The Literary Magazine of Notre Dame of Maryland University
Damozel Staff 2022-2023
Tahreem Haq '23
April Boss '24
Faculty Editor: Micah Castelo ’18
From the Editors
Correction: We mistakenly printed the wrong poem under the title "Mona Lisa" on page 44. The poem we printed under that title was "Returning the Hate — Immaturity" by Grace Khai. This digital version of Damozel has been updated with the correct poem by Jaylien Washington. We will be reprinting "Mona Lisa" with the correct poem in our next issue. We would like to extend our sincerest apologies to both poets and our readers for this mistake. Thank you for your understanding and continued support.
Founded in 1932, Damozel is Notre Dame of Maryland University’s student-run creative literary magazine. Damozel publishes annually and showcases any form of creative writing, art, or photography by current NDMU students and alumni.
Damozel is created with significant contributions from the following members of the English department’s Alpha Alpha chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the International Honor Society in English: Tahreem Haq '23 and April Boss '24.
Life goes up and down
’Tis the highway with twists and turns
Cars vroom by The meadow is next to the highway
The lone wolf glooms
The moon cast a pale light over me
I lay down on the meadow
The soft wind touch my face
Soon the meadow will become a new highway
And mankind dominates land, trees, animals
But nature will still remain— Mei Lee Mackleer ’22, M.A.T.
— Lina Ibrahim ‘23, Biology (Pre-Med)
And just as suddenly as I fell asleep, I was awake. Birds were chirping, the neighbors were mowing their lawns, and the overbearing sun was shining in my face. It was a new day, but still, I had some crumbs left over from days past sprinkled all over me. And no matter how much I jumped, shimmied, and shook, I just couldn’t get them off me. I wore my frustration like a heavy coat, weighing on me, slowing me down. With each heavy step, I wished that yesterday could just slough off of me like a snake shedding its skin. I hoped that a vigorous wind would blow and carry it up and away and into the sky. I wanted to bury it all deep down in the ground to decompose and never again resurface. I stopped to think and like a bright momentary flash of light, it came to me as suddenly as I had awakened. What am I if not an accumulation of crumbs? Pieces of myself are built from experiences, good and bad, lessons learned, and life lived. These triumphs and traumas have forged and shaped the person I call self, so why do I forcefully try to expel them? I have no other choice but to acknowledge, accept, and embrace all of my past. Because without my crumbs I am nothing at all.— Ashley Enweze ’22, Nursing
The Burning Candle
She has many candles but usually lights up the same one over and over again. She hates the thought of the candle eventually coming to an end, just as life would, but enjoys knowing the breathtaking aroma will surround her. In the dark, this candle lights up the corner she purposely places it in. She doesn’t want to be in the center of everything but hidden away in her own little space. The burning candle brings her peace by just watching the flame slowly melt away the never-ending wax. Like touching her past, touching the pretty candle would certainly hurt. She would have to wait until the bright fire was blown away for the night. Until next time, her favorite candle is set aside to forget the aching pain.
Cheers to the moments we’d thought would last. To our deep and close conversations whose blackness crossed the night sky which soon turned empty and cold. To our secrets and our invisible tears that hid silently under our fake smiles. To our broken hearts that we’d never turned to fix. To our burning lies which we ignored and walked away from every other time. To our fabricated dreams, which we once knew were too good to be true. To our growing distance and the time we spent ignoring each other’s presence.
Cheers to our decision of breaking every other heartfelt promise.— Malaak Ahmad ’25, Nursing
I’ll Never Go Hungry
My abdomen distorts flesh stretching until taut.
I slide another disappointment past lips let it ring my epiglottis like a dinner bell.
When it catches in my throat I wash it down with a splash of failure let them ooze into my stomach add another inch of bloat to my skin.— Gabby Gilliam ’24, Elementary Education Certification
Did You Know a Woman?
Who tied ropes to eight mountains and pulled them all together?
A woman who had wings of light And shined the roads across the oceans?
A woman who spoke softly, but her words may still be heard today. A woman whose hands are tiny but crushed stones and built towers.
A woman who turned one grain of corn into a cornfield, the one who made a farm out of one egg, the one who always made eight out of one plate. A woman who is frail and invisible, you would think, yet a roaring beast and a wise geek depending on what you need. Did you know a woman like her?
Did you hear about a woman like that?
Let me tell you, my brother, that iron lady is my beloved mother.
Tribute to my deceased mother, who raised eight of us on her own.— Sebiha Basar ’24, Elementary Education/Early Childhood
My mother and I are at her favorite place — home.
Near-Death in Paradise
"And here's another one," I said. I wondered if Marcela would want to switch to Spanish. I admire her crisp fluency in Englishshe always sounds posh but unpretentious in a way that I never will with a Baltimore accent that likes to sneak out after a drink or just when I'm tired. It's easier for me to gossip in English, but easier for us both to gossip in front of the other tourists with a privacy that Duolingo hasn't yet cracked. How could you teach someone to chismear in 5 minutes a day? They planted themselves far enough down the beach and downwind for us to continue as before, in English, eager to pick apart another couple in our holiday game. "Straight people really do like to date people they hate," I said.
