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Little Brown House Review

A journal of writing by students of English at

DEERFIELD ACADEMY FALL 2019, ISSUE 25

DEERFIELD, MA


Issue Twenty-FIVE Editors: Eliza Mott & Anna Gonzales Design & Typography: Emily Richardson & Anna Gonzales, based on Robert Moorhead Department of English at Deerfield Academy   Christian Austin · Delano Copprue · Melissa Dickey · Anna Gonzales Karinne Heise · Sam Morris · Eliza Mott · Chinyere Odim · Mark Ott Mark Scandling · Julie Schloat · Michael Schloat · Andy Stallings Anna Steim · Joel Thomas-Adams · Kimberly Wright Cover Art: Talia Rajeskar, Class of 2021 Interior Art: Olivia Ontaneda, Class of 2003

© 2019 Trustees of Deerfield Academy & The Authors


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


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Table of Contents 11

Preface

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Real Invisible Hand: Deities and Subconscious in the Epics

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Selected Writings Colin Olson Winner of the 2019 Bartlett W. Boyden English Prize for excellence in the study of English

26 Hostage in the Home: The Male Gaze in Hawthorne and Poe 35

Selected Poetry Susan li Winner of the 2019 Robert McGlynn Award to a graduating senior for excellence in writing

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“She wears the bloomers in the family”: The Threat of the New Woman in Puck, 1895-1900

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Apoptosis, or the normal and controlled self-destruction of cells Lukas Trelease Winner of the 2019 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 family, 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.

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Senior Meditations 53

A Princess in the Middle of Nowhere and Everywhere Sydney Cox

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The Mirror Jada Howard

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The Black Swan CaM Taylor

Junior Declamation Winners 80

The American Language Samara Cummings

83

A Changing Climate Annabel gerber

85

Bridges Burned Sarah jung

The Breadloaf Prize 88

milkweed Sabrina Ticer-Wurr

Ninth Grade Declamation Winners 91

White Swan Sophia hamlen

93

Look at Me Arieanna Lewis-pUgh

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Tell Me That You Love Me Granger Savage

The 2019 John C. O’Brien Poetry Prize 98

You Give Thanks Lily zeng

Selected Writings: Class of 2022 101 Market Day Wyatt Browne 103 Portia's Revenge Jean Chun 105 Houses and Homes Darcy del real 107 Fickle Morality: The Hypocrisy Behind Bassanio's Regret in The Merchant of Venice Christian Odenius 109 The Divine Quality of Mercy Nate Zucker Selected Writings: Class of 2021 112 The Unadorned Uniform Oscar Depp 115 Moniker Daisy Dundas

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117 In the Cabinet Jing He 118 Red Was Never Lucky Natasha leong 125 Collecting Starlight Aneesha Mishra 128 The Other Side Jaxon Palmer 130 The Game of Life Aim Poonsornsiri 134 My Dearest Gwydion Isabella Rolfe 136 We Would Not Burn MIchelle Zimmerman Selected Writings: Class of 2020 138 American Airports Kareena Bhakta 140 The Art of Appearances: First Impressions Trisha Boonpongmanee 142 Deerfield Sonnet EThan Chen 143 Pride Molly FisCher

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145 Family Story Madeline Lee 148 Rooted in Comfort Nikita Pelletier 150 Sounds of Hysteria Jazmine Ramos 154 Evolution of Belief ARthur yao Selected Writings: Class of 2019 157 Birthright Sydney Bebon 166 The Death of the Chicago River Abby Bracken 174 Evening Train in Summer Sam Crocker 176 The Eyes of Iphigenia Colin Olson 182 At West Meadow Katie Parker 184 Shedding a Shadow Harbour Woodward

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PREFACE

A thoughtful loop results in voice,” my teacher proclaimed on the final day of a writing workshop at the beginning of this July. Her statement captured as succinctly as possible the exact work in which we are engaged every day in the Arms and beyond. In many of our classrooms, students’ Deerfield English careers begin with walking and describing the Small Loop itself, as they begin the work of finding a voice. Throughout our months or years together, students loop back to their annotations and notes, build those wonderings into first drafts, and shape them further into the polished works you will find in these pages. Many find their English studies concluding with the senior meditation, a deeply reflective act of circling back through one’s experience to find meaning and forge structure out of a fragmented experience. Thus, a thoughtful loop culminates in voice. Speaking of forging, this annual collection of exceptional student work derives its title from a literal little brown house on the south side of Albany Road. Storied English teacher Robert McGlynn long made his home there, as did, in the 1800s, a blacksmith. The pages that follow contain the fruits of our students’ looping, a year’s worth of discussions, reading, writing, drafting, and wondering — a year of our students ever further forging themselves. Of course, all of our students already possess a voice, a way of looking at and describing the world, while simultaneously, the work of locating and commanding that voice in a fulfilling fashion is never really completed. What a delightful, thoughtful loop that speaks herein. Anna Gonzales English faculty August 2018

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THE 2019 BARTLETT W. BOYDEN ENGLISH PRIZE

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Real Invisible Hand: Deities and Subconscious in the Epics Colin Olson “Who can glimpse a god who wants to be invisible here and there?” (Homer, Odyssey 10.630-31)

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eligion serves a multiplicity of purposes within contemporary society as wars are waged on behalf of gods and believers posture themselves as suppliants for supernatural strength or courage. Often times, religion is used as a vehicle through which to voice controversial political statements or to entertain moments of self-reckoning. Theology can, much like the crusades and reformations of old, manifest itself in the forms of weaponry and legislature rather than scripture and prayer. To say that every fundamentalist kills as the mouthpiece of a god, that ultra-conservatives oppose principles such as birth control because a deity works through them, and that a racial hierarchy exists as an external principle is not only absurd, but also negligent of the fact that these opinions are most likely personal vendettas clothed in the untouchable “truths” of the ether. This, however, is by no means a modern phenomena.The religion of the Ancient world, although different in its cultural implications and sense of worship, was similar in the sense that people felt compelled by gods and goddesses to not only act and speak in a certain way, but ultimately to shift their mental framework to encompass ideas of destiny and righteousness. At the center of the eternal Trojan War is the notion of holy conflict as it was, according to epic poetry and the existing oral tradition, merely a beauty pageant of goddesses that spurred on nearly a decade of slaughter and base animalism. Perhaps, the omnipresent moments of killing, hatred, and bigotry in

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the name of a god represent a side of human nature that the perpetrators cannot acknowledge; they desire to voice their atrocious feelings without declaring agency, without enduring culpability. Thus the notion of the invisible hand is brought to earth as mortals are shaped unknowingly by their subconscious rather than some external force; their inability to confront their own identity forces them to look for answers outside of themselves. In both the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer uses the notion of gods and goddesses as a narrative technique to frame the subconscious reckoning of Achilles and Odysseus with regards to their heroic identity as both straddle the fine line between an absolute sense of duty and the indulgence of human emotion with notable consequence. Odysseus, upon spotting Circe’s house from a vantage point on her island, shows signs of fear that are at odds with his heroic self, a contradiction he is able to recognize yet unable to rationalize. As Odysseus leaves his men to scout out the surrounding territory and to find signs of life, upon noticing smoke from Circe’s palace, he explains how, “Mulling it over, I thought I’d scout the ground— / that fire aglow in the smoke, I saw it, true, / but soon enough this seemed the better plan: / I’d go back to shore and the swift ship first, / feed the men, then send them out for scouting” (Odyssey 10.166-170). Having barely escaped the maws of the Laestrygonians, Odysseus chooses to subjugate his men rather than himself to potential terrors, an act wholly lacking the courage and selflessness expected of a hero. Upon returning to his camp on the beachhead of Circe’s island, Odysseus pretends to fairly draw lots to decide who should go explore the palace of the nymph, all the while fully bent on his plan to let his comrades trek out. After breaking the Greeks up into two platoons, Odysseus recounts how “I took one and lord Eurylochus the other. / We quickly shook lots in a bronze helmet— / the lot of brave Eurylochus leapt out first” (Odyssey 10.224-226). Thus, Odysseus shines light on his shameful deception; clearly, as he tries to mask his plans with a seemingly fair method of choosing, he recognizes the selfish14 

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ness of his unwillingness to investigate. Ultimately as his men are turned into swine by the spells of Circe, Odysseus reckons he must make a journey to Circe’s abode, claiming “‘Necessity drives me on’” (Odyssey 10.301). It is worth noting that Odysseus does not cite love or guilt as the reason for his setting out, but rather necessity as he desperately longs to remain a hero in his own eyes. Thus, the warrior has an understanding of his failure; he recognizes his transgression with the claim that, as a hero, it is absolutely necessary to undo his Judas-like act. As Odysseus finds himself on Circe’s island, he uses the manifestations of Hermes to engage in self-dialogue regarding his heroic nature, failing to claim ownership over his self-conscious disposition while endangering the lives of his brothers-in-arms. Although not specifically in reference to a deity, the trickster cites an external source as his compulsion to confront Circe, and he thus begins to remove himself from the tragedy his own aforementioned fear and corruption created. Odysseus, struck by fear at the prospect of being enchanted, believes to see the deity Hermes as he claims “...Hermes god of the golden wand / crossed my path…[he said] ‘But wait, I can save you, free you from that great danger. / Look, here is a potent drug’” (Odyssey 10.305-306, 317-318). Hermes is said to give Odysseus the plant Moly, only accessible to the gods. As the hero is never actually said to use the plant and recognizing its divine nature, it is possible that the image of Hermes serves mainly as a way for Odysseus to give himself a gift: courage. Perhaps even more important is Odysseus’ sense that, despite the unforgivable indifference he shows for the fate of his men, he feels that the Olympian gods still favor him and are in support of his course of action. Thus the hero uses the idea of a divine visitation to, much like the religious fundamentalists of today, validate his heinous crimes and to inspire his predetermined plan of travelling to Circe’s palace. Odysseus also superimposes his selfish desires upon divine will in his interactions with the nymph herself. Upon surviving the initial Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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encounter with Circe and making love to the nymph, Circe is said to have told Odysseus, “‘Now you are burnt-out husks, your spirits haggard, sere, / always brooding over your wanderings long and hard, / your hearts never lifting with any joy— / you’ve suffered far too much’” (Odyssey 10.509-512). Perhaps this is simply indicative of Odysseus convincing himself he may still remain heroic despite indulgences in otium, the leisures and pleasures the road to “Ithaka” has to offer. He desperately wishes to engage in this markedly un-heroic activity, so he uses a conjured image of a divine force to grant his desire while still protecting his savior potentiality. This belief in a divinely sanctioned break delays Odysseus’ journey home by a year as he not only forces his comrades to waste time abroad but also neglects his wife and Telemachus at home. Ultimately, Odysseus invokes both gods and goddesses to convince himself that he is a hero, justifying his mortal desires while forcing misfortune upon others. Achilles, scorned by Agamemnon, also uses a goddess figure in the form of his mother to negotiate his sense of honor with his human tendency to grieve and feel pain. Directly after Agamemnon takes his “war prize” Briseis, Achilles is said to have a conversation with his mother. Speaking to her tear-choked son, Thetis points out that he is destined for “‘...misery beyond compare’” (Homer, Iliad 1.439). Although this could literally mean Achilles’ fated death on the plains of Troy, this could also be read as Achilles’ subconscious reeling at the recent public embarrassment; Achilles wants to believe he is a hero, yet his forced submission to Agamemnon challenges his self identity and forces him to descend into chaotic rage. In the same address to her son, Thetis instructs him, saying, “‘You stay here, though, / Beside your ships and let the Greeks feel / Your spite; withdraw completely from the war...I’ll go...plead with [Zeus]” (Iliad 1.444-446, 451-452). Thus, through the idea of his mother, Achilles is able to substantiate his own grief while still believing in his heroic potential. He can believe he is listening to divine will as he sits on the sidelines of the brutal war without having to question whether his lack of fighting 16 

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makes him lesser than a common foot soldier. Although different in their means, Achilles here is analogous to contemporary radicals as he forces others to unknowingly endure unnecessary pain; his lack of presence on the battlefield undoubtedly cost many Greeks their lives and prolonged the bloody struggle at large. After substantiating his emotion via the guise of his goddess mother, Achilles, while still desiring to be heroic, then uses the conjuring of Thetis so that he might remove himself from his characteristic rage altogether following the death of Patroclus. Thetis, in asking her son to give back the body of Hector to Priam, says, “‘My son, how long will you let this grief / eat at your heart, mindless of food and rest? / It would be good to make love to a woman...Come now, / Release the body and take ransom for the dead’” (Iliad 24.138-140). Achilles thus reckons with his desire to no longer grieve, to once again become human rather than a merciless automaton guided by the hand of war and anger. The notion of making love is an archetypal representation of undiluted desire, shedding light on how this is Achilles himself vocalizing his wishes. Furthermore, these desires are all framed for the good of Achilles alone; he will give back Hector’s body not so much to stop the war as to let go of his personal sadness. Much like Odysseus, however, Achilles’ sense of divine intervention is two-fold in that it not only allows him to indulge in his emotional desire but also encourages his heroic self. As Achilles struggles with the grief derived from the loss of his brother-in-arms the image of his mother offers to retrieve divine armor for her son, inspiring his self confidence. Thetis, in seeking to develop a battle-ready Achilles, promises “‘...your beautiful armor is in the hands of the Trojans, / the mirrored bronze...Tomorrow I will come with the rising sun / Bearing beautiful armor from Lord Hephaestus’” (Odyssey 18.139-140, 145-146). Thus, Achilles uses the notion of his goddess mother to frame his future slaughter of Hector as irrevocably heroic when in reality he desires to assuage his sadness with blood. Achilles thus once again becomes the harbinger of death as his self-centered sentiments bring about mortal Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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consequences for those around him. Ultimately, Achilles relies on his mother to substantiate his emotional recoils and desire for revenge as he, through his own personal preferences, shapes the character of the Trojan War via his subconscious. Zachary Mason has explored the notion of gods and goddesses functioning as ideas rather than concrete beings in epic poetry before. Mason, in seeking to translate the tones and themes of the Odyssey rather than the ancient Greek text, creates a scenario in which Odysseus’ worldview is recognized as simply the work of a deity, not an actual happening. When creating a homecoming scene that would distaste the Ithacan hero, Mason writes “Then mercifully, revelation comes. He realizes that this is not Penelope. This is not his hall. This is not Ithaca—what he sees before him is some illusion, the deception of some malevolent god” (The Lost Books of the Odyssey, 5). Thus Odysseus fully engages with the idea of gods and goddesses shaping his experience; the deities become figures subjugated under the desires of a broken man in need of a sense of belief. Ultimately, if the gods and goddesses are simply coping mechanisms on behalf of ancient Greek heroes, they have the potential to highlight the internal state of affairs of such people more than exposition ever could. This skeptical reading of the epics is perhaps the most depressing. Homer, by highlighting timeless heroes with a fickle mind bent only on their gain at the expense of others, comments on the selfish tendencies of people, their almost comical ability to justify their own deeds and wishes. Would the Trojan War have been shorter without an Achilles? Would Odysseus’ men have reached home without the turnings of the trickster? Truly then, the Iliad and Odyssey are stories of individuals, much like the men and women of contemporary society, shaping their surroundings; they are neither accounts of war nor religious texts but rather psychological treatises exploring the very nature of our decisions.

