passersby. He was about to continue on, but paused, curiosity peaked. He turned back to the beggar. “Where did you get a name like Ptolemy? I’d heard it before, but it took me longer to remember from where. He was a Greek scientist, mathematician,
deer. The snow grew heavier with each passing day. Peter brought out his scarves and ducked into the wind. During the heaviest part of the extended storm, Peter trudged home along the sloppy sidewalk, words reverberating in his head. His body was weak, hands shaking, palms still sweaty from gripping phone receivers. Approaching an intersection, he suddenly pitched forward, tripping over his own untied shoe laces. His briefcase flew from his hand, cracking open and spilling papers all over the soppy concrete. He landed on his stomach in the gritty slop and remained there for a moment, humiliated, while people contin-
author. He changed modern scientific thought. You know of him?” Ptolemy grinned and went back to sitting on his pail and organizing the papers he had collected. He folded them carefully with trembling fingers and stuck them inside his coat. “Ya’. Famous guy. Momma wanted ta give me a big name. Somethin’ I could live up to she said. Don’t help me much. Can’t even spell it,” he said with a laugh. Peter stared at him, at his bright socks, then took a pen out of his briefcase. “Here—bring out one of those pieces of paper.” Ptolemy brought out the paper and handed it to
ued to pass him hurriedly. “Pete, ya gotta rememba to tie yo’ shoes now.” Peter knew it was the beggar standing in front of him. All he could see were the man’s yellow polkadot socks. “You got some big numbas on this paper you spilt. Stock broka’?” Peter dragged himself to his feet. “Former broker,” he answered and tried to wipe some of the slush off his coat. “Most of those numbers
Peter slowly, as if thinking Peter was going to take it back. “P—T—O—L—E—M—Y. That’s how you spell it.” Ptolemy took the paper and studied the letters, eyebrows pinched together. “If he so smart, why’d he start his name with a ‘p’? Don’t make no sense.” Peter smiled and then laughed. “Don’t matter anyway. Names mean nothin’. Fall 2010 35
Just like yo’ money. It mean nothin’. Ya’ll think it does, but ya’ll just a bunch of fools.” Peter stopped smiling and stared at the beggar who was rocking slightly on his pail, the paper gripped in his hands so that the wind couldn’t steal it. “Nothin’ you have makin’ you happy,” he continued. “Ya’ll walk around in your fancy shoes, nice clothes, but always with yo’ frowns. ‘Specially you. Never seen you smile before now. Even when ya had all yo’ different suits and ties, briefcases. With all yo’ money you still frown. Only today ya’ just realized yo’ life amount to nothin’ past the money you had before.” Peter stiffened. Ptolemy tucked the paper back into his jacket and hid his hands in his armpits. A
control yours.” He glanced down and tugged at one of his socks. “And there ain’t nothin’ more important than keepin’ yo’ feet warm,” he said and nodded to himself. “Cold toes make you misserble—full of frustration, anger. Yo’ feet get so cold you can’t move in ‘em— takes away yo’ freedom, independence, yo’ happiness,” he said and traced one of the polka dots on his sock. “You gotta look after yo’self. Ain’t nothin’ more important than a good pair of socks. Ain’t nothin’ can make you more happy.” Ptolemy let go of his sock and tucked his hand back under his armpit. Peter stood there and stared at
cold wind whipped through the street, knocking Peter slightly off balance and unwinding his scarf from his neck. He grabbed it quickly and shoved it more firmly beneath his coat collar. “How do you know anything about that? About happiness?” Peter retorted. “Does sitting on this dumpy street corner make you happy? Begging for money everyday. Does that make you happy?” Ptolemy tensed and stared at the ground silently. “And you speak of material wealth. You wear a new pair of socks everyday. Why?” Peter continued to rant. “How can a beggar afford to buy a new pair of socks everyday?”
