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Little Brown House Review 23

A Journal of Writing by Students of English at Deerfield Academy Fall 2017 DEERFIELD, MASSACHUSETTS


LITTLE BROWN HOUSE REVIEW ISSUE NUMBER TWENTY-THREE FALL 2017


Little Brown House Review A Journal of Writing by Students of English at Deerfield Academy

Editors: Heather Liske & Anna Gonzales Design & Typography: Anna Gonzales based on Robert Moorhead

Department of English Deerfield Academy Christian Austin / Delano Copprue / Anna Gonzales / Karinne Heise / Heather Liske / Edrik Lopez / Sam Morris / Peter Nilsson / Sonja O’Donnell / Mark Ott / Mark Scandling / Julie Schloat / Michael Schloat / Andy Stallings / Anna Steim / Joel Thomas-Adams / Kimberly Wright Cover Art & Interior Art: Olivia Ontaneda, Class of 2003

© 2017 Trustees of Deerfield Academy & The Authors DEERFIELD MASSACHUSETTS 01342


6

Preface

The 2017 Bartlett W. Boyden English Prize

For excellence in the study of English

Lucy Beimfohr 9 Helga’s Cosmopolitan Character: A Close Reading of Larsen’s Quicksand 12 Okay

The 2017 Robert McGlynn Award

To a graduating senior for excellence in writing

Anya Shevzov-Zebrun 18 Broken History 20 Happy?

The 2017 Stuart Murray Barclay Scholarship Awarded annually to that member of the Junior Class who, in the judgment of the English Department, has demonstrated outstanding ability, achievement, and breadth of interest in the study of English. Established by his friends, classmates, and friends in honor of a loyal member of the Class of 1978 who lost his life in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 near Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988.

Sarah Jane O’Connor 27 The Power of the Written Word: McClure’s Magazine 33 WILD Senior Meditations Nia Goodridge 37 To This Body, My Body: A Lesson in Commitment Miles Menafee 45 Paradigm Shift Field Notes Duncan Mackay 49 The Life of a Lumberjack

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Lily Fauver 55 Reading Cassie Deshong 60 Shadow Junior Declamation Winners Roopa Ventrakaman 67 Let Your Hair Down Iqbal Nurjadin 69 How I Became Muslim in America Alex Platt The Country I See (unpublished) Fall Poetry Contest

Selected by poet Martín Espada

Fernanda Ponce 72 An Address to Mr. Trump The Bread Loaf Prize Amelia Chen 76 from Susan Li 78 badlands

Selected Writings Class of 2020 Anna Fu 82 Justice or Revenge? Esmé Benjamin 84 Cruel Mercy Jackie Morrissey 86 The Fireman Poem Emma Jaskolski 89 The Harmful Effects of Society’s Power Dynamics

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Maya Laur 94 A Trial of the Jewish Heart Mia Silberstein 96 Questions 9th Grade Declamation Winners (short prose piece, after a photograph) Nikita Pelletier 99 Pretty in Pink Samara Cummings 101 My Own Cancer Sarah Jung 103 Mama’s in the Sky Jazmine Ramos 105 Black Girl White Class of 2019 Alex Alijani 108 Clay Flowers Gerry Alexandre 112 I Never Stopped Running Dominique Whitney 115 His Last Call Daniel Cui 122 La Sangre, El Lucho Protik Nandy 125 The Search for Justice in Her Story: Gender and Authoring in Coetzee’s Foe Raegan Hill 128 Grandma’s Subaru Ricardo Gonzales 130 The Valley: My Valley Tyler Kelly 132 Island Boy

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Class of 2018 Amanda Cui 135 Air Spencer Rosen 138 Bubbles Helen Downes 139 The Cure of Reverie Kiana Rawji 142 Dear America Abby Lupi 146 Susceptibility to the Unfathomable Amelia Chen 151 that day Suzy Mazur 153 Where I’m From Julian O’Donnell 154 The American Class of 2017 Mamadou Yattassaye 158 To him, Alaina Chen 160 Unconditional Love Lily Fauver 168 Shrouded Georgia Greene 175 A Letter to My Sister Alexander Guo 182 The Human Experience: Abstraction and Universality 190 Oedipus Rex: A Web of Truths Nathan Chong 193 Dancers Celia Hurvitt 198 I Am a Part of Other People’s Fairy Tales

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PREFACE

I

1974 lecture entitled “Feeling into Words,” given at the Royal Society of Literature, Seamus Heaney asks and answers the question of how a young writer begins to find their voice: “In practice, you hear it coming from somebody else; you hear something in another writer’s sounds that flows in through your ear and enters the echo-chamber of your head and delights your whole nervous system in such a way that your reaction will be, ‘Ah, I wish I had said that, in that particular way.’ This other writer, in fact, has spoken something essential to you, something you recognize instinctively as a true sounding of aspects of yourself and your experience.” na

I encountered Heaney’s words for the first time sitting in classroom 52 on the first floor of the Arms. At the end of my senior winter, I felt it more than captured the process of searching, finding, and becoming in which I’d been engaged for the past few years. My classmates and I might have followed vastly different paths over our time at Deerfield, yet together we had all spent years hearing: in person, poets Jeffrey Harrison, Naomi Shihab Nye, and W.S. Merwin, and on the page, Kingsolver, Joyce, O’Brien, Homer, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, Emerson, Thoreau, Heaney, Salinger, Kerouac, Morrison, and so many more. Most difficult to voice, perhaps most formative to hear, closest to capturing our own thoughts and feelings, we listened to each other. Now, teaching in the same place I found my own voice, Heaney’s words represent an even more “true sounding” of what I hope to do, no longer for myself but for the young people around me. We read and plan and assign and discuss in hopes of helping our students find that “delight,” that “something essential,” and thereby locate ways of saying and making meaning which feel powerful and true. Today, although students’ lives grow ever more specialized, English classes, visits from authors, and frequent writing [6] Little Brown House Review Twenty-Three


remain a consistent part of the Deerfield experience. The pages that follow show the results of this tradition, and that despite changes, students here still engage each day in the work of finding their voices.

A

Anna Gonzales English faculty January 2018

— this 23rd Little Brown House Review marks its online debut — the premise is the same as ever: to catch up the harvest of a school year, nine months of reading and discussing, thinking and writing. These distillations, curations, renderings, wonderings, explorations and revelations bear witness to a year of Deerfield students engaging in the work of creating meaning, what Gwendolyn Brooks calls a “blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.” nd though the pages that follow are virtual ones

This compendium of best work from Deerfield’s English students takes its name from a small structure that sits on the south side of Albany Road, once the long-time residence of esteemed English teacher Robert McGlynn — and, much earlier, dating back to the early 1800s, a smithy. I like that this collection of good work is named for a place that contained a forge — and that despite the medium’s change, this art of shaping, crafting, continues here in the Valley. Heather Liske English faculty January 2018

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THE 2017 BARTLETT W. BOYDEN ENGLISH PRIZE

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Helga’s Cosmopolitan Character: A Close Reading of Larsen’s Quicksand Lucy Beimfohr “Some day she intended to marry one of those alluring brown or yellow men who danced attendance on her. Already financially successful, any one of them could give to her the things which she had now come to desire, a home like Anne’s, cars of expensive makes such as lined the avenue, clothes and furs from Bendel’s and Revlon Frères’, servants, and leisure” (Larsen 45).

E

ngrossed in the flurry of jazz club-dancing,

galleryhopping, and flirting that characterizes 1920s Harlem, Helga Crane, a woman of mixed race in Larsen’s Quicksand, endeavors to define her role among her peers. Helga’s musings on her future place in Harlem’s social scene reveal that she perceives marriage as a mere transaction, she sees others’ approval as a source of entitlement, and she seeks to be in control of her own future. Helga’s expectations for why, how, and whom she’ll eventually marry indicate that to her, marriage is not a pact of love, but an arrangement between bodies. Beginning sentences with words that mark time — “some day” and “already” — introduces that Helga’s current thinking is highly systematic and orderly. Furthermore, the clause “already financially successful” is set off by a comma to describe the men Helga considers, signifying that wealth is a necessary requirement for her potential husband. Her matter-of-fact statement of intention to marry a male peer, directly followed by a description of the luxuries he might offer her, suggests that when choosing a husband, Helga seeks the stability and the grandeur that comes with wealth rather than emotional connection or love. Besides wealth, Helga has few requisites for her husband; in fact, simply “one of those” or “any one of

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them” who fancy her will suffice. These general terms further exhibit that Helga is not pursuing a husband whom she loves. As for appearance, Larsen details that Helga’s husband could be either “brown or yellow.” Using color rather than ethnicity or race to describe Helga’s suitor pool shows that in some ways, Helga doesn’t view these men as potential life partners, but just bodies. She ignores their unique backgrounds and shows little interest in their human qualities. Helga will marry almost anyone, so long as he fulfills her financial requirement; thus, to her, marriage is only a contract. Helga’s view of marriage highlights her belief that the source of value and worth is the approval of others. Helga believes she can marry certain men by virtue of the fact that they “[dance] attendance on her,” or admire and seek to please her. Regardless of their motivations for doing so, in Helga’s mind, this praise privileges her to marry one of them. Another instance of suggestive diction is that three items in Helga’s list are described in comparison to other people: the house will be “like Anne’s,” the cars will resemble the ones that “lined the avenue,” and the outfits will be from “Bendel’s and Revillon Frères’” — two designer names. To Helga, nice things are nice because other people recognize and appreciate them. Together, these details emphasize Helga’s skewed notion that others’ approval determines a person’s or a thing’s privilege and worth. Along with acquiring nice things, Helga wants a future over which she feels she has control. Two of her desired “things” are “servants” and “leisure” — both of which would free her from commitment to a job or chores. Additionally, Larsen notes that the men Helga pursues are “already” capable of providing for her, yet she still holds off marriage until “some day,” implying that Helga is carefully designing and micromanaging her future. Finally, as Larsen describes, these men are indeed “alluring,” or seductive to Helga, yet, ultimately, she resists their temptation. Though new to

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Harlem, Helga begins to see herself as commander of her evolving story. Helga’s experience in Harlem is distinguished by a change in perspective; she discerns that her relationship with her future husband will be determined by financial circumstances, that her worth and that of others is derived from others’ glances, and that she is in charge of her own life. Seeing that Helga actually proceeds to spontaneously marry a random stranger, abandon her cosmopolitan luxuries, and allow children to control her entire life, one can argue that Helga truly believes in these observed doctrines but lacks the courage or freedom to fulfill them in her life, potentially because of the confusion and discomfort that her mixed heritage brings other people and herself.

Larsen, Nella. Quicksand and Passing. 1928. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1986.

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Okay Lucy Beimfohr

M

y mom’s email address is fourdaughters1@yahoo.com.

Evidently, my three sisters and I are so fundamental to her existence that she cannot enroll in a grocery store rewards program or a word-of-the-day subscription without being reminded of us. When my twin sisters were born, she exchanged patent leather pumps, conference calls, and the NJ Transit commute for a blue canvas folding chair, Kidz Bop-singing carpools, and dinosaur nuggets for every dinner. As a result, my sisters and I have always felt close to her. There’s almost no time of day that she can’t answer the phone, proofread an email, or give advice about the best deodorant to buy. From where we’re standing, she holds the family together. Being the youngest child by six years, I bore my fair share of teasing and taunting. It was standard procedure for me to lose every argument, to miss out because I went to bed the earliest, and to never choose the movie we watched. Predictably, my mom chose to stay neutral in this war; my dad, the youngest of his siblings, allied with me. He’d fill in for me in all the wrestling matches — that’s when you knew the fun was over. He’d slip me a $5 bill at the candy store, but only me. He taught me to stick up for myself. In short, my dad and I were a team. In those years, at social events and family parties, my mom had a knack for socializing. People flocked to converse with her because she made them feel good, like everything was going okay. My father embodied more of a masculine persona, hollering jokes with other dads, smoking cigars, and, of course, leading the J-E-T-S chant when our favorite team needed a little bit of a boost. Around others, he would stand with his shoulders back, voice thundering, drink in hand. You’d be shocked to learn that most nights, Dad,

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reticent and distant, returns home from work to a one-man dinner and whatever’s on the Golf Channel. No cigars, no J-E-T-S. The dynamics of this family were redefined the night my grandma died suddenly of a stroke in December 2011. From here, my memory is a junk drawer of moments I couldn’t comprehend at the time. I recall muscles tightened in my dad’s throat, his eyelids fluttering with delirium, his brow clenched. Someone urgently leads his lumbering, uncoordinated, 6-foot frame out of the kitchen as my sister barks bad words at him. “Emily, calm down. Lucy, go upstairs,” Mom whispers. Meg arrives to tell me I’m staying at Billy’s house until tomorrow. I’ve never seen everyone so impatient. I return the next day to everyone acting ominously normal. Dad’s not home. Later, when I ask where he is, Mom says he has a business trip. I believe her. I start to feel stranded when this business continues through Christmas. I haven’t talked to Dad in so long and I’m not sure if he has called home yet, so I browse through our caller-ID history. When the words “Caron Treatment” next to a time stamp of 11 or 12 PM appear on the blue screen, I sense an anxious throbbing at the base of my rib cage. My breathing becomes choppy and forceful, the same way it does before I cry. I turn, over my shoulder, to a soundless kitchen and bring my face closer to the keyboard, as if to hide my apprehensive fingers pecking the phone number into a Google search. In one click, I learn that Caron is an addiction treatment center in Pennsylvania. It takes a search engine probably 0.00003 seconds to present thousands of links to appease inquiring minds like mine. Sometimes I wish I could go back to that 0.00003 second limbo period of anticipating that I would learn something I didn’t want to know, but also hoping that my suspicions were entirely wrong. It was a period of what I call informed ignorance — I knew there was something I didn’t know but I couldn’t provide the specifics. Taking to my seventh-grade history notebook, I scribble a list of everything I know to be true about my dad: he was born

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in Long Island, he shot a hole-in-one on the third hole at Pine Valley, he gifted my mom an Elvis Presley record for her fourteenth birthday, his favorite memory is the Jets’ 1968 Super Bowl victory. None of these details corroborate the late-night rehab center call. The next truth: he’s being treated for alcoholism. I do what I’m conditioned to do. I don’t ask when my dad orders a soda at our first family dinner after his return. I pretend all the books on the nightstand about codependency, relapse prevention, and “living your best self” don’t have relation to dad’s business trip. About a year of normal interactions — hugs when he leaves for work, dinner conversations about the new songs I’m learning on guitar, a few trips to our favorite diner — glide by. Later, my mom is away for the weekend visiting my sister at college, so dad and I are alone. When small bottles of liquor greet me as I open his closet, I close the closet door. When he goes outside with a trash bag sounding with the kisses of empty glass bottles, I turn on the TV. He’s apprehensive around me but part of him is confident I know nothing. I’m baffled that nobody could tell me the truth but part of me still wants to hear that I’ve leapt to a preposterous conclusion. Part of me wants it to be true that there really is nothing to tell. But no one — my family or I — has the courage to confront what I do and don’t know. As these unaddressed doubts and misunderstandings fester over time, a gulf wedges between my dad and me. Where there once was companionship and understanding, now there is silent frustration and estrangement. For a while all I can do is ponder. Did I know all along? Should I have joined him for more of those after-work dinners? Do I say something to the family who tried to protect me from the vulnerabilities of my childhood hero? Or am I satisfied with this state of “informed ignorance” that has characterized my experience as the baby of the family? Am I looking at the person — and the alcoholism — that I will become? The ensuing time period of waiting for Mom, Dad, my

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sisters, Billy, my doctor, God, or anyone to finally say, “Hey, can we talk? There’s something I want you to know” reeks with disappointment and hopelessness. Everyone seems to have reached an equilibrium — laundry is done, football games are watched, breakfasts are cooked, relatives are visited. So I pass the time seeking that same stability internally, attempting to make sense of things by imagining myself as a witness to the conversations that led them to exclude me from the news. “She’s too young to know what it means.” “She’ll blame herself.” “Let’s not make this into an ordeal.” “It will change her opinion of him.” “She’ll never know what’s happening if we don’t tell her.” The clarity never comes; all that lingers is the memory of ten numbers on a dusty screen and shame stashed in a closet or jangling in a trash bag. For as long as I’ve known about this secret, I’ve never judged my dad. I know this is a disease, not him. I know it’s a consequence of social pressures, stress, and genes, not him. I don’t care to hurl insults or preach because he didn’t do this. In fact, I know that just having his DNA can determine a similar fate for me. Rather, what scares me the most about this change is that if there’s anyone I judge, it’s myself. I realize that I didn’t know a lot about my dad. I also realize I didn’t — and don’t — know a lot about myself and my world. Everyone has secrets. And when you’re engrossed in a realm of making small talk about boarding schools and golf matches and masking any disillusionment with your job, body image, or your next-door neighbor, it’s hard to see beyond the appearances. It’s hard to acknowledge the reality of your flaws and weaknesses, especially when it appears that everyone else is content with their nice outfits, manicured shrubs, and fake friends. I think my dad’s addiction, my family’s decision to withhold the truth, and my silence since that day with the caller-ID are all

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outgrowths of this culture. It’s not like anyone is walking around the suburbs telling people how to maintain healthy relationships or communicate honestly. Instead, we observe other people and assume that they aren’t fighting, crying, or hurting within their picket fences. We only see each other as we appear. And we try to appear just like others. We try to appear normal. So my family and I did the only thing we knew how to do: we acted normal. Though I don’t know the whole story, I understand that coming home late from an office job to a dinner you warm up in the microwave and eat alone can be exhausting. But because you’re supposed to support the family, you go along with the routine, acting like everything is fine. And being able to become someone else with the help of a few drinks offers some relief. I also understand that telling your innocent, naive, and curious youngest child that her dad isn’t who she thinks he is can be frightening. So you tell her it’s a business trip. Lastly, I know that to me, the idea of confronting the family who just wanted me to feel secure seems unfair. I can’t do that to the mom who just wanted to go back to normal, to just be fourdaughters1@yahoo.com. I can’t do that to the dad who just wanted to remain a teammate in my eyes. So I don’t ask, I pretend, I close the closet door, I turn on the TV. We all do. To protect ourselves and others, we succumb to the pressure to hide behind our public persona. We brush over the things that are hard to talk about because we like to look at ourselves and think “I’m doing it right; I’m normal.” We tacitly agree to imprison the conversations we crave, confessions we imagine, and changes we envision within the dark, volatile crevices of our minds. We seek to appear normal to everyone else, and secretly, we seek to believe it ourselves. And our lack of raw communication only makes us more isolated. My dad was isolated by his work schedule, his gender, and his secret coping method. I was, and, at times, still am, isolated by my age, an investigative Google search, and years of pretending my eyes were closed.

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THE 2017 ROBERT MCGLYNN AWARD

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Broken History Anya Shevzov-Zebrun

K

apow!

Kapow!” As I read my history textbook about the “Enduring Vision” of the American people, I hear “the Union rifles [pouring] volley after volley into the rushing Confederates” at the battle of Gettysburg (Boyer 356). As the thick smoke of gunfire clears, I imagine two men standing before a firing squad in front of a deep pit at dusk. This scene, however, is from another civil war, the Russian Civil War of 1917-1920 — a chapter from my family’s story. “Kapow! Kapow!” One man collapses on the other who is still alive — my great-grandfather. The two men fall into the carcass-filled pit behind them. While the American Civil War and other events in America’s history are unsettling, I often read about them as a detached observer, even though, as an American-born citizen, this history is “officially” mine. And yet, when terms like “civil war” evoke images of carnage and hardship from my great-grandparents’ lives— with which my history is inseparably intertwined—I find myself searching America’s past for historical memories I can truly call my own. Thinking of the yellowed portraits of my grandmother’s father, who by a stroke of fate survived that fall into the pit, and who, along with other relatives, managed to escape from the bloody upheaval a century ago, I flip through my history textbook. In 1914, I read, 1.2 million immigrants came to America; by 1929 that number fell to 280,000 due to a law restricting immigration. “America must be kept American,” was the idea (Boyer 569). Among those 280,000 newcomers, I see my great-grandfather’s face. From a secure family of merchants and businessmen, he settled on a thirty-acre plot purchased on a loan, and lived out his life on a farm he started in Connecticut. His broken story is my broken history.

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My grandfather’s mother, however, was not so lucky. Having fled her homeland around the same time, she was among those informed by an American Consulate that although her papers were in order, America was no longer accepting immigrants. Her attempt to join her sister, who worked for the Red Cross in America, failed. From a photograph hanging in our home, her drawn face looks at me from an apartment window somewhere in Eastern Europe. Her hand rests on the shoulders of her young son. She never saw America, and never again saw her home in Russia. Her broken story is my broken history. I find no evidence in my history textbook to which I can trace her son’s — my grandfather’s — arrival in 1949. As a displaced person from World War II, belonging nowhere, he stepped off a boat in Boston at the age of nineteen and was greeted with a flashing sign announcing “Clear Minds Choose Calvert Whiskey.” I close my textbook. I was born in the United States and am an American citizen. The history of the “Enduring Vision” is my history, and yet… Its narrative is sometimes deceptively simple, often failing to incorporate the perspectives, diversity, and contributions of millions of people whose lives straddled “here” and “there” (Nieto). The fading photos on the walls of my home remind me not to forget. They speak to me about a land—a homeland—I have never known. My family’s memories have gifted me a broken history. And I can’t help but wonder, along with many other children and grandchildren of immigrants: is America’s history your own history simply by virtue of being born here? If not, how many generations does it take to embrace the founding history of America as your own? When does the story of a foreign land become yours? And when does the story of a far-away homeland fade away? Boyer, Paul S et al. The Enduring Vision: A History of American People, concise 7th edition. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print. Sonia Nieto, “An Excerpt from On Becoming American: An Exploratory Essay.” PBS.org. Web. 2 Feb. 2016. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/americancollection/woman/ei_puertoricans_nieto.html

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Happy? Anya Shevzov-Zebrun

W

hat makes you happy?”

I hesitated at the question. It was unlike the other expected college essay prompts I had seen: “Why do you want to attend our school?” “What was your most memorable trip?” “Describe a time you felt challenged.” What makes me happy? This was not a question I thought much about during my high school years. What makes me happy? The answer should be simple; this should not be a hard one to answer. Setting out to write the perfect application essay, I dug for memories buried somewhere in internal chambers I had long forgotten existed — watching layers of snow accumulate in my childhood backyard, building forts with my sister, baking muffins with a childhood friend. My mind paused on each memory to weigh whether the indescribable warmth and delight associated with it was true “happiness.” Did the image leave me no choice but to smile? As I combed through my mental archives, my smiles came and went too quickly. Surely something makes me really happy, deep down happy, in a way special enough to keep me smiling and warmed by a glow that lingers long after the initial thought is gone. Perplexed, I began to wonder: what actually is happiness? What defines this much-desired feeling? And how was I supposed to identify true happiness among all of those seemingly pleasant memories? For what precisely was I searching? I freed my mind to roam…. ***

Dancing in the Nutcracker made me happy.

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I took my place on the dark stage — my hands placed on my brother, Fritz, my foot pointed behind me. The overwhelming silence in the theater broke as the magical melody of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker beckoned everyone to another time and place. I had grown up with this melody, first as a reindeer at the age of four, then as a Polichinelle, angel and party girl. Now a fully grown nine-year-old, I stood center stage — in the dream role of Clara — letting the music flow freely through me as the curtain slowly rose. Frozen in place until the music prompted me to move, I glanced out to the audience, meeting the eyes I knew were fixed on me. As I began to move, my physical limitations as a dancer stared back at me. When I raised my leg, I knew it wasn’t high enough; when I pointed my foot, it refused to arch enough. But at this time, on this stage, with this magnificent music navigating my motions and this world watching me dance, I was Clara. I was free. I was weightless as my arms and my upper body, swaying freely to the music, guided me around stage. The tightness of my hips did not matter. I was Clara. Halfway through the performance, I felt my life in the dream world slipping by too quickly. As the Mouse King and Nutcracker fought, I slipped off my ballet slipper. I aimed, hit the Mouse King, and somehow magically drove him to the ground. Empowered, I joined Drosselmeyer in a duet. The music rose through a crescendo as he lifted me high and moved with me across the stage. The painted wooden Christmas tree behind us grew to create an enchanted — yet all too temporary — wonderland. On the final lift, I heard the reindeers’ bells jingle. They pulled a sleigh on to the stage, and Drosselmeyer carefully placed me into it. Angels gently sang in the background, and snow softly began to fall. The only light in the theater illumed me. Gliding through the magical kingdom, the audience receded from view. I was fulfilling a role my body often reminded me I could not achieve — the role of a girl wearing a crown, of a girl chosen to be

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a star. Too soon, the performance drew to a close. Drosselmeyer placed me gently down on the couch. The white and blue of the Kingdom of Sweets dispersed, the Christmas tree shrank back to its original size, and so did my Nutcracker. As I pretended to wake from Clara’s dream, the audience re-entered my focus, revealing that my fantasy had, indeed, faded. I lifted the toy Nutcracker, staring into his eyes one last time. The lights shone brightly on us for one final moment. As the curtain gradually descended, my arms and upper body remained strong. But my tired legs knew that the production, the journey, my time as Clara — a girl with a crown — had come to an end. My grandfather made me happy. Last spring, I missed several days of school in order to visit my grandfather in rehab after several surgeries. I had not seen him for a couple weeks, and though his hollowed-out cheeks dampened my spirits, his weakened smile eased my anxiety. Despite his unfocused stare to nowhere, his eyes occasionally met mine, letting me know everything would turn out just fine. While softened and stifled, his personality radiated the same alluring approachability as ever. He asked his typical array of questions: How was the food at school? What was my favorite class that term? Wheeling my grandfather down the hallway, I tried to travel at a speed pleasant for him. He never liked time constraints, instead always preferring to follow “his own pace.” Every couple of feet, however, one of his legs slid off the footplate, his slipper tumbling to the floor. He either did not to notice, or pretended not to notice out of embarrassment; his glazed eyes continued to stare ahead. Continuing our conversation, I wrapped my hand fully around his ankle — my fingertips practically touching — and raised his frail leg back onto the pedestal. Entering the exercise room, the nurse motioned us to the corner. She handed my grandfather a stack of different colored cups. He knew the task: to separate the cups, place each one on the

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table in front of him, and then restack them. The multi-colored, vibrant toys with which I played in preschool were now a cultured, highly educated grayed-haired grandfather’s means of recovery. Though he had previously indicated for me to stay with him, he now completely avoided eye contact with me. He frequently paused. “Keep going!” the nurse urged him. “You have to keep going, Theodore. Okay, my friend?” “I’ll go at my own pace. Better that way,” he countered. When the nurse left for a moment, he assured me that she was not “his friend,” looking up to make sure I saw his joking smile. When the nurse returned, she presented a more challenging task. “It is time we try to stand up, my friend.” My grandfather’s face, stable and accepting, did not react, yet his moist eyes revealed his uneasiness and pain. The nurse and I transferred him to the bed, my arm propping up his back as he sat. A walker was placed in front of him; a nurse stood on each side. All attention was on him. His legs quivered as he began trusting them with the pressure of his weight. As his legs reached an angle a little past ninety degrees, they caved and the nurses slowly assisted him back down. “One more time, Dedushka,” I encouraged him. “Just one more time.” He shifted his weight, this time allowing my eyes, rather than the nurses’ voices, to guide him. As his stiff legs straightened, his fingers curled more tightly around the walker. “Dedushka, look at me, look at me,” I begged. When his chest was just about to reach level with mine, his drained muscles collapsed. He lowered, or rather fell, back down to the bed, his eyes leaving mine behind. He did not quite make it to standing, but he had tried.