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Fons Bandusiae Colin Olson

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could feel my feet hit the weather-worn asphalt in the staccato punctuation of my breath. The watermelon zipped tightly in my backpack bobbed to the rhythm of my gait; me, descending into the valley between an archaic town and an even older villa. This traversing of time was only more pronounced by the presence of overgrown, overly-neglected foliage turning the road into a sort of colonnade. The granules of dust and tuff crushed by the pilgrims before me found their way into my shoes and slowly diffused through my socks, resting in the valleys between my toes. Approaching the villa, I syllabled the poem I had memorized slowly and silently, finding each word among the ridges of my mouth. My ritualistic climbing to the supposed house of the Ancient Roman poet Horace represented a new form of Latin; a monkish desire to connect text to experience and to attach the amorphous and uncertain emotions embedded in O Fons Bandusiae to a physical space. I was Horace’s only guest that day. As I crossed the threshold of the property, moving from the old road to the older stone, I took my seat on a concrete-capped wall fragment. The fons, the natural spring within earshot, worked diligently above me. Ambling to its source, I dunked my head under its cascade and was paralyzed by the frigid stream, untouched by the heat of the day just as my host had claimed it was thousands of years ago. Reciting my lines to the slow gurgling of the fountain, my knees buckled and my grip tightened around nothing in particular; it was as if Horace himself was watching me, eyes that had seen the death of Brutus and ears that had heard the liquid honey of recited Vergil judging my rendition of his ageless work. Horace and I watched the placid water of the eternal pool

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with his transitory, crumbling house behind us, the relatively newer city beyond and cosmopolitan Rome where my bed was made in a modern boarding school. Melodramatic and objectively foolish I pried the watermelon from the teeth of my backpack’s zipper. As Horace, in my recitation of the poem, sacrificed a goat to the fountain that would physically represent his legacy, I came down on the fruit with my full force, cracking its rind and spilling its juices across the already dewy blades of grass. In the hedged in garden of the Fons Bandusiae, with its sprawling ivy and its crystalline water save for the advance of algae, with its remnants of the general-poet, I felt an almost religious attachment to my seemingly foolish waste of food. Although my iteration of Horace’s masterpiece did his work a disservice and although I had no spare goats to scribble my name into the books of history, I left the aquatic enclave and the respective house with a sense of closure. I will not only remember this moment of timeless connection, my reaching out to grab the right hand of Horace, for the rest of my life, but I feel as though I have contributed to the fountain’s majesty, have allowed future students and believers to feel the same validity that swelled inside of me as I drove back to the city of Rome, with its bright lights, its international restaurants, and its multi-lingual inhabitants.

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Cherry Chunks Colin Olson

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weat poured down my forehead as I followed my father. Hand in Hand. The normal-size doors were too heavy for my eight-year-old-size body, but Mom had promised me earlier that that was going to change soon. I entered the noisy bar and was bathed in the noise of deep voices ricocheting off of upholstered booths. My voice was smothered by the conversation of others until I could no longer hear my own words. A hand attached to a larger-than-normal body sprung before me, sheltering me from the neon light in the open sign. It was Nick. Navy seal cousin Nick. Minnesota Nick. Quietly fierce Nick. I tried to squeeze his hand tightly as I shook it and turned a bright shade of red, mirroring the Shirley Temple in the bartender’s hand. I stared at the chunks of cherry floating around. He was with his friends who were not only equally huge, but also cut through the din with their booming voices. Nick offered a friendly hello. A Navy-Type of friendly hello. Noises surrounded my tiny frame and before I knew it, I was drowning in the sounds of glasses clinking on wood, my words barely able to leave my lips much less reach anyone else. Nick pulled me outside. His grip hurt my hand. I tried to look tough. In the light, our words were safe and we spoke in New-Friend voices. My dad effortlessly passed through the doors of the bar and we all smiled. Together. Nick looked back at his friends in the bar and turned to me, smiling. “Let’s go to the park.” ~ Mom’s promise rang true, my body had grown and seemed to fill up the small town of Chisago City, Minnesota. After the ceremony my brother passed me a napkin. It was damp and I hoped it wasn’t from

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tears because he had cried and I hadn’t and even though tough guys don’t cry this was a time when the tough guy rule shouldn’t apply. I was actually excited. The Navy Seals were right here. I passed from table to table asking each soldier for an autograph mistaking their “whatare-you-doing smiles” for “I-like-you smiles.” As they punctured the napkin with the pen, I drilled 16 miniature holes into their heart and left them bleeding at their table, a bright-red pain that resembled my third shirley temple that lay on the table, coated in water vapor. Nobody cared how many I had had which was odd because when I asked the waiter, there was no glass on wood sound to mask my voice, no bar-din to distract my parents from my attempt at a sugar high. ~ The mission started in the sparse jungle of Central Park. Nick followed behind me as we tore over the grassy surface. We hopped from rock to rock, my eight-year-old-size body bouncing off of the ground with ease, his strong larger-than-normal body launching into the air with force. A Navy-Type of jump. My dad’s cousin, a man I had just met, was for a second my brother in arms, my protector. With the weight of my life on his shoulders, Nick stopped the mission to regain his breath. He smiled a Friend-Type of smile. The tough guy rule was ignored and we hugged, just this once. ~ I paused the video and followed Dad into his office. We sat down in the often-ignored chairs that meant it was time for a serious talk. I exhaled heavily, trying to force on my tough guy face. Nick was dead. A rocket propelled grenade in Wardak. Wardak sounded like the name of a Pokemon. I did not cry but I felt like I should. I rummaged through my memory, searching for those moments on our not-sodangerous mission. The tears would not come. The memories buried. ~ Dad and I stood at the ceremony, Hand in Hand. The same hands 22 

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that I would use to puncture Navy Seal hearts in only a few hours. I closed my eyes and saw Nick, separated into chunks like cherries in a shirley temple. I wondered if anyone else was in his coffin too. His larger-than-normal body ruined. 16 seals came forward, slamming a naval pin into the dark wood where Nick rested, 16 holes to represent a life. The last of the 16 struggled up the stairs alone towards Nick. I wondered if Nick had saved him. The pin was driven into the coffin with a loud cry. The tough guy rule was lost, hiding in the ice cubes of New York City bars, warded away by feeling. Was this a Navy-Type of feeling?

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The Brain is a Diamond Colin Olson

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lthough not necessarily a universal truth, external pressures often aid my understanding and help me grasp daunting concepts. On parents day, I found that the apprehension coming from my will to impress my father and mother allowed me to contribute to discussion at a standard I am rarely able to reach. Pride. Rising temperatures. The overwhelming desire to make my parents proud rose up from the bottom of my stomach, making me overwhelmingly aware of the fact that I had skipped breakfast. Aside from making me hungry however, the feeling had inched its way into my back, forcing it into an upright position. It crept into my ears, slowing the flow of words that entered so that I might draw connections between them. My energy came not only from myself, but from the stares of parents who anticipated their children saying something miraculous, the scrutinization that innately follows expectation, a dangerous pair. I felt heat. Trying to make my mind less cognizant of this warm spell, I dove into discussion, offering my opinions on fate, decision, and passiveness. Fed by the nods of parents in the room, I frequently engaged in conversation and questioning, occasionally debating with my colleagues to further our understanding, a method previously foreign to me. Like the tanning mirrors I had seen on television, I reflected heat around the room, keeping my head cool and my classmates on edge, reciprocating the effects of pressure. The discussion prompted deep thoughts and what seemed to be deep admiration. When a discussion is successful, it feels as though you have arranged the logs in a fireplace to allow the flames to lap up at the surrounding walls, a powerful, yet controllable force. Pressure often serves as a spark.

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THE 2019 ROBERT MCGLYNN AWARD

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Hostage in the Home: The Male Gaze in Hawthorne and Poe Susan Li

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n Barbara Welter’s seminal 1966 essay “The Cult of True Womanhood,” women are branded as the “hostages in the home.” This phrase serves as the illuminating metaphor for the condition of women in antebellum America: a period during which women were placed atop a pedestal of “true womanhood,” yet systematically scrutinized, gagged, and restrained by the male gaze, all within the socalled “private sphere” of female power. It is within this context that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Ligeia” operate. In each of these texts, various male gazes—those of lovers, fathers, bosses, and societies—transgress and aggress into the female sphere, controlling both public and private arenas. Whatever their intentions may be, Hawthorne and Poe fall short of subverting the Victorian gender hierarchy. Ultimately, both authors fail to transcend the male gaze, instead reinforcing a narrative of female powerlessness. Beatrice, the female protagonist of “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” resides within the mirage of a private space where she is perceived as having power and agency. According to the male figures in the text, Beatrice’s “sphere” is the poisonous garden within which she spends nearly all of her time, and within which Giovanni, Beatrice’s suitor, is compelled to “obey the law that whirled him onward” (RD, 989). However, the reader is gradually informed that this seemingly private realm operates under different forms of scrutiny by various male gazes including those of Giovanni, Beatrice’s young lover; Dr. Rappaccini, her father; and Baglioni, her father’s professional rival. Throughout the text, the watchful eyes of these figures meticulously scrutinize 26 

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Beatrice’s movements throughout her garden, degrading any agency she may have possessed within “her realm.” Likening Rappaccini to “an artist who should spend his life in achieving a picture or a group of statuary, and finally be satisfied with his success” (RD, 1004), Hawthorne suggests that Rappaccini acts as an omniscient God-like figure in this garden. Simultaneously, the portrayal of Beatrice as a “success” to “achieve” illustrates Beatrice’s objectification at the hands of her father. By defining Beatrice’s worth through a binary system of success or failure, Rappaccini denies her a complex humanity, instead forcing her to occupy the role of either ‘true’ or ‘fallen’ woman. Critically, the poison which condemns Beatrice originates from her father who cultivated the garden within which Beatrice has been “nourished with poisons from her birth upward.” However, this fact is largely ignored by male characters such as Giovanni who instead assign poison as Beatrice’s “element of life.” Thus, while Rappaccini establishes his dominance over a superficially female space, he evades responsibility as the blame for the garden’s poisons is ultimately shifted onto Beatrice. Similarly, the reader is repeatedly informed of Giovanni’s furtive longing gaze directed toward Beatrice. Once, Giovanni watches Beatrice “through the entanglement of a shrub that wreathed its tendrils over the hidden entrance,” gazing into her window; another time, he observes her “within the shadow thrown by the depth of the wall, so that he could look down into the garden with little risk of being discovered” (RD, 1000). The establishment of boundaries such as windows and walls inform the reader of the voyeuristic quality of these experiences. Despite his outsider status, Giovanni demonstrates an eagerness to enter Beatrice’s “private sphere” as he notices Beatrice walking through the garden beneath his window and is “compelled to thrust his head quite out of its concealment in order to gratify the intense and painful curiosity which she excited” (RD, 987). Such an exclamation invokes sexual and violent connotations, yet Giovanni’s transgressions ultimately earn him knowledge and power over Beatrice by informing Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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him of the poison which grows in the garden. Beatrice’s body is a battleground of male desire—a space in which men survey the other men surveying Beatrice, and Beatrice watches herself as she is watched. In one scene, Giovanni encounters Rappaccini “watching [Beatrice] he knew not how long, within the shadows” while Giovanni himself “followed her with his eyes” (RD, 985). In another, Giovanni observes Beatrice from his “lofty window,” but Doctor Rappaccini’s “watchful eye had caught the stranger’s face,” causing him to “[take] his daughter’s arm and retire” (RD, 980). Beatrice ultimately dies as a result of men’s competing visions for her, perishing due to Baglioni’s desire for revenge on Rappaccini. To justify her death, Baglioni needs only to knock Beatrice off of the pedestal upon which Giovanni has placed her. He informs Giovanni that Beatrice “had become the deadliest poison in existence” (RD, 996), and offers a vial of poison disguised as antidote with which to “cure” Beatrice. To justify these claims, Giovanni relies on Baglioni’s whisperings and his own recollections that he has gathered from furtively spying on Beatrice. Soon enough, Giovanni blames Beatrice as “the accursed one” who had “made [him] as hateful, as ugly, as loathsome a creature” as herself (RD, 1002). In his eyes, Beatrice has fallen from the idealized pedestal on which he placed her to the lowest of creatures. Once she no longer fulfills Giovanni’s ideal of womanhood, Giovanni becomes justified in vilifying her. Beatrice succumbs to death by poison by her own hands, but men enable her unwitting suicide. Just as she unquestioningly ingests the “antidote” which is prescribed to her by Giovanni, Beatrice unquestioningly accepts the moral beliefs of the male-dominated society around them, incorporating the male gaze as her own. Beatrice first attempts to profess her innocence to Giovanni, saying, “Though my body be nourished with poison, my spirit is God’s creature” (RD, 1003), yet she finally cannot bear Giovanni’s disappointment. Giovanni’s revulsion towards Beatrice is eclipsed only by her selfhatred, as she demands, “Yes; spurn me!- tread upon me! kill me!” 28 