It was an easy, unfair game that we had played all weekend, two single women, with money and time to jet off for a weekend, young enough to want to be seen but too old to worry about bikini lines or cellulite, looking for petty specks in the eyes of the partnered up parties on the beach. The couples eating in a dull silence in the restaurants. The couples taking endless, art-directed photos of each other instead of enjoying the views. The couples burdened by children, in-laws, or both. The couples who were still young and beautiful but more interested in their phones. It was our last breakfast, and I hadn't expected to see anyone that we hadn't already made fun of in the sleepy little town.
"Look at his board! It looks right out of the shop. There's not even any wax on it," I said. The board was as fresh as the man's smile, wide and empty and gleaming white the both of them.
"He's never going to catch a wave today," said Marcela. I nodded, trusting that Marcela knew better than I did about both surfing and this part of the Pacific.
Our plates had long been cleared away, but we still had enough hours before our flight back to the city and nothing better to do than watch the waves and our fellow vacationers. The next day, a Monday, was a national holiday in Mexico, but it was also the season for surfing and whale-watching, and the whole year felt like the season for traveling anywhere at any time just to get away from wherever you had been for 2 years of a pandemic. The weekend crowd had been a mix of Mexicans like Marcela on their three-day weekend, foreigners in town for the waves, older foreigners in town for the whales, and foreigners like me who had lived in the capital long enough to care about spending the national holidays with their friends.
That day the water was too cruel for anything but a quick splash after sunbathing. I had gone out early to swim alone and felt stupid and scared when I was knocked so hard I didn't know what way was up. I held my breath and tried to tell my heart to slow down, slow down, until I knew where the light was and could swim up into the air. I thought of that time in the public pond in England when I thought I might panic and die just from the cold. I knew better than to swim alone, but the water had been so calm the day before that I took a stupid risk and scolded myself all the walk back to meet Marcela for breakfast at the little restaurant on the sand.
Even the local kids on their boogie boards had given up after flipping and tearing out of their wristbands too many times and had gone off to do whatever else there was to do on a Sunday in a small beachside town. The shoreline was still dotted with a few tourists standing far enough in to wet their knees, but no farther. The beach's volunteer lifeguard, the sort of mythical small-town figure who might be 70 or might be 170, whistled at anyone who crossed his forcefield line. He could see exactly where a wave might knock them down and pull them out towards the rocky barriers that had only yesterday created a gentle little inlet where even the smallest children could safely play. There was nothing magic about it, just his 70 or 170 years
in the town, watching the sandbars shift with every hurricane and the hotels pop up overnight like fungus along the shore.
"I can't believe he's going out," I said. I stumbled into Spanish for a moment to ask a passing waitress for another coffee. "He's going to get himself killed." I fussed with a new piercing, rotating the surgical steel ring through the flesh and hoping it had been long enough to be safe from infection in the ocean waters. I'd seen a post on Reddit about someone who had lost a leg from swimming in the ocean too soon after a tattoo.
"And she doesn't even care," said Marcela, nodding to his abandoned partner. The man's other half, maybe in her early 30s judging by her demure but clearly expensive one-piece suit, and even paler than me, adjusted her oversized hat and covered the rest of her face with a crisp paperback. The cover was brightly colored, neon pinks and oranges, with unreadable but clearly avant-garde typography. Maybe a trendy American novel or a pop feminist manifesto. She was too old to have heard of it on TikTok, but she might have seen it placed carefully next to a cup of coffee or glass of wine on Instagram. I wondered if the hat was the kind that was made in a factory that pressed the fibers into shape, or if it was the kind that someone had woven and shaped by hand in some little taller. I wasn't close enough to tell.
Her man stumbled down the shore with the board, giving the few families playing in the surf five or 10 meters of space before wading in. "He shouldn't go in so far down that way. Remember the hotel owner said that's where the riptide pulls out east," said Marcela as she passed her empty juice glass to the waitress.
"There are signs for it too. They're in Spanish but they're obvious. They look the same on any beach. You know, they're meant to be universal. He just doesn't know what he's doing," I said. I thought of the hotel owner, a real Tom Waits-type who had probably come to surf one week when he was young and 10
then just never left. These places pull you in and grow around you if you let them.
"I thought it was funny when he said that the riptide starts at the end of his property. The beaches are all public here, you can own the land up to the beach but not the beach itself," said Marcela.
The lifeguard blew his whistle and scolded another older man who had waded in up to his shoulders. He didn't leave the water, but he did finally shrug off the whistles and wade back to hip height.