him, at those hideous socks. The longer he stood there, the angrier he became. But the anger wasn’t directed toward the man in front of him. Peter stuck one of his hands into his coat pocket, feeling the last of his spare change there. It was probably enough to buy a coffee at Starbucks. But it wasn’t enough for what he really needed. He pulled it out of his pocket and dropping it in Ptolemy’s empty eggnog carton. “I liked those purple striped socks you wore the other day, maybe you can go back and get another pair.” Ptolemy looked up, face melting into a smile. “I’ll see you around,” Peter said and turned to
This made Ptolemy look up into Peter’s face. disappear into the crowd. Etched in his eyes was a sudden resolve that caused Peter to take a step back while swallowing the rest of -Kira Hefty his words. “I’m happier than you,” Ptolemy spoke quietly, his voice just carrying to Peter in the wind. “I know real happiness. Happiness that comes from inside instead a’ out there,” he said and poked a bony hand towards the flashing billboards and business offices. “I control my own happiness while you let the world 36 Fall 2010
You will be happy to know that although you are a cancer, you are completely unaffiliated with the malignant reproduction of defected cells. But you are dangerously close, so if I were you, Cancer, I would get my act together. If you really cared, you might start combing your hair on occasion or maybe you’ll start washing your socks. And would you please stop wearing that flannel on EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK?!?
When you are walking towards the drinking fountain,
be weary of the bearded man to your right. He’s the one with the wily brows. NO, don’t Look! He will know. Just do what I say. Approach the water fountain, drink for 1 second. Breathe. Drink for 2 seconds. Breathe. Reach into your pocket and pull out all of your change. Arrange the coins into a rhombus. This should distract him long enough for you to run - he loves diamonds. Whatever you do, don’t look back. -Waylon Stories Fall 2010 37
For some reason, people assume that life for those with red hair must be somehow special, as if redheads wake up every morning feeling different than the rest of the population because of the color of their hair. And, for some reason, any non-redhead has an incessant need to inquire about this presumable enlightenment. “What’s it like to have red hair?” “Is it natural?” “Do you know how lucky you are?” Some people even have the compulsion to touch a redhead, as if then they, too, could experience a flicker of this enchanted
inquire about their hair, and lament about every other redhead they’ve ever known. Seriously, as if I want to hear about your husband’s cousin, who was in a macaroni and cheese commercial because of her frizzy red hair. Case in point: I was in an elevator with my dad and a sixty-something woman. We each pushed the buttons for our floors, turned away from each other, and settled into the awkward ride-in-silence elevator
norm. Suddenly, the woman turned to me and exclaimed, very loudly, “Your hair is so red!” I gave her If you happen to be one of the few born with the reces- a half-smile and a small nod, my typical reaction to sive genetic mutation leading to an orange-copper hair these comments, but she would not let up. “I’ve never color that some odd person decided to call “red,” read seen hair so red!” She turned to my dad, exclaiming, no further. There is absolutely nothing I can tell you “Look at this hair!”— as if he hadn’t noticed after about being a redhead that you don’t already know. eighteen years. She soon had her face just inches from However, if you are one of those outsiders with the mine, her eyes intently examining my hair. Finally, she persistent desire to ask me and my fellow redheads asked The Question: “Can I… can I touch it?” what it’s like to have red hair, read on, but only if you promise to stop asking such ridiculous questions. Even as infants, redheads receive a disproportionate amount of attention for their hair. It’s always After living eighteen years as a redhead, I have women, mostly older, usually mothers themselves, come to two basic conclusions. First, people are atwho seem to have an especial fascination with redtracted to quirks. Show them anybody who is slightly different—a person missing an arm, a blind child, conjoined twins— and people are mercilessly curious. Secondly, the only one of these abnormalities which is socially acceptable to stare at, gawk over, or obsess about is red hair. Ask a paralyzed woman what it’s like to live in a wheelchair and you’re likely to be scolded. Point and stare at a boy with Down’s Syndrome and you deserve whatever comes your way. But everybody assumes it’s perfectly okay to go up to a redhead, 38 Fall 2010
headed children. They poke their face into the stroller, cooing over not the baby, but the hair. “You must have dyed it!” they exclaim, as if it’s common for mothers to pour chemicals over their infant’s scalp. Then they simply have to know the genetics. “I take it your husband has red hair?” Some people just don’t let up. The worst are women who have red hair, but gave birth to dark-haired kids, and are forever bitter at mothers like this undeserving brunette who have a redheaded child to flaunt.