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(RD, 1003). In her final moments, Beatrice places her full trust in Giovanni’s poisonous “antidote,” exclaiming, “Give it to me! I will drink—but do thou await the result” (RD, 1004). Submission to the male gaze results in Beatrice’s death, as the poison she has internalized finally exposes her inner wounds to the outer world. Upon a surface-level reading, Hawthorne seems to subverts the patriarchal paradigm, for he renders Beatrice the tragic hero of the text and incriminates Rappaccini as the mark which had internally tainted Beatrice. “Thy words of hatred are like lead within my heart— but they, too, will fall away as I ascend,” Beatrice proclaims in her final moments (RD, 1005). However, Hawthorne falls short of truly undermining the male gaze. The final image of Beatrice as a fallen angel mirrors an antebellum expectation for women to act as foils to flawed, complex male characters. Throughout the text, Beatrice has been denied action, agency, complexity, or motive. Her body has been traced and tracked through windows and bushes, the walls of her treacherous fortress assembled by male agendas and reinforced through male lenses. Every movement Beatrice has made, she has made in relation and response to the movements of the men around her. In the climatic finale, Hawthorne deprives Beatrice, finally, of her life, perpetuating a narrative of female victimhood. This writing, which is dominated by and conceived by men, holds no new truth for the women of Victorian America. Pain, death, and martyrdom have become mundane for these women. At the end of the text, Professor Baglioni “called loudly, in a tone of triumph mixed with horror[...] ‘Rappaccini! Rappaccini! And is this the upshot of your experiment?’” (RD, 1005). Baglioni’s callous remark and its “tone of triumph” imply that already, the gravitas of the death has been lost and the male characters of the story are free to revert back to their quarrelling ways—her death merely another weapon for the male characters to point at one another, and another source of shock value that Hawthorne can add to his arsenal. In the end, Beatrice’s role is that of a hostage, confined both physically and psychologically within Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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the garden and forced to bear witness as men observe, intrude, and finally destroy her sphere of life. Like Beatrice, Georgiana’s death is induced after she ingests poison in an attempt to correct her perceived imperfection, a “crimson handmark” imbued upon her cheek. The mark operates as the point where different spheres interact and collide; here, the heavenly meets the earthly, purity meets debauchery, and the male gaze penetrates the female sphere. The specificity and shape of the hand-shaped mark suggests that the mark did not manifest naturally—rather, it had been imposed upon Georgiana by some other figure. By describing the mark as “the bond by which an angelic spirit kept itself in union with a mortal frame” (TB, 778), Hawthorne associates the mark with the actions of some supernatural force while establishing separate spheres for the private, spiritual world and the public, physical world, denoting the scar as the liminal point where the two interact. According to Georgiana’s husband Aylmer, it is the “sole token of human imperfection” dividing Georgiana from divinity, marking her instead as a ‘fallen woman.’ The mark is not only a symbol of mortality, but of promiscuity as well, as Hawthorne emphasizes the opinions of Georgiana’s other male lovers regarding the scar, stating, “Georgiana’s lovers were wont to say that some fairy [...] had left this impress there, in token of the magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts” (TB, 765). Constructing a mystical backstory, Hawthorne establishes a boundary between the observer and the observed who is hidden away in layers of mystery. Though the birthmark is merely a small scar, the same as any other, the male observers of Hawthorne’s world confer supernatural and moral connotations to it. To Aylmer, the shape and color of the scar (a “crimson stain upon the snow”) evokes images of bloodshed, violence, and deflowering, all associated with the turbulent male sphere. To a bystander, it might appear that the mark was proffered upon Georgiana by a divine hand, distinguishing her from the ‘true women’ around her. Conversely, the mark may suggest that she bears traces of another man’s touch, indicating 30 

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promiscuity and impurity. Finally, it could seem that the mark was caused by her husband’s own hand, drawing out Georgiana’s internal shame and sin into a public indignity. In each case, the hand-mark is a point where the male influence has marked the most private domain of the woman, which is her body. Furthermore, the mark is a sign of private affairs transcending into the public gaze, allowing men to peek voyeuristically into a woman’s inner world, then to project male conceptions of Georgiana onto her while denying her agency. Hawthorne states that “Masculine observers, if the birth-mark did not heighten their admirations, contented themselves with wishing it away, that the world might possess one living specimen of ideal loveliness, without the semblance of a flaw” (TB, 766). Hawthorne thus illustrates the binary nature of the male gaze by establishing only two options for these passive “specimens”: idealization or demonization, with no space for complex, nuanced feminine roles. In this incidence, Georgiana is the object torn between two competing male ideals, operating as a vessel and mirror for the dominant opinion in the male environment. Her passivity is illuminated when, at the beginning of the tale, Georgiana tells Aylmer that she had never considered removing the scar, saying, “To tell you the truth, it has been so often called a charm, that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so” (TB, 764). However, by the end of the tale, “not even Aylmer now hated it so much as she” (TB, 774). The rapid shift in Georgiana’s selfimage corresponds to how attractive the male environment gages her to be; the birthmark and the imperfection which it symbolized proves harmless to Georgiana until Aylmer impresses his disgust and hatred unto her. Aylmer’s vitriol is internalized by Georgiana, who earnestly reconstructs her body in accordance with his fantasy. Like Beatrice, Georgiana capitulates to her lover’s demands and ingests the antidote presented to her, stating, “There needeth no proof. Give me the goblet. I joyfully stake all upon your word” (TB, 779). Even though Georgiana’s clipped sentences, decisive tone, and use of the imperative present a facade of agency on her part, her actions Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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ultimately cause her demise and present the central paradox of the “true woman”—in which the only way a woman can gain power is through her self-destruction. Accepting Aylmer’s scrutiny as her own dismantles Georgiana’s sovereignty, subjugating her to Aylmer’s will and conditioning her to rely on her husband for her own development. In order to survive, Georgiana must quickly assimilate into the male gaze, yet her internalization of Aylmer’s gaze only culminates in Georgiana’s total removal from the male sector: her death. In the final moments of her life, Georgiana looks into a mirror which Aylmer “had arranged for that purpose” and sees through herself, seeking the remnants of the Crimson Hand and then falling upon his face “with a trouble and anxiety that he could by no means account for” (TB, 780). Despite her husband’s fault, her gaze condemns not Aylmer, but herself. In fact, Georgiana absolves him of guilt and blame at the final moments of her destruction, exclaiming “with a more than human tenderness: ‘You have aimed loftily!—You have done nobly!’” (TB, 780). Thus, Georgiana directs the full wrath of the procedure onto herself, bearing not only the physical but also the moral consequences of the mark’s removal. Because various male gazers have constructed Georgiana’s life such that her identity is directly tied to the birthmark, the attempted destruction of the mark causes her death. Georgiana’s tragedy demonstrates how the male gaze intrudes upon, erases, and reshapes every aspect of the female self, causing both external and internal death. The fetishistic male gaze also permeates into the world of Ligeia, the titular character of an Edgar Allan Poe tale. The text is fundamentally told through a male lens, beginning with a description of Ligeia’s physical qualities and ending with a vision of Ligeia’s dead body. Like Aylmer and Giovanni, the narrator of Ligeia notes the supernatural qualities of his love interest– in Ligeia’s case, the “beauty of beings either above or apart from the earth” (Poe, 264). However, whereas Beatrice and Georgiana are measured against the angelic ideal and found wanting, Ligeia has already achieved a supernatural state of being. 32 

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Therefore, Ligeia’s death only exacerbates the narrator’s obsession with Ligeia as he is unable to comprehend her passing, stating, “In death only, was I fully impressed with the strength of her affection” (Poe, 269), as the narrator uses both her living and dead selves as an escape from the external world. Stating that without Ligeia, he “could no longer endure the lonely desolation of my dwelling in the dim and decaying city by the Rhine,” the narrator reveals Ligeia’s function as a retreat in which the narrator could escape from the dreadful, unexotic public world (Poe, 269). In fact, the narrator implies that Ligeia’s death was inevitable if she was to satisfy his gaze, stating “I saw that she [Ligeia] must die” (Poe, 267). After Ligeia’s death, the narrator takes a new bride—the blue-eyed, blond-haired Lady Rowena. During their brief marriage, the narrator is still consumed in his romanticized fantasy of women, for whenever he viewed Rowena, his “memory flew back to Ligeia, the beloved, the august, the beautiful, the entombed” (Poe, 272). Juxtaposing the virtues of beauty and entombment, the narrator reveals his unattainable ideal of woman: physically perfect, exotic, and dead. Because Rowena falls short of the narrator’s fantasy, she must eventually submit and die as Georgiana, Beatrice, and Ligeia did. In the worlds of Hawthorne and Poe, women’s bodies bear witness to trauma, memory, pain and death—yet they are incapable of rising above the role of spectator and reclaiming power. The female as victim has long been an unfortunate trope in antebellum literature, reserved for those “fallen angels” who were deemed unworthy of life. Welter supports this theory, stating that “to be guilty of such a crime [as impurity], in the women’s magazines, at least, brought madness or death” (Welter, 23). Conforming to this standard, both Hawthorne and Poe fall victim to the ruse of “true womanhood” and strengthen the dichotomy that demanded of women either perfection or death. By exploiting the female suicide to illustrate consequences of male conflict, the authors reinforce the notion that the lives of antebellumera women were expendable, so long as their deaths provided a Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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moral imperative. Both Hawthorne and Poe fail to realize that in a world which claimed the entirety of a woman’s body, held hostage her mind, and strove to undermine the female agency at every turn, the survival, resistance, and celebration of antebellum women would make statements far more subversive than yet another voiceless body in the clutch of male scrutiny.

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Feasting Susan Li In winter, there was nothing to do but wait for the year to turn. In the dark I pooled pennies on the counter, watched rain fall on no one. Our nights were ripe with wood smoke & cooking wine. At the edge of America and peering down, we lived sightless but root-warm, stuffing rags in screen doors to keep heat in or the world out. My mother undressed in the dark, slivered her fingers slicing fresh fish. I slept until dawn, woke to white vinegar and night recessing from the room, & felt the blind cartography of home. Years later, I would find the scales tucked under windows and walls, glisten, & be still.

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Ghazal at the End of America Susan Li No meat, so I pare at my own bones, blunt the end of my thumb just to watch it bulb in the dark. Look: this is how I will belt myself in my own bloodswell, high and fission-heady at the end of America– Ma always said to let the man eat from me first, drink from the hollows of my bones first, gorge on the gullet of my fist first. Ma is long gone now, and I, turned girl into gun into ghost, ripen for the picking at the end of America– The man on the TV watches as I unzip along the length of my body, pull out my teeth, one by one, days lopsided. Good girl, he cries. Go on then. Lay down. Be still. Nothing to fear at the end of America– I learn the cut of men through their cries: high and half-arced, harpooning through white. How their violence sharpens in the air, slips like a tongue in the oiled dark, any mercy, a locked jaw at the end of America– God stills in my throat, spit-slick citadel, lays his maw on the bread of my belly– no blood left to hymn into being at the end of America. 36 

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Pastoral Susan Li Cowboy June, soft sweetness of ripe soil, stirred on the black sheen of a bloodless night. No miracles here, but pulses of joy flashlit & simmering under thin skin, & the dip of moths into our spit-shocked mouths. To my right, you name the 7 wonders of the world, count constellations in their shaky blues. Fruitflies & fleas tilt in just to listen. What we know is wordless, traced & tracked in a slippery touch like wind or prayer. This whole dream could be blown apart in some leafy explosion, torn to shreds by the shadows of circling hawks or washed away in late rains that stir overhead. Another life could be made in your image: the temple of your fist, your water of a heart. Or let me be more clear. One day I’ll break my own body to make room for you. Wouldn’t that be another of God’s great mysteries– this brand new nation still hoping to be named.

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In the Old Country Susan Li In the evenings, the streets loosen to something porous and laced in light, where spring rain dusts on clay roofs and ghosts can come back home. Walking alone, I pretend not to feel how my soles lean into the earth. It is as if I could belong here, with trampled roads and trembling lamps, among strangers and their strange soft tongues, with something wild as mountains cresting behind pillars of mist and fog. Soon, the pillars will sow away & the lamps will go out, one by one. This city, (Tianshan, meaning Heaven) will lay down in sleep, & then I will think of my mother, at peace for all the lack of things to say, tending to spring grass in the sticky beds of a fenced backyard years and years away, in a home I was never meant to know.