"Really? But when André and I went to Tulum that one time it was so awful. We had to pay a hotel fee just to get onto the beach, and then we had to order a minimum from their bar. I remember thinking we could never spend 800 pesos each, but then that turned out to be just 2 glasses of wine and ceviche or something. What a shitty day. We had been to all these lovely little beaches in Yucatan, and Tulum was the only bad one," I said. I hadn't even enjoyed the water. Even after just 2 glasses of wine, André didn't want me in the water past my knees.
"That's because it's all run by cartels in Tulum. It's illegal, but no one is going to try to go after the cartels that run the hotels. The beaches are meant to be for the people here. It's a whole thing. It's a national heritage."
"It wasn't even a nice beach. Or a nice ceviche."
"That's why I always come down here instead. It's changed so much, but there are still nice places. There's still a vibe. It's still quite hippy."
I broke my lock on the flailing surfer to glance back to the lifeguard. He was still periodically scolding the lone man standing out in the surf but was also gesturing and speaking to two younger men, maybe only teenagers, who huddled around his jet ski. Marcela looked over too. "He might be training them."
"He looks about a thousand years old, but I guess he won't live forever. Like, someone has to take over," I said.
"Yeah, look, he's showing them how to hook up that stretcher. It's good for business. The hotels don't want anyone to die."
I turned back to the surfer. "Look at him. It's only been a minute and he's already pulled so far down the shore. He's out past our hotel now." I watched him paddle around once again to try and catch a wave that knocked him flat in seconds. He looked so pink and far away against the blue of the sky and the waves as he struggled to straddle the board again. Marcela still followed the jet ski. "Wow, they're actually taking it out in the water. I guess it's a good day to practice if you really want to practice in bad waves." The two young men shoved the jet ski down the shore and into the surf. One straddled it and fumbled with the engine while the other tried to hold the stretcher tethered straight behind it. The old man yelled to them as the engine revved, and the second young man jumped on behind the first. They spun in donuts in the shallow water before catching a moment to cut out past the break. The old man yelled.
As they skimmed back and forth on the cresting waves, I could see them yelling into each other's ears and laughing. From a distance, you might even mistake them for tourists who had paid to be painted up with their tans in a salon back home instead of coming by it naturally, if it wasn't for the stretcher. I'd been on a jet ski once and hated it, but for some people, it must be a joy.
I sipped the last nasty bit of coffee and dregs. I wanted another, but I also wanted to sleep on the plane. I felt the sun pricking at her legs and wished for once my tan would even out. But even 3 days on the beach couldn't give me more melanin than I had, and it certainly couldn't hide the clear lines around my thighs from biking in the city. 12
I looked back down the beach and felt my stomach slide somewhere down below my pelvis.
"Look! He's gone!" I yelled. I scanned the waves, but the figure of the man and his bright white board had vanished. I told her heart to slow down again and scanned until I saw the pink dot of his head, barely above the surface. No arms. No board. No sound. Just the blurry, desperate dot of his sunburned face. "He's drowning. That's what it looks like." I felt the acid from the coffee in my throat.
The jet ski's engine blasted against the waves, and the two young men shot down the shore. It was almost too fast to see. He was drowning, and then he just wasn't. One of the boys had hooked around his shoulders enough to pull him onto the stretcher. I could see that he was alive by the way he clings to the sides of it, his hands white with the pressure of his grip and the cold of the morning water. My mind flashed to a TikTok about how babies are born with the reflex to cling, as though we still would need to cling to our mother's fur in some jungle. "Look. They have him," I whispered.
They pushed past the break on the jet ski and helped him walk from the stretcher up to dry land. Somehow, que milagro, his brand new board had washed up, and someone had it ready to hand to him. He accepted it under his arm, his face flat and red and still gasping for air. He had landed maybe 50 meters, maybe half a football field to him, from where he had entered the water. He walked slowly up the beach towards the restaurant, towards his other half who was still hidden in her book.
"She didn't see it. She didn't see any of it," I said. I wondered what he was reading. I'd struggled all weekend with a novel before giving up and flicking through Tumblr on my iPad. Easier to work out the best spot under the palapa to catch a bit of sun on my legs without getting glare on the screen than to read something real. "Like, what book is so good that you don't see your boyfriend dying?"
"No mames. She really hasn't noticed. I can't believe it," said Marcela.
"No mames, guey." I rotated the ring through the piercing again, trying to make it hurt to prove to herself that it had healed. "I think he's in shock. Like, that's totally, totally shock. He might even have a concussion."
He crouched slowly to place the board on the sand and sat down next to his partner. I wondered if he had broken a rib, he seemed afraid to bend. The woman jumped when she finally noticed him and took out her AirPods. Why would you go to the beach at all, if you didn't want the sun, or to hear the waves, or to swim, or to look at anyone?
He said something, and she hugged him. "I think he has a concussion. Look, he's sort of wobbling even sitting down. She should take him to a doctor," I said. He was smiling and trying to laugh. "There's this thing called dry drowning, where it gets in your lungs and you can go home and die later. There was this thing I read on Reddit about a kid in Florida who died like that. But even if it's not that I think he has a concussion. She should get a doctor." "He does look like he's in shock," Marcela agreed.