pares to this guy I’ve never met before, thank you. This always gives my parents a particular prob- Perhaps because of this, fellow redheads share lem, for they are both brown-haired and have, not one, a bond unmatched by anyone with a normal hair color. but two children with very, very red hair. My brother It is very encouraging to meet someone else who and I are two years apart, but everyone assumes we’re slathers on the sunscreen at eight in the morning, can’t twins because of our hair color, which upset me greatly find mascara to use on red eyelashes, and has to put up as a four-year-old, having people thinking I was a twin with some truly outrageous comments from complete to this two-year-old baby. And no one believes that strangers. neither our mother nor our father is a redhead. Although, I can’t say all my encounters with Each parent has developed their own reaction redheads have been so reassuring. Once at a mall, an to the genetics question. My mom just nods, agreeelderly woman with thinning hair that had just the ing that yes, her husband is a redhead. My dad either slightest tint of orange came up to me. “I used to have decides to act dumb, saying he has no idea where the hair just like yours, you know,” she bragged proudly. red hair came from— maybe my brother and I were switched at birth— or he’ll explain that he had red hair as a child, even though it is now a sort of brownish-grayish color. Which is the truth, but it does not receive nearly as amusing of a reaction. Redheads never blend into the crowd. Which, of course, means we never get away with anything. My parents don’t seem to mind. They love that at the swimming pool, at the carnival, in school plays, they always knows where my brother and I are. I see this as a double whammy: not only does my color draw attention for its uniqueness, but it draws attention because it’s so vibrant in a world of blondes and brunettes. Fortunately, along with the pigment pheomelanin, redheads are born with an amazing grin-and-bearit capability. Whenever two redheads are remotely close in proximity to one another, someone always has to make a joke related to growing carrots. And then everyone wants to put the redheads next to each other and compare hair colors. “His is more blonde, more variation.” “Hers is much redder, almost brown. Like a penny.” No, I don’t really care how my shade com-
“It never fades, red hair. It never fades!” And I stood there awkwardly, a confused ten-year-old wondering who this woman was and why she was telling me this. Then again, I’ve had even more bizarre encounters with non-redheads. It’s as if red hair is a magnetic force, sucking in all sorts of random passersby, dispelling any sense of common courtesy, and eliciting only the most inane of comments. Beauty salons are the worst. I never go to the same stylist twice. They make enough of a fuss about red hair the first time, but go back again and any stylist will get an inflated ego, as if they are indeed so special that they get to cut a redhead’s hair. So I sit there, gritting my teeth as my stylist coos over my hair and just about every person in the salon feels the need to visit the redhead. And I just sit in the chair, forcing a smile and nodding as I receive the same comments I’ve heard over and over since I was old enough to understand them: “Do you know how much people would pay for that color?” “Such a shame to cut such beautiful hair!” “If you could bottle that red, you’d be a millionaire.” And my mother wonders why I only get Fall 2010 39
my hair cut twice a year. Once in a beauty salon, a lady walked up to my chair, bent down, picked up a lock of my hair, and walked away without saying a word. I can only imagine her showing my discarded hair to all her friends, bragging that she now possessed a little piece of a redhead. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, that really did happen. How could I make up anything that ridiculous? Everybody seems to remember redheads. Which sounds awesome, until you’re walking down the street and some brunette stops you, exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, Katherine! I haven’t seen you in years!” And you’re standing there thinking, Great. Yeah, I have no idea who you are. It is nice, though, that people always know your name. Unless, of course, they never bothered to learn your name, at which point red hair lends itself to a slew of rather annoying nicknames. People think they’re being so clever, calling redheads “Carrot-top” or “Red” or “Ginger,” especially since they’ve only known, say, five people for whom these nicknames are appropriate. But to someone who has spent their life being referred to as a vegetable, it’s not really that amusing. I had a blonde friend in elementary school who insisted on calling me Carrot Top. So, in retaliation, I started calling her Banana Head. Somehow it just didn’t have the same effect.