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How, kneeling down, she would bear all of that blue at once in shocked stillness or supplication– then sink her teeth into the raw ink of sky, mouthing us two our oldest names.

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THE 2019 STUART MURRAY BARCLAY SCHOLARSHIP

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“She wears the bloomers in the family”: The Threat of the New Woman in Puck, 1895-1900 Lukas Trelease

A

gallivanting woodland sprite, a roguish faerie boy— these images spring to mind when reminiscing about the character Puck from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The turn-of-the-eighteenth-century magazine, Puck, took a similar comedic, mischievous approach as its cartoons poked fun at all manners of life. The new definition of ‘cartoon’ (as a humorous illustration) was first coined in 1841 with the rise of the British magazine Punch (McCallum, “Cartooning: Political”). Political cartooning in America, however, caught fire in the 1870s when Thomas Nast, a German immigrant, famously attacked the political boss William M. Tweed and his corrupt Democratic machine, Tammany Hall (McCallum). Nast’s drawings in Harper’s Weekly, such as “Tammany Tiger Loose,” played a significant role in the ultimate demise of Tweed and his hall. The realization that cartooning could function as a catalyst for and influential commentary on political and social change inspired a great number of activist artists to try their hands at cartoons. A whole series of political cartoon magazines cropped up all over America during the middle of the century including Life, Judge, and, of course, Puck (McCallum). Like Nast with his attacks on Tweed, Puck’s creator and longstanding editor, Joseph Keppler, quickly gained notoriety during the presidential election of 1884 when President Grover Cleveland acknowledged that, without Puck, he could not have triumphed over his Republican rival (Deuben, “Puck Magazine and the Birth of Modern Political Cartooning”). Although

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famous for its satire of the bureaucracy and rejection of corruption, hypocrisy, and robber baron behavior, Puck was not simply a political cartoon magazine. The sixteen-page paper, full of tiny dialogues, large and small illustrations, and mocking poems, also tackled the impacts of the Victorian Era suffrage movement and ‘conflicted’ gender roles during the age of the New Woman. Puck and its cartoons attempted to frame for its readership—white men of means—through caricature and exaggeration, the “New Woman” as a threat to the patriarchy of late nineteenth century America. Between 1895 and 1900, Puck was distributed across the country in three urban centers: New York City, Chicago, and New Haven (N. W. Ayer and Son's American Newspaper Manual 1895-1900). Because it was a weekly magazine, Keppler and co-illustrator Adolph Schwarzmann churned out a staggering 294 issues over the course of these five years. Due to Puck’s fairly liberal stance on politics, humorous portrayals of Republican presidents, and alignment with traditional social viewpoints, the magazine proved successful for nearly two more decades. By 1895 its circulation numbers reached 90,000, a large audience (N. W. Ayer and Son's American Newspaper Manual 1895). The distribution and subject of advertisements shed light onto the demographic of Puck’s readership. Out of twelve issues, 143 out of 482 advertisements targeted upper-class men through promotionals for Yale Mixture, a Gentleman’s Smoke; many different brands of champagne including Ruinart, Urbana, and Evan’s; vacation spots such as Sante Fe; Chester Suspenders and men’s suits of up to $100 ($2,989 in 2018, adjusted for inflation). Although 52 out of 85 Puck covers focused on either foreign or domestic politics, the inner pages hid a more elusive agenda directed toward Puck’s readers. Concealed between pun-filled quips critiquing Valentine’s Day or a misbehaving child, lie signs warning the wealthy white male readership about the dangers of the New Woman. The New Woman represented a generation of women who came of age between 1890 and 1920 and challenged gender norms and 42 

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structures by asserting a new public presence through work, education, entertainment, and politics (Rabinovitch-Fox, “New Women in Early 20th-Century America”). Their clothing denoted a distinctly modern appearance that contrasted with the Victorian ideals of purity, piety, submissiveness, and domesticity. The New Woman became associated with the rise of feminism and the campaign for women’s suffrage, as well as with the rise of consumerism, mass culture, and freer expressions of sexuality that defined the turn of the eighteenth century. Created by Harper’s Weekly illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during the early 1890s, the Gibson Girl depicted the New Woman as a young, white woman, dressed in a leg-of-mutton shirtwaist and a bellshaped skirt or bloomers, with a large bosom and narrow, corseted waist (Rabinovitch-Fox). Bloomers were necessary for a woman to wear if she wished to ride a bicycle, and as a result, became a symbol for the freedom associated with the New Woman. In Puck, however, the New Woman was described as “an old pill with a new coating, which man is expected to swallow,” and, in a paragraph entitled “New Woman (a recipe),” Keppler declared that after cooking up a New Woman one must “flavor to taste with a pinch of Political Economy... Beat well, and serve in Bloomers, on a bicycle” (Issue 12/30/96, Issue 2/28/99). Although intended to get a laugh, the writers and illustrators of Puck critique the New Woman by exaggerating and caricaturing the familiar image of the Gibson Girl. In an 1897 advertisement for Pickings from Puck, a branch of the Puck conglomerate, a massive woman rides atop a bicycle while a small, peeved man perches in the basket (Figure 1). The caption reads, “The New Woman Taking Out Hubby.” The size difference is extreme and emphasizes the perceived monsterization of the woman in her new role. Along with her size, her masculine jaw, her feet busting out of her shoes, the New Woman’s clothes have been transformed into stereotypical male attire: a tie, a collar (an item often advertised in Puck), and pants or bloomers. The New Woman is represented as almost a she-male, a woman on the verge of becoming a man. Finally, Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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by putting the tiny husband on the handlebars of the bicycle, the cartoonist illustrates the power the New Woman could and would exude over the weakened man. She is in control; he is merely along for the ride. For Puck’s March 6, 1895 issue a cartoon entitled “A.D. 1915. -With Puck’s Apologies to the ‘Coming Woman’” graces the cover (Figure 2). Above the caption is depicted the Coming Woman, a nickname for first female presidential candidate, New Woman, and suffragette Victoria Woodhull (Hicks, The Coming Woman). In the cartoon, she is pockmarked, ragged, and grotesque, sporting a shirtwaist, bloomers, a lady’s heel, and a man’s boot. It is difficult to tell whether she is a woman or a man until one reads the short dialogue below where she is labeled as “Dusty Maude.” Above, emerging from the house, is the “timid househusband,” wearing either a dress or an apron and clutching a frightened, sobbing babe. The traditional gender spheres have been reversed, the man in the domestic, the woman in the civic—the househusband’s wife is at a Primary Meeting. Even the customary gender roles have been switched: the men are the caretakers of the children and the women are the political agents. But this reversal is not depicted as a pleasant one. The expressions of the child and the husband are ones of fear; the dog, a symbol of domesticity, is fleeing. The topsy-turvy world depicted in Puck was not confined to urban America. In a December 8, 1898 cartoon titled “It Has Got There at Last” an Inuit man slouches next to an igloo, holding two weeping children (Figure 3). His wife, with new leg-of-mutton sleeves and a cinched waist fashioned out of furs, preens in front of a mirror cut out of ice while style magazines lie scattered at her feet. Igloo—the name of the Inuit man—the “ex-head of the family,” grumbles, “she says she’s a New Woman and I’ve got to the housework.” A husky dog flees the scene, tail between its legs. Keppler and Schwarzmann have gone so far as the Alaskan frontier to demonstrate that no patriarchy on Earth is safe from the New Woman and her transformation of day44 

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to-day life into an upside-down world. Besides the threat of gender reversal, Puck cartoonists illustrated another danger to the patriarchy: female financial autonomy. The April 10, 1895 issue contains the cartoon “In Days to Come” (Figure 4). A woman named “woman of the future,” in typical Gibson Girl attire, divulges that she cannot buy her husband an accessory to which he throws a fit. The man and the woman have swapped traditional gender roles with the New Woman having emasculated the husband through newfound financial authority. The fears caricatured in this cartoon may have been influenced by legislative changes advocated for by suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton (Lewis, “Property Rights of Women”). On April 7th, 1848 the state of New York passed a Married Women's Property Law that gave married women complete control over real as well as personal property while prohibiting its unwanted disposal by their husbands (Lewis). No longer would women give up their fortunes upon marriage; instead, the money and property they entered the marriage with would remain theirs to control and spend as they wished. The October 26, 1898 cartoon “A Modern Love Story” follows the progression of love in comic strip style (Figure 5). The man approaches the woman and then they begin to fall in love. As the man snuggles up to her, a bag of the woman’s money falls into the river. She is horrified and weeps as he harrumphs away. The modern love story is not between men and women but finance and women, demonstrating the patriarchal fear of female preference for money over men. Other dialogues portray women as willing to loan their umbrellas to their husbands or that they are the ones “wearing the bloomers in the family” (Issue 5/6/95, Issue 3/11/96). Puck’s writers and illustrators mock the men who have let the New Woman rule their lives portraying them as weak, meek, and subservient when in the traditionally feminine sphere. These cartoons, however, don’t exist in a vacuum. They exist alongside advertisements in the magazine. In Puck’s advertising Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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section of the February 13, 1895 issue a cartoon takes up the center of the page (Figure 6). A Gibson Girl faces off against a Victorian lady, Bessie Norris. When asked why she does not ride a bike Bessie replies that it is due to “the law of gravitation.” Perhaps just a reference to Newtonian science, but the word “gravitation” derives from Latin, gravitare, the same root for gravitas, meaning to have dignity—a simple pun or a jibe at the New Woman and her undignified methods of locomotion. Just above the cartoon, an ad for Waverley Bicycles is displayed with a woman in bloomers saluting the reader. Seen together, the illustration and the advertisement have a relationship that is unintentionally ironic. The bicycle of the late 1800s symbolized a freer, more individualistic form of transportation and offered women the chance for independence and travel. This promise of liberty is the lure of Waverley Bicycles who want women to buy into the consumer ethic and purchase their product. In contrast, the cartoon advocates for women to stop bicycling, a degrading past-time, highlighting the advertisers need for women to shop for freedom, while remaining bound to womanly ideals. The Marriage Acts of 1848 and 1860 gave women the financial means and independence to be, as the August 19th, 1896 poemcartoon “The Old Way with the New Woman” said, “studying Latin and Law/...tracking old crimes to their lairs” (Figure 7). Through caricature and exaggeration, Puck’s cartoonists ridicule the changes the New Woman threatened to enact, making them seem too ludicrous to ever become reality. But the advertisements appealing to female consumers suggest that women’s freedom was in fact growing. In her article, “American Woman and the Making of Modern Consumer Culture,” in The Journal of Multimedia History, historian Kathy L. Peiss writes, “magazine layout itself reinforced the woman reader’s identity as a consumer. [Ladies’ Home Journal editor Edward] Bok began to break up stories and articles in 1895, forcing readers to turn to the back pages where most of the advertisements were placed. Ads for cornflakes or baking soda were strategically placed next to cooking 46 

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columns.” Similarly, Puck’s layout strategically balanced itself between two selling points. The magazine was preserving an idealized past, which was for the male readers a reinforcement and soothing of their desires for moral and financial superiority. At the same time, however, the magazine was acknowledging the financial benefit of women as potential consumers. In its attempt to have it both ways, Puck sells the men an ideal and the women a bicycle.

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Apoptosis, or the normal and controlled self-destruction of cells Lukas Trelease Cells DNA RNA molding and meshing together long bending loops of complex language linking together our lives memories weaving through decades eons millenia of inheritance the weight of ancestry hangs heavy breaking upon us right down to our very nuclei we dream we touch we smell we look we are what was once us we are what to them we will be and to us what we were then it has reached the penultimate decade of hospitalized facilities and Styrofoam cells whose walls exhale basic fluids refracting images of bright lights around and around and the corridors spiraling therein an effulgent continuum of cleanliness and anemia and hygiene as pure as the cap on a dentist’s tooth beyond a tree shivers with breezes blown from seas far and away as its leaves shed like cloven proteins all around and down on the steeple where scientific study cannot be inducted the nurse’s hand reaches and reaches but never seems to touch and the touch of homo sapiens forgotten on weathered flesh and dusty skin where the air bruises and disappearing kisses would leave blemishes an umbrella bent backwards in a rain quenched ditch an old teddy bear with the stuffing yanked halfway out a yellow bird left encaged in oxidizing wrought iron feeling these unnatural abandonments and nurse nurse nurse

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heartfelt singing ovine throats sacrificed to the charitable and good natured who play board games while singing of missed chances and the comfortable paradise beyond and move pieces of a puzzle into place sinking withered into soft chairs of moth-eaten pleather while toothed pieces chaining wrapping around throats choking words of gratitude as their lives snap in and out and in and out of focus a stethoscope with no sound a petri dish with no activity lacking lacking the church bench warms young endothermic bodies heatseeking and the ceiling hot and enigmatic they raise their hands and sing with hope but they are only a cold mass of linear polymers of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds falling apart Legos to houses to wheelchairs to hair the TV is between channels and the zigzags move across the screen like hordes of zebras or a different animal okapi ostrich never to be seen or a newspaper nurse and she comes the tube slides in and the mouth closes over it and pale speckled lips tighten around a hose the mask presses tight gagging the chair holds firm leashing a dog with a cone on its head cannot see what is wrong with it what it has become an illness diagnosed diagnosis the waiting the endless interminable sea of remoteness removed from quotidian and trivial activities like grocery shopping to taste a selfbought orange and self-squeezed with strong hands into a glass the bitterness tartness juicy flavor life blooms in vivacious orange the color of cream soda and tangerine a reverie to cease the boredom of the near death coughing crimson irritation and mucus retched from depths of caverns strewn with collapsing stalagmites villi built up by extracellular death signals organized in groups of hard schedules and intracellular proteolytic cascades of cataracts and metal plates that Issue 25 ¡ FALL 2019â€