"Can you imagine? Can you imagine if you almost died and the person you were seeing didn't even notice? Someone should make him see a doctor." I always felt like talking big in these moments, but I hated that I couldn't make myself stand up to talk to them. I wanted to wait, and I wanted the girlfriend, maybe the wife, to do the right thing. I wondered if I was blushing. "Like, why would you even be with someone if they didn't care if you died? He could die later. She doesn't know. What if you died because your girlfriend couldn't be bothered to call a doctor."
"Like, you should never go out in the water like that if someone isn't spotting you. People die. I don't know. He needs to see a doctor. I know it's Sunday, but all the clinics on the road
have their WhatsApp numbers painted on the fronts. Maybe he doesn't want to move, but she should ask the waiters for a number, or she should walk up to the road and call someone. I would just walk up to the road and call a number."
I wanted another coffee or a drink.
I watched them talk. The woman's face looked solid and heavy like dough. She helped him stand, and he managed, wincing. "Sometimes broken ribs can puncture a lung. You never know until you see a doctor."
"He doesn't look well." Marcela's agreement made my heart pound harder. The woman packed up her book and the rest of their things, including one of those steel water bottles, of course, in her tote bag. He tried to pick up the board but she took it away to carry it herself. They turned to walk up the beach, up towards the road. I relaxed back into the awkward shape of the chair.
I felt myself turn red for sure, redder than I could be from the sun, as they passed. I wanted them to overhear us talking, to feel as ashamed as I did, and then go call a doctor. I wanted them to fly back to a city tonight and go to a hospital, and for them to waste all that time and money to know that he was fine anyway, just a little shaken up.
They turned left and sat at an open table in front of the restaurant. The waitress brought them a menu.
He rubbed his side. "I really think he must have hit the board. He might have cracked a rib," I said. I pretended to stare at the waves while watching the waitress bring them two beers out the side of my eyes. Maybe I'd have a beer at the airport, maybe that's how I'd sleep.
Marcela sighed. "Well, should we get the check? We should make sure we can get a car to Huatulco on time."
"Yeah, let's do it. I'll get this one.”
Eternal Passage of Time
I see his antlers through a gap in the trees. His big brown eyes, Soft yet Piercing, Calling out silently.
I cannot help but follow, Hands outstretched.
He sees me
As I step through the bramble A thorn catches on my cheek. I gasp, cup my hand across the wound. When I raise my eyes
He is gone. Perhaps ran away into the mire Or whisked away by the spirits of the forests. His brown eyes Still blink into mine. I feel the velour of his antlers Against my hands.
I will whisper into the branches.
Blood runs down my cheek
I’ve already broken his promise.— Caitlin Cottrill ’26, English
First Kiss in Willie’s Garage
Lacking courage to act without being dared purposeful distance between our charged skins when you leaned in my lips bent to you drawn as if finding their way home.
Pine pressed into breast prick of pain I ignored too busy exploring your tongue with mine.
Once we surfaced skin spitting sparks eyes still glazed with urgency my raw breast pulsed would later thicken and scar just above my pounding heart.
— Summara Abaid ’17, Biology
A Story of Consequences
There once was a little girl
Who couldn’t tell the difference
Between a swine and a pearl
She wrapped her mother’s bed sheets around her With a train close behind and a veil set before her She twirls in her makeshift wedding dress
With no witnesses to this matrimony
Before innocence had come to know strife
Before she would learn the consequences of life
Of the ones that deceive and the ones that depart
All these “ones” begin to stack up like tally marks
Records she keeps of the men who broke her heart
Because white lies are sweet when they’re told in the dark
He had her playing with fire while walking on thin ice
One bird of chaos and one bird of paradise
Men of impulsive quality don’t think twice
And therein lie the consequences of life
Beauty in plain sight
Meets a compliment with failing eyes
The difference is a thin line
Between a promise and a compromise
But she was the snare in his garden and the thorn in his side
The last nail in his coffin and the fall before his pride
That’s when she learned the difference between a princess and a concubine
And therein lies the great divide
Between a mistress and a bride
The consequences of life
While she’s sitting on top of the world
Counting the stars and staring in wonder
In truth, this world is upside down
When reality buries you six feet under Now she’s sullied a queen’s gown
With a dull diadem and distorted identity
Mistook a jester for a king’s crown
And traded her sanctity for his insanity
But oh these are consequences of life
Little girl take your medicine— Jaylien Washington ’25, Art Therapy
Dear Future Me,
I wish I knew what you knew, To know tomorrow as yesterday. I want to be you, After all of this, After the journey.