she has Bozo hair!” I am truly glad I didn’t know about this until I was much older. A comment like that could traumatize a redhead for life. The permanent damage happened quite a bit later, on vacation in New York. To a fifteen-year-old from a quiet suburb, Manhattan is a truly terrifying place. I was right in the middle of the mob of chaos that is Times Square, when a twenty-something guy with spiked hair and a nose ring comes up to me from behind and shouts, loud enough for the everyone around to hear, “Hey, look, it’s Lindsey Lohan!” And he just stood there, horse-laughing at his bad joke, as I turned red—pun possibly intended— and dashed away as fast as the Seventh Avenue crowd would let me. Which, granted, is not very fast. Despite what the woman in the elevator, who was lucky enough to touch a redhead, or the lady in the beauty salon, the proud owner of a lock of my hair, seem to think, red hair really isn’t a big deal. Seriously, I don’t spend every moment of my day thinking, “Gosh, aren’t I lucky to have red hair!” Sure, being a redhead has given me some pretty interesting, and occasionally disturbing, stories. But redheads really are no different than the rest of the world, except maybe the excessive amount of stupidity we seem to attract. So, please. When we pass on the street, you don’t have to stop and proclaim, “Your hair is so red!”
My mother still laughs about the time when, as a toddler, another little girl saw me and yelled, “Look,
40 Fall 2010
Because— no, really? I hadn’t noticed.
-Peter Weber Fall 2010 41
As you walk outside brandishing a fine axe, you notice your friend who is in the process of spray painting a mural. She convinces you to try and split one of the spray paint cans like you would any piece of wood. You take a mighty swing and instantly you are entirely covered in red polka dots. For the rest of the day you are swarmed by children who are certain you are a toadstool. -Waylon Stories 42 Fall 2010
This afternoon you will look toward the sky and see a swirling display of fireworks and confetti, but don’t be alarmed. These aren’t extra-terrestrials infecting your brain. You’ve actually been hit in the head by a baseball. The good news is, once you awake from the coma, it will finally be Spring.
Your life is transformed into the human equivalent of a stapler. People squeeze you and you project sharp metal that penetrates through whatever may be between your arms. Your love life becomes bloody complicated, and the military wants to use your technology as a weapon, but you just want to be a normal person again. You can’t hug your children with metal piercing arms.
-Waylon Stories Fall 2010 43
A Dancer’s Heart First Place Literary Arts
Line is everything in ballet, but I am all curves. Despite this, as a little girl, I lived to be en pointe. Pointe shoes, those beautiful satin icons of a real ballet dancer, would make my life complete. I remember being trussed up in one of those stubby tulle tutus, hiding behind the thick velvet curtains during performances. Several of us would huddle together, our eager eyes lined with mascara, cheeks coated in pink blush, lipstick-stained mouths hanging slack as we watched the dancers onstage. Cloaked in backstage darkness, we
the marred spots, I thought about what Riet, the ballet company director, had said in class that morning. Though Riet was a birdy woman in her sixties, she boomed like a timpani in my mental orchestra. Her shouts reverberated through the studio. I had been prepping for a grande allegro combination, the big jumps that are supposed to defy gravity, and before I could swoop into my first developee, she yelled out, “Your WRISTS, Allison! Lift-up!”
stood hypnotized by the smooth slide and quick, dull taps of pink satin on black marley as the older girls danced. Thunk-thunk, swish, thunk-thunk, swish. My heart ached to feel the rough canvas underneath, to have others watch my feet, to know they saw the grace and rhythm that pounded through my blood, pushing against my toes, lifting up and away. Defying the horizontal nature of the body’s feet, pointe shoes could bring a dancer beyond her human limits, a foot closer to perfection. I wanted perfection; I wanted to feel that flawless glide, to match it with the music and feel that soul-tingling rhythm. Thunk-thunk, swish, thunkthunk, swish.