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never move glued to an operating chair in silence cell necrosis swirls and bends like whorls fingerprints fragmenting and disassembling cells upon cells with nuclear lamina and the cleavage at aspartic acids with caspases and the world goes round and round a snake eating its tail burning alive on seas of fire no handholds to have understood what happened amen says the priest and eyes blur hips collapsing in shuffling out “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner is renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16) so then why is our body’s stimuli making suicide cells drip drop from the bag confined to darkness but only the soft murmur of animated figures deep in the recesses of this cemetery no family no visitors it would be too hard do they not want to see their relative ancestor moved on to a joyous life free from knowing and the approaching death receptor proteins too natural to age to fall apart to disappear down this hole into the screen to the dark subterranean no ischemic damage no autoimmune disorder or neurodegenerative diseases no carcinogenic remnants just life and oldness and life as memory rusting antiquitizing the lines on the wall one long one short a blessing a curse perhaps God’s one mistake this hitch in the system DNA unzipping until the veil of immortality lifts and you see the light Next: death autophagy begins mutually exclusive from damaged mitochondria bred in the hepatocytes and the organelles ruin while the nurse closes the lids with an infusion of funereal C17H19NO3 accelerating the cannibalistic cells until the mind the heart the preached soul are elucidated like all other mammalian orthologues in this modern age 50 

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of forgotten dogma carried into the sky dark compartments heaven a patch of poaceae of the gramineae constituents of alismatales who have a family a genus unlike the one they nourish while others pray from far off basilicas to an empty husk of a pious legend with intersected timbers swinging shadowed swinging worms twist into lipids hastily sealed coffins as bodies lick the dust in plots as far as the eye can glimpse of a silvery tunnel and the mind tricks tip-toeing tripping on fibers roots as the lightning dies down in the instance that the storm activates dissolving to the ground with molding wood to the histone variant that becomes phosphorylated and stained in the myofibers as the ground and the mycelium feed not through tubes but through roots into the sacred earth and molded to the water up through alimentary provender evolved in perpetuity through verdant paleness of a seed into the chlorophyll of cyanobacteria into photosynthesis regeneration sucked from the energy of others vampiric microscopics they would’ve asked why if they weren’t decomposed plucked by a human with a basket to be consumed those selfsame cells fluorescently conjugated inhibiters and undergo immunoprecipitation into the gastrointestinal lining and then into the blood and then into the cells where it all begins again

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SENIOR MEDITATIONS

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A Princess in the Middle of Nowhere and Everywhere Sydney Cox

I

used to want to be a pretty princess, but not just any princess... a pretty princess. I had heels with sparkly ribbons, glitzy ball gowns, feathery fans and boas, glimmering hair clips, handbags galore and, most importantly, tiaras. My earliest memories involved sneaking into moma’s bathroom. I would rearrange furniture to strategically climb the counter, take a rather long look in the mirror, and open the gates to all the elegant colors I had seen moma sweep and dust on her face. Lipstick was by far my favorite. I knew all the rules to apply it, of course. You see, it had to be carefully contained on my face, otherwise I would just look foolish. The boundaries were no lower than the point of my chin and no higher than the base of my nose. After working it in a good half-hour, I would shift my attention to this wand with black ink that read... well, I could not read. Anyways, I knew what I was doing and would run it through my long golden locks. Then there was blush. Blush, obviously, was given the biggest brush because it was meant to be painted on the whole face. By the end my lips were perhaps four times the area, streaks of my hair were black and my whole face was tomato red and sparkly. I remember thinking I was the most beautiful four-year-old princess in all of Seattle. I stood on the counter, pacing like a princess, pursing my lips like pretty girls did in magazines... I barely got to practice my curtsy when moma saw and cursed a stream of words I did not understand. She snatched my little body, dove for some cloths and scrubbed my face. I protested, claiming I was the most beauteous princess, but that did not stop her from wiping away my precious work. Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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When my parents told my brother, Andrew, and I we were moving to Alaska, all I needed to know was if I could bring my princess attire. I did not know what this foreign ‘Alaska’ was, but my dad showed me on one of those blow-up globes we had and it was no farther than the length of my pinky. It was clearly close by and presumably like the city I was used to. When we arrived in Fairbanks, my parents said “welcome to your new home” and I asked a reasonable follow-up question “well, where is it?” There were no skyscrapers, no honking cars, no evenly spaced pre-designed landscapes and no crowds of people. We had moved just as school started, and not so surprisingly I was the hottest preschooler there. No snow or (-) 50 degrees would prevent me from my princess-like beauty. I even managed to wear these red, Dorothy shoes that would leave a trail of magical glitter wherever I went, much to my teacher’s pleasure. The only reason I survived the cold was because moma got me the pinkest and most bejeweled snow pants and coat set. For a while, my family let me carry on in my princess world where I had to be the prettiest girl at all times, which in my head was all a princess ever was. By the time we hit the season where the sun never sleeps, my parents noticed we had moved to Alaska, but were not engaged in the lifestyle or culture... as clearly demonstrated by myself. So they overenthusiastically announced we would go camping. The way they described it, it was not the kind of camping I was used to... in fact, being dropped off by a plane in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from civilization with increased mortality sounded a lot worse. During our drive North we stopped at the Hilltop café, which I highly recommend if you like pie. Moma then revealed the devastating news: I was not allowed to wear the outfit I was currently wearing, which, because I know you’re interested, was a head-turning, red velvet dress, shimmering, white tights and runway-worthy pair of black, glossy heels set with sexy clip-on earrings. I remember the Alaskans sitting in the restaurant chuckling when they saw me, saying that I must have been the best-dressed girl in the whole state. I said they 54 

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were right. I remember fussing as moma forced me into some new attire. It was a long-john’s and fleece set that matched my brother’s. No way would I be caught wearing hideous boy-clothes, but before I could declare I was a princess my moma dragged my scowling face into the car yelling something in Spanish. Although I did not know what she said, the sound of my middle name was a good sign to be quiet. When we arrived in Coldfoot, population ten, we helped load our supplies into a bush plane. Well, my parents and brother did, my recently-manicured hands did not do manual labor. We took off and flew into the Brooks Range and were dropped off in—I kid you not—the middle of nowhere. There were no signs of civilization for hundreds of miles. The Alaskan mosquitos are absolutely relentless. It is a common joke that Alaskans would rather deal with a bear than a mosquito. The first half of the trip I was a massive whiner and complained mainly about my clothes and the bugs. Moma would advise me to wear a mosquito net, which is basically this wide, flat hat with a net all around that could be cinched at the neck. For the first few days I refused to wear such a hideous hat-net-thingy around. I very quickly paid the price. My face became red and rash-like after one too many bites. I remember quietly waking up one morning, avoiding eye contact with moma, maintaining a poised expression, with my nose upturned as I wore the net like I would a tiara. I kept it on for the rest of the trip. I had started the trip by grumbling about how tired or bored I was, or how long it had been since I had worn sparkly lip gloss. However, after a while I suddenly began to laugh instead of cry as our raft would ricochet off the large waves during the level four rapids. My brother and I would squat in the front of the raft and scream with joy as our end of the boat would unlatch from the river for a few terrifying, but freeing seconds. Each night we would build a fire, roast meat and speed eat s’mores. Moma would read to us as Andrew and I lay on her legs. It was the first time I had realized there was nothing as calming as her smooth and easy voice. Later in the nights, when we could not Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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go to sleep beneath the midnight sun, my dad would have my brother and I wrestle. He would place a kid on each side of the tent, rile us up with chants and cheers, and then begin the countdown as Andrew and I would go at it, punching and kicking until the other tapped out. I won every night. I admit I was kind of glad my daily heels or jewelry didn’t slow me down. The vacated land that had seemed so threatening started to feel caring towards little me. When standing atop a hill it was as if nature’s hands were lifting me high above the earth and the wind was brushing through my curly locks. When wading in the creek, it was though nature had created these safe streams and pools that branched from the wild river just for me and Andrew to play in. The stones we used to build towers were smooth, which was nature’s way of preventing cuts in our skin. I even figured that the sun never slept so that I would not be scared at night—I used to be afraid of the dark. Even the squishy arctic tundra was nature’s doing to soften the blows and falls of all the parkour tricks Andrew and I would perform, or attempt, really. At first, I thought I was surrounded by nothing. It was just emptiness, not a human or house in sight. Now, I could see I was surrounded by everything. I was in the middle of nowhere and everywhere. The little girl much in need of a shower was no longer a pretty princess, so she set herself on a quest to find a new kind of princess. On our last day, I wrote my name in huge letters on a sandbank. About a month later, a family we knew had flown over that very same bank and saw “Sydney” written in the Alaskan terrain. It was still there. From then on, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was home. These family expeditions were only the start. When I was ten, my parents enrolled me and Andrew in a new charter school called Watershed. It was a school that took advantage of the incredible land we now called home. There is something off about the school as you walk in. Perhaps the most obvious is the ski racks on almost every available wall and the snowshoes atop each locker. You would notice 56 

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that most of the kids rarely wear shoes indoors. It was a school where my essays were written in the woods, half our novels were written by Alaska Natives, and microscopes were brought outside to examine snowflakes. It was a school that preached necessary survival and outdoor skills, such as avalanche safety, fire-building, and gun safety and use. In fact, the only test I can really remember taking was the one to receive my hunting license in the seventh grade. The rule across the school district was that kids were not allowed outside for recess if it was colder than minus twenty. My principal said that rule was for the weak, so when it was colder than that, he’d breath on the thermometer until it was ‘fine’ for us to go outside. We spent a lot of time scouring the different fields and woods. We were close to the river and often went for all-day ski trips when needing to let off steam or stress. When overly energetic and restless, we played capture the flag in the most dense woods you could possibly imagine where the only way to catch the flag was by intense tree climbing. When in a quiet or melancholy mood, we would hike, build a fire and simply write in the woods. Whatever we were feeling we used nature to help reflect those emotions and, in a way, it became a safeguard. It was a place we could be as rowdy as we wanted without anyone telling us to pipe down, and it was also where we could gather our thoughts and sleep against each other in a peaceful mindset. I very vividly remember our springs. There were these dirt lands that, due to all the melted snow, became mud flats with a couple feet of water that the kids would jump into after class. I remember my friend, Lucas, and I had to go to violin right after school one day, but could not resist the expansive four-foot puddle all the kids were wading in. We ended in a mud fight and were yelled at in rapid, fiery Spanish from both our mothers on the way to violin. It was worth it. This school did not stop at the miles of woods and waters around us, though. Just like those summers my family spent in the middle of nowhere and everywhere, Watershed had large trips planned for every grade. One of the most memorable was the sixth grade mountain bike Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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trip in Denali where we climbed two mountain passes. We would bike up the mountain through wind, snow and hale. However, these were not the only threats we faced. Like any good Alaskan story, there is usually an animal involved. Mine was a very unique encounter with a bear who was named Tripod by the park-service. The grizzly only had three legs. The fact that he survived the winter was a miracle. Come spring, he moved towards human civilization as food gathering became difficult. By the time my class had arrived at our campground, so did Tripod . One night, I went to use the outhouse. It was dark and not too many campers were around. As I approached the flimsy wooden den, I noticed a dark figure rustling around the thin spruces. My heart pounded in my chest and head. I saw a snout and dark, gleaming eyes turn towards me. I counted three legs. The hairs on the back of my neck stood. My skin prickled. I could feel every slight twitch in my body. I was just this small, silly eleven-year-old girl scared out of her mind, right? Wrong. It was the first time the braver side of my Alaskan nature kicked in. This was not the time for me to freak out like a pretty princess, it was the time for me to clear my head so that I could make the smart decisions I was taught in school. I slowly backed away, unzipped my coat and gradually raised the hem high above my head. In a moderately high pitched voice I said “hey bear” over and over again until I had reached the campsite where the noise was. I had acted like an Alaskan princess would. When I was fourteen, I got my driving permit... on the seventh try. If this were not hint enough to my parents that I would be a terrible driver, I did not know what was. The fact that I was required to learn stick did not help. My dad took me to this big, vacant lot and I remember being so frustrated as I constantly stalled the car over and over. I would curse as I released the clutch to soon or be so focused on shifting gears that I would ram into snow piles. Finally, when I had only just been able to drive around the lot adequately safely, dad decided I should drive the thirty minutes home. It was closer to sixty minutes of life-threatening driving. I stalled twice in the middle of 58 

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the same intersection. I was crying at the wheel and surrounded by angry drivers when my dad started chanting that I was the Alaskan Dom Toretto and to pull myself together. At the sound of Toretto and Alaska in the same sentence I fiercely wiped my tears and channeled my inner Fast and Furious AK Style. I restarted the car, perfectly released the clutch and shifted to the right gears until we made our way—pretty safely—home. Eventually, after a few months of practice, the beat-up Subie had become my very own princess carriage. The challenge did not end at the stick, though. We deal with all kinds of dangerous road conditions, but perhaps my favorites are the most terrifying conditions that we choose to drive in. For example, there was a short cut to school that saved maybe three minutes. It involved a little off-road driving. See, to save three minutes during the coldest winter months all we had to do was drive on the river. When you give Alaskans the choice between an extra three minutes and slightly more-probable death, they’ll choose slightly more-probable death. We would roll all the windows down, just in case the car did break through, and then floored the gas. We would cheer as we flew over the uneven ice chunks. Best. Princess carriage. Ever. Thank goodness there are no speed limits on rivers. One of the best nights of my high-school life was after Senior Prom. The night was beautifully chilly, so my friends and I decided to go hot-tubbing beneath the northern lights. My house is on a cliff with the tub right on the edge. The still air was dusted with small flakes and our eyelashes were wrapped in a layer of snow. We then began coaxing each other to hot-tub jump. Hot-tub jumping is when you jump out of the tub barefoot in only your suit and run about the whole property. Afterwards you dive into a massive pile of snow. Your body, after rolling around, is so cold it begins to numb... and at that point you should probably make a beeline for the tub. A smart and healthy decision? No, but one-hundred percent a fun one. After our laughter quieted, we tilt our heads and above us are the northern lights soaked in greens and pinks and purples and even little glimmers of Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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red... the reds are my sign for good luck. We would sit in silence as we watched the dancing, vibrant waves, knowing we would never forget our nights beneath the northern lit sky. This last winter break I went home. My family and best friend, Yuki, and I decided to do an all-day snow machine trip up in the mountains. I start with my long john layer, then a thin fleece set, followed by a thicker one, wind-breaking snow pants, fleece snow pants, a parka and a shell. Five full body layers of clothing. I wear two pairs of wool socks beneath my Mukluks, thin gloves inside thick mittens and a neck gaiter tucked beneath a massive helmet. I no longer wear a sparkly ball gown with heels on a day-to-day basis like I did when I was small. Instead, I think of my new princess attire as adventure wear. I may no longer be a pretty princess, but I am still a princess... just a different kind. I am a princess who can camp in the middle of nowhere and everywhere, go to a total hippie school, use a gun, come close to a bear, drive a stick on a river, hot-tub jump, and many other strange things beneath the land of the midnight sun. In my room at home, I have a tiara that sits on the head of my fivefoot tall giraffe. When I come home, no matter how rough my day was, I plop it on my head and walk to the edge of our balcony with the farthest point at least a hundred feet over the Tanana River. I see the peaks of the mountain range glistening in the distance. I inhale the sweetest most free breeze in the world. I am an Alaskan princess, and that is beautiful.