I know I should love my fight with the dragons to save the princess, But what if the princess was already dead And only you know the answer. So could you lend me a hint? Should I move on to the next castle? Because this dragon has blood on its jaw, And I don’t want to see if what I am fighting for is already dead. To see that all my hopes and dreams were already killed by the journey itself.— Hermione Riggs ’23, Psychology
to the coming winter and the nose that beckons to bleed
i can feel it in the back of my throat on my skin in my bones
i can’t see it yet but i know it is there
the air is sharp and cold outside the air is artificial and warm inside cutting and drying everything that comes near it
i can see it running down my nose and onto my skin i can see the flakes outside running down from the sky and onto the ground
it is here the dark red covers the tissue as the snow covers the grass
it comes comes quickly lasting a long time longer than it should
but when it is over it is over leaving the air leaving the land bare clean i can feel it in the back of my throat on my skin in my bones i can’t see it yet but i know it is there and i know when it is gone— Bethany Jessee (Benni) ’25, Communications & Drama
Returning the Hate —
I was made to believe that I could have a genuine friend by my side,
But deep down, they hated me. They envied me. They despised me. And I fell for the kind words and the care of their hugs.
I was wrong, I was fooled, I was hurt both emotionally and physically. They liked what I liked but once I was involved they were annoyed.
Why? Why is it that you are harming me, Darkening the light of our friendship?
Once another came in, I was irrelevant.
I became a stranger.
I pushed myself away because I wasn’t invited.
I realize now that they aren’t worth my tears, my pain.
I felt hurt, then the pain turned to anger. And now, I return the hate, I return the feelings given to me back to them.
I will never be betrayed again.
The end of my hope for another who did not care for me.— Grace Khai ’26, Graphic Design
— Summara Abaid ’17, Biology
More than a Nurse: A Part of the Family
Driving through the back hills of Portland that crisp autumn morning, the golden rays cresting the peak of the treetops with crimson and metallic leaves were lighting my way on the dewcovered county road. With nervous anticipation, I was making the one-hour journey to meet my first home health hospice patient and her husband.
I knew little about Shelby and her husband, Robert. She was a 54-year-old patient diagnosed at 50 years old with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurological disease affecting muscle movement. She was on a ventilator and had a feeding tube. Other than the basics, I knew they had several nurses assigned to them in a short time, but none lasted more than a month.
As I approached their quaint and unassuming mobile home early, as usual, I took a moment of prayer to ask for strength, guidance, humility, and understanding in hopes of meeting their needs and quelling my concerns about whether or not they would like me and if I would be a good fit for them. I gathered my equipment bag and lunch and walked the manicured path to the front door. Noticing a praying angel statue in the flowerbed, I accepted that as a positive sign.
As I waited patiently for my knock to be answered, I could hear birds chirping, a dog barking, and busy shuffling behind the door. I couldn’t help but wonder what life entailed for this couple, how it had changed as Shelby transitioned from full-functioning to bedridden.
Robert finally answered the door apologetically, explaining he was putting up the vicious guard dog, a lovable little ankle-licker named Harley, who quickly became my shadow in the days to come. Robert, a young-looking 74-year-old
gentleman in his brown trousers and white t-shirt, reminded me of my grandpa, with a warm smile that made his eyes twinkle and an aura of fresh Aqua Velvet on his freshly shaved face. He said, “Ahh, good morning, you must be Nurse Betty!” His friendliness put me at ease, but I couldn’t help but wonder why the other nurses hadn’t worked out.
I followed Robert to a converted office with French glass doors; I could hear the loud hum of the ventilator and condensation gurgling in the collection tube as we approached. Shelby was prominently lying like a queen on her throne in the center of the room on an angled hospital bed. A large computer desk was pressed against the left wall and a long dresser to the right, topped with pill bottles, tracheostomy supplies, an irrigation syringe, and a mortar and pestle. The aroma of Dakin’s solution and A&D ointment filled the air. Her only movement was thrusting her chin forward, raising her eyebrows, and winking her right eye. She had each edematous arm propped on pillows and wore a rose-colored pajama top. From her waist down, a soft handmade quilt draped over the edges of the bed. On her lap was a computer connected to an extended metal rod device she would control with her chin to tap out words, delivering her message in a feminine, robotic tone.
Shelby welcomed me with a friendly, prepared message, and we spent time getting to know each other. I took notes as we carefully combed through a typical day. Robert also shared the nuances and signals that would alert me to essential issues needing immediate attention. For example, when turning Shelby for incontinence care, the ventilator tubing may quietly “whoop” and disconnect, but the alarm would take precious seconds to sound, leaving her gasping and breathless. My heart went out to Robert; no wonder he didn’t sleep well.
Robert continued the house tour, including a bedroom at the end of a corridor stock-piled with supplies, organized meticulously. At the other end, he showed me the tidy kitchen with a laundry room adjacent to it — in case he fell behind and I
needed additional linens. He said he often gets tired and has assumed the bulk of Shelby’s care, but quickly smiled and said, “But I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Robert confided that he had lost his first wife to cancer and had taken care of her years before. He said it was challenging to find the proper nurse who he felt confident enough for him to leave the house. My predecessors would come late, or not at all, be on their telephone and inattentive to Shelby’s preferences. His biggest concern was when the nurse would step outside for a smoking break. Not only was oxygen used in the home, but there was no way to respond to unheard alarms. As a result, Robert said he is the only one to maintain her ventilator tubing changes and backup battery and always remained close with doors open. It was no mystery that this dedicated man needed a nurse as much as his wife needed one.