Her pinched lips—my poor correction. I would have run six miles for an encouraging smile or at least an eyebrow lift, but Riet wanted something I couldn’t fix. After training for three years in Riet’s upper level ballet classes, I began believing that comments about my body—stocky, muscular, curvy, filling out—all meant fat. And fat meant no ballet. The curve of a ballet dancer’s calf muscle en pointe or the slight arch of her index finger must be more noticeable than the curves of her hips or bosom or bunions. A ballet dancer must keep herself in line.
Years later, as a high school freshman and apprentice in the Continental Ballet Company, I stood with my arms outstretched, stomach sucked in, trying not to breathe as the seamstress needled pins and clips into the worn, pale pink satin bodice of a Flower Waltz tutu. The costume did not fit well and the seams needed to be taken out. From the stage, the distance to the audience eliminated the sight of the yellow-brown sweat stains down the back and under the arm pits, but up close the costume looked peed upon. Eyeing
with gray marley strips on the floors that looked like wet cement and felt like thin rubber. Two of the four walls had barre attachments, two parallel wooden rods mounted so close to the mirrored wall they looked like a long-limbed, wooden Narcissus. Between the self-infatuated mirrors and wall-length windows, we seemed to be dancing in a fishbowl. There was nothing comfortable about the room: it was made for space, an austere background for the stretching bodies within it—a simple frame for physical grace.
44 Fall 2010
The studio resided in the Bloomington Center for the Arts in the Twin Cities suburbs; it was large,
Unlike the studio, I was not very large. In fact, when I was dancing as an apprentice, I was barely five feet tall and just shy of 105 pounds. My torso and neck were proportionally long, but I lamented the stubby shortness of my bulging calves, square feet, little fingers, and sturdy but stunted femurs. But worst of all, I had inherited the hips, thighs, and butt my mother embraced as part of our Portuguese heritage. I remember how fondly she laughed the day I asked her what the funny blue, squiggly lines were on my hips. I had just
ovate calluses that peeled on the heel; juicy blisters that stained tights and shoes; short, often bruised, smashed, or cracked toenails that discolored like the scum in public bathrooms; and a bad, podiatrist-cringing tendency to roll towards the big toe.
put on my swimsuit as the family was getting ready to go to a Fourth of July party. I think I was in the fifth or sixth grade, a time when boys still had cooties and “butt” was just another amusing word. I pulled down my jean shorts over the side of my hip to show her and my father, afraid that I had popped a vein or contracted some deadly disease. They burst out laughing. “Sweetheart,” they managed, “those are just stretch marks!” Their chuckles turned to coos of comfort when I wouldn’t stop crying. With a quivering lower lip, I protested the unfairness—only pregnant women got stretch marks! Even today, though the too-stretched
derstudied every piece possible, visually reciting Coppelia, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Rodeo, and The Nutcracker. During rehearsals, we would keep to the sides, watching the feet of the company dancers, wishing they were ours, memorizing their paths and nuances. Meanwhile, we were cast in small roles. I remember feeling so young: ready for the hot burn of stage lights, the dull pound of adrenaline. Smile, smile BIG—right leg out, plie, beat back, rond de jambe—thunk, thunk, swish. Every time I entered the stage, brushing past the velvet curtains, I took a deep, eager breath. But in class, my reflection didn’t share such enthusiasm. I hadn’t grown an inch in two years,
blue has faded to pale scar tissue, the sight still catches me, especially the new ones on the back of my calves. Who thought you could get stretch marks there? I was grateful that leotards and tights hid the discolored, cursive skin.
though I gained weight on my hips and thighs, rounding out. At the time, I failed to recognize that I was still a petit person; I felt fat. I watched the company dancers, their slender ankles, the delicate curve of their ribcages. I started hiding in warm-ups, wearing shorts over my leos and thick leg-warmers. Riet once yelled at me during rehearsal because I had too many layers on. I stripped down to my leo, tights, and pointe shoes, feeling naked and childish.