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*** Two completely different stories. One on stage, in a world removed from reality, charmed by music, fake snow, and the jingles of reindeer bells worn by four-year old children; the other in a world all too real, filled with reminders of the inevitability of death, and the challenges of frailty, illness, and old age. Why, then, do both memories make me intensely happy? What qualities do they share? Are the feelings they evoke the same? Or does happiness have shades, distinct versions of an emotion that result from different experiences? Reflecting on these questions over the past few months, I have come to understand that the emotions we often bundle under the umbrella of happiness are multifaceted, deeply varied. Even the terms “happiness” and “joy” are not exactly synonymous. I feel “happy” when I think about the snow behind my childhood home, playing with my sister as a toddler, or baking banana muffins with my childhood friend. Yet, it remains a relatively flat emotion, positive and uplifting but in a predictable way, the same every time. Happiness is what we almost instinctually feel when something good happens. Joy, however, is different. I feel joy when I think about playing Clara in the Nutcracker, or about my time with my grandfather in his final weeks of life. Joy, unlike happiness, comes with depth—and, at least in my life, is inseparable from sadness. My time on that stage was fleeting, my romance with ballet unavoidably short due to bodily limitations given at birth. The joy of being Clara — of wearing a crown — for two hours was intensified by the sadness of its temporary nature. Similarly, my grandfather, during his last weeks of life, gave me joy in that no matter how much he suffered, his will to live shone powerfully through his pain. He still tried to stand after multiple surgeries, still smiled, and still relished life. I found joy in sharing his journey with him, when time took on a new pace, and usually fleeting

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minutes and hours turned into precious, timeless moments. I found joy in understanding more about the perspectives on life he offered, the knowledge he carried, the history he embodied, and the genuine love he had for me and others. The way in which sadness tinges joy only serves to accentuate and highlight the happy elements of a joyous experience. Sadness gives weight and meaning to happiness, transforming it into lasting, perhaps even eternal, joy. Sadness makes happy experiences special, profound, and nuanced in a way they may not be otherwise. Sadness, therefore, is not an emotion we should avoid or bury. Memories involving sadness should not be locked away in places rarely uncovered. They should be actively embraced, remembered, discussed, and incorporated into daily life. As my grandfather revealed to me in a dream several months after his death, “Do not disguise your sadness. It is how life gains value.� Sadness allows us to feel deeply, and thus to experience joy — true happiness, the kind even the best college essay could never capture.

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THE 2017 STUART MURRAY BARCLAY SCHOLARSHIP

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The Power of the Written Word: McClure’s Magazine Sarah Jane O’Connor

I

1873, Mark Twain published The Gilded Age, a novel satirizing the rampant greed and political corruption plaguing the post-Civil War United States. In reaction to rapid industrial development in urban America, the US government began to follow a laissez-faire economic policy, which limited government intervention in corporate activity and spurred social inequality. Twain was not alone in recognizing the stark class divisions emerging in late nineteenth-century America; while both the Democrat and Republican Parties advocated for a laissezfaire government, tens of thousands of Americans worked in unregulated, dangerous jobs, and civic unrest grew, spurring labor strikes such as the Homestead Strike of 1892 and the rise of the Populist Party in the 1890s. However, rather than striking, writers and intellectuals in urban America in the late nineteenth century began to recognize the power of utilizing intellectual mediums like periodicals and newspapers to spark cultural transformation. Though it did not promote radical change, McClure’s Magazine emerged as a multifaceted cultural force between 1895 and 1900 by advocating for strong moral leadership in US politics, establishing the early American literary tradition, and illuminating the contemporary relevance of religious ideas to engender deeper Christian faith in its readers. Samuel Sidney McClure (1857–1949) founded McClure’s Magazine in New York City in 1893. McClure served as the magazine’s first editor from 1893 to 1911 and published it through his own company, the S.S. McClure Company. The 100-page magazine was published monthly for ten cents per issue, with a yearly subscription costing $1.00. This price point was notably lower than many of McClure’s competitors; for instance, the n

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popular Scribner’s Magazine was published monthly for twentyfive cents per issue. McClure’s low price was a source of pride; in an editorial entitled “McClure’s At Ten Cents” in July 1895, the editors declared: “[McClure’s] will publish the best literature and art […] it will contain almost as many pages as any high-priced monthly […] and the price will be ten cents a single number” (94). McClure’s circulated an average of 24,565 copies during its first nine months, but by December 1895, the magazine reached a monthly circulation of over 250,000 copies. The editors of McClure’s attributed this impressive growth to leading journalist Ida Tarbell (1857-1944) publishing her “Life of Lincoln” series, which gave detailed accounts of the life of President Abraham Lincoln in twenty publications starting in December 1895 and continuing until 1899. According to its editorial board in December 1896, McClure’s was “several magazines in one,” as it included works of fiction, history, and religion, despite not exclusively focusing on any of these topics (99). Each issue of McClure’s contained multiple advertisements, typically including about four ads, in comparison to fifteen articles. These ads ranged in products and price, from $125 Columbia bicycles to the popular, less expensive Pear’s soap; due to this range of ads as well as the complexity of its articles, McClure’s catered to a middle-class, educated audience. Because of its low cost and wide circulation in the rapidly growing city of New York, McClure’s inspired urban middle class citizens to adopt its vision of political and Christian morality and recognize the value of literature. The importance of Ida Tarbell’s “Life of Lincoln” to McClure’s mission cannot be overstated. It was an ambitious project; in November 1895, one month before the series was first published, the magazine declared: “Only once before has a magazine undertaken to publish a Life of Abraham Lincoln […] We shall publish fully twice as many portraits of Lincoln as have ever appeared in any Life, and we shall illustrate the scenes of Lincoln’s career on a scale never before attempted” (1). Tarbell’s

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series began with Lincoln’s youth, and starting in December 1895, she characterized Lincoln as “a genuinely great man, with a lofty soul and an honest heart” (13). However, by publishing this series and glorifying Lincoln during the age of laissez-faire politics, McClure’s encouraged readers to question the current actions (or lack thereof) of their government and to recognize Lincoln as an example of a national leader who truly fulfilled his duties in office. In the “Editorial Notes” of McClure’s December 1895 issue, editors described the goals of Tarbell’s work, writing, “It will show [Lincoln as] the real head of government, exercising to the fullest the powers the Constitution gave him; the commander-in-chief of the army, providing money and men, making and unmaking generals, directing military maneuvers; the counselor and final authority of every member of his cabinet and the government” (99). By characterizing Lincoln as a “real head of government” who fully exercised “the powers the Constitution gave him,” McClure’s questioned the actions of the nation’s current government: were these national leaders exercising their constitutional powers to the fullest? Because McClure’s considered Lincoln to be worthy of extensive praise simply for fulfilling his constitutional powers, it is evident that the editors of McClure’s did not consider the current presidents, Grover Cleveland and then William McKinley, to fulfill these powers or be “real head[s] of government.” The twenty-part series, published from 1895 to 1899, narrated Lincoln’s entire life, offering a powerful tribute to the president whom the editors of McClure’s deemed an ideal of active moral leadership in the Unites States. Although “The Life of Lincoln” emerged as the cornerstone of McClure’s political vision in the late nineteenth century, the magazine sought to instill its concept of ideal leadership through numerous other historical examples. Throughout 1897, McClure’s published “The Makers of the Union,” a series featuring profiles on a number of US leaders, including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. In these profiles, authors attempted to

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reinvigorate morality in US politics by affirming the strong character of early leaders. W.P. Trent, author of “The Makers of the Union: George Washington,” questioned US perception of Washington in February 1897, asking, “How is it, then, that Americans fail to revere their own national hero, who… is inferior in character [to none] in the range of history?” (25) In a similar tone, also in February 1897, Charles Henry Hart, who wrote “The Earliest Life Portrait of Washington,” looked to Washington for leadership inspiration. “In these degenerate days,” Hart wrote, “when the deafening huzzas of spurious patriotism pass for the genuine ring, the unsullied grandeur of George Washington’s pure love of country cannot too constantly be blazoned before the people” (7). McClure’s continued its focus on strong character when discussing politics of its present day. In May 1899 and June 1900, notable writer Lincoln Steffens described New York governor Theodore Roosevelt as an example of the “experiment of doing the right thing always” (63). Steffens promoted Roosevelt’s character, stating that he “stand[s] out […] among the honest men who are known in political life” (14). In these articles, McClure’s defined its vision for ideal, moral US leadership and sought to inspire readers to adopt the same vision. Beyond its political aspirations, McClure’s emerged as a powerful cultural voice in the late nineteenth century for helping define the shape and scope of American literature. In a time where American writers were not often studied — American literature did not become a university course until the 1920s — McClure’s published a variety of US authors, granting these authors an effective platform to develop their readership. Although McClure’s did publish some of those who Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his 1837 American Scholar address, considered “the courtly muses of Europe,” such as Rudyard Kipling, many of the prominent writers in McClure’s were American, including Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Mark Twain, and Jack London. A significant portion of McClure’s was fiction — seven of the eleven articles in the August 1896 issue

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were stories, a pattern repeated in many other editions — marking it as a notable vessel for short stories in the late nineteenth century. Moreover, in October 1897, McClure’s promoted its fiction as “the fresh product of the best writers,” offering legitimacy for the authors who would begin to define “American literature” for the first time in US history. While McClure’s was most widely acclaimed for its historical and literary works, the magazine maintained a tradition of promoting Protestant Christian ideals by seeking to engender a deeper knowledge of the Bible and Christianity itself in its readers. As a multifaceted publication, McClure’s did not define itself as a religious magazine, but nevertheless bolstered a powerful religious message. In December 1896, Editorial Notes stated: “McClure’s is not a religious magazine, and yet no Christian family but will find it helpful” (99). The magazine published religious articles consistently; in 1900 all twelve issues contained one or more articles on Christianity, a pattern closely mimicked in earlier years. McClure’s sought to make religion more relevant to its readers by connecting ideas from antiquity to present day. In a September 1897 article entitled “When Were the Gospels Written?” author F.G. Kenyon described the value of understanding the gospels in modern times, stating: “The life of Christ is the center alike of our history in the past and our hopes for the future” (93). The magazine also strove to humanize Jesus Christ himself in a series entitled “The Life of the Master,” which lasted throughout 1900. This series featured an article called “A Typical Day in [Jesus’] Early Life,” which sought to connect Jesus to McClure’s middle class audience. It reads: What is called the middle class has usually been regarded as a creation of modern times […] One land […] of the past presented an almost perfect analogy to our social condition – Palestine in the days of our Lord. […] There was the proletariat – the vinedressers, shepherds, fishermen, farmers

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of Galilee, who lived hardly and suffered many wrongs. From this class Jesus sprang, and to them He was always loyal […] (82). This statement connected Jesus to the “middle class,” as he was shown as both “always loyal” to the working class, and a member of it himself. Through offering frequent, varied Christian articles, McClure’s sought to more closely connect readers to the Bible and Christ himself. McClure’s Magazine began with perhaps overambitious aspirations: to analyze American history with powerful articles, to publish the most masterful fiction writers of its time, and to inspire deeper Christian faith in its readers. Between 1895 and 1900, McClure’s achieved these goals while maintaining a 10-cent price, which distinguished it from practically all competitors and helped establish an impressive readership that continued to grow after the turn of the century. McClure’s existed as a product of intellectual America, demonstrating a new, powerful method of enacting change as the United States entered the Progressive Era: writing. In the twentieth century, McClure’s redefined itself as the foremost vessel for muckraking journalism, working to expose individuals such as John D. Rockefeller for monopolizing US industry. From its founding in 1893 to its final issue in 1929, McClure’s Magazine maintained a powerful tradition: using the written word to spark cultural change.

McClure’s Magazine. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/americanperiodicals/publication/ publications_35541?accountid=5249. Accessed 28 Feb. 2017.

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WILD Sarah Jane O’Connor

I

“I went to the woods… to drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms… if it proved to be mean, why then to get to the whole and genuine meanness of it… or if it were sublime, to know it by experience.” (Walden, 86)

Wyoming wilderness two weeks ago with a slight headache from the sheer amount of uncertainty lying before me. Attached to a thirty-eight pound backpack, I was instantly aware of my startling smallness. Swallowed by shapes and sounds not commonly seen in suburbia, I was unsure exactly what to make of the unrelenting wind and unforgiving slopes that would become my temporary home. I spent the next fourteen days forgetting about my cell phone and watching the sunrise from behind the Palisade Mountains at five a.m. Now, I am at the end of a journey I wasn’t sure I wanted to begin, and I can’t ignore the peculiar pang in my chest from the realization that I won’t ever feel quite like this again. My friend Alex and I choose to sleep underneath the stars instead of in our tents for our last night in the woods. As the sky dims, I assemble my sleeping bag and climb into its warm embrace, tangled hair spilling into the damp grass beneath me. After a few minutes of scattered reflections and nostalgia, we fall silent. Incessant spots of radiance pierce the dark pall above us. They quietly illuminate the entire campsite. I don’t blink. I stare into a sea of constellations, realizing with an ache that the summer skies of Connecticut are practically empty in comparison. These cosmic patterns that I’ve nearly memorized will soon fade into fuzzy fantasies. My home is an entirely different world that could be in this same country only by some absurd stretch entered the

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of imagination. Tomorrow, I know, will be the cruelest reality. I will go from sitting on fallen trees to leather car seats, from staring at skyscapes to computer screens. I must forget about the endless, untrammeled land that welcomed me as a humble guest. Tomorrow, I will sit on a cramped plane for six hours. Like those fallen trees, I, too, will be uprooted. Minutes later, Alex’s breath slows and my eyes begin to droop. But I force them open and soon they fill with those special tears that come from staring into a bright light for too long. The stars above me blur and the sky is closer than ever. Out of my weary eyes I see how the towering evergreens framing the stars form a ladder. I could climb it, if I climbed alone. I could climb to its summit and rest, being nothing, seeing all, letting winds of whim whip across my skin without any reason to shield myself, all sense of place blurred into one enchanted transitory moment. But my eyelids grow weak. The ladder is gone. I wake covered in frost. Just hours later I land in Boston. Waiting on a bench in the fluorescent halls of Logan Airport around nine p.m., I peer out the massive windows and can’t distinguish stars from airplanes. Neither can my iPhone. I am fettered to the wall of the airport by a narrow white cord. I am connected to everyone I have ever known, yet I long for the sort of comfort text messages just can’t provide. My eyes begin to water. They’ve grown weak from the tender shadows of the Wyoming wilderness, unable to handle the angry glare of the device in my hand and the lights above me — a harshness I hadn’t noticed in any other season of any other year of my life. I lean back into the plastic bench, tired legs relishing the repose. I’ll go on soon, climbing in a taxi that’ll drive me to the suburban town where I know every square inch. But first, I wait, trying to grasp onto the wildness which threatens to slip from my mind with each passing second. I knew it by experience; the woods had welcomed me, exposing me to a sublimity I wasn’t sure existed. And I’m not the only one they welcomed. I now can’t

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ignore the fact that this country was practically founded on the promise of endless land to wander. But by 1890, the frontier had closed. In 1964, we tried to protect what little land remained untouched. We realized that in wilderness, “man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” On an airport bench in 2016, I realize an unkind truth. Even if I grow to be as much a part of nature as the trees I slept beneath, even if I rose, alone, and struggled up my cosmic ladder before it melted back into the fleeting stars, I will never be more than a visitor in those woods. They were simply a mean, transitory gift.

“Closing the American Frontier.” Digital History, 2016, www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook. cfm?smtID=2&psid=3154. Accessed 5 Feb. 2017. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden, or Life in the Woods. London, J.M. Dent, 1908. United States, Congress, House. 1964 Wilderness Act. 1964. Wilderness.net, www.wilderness.net/ NWPS/legisact?print=yes. Accessed 5 Feb. 2017. 88th Congress, 2nd session.

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SENIOR MEDITATIONS

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To This Body, My Body: A Lesson in Commitment Nia Goodridge 1. Longing We are seventeen years old. You are in bed next to me, questioning the circumstances of your presence. I am having a recurring dream, a dream about our days being measured by time and not our uncertainty. Morning has arrived — as it always does — fully clothed in beams of sunlight and promises of rebirth through self-love. So I jostle you awake, lead you to the bathroom to cleanse you of yesterday, rinse your throat of words unspoken, and fall deeper into the question your eyes pose for me in the mirror: Is our unity possible? 2. Moments of Christening Stubbed toe. Skinned knee. Paper cut.

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Who rejected who first? Adrenaline. Gravity. Busted lip. At age eight, I hurled you off a bed. Band-aids. Emergency rooms. Streaming blood. At age eleven, the wind lashed at your back. Steep hill. Sharp turn. Father yelling. Your feet lift from the bike. Tumbling. Lungs collapsing. Fists clenched. You nearly cut your shin to the bone. [38] Little Brown House Review Twenty-Three


3. Origin Story The sun warmed my face as God led me to the edge of heaven. His hand cupped around mine: his voice, breaths of forgiveness. That day, you materialized in the blue and clouds above us, an impoverished thing — already swelling with insecurity — curled up in some woman’s stomach. You were to be my first home, the only one I could ever truly call my own. Upon seeing my disappointment, God smiled down at me and said, This will be your first lesson in commitment. 4. Daydream My body, this body,

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hands ready to shred layers of skin, muscle, and bone, if it meant finally being able to share myself with this world. 5. Awakening about one month after Michael Brown took his last breaths in Ferguson you and i were sitting at a sit-down table listening to the familiar chime of silverware against ceramic plates while you struggled to find space between elbows and shoulders the table head cleared his throat his voice rumbling across the distance between you me and him as he haphazardly grasped for our thoughts on the shooting your lips parted but before you could speak you were cut off by the boy’s laughter next to us and his declaration he deserved it he said a boy three years our senior and a distant relative in complexion deserved to be shot twice in the head and four times in the chest instantly you wanted to become small enough to hide in one of the napkins on the table

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6. Realization Where did I first lose you? In the eyes of others. When childhood left your figure, I occupied your sight with more floors than faces. In their pupils, you stared back at me demented and buckling. In conversations with those who claimed to love us, I felt them taking knives to the parts of you they couldn’t understand. Searching for clarity, they held your damp flesh against the sunlight. 7. Acts of Desperation we were sixteen years old eight inches of you had been freshly cut open by a group of white coats they called it surgery it felt like robbery so i became bitter about this world so bitter you began to watch me as i slept fearing that in my dreams i was plotting against you we played tug of war with bedsheets and nightmares of operation tables and scalpels you have always had this fear of being left behind so together we grew reckless crossed busy streets without looking sat outside on frostbitten porches until your hands and feet turned completely numb and you had to drag me and your

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limbs back to the dorm 8. Possession We are eighteen years old, and we have never been in love. If love means handing over the rough draft of you for scrutiny for intrusion for persuasion then, I would like absolutely no part in it. 9. Confession Suppose I were to say I became possessive to protect you. Suppose I were to confess I wasn’t ready to let other people hurt you like I do. 10. Rebirth last friday i took you for your first run in months laced your feet up in ice blue and neon sneakers told you this will be the day i outrun you like a faithful missionary i delivered you to the site of your redemption you willingly mounted the machine that would help me succeed in momentarily leaving you you studied its rubber

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conveyor belt beneath your feet i promised myself then that you and i would have a faithful transaction of the pain i carried for you daily blasted my angstiest music from years marked with depression fiddled with the treadmill’s touch screen started you off at a simple speed of 2.0 no surprise you were unsatisfied with your current situation like you always are so you took control began jabbing your finger against the controls set incline 1.0 2.0 3.0 and onto speed 3.0 4.0 5.0 your feet are flying dangerously into the air i feel your panic you reach your hand out towards the controls i stop you isn’t this what you wanted so you beat on my body your muscles are tensing this body as you lean into tomorrow hands ready music pouring through your eardrums and into your soul to shred your side begins to contort with muscle spasms layers of skin your steps are coming down heavier on the rubber muscle everyone can hear you begin to falter and bone we are finally one if it meant at last the pain is circulating through me and back to you and back to me again finally being able to share your lips my lips crease into a tight-lipped smile upon this realization myself your eyesight my eyesight begins to blur with this world i think we are going to fall forward and bang our head against the tile floor *dhakdhak* something is beating *dhakdhak* my eyesight is clearing *dhakdhak* *dhakdhak* *dhakdhak* after all the wrong i have done to you *dhakdhak* you are still trying to keep me alive *dhakdhak* each beat *dhakdhak* each throb *dhakdhak* each palpitation *dhakdhak* a reminder that i am alive *dhakdhak* we are alive *dhakdhak* i can feel my feet again the surrounding exercise equipment gives way to a Himalayan street illuminated by a sunset i can hear two pairs of younger feet slapping the concrete behind me i can hear their laughter again i can see him run past me with a red plastic flip-flop in hand i can hear the smile in her voice and the special way she calls my name again i can see two figures standing by the pink house we are descending we are descending upon my new home they are becoming more distinct in their tunic dresses henna and brightly colored leggings something is unfurling

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in the wind i can feel their love *dhakdhak*i can feel their love again *dhakdhak* 11. Apology Body, forgive me you were my first home my first lesson in commitment the bringer of my language my motivation for my living the union of my being

*Important Note: dhakdhak = sound of a heartbeat (represented during the performance of this piece by thumping one’s fist against their sternum to create the sound of a heartbeat)*

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Paradigm Shift Field Notes Miles Menafee

W

ords represent sounds and cage ideas.

Words are visual cues to move your mouth in a certain way, but also trigger emotional responses. Their visualization and pronunciation symbolizes thousands of years of cultural and environmental weathering by people. We shape language and in our politically correct world, I’m shocked humans haven’t created lexical wheelchair ramps for stutterers like me. I could speak exclusively in onomatopoeias, “oooing” and “aahing” my way through dialogue. But my linguistic dream will never come true and I’m stuck tripping down words like stairways to hell. Stuttering is defined as the involuntary repetition of sounds while speaking. There are about 70 million of us worldwide and men are about four times as likely to have a stutter. Our impediments vary in severity and no science has pinpointed exactly what causes it. There is just some strange connection between the brain and the mouth. Every time mine opens, I have processed dozens of ways of saying something. Sometimes I’ll take huge pauses to find words that I won’t stutter on. I’ve learned many obscure synonyms from doing this. It makes everyday conversation a lot easier. People sometimes think I’m a pretentious sesquipedalian, but I’m just trying to find some rhythm. I run through each syllable and calculate where I accent and take breaths. A well-timed exhale can save a word from up to five repetitions. When I’m really desperate or don’t want to butcher a story, I’ll speak in a funny voice like Scooby Doo. My pace of delivery can change quickly as well. Even for writing this meditation, I have selected my words carefully knowing I have to read it aloud. I did not want to stutter through it all, but I also sprinkled in some challenges if you needed

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any proof. I used to record my entire school day so I could decrypt my stuttering patterns. I found that no specific vowel and consonant combination really gives me trouble. I can block at any given word. But all of my words have muscle memory, which creates a negative feedback loop, the bane of stuttering. The expectation and delivery of each stuttered word only reinforces the next one, and the next one. I keep a log of words that I stutter on so I can break this negative reinforcement with fluent repetition. Right now, I’m working on “vegetables,” “yoga,” “Happy Birthday!”, and “I love you.” I am still deciphering the physical signals and sensations. Right before I stutter, my entire body seems to prepare for it. My fists might clench or I’ll give a thousand-yard stare. During the block, my embouchure will freeze while my tongue and vocal chords waver. My head can jerk forward and my reflex is to put my hand to my face just in case my glasses fall off. Whoever I am talking to usually takes a similar pause. They always make that “I just peed my pants” face, that bright-eyed yet pitiful look, a look I did not notice until middle school. I have been aware of my speech impediment since I was six, but I didn’t fear it until I was publicly teased for the first time. My sixth grade English class was reading out loud from our blue grammar books, one of those with corny sentences and multicultural characters. Someone jokingly repeated my stammered words and I despairingly reacted “I can’t help it!” That one sentence unleashed a monster of insecurity within me. I was so frustrated by everyone else’s fluent speech and how much they took it for granted. I felt cursed. My life became a game of hide and don’t seek. I would get up and use the restroom when the class started reading passages out loud. I even suppressed a lot of the feelings I had for girls because I was so afraid to speak to them. The public speaking nightmare came in seventh grade though. I had to read why I was proud to be an American in front of about thirty parents, classmates, and World War II veterans and

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on my very first sentence I stuttered about eight times on the word America. I felt defeated by that point. I kept my eyes down and stammered out the rest of the words. I skipped an entire paragraph and I left the podium crying. To top it all off, my teary-eyed face was captured for the Dayton Daily News. Not much changed until I got to Deerfield. Fall parents’ weekend of my freshman year, my English teacher, Mr. Henry, called on me to read aloud. “Really?” I whined. I was incredibly mad at him for asking me to read. Whether it was sadistic intention or a scatterbrained mistake, I cannot thank him enough for what he did. I nervously laughed and started to tremble. I dejectedly stammered through “20/20,” a 250-word short story by Linda Brewer. As I left the class, my dad, hearing my sniffles, wrapped his arm around my shoulder and said, “Son, you did a good job.” I quickly shook my head in opposition and nudged him away. His words sounded too comforting and crazy but they stuck with me the whole weekend. How could he say that? Did I really do a good job? I realized that I stuttered because I thought I did. Every time I stuttered, I confirmed that part of my identity with the self-deprecating insults and frustration. When I spoke in front of the class or introduced myself to someone, I told myself I was a stutterer. But when I read out loud to myself, I spoke with perfect fluency. My father wanted to comfort me but he also could have truly thought I spoke well. His positive reaction disrupted the chain of negative ones I had for ten years. This realization wasn’t a panacea for my speech impediment, but it sure has made life a lot sweeter. I don’t think I have shut up since. I no longer give my stutter power over my life. I tell myself all the time that I CAN speak, and just let my subconscious take over from there. If I slip, I let it go, and go back to telling myself that I can do it. This practice ensures I do not take myself or stuttering too seriously. A little piece of me used to die when people laughed at my speaking, but now I laugh at it too.

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My speech impediment helped me find true friends. It made me more sympathetic. It made me appreciate my blessings. It lead me to discover the power of writing, joy of reading, and soultouching art of speaking. My stutter calibrated my focus on those extraordinary phenomena called words that represent sounds and cage ideas, the arbitrary strings of letters culturally transformed over thousands of years, that surround us and shape our every moment and being. Words are essential building blocks of life and I’m still fine-tuning the delivery of my own. But like the simple ordering of “You did a good job”, I just want my words to spread love.

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The Life of a Lumberjack Duncan Mackay

L

ife as a freshman was tough for me.