In the days ahead, our professional friendship grew as I proved my worthiness to be welcomed into their home and care for them both. I looked forward to Robert’s morning greeting, and I would occasionally surprise Shelby with her favorite Chai tea. Although she had a feeding tube, she could enjoy no more than eight teaspoons by mouth at a time, always responding with a wink and a push of a computer button, “Mmmmm, delicious!” I also discovered she liked a vanilla-scented lotion made by Avon. After her morning bath and lymphedema massage, I gently rubbed in the cream; she would wink her eye and say, “That is lovely!”
I would strategically plan my lunch time and bathroom break, always listening for alarms and not being gone from her bedside for more than a minute or two at a time. Harley stayed at my feet most of the time, but when leaving the room briefly, he would stand in the doorway waiting and watching, serving as my eyes and ears. I was able to quickly start a load of laundry and run back to the room, folding at the desk and having piles ready for Robert to put away after his nap. I found the little
things were making a big difference, and I truly enjoyed our conversations.
Shelby would ask me about my weekend with my children, but she could sense I would hold back my joy. I was sensitive to her limitations and didn’t want to make her sad about being bed-bound. She winked and assured me that she felt true happiness hearing stories outside her four walls.
At the three-month mark, expecting a typical day, I was greeted by Robert, who said he and Shelby wanted to talk to me about something important. Shelby met me with a longprepared message, thanking me, telling me how much they trusted me and that I was like a daughter to them. I couldn’t hold back my leaking eyes, and I thanked them for giving me a chance. Robert said there was more.
They had decided for Robert to return to his bowling league now that he was comfortable leaving the house again, so today was the day he would teach me the cleaning, caring, and changing over the ventilator tubing. This was an incredible milestone, and I felt honored.
I cared for Shelby for nearly two and a half years, sharing echoes of laughter and silent tears, before receiving a call from Robert one evening. He said he didn’t want me to hear from my agency that Shelby had passed away peacefully. After all, “You’re family,” he said. Hot tears rolled down my red cheeks as my heart was saddened, heavy, yet full of joy. I was so grateful to be included in a small part of their lives and to have earned a place in their hearts and home by doing what I love to do: proudly serving as a compassionate, competent advocate who connected with a heart of gratitude.
*Names were changed to respect privacy.
— Janet L. Thompson ’23, Nursing
Bloody Eid al-Adha
Content warning: Violence, war
On June 10, 1992, our neighbor, whom we called Bijeli (White), came over. I didn’t know his real name, and since everyone in Bosnia is White, I wondered why they called him that. As he walked in, he said, "I remember that I must take off my shoes when entering a Muslim house," so he did. My mom told me to make some Turkish coffee and serve baklava for him. Really?! I screamed inside myself. I never liked how she made exceptions for the guests! God forbid, if I wanted a piece of baklava before Eid. Did she forget her long-time rule that bajramska baklava is "forbidden" and should be for Eid the next day? Well, that injustice could not spoil my happiness about tomorrow, I thought.
After helping out with the hospitality, I went on to choose my Eid outfit. I chose the new dimije that my aunt sewed, folded my bajramska aladza and took out my older sister’s nanule to go with it. I put them on and began tapping to a combination of slower and faster rhythms all throughout the house. I tried to make a rhythm of a known song and then heard my sister humming along as she recognized where is this going. The melody immediately sprang forth, "Nek Mirisu Avlije," and we blended her humming, my banging, and finger snapping. We spun and whirled and sang until the laughter caused us to collapse to the ground.
As we were settling down, I overheard my mother and Bijeli talking about an old cow we had. He promised to bring money as soon as he got paid, and my mother said, "Yes, my dear neighbor, of course, we can wait." It appears they struck some sort of agreement. My mother was glad to sell our elderly cow when he left, walking it because it was no longer producing milk for us. Bijeli appeared pleased because he intended to use
it to make pastrami, and I, seeing my mother happy about the bargain, was even more excited about tomorrow. Making a good deal is a big deal for her as she was raising eight of us on her own.
As the night approached, I was all set tightening up the already detailed house and scented it in honor of our dearest guest, Eid, but I was too excited to fall asleep. I thought about the gifts prepared for me and estimated how much money I would receive the next day.
July 11, 1992: I heard my mother calling me, and I thought I heard some other panicked voices. I looked through the window, and it was already dawn. I was mad at myself for missing Sabah, but I didn’t hear muezzin. "Hurry! Hurry! Put some clothes on; we have to leave now!" my mother shouted. I saw my sisters standing in a hallway, layered up in mismatched clothes. A horrified look plastered on their pale faces revealed a dread I had never seen before. They motioned at me with their hands in a hurried manner, directing my attention to the rain boots they had retrieved from the closet for me, but I planned to wear nanule today.