Finally, at the age of twelve, I earned my own pointe shoes. Pointe work always occurred at the end of class, 15 minutes for beginners to start building strength. Over time, my feet became ugly: with thick,
But I hardly recall the burn of blisters or nearitch of ingrown toenails. Once I had pointe shoes, I craved being onstage. At age fourteen, I was named a company apprentice. With the other apprentices, I un-
Fall 2010 45
Some realizations come on slow, much like foot pain. As the first twinges begin, it is easy to mistake them for muscle cramps or a completely mental, subconscious wish to end rehearsal early. Either way, they are easily dismissed. Swelling is a bit harder to ignore and more frustrating—pointe shoes are made to fit tight and even too much sodium on a single day causes numb toes the next. The compacting of a foot arch’s original curve is difficult to observe over time and can take months, even years of abuse before changing with remarkable swiftness. With such slow speed, mine flattened, though maybe it was inevitable. Perhaps it was unjust to start with squat, square feet held up by low-lying, balletically-undesirable arches.
paign from week to week. And prep, a 5, 6, 7, 8—lift up, stomach in, don’t breathe, pirouette. I failed to grow taller and older at an acceptable rate, and hate for my body flourished with squeezing into a holey pair of graying tights or cinching the pointe shoe ribbons around my ankles, making the skin push through the cracks like a muffin-top over ill-fitting jeans. It seemed odd to me that as my melancholy and self-dislike festered, my dance skills actually improved. One Saturday morning class, as the light streamed in, I performed a perfect series triple picques. I could hear people whispering about it on the other side of the room, weighing eyes flickering approvingly. Even Riet gave a slight nod. And I didn’t care. I simply didn’t
Regardless, once my plantar fasciitis could no longer defy gravity and please Riet, less and less joy came from making my feet execute rapid degages, finish off the exclamation mark of a poised arabesque, or slice through the demanding beats of quatres. Several of my friends had left, Riet sought to fill her company with adults, my arches and mirrored reflection swelled.
care. I made sure to only do doubles on the next set. I didn’t want to care.
dampened my nyloned knees, hoping a strange convulsion would inspire my stomach or that my finger would get the nerve to go down my throat. It never did; I never puked. I only sat there wishing I would, believing it was the only way I could be a dancer, the only way I could convince Riet that I was dedicated enough. But only some violently hacked spittle and tears reached the water. Ballet classes became a military march, a cam-
over my feet, letting my liquid-eyeliner run in crenulated coal seams, crosscutting the sweet pink blush on my cheeks. A friend rubbed my shoulder with cold hands while I mussed and dirtied my warm-up sweater. Looping thoughts circled one that wouldn’t go away: QUIT. To quit: to stop, to fail, to regret, to let go, to be free, to heal.