My biggest problem was that I was self-conscious. In the beginning, I never saw the light at the end of the tunnel. “Will I even graduate?” I asked myself some nights, struggling to keep afloat even with simple history readings. I was not prepared for these new worries. I had never experienced anxiety before coming to Deerfield. I was anxious because I was lost. In English, the notorious grammar quizzes made me feel the most lost because I was hopeless. I worked so hard on these grammar quizzes every Monday, but would get the same 40% every week. “Everyone gets 40% in the beginning,” sophomores in my dorm would tell me. “It gets easier. I promise.” In truth, those were empty promises. The quizzes never got better. I went to Mr. Henry every time he was available, but nothing changed. Most of the kids in my class did poorly in the beginning as well, but their blushes at receiving their initial quiz grades soon turned to smiles and laughter as they caught on. My face was always blushing. “Duncan… what did you think about the short story ‘Refresh, Refresh’?” I had no idea. I had read the short story four times, over and over, but I did not know what to make of the ideas. I did not even know what to make of the words. I felt my face burn as I searched for any idea that came to me, but I had nothing. “I don’t know,” I reply shamefully. The class bursts out in laughter. I laugh along with them, on the outside, but go deeper into frustration and distress on the inside. Mr. Henry and I saw a lot of each other my freshman fall. After every sitdown meal, I was waiting at Mr. Henry’s table to go over another quiz that came back covered with more of Mr. Henry’s iconic green ink than my own black penned attempts at

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answers. Mr. Henry: “Parts of speech 69; Truth and Consequences 87. The good news is, of course, that one can live a rich and fulfilling life without being able to parse English sentences.” Mr. Henry really got to know me well as a student. But I was hating the guy; he was ruining my year, my grades, and my confidence. After a long fall term, Mr. Henry concluded that I should get some testing done. He had never seen a kid do so badly on the quizzes, but also never seen a kid work so hard at the same time. Originally when my parents told me that Mr. Henry recommended testing to see what was getting in my way, I was furious. I couldn’t handle any more setbacks, I was very well aware that I was doing horribly, but I was not ready to face the music and find out why. Tedious Sunday afternoons spent taking tests in the basement of Dewey revealed that I had a concoction of learning disabilities: ADHD — Combined Type, Impairment in Reading, Short-term Auditory Working Memory, and Visual Spatial Thinking. The words and labels lodged in my brain as blockers, defining my “difference” and feeding my self-pity. These labels traveled with me every day; they stuck to me. I came to class knowing that I wouldn’t be able to read and understand the way everyone else could, and I grew to shamefully accept this truth. The only solution was to become invisible. Mr. Henry: “I really hope the recent testing will uncover new strategies that allow Duncan to achieve commensurate with his effort. …The second half of the term was hardly enough time to know what impact the measures he has taken have had on his performance.” I did a good job hiding my flaws through most of the day, but sophomore year, no matter what I did, I could not hide them 7th period. The stutters that overwhelmed me as I struggled in English class wrecked my afternoons. My problems laughed right

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in my face. I was on the decline for so long sophomore year that I didn’t know how things could ever change. I began to lose hope; my future seemed dull. By the end of my sophomore year when I got the lowest average of my Deerfield career, I had officially hit the dumps. It didn’t hit me until the fall of my junior year that my biggest struggle was pushing my labels aside. Pouting and saying why me wasn’t going to get me anywhere. It was time to move forward, and in doing so everything changed. I tricked myself freshman and sophomore years into thinking I worked hard. I thought that some of my results were out of my control, when in reality, I had all of the control. I started to change the way I studied. I started going to the Kendall — that became my place. Nobody studies in this building, so I had it all to myself. In the Kendall, I learned to trust the process. I learned to understand that hard work can beat talent. “Built not born,” I whispered under my breath as I entered the creaking doors. This was my place to prove people wrong. There’s an old saying that if you hang around the barbershop long enough, eventually you will get a haircut. I started to hang around the barbershop from 6:009:45 every night during my junior winter. I still wasn’t getting my haircut; I had to dig a little deeper. I stopped eating dinner and would study from 5:30-9:45. When I started to get my haircut, at first I didn’t notice. I didn’t realize that the habits I was creating and the positive attitude I developed alone in the Kendall were transforming my academic ability. In the Kendall, I started to believe in myself. I began listening to audiobooks, making study guides and rewriting my notes until the material was drilled in my head. I focused on one subject at a time. I craved academic success because I knew there was more in me. The chip on my shoulder made me dogged. Mr. Scandling: “Page by page, question by question, draft by draft, and quiz by quiz, Duncan is progressing toward sustained success. His willingness to keep working and to focus on the long-

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term results rather than short-variations also helps him keep his progress in perspective.” My first goal was to get a 90% average. I put my mind to it, and sure enough, I got my first 90 at the winter midterm. I was proud of my accomplishment, but I was still hungry. I asked more of myself and continued to do what I did best — work hard. My grades kept getting better, but as they did, something even more important was happening. I learned to love my school work. It no longer made me frustrated or anxious. I now found interest in things that gave me headaches eight months prior. Mr. Scandling: “When I shared Duncan’s critical essay about The Great Gatsby with Mr. Henry, his ninth-grade teacher, my former colleague applauded his protégé with a single word of praise: ‘Astounding.’ I’m not sure even Duncan felt he’d be able to write so convincingly about one of the classics of American literature. He told me after finishing the novel he so enjoyed that he wants to go back and read some of the books he had only barely grasped over the past two years.” After the continued success my junior winter and spring, my new challenge would be managing senior fall. I didn’t know if I was capable of meeting its demands and worried that the last two terms were flukes. I was my own worst enemy. Once I got to school, however, I started right where I’d left off, except I was even more deliberate. I had to sacrifice time with friends and sports to finish out a mission I’d invested in far too much to give up now. I focused on one task at a time, not looking too far ahead, but throwing everything I had at what was immediately in front of me. Slowly but surely, through hard work, determination, and trust, I got through each week. By the time winter break came around, I felt pride that I’d never known before. I couldn’t believe the progress I’d made. I became a scholar. A few weeks ago, at the end of a recent wrestling practice, Mr. Scandling told a story that I recognized could be a metaphor for my experience these past years:

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“One time a football team was losing badly; they didn’t have much hope. The team had low confidence and was losing the will to compete. The coach brought them all in at halftime and told them not to worry too much about the outcome, but to start chopping wood. ‘If we just keep chopping, and focus on one task at a time, we will chop down the tree.’” Mr. Scandling then went on to tell us that he recently received an email from a former student, a wrestler who graduated ten or twelve years ago. He had just gotten into medical school and wrote to say that the story of chopping wood has stuck with him, and drove him throughout his college experience. At Deerfield, it had so inspired him that when classmates he met walking across campus asked him how he was, he would answer, “I’m just chopping.” The idea of waking up and chopping wood every morning kept him hungry because he knew he wasn’t going to realize his dreams and desires with a single whack. He had to continue to chop, to stay committed, persistent, and sure enough, the trees in the way would fall down. Chopping wood is my Deerfield experience in a nutshell. I came to Deerfield having no idea how to use my axe. Mr. Henry noticed that my axe was dented, and he was right. I had rejected the fact that I was chopping wood incorrectly. Mad at the things I couldn’t control, I threw my axe deep into the forest and avoided trees instead of chopping them down in front of me. I thought I couldn’t do anything about them. “The trees will always be in my way,” I convinced myself. But I was wrong. The only way I was going to go forward was if I chopped. I grabbed my great big axe, sharpened my blade, and started chopping away. I couldn’t get frustrated and chop at different parts of the tree thinking it would fall. I chopped at the same part of the tree time after time, night after night. Once this tree fell, I realized what I had been blind to and what I had been missing out on. My trees had been blocking my love for school — my interest in academia. Ever since I confronted my disabilities, trees have

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been falling left and right. Although it took me two years to start chopping at Deerfield, I know that I will never stop. There will be trees a lot bigger and thicker everywhere I go. However, I am not intimidated. I’m just going to chop. Looking back at the grammar quizzes that used to question my worth at Deerfield, I now appreciate them. By failing and struggling, I learned about a side of me that had gone unseen. Mr. Henry, in fact, was looking out for me the whole time. He made it possible for me to learn about the way I need to do things. I learned, ultimately, not only to parse a sentence, but also how to learn. I am graduating with an understanding of myself that I never thought I’d find. Thank you, Mr. Henry. Thank you, Mr. Scandling. And thank you, all of my Deerfield teachers who have given me so much.

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Reading Lily Fauver “I had been hypnotized by the perfect glory of a short story.” — Vladimir Nabokov

A

I finish, I stroke the skin; sometimes leathery and rough with age and exposure to the elements, sometimes soft and smooth, still quite youthful. I savor the path my palm takes along each knob of the spine. The tips of my fingers travel across each and every little wrinkle of imperfection. The delightful scent permeates the air, softly caressing my nostrils as I breathe it in. I finally feel peace wash over me, knowing that my time and efforts have successfully come to a close. One more to add to the list. Some find me insane, the madness and allconsuming fixation I have, as I devour my target with a voracity unparalleled in any of my other ‘habits’. This fixation allows for the world around me to dissolve and my concentration to be devoted solely to the task at hand. God, I love reading. Take my bedroom. Books litter the floor, and on every desk, side table, or empty surface, lie stacks of my favorites. A museum of books. On one dresser, I have placed those with the most beautiful covers: Laughter in the Dark, The Night Circus, Dark Places, Vampires in the Lemon Grove. The silvery silhouette of Celia Bowen dances next to the ruby lips of the laughing Margot Peters. Count Alexander Rostov looks out the window of his hotel while Dolores Haze looks through her heart-shaped sunglasses at us, sensuously sucking her cherry lollipop. But those copies are for more than just decoration. When “memories begin to creep forward from hidden corners of your mind. Passing disappointments. Lost chances and lost causes. Heartbreaks and pain and desolate, horrible loneliness” (Morgenstern 283), that is when I look to those fter

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books. I have another desk, a shrine to my favorites. These are the dearest ones I put on display after finishing, to join the others in the museum of my experiences. Every Meggie Carter, Ender Wiggin, Scarlett O’Hara, or William Herondale is a friend with whom I have travelled far and wide. Distant and dearly missed, but easily reconnected with through the reopening of the pages. Nevertheless, the real bulk of my collection, my hidden memories and travels, lie concealed from the average person entering my room. Only the more exceptional guest is invited to peer into the closet, witness my consumption, and access the overflowing shelves within. Organized specifically to facilitate my reading preferences, the eye level shelves hold the books constantly being removed to reread, their spines scarred from being bent, their pages dog-eared and marked up with words and stars. Harry Potter, Throne of Glass, Rules of Civility, The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, The Alchemist, and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Those, among others, rest at eye level. The farther down the shelves go, the more arbitrary the books become. The fleetingly-read, half-browsed rejects; the old school assignments, Gilgamesh, The Canterbury Tales, and Siddhartha, and the weak YA dystopian attempts Matched, Shatter Me, and The Darkest Minds. They all lie abandoned on the bottom shelves. This graveyard of the disliked is accompanied by torn coverslips, capsized bookstands, and the more determined dust bunnies. Each of these stories on the shelf and in the room helps me to escape the rush and frenzied nature of daily life. Lounging on a chair, lying across a couch, leaning from a steep slope, the world around me dissolves. I slip into Amor Towles’ new book, A Gentleman in Moscow, “For his part, the Count had opted for the life of the purposefully unrushed... Was it not the passage of years that gave a piece of furniture its delightful patina? When all was said and done, the endeavors that most

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modern men saw as urgent (such as appointments with bankers and the catching of trains), probably could have waited, while those they deemed frivolous (such as cups of tea and friendly chats) had deserved their immediate attention” (Towles, 391).

I stop. That cup of tea for me is reading those books. It allows for a pause, a deep breath as the stresses of day-to-day life come unwound, and for one to sink deeper into the blankets as we savor each word the author hands us. The world outside continues to spin, yet we are now enveloped in our own new one. To be rewound, sped up, slowed down, and taken apart. It can be controlled and consumed all at the pace best suited, to finding delight in this magical object. When I read, as each tale opens, I erase my own features, habits, and characteristics to take on the combative nature of a Lisbeth Salander, or the loyalty of Percy Jackson, or the tenacity of Morgaine Le Fay. Sometimes it’s easy, I can relate to Quentin Coldwater’s obsession with the Fillory and Further book series, and Elizabeth Bennet’s fiery personality, or Edmund’s love of Turkish delights, and sink right in. Like simply slipping into a well-fitted sweater. Other times, not as much. Try as I might, I cannot transform so easily; I sometimes merely follow these characters as a quiet bystander, impressed with their intelligence, frightened by their crazed tendencies, moved by their heartfelt declarations, and uncomfortable with the two vampires using lemons to quench their eternal thirst for blood. There are some so delightfully evil like Hatsumomo, or Amy Dunne, or Draco Malfoy plotting their petty moves brilliantly. And while I may not act similarly, I am indeed intrigued and drawn in. And then there are the few who play tricks on the mind: Frederick, the twisted butterfly collector who decides to add Miranda to his collection, or the romantic Humbert Humbert with his eloquence and monstrous love for Dolores. He says, “She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was

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Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita” (Nabokov, 1). Why can such exquisite writing allow Humbert’s revolting thoughts to be read and consumed as charming? One witnesses these atrocities from the villain’s own point of view; these broken terrible men are laid out before us to judge. We must go beyond our disgust and experience the discomfort of seeing beauty in even the most deplorable of places. Yet maybe this is the most important part. I may not have a comet birthmark, or a lightning scar. I may not have the power of allomancy or telekinesis. But I can learn to understand them. Because “no human being, when you understand his desires, is worthless. No one’s life is nothing. Even the most evil of men and women, if you understand their hearts, had some generous act that redeems them, at least a little, from their sins” (Orson Scott Card, 97).

This is what we learn through reading. It is the characters that have flaws that draw us in. The one whose actions go against our morals, because when we look into their minds we may not agree, but we might have more reason to understand. This empathy gives us practice so that we can realize, maybe there is a reason Elphaba stays locked up in her castle with her flying monkeys, and the six classics students at Hampden College take part in a Bacchanal and eventually kill Bunny Corcoran, and Crake engineers a plague to remove all of civilization and kills the woman he loves. And maybe this empathy we’ve gained from reading can help us pause when we meet someone new, and without judgement or a glance at their wrist, allow us to stop, reach out our hand, and just say hello. “Stories, tales, bardic chronicles… whatever you call them… Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasure and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell

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their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that� (Morgenstern 381)

and reading is what unlocks that magic. So on that Sunday morning before brunch when the sun is just peeking under the shades, or that Tuesday afternoon fifteen minutes before practice, I open the pages to my next adventure, and a smile never fails to break across my face.

Card, Orson Scott. Speaker for the Dead. Tor Books, 1986. Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus. Doubleday, 2011. Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. Olympia Press, 1955. Nabokov, Vladimir. The Real Life Sebastian Knight. Penguin Books, 1941. Towles, Amor. A Gentleman in Moscow. Viking, 2016.

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Shadow Cassie Deshong

E

veryone has one.

No one can lose it.” I am stuck in one. It’s

a shadow. My mom is from Grenada, a small island in the Caribbean. There, the competition was stiff. Everyone’s goal was to make it to America and my grandmother was determined for her child to be one of the few who made it. She was a strong believer in America being the land of milk and honey, and to get there you had to be the best. All the schools in Grenada revealed everyone’s score on each graded assessment to the whole class. There was a public ranking of students based on their averages and parents would tell their children to avoid certain students based on their rank. As if having a low rank meant you were dumb and dumbness was a contagious disease. Someone had to be at the bottom, but the bottom wasn’t an option for her, and my grandmother made sure my mom knew that. For her entire life, she was a straight A student and later attended college in America. She was the epitome of someone whose hard work paid off and her hometown applauds her. She goes home to a town that still remembers and loves her even after spending years away. I guess because of my mom’s background she became a firm believer in tough love. She believes in order to have successful children, you must push them even when they are on the verge of drowning. She believes in not letting people make you weak for no reason. One day in 2nd grade, my mom picked me up from school and as soon as I closed the car door, I began to cry. I told my mom that one of my classmates was teasing me. Instead of saying, “It’s okay,” like most moms, my mom said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It was one of her

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most-said sentences because she believes that great people have tough skin and forming tough skin starts when you are young. People shouldn’t have the power to get under my skin and to deeply affect my emotions because that only makes me weak. My mom has high expectations for me and comparison is in her blood. Variations on one of my mom’s common motivational sentences were: “When she was your age, she did it,” “You should be able to do that, she did it,” and “She did it, so you can, too.” It seemed impossible for her to motivate me without including my older sister, Tamara, in it and it frustrated me. From an early age, I would try to assert my dominance over her and the competition haunted me at first. At age six, I was already saying “Age is a number,” or “I might be smaller than you but I am still strong,” or my infamous nonsensical line that my family and I laugh at today, “I am the boss of you because I am not doing my work.” Trivial things such as eating hot oatmeal became a competition. I remember telling my sister after she burnt her tongue: “Ha! I can eat hot oatmeal because Granny always fed me hot things and I am skilled.” She replied, “Ok,” with a nonchalant attitude. But her reaction didn’t bother me. I didn’t care about what she thought. It meant that for once my head was above water, I was floating and I had time to relax before another wave crashed into me. It meant I “won” and I wouldn’t have to hear “She did it”… Well, at least in that moment. This one-sided competition was even stronger in school. I went to a small private elementary school, so it was inevitable that my sister and I shared the same teachers. Her 3rd grade teacher would be my 3rd grade teacher. This gave my mom the optimal opportunity to compare my sister’s and my averages. “This is unacceptable. You are not a B student. Your sister didn’t get a B and you are definitely not getting a B,” my mom told me after seeing one of my final reports. That night I went to bed crying, and at age seven I set my goal of being two steps ahead of my sister because in my head if I wasn’t better than she, I wasn’t enough.

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This competition put a strain on the relationship I had with my sister. In middle school, I formed a hatred for any association between her and me. If Tamara was doing something, I refrained from forming an interest in it because I didn’t want to be compared. My sister did karate and although I wanted to as well, I acted as if karate was not cool. One of my sister’s main sports was tennis and I purposefully switched and chose track instead. Switching things based on what my sister did made me resent her. I felt like she was blocking my ability to discover things and to figure myself out. The phrase I hated the most became “You’re Tamara’s little sister.” It felt as if I wasn’t my own person. I was an extension of someone else and after going to the same elementary school and middle school, I wasn’t planning on following her to high school, but I did want to go to boarding school. I saw boarding school as an opportunity for me to grow as a person. I applied to Hotchkiss and Deerfield, and after getting acceptances from both, I was leaning towards going to Hotchkiss purely because it meant I would get a fresh start to find myself and to not be associated with someone for once. However, I remember my first year of not seeing my sister in the hallways of school or at home. It was weird. I remember my sister giving me her special watch the month before she went to Deerfield because every time I looked at my wrist she wanted me to remember her and that no matter what, she has my back. It felt weird to not have someone to compete with over school or over a fun simple game of Mario Kart. It felt weird to not have someone to annoy or to not have someone who appreciated my sometimes very unfunny jokes. I got a taste of what it was like to be an only child and I hated it. I yearned for the comparison. There were times when I would call her and we both would have nothing to say but neither of us would end the call because the phone call made us feel right next to each other. So, after two years of being separated for long periods of time, we became extremely close, and I chose

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Deerfield because for the first time I believed I could continue to figure out who I am with my sister. Sadly, the cycle repeated itself. “Everyone has one. No one can lose it.” I am stuck in one. I was ready for Deerfield and I stepped onto campus with a pep in my step. My sister loves this place and I was eager to have my blood turn green and to be full of spirit and love for Deerfield. I walked onto my freshman year hall, Mather 2, and was immediately greeted by my proctors Caroline and Kayla. “Hi, I’m Cassie!” I said. “Hi, I’m Caroline and this is Kayla. We are so excited for this year!” “Me, too,” I replied with enthusiasm. Then, the phrase I hated the most came: “You’re Tamara’s little sister, right?” My smile decreased. “Yes,” I replied, holding in my frustration that already, in the first few, minutes I was associated with someone. I was stuck in my sister’s shadow yet again. Over the years, I became accustomed to my mom’s high expectations and comparisons. I didn’t mind it. In fact, it made me stronger and I appreciated her for believing in me. So, when my mom did lower her standards, I felt insulted. But her comparison felt much different than others’. Despite the stress, her comparison motivated me, while others’ comparisons felt confining, as if I didn’t have a mind of my own and that my sister’s choices were my choices. “Did you come to Deerfield because Tamara came here?” “No, there’s a lot more to it.” “Did you join that club because your sister did it?” “No, she merely piqued my interest.” “Oh, your sister did that.” “Yeah, I know.” As my freshman year progressed, I refused to hang out with my sister. My relationship with her became very distant, and at one

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point the only time we communicated was on the path from the English building to the Koch in between classes. In one year, my sister became an acquaintance and it took me until sophomore fall to realize the problem. One of my friends asked, “Why do you hate your sister?” I chuckled and replied, “I don’t hate my sister.” “Well, you don’t really talk to her.” “Yes, I do,” I said sharply. Then, she dropped it. But that day, I began to think of the last time we laughed so hard I could barely breathe or the last time I had a deep conversation with her. I realized that my inability to realize who I am was not because of my sister or my classmates or my mom, but because of me. The next day, determined to bring our relationship back to where it was, I went to her room in Rosho during 7th free so that I could talk to her. I didn’t text her beforehand. I just waited and thought of what I was going to say. After realizing that she wasn’t going to be coming back to her room during her 7th free, I started to do homework at her desk. I opened one of her desk drawers to get loose-leaf paper, and there was an essay titled “Intimidation.” The first sentence: “Usually, you don’t hear stories about an older sibling being intimidated by their younger sibling,” and the last sentence: “My sister encompasses many characteristics that I didn’t know were possible. She’s determined, passionate, strong, and kind, and I couldn’t have asked for a better motivator.” My sister walked in on me crying and the only words I could formulate in that moment were, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry for letting my competitive side get in the way. I’m sorry for only seeing things from my perspective. I wasn’t the only person that felt inferior at times. Sophomore year was the year I became aware of who I am and who I want to be. That year, my sister and I became the definition of two peas in a pod again. She became someone who knew all my secrets, laughed at my unfunny jokes, listened to me rant because she knows that I am the type of person who needs to figure out my thoughts out loud, puts me before herself and loves

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me unconditionally. When my sister graduated Deerfield my sophomore year, I cried the hardest I ever had at her graduation. I wished I cherished our time together more. I finally realized that I wouldn’t ever share this vast amount of time with her ever again. Our paths diverged but we still talk every day. Although I don’t agree with all the things my mom has said or done, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my mom’s tough love, without my incredible sister, or without people reminding me of who I have. I wouldn’t change anything. I am Cassie. Yes, I am Tamara’s little sister. Yes, I am proud to be. “Everyone has one. No one can lose it.” I used to be stuck in one. It’s a shadow.

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JUNIOR DECLAMATIONS

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Let Your Hair Down Roopa Venkatraman

M

y grandmother’s hair flowed down past her waist.

Every morning until she turned fourteen, she combed it neatly into two tight braids thicker than the size of her wrists and set off for school. Upon graduating freshman year of high school, her place of learning shifted abruptly from school to the kitchen, and she traded two braids for one. At age twenty-one, my grandmother’s hair glistened in a bun under the unforgiving Madras sun as she left for the market at five in the morning, and it shone in a braid entwined with flowers as she prayed in the temple and cooked for my grandfather. In braids, her hair stayed for the next forty years, dancing only between the kitchen and the temple — the product of a society that forbade her from letting her hair down. My mother’s hair, once just as long as my grandmother’s, has a different story. Until she reached the age of seventeen, my grandmother patiently combed my mother’s hair into two tight braids. Entwined with red ribbons, it radiated in the sunlight as she bicycled to school. Upon graduating her senior year of high school, she left her hometown for university. There she combed her own hair into one braid. Fast-forward five years: my mother, age twenty-two, adorned her braid with flowers at the temple on her wedding day. Eight years later, she and my older sister landed on the coast of Santa Clara, California, and, for the first time, saw girls with their hair down. My hair is shorter than my mother’s. It goes down only a little past the middle of my back. Until I reached the age of seven, my mother, sometimes my grandmother, combed my hair firmly into two tight braids. My hair shimmered under the American sun as I wolfed down my breakfast and sat on the bus to school. It got tangled as I somersaulted down the hill on the playground. It got

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drenched in chlorine when I went for a swim, and it danced from side to side as I ran. Upon graduating third grade, I was old enough to take care of my own hair. I wore it in a ponytail on some days and in a clip on others, sometimes in a bun, sometimes in a braid: I had my choice. I could even let my hair down. Hair — an aspect of the female being that tells a story to those keen enough to listen. The American girl — she can let down her hair. She can choose her role. She can be a politician in a ponytail, an artist in cornrows, a lawyer in a bun, a model with an Afro, or a banker in a braid — not just a wife and a mother with their hair tied. She can be determined, opinionated, stubborn, defiant, and rebellious — not just calm and submissive. She can go where she wants to go, see what she wants to see, and live how she wants to live: the American girl. My grandmother was not an American girl, and neither was my mother. Yet, here I stand, an American girl, with an infinite amount of possibilities surrounding me, wearing my hair down with pride.

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How I Became Muslim in America Iqbal Nurjadin

I

First Amendment of the United States Constitution. I believe in the right of people to stand up for what they believe in. I believe in the freedom to practice any religion. But I’m not so sure this country does. I am from Indonesia, a tropical archipelago in Southeast Asia. My homeland is home to the largest population of Muslims in the world. As such, my childhood was dominated by my religion of Islam. At home, mosques are as ubiquitous as Starbucks cafés are in America. Calls to prayer echoed throughout every Indonesian home. Everywhere I looked, there was the influence of Islamic culture. I was part of the country’s majority. And I felt safe. Almost three years ago, I began my journey of living in the United States. And just like most kids from Indonesia leaving for a prestigious boarding school in America, I saw this opportunity in my education as simply a stepping stone to attending the college of my dreams. But my mind was set on America’s colleges and my future successes, not the Constitution of the United States. Not inalienable rights. Not politics. Not discrimination. It soon dawned on me that the United States would bring a dramatically contrasting lifestyle to my home country. Being a Muslim in the United States brought upon the disappointing realization of a disconnection from Islam. Gone was the call to prayer five times a day. Gone were the celebrations of Ramadan and Eid. I entered a world where I became the minority. And I felt lonely. But the beautiful irony of my situation was that the separation from my religion encouraged me to recognize myself as a Muslim with much greater reason. The United States offers something inherently powerful believe in the freedom of expression established by the

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that almost all countries in the world do not: diversity. The multitude of people in this country with varying backgrounds, opinions, and ideologies was overwhelming. I was introduced to a national system that I believe was built on the harmony of a diverse group of people, changing my perception of Islam. Being a Muslim in Indonesia was almost second nature to me. I never genuinely thought about being Muslim when almost everyone around me was a Muslim and practiced Islamic traditions. But in the United States, Islam became a label. Nonetheless, I embraced being a Muslim. I was proud of it. I began praying more. I became more involved in the Muslim society in school. Even though I saw more farms than mosques, even though I heard more cows moo than Imams deliver the call to prayer, Islam had become a larger part of my identity. I felt secure. But when President Donald Trump signed his executive order banning travel from seven Muslim majority nations, I was absolutely petrified about the looming threat that my family would be barred from entering the United States. Or that I’d face a permanent separation from my Muslim family. How could I not be terrified? But in truth, there has never been a moment where I was more proud to be a Muslim in America. The weekend of Trump’s immigration ban, overwhelming support for Muslim Americans was shown at airport protests. Muslims were being praised and supported for publicly praying at airports. Faculty members on this campus have shown support for our Muslim students. And Muslims in America are showing greater resilience to the largest threat from the executive office. Now a combination of fear and hope dominates my thoughts as the United States’ political climate grows ever more polarized. I can only hope that fear will not break the bonds of unity that this noble country was founded upon.

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FALL POETRY CONTEST

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An Address to Mr. Trump Fernanda Ponce I am told by the businessman who likes constructing towers with the backs and hands of immigrants I am the Hispanic disease in America. The best way American families can protect themselves against the contamination of my growing population is if they hurry and make the Mexicans build a giant wall on the U.S.’s southern border. If they do that, they can breathe easy knowing the Spanish-speaking taco-loving aliens will not seize their office jobs, or rape their children in their sleep. In order to restore the greatness of America, a time before the Latino invasion, the presidential Republican nominee [72] Little Brown House Review Twenty-Three


Mr. Donald Trump advises Americans to vote for him so he can transform their wretched vision into a living infierno. But Mr. Trump I am not from Mexico, the homeland my parents left with sacrifice, only for my father to work under a sweltering sun picking grapes on American soil, perhaps the same grapes you might have put to your lips at a given time, and my educated mother to be unable to practice her career because of the American degree she is lacking. I was born in the United States, an ironic name given we are more divided than ever as we choose to ignore facts and feelings such as Maria is from Ecuador and she and I are not cousins because of the color of our skin, Carlos does not speak Spanish, and my uncles Eden, Guadalupe, and Hipolito Deerfield English Department Fall 2017 [73]


are not rapists. Mr. Trump, you speak with the intent of building walls with words but if this is a word game we are playing the voices of thousands who stand strong linked hand in hand pick apart your useless barriers with words like “individuality” “unity” “community” And together we are the one wall you will be unable to surpass.