We left home to hide in the woods. Grenades exploded, killing those who did not hide quickly. It was raining all day. At first, it didn’t rain on me when I leaned on a fat old tree, but shortly after, the rain poured down its trunk, soaking my shoulders and back. More and more people are joining us in the woods. Mothers desperately tried to shush their screaming babies while their somewhat older siblings sensed they are supposed to be quiet. The elderly, tired from walking, made canes from shattered branches to sustain themselves. I've figured out by now that various firearms have different sounds. I overheard some young men arguing, using phrases like "This is Zolja," "This is Sniper," or "This has to be 'papovka,'" as they were listening and analyzing what they heard. As the evening
approached, I slipped into that peculiar duality of being alert while asleep.
July 12, 1991: Bang! Bang! Bang! What I heard did not sound like anything those boys shared their expertise on but like someone banging on a metal plate or a bucket. A man tried to get our attention. "Listen, everyone," he said. "We must surrender!" With a broken voice, he continued, "We are commanded to exit the woods and sit on the ground with our hands raised and facing 'them.'"
The land where we made our hasty settlement is known as Radolje. Men sat at the front clutching shirts, jackets, and other upper body coverings with one hand and showing any weapons they had in the other. From there, we were commanded to walk to the region of Strbacki Buk at the foot of the river Una. There was a bridge connecting two countries, over which you can go to Štrpce and Donji Lapac in neighboring Croatia. "They" walked around us, armed and furious, taking aside and killing whom they had chosen. Among "them," I recognized my neighbor Bijeli, who was the most furious and insane. He called random names from a list he was holding. Some said, "here I am," not knowing whether they should say that or keep quiet. Those called out were Vojno sposobni men and were lined up under the old bridge. As he passed us again, my mom dared to ask, "What is going on Bijeli?" to which he answered angrily, "Zacepi baba jebat cu vam majku balijsku!" The river Una looked so peaceful as the sun was about to set. The white fluff above her served as a cover. As I was lying down underneath the blanket, I thought about how lucky she was. But doesn’t she see us? If so, how can she let this happen? She knew all my secrets, I thought. I learned how to swim in her water, and I considered her like a best friend, so how can she peacefully watch? Oh no! Is she on their side? She must be "their" friend too. We shared her. She loved us all.
Everyone was alert and waiting. Men continued to be called by name, lined up beneath the bridge, or killed in the
woods. At that time, nothing major happened to the elderly, women, and children. My mom hoped the next man on the list would be my older brother. Even though we were not sure why they were being separated, at least it was not immediate death as it is for those dragged into the woods. We were all exhausted, hungry, thirsty, frightened, and confused. We just waited and listened.
July 13, 1992. It’s Dawn. I looked towards the river, ready to ask her if she had a nice sleep, all tucked in under her white blanket, but the white blanket was not covering her anymore. It had slipped onto the side. I looked again, and this time I saw her white blanket floating over the field and moving toward us. Loud noises, rifles in the air, mad men shouting, madder now than yesterday. What is this? I heard them ask. I saw hope on people's faces. Some were saying, Elahamdullilah! Once again, I wasn't sure what was going on. My mom, who normally knew everything, didn’t know either. People were facing the river and commenting, "It's UNPROFOR! They are not going to let them kill us all."
I looked again and saw that the white blanket was actually a convoy of white armored vehicles from the United Nations. As "they" were talking to each other, we heard that someone swam across the river during the night and informed the UN about what was happening. People were relieved as if everything is over. They started to talk, and kids were saying they are hungry, while "they" were getting more angry.
I felt ashamed. I couldn’t forgive myself for doubting my best friend. I thought she was sleeping under her fluffy white blanket and ignoring what was going on. My dear Una, I hope you will forgive me. I could not see that you created your blanket to hide a swimmer who crossed your water in search of help. You saved many lives that day, making yourself calm and covering yourself with a white blanket. I understand you could
not save us all, but you didn’t ignore it. You did what you could.
I thank you, my dear friend.
After the majority of the population (children, women, and elderly) crossed the bridge, we were transferred to the UN base and then to a concentration camp in Donji Lapac, Croatia. Those men who were separated were taken to camps where they underwent various tortures, and most of them were eventually killed and thrown into pits.
The bridge symbolizes parting, tears, pain, and suffering. For those who stayed under the bridge, it was only a desolate hope, and for us who crossed it, it was an escape.
I'm writing this to remind myself of it and to express my hope that this never happens to you.
dimije: a special kind of dress - specific Bosnian women's clothing
bajramska aladza: type of Hijab head covering
nanule: open-toe shoes with a wooden platform
vojno sposobni: military-able men, approximately between the ages of 16-80
Zacepi baba jebat cu vam majku balijsku!: Shut the f--- up, old hag. I will f--- up all you Muslim animals.