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The Mirror Jada Howard

M

y hand swings over to my phone to press snooze for the fifth time this morning, ending the sweet sound of Takeoff rapping the opening lyrics to “Fight Night.” I roll out of bed and land on the floor with a thud. Voices outside my room indicate to me that I am not the only one up. I open my door to be met with several of my proctees debating over whether or not their outfits are “cute enough” for class. Chuckling to myself, I proceed to the bathroom to begin my morning routine. I grab my toothbrush, place the perfect amount of toothpaste, and begin brushing my teeth. I stare at myself in the mirror and become absorbed in it. I was never content with my looks; there was something that always had to be changed. It stemmed from my hair and the lack of its normality. My whole life I had gone to school where I stuck out like a sore thumb and typically it was my hair that made me so different. My naturally curly hair became too much for my mother to attempt to tame every morning, therefore resorting to her placing my hair in braids. Twelve simple cornrows at the top my head made me go insane. I hated standing out. As a six-year-old, hair was one of the most talked-about topics at the lunch table until the spotlight fell on me. “Why is your hair like that?” “How long is it?” and several other questions filled the air, only to be replaced with my silence as an answer. The questions never seemed to cease, but rather increased as I got older and my fellow classmates gained more confidence to ask why my hair wasn’t the “normal” way. Becoming frustrated with the lack of normality, I approached my mother one day to ask if I could have “normal” hair. “Mom, I want normal hair,” I stated with my six year old attitude.

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“Jada, your hair is normal,” my mother stated, clearly annoyed. “No, Mom. I want white girl hair.” I wanted my hair to be like all the other girls in my grade. So after months of begging, I finally got it. I convinced my mother to allow me to put some chemicals in my hair and straighten it every two weeks, but little did I know how unhealthy it was for my hair. Mixed with the sweat from basketball season and stress from being pulled into ballerina buns, my hair that originally stopped halfway down my back soon became a bob. Now, I was faced with more questions. “Your hair was so long. What happened?” “Why’d you cut it? I thought you loved it being so long.” The questions began to swarm me, leaving me paralyzed and unable to respond. *** My skin always caused questions whenever I was with my parents. Yes, I did look like them. I had my mom’s big eyes and my father’s nose, but I didn’t have the same skin complexion as them. My parents had a dark complexion and would be called “dark skin” while I had a lighter complexion and would be categorized as “light skin.” Minimal difference to the eye, but a big difference in my life. Mrs. Mannarino was my first-grade teacher and I adored her. I looked forward to going to school everyday because of her. I could tell I was her favorite student too. She would always pick on me to be an example of what to do in class and therefore I was tagged as the model student. I would talk to her and tell her about my hopes and dreams as a six-year-old and she always would respond, “You can be anything you want to be as long as you put your mind to it.” Our relationship took a detour when both of my parents picked me up from school one day. I stood in line waiting for it to be my turn to point out my parents and got excited for Mrs. Mannarino to finally see who my parents were. I stepped up to the doorway and scanned the crowd for my parents. Once I located them, my face beamed with excitement and I 62 

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began to wave at them. “Mrs. M! Mrs. M! That’s my mom and dad!” I explained jumping up and down pointing to the two figures in the distance. “Where?” she asked looking visibly confused. “Over there! In the green jacket, that’s my dad!” “Are you sure those are your parents?” My world froze. What did she even mean? Of course those are my parents. I’ve lived with them my whole life, they’ve taken care of me this whole time, they’ve been the only maternal and paternal figures in my life. They had to be my parents, right? During my freshman year at Deerfield, my parents visited a lot so many people met them and grew to recognize them as my parents. One afternoon after they had left campus, a girl in the dorm came to my room. “Were those your parents?” “Yup.” “Really? You don’t look like them.” “What do you mean? I do look like them,” I questioned. “No, you don’t have the same complexion. Are you sure you’re not adopted?” I peered behind the girl and stared into the mirror in the wall. Was she right? Did the figure in the mirror really not resemble that of my parents? *** Freshman year at Deerfield, I felt out of place. Yes, there were people that looked like me on this campus, but we were far outnumbered by those that didn’t. At first, I naturally clung onto the people that looked like me, in order to remain feeling comfortable with my hair and my skin. Nonetheless in that sphere, I didn’t feel like myself. I was losing myself for the price of feeling beautiful, but would I really be beautiful without being myself? Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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After the first few weeks, I decided to branch out and try new things, including sports, musical tastes, and even clothing, however my vulnerability was always received negatively. “Why are you playing that white girl sport?” “Taylor Swift is so whack only white girls like her.” “You’re dressing like a white girl. Put something else on.” I grew confused; I was happy to be trying something new, but why did playing field hockey, listening to Taylor Swift, or wearing all white Converse have to be associated with whiteness? To them, I was changing into a “white girl.” To me, I was discovering myself. Looking back on the journey, it has never been easy. Sophomore year, I struggled to figure out who I really was and who I wanted to become here in the valley. Did I want to be stuck to the predetermined perceptions because of my hair and the color of my skin? I tried new things, sought out new friends, had daring conversations, and pushed my vulnerability to an all time high. I felt myself making strides each day towards finding myself and realizing the beauty of the person I was becoming. *** With less than 100 days left in the valley, I’ve realized the true meaning of beauty. Beauty is everywhere. In nature, in writing, in music, and in every single person in this world. Everyone’s beauty comes from within. You may not fit society's mold of beauty or the standard of “normal,” but you are still beautiful. Black is beautiful. Black is beautiful. Black. Is. Beautiful. The color of my skin doesn’t define my limitations, but rather empowers me to do more. Being a woman of color in America is not easy; all the odds are against you. However, I’ve realized the power I’ve been given with my skin. I have the chance to change the narrative. I have the power to prove everyone wrong. I have already broken boundaries and done more than I have been expected to do. I have traveled the world. I have friends that don’t look like me. I am me and not who society says I should be. 64 

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I stare at myself in the mirror and become absorbed in it only to be disrupted from my thoughts by my proctees coming in the bathroom, requesting my opinion on their outfits. Each of them possesses a look that makes them different and unique in their own way. They have seen themselves in the mirror and critiqued the smallest things just like me. But at the end of the day, have they realized the beauty of the reflection that looks back at them?

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The Black Swan Cam Taylor

B

lack swans are associated with experiencing divinity and perfection through suffering, however suffering without purpose is not transformative. Additionally, black swans must deal with their physical difference from the portrayal of a standard white swan. As a result, the black swan aims to reach internal and external peace and contentment, learning from the trials and tribulations of life. The black swan perched itself on the still waters. The moonlight glistened as it camouflaged in the darkness. Darkness as a Medium In the dark, she speaks to me Plants kisses on my cheek As she knows I am a fragile body Bruised and battered, But never beyond repair. She heals my body With her unconditional love She calls it her “natural remedy.” I open my mouth to speak But she insists I close my eyes. I reach out for her only to Notice she’s sick.

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She’s in need of her own healing. Living by the mantra, don’t break, bend Her spine curves to a point Where it cannot be fixed. She teeters the line between stability and brokenness. Her pain is a result of my pain and my pain is a result of her pain – the Cycle of pain continues. A cycle I know all too well, Coursing through my black veins. When the morning comes and The sun begins its eastern rise, She packs her stuff and begins to head out. I grab her hand firmly As she motions for me to rest. I stand up, kiss her on her forehead And whisper, “Don’t come back.” When darkness falls again, My cheek feels no kisses. Shadow “You can borrow my shoes and help get the groceries.” NO! My bare feet touch hot concrete to make a statement.

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Silence Do you hear that? Silence Its beauty rings in my ear. In the midst of a large crowd, It pulls me away. That’s why I’ll always appreciate 3 AM over 3 PM. Silence is golden, speech is silver. It’s desired freedom. Do you hear that? Silence It’s so loud, overbearing. Barging into my thoughts and space. That’s why I’ll always need 3 PM over 3 AM. Silence is deadly. It’s solitary confinement. That’s why I talk to myself sometimes, Not because I’m insane, But to keep myself from going insane. To Be or Not to Be Do as I say, not as I do. Lead by example. The contrast sticks out like a sore thumb. Classic example of 68 

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the importance of being seen versus being heard. I want to be like you, but the confusion forces me to not be like you. Ripples I am the stone thrown into the middle of the pond. Black Heart Stone. Rough. Burnt. Overused. Abused. Dark. Misplaced. She told me I had a heart, but never how to use it. Feared. Fearful. Hollow. Scarred. Damaged. She taught me what love was, but never how to love.

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Rest “Rest is for the weary. Rest is for the weak. You’re gonna sleep the day away.” My parents bombarded me with these sayings until they became second nature like tying a shoe. Dad wakes up at 5. Mom wakes up at 7. In two hours, he’s washed the dishes, cleaned at least two rooms, ironed everyone’s clothes for the day, showered, dressed for work, filled the Camry’s gas tank, sifted through mail, and caught up on the news. In the meanwhile, my body is shifting from sleeping on one side to another. He proceeds to work an 8-hour shift, run errands afterwards, return home, eat dinner, and go to bed by 10 at the latest. The rooster crows at 5:01, but my dad is already up. Up before the rooster and the sun. Another day with the same routine. Sunday through Saturday, I’m up by 7:20, 8 at the latest. I don’t have the same endurance as my dad (as I have always been a fan of naps), but we do share identical work ethics. Homework must be done by 11 on weeknights. Floor must be vacuumed by 8 on Friday. Room must be thoroughly cleaned by 11 on Saturday. Laundry must be done by 1 on Sunday. Rest is just lost time spent unconsciously drifting, especially when there are things to be done. I thought my dad was weird for being up at the crack of dawn. Little did I know he was teaching me that rest is an investment. That while I was resting, someone else was working. That while I was partying, someone else was training. And as a black male, one leg up on top of another leg up is one too many legs down. Maybe one day I’ll surprise him and call him at 5 in the morning. And I’ll only be surprised if the phone rings and he doesn’t pick up. But at least, I know, he would have finally gotten the rest he deserved.

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H2O “It felt like Cooling water Cooling water Cooling water Cooling water from grandma’s well” I dip my body into the water to cleanse myself. To purify a dirtied body, a broken-black heart, a ruptured soul, a confused mind. I perch myself on the still waters Jesus walked across. I break bread and drink communion wine to wonder Am I even saved? Am I even worth saving? Nesting Green and white. The quarter housed three generations. A light bulb burning on the porch until it burns out. Cobwebs and spiders make a home in a deserted place.

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The bridge drawn between the street and the porch is worn out. Litter fills the sky-high grass, begging to be cut. The exact same litter that comes from the house’s government gifted, knocked over trash cans. Excessive amounts of mail are stuffed into every crevice of the mailbox. Knock knock. Who’s there? The quarter is empty. Jehovah witnesses don’t bother knocking. They’d rather leave the pamphlet on the porch, in hopes that someone will return to this quarter. Nurse Me Home It pains me to say it Grandma. I won’t lie to you like everyone else. I don’t know if you can handle the truth, But I also know you deserve the truth. You’re not going home anytime soon. Grandma, you’re not going home at all. 72 

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Mom lost your house keys months ago and those four plastic chairs on your porch are busy collecting dust. They’ll turn yellow when the wind begins to circulate the pollen. I know you hate being in that nursing home. I know that they treat you poorly. I know that people are omitting the truth and perpetuating your naiveté when they let you proudly say, “I’m going home in a little. I won’t be here much longer.” I also know I’m a villain for crushing the walls of your fantasy, but I can’t lie to you any longer. This is your home. Sink or Swim 8-year-old me gets questioned by my dad. Dad: If I threw you in the ocean, would you sink or swim? Me: I don’t know. I’ve never really tried to swim. Dad: Ahhh. Don’t you think it’s something you should find out? Me: Sure, yeah. Dad: We’re going to the pool in Roanoke Rapids after school today. Me: Okay. I’m kinda nervous about this though. Dad: It’ll be fine. We’re gonna see if you can swim. My heart pounded as we took the drive to the pool. Swimming was a fear of mine and I hated the idea of chlorine-infested water burning my eyes. Thankfully, I packed some goggles, but that didn’t change the fact that I’d never swam in my life before. I got on the edge of the pool and my muscles didn’t move.