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THE BREAD LOAF PRIZE 2017

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from Amelia Chen i am from, i am from, a chorus of bullfrogs chirp-groans in the distance; (my belly swells on puffs of stale swamp air) mosquitos buzz, cacophonous harmony; they prick my skin with love-kisses from the bulbous jungle-moon; (the night rumbles, here ribbit, hear cricket here zhi-liao, zhi-liao; gua, gua, gua) rata-tat-tat, rata-tat-tat, high heels clicking harried on patchy gray pavement; rata-tat-tat, rata-tat-tat, train wheels clicking beat on beat to that of rolling tracks; rata-tat-tat, rata-tat-tat, so beats the city heart in my jaywalking chest; steel chopsticks sway haphazardly on a dense mound of rock and clay; bamboo buildings shoot straight up from a foundation of steaming rice; fork in ramen, sticks in pasta, spoon scoops without distinction the bok choy and the spinach; tapioca pearls stick to teeth yellowed by cow-milk and black tea;

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(my throat, rubbed raw and rasping from hacked up pieces of my mother’s tongue) i am from, i am from, a symphony of paper flutters rustle-chitters in the distance; (and between my fingers bloom naught but lotus blossoms plucked from conqueror hands)

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Badlands Susan Li i. ai ya bao bei, wo hen wei ni jiao ao! my mother proclaims, her body lit up with glee. it is the first day of sixth grade, and we have arrived at the shiny new auditorium of the shiny new middle school. my mother’s voice, with her honeyed accent and slanted speech, is an island in the middle of a sea of soccer moms and cool dads — one that used to feel like a refuge but here seems more like an ambush. here! she wrenches a small container of jiao zi into my hands and i twist out of her grasp; my eyes are acutely trained on the sharp faces and strange, razor-blade smiles i see all around. oh baby, i’m so proud of you, she whispers again, and i want to hug her back, fall into her worn curves and weathered edges, i want this little thing. but i’m a coward; i can’t rise to this occasion. i want to be thankful but i’m not sure how. so i twist away, and face the brave new world lying ahead of me and, not for the first time, i surprise myself with the audacity of my awe. there is an american flag flying in front of my schoolhouse but in the whip of the wind it looks almost like a halo and all i want to do is burn it into my throat and hands, all i want to do is let its light mingle with my yellow skin until they can no longer be divorced. i take a deep breath, plunge into the crowds, and i try to be fearless, i try to be golden, but i look back. goodbye, i’ll see you later, i love you i try to say, but the words sink in my traitorous lungs. the sounds escape me. the vowels are clumsy, knocking against loose teeth and tongue. finally, i spit them to the ground, any meaning in the words scrubbed away by the bile in my throat, the uncertainty in my step. the never mind i toss over my shoulder echoes in the empty chamber — always never mind. ii. the slick swollen night balancing upon the bow. a million

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pinpricks of starlight flooding the boat. i am engulfed by alien bodies, illegals, hundreds of us pulsing together — breathing — against all odds. before me unfurl a million waves, their whitelaced tongues licking at our flesh. behind me, a woman converses with her son in graceless english. back and forth, they practice please and thank you and where is this, where are we but their chants fall into the dark waters. i’m not interested. what i want lies not in these banalities but in the silence afterwards, where the go back to your own country and i don’t have one anymore and where is home? where is home? hang in the still air. two seats away, a man pleads to the sky — a-men, a-men, a-men — but the night only blinks in answer. sometimes all that exists is the hour folding and unfolding into itself. all this time, the boat wanders aimlessly forward but the ships of our bodies spin in confusion, groan and point home, home. iii. american, hyphenated. i feel myself sink in these insurmountable distances — generations, epochs, oceans. a single dash that i will carry for the rest of my life. a bridge that i can never cross. i know my bones will never mingle with the dark soil i’ve abandoned. in some ways i am grateful for this. my mother, when she dreams of china, dreams of tenderness and home. in her mind, she pieces herself into the land, her body curving into supple valleys and soft rolling hills. my neighbours, when they speak of america, dream of nestling comfortably within their nuclear families and tame landscapes and white picket fences. but i have traversed the country, wandered all over its trodden terrain and i know, i know: there are no mountains sharp enough to accommodate my edges, no oceans vast enough to fill the canyon between my skin and ribcage. there is no earth rich as the map of my body, where each crook and ridge is soaked through with myth and memory. all this land, all these spacious skies and plains and sea to shining sea, and still i know there is no nook for me.

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iv. are we dead yet? are we dead yet? in the dim blue night i can no longer tell the dead from the living. a-men, the old women croon, a-men, the only thing that anchors me to this world. the ancestral spirits seem to weave in and out of our ragged bodies, searching for a soul to call home. perhaps they will have better luck than us. a-men, a-men. but i know they will not find their home in me, for i left the old mythology for this new land, tore the old saviors from my soul, chained myself to the new idols. so now i gaze into this great flood and i see wild hungry flesh and spirits reflected back and i pray to them, oh do i pray; i scream and thrash to the god of noah and the god of adam, the gods of ghosts and castaways, whatever holiness dares visit these badlands. i offer myself to all the tired overworked gods of america. i bring myself down to the knee for each and every one and say, o can you see? this blood you sip like wine, this frame you batter and bruise? do you see our perilous fight, the bone-deep memory of bombs bursting in air imprinted on my soul? what do you know about that terrible crescendo? what do you know about my anthems — my tongue, my flesh? a-men, a-men, a-men. but there is no more room for god in the two duffel bags and one carcass i carry. i am stuffed full with stories and songs. i am bursting with all the souls i cannot afford to forget but there is no more room in the sack of my body, and i swell and swell until my bones heave and split open, and the stories all dribble out, and my red blood and blue soul slosh over ivory bone, and all these ratty flags of surrender spill from my body, a-men, a-men, a-men.

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SELECTED WRITINGS CLASS OF 2020

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Justice or Revenge? Anna Fu

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Christians, Shylock, a devout Jew, has an unrelenting craving for revenge on Christians — more specifically, Antonio. The tribulations of being a widower and a Jew in sixteenth-century Venice caused him to live in emotional agony, which fostered an implacable hatred for Christians in order to assuage his pain. The loss of his wife and his daughter’s betrayal left a gap in his heart, and Shylock’s only method of filling that hole is to replace it with the literal heart of Antonio. Losing his daughter to a Christian only intensified the money-lender’s animosity. The intensity of Shylock’s abhorrence allows him to forego his love for money and prefer “any of the stock of Barabbas” (4.1.294) for a son-in-law “rather than a Christian!” (4.1.295), proclaiming his preference for a Jewish thief over a wealthy Christian. He believes his experiences as a Jew in a Christian-dominant society justify his ungrounded feelings towards Antonio and his obsessive control over his daughter. To him, his sufferings, and the betrayals and losses he’s faced, vindicate his desire for a Christian’s flesh and blood. Despite his seemingly sensible motives for taking Antonio’s flesh, in reality, his broken heart and implacable hatred blind Shylock from realizing the barbarity in his actions. He believes he is “doing no wrong” (4.1.89) and therefore does not need to question his actions. Furthermore, he twists the Venetian law negatively in order to justify his actions. He claims that the flesh he demands “is dearly bought” (4.1.100), and in a fiendish tone proclaims, “’Tis mine, and I will have it” (4.1.100). He talks as if Antonio is his slave and the man’s flesh is his property. Having lost nearly everything, this pound of flesh will help quench his hunger ith an innate loathing towards

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and anguish. Shylock’s villainous interpretations of the law is his attempt at justifying his inhumane demands and selfish desires to alleviate his own pain. Though seemingly judicious, his hunger for Antonio’s flesh is nonetheless “wolvish, bloody, starved, and ravenous” (4.1.138). Blinded by hatred, heartbreak, and loss, Shylock has no true reason for his unrelenting adherence to his merciless bond. When interrogated on why he chooses flesh over money, he continuously evades the question, describing it simply as his “humor” (4.1.43) to gain a man’s flesh. His lightheartedness in this otherwise dark situation exudes Shylock’s twisted, unsettling mind. He continues to circumvent the actual question and claims he is doing it “for affection, / Master of passions,” for it “sways [him] to the mood / Of what [he] likes or loathes” (4.1.50-52). His desires are merely an impulse — an unplanned reaction depending on his mood. Shylock’s mood is that of desolation and abandonment, and his desperation to suppress his agony incites him to yearn for Antonio’s flesh. His deep sorrow that is lodged in his heart from his daughter’s betrayal and loss of his wife has left Shylock broken inside. He blames his grieving on Christianity and takes advantage of Antonio’s predicament as a way to relieve that pain he feels. He attempts to justify his motives by bending the Venetian law in his favor, but his actions and villainous cravings are more blasphemous and rooted in selfish desires for revenge rather than in justice.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

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Cruel Mercy Esmé Benjamin

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t first during the trial,

Portia makes a merciful appeal to Shylock’s heart, but in the end, she helps the Venetians destroy it. Mercy is a concept that the young heiress professes is unconditional, yet her actions belie her words. Portia proposes a definition of mercy that is selfless, godlike, and bestows its gifts upon both the giver and the receiver. However, while she initially offers mercy as a gift, it turns out to be a punishment. To free Antonio from his bond, Portia appeals to his sense of mercy, but Shylock rejects it. They have different views on the way God blesses them. Portia defines mercy as something that accesses every person’s better nature and does not display selfinterest. She calls mercy an act of grace: “It blesseth him that gives and him that takes” (4.1.185). A mutual bond that is unconditional, mercy elevates all people no matter their background or the religion they practice. However, while the Christian path to salvation is through forgiveness and mercy, the Jewish path to salvation is through obedience to the law, and that is what Shylock demands when he says, “My deeds upon my head! / I crave the law” (4.1.204). Mercy does not appeal to him because he cares only about this world, not what happens next, and beating Antonio. Afraid to lose everything, Shylock later relents, but Portia does not allow him to get away with just being humiliated. He is willing to walk away with just his fortune and leave Antonio behind, but Portia takes back her earlier offer. After being denied power and control throughout her life, Portia unconsciously sees an opportunity where she is finally able to seize that power and uphold the rigid standard of the law. She could have let him go, but she turns the anti-Semitic law into a weapon. Portia upholds the law, but she does not uphold justice. To Shylock, she orders,

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“Down therefore, and beg the mercy of the duke” (4.1.361). By commanding Shylock to kneel down, Portia tells him to physically make himself lower and of less worth than herself. She implies that mercy is a favor and by asking for it, Shylock will be indebted to her and to the Christian court. While Venice owed Shylock when he walked into the courtroom, he is now bound to Venice. Mercy is no longer gentle and no longer a blessing for he who receives it. In this instance, Portia’s mercy becomes something that more closely resembles punishment. She wrests power from the strong man, giving it to herself. In the end, Portia shows no concern for Shylock as a human being. She defends the law, and by doing so, she strips Shylock of his identity and treats him like he is just another Jew. While mercy is set forth as a noble concept, it becomes unjust and destructive. Portia asks Shylock, “Art thou contented, Jew” (4.1.391), but she does not actually ask him if he is happy. Rather, she asks him if he accepts her brutal terms even though he really has no choice. While mercy is supposed to be about what is in the heart, it becomes about what is in the law. Portia says mercy is supposed to help others, but she devalues Shylock in order to aggrandize herself. Her mercy is ultimately an illusion.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

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The Fireman Poem Jackie Morrissey Smoke drifts by, like memories, vague, lost. Fire crackles, water splashes, brakes hiss, boys chatter. He leans against the truck, disinterested, lazy. Sets himself apart, secluded. The tops of his boots gape like open mouths, yawning. They match his tired, tired eyes. Coat billowing open, free like the wind he’ll never be, His gaze skates over them. He never looks too long, Never shows he cares. He seems to ignore their dropping jaws, Disregards their admiration. But he takes it all in, every bit of it. He’s a hero today, For just a moment. It feels nice, It feels powerful, It feels false. Before he knows it, he’s back in the truck, Coasting smoothly back to the station. Unload the truck, check the equipment, congratulate the team. By command, Robotic. Soon he’s driving home. Even though he shouldn’t, He dreads it.

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The door creaks open pitifully. It dreads his arrival too. The sound of his kids yelling, the smell of cooking fish, the stiflingly too loud TV, They push him, box him, trap him. He trudges up the stairs, sits on the bed, stares at the wall. Time passes, maybe a little, maybe a lot. It is quiet, and he is tired, So very tired. Then his wife is yelling his name, And he makes his way back downstairs, And he sits at the table. His boy says something, maybe asks how his day was. He doesn’t know. The fish is dry. The bread is tasteless. He drags himself back up the stairs, Turns off the light, Falls into bed. His son walks by, pauses in front of the door. It is dark, but the light from the hall catches a watery shine in his eyes. A bird caws, somewhere far away. He heaves himself up, lumbers down the stairs. Takes out an egg. It sizzles when he cracks it onto the hot surface. The chair groans as he settles his weight into it, The watery yellow center of his egg stares at him. Crumbs litter the table, The sink overflows with dirty bowls,

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The air is stale and smells of burnt toast and yesterday’s fish. These details oppress him. He feels trapped, suffocated. Then he’s on his feet, in the living room. He’s yelled something. He doesn’t know what. The boy, HIS boy, looks at him with cold, empty disdain. The TV is still blaring. He picks up the remote and mutes it. Slowly, lethargically, he wanders back to his chair. Another day, Wasted, Gone.

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The Harmful Effects of Society’s Power Dynamics Emma Jaskolski

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n every society,

there are clear dynamics between the people who have power and the people who do not; the dynamics are often oppressive of one or more groups in order to ensure another group’s total power. The short story “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” tells the narrative of young girls who are raised by wolves but now are taught how to assimilate into human society. The narrator, Claudette, struggles with abandoning her old instincts while trying to adapt and please the Sisters in charge. In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Arnold is a Native American boy who lives on a reservation and deals with the major issues of racial discrimination and finding hope in bleak places, all while adapting to new environments and life experiences. The Merchant of Venice, a Shakespeare play, lays out the complex conflict between two sworn enemies, Antonio and Shylock, while dealing bonds and religious discrimination within justice and the law. In all these texts, characters are unable to return to their old homes and are caught in a purgatory of not belonging anywhere because of prejudicial societal power dynamics that discriminate against culture, race, and religion. Claudette abandons her old home and natural instincts while being forced to assimilate into a society where she will never be fully accepted. Even before her time at St. Lucy’s, Claudette had come from a generation of a species not belonging, as her “pack grew up in a green purgatory” and “were ostracized by local farmers” (Russell, 326). Before she was brought into the world of colliding and opposing societies, she is immediately put into a place where the idea of being rejected is already ingrained into her being. She would never be truly able to “keep up with purebred wolves” also known as her parents, despite her desperation to

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“return to the woods” (326, 328). She is truly caught between two worlds, one that is natural and unrefined, but is her home, while the other is civilized and kempt, but is foreign and harsh. Being at St. Lucy’s, “a Halfway House,” exemplifies this purgatory Claudette is in where these girls are forced to choose one culture or “end up shunned by both species.” This instills a fear of being an outcast and not belonging in not just one group, but all forms of society. Even in her wolf life, “[Knowing] Your Place”, and recognizing where one is accepted in society, is the highest commandment Claudette can follow. Because of this deep-rooted mentality, Claudette begins to abandon all of her former wolf-like traits to become a “naturalized [citizen] of human society” (327). As she loses her former compassion and becomes more human, “[her] own scent [became] foreign in [that] strange place” (327). The very thing that identifies and connects Claudette to her old life, scent, has become a foreign entity in an even more foreign place where she is trying to adapt, showing that she is not accepted in ether society. Once Claudette “graduated from St. Lucy’s”, she now, in theory, has become a functioning and civilized member of human society (339). After this stage, Claudette should “find it easy to move between the two cultures”, but when she returns to her parents, “[her] mother recoiled from [her], as if [she] [was] a stranger (339, 340). The notion that she is accepted by both societies is a complete lie: instead, she is now an outsider in her old home and a likely outcast in human society. She is now “telling [her] first human lie. [She’s] home”, but in actuality is accepted by neither society. In True Diary, Arnold struggles with finding his place in society because of preconceived stereotypes and ingrained cycles that confine Native Americans to reservations and leave them on the outskirts of society. Native Americans have experienced oppression and dehumanization from white people from the early days of colonization, where they were forced to abandon their homes and treated as nothing more than animals. From the

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beginning of his life, Arnold experienced first-hand the damaging effects of racial discrimination on mentalities as well as physical situations. Being a Native American on a reservation, he felt that he and his family “deserved to be poor” because they are caught in an “ugly” circle of poverty and hopelessness where “there’s nothing [one] can do about” being in it (Alexie, 13). Arnold is trapped by this harsh, heavy cycle constantly weighing down on him solely because of societal views of his race. Being Native American equates feelings of being “small and weak” to Arnold and that he “[deserves] to be poor” simply because of his race, which he has no control over. Society is the reason for these prejudicial mindsets. He feels “Indians don’t deserve shit,” meaning hopes, dreams, and opportunities that are all afforded to white people and high-class members of society (56). Arnold is simply being influenced by what he is taught and has learned from his environment (13). “There’s probably no place more isolated than” his reservation; this confinement only adds to his feelings of being an outsider in a place where he is supposed to be accepted, his home (30). Although he is already exiled by his race to the margins of mainstream society, Arnold is even further rejected because he is already a misfit on his reservation. He is tormented each day either by a schoolmate “pantsing [him] or stuffing [his] head into the toilet” (4). When Arnold leaves his school on the rez, where he uses the same “books [his] parents studied from,” highlighting the poverty of the school, and starts to attend Reardan, an all-white, rich school, it magnifies his purgatorial feelings of not being accepted anywhere (31). Again, like on his reservation, he is cast aside by the other students as they “stared at [him] like [he] was bigfoot or UFO” (56). He has now become the foreign person whom everyone stares at in curiosity at this new comer. They “couldn’t believe their eyes” when they saw him because he was “the only other Indian” in that town (56). The students of Reardon, along with the people on the Reservation, leave him ostracized from both groups. Arnold is trapped within this middle place, not

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truly belonging on his reservation but also not being accepted into society because of these underlying and damaging power dynamics. Shylock, a Jew, is forced by the anti-semitic, Christian upper class of Venetian society to renounce his religion, which in turn leaves him with no place in society and unable to return to what was once his home. Shylock, from the beginning of The Merchant of Venice, is painted as a man with a “villain’s mind” solely based on his religion (Shakespeare, 2.1.178). The audience gets no other interpretation other than a vengeful, Christian-hating Jewish man who only cares about his money and who craves the “fair flesh” of Antonio (1.3.149). Despite Antonio legitimately breaking the bond by not paying Shylock back, he leaves the trial with more money, and his life, while Shylock is left with nothing — though the acts of Antonio, who “spit on [Shylock]” (2.3.123) and who “called [him] a dog” (1.3.125), are disregarded because of religious prejudice. No justice is given. During the trial, Shylock’s legal right to one pound of Antonio’s flesh is ignored, as the law is manipulated and muddled in order to make sure Antonio stays alive. Shylock is left to suffer. Portia was adamant about how “the law hath yet another hold [Shylock]”, but in reality, the law was on his side but exploited all in a ploy by the hands of people in society who have the power (4.1.346). The judges even let Antonio, who has no legal experience whatsoever, decide and deliver Shylock’s punishment. Shylock then “presently [became] a Christian” (4.1.385). The reason for this verdict is entirely influenced by the discriminatory views of Shylock and his religion. Physically, there is nothing that separates a Jew from a Christian. They are both “fed with the same food, hurt this the same weapons” (3.1.56), and if one “pricks [a Jew] do [they] not bleed?” (3.1.59-60). These true and simple facts are disregarded because of religious bias that society has instilled into the minds of all. Shylock’s religion is the most important thing in his life; it’s what he lives by and what he believes to the very core of his being. When it’s harshly taken

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away by the hands of prejudiced society, metaphorically they also “[took] [his] life when do take that means whereby [he] [lives]” (4.1.375). Now, having been forced to become a Christian, Shylock cannot return to his home where his life, his friends, and his entire existence once used to be. The prejudice that Shylock faced in the end leaves him in a purgatory, trapped as an outcast and left out of society. Claudette, Arnold, and Shylock cannot return back to their homes because of these damaging societal dispositions that leaves them with no accepted place in society. The main reason for these abandonments is because society views that civilized and cultured groups are the higher functioning. Everyone, even people content with themselves, need to change in order to appease these social power dynamics that place certain people above others. The differences that were inherently part of each of these people were exploited, and they were made to think these differences were unnatural and needed to be changed. They were not given the chance to live their true lives because of the harsh pressure that was enforced on them daily. These standards are imposed on these minorities because of the groups in society that deem which characteristics are socially acceptable or reject-able. These outright and subconscious discriminations disenfranchise people who might not fit into mainstream society, leaving essential groups ignored and society, as a whole, damaged.

Alexie, Sherman. 2009. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York, NY: Little, Brown. Russell, Karen. 2007. St. Lucy’s School for Girls Raised by Wolves. New York, NY: Vintage Books. Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

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A Trial of the Jewish Heart Maya Laur

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y attempting to cut out Antonio’s heart,

Shylock puts his own on trial. The principles of his heart are tested by three competing obligations: an “oath” (4.1. 226-228) to his people, a duty to morality, and a promise that he will get his end of the bond. This is not the first time his heart has been tried. It was first tested when he was marked a “devil” (4.1. 285) and sent to live in the Jewish sector of Venice, and again when his daughter left him and their Jewish identity, and, yet again, when his people were stoned, exiled, and forced to live dual lives. Through each test Shylock has survived, his heart has gotten heavier and heavier, rooted in an “oath” made “in heaven” (4.1.226-28) to see to the defense and vindication of the Jewish people. Yet, it’s in the attempt to right the wrongs that have been done to his people that he wrongs others in vengeance. Thus, this next test of the heart will judge whether he is still capable of love, despite the suffering that it is burdened with. In the moment he picks up the knife, however, Shylock is blind to love. All he can see are the acts of hatred that have pillaged his own heart of its love. He sees the man before him as a symbol of the perpetrators of these acts, the one personally responsible for the “perjury of his soul” (4.1.226-28) when in reality it’s anti-Semitism that’s at fault. Therefore, he determines forgiveness to be a betrayal of the Jewish faith, which in essence, is his soul. That’s how, heart layered with vengeance, he’s able to take his knife in hand and advance towards Antonio. However, before he can kill him, rendering himself incapable of passing this test of redemption, his deepest principle stops him. Shylock initially pauses, feeling a need to demand his “principal” (4.1.334), outwardly referring to the ducats and pound

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of flesh that are legally his. He then realizes he should return to his core principles. In the past, he has allowed a twisted version of Jewish principles to justify his vengefulness when, due to persecution, he is both cheated of the financial principal that is rightfully his and is not thought worthy of possessing the principles that make him human. Torn between these two definitions of principle and principal, his heart is on the verge of being broken. Shylock most needs to relocate the principle within his heart — to realize that it is the truest Jewish values that lie within him: “Thou shalt not kill.” It is not revenge in the name of his people, but “Love... [for his] neighbor” that will redeem him and liberate them all. Only when he allows his heart to come to terms with its truest self, will it no longer be bound by affliction, ducats, and vengeance. Thus, Shylock’s trial in the courtroom ends with an unexpected, newfound verdict: It is not the taking of the “Christian” heart that will liberate him, but “let[ting it]... go” that will finally free his own heart from the bonds of oppression — and allow him to reclaim his identity as a good-hearted, liberated, vindicated Jew! Sadly, the Christians, however, now claim his soul.

Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice. New York: Penguin Classics, 2015.

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Questions Mia Silberstein

T

he news had only come out the day before,

yet their voices had already begun to drop into low whispers as she passed. When she ducked her head in embarrassment, their stares turned the hairs on the back of her neck to needles until she had no choice but to steal away. Half her day was spent dodging questions, and the other spent berating herself over the mistake of answering one in the first place. If asked later, she would admit that the situation was inevitable. Having parents with skin tones so undeniably different from her own was bound to invite questions. The consequences of attending a school in which she was the only girl of color did not go unnoticed, especially to a young girl who desperately craved acceptance. So, when the long-anticipated question came, she was ready. Mostly. Her parents — all too aware of the situation — had begun prepping her years ago in the hopes that when the time came, their daughter would act with poise and confidence. However, when the words finally met her ears, the rehearsed response had felt heavy on her tongue and refused to budge no matter how hard she tried to force it out. “I’m…adopted,” she had finally muttered, head hanging and small hands clenched at her side. Confused, the questioner had stepped back and asked, “What is that?” Not knowing where or how to begin, the girl had chosen to stay silent. Despite not understanding the word, news spread swiftly not only amongst students, but teachers as well. Soon enough, children were crowding around the girl who was “adopted by evil step parents” while teachers sat idly by, perhaps eager to hear the answer themselves. How the rumor had begun was a mystery, but the girl had neither the confidence nor initiative to address it, and

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instead continued to sit in silence. Much to her relief, the final class of the day was Music. She had always viewed the class as an escape, yet as she trudged into the room, she could not shake the sinking feeling that something was different. Curled in the unyielding plastic chair, never in her life had she felt more out of place. The class began as usual with an international greeting song, “Nihao, Konnichiwa, Shalom.” The repetitive melody continued for several minutes. With the end of the song approaching, the teacher began discreetly scanning the room. The class appeared oblivious until her gaze landed on the girl, a candy red smile already in place. “So, Mia. How do you say hello from where you come from?”

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9TH GRADE DECLAMATION WINNERS

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Pretty in Pink Nikita Pelletier

S

he looks at her mom with aged eyes,

then back at the doll, which is much too small for her, and says nothing more. She flattens her hands, tucks them by her side, and remains still. Constricting and suffocating, her jacket, pink as the doll’s dress, threatens to swallow her whole. The zipper comes up to her chin, enclosing the small frame of her face. Her eyes only blink. “Honey, c’mon. Baba wants a picture of you for home. A picture of his little girl,” her mom says. The girl’s lips stay pursed. “Honey, show him you like playing with your new American doll.” Her head tilts slightly suggesting “no.” She speaks with her eyes; brown and rich, they glare, trying to tell stories, but her lips do not part. They glisten freely, but her expression remains oppressed. Uncomfortable, she moves around in her coat, adjusts her headdress, and plants her feet once more. Her movements are strained, agitated, as if she is trying to shed these layers upon her. She reaches to unzip her coat. “Mush Cois! No good! I want to see your new American clothes,” her mother insists. Her daughter looks down at her feet. At her feet that once happily slid into sandals, but now sport high top sneakers. She looks at her pants; her legs were once free to move under her favorite flowy skirt but now stand stiff in the tight, black denim that surrounds them. “At home I’m sure this picture will go on the fridge for baba to look at when he is not in the U.S with us.” The girl’s small shoulders fall as she frowns and lets out what seems to be a sigh of submission, submission to these clothes,

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to her mother, and to the American lifestyle. Preparing her camera, the girl’s mother sets up for the perfect shot. She tells her daughter to smile. When the girl’s frail lips don’t move, her mother pauses in reflection, wondering if her little girl has stopped listening long ago. She remembers her own childhood. She recalls the mothers in her life, the women she looked up to, that decided what was proper for a girl and what wasn’t. She would have done anything they said, just to fit the picture they already painted. Shaped by these women, their opinions became her own, the songs they sang were her anthems, and their beliefs her faith. How could her own daughter not even listen when she asked her to smile? “Smile for baba.” “But, Mama, he will think I’m happy.”

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My Own Cancer Samara Cummings

M

I could become a geisha when I grew up because of my dancer’s figure. So I spent my time in the dance studio, staring into the pristine floor-to-ceiling mirrors and identified flaws. I tightly wrapped my non-existent breasts for an hourglass shape, drew perfect puckered cherry-red lips over my own, and danced elegantly behind the mask of clown-white makeup, just as mother said I could. Now, her encouraging words are beyond me; encouragement is behind me, so I smoke. The haze blocks the image that I deemed the epitome of beauty. The swirls of white smoke in the mirrored-reflection are pungent as they waft over the floral fragrance of my perfume. Suddenly, I picture the constellations of smoke making images of my late father. My father, newspaper in hand, a hat’s shadow covering the sweat of a working-man, and shiny rubber-soled shoes greeted my mother and me. When he was away, my mother let me put makeup on, she thought it was cute and afterall, she always wanted a daughter. However, when I heard my father’s footsteps as he came home from work, I would run for the bathroom, turn on the faucet, and bath myself in mother’s makeup remover. He always came home to see my face, something I wish I could remove. I became a master at hiding. At 15, I continued staring at my white face in the mirror and looking for my curves. One day I didn’t hear his footsteps and missed my cue. As I applied my favorite wine lipstick, he found me. “What the hell are you doing, boy? What are you doing with that shit on your face?” “I was just trying something out.” y mother always believed that

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Too infuriated to at look at me, he grabbed his cigarettes, stormed out, and slammed the door behind him. He often did this to suppress his anger. However, at night, the walls were too thin to conceal my father’s rage. “This is all your fault! You set him up for failure and I went along. I did not raise my son to be a girl!” he’d yell at my mom. His abusive words pummeled my stomach. As I gaped at the white walls of my room, careful not to let my tears escape, I heard the door shut. I knew he walked outside again to smoke. He smoked because of his failure. He smoked because he couldn’t fix me. I smoke because no one is brave enough to understand. Can you see my pain? Eventually, we will find a cure to the cancer that killed my father, but we will never find a cure for my rejection.