Elahamdullilah: Thank God— Sebiha Basar ’24, Elementary Education/Early Childhood
Trickle Down Economics
Watch how the gilded play at peasant complain when taxes are due polish their palms with government bailouts while shilling out wooden nickels
to the workforce that keeps their greed in business.— Gabby Gilliam ’24, Elementary Education Certification
I wish I could remember all the moments. I wish I could remember when you gave me a roll of quarters And the first thing I did was put them all in my mouth.
I wish I could remember the adventures, Trips to the Sloan, The pumpkin patch, And the park.
I wish I could pour my memories into a bottomless bowl That I could drink from whenever I like. Satiate the longing I have to hold onto those moments forever.
Perhaps, though It is okay to forget those things. As long as I have something. And I have so many memories. The ones I have lost in translation pale in comparison To the concerts, The museums, The book you bought, read, and loved just to give to me. The way you listened to my words when I thought no one could hear.
Life is a fleeting, finite thing, And how lucky am I To have known you all of mine?— Caitlin Cottrill ’26, English
The End to My Beginning
Him, who did not love me but proclaimed to the world about how much he does
Him, who left me on delivered or read for days
Him, who told me he liked me while wanting attention from any girl he thought was pretty
Him, who claimed to hate calling but goes talking to another for hours
Him, who did not dare to put in any effort
I, who was shamefully hopeful
I, who was embarrassingly holding onto nothing I, who wanted to be loved and cared for I, who now knows that I have dug myself a hole
I, who cries silently in my class because of Him
I, who waited for Him to reply to my messages
I, who waited for him to give me the love that I wished for
I, who ended up being a fool and giving my heart for someone who didn’t care but…
You still held my hand and walked in the dark with me
You risked your heart for me, trying to heal mine
You shed your tears for me, while trying to wipe mine
You take care of me even though you can’t see me
You make me feel so warm, even though you can’t touch me
You make me feel so happy, even though we can’t be together
You opened my heart up, after I closed it because I lost hope
You took my worries away, because you said you will carry them with me
You showed me how it was to have unconditional love
You showed me how it feels to be loved unconditionally
You gave that love to me
You, you are now my hope
You are my life, my universe
You bring me so much happiness I can’t even believe it’s real
The Beginning of you and I.
— Grace Khai ’26, Graphic Design
Imara, Wishing Upon the Stars
— Nice Mutshipayi ’24, Ph.D. in Instructional Leadership for Changing Population
So the flowers on your rosy cheekbones
Grew a little wilted
There are those days and will be days Mona Lisa
When your smile feels a little crooked
But at least everyone who paid to see it
On those days love yourself
And love yourself the most
Because there are days and will be days
Where the world rests on your shoulders
And forces you to gain some weight
And at a time where time once stood still
Time now forces you to wait
So that you now exude a slower, solemn, sadder gait
On those days love yourself
And love yourself the most
When you question yourself
And make some mistakes
From some steps you mistook
And some risks you may take
Still do not forsake to love yourself
On that day your hair’s a catastrophic mess
And sheets reveal a beast
That simply missed out on her beauty rest
You give your all and try to make the best of this
Put on a brave face
To face the rest of this day
And realize that your Sunday’s best is useless
Since it’s Monday
Because the make-up on that face begins to feel a little faded
A story you made up
A cover-up and the Matisse that you repainted
You faked it
And faked it well
On those days love yourself
When you don’t feel the smartest
Or the brightest in the room
And your questions leave them baffled
Quizzical and askew
Trying to solve everyone’s problems with your own loose screws
So I say still love yourself
Misplaced masterpiece left out in the rain
Because you can’t appreciate the Master’s peace
Unless you’ve had some hurricanes
So Mona Lisa hurry
And smile a bit more tilted
Tilted upside down ways
And don’t feel guilty
To dance on the wilted
Wilted faded cloudy days
Model your au naturel
And on those slower, solemn, sadder days
Live on Monday
Like it’s a Saturday
So they can see your smile in the sun as in the rain
So on those sunny days
And there will be sunny days
And love yourself the most Yes on those sunny days love yourself— Jaylien Washington '25, Art Therapy
The crab apple tree is starting to rot. His branches bend low, Soon to be fruitless. A silent recognition of the end, What is to come.
There’s a funeral home 10 minutes up the road, Too far to walk.
I wonder if I’d have to take the bus. Sit next to someone my age, Who looks so much older.
Summer is ending. Soon to be fall.
How horrible it is that death is so beautiful. A doe and her fawn cross the road. He will never be this size again. She watches the dusk of his childhood.
The sun is setting And we cannot stop it. The time will pass.
No matter how hard we dig our heels into today Tomorrow is bound to come.— Caitlin Cottrill ’26, English
— Zohra Ahmed ’23, Psychology & Biology (Pre-Med)