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Dad: What are you waiting for? I opened my mouth to speak and nothing. Nothing came out. As I tried to gather something to say, he pushed me in. I was splashing and kicking water, creating ripples and waves as if I’m Poseidon – the knockoff version, of course. I saw an outstretched hand. It helped me out of the water. It was my dad. Dad: (laughing) You would drown. Me: That’s not funny. It was scary. I don’t wanna do this again. Dad: You’re quitting on something before you can even do it? Me: (nothing) Dad: You don’t know how to swim now. It doesn’t mean you don’t know how to swim forever. We’ll get you some lessons. And if it makes you feel any better, your brother couldn’t do it either on the first go round. 10-year challenge Dad: If I threw you in the ocean, would you sink or swim? Me: (chuckling) I would swim back to shore and push you in. But question, do you even know how to swim? Dad: No. Me: Then why’d you push us to know how to? Dad: You’re supposed to be better than me. Swan Elegance! Elegance! E-L-E-G-A-N-C-E! In the quarters, mammy made sure 74 

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we talked proper English. “Mammy, kin I go outside please? “Can I? Say it right. It’s can, not kin. Kin is your family, boy.” Head hung like ripe fruit, I grabbed a glass and filled it to the brim with cold water from the faucet. Water nor prayer could cleanse my Southern tongue. “Can I go outside please?” I’d get it right to revert back to my wicked ways. My tongue was cursed. Heavy with a Southern accent thicker than gravy. My blackness diminished the elegance of the swan. Shadows Pt. II Even in the darkness, I still have my shadow. I can’t go places because I’m scared of being viewed as the legacy kid. Even in the darkness, I still have my shadow. People expect me to be a different version of you instead of myself. Even in the darkness, I still have my shadow.

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Accomplishments and feats are a means to compare me to you. Even in the darkness, I still have my shadow. Age and refined by three years, I take refuge in the darkness. A safe haven that at times doesn’t even feel safe. Even in the darkness, I still have my Even in the darkness, I still have a shadow. Even in the darkness, your shadow looms over me. To be honest, I don’t remember the last time someone called me Cam instead of JT’s little brother, That’s all I am to them. Your. Little. Brother. Nighttime I fade into black. I fade into the nighttime. The split second from light to darkness scares me more than it scares you. You fear me in the light. You fear me more in the dark. So tell me, should I walk faster or slower behind you? Blackness It’s a way of living. It’s my way of living – 76 

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by circumstance, not by choice. Nonetheless, I’d choose my blackness over any option. I’ll take my black body, my black heart, my black soul, my black mind. You can’t taint my blackness for black is the absence of color. It is pure in its perfection. But if you must, try and taint my character. It must make you happy to try to de-characterize the black man. However, once you’re unsuccessful, bask in the glory of my Blackness. Newborn Nine months feel like an eternity in there. But when it’s over, your soft skin and gentle eyes make the process worth it. My young bird, I hope you spread your wings and soar to unbelievable heights. I won’t be present for much, however I’ve prepared a nest for you. Lay your weary head when your long days are done. Until then… Excuse me, where are my manners? Welcome to the family, cousin Vino! Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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Fly Away When the shadows of this life have gone, I'll fly away. Like a bird from prison bars has flown, I'll fly away. This black swan will rest its wings when it’s time to go. At last, I can come to you and be your healer, using darkness as a medium. This swan will leave no stone unturned. Then, my rest will be deserved.

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JUNIOR DECLAMATION WINNERS

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The American Language Samara Cummings You have mastered the art of PB&Js without crust, cheesy macaroni for lunch. You know train routes and winding freeways between Bleecker Street and Boston as if they were the veins on the back of your hands. You have become the American Dream of stability. You are so American that your keen eyes search for opportunity. You are greedy. Your are still Dreaming. But Welcome to America Mom. I am elated to have you here. How could I welcome you to a home you have known for three decades, I a mere sixteen years? Welcome to land colonized by Brits, boisterous about their English speaking and its dirty tricks. Sew is so. Depot. Depo. Coup. Koo. But English is your first language—you already knew these words—didn’t you? Are you familiar with the American Language? The rhetoric of political correctness out of fear. Language that damages your soul without stinging your ears. Despite your calm demeanor, they will ask, where are you from? You will say New York to their surprise. And fill the silence with I emigrated from Grenada.

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But they will raise their eyebrows, chuckle under their breath, and ask, don’t you mean Granada like the place in Spain, because apparently you can’t pronounce your own country’s name. Just say I am from Grenada, an island in the Caribbean. And don’t speak about the blinding blue waters of Grand Anse beach or the names of family. They won’t care to listen. They heard your light accent and wanted to label you foreign. The American Language is mocking, even when it knows exactly what you mean. You will say advertisements or herbs in conversation, but they will look at you with condescending eyes and ask if you mean to say advertisements, herbs? You will never correct them when they say water with a t as water with a d. But you will drop the h in herb and sing the way the language is sung because in stubborn America, every trivial war must be won. Don’t fight it. With each goal accomplished on the list of American Dream A house, a job, insurance, a car. You will find the list of races and ethnicities. You don’t feel African American because you are not from Africa. You will want to call yourself Negro, because it is your identity back home. Negroes are honest people who have been loved by the sun. But the term is outdated here. Negro is plastered across the documents of America’s biggest mistake. Guilt over prolonged pain and push for immediate change has killed off the Negro. Check off the box on your forms. You are African American now. Don’t fight it. Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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You are African American. You are black. Look at the depths of your dark skin. You are the errieness of the dark web. You are the corruption of the black market and the sins of blackmail. Black in the American Language is bad. You are implicitly bad before you shake their hand. Because darkness is never up to any good. This is the rhetoric that will never sting your ears, but chip away slowly at your soul. At least in America you are not a nig--- the n-word. The word lashes at their ear drums, Jim Crow suffocates their necks. Black crosses burn and the KKK chants. There are repercussions for this word. Whites waste away with judgement and ridicule. Blacks make it music and are permanently labeled ghetto. Welcome to America Mom. We speak English. But don’t be fooled. Real Americans follow the rules of the American Language.

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A Changing Climate Annabel Gerber

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didn’t realize that field trips were different at San Francisco Friends School, that everything was different: class was far from standardized, art was confined to materials found in the trash, and Wednesdays were reserved for an hour long period of silent reflection (for philosophical and religious queries—exactly what an average first grader thinks about). But the field trips were especially different. Jane and Noah quickly recapped our lesson about global warming and handed out our bus tickets to my first grade class, fidgeting with excitement. (And yes, we did refer to our teachers by their first names to promote equality.) We took the public bus and at our stop, we knew to jump off and grab the work gloves that always slipped off our tiny hands and the garbage bags, colossal in comparison to our sixyear-old bodies. Dispersed throughout the always-cloudy beach, our infinite kingdom, we filled up our garbage bags with litter. It wasn’t until I moved across the country and went to a school with a more standard educational approach that I realized that San Francisco Friends School was different. That most people had recess, not silent reflection; that most people were given art materials without fishing through the garbage cans; that most people don’t care to take public transportation or to walk not drive; that most people don’t clean up their beaches, they litter them, under the false assumption that those small decisions do not make a difference. Worst of all, that global warming is not a fact taught in school for everyone. That, according to a poll taken by the University of Michigan, only sixty percent of citizens in the United States outside of the scientific field believe in climate change. That means forty percent of people in the United States deny the existence of climate change! Forty percent. As

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the second biggest greenhouse gas contributor in the world, almost half of the country still refuses to believe that replacing forests with factories has consequences. The effect of industrialism on the climate has been an idea discussed for almost a century and 97% of scientific journals on climate change support the idea, yet forty percent of citizens do not believe in human-caused global warming. Always the same argument: that the climate was not consistent before humans; therefore, it is natural for the Earth to change and not our fault OR our problem. However, without even getting into the data, it’s indisputable that the scientists studying the phenomenon also know this information. It is the same information they have been studying their entire lives. In fact, the scientists even understand this information a lot more than the forty percent of deniers outside the scientific field. The natural change in climate from the positioning of the Earth and sun has been considered and the data still exhibits the influence of human activity on the climate. If you still don’t believe me, ask NASA as they have the exact numbers for further proof. At Deerfield, I have learned about these numbers, the numeric evidence and the methods of deciphering them. But without the incorporation of this phenomenon into my early education, cleaning up beaches and studying the Earth at age six, I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t care to use a reusable straw, to walk instead of drive, or to compost instead of carelessly tossing everything in the landfill. Yes, small changes in an individual’s life might not affect much, but if every student in the United States learned to care enough to make that change, this country, this planet, would be a very different place.

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Bridges Burned Sarah Jung

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n 1992, my hometown in Los Angeles burst into flames. Just ten years later, I was born. The streets that my father and I drive on every day are the same streets in which thousands of Korean shops once burned to the ground. But the story I want to tell you doesn’t begin in 1992. One year earlier, on March 3rd, 1991, four white Los Angeles policemen stood over Rodney King, a black man, and savagely beat him with their batons until he did not have the strength or dignity to raise himself off the ground. King’s swollen face and lacerated body quickly became a symbol of white police brutality and racism against African-Americans. The same month as King’s beating, Latasha Harlins, a black fifteen year old girl, was shot in the back of the head by a Korean store owner, who accused Latasha of trying to steal a bottle of orange juice. The store owner did not receive any jail time. Latasha’s death made it clear that Korean-Americans were not mere bystanders, but equal perpetrators of racism against blacks in America. Over a year later, on April 29, 1992, Los Angeles waited breathlessly for the final verdict on the Rodney King case. At 3:15 pm, it was announced that the four LA policemen were acquitted of all charges. Outside the courthouse, violence erupted immediately. All over Koreatown, African-American residents looted grocery stores, burned down restaurants, and mauled light-skinned shop owners, specifically targeting Koreans. Two days into the riots, black billowing fires flared up into the air, accompanied by smoldering rubble. Military patrols stood guard over handcuffed looters and women sobbed in front of the blackened ruins

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where their stores had once stood tall. Nothing was left of what they had built for themselves in this country. Leading up to the riots, tensions had been steadily simmering between African-Americans and Koreans. Many Korean immigrants saw African-Americans as racially inferior. Some Korean shop owners would carefully watch over blacks when they entered the store in order to prevent shoplifting. Other Koreans would throw change on the counter instead of placing it in their black customers’ hands to avoid touching them. African-Americans responded by frequently threatening and shooting at the Koreans. The historic tension between Asian-Americans and AfricanAmericans still remains today. In one recent incident, a Chinese man shoved and kicked a black woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, accusing her of shoplifting. In turn, African-Americans have returned that aggression. I have personally witnessed African-Americans calling Korean-Americans “gooks” and “chinks” back home in Los Angeles. This conflict stems from so much more than cultural differences. It stems from the endemic racism against blacks in America. Racism today is persistent, omnipresent, unrelenting. Racism is in celebrities and politicians that dress in blackface. Yes, people are still dressing in blackface today. Racism is in police brutality that kills off one black man after another. Koreans fed into racism against blacks twenty years ago and they still do. Yet Korean-Americans and African-Americans experience many of the same economic and social hardships. We are both minorities in an America that discriminates against both of us. For a long time, we were both considered unworthy of our citizenship. We were both abandoned by law enforcement when we needed them the most. We were both forced into dangerous, poverty-stricken neighborhoods. We are picking the wrong fight when we demean and degrade each other. Before anything else, the first step Koreans and blacks must take together is to realize that this tension between us exists, and work to resolve our bigotry against each other. 86 

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THE BREADLOAF PRIZE

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milkweed Sabrina Ticer-Wurr mama told me in new situations to stay like milkweed to incubate the wind whichever way it blows to grow only to feed flight of life however small and be the strength and sting to rustle butterfly wings 1: egg to them, hayti was the world. to me, it was the city of my birth. the family who formed the first coos to slip out of my mouth. the bluebirds that sang accompaniment to my playtime. the grand old oak tree that shaded my sweat in the crooks of summer days. the rusty old water pump you had to boil the ground from. playing tag and chasing brothers towards the outhouse. being scared of the outhouse. late autumn coughs spread from the edges of wispy nights only to be cured by kerosene and sugar on a stovetop. candied yams and macaroni sweet as honeysuckle. discovering the cornfield was not the fringe of the world. souls sleeping from sunset to rooster’s crow but swaying in song till the night was reborn. the egg is delicate, smaller than a pinhead. 2: caterpillar missouri milkweed birthed me, but chicago clovers formed me. animated my colors into cornbread yellows and lake michigan beach day greens. wriggled me free into street addresses closer than blades of grass. inching me towards tall buildings that scraped the bottoms of clouds. hard hats daddy donned dripping oil in winding lines down the sidewalk each evening. scouted splashes of fire hydrant parties and ibuprofen when nights lengthened and sent us sneezing into

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radiators. street lights softened corners of the sky smudged starlight. caterpillar is larva, the immature form. 3: chrysalis my cocoon was fiberglass, clear as day and hard as winter nights. old enough to ride the red line train alone and walk back counting steps skipping cracks with crooked breath. first time i saw handcuffs bind familiar wrists. tasted iron of blood from bitten tongue when words starting in n’s ending in er’s spewed from silver badges and pierced forearms. learned why white tees made grandad scold. learned how to bend time and push curfews down into the night. smeared rouge on lips. felt velvet necks and savored softness in motion. felt newly warmed hearts in limbo. no pill could heal my heartache. 4: monarch when winter ends, butterflies fly north to return only when auburn paints the leaves. they fly in swarms so big they look like storm clouds, heaving and falling into the rhythm of the mississippi. we rode third class to chicago. got my first glimpse of white skin through the window. shriveled for the first time at my black reflection. learned to live in my colors brightly. how to soar without catching the wind. how to fly so the colors on my back shifted winds. the wing of a monarch is orange to signal that it is toxic. to warn predators that their papery limbs will not crumple from epithet. butterflies get their toxin from milkweed. throughout metamorphosis: mama says stay like milkweed.