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Mama’s in the Sky Sarah Jung

B

rother,

where is mama? Is she out there somewhere?” He points with his hand, signaling to a place beyond the blocked road. The road is littered with the caved-in ruins of his apartment building. The roof he played on two months ago slides toward the ground, covered with rubble. Stone and cement blocks strewn over dirt mounds fill in the empty gaps on the street. The little boy’s eyes scan over the wreckage disinterestedly. The brother glances at the road and quickly looks away. He stares at the filthy bed in front of him. “Brother, where is mama? Please.” The brother sighs and puts his arm behind the little boy’s back, staring now at a particular brown spot on the crumpled yellow sheets of the bed. “Buddy, I’ve told you, she lives in the sky now. One day, you’ll see her again.” “Why did she want to go to the sky?” The brother says, “Mama didn’t want to go the sky. Other people came and made her go. But I don’t want you to worry. I promise, one day, we’ll both see her again.” “But how could the other people take her away from us, brother?” The brother clenches his fists until the knuckles turn white. When the little boy turns away to look at the road again, he says, “She can’t come back to us. Buddy…I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Across the street behind them, a boy with no arms sits with knees propped in front of the rubble and debris that was his home. He rocks back and forth, staring emptily ahead at the brothers sitting on the ledge facing away. He rocks harder and harder, almost losing his balance.

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Clenching his teeth, he scrambles to his feet. Legs slightly shaking, he walks across the street. When he is directly behind the ledge, he waits, kicking at the pebbles and watching them skid across the ground. But neither of the brothers turn around. So, the boy with no arms climbs over the ledge and sits next to the little boy, who seems not to notice as he strains his neck, still trying to see beyond the blocked road. Someone taps the little boy’s shoulder twice, and he finally turns his head from looking at the road ahead to stare at the empty sleeves of his friend’s yellow shirt. Eyes clouding with fear, the little boy nudges his brother, and they scoot down until there is a gap between them and the boy without arms who used to be their neighbor. The boy without arms shuts his eyes tightly. When he opens them again, he looks straight ahead.

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Black Girl White Jazmine Ramos

D

ust is my epithet.

It is used to make up for not knowing how to pronounce my real name. The name that beauty tells me is too exotic, something that sounds inhumane. It is vile to the tongue, bitter to the taste, every last letter a burden. I am but the fragile powder of the earth made up of tiny complex particles drizzled on the ground and whisked in the air. I am synonymous to dirt, smut, soot, and filth. God bless you, beauty says, allergic to the color of my skin. I am the soil that supports my feet grazing the bottom of my little pink shoes and my little pink carriage. My mother gifted me the doll that lies in this carriage like a seraph. The doll, a symbol of civilization’s tableau of sublimity, the epitome of perfection. Her angel white skin gentle to the touch and pleasing to the eye. Her hair bleach blonde that catches the sunlight, glistening, each strand a lock of gold. Her eyes the inland waters. A blue that is clean and seemingly pure. Everything that I am not and everything that I wish to be. It is as if God’s fingers cradled my minute baby self in the cracks of his palm only to place me somewhere to be ashamed. To look in the mirror every day and want to scratch away the black. To feel the need to apologize for my DNA. The DNA that made the kinks in my hair, lips so big that beauty asks me if I was beat. Four shades lighter and consider me a mulatto. I would have been a black girl that beauty could see in the dark. No. I am but the silhouette of evil, the spawn of satan, black bad, white good. Black savage, white softhearted. Black whore, white pure. Repulsion for myself began at the age of five. Mother wouldn’t even look at me, as if I was a disease and my very presence made her sick. I know she never wanted me. A sense of longing for another child, a child that she could show off as an emblem of genuine femininity. Which is why she gave me this

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doll. The doll that she threw in a carriage and shoved in my hand. Forcing me to look into its face and feel shame. To feel jealous that I am not one of the girls that look like a dream. I am dust, angered because I am helpless against the force that makes me disown my own roots. The roots that bury themselves into a burrow deep in my soul. That make me what I despise the most. Black.

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SELECTED WRITINGS CLASS OF 2019

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Clay Flowers Alex Alijani The poor man shakes his empty bowl. His matted hair, grey with age and black with dirt, Saddens his face, but hides his bleeding lips. Death’s long nails sink into the fleshless outlines of his mouth As his legs pound on the meager man’s stomach — the pains of hunger. Death acts like a crazed dog, fangs deep into a poor victim’s neck. It is only when Death’s cruel sentence is up that the man may be freed. The man continues with the bowl. Wind circulates through it as it hits the bowl’s curvature, With stains of broth still marking the edge. It travels downward alongside the base of the bowl, Then up the opposite side, Returning back to the open air, Carrying the stench of rot along with it. The movement calls and an echo arises, Recalling when it was a dish at a nice restaurant, Or when it served its purpose And yielded its owner a collection of old coins. In the song, I can hear the man’s own yearning. He hankers for a life that has eluded him. Many are given the gifts of wealth and status, While others receive unseen talents. But he was given the more unfortunate of God’s gifts: The mark of poverty and pain, of pity and pestilence. The mark that those with luck use to bolster their own motivation.

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A merit to compare with their own luck. I sit on a bench up against the gate to a fielded park. On the corner is a performer working to get spare change, Instead of relying on the goodwill of the world, which has all but vanished. He strums in simple strokes, careful to only make homey notes. People give him more if the tune sounds pleasant. I long for him to play a real piece, Strong, dark, and critical like a fine Arabian coffee. The taste, although bitter and strong, is far superior to any sweet, insipid tea. Above my head, birds float back and forth through the urban jungle, Where carnivores and consumers skulk, more fierce than any beast, And the captive wilderness is outlined in rigid cement. The beauty of Earth has been caged and put on display Like a depressed lion in a cramped zoo. They both lack their former glory. My seat sits at the border between the two, On the steel bars of the cage. The wall also stands, to protect the little foliage that remains in the air of a noxious city. The poison outside rises every day and seeps in, in the form of soda cans and cigarettes. Fat pigeons search for crumbs in a wasteland, Scavenging week-old croissant crumbs. Real birds, fierce birds, would never subject themselves to this torture. At first sight of man’s horrible creations, they would flee. As for the birds that left here, I can only assume their new home was quickly developed

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Into a similarly tragic pit. I see the beggar again, still nagged by Death. I am perturbed, but not over the Horseman. Death’s presence isn’t new to me. I can remember a few instances when I saw his ugly face. The man piqued my immediate interest because of his noodle bowl and the wall. Red bricks, like rust, of an old building support his back. Sunny Yellow Star vines climb up. The wall pairs perfectly to his bowl. The chips in the white bowl’s paint expose orange clay. Hand-painted sunflowers stemming from the base have not faded. He blends in perfectly with the wall. He sits as an ivy covered shrine, forgotten and unkempt. I stand, and walk towards the forest of buildings, Stopping at the suffocating man, almost beaten by death. I slide my hand into my front pocket, Feeling around through my keys and gum wrappers. I grasp change from a broken dollar, Two quarters, one dime, one nickel, and four pennies. I place the scraps in the bowl. The hand around his neck softens, So he may whisper a faint “Thank you,” before choking himself again. I hear his hysterical coughing to my back. My change isn’t meant to help him. The amount of money I had in my entire wallet Couldn’t have really helped him. He would soon be back resting on the crumbling wall. The coins are to break the solemn song of the bowl.

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Its echo will draw faint, Sung over by the gypsy’s anthem. I must admit, he is a beautiful shrine, Worshipping life itself.

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I Never Stopped Running Gerry Alexandre

C

RACKLE! SPLAT! BANG! Gunshots blaze through the air. People getting hurt left and right enough times instills fear into one’s soul. It’s no Harlem, but a bullet doesn’t do any less damage no matter where it is. Living on the edge of East Orange, New Jersey, just right outside one of the danger zones, Newark, has given me distinct habits from others. When I walk to any destination, I often turn to glare behind my back until I begin to feel uncomfortable, forcing myself to decide when I need to begin dashing. People would ask me, “Yo, G, what are you looking for? Haha!” My lips remain sealed. When I was in elementary school, I walked home from school. Other kids felt jealous about my independence, which was a feeling I could never comprehend. When it was necessary, I played along. “I get to walk home from school, and you don’t!” I would remark mockingly to my friend Lucas. He glared, he shrugged, he walked away. Despite feeling overjoyed about being able to walk home from school, when my mom informed me I had a curfew, my hands bolted up in the air and my eyes were filled with fury. Needless to say, I never performed such a tantrum in front of her, not unless I didn’t value my life. If my school day ended at 3:05, 3:10 was the cut-off. It was absurd. One day I arrived home at 3:10:20. That is, 3:10 and twenty seconds. TWENTY SECONDS! My heart skipped a beat. I thought I was done for. My mother didn’t notice. I was baffled. Does she not care about my well-being? As a matter of fact, would she ever notice if I returned absurdly past 3:10? “Challenge accepted,” I whispered to myself. A cold chill grazed down my back. It must’ve been one of those good omens I read about somewhere in a book. I titled my mission: “Operation: Second by Second.” First, 3:10:30.

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Second, 3:10:50. Third, 3:11:10. Sweat dripped down my right eye. I was afraid. Then, 3:15:25. In the end, it never occurred to my mother that I was returning later and later. Dissatisfaction haunted me. Two years later, one afternoon, the school day ended a bit late, and I was infuriated as to why my coach continued taking more of my precious time. It was already 3:20. Once we were finally let go at 3:24, my right leg and left leg engaged in a forward and backward motion. I was immediately out the door. Two of my friends joined me on my walk home, one of whom was Lucas. We soon ended up hitting a fork in the road and decided to continue in different directions. I could have gone left and still gotten home relatively quickly but that day felt like the “right� kind of day. I had only walked a little more than a block away, when suddenly I heard: whoosh, wham, bang! I jumped in place, yet I maintained my composure. My legs never ceased to perform the forward and backward motion that they knew so well. The last thing I wanted was to waste more of my time with something that had nothing to do with me. I walked to school the next morning only to find that Lucas had been caught in the accident. They said it was a drunk driver. My arms moved from side to side. I was shaking. Oftentimes, fear of danger is greater than danger itself. I was practically leaking with steam. I never received the details as to how the accident happened, but it did get me to continue thinking seemingly unhelpful thoughts. Would I have gotten caught if I walked that direction? It was unlikely, yet it did succeed in getting me to fear, which is the most powerful, rhetorical tool of persuasion. I began running home from school faster and faster every day, second by second. I feared that what happened to Lucas could just as easily happen to me. Even after I reached my block, I never stopped running. Miles and miles away from home with new friends, new teachers, and a new culture, I have discovered a problem. Even

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today, I know that the psychological damage I received that day remains dormant somewhere in my mind. Even in this new, exciting and safe place, after the school day is over, I retreat to my room. Even after so many years, I question why I never stopped running.

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His Last Call Dominique Whitney

M

Hi. I’m not coming home this weekend. No, I want to stay with my friends. I’ll come home next weekend. Okay… just transfer it to my card. I hate carrying cash. And hurry up! I have to be at lacrosse in eight minutes! NO! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY YOU’RE NOT COMING FOR FAMILY WEEKEND! Are you kidding me? No, absolutely not. You’re picking me up after practice Friday. MOM, FOR THE LAST TIME, YOU ARE NOT COMING. BYE.” Sitting on my friend’s fluffy blue bedspread, I find myself biting my tongue once again. Not specifically because she’s mean to her parents — everyone has their moments — but because she doesn’t see anything wrong with the way she talks to her mom. Regardless of the thousands of dollars they give her at a phone call’s notice, or the countless vacations around the world, or even just the fact that they care, and it seems like they’re really trying to make a connection with her, she just shuts them out. It has become a perfected ritual: wait for their call, exchange the bare minimum in what is already just small talk, ask for more money — not even ask — notify them that her card is running low, then scream at them for trying to build a relationship. She talks to my friends and me about them incessantly, explaining how they’re “overbearing.” It’s a hard thing for me to process. I’m sure she isn’t the only kid who does this. There are bound to be plenty of others. However, the fact of the matter is there are also tons of kids who would kill for even a single phone call from their parents. I am one of those kids. I would kill for a single phone call. om?

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Just one single phone call, the simple acknowledgement that I matter, would be sufficient. Instead, I get to live with the unceasing feeling of worthlessness that my “father” decided to leave me with. I was nine years old the last time he decided to call me. I remember the exact conversation vividly. I was just getting home after my first-ever solo concert in the big white church in front of nearly a hundred people. Still humming Dvorak’s Humoresque, I went up to my room, elated and ready to put the twenty-dollar bill from my grandmother into my shiny blue wallet. I was used to the usual drama when my mom was first to the incoming phone call from my dad. Unfortunately, today I was especially unprepared to have their quarreling crush my good mood. Violin was the one thing I had that didn’t come from either of them. Not that it’s my mom’s fault she has to work full time. I’m beyond thankful I have such a hard-working parent. But ultimately, it had always been my grandmother who took me to my lessons, taught me how to tune or to fix a broken string, and always got me to practice, regardless of whatever new excuse I came up with. Violin was something I didn’t owe to either of them, and all I remember wishing for was a calm, congratulatory phone call from my father. Apparently, that was too much to ask for. As soon as the phone rang, I heard my mother’s quick footsteps heading towards the kitchen. “Call from: Dallas, Texas,” said the automatic robot voice on the home phone speaker. Great, I thought. Mom’s going to put him in a pissy mood before I can even get down the stairs. And of course, I was right. By the time I made it to the kitchen, the fighting had already commenced. Just the simple sound of my mother’s “Hello” ignited the spark. Little did I know, this spark would start the fire responsible for burning the already fragile groundwork of my father and I’s relationship. This petty, miniscule, spark is the reason I haven’t gotten a call from him in the past seven years, even on my birthday. “You should’ve sent something, Tim. Her dress was nearly

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a hundred dollars, you know. And her bow? Not only did she have to get a new one because the dry heat cracked it last month, she just had to get it re-haired thanks to Suzuki camp. She’s only nine years old and already thinks about expenses more than you do. Did you know she didn’t eat lunch for a whole three weeks because she wanted to save the money up for a new scale book? She lost almost ten pounds, Tim! The school nurse had to call me because the lunch monitors noticed she wasn’t eating!” My mom grew silent, leaving her words to sink in. But less than a few seconds passed before I heard the murmurs of my father’s rebuttal on the other end. Although I’ll never know for sure, I imagine it was something along the lines of how he’s “barely getting by,” or how “my boss is cutting hours this month.” Whatever, I thought, nothing we haven’t heard before. As I stood behind the bookcase in my living room, I came to the conclusion that I would not be getting the congratulatory phone call expected from any typical parent. At the rate this conversation was going — could I even call it a conversation? It was more of a screaming match — I’d be lucky if my mom didn’t throw the phone out the window. “Save it, Tim. Nothing’s new. We’re still struggling, and you’re still living it up with whichever slut it is this week. And you’re still a jackass. Get yourself together; the girls do NOT need to have you ruining their day.” That’s my cue. I came out from my hiding place, careful to go around to the other hallway as if I had just come down the stairs. As I rounded the corner, my footsteps were noticeably loud, in order to make my presence known and thus end the fighting. Of course, this didn’t usually work for me. My sister was lucky. She was the baby of the family. The second my mom had the slightest idea she was near, the yelling ceased and the phone was handed over. However, when I entered the room, it seemed as if my presence only fueled her anger. Despite this, today I marched in with confidence, head held high, and trying to block out all the

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negativity. My mom noticed me as soon as I walked in, but I ended up pulling out a chair and making a sandwich before their fighting ceased. Although my fabricated assurance didn’t exactly work, my mom did end up handing me the phone, seemingly more out of anger than anything else. “Here,” she said, throwing the phone on the table. “Talk to him, I’m done.” Her voice faded as she left the room with haste. Reluctantly, I brought the phone to my ear. If he says one word about money, hang up. If he’s in a bad mood, hang up. He doesn’t deserve the chance to take it out on you. Hang up. And if he begins even the smallest note on your mother, hang up. This is your day. Hang up. “Hi, Dad. How are you?” “Hey, Mick. Thanks for getting your mother off the phone.” Hang up. I waited for him to say whatever fake line he chose next. What was I supposed to say to that? He used my mom’s nickname for me, IN A SENTENCE ABOUT HOW MUCH HE HATES HER. How did he expect me to react? He was lucky I didn’t have the guts to press end. “Dominique? You there?” His was voice filled with overlyemphasized concern. “Yeah, I’m here. Sorry, I was pouring a glass of water… I had my first solo concert today.” “I was just about to ask, how did it go, hun?” Yeah, right. Just admit you forgot. “It went well. I mean, everyone told me it was amazing. I guess it sounded alright to me. Actually, I don’t really know. I get too caught up in it to remember afterwards.” I tapped my fingers on the table anxiously. “That’s great! Did anyone take a video for me? I’d like to show my friends at work.” Yeah, as if anyone there would’ve wanted to take a video for you, of all people. Gabrielle is too

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young, and the only other willing person would’ve been the one playing. “I’ll ask around in a bit. Everyone’s coming at four… How’s Nawshi?” “She’s good. I took her out for dinner near the shops at Legacy. It was great. She’s great.” “I’m glad. You seem so happy… I almost forgot: Lauren invited me to Cape Cod with her next weekend!” “That’s fun, kiddo. Make sure you say thank you to her and her parents.” “Of course! And um, is there any way you could, like, send me maybe a little money for food? Only like fifty would be perfect. I would really appreciate it.” My voice trembled as I struggled to get this dreaded question out. After a much expected long pause, I heard him let out a deep sigh. “Dominique, how many times do I have to tell you I don’t have anything to spare right now. Why the hell do you think I moved out here? I knew your mom was making you call about money.” Hang up. “No Dad, that’s not why I called! I swear! It’s fine, I won’t go, it doesn’t matter, really. I feel too bad asking Mom and Grandma since they’re saving up to send me on the Nature’s Classroom field trip. I won’t go. It doesn’t matter.” Once again, his deep sigh interrupted the silence, letting me know I shouldn’t have even picked up the phone. “You have a lot of nerve. Defend your mother, whatever… That’s how it’s always been and how it’ll always be. She brainwashed you… and you’re surprised that I moved? Are you fucking serious? Whatever. Don’t call me back. Hope your concert was fucking amazing, kid.” And the line went silent. I slowly lowered the beeping phone, my hands shaking and eyes watering to the point that I couldn’t even read the ‘End’ button. I didn’t want to let him get to me. I wanted it to be my day.

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I wanted to be proud. I wanted to have a proud, normal, family; proud, normal parents. This was my day. I was supposed to be strong. I was supposed to pretend it didn’t affect me. But who was I kidding? I was nine years old and my father had just let it slip that he didn’t move to Texas because “there were no jobs around you.” Not that I believed him anyway. I was nine, but I knew that Hartford was an hour away, Boston was two, and New York City was less than four. I mean, seriously? Even I knew that there were jobs there. I never told him how I spent hours on the school library computers researching available jobs he was qualified for near me. I never told him how much I hated that he just left his family in the middle of the night, or how I hated having to explain to other kids at school that my dad wasn’t dead, he just lived across the country. I never told him how much his last call hurt. The next day, I broke down in tears in the middle of “Sharing Time,” before my entire fourth grade class. It wasn’t a big deal. We rotated so each kid went about once every three weeks. On this rotation, if it was your turn, you made a big poster with photos of any people you live with, your favorite foods, and summaries to follow each. After you were done pointing to each one and sharing a little on why you chose these photos or foods or whatever, your classmates were supposed to ask you questions. Pretty straightforward. I had already made my poster, about a week in advance, being the organized type-A fourth grader I was. I don’t remember what photos I had, what foods I chose, or the slightest bit of what I must’ve nervously rambled on about. What I do remember, as if it was yesterday, is how that bratty, little, know-it-all, Esther asked me what my father’s job was. I know I could have just lied. I’d lied about plenty of things before. But this was too much for my nineyear-old self. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about him. Instead, I marched right out of the classroom, mumbling something about how I felt sick to my teacher, who never even looked up at my tear-

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streaked face. The day after my sharing time meltdown, I couldn’t bring myself to focus in class. Something was off. Every time I tried to look at my math sheet or read my book, my mind drifted farther away. Instead of letting my mind drift off to the nightmare that I called my father, I got up and went to the nurse’s office, just as the day before. I complained of a stomachache, and they sent me home without question. I had a perfect record so they trusted my word, unlike many of my fellow classmates who were stuck in the oneroom infirmary unless they had a fever or were in some other way in clear need of medical attention. After a two-week-long “stomach bug,” I began to give up. I tried to erase my father from my memory. I hoped to forget his existence entirely, knowing it would’ve been easier, just like it would’ve been easier to have never picked up the phone in the first place. I’ve reimagined that phone call a million times in a million different ways. I’ve reimagined my life a million different times in a million different ways. As I said before, my dad never called me again. Not for the first time I was hired to play violin for a wedding, when I got into Deerfield, or even for my sweet sixteen. Sure, we talk on the phone here and there. The calls are only initiated by me, of course, and I’m not sure anyone actually knows about this small detail in my life or how large of an impact it has made. On the off chance we do have our weekly call, since I’m always the one who calls him, I’m always left with a haunting sense of inadequacy. If I’m not good enough for my own father, how can I be good enough for anyone else? How can I be good enough for anything? It took a while for me to begin recovering from that phone call. My mom never found out what happened… She never asked, and I never told her. For the record, my dad did try to call me the next day. He left me a message saying to call him back. He “wanted to know how I was.” But he never apologized. For a while, I couldn’t even pick up the phone to call him back. He sent

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my mom emails about me, how “disrespectful and ill-mannered” I was. She never knew I read them, but I did. I read when he said he wished he never met her and never had kids and how I was “fucked in the head.” I read almost every one, as I still do, always careful to mark them all as unread as soon as I was finished. Although they haven’t stopped over the years, they have become less frequent. His words always have and always will loom over me, like dark swollen grey clouds, waiting for the thunderstorms, waiting for me to break. But when I do break, I’ve learned to think things through before snapping. I have also found the courage to call him. When I did call him, it wasn’t as if everything had been miraculously fixed. In fact, things did actually have to get a little worse before they got better. Even when we fight now, things often have to break a little more before they can begin to mend. We cannot just recover from a real conflict immediately. It takes time and often a tremendous amount of courage. It took the same courage for me to call him after he didn’t show up for Family Weekend as it did when I was nine years old. Honestly, he probably wasn’t even planning on attending all along. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that once again he got my hopes up only to crush them. Once again, he lied. Once again, he made me feel insignificant. Worthless. Not good enough. As a result, I was going to have to find my courage so that we could recover. I had to take the first step, as the cycle goes. I am also going to use this as fuel so that when I’m graduating from Deerfield, or off to medical school, or succeeding in some other way he doubted I could ever achieve, I will prove him wrong. I will keep working harder and harder to prove my mom and my grandmother right, to thank them for believing in me. Most of all, I hope I will learn to stop waiting for his approval. I will stop waiting for him to be proud of me, because chances are, he’ll never be. I will learn to start making myself proud. On that day, I will know I am good enough. I am strong enough. I will have

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the courage to pick up that phone and dial his number without an ounce of fear. My will no longer be shaking and my eyes will no longer be filled with tears. That day I will be able to see the “end” button and press it without being hit by a wave of panic and anxiety over the repercussions. “Hello? Dominique?” “You were wrong, Dad. I am extraordinary.”

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La Sangre, El Lucho Daniel Cui A Mexican pueblo With nothing but shoddy hovels Made from the red clay Of the riverbeds, Scorched by the Searing heat of the blazing red eye In the sky. Its gaze Burns the land, Staring into the dead and Atrophied souls Like once juicy and tender grapes Turned into lifeless and coarse Raisins. The fruits of endless drudgery Feed the brazen men Dressed in immaculate white suits With cowboy hats and boots, Angels that promise health and Prosperity, A life of good fortune and change. Yet life is withered to nothingness By the Eye of Death as La Sangre y el Lucho, The Blood and the Struggle Seep into the ground, Dying the clay With the crimson red Of those in servitude,

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Dying the river With generations of Sacrifice and bloodshed. By the river delta A rose garden resides That once bore beautiful and Aromatic flowers of pure Snow white. Now rooted in the bloody land, Generations of Pain, Suffering, And tears Are infused into each flower By the heme that seeps out Through the cracked nails and Rough callouses of Enslaved hands, Descended from distant Bucolic lands And then chained to The infernal plantation As their white linen clothes, Given to them by the Heavens, become Tainted by the scarlet Of their lifeblood. “RISE UP! LEVANTEN!� Cries of the working Men and qomen Ring and reverberate Throughout the valley,

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Shaking the gorge’s Immense rocky bulwarks That entrap the victims Of Injustice, Protesting their freedom, Who dare exchange their Lives for an Ideal As each and every one Is taken away by Death. La Sangre y el Lucho, The Blood and the Struggle, Death’s henchmen watching Intently like two vultures Who wait patiently to pick off The young men who Rot, as their youth, vigor, Family, and home Are depraved by Death’s Glare— They whisk away the sad lives of Laboring slaves.

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The Search for Justice in Her Story: Gender and Authoring in Coetzee’s Foe Protik Nandy

I

J. M. Coetzee’s Foe, the story of a castaway is told through a female’s perspective, contrary to the male perspective in Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The difference in the narrator’s gender, specifically in Foe, establishes certain expectations. A captain declares that Susan Barton’s “story...should [be] set down in writing and offer[ed] to the booksellers,” since “[t]here has never before...been a female castaway” (40). A female’s “story” is considered worthy enough to put down “in writing” so it can live eternally. Selling it, however, implies that Susan’s gender makes her story a form of entertainment and financial gain, which makes the reader question whether her story gets justly told. Susan herself asks, “Why should I argue my case? When is it ever asked of a man who comes courting that he plead in syllogisms?” (126). Being the author of her story, she still needs to “argue” to defend the substance of it, while her male counterparts do not, establishing gender inequalities among authors. Despite being told from the point of view of a woman, her story is then retold verbatim by the fictional male author Foe, adding another layer of complexity and unreliability to Coetzee’s reimaging of the great classic. Initially, Foe the author reminds Susan Barton, the female castaway, that her story is not what she says it to be. Instead, as the male author, he suggests that Susan’s story is about a mother and her daughter, the daughter who is taken from her and who she set sail to find before being cast away on Cruso’s island. However, Barton “choose[s] not to tell” that story because to “no one… [does she] owe proof that…[she is] a substantial being with a substantial history” (131). Having to “prove” illustrates that as a female author she must justify her capabilities before telling her n

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story. She isn’t powerful enough as an author to write what she desires, like her male counterparts, and still doesn’t “owe” proof, which declares her defiance and allotment of her own authority. Later on, Susan also thinks of herself as “the one who came, the one who witnessed, the one who longed to be gone: a being without substance” (51). Previously she didn’t have to prove her “substance,” but now she does, implying that in her past life she had freedom and power, so she existed as a human. However, post living with a male ruler, Cruso, she lost her “substance” and has no concrete presence in the world. Yet Susan pleads, “Return to me the substance I have lost, Mr. Foe” (51). The only way for her to recover her presence in the world is by giving in to the powers of male authorship. Susan wants to regain her power and purpose in the world through her story, just like a mother gains power and purpose after giving birth to a child. Still, despite giving into male authority, Barton shows that she is willing to protect and defend her story as if it were her own child. When Susan first realizes “[t]he Muse is both a goddess and begetter,” she “was intended not to be the mother of…[her] story, but to beget it” (126). Barton equates her story to her child. By comparing herself to the Greek god “Muse” — a form of power and authority that provided male authors with inspiration — Barton realizes she must “beget” or father her story: give substance to it. If the only way to do that is to sexually please the male writer of her story, Foe, Susan will do “whatever lies in her power to father her offspring” (140). Susan’s story is “father-born” or written by Foe, yet she defends it like a mother. Barton’s describes a mother as a “woman [who] may bear a child she does not want, and rear it without loving it, yet be ready to defend it with her life” (111). Although she refers to the mute Friday as the child, her persistence to protect and defend the truth in her story and tell it in her way, echoes motherly behaviors. Even though her story is of Cruso more than herself, she still “bears” this child, defending it with “her life.” Susan dedicates her life to defending the substance of

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her child—her story—from injustice: being told falsely and not in her way. Ultimately, Coetzee writes a story about recovering Susan Barton’s lost substance through her story. Barton’s principal goal is to tell a true story, but the resurfacing gender expectations hinder her from doing so. As a result, the novel itself suggests her suicide with the “corpse” surfacing at the end, illustrative of her failure to defend her story from being told incorrectly and unjustly. Moreover, her story does receive justice. Next to her corpse “the first words of the tall, looping script [read]: ‘Dear Mr. Foe, At last I could row no further,’” repeating the very first words of this novel (155). Thus, Susan Barton did defend her story “with her life” by writing it prior to her death. Foe then gives the story substance — publishes it — by retelling it verbatim, as suggested by the quotation marks. Although Susan Barton gave up her physical substance in the world, she continues to live through her true story that she wrote. She could “row no further” in life, but the phrase begins her story: the end is a beginning. Thus, Coetzee reminds us that the novel serves both as a form of justice to Barton’s story and to the lost substance of her life.