The May recital came; I missed one of my pieces and fell on-stage during another. The lights hurt my eyes and the applause was merely polite. There was no little girl hiding in the wings, admiring my grace, wishing she could be me. Once backstage, I didn’t start trying to throw up until after the I threw one of my pointe shoes against the dressNutcracker season during my freshman year of high ing room mirrors, heard it clatter to the floor, almost school. It seemed simple: up with lunch and down disappointed that it hadn’t shattered my reflection. My with gravity. Though toilet bowls are round, they help feet may have ached, but the pain was muted by the maintain the ideal of a balletic, linear body. I sat on the fire in my heart. The tears were hot, too, feverishly white tiles in the public bathroom stall, while water sweaty. I curled into a ball in the hallway, crouching
46 Fall 2010
After the recital, I went back to the studio only once. I had my dad drive me; he waited outside
as I went in. Riet’s office was down the hall from the studio, square with a desk, chairs, and lots of paper. An old show poster was pinned above the computer; as a young student, someone told me the female dancer was Riet, back when she danced for the Royal Dutch Ballet. In that black and white photograph, she is beautiful, one leg back in an arabesque, the other foot poised en pointe, wrists out straight, head slightly tilted—all long, slender lines stretching towards infinite grace. I should have felt guilty with all that unachieved perfection. I remember being nervous, with clammy palms, and that Riet was wearing a pastel sweater. I think she smiled, telling me it was all for the best. Otherwise, I don’t really remember quitting.
sweet but not hot like stage lights, warms my face. Inspired, I might spin into a drag turn before spiraling down to the floor. Leg swing, body roll, hip circle, back arch, star pose, side curl. I lay on the floor—a rhythm pulses through my feet, my back, my hands. Still on my side, I look down at the grains of wood in the floor planks. They curl around each other, darkening at the knots. They have faded over the years; marks and depressions worn by so many feet. I feel like those graying floorboards. People try to straighten themselves, be useful, become planks, wall studs, floors. But our lives, the grain of our existence, curves and falls short. At times, I hate myself for quitting bal-
let. The bitter tang of failure and regret stings, pinches I am now in college; married, pursuing a geol- like my old pointe shoe ribbons when I try them on. ogy degree, and teaching dance through the local com- But I keep dancing—why? munity college in Ashland, Wisconsin. I still dance, though not as often. On the days when my housemates Why? I roll onto my back, my heart drumming are gone and the dogs are asleep, I rearrange the living against the floorboards. Its beat beckons, its poundroom, clearing space for my own studio. There are no ing notes vibrate along my bones. The syncopation mirrors, yet I can see my shadow in the east window isn’t perfect, but it is powerful; it keeps me alive. My during the afternoon. The floor space is small, but it’s heart’s rhythm is reason enough to dance. smooth hardwood. I do not have a piano accompanist, only the gulls and the street traffic. No one is watch-Allison Mills ing, though I like to imagine what the neighbors might think. I usually start with a simple core workout; my body has gotten soft—a comfortable change like trading jeans for sweatpants. Some spots, like the grinding knot in my left hip flexor, are tight and my right foot has permanent metatarsal damage. Taking care, I slowly stretch, flowing through Vinyasa yoga poses. But soon I abandon the self-discipline; I can no longer do a full barre routine or even dream of attempting the laborious extensions of an adagio. All I need to do is move. I stretch out, pushing my hands far from my body, feeling the tense pull of muscles beneath my shoulder blades. My head tilts to one side as sunshine, Fall 2010 47
The Rhythm Within
First Place Visual Arts
Falling Love The wind set late tonight; awake with rain it tore the oak tops down for love, and preformed a duty to the branches of fate. I heard a sound that blew my mind, a listener at my heartâ€™s gate; Depardo straight as he nuzzled in and blazed a fire within; which he rose from a fallen cape; soiled in dust, and untied his hands. Cold and damp his voice; he sat beside me strangling me with his legs. I bare his warmth with my pale skin; breathing life into him. -Heidi Schraufnagel 48 Fall 2010
Northland College has a burgeoning artistic population and the Quartile provides a platform for the dissemination of students’, employees’, and professors’ literary and visual arts. Published twice during the school year, the Quartile allows the population at Northland College to be exposed to some of the campus’s best work free of charge. The magazine is designed and edited by two dedicated student editors. At the end of each academic year, the current editors interview and select two qualified students to be next year’s editors. In this way, the Quartile is an exciting and constantly evolving publication, reflecting the contemporary tastes of the student body.