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Grandma’s Subaru Raegan Hill “Children see magic because they look for it.” — Christopher Moore

T

he scuff marks of my first tap shoes still inhabit the

linoleum tiles of my grandmother’s kitchen. The pavement where my brother scraped his knees while rollerblading hasn’t been smoothed over. The tree, whose limbs I hung from as if I were an Olympian on the high bars in a hand-me-down leotard, has withered. The break in the fence where our first dog escaped plenty of times has been patched. Two bedrooms and one bathroom, just enough for us. Keeping a house in this family is like keeping a scrapbook: you can always look back at the old photos, but you can also add new ones whenever you want. In my grandmother’s driveway, the whole world waited for me. The driver’s seat of her parked car was my time machine. The mini green pine-scented tree that hung from her mirror never inhibited me from rejecting reality. One day I was a zookeeper, driving my patrol car to all the different exhibits to check on all my creatures. The safari was my favorite. Old Armen’s house was where the giraffes lived, his oak trees towered high above me, the stretching necks of the orange printed giants. The roads were covered in sand, my tires worn from the constant erosion of tiny rock particles rubbing at their tough exterior. My own personal shade from my wide-brimmed tan hat granted my eyes the ability to see everything without fear of being blinded from the blazing sun. My best friend Katie’s house was where the panthers dwelled. Snicker, her black Labrador, stretched out on the front lawn, soaking in the sun like a panther resting on a bare rock, the sun’s warmth his blanket. The dead end up the road was a watering hole, an oasis for all the animals that would come from near and far to quench their thirst and live in harmony. My grandmother and I

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knew the safari like our own backyard, because it was Leominster, Massachusetts and it could be any corner of the world that I wanted it to be. It was everything I thought it could be, sometimes far from reality. Whatever book I had read that week, whether with Greek gods or tree frogs, the Subaru could drive us there. As we grew up, that world became much smaller, enclosed, limited to the gallons of gas we could fill our cars with or the money in our pockets that we could spend on a plane ticket. At 16, I knew every street in Lunenburg and who lived there. I knew that when the sirens sounded on a Friday night, the seniors had beem caught in the woods drinking yet again. I knew that almost every Friday night we would lose the football game. I knew that right around Christmas, Old Main Street would hire a carriage led by two horses. I only knew what is or has been right there in front of me, what I have seen, heard, and felt. As a child, my world was endless, multi-dimensional, with no boundary of time or space.

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The Valley: My Valley Ricardo Gonzales

O

utside,

the image of farms and valleys appears out of nowhere. The clouds cover up the blue sky and polluted air. In every direction I look, there are mountains hiding in the background. The pollen surfaces and with it allergies, sneezes and red eyes. For a while it seems like a not-too-shabby town. That is, until you get to the edge, where there is nothing left. Boredom is what it is, nothing to do, nowhere to go for miles, only leaving room for wrongdoings. From certain sketchy neighborhoods, to quiet, soft areas, it all just seems the same. At school the children play, live, and breathe outside, most buildings being small, too small to hold many students. The playgrounds, just patches of grass and dirt, are where the children play, spending most of their time sliding around and kicking the soccer ball. On the older side, the high school students mess around, don’t pay attention. They just don’t care. The adults work the shifts, from eight to five, and usually end up working the overtime just to make the extra money for their children’s expensive phones, while their children don’t realize the stress their parents go through. Some of the children have never left the state, let alone the valley. It’s all they know, and all they think they will ever know. Sure they want to get away, sure it’s so bad they regret coming, but they never leave. Children leave their school to find comfort from the heat. As they walk home, the sketch begins, as they encounter the homeless, the druggies, and the heated wind. The older students rapidly escape their prison and drive recklessly home. Adults slowly leave work and head to get food or taxi their families from school to practice, and then eventually arrive home. It’s a busy life. At night, the town settles in and quiets down. Teens do their

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business in the dark and nothing exciting ever occurs. The smell of manure and the whisper of wind linger, as the town of Hanford, California comes to a rest. The drift into summer leads to the worst imaginable heat. Some days the temperature drops to 100 and others it never drops lower than 105. The heated sidewalks crack and darken within a whole summer, and the streets turn grey and steam. All over the streets, children sit around waiting for the ice cream man, El Paletero. The parents returning around the same time get out of their hot, humid cars, too tired to say anything. Fall comes, but the summer heat stays in the valley. Kids begin coughing and exposing their asthma. In schools, snow schedules are put in place due to the horrendous air conditions. Practices begin again, and soccer fields are covered from beginning to end. Racers in the morning line up, and soon every Saturday morning is spent at a race. On the way to many of these, as I look outside the car window, I see all the fields. The hardworking immigrants that labor from six a.m. to six p.m., earning by the basket not the wage. The fields of grapes, melons, and orange trees are emptied by these people. The image will forever remain. Snow never falls in the winter, instead the sixty-degree weather slides in and makes the valley livable at last. Practices stop, the wind picks up, the children again become bored. School becomes secondary to the drama of life, and the streets become even more empty. Fences are put up around the schools making them look like prisons, and then the fog drifts in. Accidents occur, lives are taken, sadness flows through the valley. Not even Christmas is enjoyable.

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Island Boy Tyler Kelly

S

ettled in the Atlantic

Ocean, two hours by plane off the coast of the United States, the island of Bermuda sits amongst the rumbling tide. The horizon on every side is a vast, empty expanse of turquoise spreading farther than the eye can see. It’s a small island, barely over twenty-one square kilometers, with very little to do throughout the year, and the island I live on, Hinson’s Island, is even smaller. From where my house sits, I can see across to one end of the island, where tourists flock during the summer, and to the middle, the main town, the hub of all limited activity (the very limited activity). I can see the refreshing water lapping against my front lawn, past my docks where I would dive off of as a kid. Here, I remember crawling through the water with my dad, maybe cleaning the boat, picking off all the crusty barnacles while the water claws at my throat; I remember frontcrawling out to the buoy, where my dad would teach me how to open my eyes underwater, and I would try to push through the pain of the salt burning my eyes, as I stared down at the ocean floor to watch the vibrant red squirrel fish swim by. Every day we had to take the boat in, and I could taste the salt spray splashing up from the froth as the engine roared its steady beat, and the boat would be tossed into the air, only to come crashing back down onto the next wave. I made these trips daily, and everywhere I went required one of these trips; they really got fun when the wind picked up, always a telltale sign that the cricket match that evening was going to be interesting. I’d enter the pitch, towing along my bag full of heavy wooden bats, pads and gloves, while my team surrounded me. We’d gather on the side, gazing out over the field. The coast, never far away, sat outside the boundary, glistening in

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the overbearing sun. We would examine the wicket, looking over every detail. Everything mattered in cricket, and that is what we were taught. We saw the holes in the material that covered the layer of concrete and could tell it wasn’t good for playing, that it would make the game tough, but you didn’t join Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club if you didn’t expect something tough. Once the game started, you looked forward to the classics, the satisfying sound of the crack as a cricket ball launched off of a bat for a six, or the slap of leather against bare skin as you caught that skied ball. Then there are the classics that you don’t look forward to, like the clink as your stumps get taken out and the echoing chorus of the other team calling “Howzat” to the umpire, or the thud of the nicked ball as it slams into your shoulder, like a club hammering down on your bone. But it is the satisfying moments that prevail always, the pain, the relief and joy when you succeed in doing that one thing that you trained to do for hours each day, twenty-four hours per week, with the only rest coming on that Sunday, while you sat with your body in pain, aching from squatting down and from the relentless pounding in the palm of your hand from that same cricket ball that fascinated you as a kid, slamming into your hand over and over until you just get used to it. My coaches always taught me a lot, and so did the players I played with, many my friends. We would always enter the start of the season as companions, but after the last game was over, after the last sting on your hand, we left as family. It’s almost like you learn more for life practicing a sport than you learn about that sport. Looking back, it seems the key to where I am now. My coach, whom I looked up to most as a kid, always called me “Champ.” Not because I was better than everyone else, but because I put in the effort. Every time I heard him call me that name, it inspired me. He once said to me that he wanted me to sleep with my bat in my bed, so throughout that season I did, and it taught me that the tools you use need to be respected. “You need to be friends with your bat,” Coach Romaine said. Air by Amanda Cui

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SELECTED WRITINGS CLASS OF 2018

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Air Amanda Cui I used to marvel at the piles of corn piled up on the sides of the street by the village next to where we lived. I would imagine the villagers, ripping each stalk out and throwing them onto to the road. One by one, until it became a mountain of yellow. Piled so high I could not see the top. I remember stray dogs would wander by And sniff at the corn, yelping when the stick thrown by the farmer would hit them right on the side of their tiny bodies. Every time I’d walk into the village, Corn kernels crunching under my feet. I’d see the man with the flute, Eyes closed, Sweet notes drifting into the air. Life was simpler back then, When everything was quiet. When all you heard at night Was the crackling of fires Under the clear night sky.

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I don’t remember where the piles of corn went. They seemed to be there all the time. Immovable mountains forever piled on the side of the road. Now they are gone. I don’t know where they went. I don’t know where the entire village went. Did they go with the orange cranes we used to peek at through the windows of our third grade classroom? The cranes in the distance looked like chicken beaks to me. Their beaks pecking at the villager’s small houses, until each seed of a house Disappeared into the belly of the chicken crane. So now the piles of corn are gone And the village is gone as well. At night, instead of hearing music and fires And seeing people dance outside their homes, The tall skyscraper is silent. The people are silent. Now, we have tall buildings that reach up into the sky, grabbing at the grey smoke pouring out

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of the pores of factories.

The grey smog envelops Everything it can touch. Diffusing through the air As if on a mission. It swirls and wraps itself in a haze. It grows thicker and thicker, Until it can shroud even the tallest mountain of corn And stifle even the sweetest notes of a flute

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Bubbles Spencer Rosen On the leg, Slowly climbing, reaching, Inching closer, Pop. My silent screams snagged, Like a kite, Caught on a jagged branch, Disintegrating in my throat. Cologne too strong, too close, Breathing too heavy, too ragged, Fears too real, too urgent, Pop. I want to move, But I’m held in chains, Invisible but infinite, Bound to the beer-stained seat. Slow tears rolling Muffled sobs fall from my lips, As he leaves, like an innocent, Right out the front door, Pop. Pop all the bubbles Mama would say, Before they get too close, And burst on your skin.

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The Cure of Reverie Helen Downes

W

hen given the chance he always dreamed of,

Newland Archer hesitates. Yet his hesitation eases the rush of reality, and the dreamer can piece together the collision of his past, present, and future. Newland sits “for a long time on the bench in the thickening dusk, his eyes never turning from the balcony” (298). Beyond the window, this longing lover knows Countess Olenska, the center of his daydreams, sits. He’s unaware of what she’s thinking, let alone what she looks like now. However, the gentleman exhibits a newfound patience. Unmoved by the time passing around him, reality’s vague to him. The woman he’s always loved is at the center of his world. And his chance to be with her, if he chooses to take it, waits upstairs. His emotions begin to spin earlier that day when his son, Dallas, exposes a striking reality: May recognized Newland’s deep affection for Ellen and pitied the sacrifice he made for her. The abruptness of the news shocks the widower, having to deal “all at once with the packaged regrets and stifled memories of an inarticulate lifetime” (294). Silence lived at the core of his marriage, neither spouse strong enough to unearth the truth. Yet the discovery of his wife’s pity takes “an iron band from his heart” (294). Recognition justifies the pain and guilt that had weighed down and constrained the lover. He can unpack his regrets, let his memories breathe, and communicate what he had trapped inside. Alongside this alleviation, Newland knows he can’t alter the past, guiding him to look towards the future, even if it holds uncertainty. This uncertainty extends into his emotions, the atmosphere of Countess Olenska’s neighborhood overwhelming Newland. Although finding the area “too dense and yet too stimulating for his lungs” (296), he reaches towards it. Ellen’s new life fascinates the

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traveler, but there are complex layers to uncover. He doesn’t know if he’ll understand her new world or if her stories will be difficult to hear, knowing he wasn’t there. Questions only extend deeper when he stands before her house, looking up. Newland “remain[s] motionless, gazing at the upper windows” (297). Stuck and taken aback, he can’t decide what to do next. Now that the moment he’s always dreamed of has come, he questions if he can handle its magnitude. This longing lover knows his life will never be the same, and the volatility of his emotions returns. Eventually, Newland “glance[s] away at an empty bench under the trees” (297), the spot’s solitude drawing him in. In order to reach a conclusion, he needs time to think — alone. While this may appear cowardly, Newland’s revealing his newfound maturity. He’s not running away but pausing. His interlude draws in visions, now floating in his head. In a dreamy state, Newland says to himself, ‘“It’s more real to me here than if I went up”’ (298). He knows Ellen will be a part of him even if he doesn’t see her. The dreamer’s okay with the unknown. Ellen was perfect to him when he knew her, and she’s the woman he wants to hold onto. This longing lover doesn’t need to demand answers. Curiosity guides him, letting his mind sift through possibilities, emotions, his past, and himself. Creating an image of the Ellen he loved and still loves, he knows he’ll be happy. Newland learned to love her without her, having already created closure. Time continues to pass as he lets his mind run. Newland, “rooted to his seat” (298), allows the solitude to nourish his soul and strengthen his resolution. Finally, once a servant closes the shutters “as if it had been the signal he waited for, Newland Archer [gets] up slowly and [walks] back alone to his hotel” (298). In creating a signal, Newland stops himself before he demands answers. The dreamer loves Ellen, his picture of Ellen, and his memories of Ellen. That’s all he needs. And upon rising, Newland’s not lonely in being alone. He’s not the coward he used

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to be. The once-broken lover, his guilt gone and his mind healed, can walk home self-assured and content knowing that at least his son is marrying with the unrestrained love he dreamed of sharing. (696)

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Dear America Kiana Rawji Dear America, My middle name is Noor. In Arabic, it means light — light, as in the thing that I came here looking for. Dear America, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” Dear America, I think that day in September scorched holes in the hearts of your people, and the people are still grieving, and they deserve to be, they deserve to point their fingers, but I don’t deserve their fingers pointing at me. Dear America, On September 11th, 2001, the Twin Towers were burning, but now? Now the mosques are burning. And the people who set them aflame also brought their fists down on the woman in the hijab, as she was picking up her kids from school, about to take them to their piano lessons. Dear America, Jesus said, “love thy neighbor.”

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Dear America, We come to you, like everyone else, looking for something better. We come to learn, we come to prosper. We do not come to plant bombs on your soil. And those monsters who do — they are not us. We are not them. Dear America, Do you remember the white hooded men who hung black people from trees? Did you ever call them radical Christian terrorists? Dear America, The members of ISIS are not Muslims. They are terrorists. What you don’t understand is that one cannot be both at the same time. Dear America, You say you are of the people, by the people, and for the people, but we too are the people. And you are not of, by, or for us. You are against us. Dear America, We are on the same side. We are over 80 percent of ISIS’s victims. We are just as much under attack as you are, but, still, you push us away. Dear America, There is a Muslim girl in Aleppo who managed to crawl out from

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beneath the rubble of her broken home only to find that she no longer had her legs or her parents — she’s knocking on your closed door. Will you not let her in? Dear America, The Prophet said, “None among you is a true believer unless he loves for others what he loves for himself.” Dear America, Are you a true believer? Dear America, You are scared. But you are only scared because you do not know us. If you knew us, you might understand that we have hearts and ours too are scarred with holes. But America, You did create a nation out of a single declaration — that all men are created equal. America, Thank you for marching by and for us outside the New York airport when innocent people had their dreams deferred for no good reason. America, Thank you for shielding yourself from the unforgiving waves of ignorance with knowledge — thank you for knowing us.

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America, Thank you for fighting endlessly to make freedom free — for loving for others what you love for yourself. America, Thank you. Dear America, My middle name is Noor. In Arabic, it means light —light as in the dawn’s early light by which you so proudly hailed your starspangled banner… light as in the thing Dr. King so fervently fought for; light as in the thing brewing in Lady Liberty’s torch… light as in the thing that I came here looking for. And I have found it in nooks and corners but we all need light to live and we can’t live forever in nooks and corners. Dear America, My middle name is Noor. Show me that yours is too.

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Susceptibility to the Unfathomable Abby Lupi

O

ftentimes,

discussions will revolve around Jay Gatsby being the sole character in Fitzgerald’s novel who lives in a dream. His delusions of happiness and his idealization of Daisy often render him unreliable as a source of information. Nick Carraway, however, can be equally as susceptible to that same dream world. As Nick becomes more involved in the lives of Daisy, Gatsby, Tom, and Jordan, he also becomes increasingly dependent on this perception. His vulnerability to the fantasied tales of human existence eventually make him completely reliant on them. And their disappearance steals away his capacity to live with contentment. The power of words cannot be underestimated. Speech enchants Nick, and he never truly knew its full gravity. Not experience, not money, but words bring Nick to the highs of life and to its miseries. The nuances of words, with their tones and intrigue, lead Nick not only to fathom the impossible, but to believe it. Nick falls victim to the scandalous whispers early on. Ever the melodramatic individual, Nick claims, “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life” (35). Nick hardly experiences the inexhaustible variety of life. In this moment, Nick is sitting at a table, sensationalizing common scandals with a group of rich people. They are talking about affairs in the careless manner that Nick claims to despise. They are arguing and drinking with their lovers, forgetting their responsibilities and their spouses. They seem to sacrifice the human experience for rumors of it. And yet, Nick is, in this moment, enchanted by life’s inexhaustible variety. The conversations he is experiencing are not of a remarkable nature; in fact, he describes the discussion as “some wild, strident

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argument” (35). The word strident connotes shrillness or the quality of being irritating. This hardly depicts endless variety. The stories are trivial matters that are sensationalized by conversation, and Nick falls prey to them too easily. He is, more accurately, disgusted and intrigued by the commonalities of human life. Nick’s perspective of the world is shaped by conversation. Nick describes himself as a “casual walker in the darkening streets” (35), indicating that he is lost in the darkness. He becomes deceived by the flowery words to the point that the words, rather than the reactions, become his reality. If light represents knowledge, he is, indeed, in the dark. Even upon hearing dazzling or dark rumors about Gatsby, Nick doesn’t question their impractical nature. Speaking to a few women at a party, he immediately becomes possessed by their words. With every outlandish rumor “a thrill passed over” (44) them. Petty gossip holds power over Nick, who is gullible to any sort of rumor. Even after some suggested Gatsby killed a man and that he was a German spy, Nick was still taken. Everything was a possibility. Within this world, anything could happen, or could have happened. Nick does not believe it knows any bounds. He is receptive to these falsehoods such that he is already half-believing them. He claims, “it was a testimony to the romantic speculation [Gatsby] inspired that there were whispers about him from those who had found little that it was necessary to whisper about in this world” (44). Nick measures the gravity of these women’s words by the tone of their voices. To Nick, the decision to whisper alone demonstrates the seriousness of their claims. Gatsby did inspire much speculation and romance, but Nick is wholly convinced by this fabricated reality. To really know Gatsby, to acknowledge reality, is to lose the spell. Nick claims to revel in the “inexhaustible variety of life” (35) when he too sacrifices reality for a dream. Nick’s naivety draws him into the fabricated lives of the rich and blinds him to the carelessness with which they truly live.

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Another whisper comes from Daisy herself. She is with Gatsby at his party, though “appalled” (107) by its very nature. Yet the very next instant, she is “sing[ing] with the music in a husky, rhythmic whisper” (110). Nick describes the song as a bit of “human magic” (108) and as if it were “bringing out a meaning in each word that is never had before and would never have again” (108). Nick associates whispers with truth, when the only whispers in the novel turn out to be falsehoods. Gatsby was not a German spy. Daisy is far less magical than he ever expected from Gatsby’s description. But the constant bombardment with fantasy supersedes Nick’s perception of reality. Nick is vulnerable to this deceit because he constantly finds excuses to believe in the fantasies of others. But when confronted with the cool taste of reality, Nick is left with nothing. He is cold, thinking of time passing: thinking of death. After the final confrontation between Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom, Nick is hit with a reminder of his own mortality. He is no longer lost in the moment, but lost in time. The fantasies gave him structure: a framework within which to operate. But the lack thereof poses a discontinuity. For the first time, Nick thinks about death, and more particularly, his own. He becomes pessimistic, saying, “Human sympathy has its limits, and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind” (135). Nick has never been content leaving the lights alone. He blithely considers Jordan “too wise ever to carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age” (135). But this is precisely what Nick had been doing since the beginning of this narrative: he helped carry the forgotten dreams of Gatsby to Daisy’s front door. He engages in the obviously untrue gossip about Gatsby, and he has been enchanted by the worlds the rich community fabricates in order to bring life to their lifeless existences. The fabricated stories and wild drinking nights bring out the abstraction of living life to its fullest. But to Nick, they merely present the possibility of not living idly. Without hope from these idealizations of the human condition, Nick is subjected to thinking about the only thing left:

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the passage of time. Clearly, Nick is lost without his fantasy. He submits to its power until he considers there to be nothing else worth living for and admits, “So we drove on toward death in the cooling twilight” (135). Talk of the unfathomable never fails to captivate Nick. The restless zeal with which he absorbs every story and feigned romance binds him to an alternate reality. He is swept up by the moment, unable to recognize the pretenses under which this world operates. But Nick loses himself in the search for happiness. He seems to believe that he can find it only in an idealized world. Rather than take the life he is given, he chooses to become swept up in the dream. But the dream consumes him, as it seems to consumes everyone, and without the fantasy he is left with nothing. He becomes nearly as empty as Gatsby once he submits to this dream, and is only brought back to the true reality after being struck by truth. Then his dream world, now so intertwined with his real world, collapses, leaving a shell of a human being. The emptiness of a practical reality is now unfamiliar because he didn’t before have to live with its absence. And so, Fitzgerald warns readers of the dangers of the unfathomable, the sensational, and the unbelievable. The message continues its relevance as mankind’s susceptibility to these very impulses is what drives many decisions and beliefs, especially in the modern era.

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that day Amelia Chen a reaction to the fatal accidental shooting of Akai Gurley by NYPD’s Peter Liang one. he walks up the staircase — rickety, creaky, marked by footsteps trudge-running up and down the concrete. your back, rough against the wall, flesh on concrete flesh, a breath wheezed through stone, through you, through the blistered pieces barely contained by ragged navy cotton — your finger, rough against the trigger, flesh on metal flesh, pressure building, primed for explosion with grenade pin pinched between your teeth; squint at the grey flooding your vision and burst open, catalyst behind you — his breath light, his gait slow, an angel floating between his fingertips as he drifts upward, light, bright, white spilling and red blooming between a ribcage of bleached bone fractured — two. that day my mother burst into the room, waving her phone, irate; atrocious, wailed she in Mandarin Chinese; unfair, word

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spit-dropped from smooth puckered lips; how could they do this to us, us Chinese, guilty, the verdict rings clear, bouncing about the room, and you clench your head in your fists and stare your dream dead-away in the eyes;

that day i clenched my tongue between my teeth, poison pooling in my jawline; were we ever really Chinese — the article in the paper says he did it, he served; the crowd outside boos and hisses its concern; the heart in his chest beats, ba-doom, ba-doom, footsteps stomping frantically, thud on concrete — that day my brother sat in his room unaffected, headphones on and computer bright, light, spilling (no one sees white longing creeping large around the room) words tumble about my mouth, prickly, bitter, crows

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cawing between my cheeks; keep, keep, keep — three. that day they took to the streets (one tragedy: two victims) that day they drummed new beats (institution unjust, unfair) that day that they (footsteps resounding, battered bruised stone)

i choke on blistered pieces contained barely by ragged skin; thud on concrete, bursts against a ribcage of bleached longing carved deep into bone...

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Where I’m From Suzy Mazur I am from pulsing coals and the drone of oscillating fans, From Lincoln logs, hamster maze, Fort Buttersworth (snowy daze), From lost lens caps and found photos, From the brook in all its muddy glory, when the pussy-willows and cattails bloomed. I’m from that perfume of chlorine (still fragrant when you lick your arm three months later) hair still straw From latex and silicone. I am from stomps and leaps and clicks and skips around and around with those perpetually uneven black laces From “Be light on your feet! Higher on your toes!” from late-night curlers working their ringlet magic, From rhythm and that spotting spot on the wall. I’m from Sammi’s soft serve with the buzzing of yellow lamps with the faraway pinpricks of stars. From gloves on the tables and creamy chocolate on the uniforms, mimicking the mud of the paths echoed on the pants and socks — it was a rainout. I am from iridescent bubbles and warm water, from the Q99.7 (and the fog machine in the sanctuary). I’m from hours and hours in the car and from red dust and gas stations and food stores that we’ll probably never visit again.

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The American Julian O’Donnell “It had come back to him simply that what he had been looking at all summer was a very rich and beautiful world, and that it had not all been made by sharp railroad men and stock brokers.” ―from Henry James’ The American

T

he American is assisted out of the small cab by two tall,

impeccably dressed men. Nehru linen suits tailored, teeth white, and posture strong. They are unlike the rest, the American thinks. Their silky brown crew cuts appear artificial, like plastic, their eyes barren of the yellowy film of malnutrition. Dimples. The American is almost startled. They have dimples? Like a bustling hive, bodies multiply and suddenly swarm around the American as he drifts, half asleep, through the lobby. With subtle and swift arm motions, bags are confiscated, accompanied by an “Allow me” and “You must be tired, sir. Please.” Their hands are not dusty, scarred, cracked or cupped; these are not the gestures of desperation the American had experienced navigating the crowded, uncharted city streets he has just left behind. Their skin is lighter, olive. The American is escorted from the concierge to the elevators across a desert of pinkish marble and around an elaborate orchid bouquet. The perfume is mist-like, suddenly ubiquitous. The American stands uncomfortably in front of his new escort, eyeing the stocky figure in the brassy, surreal reflection of the elevator doors. Watching as his face splits in two, the American enters first. The sixty-second floor is quiet and dark with red carpets and gaudy, industrial furniture. The American imagines a warehouse somewhere, bloated with mahogany dressers and Abrebescato night stands. Perhaps this escort was ordered in bulk too, thinks the American. Once inside the room, the escort asks

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when room service would be most convenient, his face buried in an iPad, making final adjustments, swiping left a few times before demonstrating the available water flow options. “Traditional or waterfall?” he asks, waving his hand at the shower head, as if the American’s health depended on it. Fifteen minutes later, the American is alone when the doorbell buzzes. His room is flooded by a new army of men delivering two black duffle bags as if they were the Ark of the Covenant, and the American half expects a parade to follow. The room is large but not palatial. The bed in the center is framed by four thick golden columns, each separated by carved cherry wood panels, symmetrical and equidistant. The American scans the room again, looking for Tony Montana in a Jacuzzi. He is disappointed. Blinds drawn open, the room is struck with hot light. In spite of the perfectly adjusted climate control, the American can feel the sun baking his skin. Outside, the horizon stretches across the sky beyond the Arabian Sea, its line of deep red obstructed by the mirage-like silhouettes of cranes and high rises; a blanket of smog conceals the lower stories. Unsettled, the American checks the local time. It’s about noon. *** Experiencing what I only later categorized as potent selfconsciousness, I stood inches away from the window for what seemed like hours. I had been acquainted with this feeling before, but even I was unprepared for this kind of disparity, this flagrant exposition of conspicuous consumption. I felt suddenly ill. The Four Seasons rises above Mumbai like a glass monolith. From a considerable distance, the building resembles a blade tearing through the blanket of slums beneath, puncturing the homes of one million people. I, however, somehow possessed the right to stand atop that blade, an observer of the sea of shanties below me, as if I were studying a petri dish. I spied a river of trash running through

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the expanse of corrugated structures. A stream of Coca-Cola reds, Snickers browns, McDonalds golds, Starbucks greens rises and falls. My eye focuses on a lone child. The American used to be thankful to be an American. Thankful that he never knew what it meant to starve or beg or play in trash heaps. But the American grew wary of being thankful because thankfulness justifies nothing.

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SELECTED WRITINGS CLASS OF 2017

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To him, Mamadou Yattassaye The projects Were a mansion. The streetlights took him to different dimensions, Complexing life and fantasy, Illuminating hidden Beauties and dreams. He drew streams Emerging from the seams On the palm of his hand. Words potent, A street poet. He untold times when The sweetest wine was Intertwined with the hidden roots Of Africa, Of how each dribble That rang through the park at Morningside Coexisted within his heartbeat, A leader giving life to his Community. Instead of drugs, He said to find love.

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Instead of gangbangers, He saw historians. He was The father To his fatherless child.

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Unconditional Love Alaina Chen

I

shut my eyes and saw the multicolor kaleidoscope of the

back of my eyelids. Attempting to follow the floating, amoebic particles that blackened and blurred the spectrum of color, my eyeballs cramped from the effort. Were they real? I’d been told in school that we all start as a single cell, a single entity that develops into a more complex, multicellular being. But what of these floaters in my eyes? They were nothing more than a buildup of inorganic material that failed to give off the essence of “life.” But isn’t that buildup how all life began? Or maybe my dad was right and some creative god did exist. But then again, I could do it too. It was my job to produce a life and bring it into the world. Ah, what is life? I thought. To be or not to be — that is the question. My eyes snapped open and the light from the microscope flooded my vision, my pupils constricting. Initially, the eggs in the petri dish resembled those smudges of darkness I saw within my lack of vision. With a few rapid blinks the outline of the thin membrane enclosure returned. I pulled away from the eyepiece and placed my palms over my sockets and pushed. My temples pulsed to the sound of the impalpable heartbeat of the eggs I was preparing. They would pulse on their own soon enough if the in-vitro fertilization were successful. It would take place within the next month. The parents had ordered a removal of any eggs with the gene for hemophilia, since both were carriers. In order to ensure a less stress-inducing lifestyle for their child, the parents had paid the $45,000 my company ChangeAGene charged. I fully embraced ChangeAGene’s motto, Science for Progress for a Better Life. Random fertilization doesn’t always successfully produce a happy, healthy baby, but luckily, fertilization doesn’t have to be so random. I was going to help this family, this child in particular,

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avoid the pain and suffering of a diseased existence. “Eva, how was the test?” My husband Addy crawled under the sheets and cradled me into the crook of his arm. His warmth allowed my back muscles to relax, and I pressed into his body. Tears welled in my eyes as I molded my form into his. Kneading the smooth, black beads around my neck, I began the Rosary and allowed Addy to hold my shuddering shoulders. I had failed as the only child. The technology, meetings, and chemicals: they were not enough to save my father’s life, and I hated it. Damn the slow scientific advancement, I thought. All I could do was mutter empty words to a God I hardly believed in. I explained how my bone marrow came back as a negative match to my father’s. The doctors were incapable of completing a transplant, and he would continue enduring biweekly chemotherapy treatments. A Caucasian man at the age of fifty-seven was meant to bald, but my father’s face had degraded into something almost extraterrestrial without eyelashes and eyebrows. Whenever he visited, clumps of hair from his scalp left trails on the bathroom floor. Stomach pains led to a loss of appetite, which made his face gaunt after only four weeks of chemo. He had been diagnosed with leukemia two years prior but had refused treatment. He wanted his body to decompose naturally, his soul to go with God. He had tried for years to help me accept Jesus Christ into my heart, but in my mind, no worthy God would break my family apart in such a painful manner. I had already lost one parent to cancer; I wasn’t prepared to lose another. My father had held my hands in his as he lay in bed. He had quoted Hamlet, “‘To die, to sleep no more, and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.’” Hamlet was his favorite play, and we had often read it together when I was a child. But I didn’t understand. Did my father truly believe Hamlet had been suicidal? I wholeheartedly disagreed. That so-called soliloquy was Hamlet merely assuming the role of the lunatic; it was not a justification for death.

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I had cried, begged, pleaded that he continue living. There was a way to help him. Technology had advanced to a point where it could save him. My husband Addy and I had not yet married, and I wanted my daddy to be there to walk me down the aisle. One evening I picked up the black beaded rosary on his bedside table, crying, saying Our Father and Hail Mary over and over again. At that moment he raised a sigh so piteous and profound as it did seem to shatter all his bulk and end his being. The next day he met with an oncologist and agreed to chemotherapy. I began my routine prayers. Despite his devout Catholic beliefs, my father never challenged my love for science. I would return home as a child and ramble on about biology class that day. He would pat me on the head and remind me to give thanks to God before he would turn to my mother’s photo to pray. However, my father’s discomfort was palpable when I entered the field of genetics. The first time visible tears welled in his eyes was the day I toured ChangeAGene. I had thought he was proud that I was attempting to save peoples’ livelihoods. Yes, I was disappointed. My inability to match my father’s bone marrow defeated the possibility of a transplant. However, I thought I was being overly emotional. My calendar did say it was “that time of the month.” Although I always dreaded menstruation’s arrival, I was confused. Two weeks passed. Then three. “Addy, I’m late,” I said. “Congratulations, Eva!” exclaimed my lab partner Jeff. “How many weeks? Boy or girl? Do you have a name yet?” My coworkers bombarded me with questions and comments as I entered the lab. I couldn’t help but smile at the congratulations. My husband and I were both ecstatic to announce my pregnancy. However, I remained reserved as always when in the testosteronedominated lab. The men in the room couldn’t possibly conceive the joy I felt to be a mother. A smile wouldn’t leave my face. Director Drake had just offered me paid maternity leave. I didn’t have to

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give up my love for the lab in order to nurture my child. I sat on my backless stool and began to comb my hair into a neat ponytail. The adrenaline must have dispersed throughout my system, as I became dazed with the stroking sensation. I stared off into the seemingly empty petri dish. Upon my entrance into ChangeAGene as a lab technician, I had asked Drake about the heritability of leukemia and other cancers. “You know,” he had said, amused, “as long as you have another child with matched bone marrow and a zero percent chance of developing leukemia, it doesn’t matter that much.” He had chuckled to himself. “Actually though, Eva. There is no reason to worry about heritability of diseases anymore when we can choose and alter the traits we deem undesirable.” He had winked and left the room. Why did it bug me so much? I didn’t understand why my heart started racing again as I snapped the sterile, latex glove over my wrist. I let go too suddenly. Pain shot up my arm, and I saw black spots. I braced myself against the counter, landing face to face with the clear plastic container that contained the eggs. Thoughts flooded my headspace: Where are they? I can’t see them. Will these so-called eggs even hold? In school I was taught that the body rejects anything foreign…but this is the parents’ child… right? ... No. No its not. This is an experiment. But it’s an example of progress…right? I slid my left hand from the countertop and settled it on my still-flat stomach. This is my child. I didn’t need to trust any technology. I only needed Addy and myself. I picked up the eggs and started swirling the solution in a counterclockwise motion, wondering if the genes would revert to their original state. It was not my place to toy with life. “Eva…Eva, what are you doing?” Jeff started. My thoughts continued: A mother should care for her child regardless of the difficulties. I swirled the solution faster. I searched for pulsing in my stomach, any sign of a heartbeat. I could imagine the globular form on the ultrasound from which my baby would develop. That form would become my

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child. I will love my child regardless of the difficulties… I thought. “No!” The petri dish slipped out of my hand and fell. Disbelief colored Jeff’s face as he stood over the splotch of blue solution on the floor. “What the hell are you thinking? That was due next week!” he shrieked. My left hand fell from my stomach and made its way to cover my open mouth to stifle a scream. I couldn’t believe what I had done. “I…I…I…” I stuttered, but I couldn’t put my thoughts into words. “Go tell Drake,” he said. I sat outside of the Director’s door, waiting for him to finish his phone call. How was I supposed to explain what had happened? I didn’t know. My head jerked up to look at Drake holding the door open. “Come on in, Eva.” The door closed behind me. “I know you are going through a very emotional time in your life, but I still need you to focus on the projects at hand,” he began. I nodded. “Jeff told me what happened. He said it was an accident, so I’m going to give the clients a call and…” I cut him off. “We shouldn’t do it.” “I’m sorry?” Shock colored his face. “No one should do it. These parents who order from us. They should love their child no matter what. They shouldn’t pick and choose certain genes in order to avoid an inconvenience. That’s just selfish. What will the child think? ‘Oh I wouldn’t have been good enough if I were natural. Instead I had to be engineered.’” “Eva, I don’t appreciate the sarcastic tone of voice. Please. Control yourself. What’s gotten into you?” “Is this not something more than fantasy?” I hissed. “I feel like we are trying to get the better of biology through manipulation. We are removing the beauty found in the unknown. God doesn’t pick and choose genes. All life is deemed beautiful! I’ve come to realize that an unchanged child is wholly yours. It has qualities that make it inherently yours.” Drake spoke angrily, his mouth twisting as if he had tasted

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something bitter, “But sometimes those qualities are damaging, and God doesn’t care about individuals! Damn it, Eva. Don’t you realize that if alterations aren’t made, you are setting the child up for failure?” “Aren’t I already setting a child up for failure if I can’t love it unconditionally even before it’s taken hold in the womb?” I grabbed my stomach with both hands, looked at my hand placement, and then looked him straight in the face. Drake sighed. He spoke again, softer this time, “Eva. How are you doing? How’s your father?” I suddenly burst into gulping sobs. “My father loved me unconditionally, right? Even without any genetic testing. I’m going to love my baby, right? I want to provide it with the best life possible. But what if it develops leukemia? Explain to me why my first thought when the pregnancy test came up positive was that maybe I should have another child that would match my firsts’ bone marrow – just in case? I shouldn’t think of using another baby as a means to an end, but there is so much uncertainty. Am I a coward? Who calls me villain? Maybe my second child would, since nature cannot choose his origin. I fully believe in the capability of humans to save lives through science. That’s why I work here, but even though we have the power, how can some mother be okay with an altered, non-natural baby? My father would say it’s a fault to heaven, a fault against the dead, a fault to nature.” I grabbed my head and bellowed, “But God dammit… I’m a scientist! Eva, forget you’re a woman by nature and realize that you’re doing a service. You are ensuring another family’s happiness and bettering generations to come!” My shoulders shook with repeated failure to compose myself. The heated feeling in my forehead became overwhelming. The fluorescent lights intensified and a spectrum of color overcame the room. Black speckled the image of Drake in front of me. Where was the pain coming from? Ah, I realized. It’s coming from

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my abdomen. Frailty, thy name is woman. That was the first thing I thought when I awoke in my bed each morning afterwards. I didn’t want to go back to the lab. I couldn’t leave home. The sensation I experienced in Drake’s office led to debilitating cramping and excessive spotting. I knew I had lost it; it had only been three weeks. Everyone told me not to blame myself. My OBGYN told me that, contrary to common belief, miscarriages happen fairly often. It was due to mismatched chromosomes. See? I was right, I thought. Random fertilization doesn’t ensure success. I hid under the covers and closed my eyes. “Addy, I should have been more careful. I’m sorry,” I said. I was expecting his response to echo those I had been hearing. It did. He responded in a soothing voice, “Eva, it’s not your fault.” But I knew it was. I should never have trusted my own body. I knew it from the moment my father was diagnosed with leukemia. I knew it from the moment my child was conceived. In a way, I had killed my own child. Or maybe God had mercilessly taken it from me. I stopped praying. Unstrung rosary beads rolled around the drawer of my bedside table. All I wanted was to revenge his foul and most unnatural murder. I would find a way. Improving genetics was the only answer. The human race would someday overcome the trials created by God, if one did exist. At the very least, we would overcome disease and deformity. *** 2 Years Later “Congratulations, Eva!” said the OBGYN. “It looks like one of the eggs has taken hold. You are going to be a mother!” “I won’t miscarry again, right?” I asked uneasily. “I can’t guarantee it, but avoid bacterial infections, don’t smoke or drink, and maybe stay out of the lab for a bit to ensure you and your child aren’t exposed to any toxins,” she said.

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Of course I wouldn’t expose my baby to any chemicals prior to birth. What was I going to do? Poor poison in his ear? Drake already granted my request for paid maternity leave. In fact, I was being paid to have my child: a male, guaranteed to live a life free of the horrors of cancer. He was going to be a product of mitochondrial manipulation, the first child ever legally born in the United States using this method. I’d done it. I’d fulfilled both of my roles as a mother and scientist perfectly. I thought Adam would be a nice name. I called my father with tears of joy streaming down my face. “Hey, dad, guess what? I have a bone marrow match for you…”

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Shrouded Lily Fauver

I

t’s getting dangerous for you to stay there. After

what happened, there’s too much fear and blame… blame that could get you killed. The attacks came from outside the country, but that’s not what you have to worry about. The event has caused the US to fester from within, all the ideals America stands for are rotting away. People are profiling, if a woman is wearing a headscarf, she’s the enemy. If a man is named Muhammad, he’s the enemy. Aida, I just don’t want you hurt, everyone is scared and they can’t think rationally — they don’t know who or what’s out there. That is why I’ve bought you a plane ticket- you’re coming back home so you can live here and feel safe. You don’t have a choice, as your father, I am requiring it.” Standing in front of a mirror, just back from a tough spin class and still stressed from the past week, I wipe off my makeup and mull over my father’s words. This façade of foundation, blush, eyeshadow, and kohl, recently marred by the sweat, has been a necessary mask for me recently to hide my more Arab features. I examine myself thoroughly. I have always thought of myself as American, even looking the part, wearing the low-cut workout tops and spandex commonly worn by women here. Sometimes it’s hard not to fall into the popular patterns for women here of wearing sexualized clothing, and then judging others for wearing the same thing. While staring at my reflection I notice the skull in the center of my own tight shirt. I remember thinking it was a cute design when I first purchased it, but after recent events, I’m starting to realize that it’s just another reminder of death and the inevitability of it all. I may think of myself as completely American, but I guess my father is right, others do not. I spent my whole childhood in

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the United States, growing up with English as my first language. I ate grilled cheeses and pb&js for lunch growing up, and before my parents moved back home, I decided to spend the next four years studying at Barnard College. This was where I really became aware that outside my supportive campus people focus on features rather than what’s in my mind. In the back corner of my head, my father’s words take root. Even though the country prides itself on equality, and definitely does better than many other countries, there isn’t always equality. Muslims are being targeted, I, as a woman, get judged for what I wear and objectified, and many perpetrators don’t even realize their subtle statements are wrong. “Though I am native here and to the manner born, [true equality is sometimes] a custom more honored in breach than in observance” (Hamlet, 1.4.14), and islamophobia seems to be the latest habit. Not that I have the option to disobey, I decide listening to my father and willingly move to Dasht-i-Qaleh will be safer for me. My full name is Aida-Abdia Youssef — ironic, I know. Maybe even prophetic in hindsight. But this was very contradictory to my lifestyle when I was living in the US. I was not the “returning slave of Allah” that my parents had deemed me at birth. My earliest memories are all from my time in America. I grew up like any average teenager here; I spent my time listening to Britney Spears, and other pop singers, and watched only American TV shows. The furthest I ever went in showing roots outwardly while living in New York, was wearing the occasional headscarf during family events. My parents are both very religious, but having lived my whole life in predominantly agnostic areas within the US, I had never seen the draw. I considered myself modern, and like all my American friends, I too wore bikinis and bodycon dresses. I liked to be valued for my intelligence but unfortunately, after Barnard, realized that people often held the belief that my outfits defined that. I felt comfortable wearing what I wanted to wear and learned that despite what other people might say, looks don’t define a person. At Barnard that lesson became my slogan. I am equal.

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Right from the beginning, my time at the all-women’s college showed me what it was like to be supported by all my peers. They looked to me as a leader, and as a meaningful contributor to the community. My self-esteem and sense of inner worth allowed me to pursue a nursing degree, and each goal I set for myself was a thrilling challenge to overcome. I was confident, that is, until I received my father’s call. After Tuesday, September 11th, when the planes struck the twin towers, and the city rushed to the rescue, I had to leave. When the smoke finally dissipated and people were still searching for the bodies among the ruins, fear permeated the air. The threat of retaliation was a danger that worried of my father. And so I returned to the small village of Dasht-i-Qaleh in Afghanistan where my father was born. It was there that my life was turned upside down, or I should say was shrouded, as many women still are here, by men and the habits developed during the time of the Taliban. The village here is very rural, made mostly up of farmers who practice their own interpretations of the Quran. Although it’s more relaxed now than it was, many people still follow traditional behaviors from the time of the Taliban. Women are often taught that their purpose in life is to please men. Every facet of life in Dasht-i-Qaleh has been difficult to adjust to since I first moved. Nevertheless, the most egregious change has not been the clothing, nor the lack of technology, or even the fact that I, a graduate of a liberal women’s college, have had to witness so few girls receive a proper education. It is instead the theft of rights I once took for granted. Not everyone has to wear a burqa anymore, as it isn’t required outside the house. Unfortunately, outside the bustling city of Kabul, not much has changed since the Taliban left; there is not enough growth or movement for these highly religious and often uneducated villagers to change their deep-rooted opinions. So most men still make their wives wear them. I believe that sometimes women just wear full burqas out of habit, but whenever I have

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asked any about it, they refuse to tell me and think that I want to get them in trouble with their husbands. Everyone that is except for my best friend and neighbor, Aziz. She was my touchstone, and made moving to this completely foreign place manageable. Having grown up in the US, I was raised to believe that I have a place in this world. But I often started to doubt that. It was Aziz that I always went to for support and confirmation. So many girls here learn that they serve no purpose but to please men, she helped me remember that isn’t true. Girls are forced to disappear until they are just folds of black cloth behind a mesh screen. But Aziz helps me remember the lessons I learned during my time at Barnard, I am reminded that I am equal; “call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me� (Hamlet, 3.2.364). I know my power in this world, even if it has been diminished here. One facet of life in Afghanistan that has loosened my chains is the knowledge that I am helping other women. When I first became close to Aziz, I told her about how much I missed nursing and she recommended that I volunteer in the closest hospital. This way, I would fulfill a crucial role in helping women receive proper treatment, while still doing something I love. I am able to step in and actually make a difference in the lives of those who have far less than me. Unlike many other women I was fortunate enough to receive a good education. After realizing how rare that is here, I started tutoring some of the little girls in the village for free so that like their brothers, they will be able to know how to read, and learn to think critically. That way, if their parents force them into an early marriage, they will have a more balanced role than many women have throughout the country. But despite all that I have sacrificed, the change that saddens and infuriates me the most is the loss of my right to bike. In NYC, I rode my bicycle around the city every day and I went to spin classes constantly, it was my favorite way of exercising; I

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felt a sense of freedom as I explored the streets for little wonders and secret havens. The steady pedaling was meditative, leaving time for me to be alone with my thoughts. I never thought of it as a privilege, until moving here. In Afghanistan, although as of recently it is no longer banned for women, biking is thought of as sinful for us. “How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world” (Hamlet 1.2.133), now that I cannot take part in the one activity that meant the most to me at home. One of my greatest pleasures, I once thought of as a release to all my stress, yet now is only a reminder of everything I have lost. Biking has always equaled freedom for me; from the first moment I learned to pedal on my own as a child, I was off. I felt like king of the streets. I decided recently that I was going to break away from the confining ideas of this country and take control of my life. The first time back on my bike, felt like flying. I went to Aziz and she was overjoyed, “Aida that is so exciting! Could you teach me in secret? I can’t believe how brave you are!” Her response pushed me, and I became more courageous. Then one day I was out on my own riding my bicycle, not even wearing spandex, but the loose fitting outfit and hijab I had grown accustomed to exercising in here, down a rural highway when it happened. A group of motorcyclists drove up to me and began yelling at me, they called me a sinner, and one even veered into me so that I had to swerve to get out of the way. I lost my balance, and fell violently into the dirt and they just sped off. I returned home and went to my father, sobbing, in pain, and distraught over being insulted for doing something I loved. I had never considered biking a privilege and looked to my father for the reestablishment of my beliefs as Aziz often had done for me, inexcusably he did not support me but instead turned to me enraged, as if I were in the wrong. “Aida, sometimes you need to think before doing something like that, not only are you doing an obscene and

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inappropriately sexual sport not meant for women, but you didn’t even care to realize that those men were probably trying to help you! Maybe it’s time I found a husband for you.” I was shocked but I’ve realized, “so oft it chances in particular men that grace his virtues else, be they pure as grace, shall in the general censure take corruption” (Hamlet, 1.4.23). Could my father, a man I long looked up to really believe that I need to be controlled by a husband? “Out of my weakness and my melancholy as he is very potent with such spirits, abuses me to damn me” (Hamlet, 3.1.540). Yet how can I fight back when he is the head of our household and in charge of all my means of escape? “Am I a coward? Who calls me villain?... I am pigeon livered and lack gall to make oppression bitter” (Hamlet, 1.2.510). Then I remembered what Aziz said to me when my depressive spouts started. So I turned to him, and with all the poison I could muster insisted, “father, you said that I needed to move here for my own safety. You said that I would be hurt if I stayed in America. Yet here, I have been harmed and more shackled than I ever was there. Why should I not ride like you can?” I have realized that by riding my bike, I am a public symbol of female freedom, and that is what the men here are scared of. But maybe the sight of me upon my throne of liberation, will one day give other girls the idea that they deserve equality. “Who would fardels bear to grunt and sweat under a weary life?” (Hamlet, 3.1.76). I will take off the cloth that shrouds me and end my father’s tyranny. “Now all occasions do inform against me and spur my revenge! What is a man?... A beast, no more” (Hamlet, 4.4.32). I will perform my final act in front of the village, I will “make mad the guilty and appall the free, confound the ignorant and amaze indeed the very faculties of eyes and ears” (Hamlet, 2.2.502). I pedal forward, feeling the rhythm steading my racing heart. Then I look to my left, and there is Aziz, as always by my side and I start to gain confidence. Then on my right I am flanked

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by another girl. And slowly more join until we are not just a few, but an entire army, fighting for this right. I tear off my headscarf and cry out, “we are change and we will rise!” I look to the faces on either side of me, clutching their bike, their path to freedom, and when I smile I feel the sun shining a little brighter. These people on either side of me are no longer the scared girls I met when I first came from New York City — they are the women who chose to fight along with me.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

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A Letter to My Sister Georgia Greene

D

María, My first memory took place a few years before you were born, when I was just four years old. Mamá and Papá brought me to Miami Beach to see the Fourth of July fireworks. We had sprawled out a red and white striped towel on the sand. Mamá and Papá sat cross-legged on the towel, and I lay with my head resting on Papá’s lap. I kept my chubby hands clamped tightly over my ears for the majority of the celebration in an attempt to block out the thunderous noise, but I became mesmerized by the beauty of the fleeting flashes of light in the sky. The noise didn’t matter as much anymore. I looked up at our parents, and saw that Mamá was resting her head on Papá’s shoulder. They were both humming a song that I had learned in school, and to impress them I chimed in with the lyrics: “Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” This country was always special to Mamá and Papá. They loved it so much, and they taught me to love it too. One morning, again before you were born, I woke up to Mamá bustling around my room. She was carrying a puffy dress in one hand and combing through my closet with the other. She grabbed a pair of patent leather shoes and a bright white cardigan from my closet and laid them on my bed. She kissed my forehead, smiling: “Today is a big day, sweetheart. You have to put these clothes on, okay?” I pulled on the dress. It was bright blue and so stiffly ironed that I felt like I could barely move. Mamá brushed my long, dark hair and braided it into two waist-length pigtails down my back, tying red ribbons on the end of each. We got in the car and drove to a massive, official-looking building. I craned my neck to see the top, where an American flag was flying. We were ushered into a big room with ear

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shiny floors, where the soles of my shoes squeaked with every step. I twirled around and jumped up and down to see what other sounds they would make, but Papá put his hand on my shoulder, tacitly telling me to stop. A bunch of strangers I had never seen before walked in, and then one little boy climbed up onto the slippery leather chair next to me. His hair was all shiny and slicked back, and he was wearing a suit. It took me a second to realize it was Horatio. You know him; he’s the boy that lives right next door. During our usual play dates he would have dirt on his face and would be wearing a ripped tee shirt, so I barely recognized him in this big fancy building. We talked about school and soccer until a bald white man wearing glasses told us to be quiet. The rest of the ceremony is blurry in my memory. The adults in the room said a bunch of big words I didn’t understand, the bald man shook their hands, my parents hugged and kissed, Horatio’s parents hugged and kissed, and they came over to us and did the same. They took us to get ice cream and we went back to Miami Beach in our fancy clothes to eat it. When we got home, my father pinned a tiny American flag to the lapel of his jacket. He looked down at me and said, “We’re real Americans now, mija.” While Mamá and Papá are so proud of their Mexican heritage, I knew that they were even more proud to become citizens of the United States. When I was growing up they always told me about how America was the land of opportunity, where everyone had a voice, and those voices were valued. Everyone was accepted here. Even as a girl who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household with two Mexican parents, I was still as American as anyone else because there was no one definition of a true American. We used to have a tape called Schoolhouse Rock that I loved watching. There were a bunch of fun songs they would sing about history, math, and English, and little cartoon people would sing and dance around. I was fascinated by the American history songs, like “I’m Just a Bill” and “The Preamble,” and my favorite one was always “The Great American Melting Pot.” The song told

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me that Americans came from all over the world, and that anyone who really wanted to could become a true American. In 2008, a few years after Mamá and Papá became citizens, when you were just a little baby, they brought us both to go vote with them. It was an exhilarating experience for all of us, because it was their first time voting in the presidential election. Papá brought me in to the voting booth with him, and pointed to one of the names on the wall. “Can you read that?” he asked me. I could. The name said Barack Obama. “We are going to vote for that man,” Papá said. He let me pull the lever, and we hugged and exited the booth, where we joined Mamá, who was holding you in her arms. You were wearing a little t-shirt with an American flag on it, and we both got little stickers that said “I voted!” From that moment on, I eagerly anticipated the day when I would get to vote on my own. As I grew, I became increasingly invested in American culture. I was genuinely interested in my United States history classes and devoured books by the great American authors. I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird more times than I can count. You’ve seen my copy of it. By now both covers have fallen off and there is practically no blank space in the margins from all of my notes. Most of our family pets have been named after American presidents, and I have dressed up as Betsy Ross, Clara Barton, and Eleanor Roosevelt for Halloween. Looking back on it now, maybe my obsession stemmed from insecurity. Horatio and I were the only ones at Elsinore Elementary School that were the children of immigrants. Maybe I wanted to prove that I was just as American as everybody else, despite my dark skin and hair and my Hispanic name. When I turned eighteen last year, I was so excited about my eligibility to vote in the 2016 election. I would have my voice heard by my country, and be able to see what kind of impact I, a young Mexican-American girl in Florida, could make on my country. I closely followed the election as time passed, and with

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each passing day the news became more unpredictable. I was most shocked by Republican candidate Donald J. Trump. Mr. Trump is contradictory of every definition that I have for what it means to be an American. He is not accepting of American society’s diverse melting pot. He targets various ethnic groups, ours being one of them. He assumes that all people of Mexican descent illegally immigrated to this country, treating us like parasites sucking in all of the resources that are meant for the “real” American citizens. He wants to build a wall along the Mexican-American border to keep people like us out. Not only is he not inclusive of different races, but he also disrespects women. He may as well erect billboards that read in large letters: “Frailty, thy name is woman!” His success on the campaign trail was bewildering to me. Why were people voting for this man? What was appealing about him? I am still not able to identify a redeeming quality about him. Papá would always say to me: “[He] shows a will most incorrect to heaven, a heart unfortified, a mind impatient, an understanding simple and unschooled.” As more Republican candidates dropped out of the race, my surprise and confusion increased. Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, and Ted Cruz dropped one by one, but I strongly felt that when Trump faced the Democratic nominee, the results would be very different. I was confident that my country would choose the right person for this job. We had just elected our first black president eight years ago, which showed me that any person of any race could be elected. We had yet to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling and elect a female leader, and this election seemed as good a time as any to do so. I figured that most Americans shared my belief in what our country stood for. When we got to November 8, they would do the right thing and elect the person that they knew would support everyone in this country, rather than just the white men. The white men are not what make America unique, it is the diversity that we have and the acceptance that we promote. We needed someone who would support that.

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Looking on the Internet and combing through social media usually increased my optimism. I saw far more #imwithHer posts than I saw posts supporting Trump, further manifesting my strong belief that the Americans would do the right thing in the end. I particularly liked one of my Facebook friends’ posts, which stated, “Do not believe in his vows, for they are brokers, not of that dye which their investments show, but mere implorators of unholy suits, breathing like sanctified and pious bawds the better to beguile.” I hoped that people would be perceptive to Trump’s seductive strategy, making radical promises that he would never be able to accomplish but were very attractive to a narrow, specific group of people. Papá and Mamá were just as worried as I was. The three of us would watch the debates together, after you went to sleep, and Papá would run his fingers over his American flag pin, repeatedly turning it in his hands as if he was trying to see his country from an angle that he had never noticed before, like it would help him to understand this strange phenomenon. I knew some of the men at Papá’s office supported Trump, and it angered him. I asked Papá frequently if he would confront them about their political beliefs, but he did not want to start an argument at work: “But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue,” he would say. On November 8, 2016, we both went with Mamá and Papá to the voting booth. You were around the age I was when I went with them to vote for President Obama. Papá let you pull the lever for Hillary like he had let me do for Obama, and I went into my own voting booth and did the same. I knew that by pulling the lever, I was not only voting for our country’s future, but I was voting for my future and yours. I wanted you to grow up seeing a strong female leading our country, not a misogynistic bigot. I grabbed my “I voted!” sticker, and stuck it onto my shirt next to the sticker that said “I’m with Her.” Papá gave his to you, and rubbed his American flag lapel pin. That night, I anxiously followed the election results. With

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each passing hour, as more of the polls closed, my heart beat faster. I was watching the television and simultaneously refreshing my phone and my computer to get the most updated information. Hillary had a strong lead at the beginning, but soon Trump started to come back from behind. The wind outside of the house was deafening, but I wouldn’t let it pull me away from the election. I stayed up late into the night, pacing the floor of the house. When Florida was called in favor of Trump I threw my phone against the wall. As Trump gained more electoral votes I shook my head in despair. When the election was called tears began to stream down my face. What did this mean for girls like me? What is our future in this country? Papá quietly stood up and went to his bedroom. Mamá stayed with me on the couch for a long time, holding me in her arms. While Trump’s winning the presidency was one reason that I cried, I mostly mourned my loss of faith in the American dream and the American people. If they believe in our melting pot, how could they elect this man? What are our country’s values? What do Americans stand for? What makes our country so special? There was a large part of me that felt completely hopeless. This man, who thought a “true American” was everything that we are not, will now be in the most powerful position in the country. There is nothing I can do to stop that from happening. You will have to grow up under a president that does not respect you, and I will have to deal with that. He has already showed me that the people in our country do not believe in or support people like us. The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed to watch the news. I turned on NBC, where I saw one anchor commenting on the future of America under a Trump presidency. The anchor commented: “He may not, as unvalued persons do, carve for himself; for on his choice depends the safety and health of this whole state. And therefore must his choice be circumscribed unto the voice and yielding of that body whereof he is the head.” This inspired some hope in me. While Trump may want to act on his own self-interest, and probably will for the most part, the people

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still have a voice. I can still vote, I can write letters to Congress, and I can talk to my peers about raising the next powerful generation of Americans, ensuring that we will elect better leaders for our country in the future. I can show America that the Mexican people do not all deserve to be shut out of the United States by a wall, and that a young Mexican girl can be confident, passionate, and intelligent. While Donald Trump is president, we can still fight, and if we fight hard enough for our people, we can protect them and make a difference. I hope that you cherish this letter once you are old enough to truly understand it and reflect upon it. I hope that you read it and reread it, and that it inspires you to protect yourself and fight alongside me. All of my love, Esperanza

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The Human Experience: Abstraction and Universality Alexander Guo

I

n digital logic and architecture,

multiple levels of abstraction and a complex system of hierarchy contribute to the final machine that we call a computer. When studying this, we are taught how atoms function in transistors, and then how transistors are used to create logic gates, up in a series of layers until we learn about operating systems, the highest level at which a computer operates. With each new concept comes a higher degree of abstraction (DoA), a hierarchal component that relies on the concept strictly below its degree of abstraction yet is unique in its function. In the human experience, this is also evident. Universal to all life, and thus at the lowest degree of abstraction is the living tendency for survival, central to the living experience in whatever form adapts best to the environment. For humans, a higher degree of abstraction leads to the distinct concepts of communication and human character (green in diagram), which are universal for all humans. Like in digital architecture, these concepts are built upon those of a lower degree of abstraction — communication and human character stem from the basic desire for survival, and are common to all humans. The concepts at the highest degree of abstraction, then, are language and personality, which build

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upon communication and human character, respectively. These concepts (purple in diagram) vary between individuals and even cultures, and serve as the surface layer of the human experience — our interactions with others are based purely in the form of our languages, verbal and visual, and our personalities — not on the more foundational concepts of communication, human nature, of survival. Language and the personality of its characters are also cornerstones of good literature and art, but as the highest level of abstraction, they are only surface-level concepts that serve as containers for the universal concepts of communication and human character, respectively, that are central to the human experience. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Xu Bing’s From Point to Point, Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams (film), and Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth help explain the universality — or lack thereof — of language and how it relates to communication and survival, and Cloud Atlas and Shakespeare’s Hamlet serve to connect personality with human nature and elucidate their roles in the human experience. Still, as mentioned, language, as the highest degree of abstraction, may not be universal — it builds upon communication, which is universal. Yet, here we define two types of language — representative and symbolic — where representative language directly depicts the message to be communicated, and thus is universal to all humans, and where symbolic language uses depictions with seemingly no connection to the message they correspond to, and thus is not inherent to all humans – such a language must be learned. As such, the inherent universality of language is dependent upon its type, but all language is used as a container for complex communication — communication that conveys emotion, tone, mood, and other attributes that are more than just a simple message. The message communicated is then evident of the instinct of survival in life, for communication is necessary for survival.

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To elucidate the concept of universality of language more clearly, we may take examples of both representative and symbolic language and examine their universality. English and its variants are without doubt symbolic — each of the words are purely symbols of concepts that are unrelated to the physical condition of the words. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is a brilliant example that investigates the non-universality of English — the language in each of its six different stories spanning hundreds of years of human history is markedly unique, lending evidence to the theory that the distinct dialects of English are not universal — they are not common to all humans throughout time. Tom Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth, too, is an example of the non-universality of symbolic language. Three distinct languages are used throughout the play simultaneously — English, “Shakespearean,” and Dogg — each causing confusion in others who speak another language. When Easy (a character who only speaks English at the beginning) arrives at a location where everyone speaks Dogg and listens to a radio, for example, he is genuinely confused: “EASY. (Bemused.) Do you mind if I ask you something. What wavelength are you on?” (26). Such confusion is evident of the non-universality of symbolic language. On the other hand, representative language is inherently universal. Cave art, as depicted in Werner Herzog’s film Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, is a method of communication that transcends the boundaries of time: “It’s a way of communication between humans and with the future, to evoke the past, to transmit information that is [a] better language than oral communication. And this invention is still the same in our world, today, with the camera, for example.” (Jean-Michel Geneste, Director of the Chauvet Cave Research Project (1:23:05)). This “invention,” the concept of communication inscribed on things is still relevant to us humans today, spanning geography and history. Xu Bing’s From Point to Point is a modern example of the same concept – pictograms, as representative language, are relatable to all humans

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(as long as one can relate to the physical objects that the pictures depict). Without regard for the universality of an individual language, each language is a method for complex communication, a lower degree of abstraction that is inherently universal to all humans. This complex communication transcends beyond simple message communication, and is able to depict concepts with more profound meaning. It is clear that conventional literature is capable of this type of complex communication: the purpose of analyzing English literature is extracting more profound meaning from texts. Art and other languages, however, are also capable of complex communication. The rhinos painted tens of thousands of years ago in Chauvet Cave, for example, “…tell us stories…You see that the two rhinos there are fighting. You can see all the signs of fury towards each other. The movement of their legs, which are thrown forward, and you can almost hear the sound of their horns colliding against each other in the movement of the fight…” (Dominique Baffier, Archaeologist, Curator of Chauvet Cave (41:30)). Here, the painting evokes a violent mood and provides complex sensory information, evidence that language is a container for such

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complex communication. Xu Bing’s From Point to Point, too, is a reminder that even pictograms that we like to call “emojis” may communicate more than just simple messages. After Mr. Black’s long day, his walk home at night is surprisingly serene, as evident from the calm mood it evokes (see “quote” of pictures below). The repetition of footsteps and the glance up at the stars stimulates feelings of untroubled tranquility for ¬¬the reader, and thus complex communication is possible in this type of art. The hierarchy of human experience contains survival at its lowest degree of abstraction, so it is pertinent to examine how language, which provides complex communication, derives from its foundations: survival. In Sloosha’s Crossin’ an’ Ev’rythin’ After (Cloud Atlas), for example, Zachry’s “fight or flight” response is initiated first by the use of language (communication): I was squattin’ in a thicket o’ ironwood trees upgulch when sudd’nwise eyes on me, I felt ‘em. “Who’s there?” I called, an’ the mufflin’ ferny swallowed my voice. Oh, a darky spot you’re in, boy, murmed the mufflin’ ferny.

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“Name y’self” shouted I, tho’ not so loud. “I got my blade, I have!” (239). Note that despite the strange language, Zachry calls out “Who’s there?” and “Name y’self” as an instinct of survival. This is relatable to all humans, and indeed, all life, and thus the concept of survival, manifested in part by language, is inherently universal. Jean-Michel Geneste, Director of the Chauvet Cave Research Project, explains that humans adapt communication to our surroundings for survival, lending further evidence to the universality of survival: “Humanness is a very good adaptation in the world. So the man’s society needs to adapt to landscape to the other beings, the animals, to other human groups. And to communicate something” (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 1:23:05). Language is a container for complex communication, and complex communication is necessary for survival. In this way, half of the hierarchy of the human experience is evident — language, as the highest level of abstraction, may not be inherently universal (although representative language is), but is merely a method of communication, which is universal. Both language and communication are, however, manifestations of the living, universal tendency for survival. The other half of the hierarchy of the human experience, as mentioned, pertains to personality and its container, human nature. Individual personality and even culture, which includes traditions, beliefs, and values of a group of people, are not universal, but are mere manifestations of human nature, which is universal — beneath every person’s surface-level layer of disposition lies a common thread that remains constant in all humans regardless of time and geography. In Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell explores the inherently deceitful, predatory, and selfish nature of humans regardless of their outer dispositions in each of the six stories. In The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing, Henry Goose is depicted as a helpful

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medic, curing Adam of his sickness. Yet, it is revealed at the conclusion of the story that Henry is in fact poisoning Adam so that he can steal Ewing’s riches upon his death. Henry additionally generalizes this behavior to all humans: “The world is wicked. Maoris prey on Moriori, Whites prey on darker-hued cousins, fleas prey on mice, cats prey on rats, Christians on infidels, first mates on cabin boys, Death on the Living. ‘The weak are meat, the strong do eat’” (503). In Letters from Zedelghem, Robert Frobisher laments the deceitful nature of humans before he commits suicide: “People are obscenities. Would rather be music than be a mass of tubes squeezing semisolids around itself for a few decades before becoming so dribblesome it’ll no longer function… Time cannot permeate this sabbatical. We do not stay dead long” (470471). Here, Frobisher claims that humans are deceitful throughout history, and time cannot “permeate this sabbatical.” “We do not stay dead long,” because this inherent nature of humans is always present. In An Orison of Somni-451, Somni-451 comments on the state of “purebloods,” the higher class of citizens in a dystopian future society: “I said how all purebloods have a hunger, a dissatisfaction in their eyes” (469-570). Here, this “hunger” and “dissatisfaction” is perhaps a reference to the inherently predatory nature of purebloods. As such, Mitchell claims that humans are universally deceitful, predatory, and selfish, and outward-facing personalities are only a mask for these attributes. In Shakespeare’s classic Hamlet, Hamlet’s personality is also only a disguise for underlying attributes of universally applicable human nature. In the play, Hamlet seems to be extremely calculated, frequently contemplating about a variety of matters. For example, in the “to be or not to be” soliloquy, Hamlet delves into the concept of mortality at a profound level: “…To die, to sleep; / No more; and by a sleep to say we end / The heartache and the thousand natural shocks / That the flesh is heir to, ‘tis a consummation / Devoutly to be wish’d / … / But that the dread of something after death, / The undiscover’d country from

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whose bourn / No traveler returns, puzzles the will” (III.1 60-64, 78-80). Such a conflict between living and dying is the result from logical and emotional exploration of the benefits and drawbacks of either state, and thus inhibits his ability to use the same degree of effort on creating a specific plan for revenge against Claudius, his primary goal in the play. When given an opportunity to kill Claudius, Hamlet thinks, and ultimately decides against his murder: “But in our circumstance and course of thought, / ‘Tis heavy with him; and am I then revenged, /To take him in the purging of his soul, / When he is fit and seasoned for his passage? / No” (III.3 83-87). Here, Hamlet’s contemplative outward personality masks his inner attribute of passive indecision , an aspect of human nature where Hamlet’s contemplative efforts on distractions inhibits the creation for an actual plan of revenge. This other half of the hierarchy of human experience provides an explanation for the variety of human personality despite hints of common attributes universal to all humans. Personality is a container for human nature, which reflects life’s tendency to survive. Such a hierarchal relationship is evidence of the diverse yet eerily similar nature of our species. Adam Ewing, Henry Goose, Robert Frobisher, Somni-451, Zachry, Mr. Black, cave painters, Easy, and Hamlet may speak different languages or dialects and have different personalities, but despite their vast differences in culture, time period, and geography, they share many common attributes. Each of the characters or people use language for complex communication, which is based upon the natural instinct of survival. Each of the characters or people also possesses common threads of human nature, based also upon the natural instinct of survival. This is how the human experience is defined. In this sense, we humans are all different, but in reality, we are also the same.

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Oedipus Rex: A Web of Truths Alexander Guo

S

ynthetization of the truth is frequently simple,

especially when access to knowledge is direct. Yet, when this piece of information is distant or extrem¬ely important, the synthetization process can be difficult and complex, due to an earnest desire to ensure that the information found is completely genuine. For example, I am relatively certain of my current location, my current age, and the classes I take, but a potentially extensive process may be required to extract such truths from an adopted child seeking his or her real parents. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus’ desires to understand who killed Laios, and

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later who Oedipus’ real parents are, cause him to obtain and deduce knowledge through a complex web of facts and information, an example of a difficult process of obtaining truths. Within this web, Oedipus frequently uses deduction through connection and corroboration of information to uncover these truths, displaying common techniques for determination of knowledge. Oedipus deduces information logically through connecting two distinct but related pieces of information at least five times (figure reference: light blue lines indicate connection and purple lines indicate deduction from that connection). Oedipus’ connections between facts of his own knowledge and information gathered from others are indicative of the presence of logic and its role in truth determination. Take, for example, Iocaste’s recount of King Laios’ death and Oedipus’ reaction: “Iocaste: ‘Laios was killed / By marauding strangers where three highways / meet’… Oedipus: ‘How strange a shadowy memory crossed my mind, / Just now while you were speaking; it chilled my / heart’” (38-39). His recollection of a memory decades ago that matches Iocaste’s delineation shows his ability to create this seemingly distant connection, which later leads to the understanding that he himself killed Laios. Even simple connection/deduction processes, such as connecting the fact that Oedipus killed Laios to the fact that Oedipus is Laios’ son and concluding that Oedipus killed Laios, is worthy to note because of its component in the larger web of information. As such, Oedipus’s ability to associate pieces of information with others and conclude facts from that are central to the complex web of information and the final truths that he deduces (figure reference: text in purple). Perhaps a greater revelation from the figure that contributes to its complexity is the tendency of humans to corroborate important pieces of information that they gain from outside sources with their own deduction (figure reference: red lines for corroboration/confirmation connections to earlier claims or prophecies). This is especially true when the important piece of

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information is undesirable. Tiresias claimed very early on that Oedipus killed Laios, but Oedipus did not believe this information was true until he corroborated it with his own deduction (64). Similarly, Oedipus did not believe any of the prophecies were true until he himself realized they were correct: “Ah God! / It was true! /All the prophecies! / -Now, / O Light, may I look on you for the last time! / I, Oedipus, / Oedipus, damned in his birth, in his marriage / damned, / Damned in the blood he shed with his own hand!” (64). In both these examples, the truth, which Oedipus did not want to believe was correct, was first observed by an outside source, and later confirmed by Oedipus’s own conclusions. The information web additionally shows that every deduction (purple text) that Oedipus produces is in fact simply a confirmation of an earlier claim or prophecy (red lines). This method of gathering information and confirming its authenticity is not only central to Oedipus’ process in discovering truths, but significant in human nature as a whole. Humans tend to suspect pieces of information they do not want to believe in until they themselves prove it to be true. Such a process contributes to the complexity of truth determination. Human nature is without doubt complex, but the desire to seek the truth is common to all. Yet, the process of seeking the truth varies from a simple Google search or visual confirmation to an intricate web of witness inquiries, historical evidence, and logical deduction. Oedipus’ quest to uncover Laios’ murderer and Oedipus’ true parents lead him through this elaborate network of information, in which deduction from connection of facts and corroboration of earlier claims to these deductions play an important and decisive role in the formation of truth. This tendency and process in truth determination is perhaps resonant of human nature regardless of time and geography.

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Dancers Nathan Chong Summer’s mid-day is doused in promiscuity. The spotlight shines for so long, with such glamor, that everyone has the chance To strut and frolic. Aberrant gusts sprinting across the cityscape screeching along Dry bones and glass before idling into urban conservatories, Tiptoeing between trunks and crawling among ferns, They are the hermaphroditic earthwork and the scampering mousedeer Seeping into the earth and inflating the crevices between roots and boulders. They whistle when they speak. When mantle deflates and magma finally bursts through the earthen umber, They are the sparrow and the nuthatch Sifting over hourglass ponds and descending headfirst down the body , Beaks like cold fingers, index and thumb pinching, Tugging at the hems of fabric like ghostly scars on the cornea. Their days in rusty warehouses provide fair haunting. We love to face the wind, to walk into the gust and feel seersucker billow out like Blooming sunflowers, Like skirts around salsa dancers that fly up and curl because of the heat. We love it — We love to flaunt mother’s advice to push against her push, to pull away from

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Her restraints. In the pond, cattails and tendrils stand at attention, Straight shot out of the shifting mosaic while felines and creatures Dive for pearls and mice amidst the murky veil. Leaves scatter like paint swarming to the canvas as my outstretched arm Disrupts their peace. *** Snowfall is rain in slow motion, each drop cascading in crystal torrents. Tropical showers know not the individuality those oozing spheres Precipitate and smack into flesh, flushing life into foliage, Pummeling beauty into breath. But not snow, oh no, Individuality is too precious to sacrifice for breath. Each flake is its own permutation of polygons and fractal lattices. They shine with Exacerbated tremor when a few choose to perch coagulated on the dark sleeve of Your coat. Standing in the blank filling it in from the effervescent glow Of the lone Victorian lamp That is my happy place. Witnessing their fall, you’ll see their unison, Their drilled and perfected march that carries each flake in common vector to The surface, To our toes, the barren maple fingers curled and contracted in the cold Frosted cowlicks of lawned suburbia — Outstretched tongues of the innocent. Every so often one drifts down the meandering course,

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Rubs shoulders, and is jostled in the frosted fray In the name of kinship before Venturing off the worn trail into swinging antagonistic motion. She tumbles out of place, a cube falling from the rubric, a stray strand of sea foam Caught in the coastal breeze. She is whisked in between palms, Floating out of context, looking for the grasp of the index and thumb. She falls bursting, seething against the wind, not knowing where or what defines the Term destination, until she realizes that realistically she never knew. In this dragon dance, what she once thought safety was simply The bolstering reassurance of collective fate — what she had assumed was support. *** So I sit on the hill facing the light alone, Looking down, waiting — Waiting for cats to emerge covered in moss, lichen, and ice from the lukewarm Summer. Their tails are as attentive as ever; I wane. My wristwatch ambles through its circadian rhythm. Waxing sun bends over, stretching to touch its toes, its body contorted, A sighing rainbow Struggling against submersion, fighting to stay awake, its eyelids ebbing shut, The croons of sleep threatening to pull light under the watershed. I stir from my lounge. Tails quiver, antennae signal my vertebrae to stand at attention, preaching Preparation, ready to witness the shivering feline emerge with its prey.

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Instead, green jewelry is studded into fur; it perches atop mammalian skyscrapers, Iridescent crystal refracting sunset — The emerald staff sways, dependent pendulum of clockwork, Twitching like the heart falling in love for the first time, Precipitating slowly, And then crashing down all at once. Curtains of diamond, two fluttering pairs oscillate, Single blink, magnificent spasm of summer foliage. Dreams escape like helium from a pin and a balloon. I’m left grasping at shadows and lingering aftertastes, Trying to recall reaching out, when two dragonflies swarm past my perspective, Showing up like the onset of sleep, Engulfing my presence, two intertwined singularities, barely sentient, Lives that consist only of desire. They hover. Conjoined emeralds contort their bodies into dance. Sheets of harmonizing crystal beat the ether to keep them afloat, To keep them alive. Watching them tango, foxtrot, waltz and salsa, Do I crave what they possess? These beasts with the compound eyes that found each other on the pomp of a cat’s Tail they sway inseparably — Do I crave that inseparability? Enthralled with adoration, I lumber with a drunken stagger, Chasing perfection to the surface, watching entropy come to a halt. Panting emeralds rest on a lily, Green mosaic mirage. Unfortunate doe caught in the thong of tormenting headlights, I stare transfixed, Planted, while weeds entangle my feet until the Thrush of setting sunlight bears into my corneas leaving scars that resonate Like sleep.

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Subconscious musings snap away as I rally, Tear away from the bramble as twilight emerges to look for its shadow. Before it returns to its burrow, I look back at the lily. Only one dragonfly sits there, staring. It’s waiting for something — Someone. Looking for that which will never come. A knot untied, it lies there in wait, shivering as night falls on it like scissors. I stare a moment longer before turning to leave, but not without a buzzing in my ear; I swear I hear the sound of that other dragonfly flying, Fluttering into the tundra, looking for his snowflake, knowing that she still drifts, Still falls, In a different direction.

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I Am a Part of Other People’s Fairy Tales Celia Hurvitt

J

une is here and it does,

in many ways, feel like a fairy tale. The way the sea sparkles below the rocky cliffs, bracing itself for the summer. The birds are whipped into an expectant frenzy. As the days warm and lengthen, the city dwellers, the artists, and the writers, scuttle away from their real lives and into mine. People have mixed feelings about the migration. Some welcome them with open arms, their businesses clinging onto the possibility of staying open for one more season. Others keep their heads down and try to ignore the invasion until fall, when they can go back to their everyday lives. Nevertheless, we all feel it. By the time I return home, the whole circus is in full swing. At first the world seems to be offering itself up to the people’s delight. It rains a couple times a week, keeping the mossy beds of the forest green. The water is just cold enough to keep the crowds on the beach to a dull roar, the bites of the black flies still vicious enough to keep the dream based in reality. Everything is solid, shiny, and perfectly painted together. My bird bone body starts out pale and fragile. Accustomed to sitting in straight backed chairs, eyes accustomed to straining open poring over books, hands accustomed to fumbling with pencils. Gradually the strength returns. My shoulders broaden from carrying crates of produce, my hands crack in the dry soil, my fingers swell so much that I slide off my suffocating silver rings and give up cleaning the dirt from under my fingernails. My shirts are soiled with sweat and muck, and I realize I don’t care because I no longer care about shirts. My skin browns and my hair lightens from the saltwater and sun. As the cool nights of June bleed into the endless days of July, I develop a routine. The mornings are for breathless swims

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in the ocean, a fleeting glance at the water as I drive to work. The days are for arriving at the farm with a wet bathing suit on, throwing on clothes, and feeling the sweat pour down my back as the sun creeps across the sky. When midsummer comes my friends and I stay up all day and night. We pitch tents on a starry beach, swim naked under the moon, cut our feet on barnacles and burn our food on the fire. Watching the sun rise to greet a seemingly pristine world, I have an overwhelming sensation that nothing will ever be like this again. That these days unfold surreal and numbered. July 14th, Bastille Day: I get a job working on the Hermione, a venerable French frigate that anchors in the harbor of Castine. The cocktail party is full of aristocrats from the Boston and New York Yacht clubs, the tallest people I have ever seen. As I weave around the crowded deck, balancing platters full of tiny food, a bottle of champagne at my hip, I do a little dance to keep my energy up. I deliver tiny Maine crab cakes to the tall people, and they toss up their hands in delight. I pour gold champagne into diamond glasses, as the tall people gleefully throw back their heads and laugh. As the night darkens and I round the deck with lobster rolls, a tall person grabs me by the back of my shirt. A leering smile comes close to mine and a demand for more tiny food hits me in the face. All the tall people are leering now, getting closer and closer, their dissonant laughter filling the night sky, their movements huge and reckless. I run down a ladder to the galley for a breath of fresh air. Too many reckless people. Too little space. These days unfold surreal and numbered. As everything is in excess, the beauty of summer is exhausting. It is like a weight on a back, comforting but impossible to keep. Like a sprint that can’t last forever. By August, things begin to respond. The water down at the beach becomes toxic, no longer safe for swimming. The rumor was that a large summer house’s sewage system started leaking, built to close to the shoreline. No more morning swims. The rain stops and drought takes over the forests, so I spend my time at the farm endlessly

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watering or trying to salvage the remains of the dried-up beds. My mom develops tendonitis from cutting cheese every day at the overcrowded shop. August 3rd: Phoebe is sick, so I take over the busy Saturday morning shift at the Wineshop. It is hot but without the comforting mugginess that usually accompanies the blast, it hasn’t rained in three and a half weeks. This is dry heat. A woman comes in dressed all in white, looking like she has all the time in the world. She lingers to talk to my mom for a while chatting about food for a party she is throwing. When she approaches the counter, she spots me out standing at the register. “Is that your daughter?” she asks, loudly.
 “Yes,” my mom replies.
 “Well, isn’t she beautiful!” Big smile, eyes straight ahead, merely an observation, not a compliment.
I hand the cappuccino across a wooden counter to the woman dressed in white, and I wonder, I am just a part of your fairy tale? A projection of what a girl in your vacation world should be? Am I just a twinkly smile with messy hair, or do I have cracked hands, strong legs, sleep behind my eyes? Do you see just my white teeth, or the roots that hold them there? When September comes, the projections fade away and leave the landscape to heal. The writers take their early morning paragraphs, their phrases of birdsong and tuck them back into the trunk of the car. The artists take their evening sunsets, the way the ocean kisses the helm of the lobster-boats, a sky full of crystal stars, packed up in a suitcase. The city dwellers, take a jar of sweet air for their friends who have never truly breathed. The kids take their scraped knees and calloused hands back to their classrooms. The aristocrats carelessly wrap their golden memories in flimsy cloth. And I try to take it all. Sometimes it hurts, stretches my stomach and lands heavy on my chest, because the fact is that I know all of this place like I know my own hands. I have seen it in

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the dull, aching cold of February. When the world feels so tired that it can barely lift its head in the morning. I have seen the sea set on fire, by the reflections of autumn leaves and a golden harvest moon. I have heard the cracking of ice on the bay, and the cries of anguish erupting from earth’s core as one more winter thaws too early, as one less rainfall drenches the forest, as one more person falls in love with this land and takes more than what was given. These days unfold surreal and numbered. As the world breaks into an Indian summer, I return to the cove. They said the toxins have dissipated; I go down to the water, just to make sure. Hand on the surface, I stroke its belly, try to feel the heartbeat that I am sure remains. The beauty falls on me fast and heavy. When I lose it, I don’t know what will happen. I feel as though my flesh will be ripped to bits by hunger, my bones will be desiccated and unhinged by thirst. The danger of too many people loving a fairy tale is that the hard exterior will crack in two, the shine will fade, it will no longer be perfectly painted together on a page. And I will be left a ghost, haunting what once was beautiful.

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ENGLISH DEPARTMENT DEERFIELD ACADEMY

DEERFIELD MASSACHUSETTS

Little Brown House Review 23  

A Journal of Writing by Students of English at Deerfield Academy. Fall 2017.

Little Brown House Review 23  

A Journal of Writing by Students of English at Deerfield Academy. Fall 2017.