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NINTH-GRADE DECLAMATION WINNERS

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White Swan Sophia Hamlen

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ffortlessness. That is what makes ballet so beautiful to watch. At my sixth birthday at Swan Lake, the grand music guided the perfect white swan and her beauty into my heart, touching where my biggest dreams were kept. The next week, mother dropped me off at my first ballet class. I stepped into the studio with such innocence, not understanding that the small step into that lush studio was a broad step away from my childhood. Hearing the grand violin and cello, my body moves in tandem, each muscle reacting. My footwork follows the staccato notes of the piano, as if they were playing the keys themselves. My body is my instrument, and instruments change over 15 years. My toes are bruised and bashed underneath my pointe shoes, my muscles embody exhaustion, and my head constantly aches Even as my body threatens to give up at any moment, the spirit of perfection flares just as bright. Perfection means effortlessness, casting its beguiling blanket over the magnitude of your sacrifices. People see what is on the outside, and only those you chose to let in will see what’s hidden underneath. I would never let them see the acute hunger within my body, one motivated by my tighter leotard than the other dancers. I would never let them see what happens behind the door of the bathroom, and my deep stares into the toilet bowl. I would never let them see the extra hours spent in front of the mirror, practicing every move beyond transcendence. I will never let them find out. Not the master to my right, nor the pale dancers to my left, especially not the crowd that will fill the red velvet seats in front of me. All I knew when I was young, a girl of only six, was that the white swan was beautiful, but never was the process of her beauty evident.

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Tomorrow evening there will be crowds full of people of all ages, watching my arabesques with awe and my gripping grand jeté. The audience will be as shallow as a toilet bowl, as absorbent of beauty as a mirror, and as naive as I was, thinking ballet would just be a hobby. Tomorrow evening, I will dance the white swan, just as the graceful dancer had when I was six. I had turned my head while the white swan leaped to her suicide, never understanding why she had suddenly disappeared. As I jump to my suicide at the end of Act II as the White Swan, that little girl in the crowd will know, will know what I didn’t know: the most beautiful things in life suffer because of what is hidden within.

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Look At Me Arieanna Lewis-Pugh

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look into his eyes, blood running hot through my veins and I can’t help but feel fear. The fear of death, my hunger for freedom can’t calm. His eyes won’t find me. They won’t look at me, look for my humanity, for the proof that I am worthy of life. They can’t look past my brown skin dipped in oppression, and hatred—but despite and because of it, I sit on this bus. I sit for the people who can’t, I sit so the people who come after me can sit. God, I wish he would see me. Really see me. —See I’m more than a military assignment, more than the words ordained upon me by this country, more than his pity or his hate. I want to live. I want to live a free life, where we are the same. — Is that too much to ask? Is it too much to not have to worry about being shot down in the streets by the same guns the government gave for “protection?” Are they protecting the world from me? Is it too much to have a feeling of security, even if it’s false? I don’t like drivin’ past cop cars because negro is synonymous with guilty. I look at him, beggin’ him to see inside of me. Showin’ him my brokenness. Showin’ him my innocence. I’m askin’ him not to shoot me, or the next person he has power over. Beggin’ him for my life with my life, my dignity still quietly intact. I am still a man. But I ain’t nothing against the weapon he wields against me. A gun, a manifestation of hate and animosity society has synthesized and found a way to wash its hands of me. Placed it in the hands of men who don’t see me. They see bête noires. Black beasts. Animals. The fear etched into their hearts paints us as the monsters they wish we were.They find reasons to crawl into our hearts and steal our humanities. Force us to forget why we matter. To forget our importance. To forget that

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we are beautiful. As the bullet of hate pierces our souls we float away, and they look away because we were born to die. Our mothers weep, our souls rest with God, and those who survived the ruin, scream and ache for justice. I wish he would see me. Feel my mama’s love, hear the Sunday morning church songs, he’d recognize that I am human as he is. I deserve more than a bullet rippin’ through me, searchin’ for my proof of life. I deserve more than that. You gotta look. Please look at me. I want to live.

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Tell Me That You Love Me Granger Savage

T

ell me that you love me. Tell me you love me like an eagle loves the wind. Tell me you love me like a soldier loves freedom. I wish that I would never wake up, so I could look into your eyes for just a moment longer. Look into my eyes, and don’t just scratch the surface. Look into my eyes and listen to what they are saying. I will be silent, lost in my love for you. My love is for a figment of my imagination, just a dream. Let me meet your gaze. And as I do those beautiful blue rings make the world seem small in comparison you, Earth itself slows to a stop, standing still in time. Breathe. Suck in the cool air down to your lungs, and let it out for me, for when you breathe I have roots, roots that run deep beneath the Earth. Hold me. Hold me tight and by God, don’t let go. I don’t want you to go. I hear a faint cry off in the distance, but lie to myself and say that will be fine. I ignore it out of the ceaseless desire to be with you before you go. Another cry comes and goes, but I cannot open my eyes, I will not open my eyes. I cannot go back to my desolate world without you. But as I struggle to stay in my haze of bliss and nostalgia, you start to fade. You fade like you were once written in the sand, only to be swept away by a great green wave like so many others before you. And just like that you are gone, just as swift and sudden as three seemingly innocent knocks on our door. Yet another cry for help reaches my ears. My eyelids fight to open, and I am brought back to a cold reality against my own will. I wake to screams of our fatherless child, and I quickly pick him up only to think about how he will never know the touch of his father’s rough skin, hardened from years fighting over years overseas, he was

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fighting for me. Your name now stares down at me from the granite stone, and the sweet smell of freshly cut grass wafts its way into my nose. As I gather my blanket and bag, I feel like I am leaving without the satisfaction I came for. I still crave hearing those three words. Everytime they left my mouth, the memory of you flooded my mind. Just say those three words. Tell me you love me.

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THE 2019 JOHN C. O'BRIEN POETRY PRIZE

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You Give Thanks Lily Zeng You welcome the people into your palace of passion A place for butter and sugar and things of that fashion Like dancing dollops of pudding and steaming rice And watermelon. You prepare it slice by slice. You wipe sweat from your face, sweat that you pride. It means you’ve worked, with all the energy inside Your ambitious, awe-inspiring self that makes Use of every single spice on the shelf. For food, for friendship. For the blessings of your dining hall. You give thanks. When you peel the foil from the food, the music begins. Salt shakers are sleigh bells And the oven chirps a sweet, sweet melody. Drumsticks never miss a beat. “This food is disgusting.” You didn’t mean to hear that. You hear it everywhere. This is a spectacle in areas You devote time to perfecting. They don’t even care. Just refill the braised beef. Kill the buzzing flies. Contamination, contamination. Get your fumbling fingers to frost the cupcakes, but pipe less than usual because you know they like it that way. Fry the chicken, freeze the fro-yo, fish out glove after glove until you blister. Crack the spoiled eggs and write your checks and clean the messes.

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Shattered plates and glasses knocked over. Tend to the spills they could easily tend to themselves. Stick to the agenda, stick to the agenda, you can’t desert this. Wipe the mountains of waste from students’ plates, with grace. Say nothing when they drop disrespect in your face and throw napkins into the wrong place. Don’t forget to eat your own dinner.

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SELECTED WRITINGS: CLASS OF 2022

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Market Day Wyatt Browne

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he ground trembled fitfully under the marching of the men. Their leather boots pounded the ground above me, causing dust to shower down in short torrents. The crushed rock shimmered in a shaft of light that shone through the thick wooden slats overhead. Nervous sweat slowly gathered in droplets along my arms, which the dust promptly stuck to and melded into a slick mud. The men had landed merely hours ago, and yet the once-glorious city already lay empty and smoldering. Ash floated lazily through the air and rested upon the ground like snow, coating everything and painting the illusion of tranquility. Pungent smoke invaded my lungs and caused them to sting in protest each time I breathed, but I continued to stay hidden. The sun had begun to set in the world outside the cellar door, and now the rough cement walls glowed with the pink light of dusk. The market square above me had been left untouched by the pirates, but remained still and empty. Ismarus lay as silent as the cold, unmoving lips of a corpse, but my mind was still loud with tormenting memories. To me, the walls were coated in blood, not soft evening light, and the boots were still marching. The chirping of birds echoed like the chilling screams I had heard not all too long ago. They had found my kids and me in the mill. I could still see my two children playing on the wooden loft above the granite millstones where I spent my days working. One image froze in my mind that I knew would never melt away: my son, looking down at me with large brown eyes filled with fear. Even he knew that his own father would fail to protect him from the sharp silver swords resting in the muscled hands of the ruthless raiders. I had turned and run.

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My stomach woke me with a sharp growl. I could not recall the last time I had smelled fresh baked bread or drank sweet wine. I felt hollow inside, hunger and thirst eating away at my senses and memories eating away at my sanity. I could almost imagine cool wine flowing over my tongue, but each time I did I shook my head, knowing the liquid I felt was merely the taunting touch of a ghost. The only water I had was brown and dripped through a narrow slat in the trapdoor. Peace of mind was just beyond the crudely hewn wood, but I felt as if the underworld was closer. Still, I could not leave; fear kept me anchored to the dirty stone I crouched upon. I drifted into uneasy, fitful sleep. My hiding place had become a prison of my own design This time I awoke to the smell of smoke. My hands grabbed at my face and found a beard there, one that I had never had before. I doubled over, retching and gagging, attempting to throw up, but I had gone weeks without eating, and there was nothing that could come out. The acrid smoke painfully peeled apart my mind, throwing me back once again to the night the city burned. My throat throbbed painfully from coughing. Maybe if the men had never come I would’ve recognized the smoky smell of baking bread, the very food I craved. Maybe if I had never heard the men marching, I would have recognized the bustling crowd as Cicones heading to the open-air market, instead of soldiers headed to a slaughter. But no, to me, any shoe would forever be a boot, and every fire would burn my home to the ground. Suddenly, I heard the soft shimmering ring of metal slicing through flesh, and to me it wasn’t the butcher killing a pig for an eager customer, but a soldier slitting my own neck. The pig’s tormented squeal was my own.

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Portia's Revenge Jean Chun

A

ll her life, Portia was controlled by men around her. She had always played a passive role, committing herself to whatever suitor chose the right casket. She describes herself as “locked in one of them (caskets)”, and addresses Bassanio as “her lord, her governor, her king” (3.2.165). The fact that she considers her husband every form of a ruler symbolizes his control over every part of her. The word “locked” portrays her isolation from society and a lack of freedom under her father, who kept her in separation and mapped out her marriage. However, by disguising herself as the judge of the trial, she is freed from the stereotypes that restrain her. This is evident when she describes her transformation into a man: “I’ll..turn two mincing steps into a manly stride” (3.3.67-68). The fact that she is no longer walking “in mincing steps” exemplifies an escape from female stereotypes. She thus ironically conforms to the male stereotypes to escape her own. Her former powerlessness causes her to go to such extreme lengths in punishing Shylock. In his helplessness, she is reminded of her own lack of control, and savors her newfound power through abusing Shylock. She commands Shylock to cut exactly one pound of flesh without blood or “thou diest” (4.1.330). The fact that she states that Shylock “diest,” rather than “shall” or “will” die, demonstrates her absolute control over Shylock’s fate. In fact, she completely adopts the attitude of a Christian man, addressing him as “Jew” and forcing him to confess that he “is content” (392). Contentment for Shylock here is forced and closer to resignation, similar to how she had to feign satisfaction in the men’s control over her. Her robbing Shylock of his freedom also bears alarming similarities to her father’s dominance

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over her in choosing her husband. In short, her harsh treatment of Shylock highlights a desire for control and bitterness at her position in society. Through the trial, she is also able to get her revenge against her controllers. By going to such extremities, she is able to force the men into her position of helpless submission. Bassanio’s complete powerlessness before the law is obvious when he begs Portia to “wrest once the law to your authority..and curb this cruel devil of his will” (4.1.215-217). The verb “curb” describes exactly what Portia does— she manipulates words of the bond to “curb,” or turn, Shylock’s will against himself. Shylock’s “will” here means not only his desires, but also his free will, which is taken away by Portia’s manipulation. By subjecting Bassanio to the law, she strips him, once a privileged member of society, completely of his power. In short, the trial is a way for her to gain control and escape the stereotypes that had previously confined her, both physically and emotionally. Using the laws and stereotypes of the very society that robbed her of free will, she defies the social hierarchy and places the privileged ones under her. However, her power proves only temporary when she returns the ring, which was her only means of control over Bassanio, to Bassanio himself. Her return to a passive role is also evident as she retreats to her isolated castle, a symbol of her confinement and limitations in society.

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Houses and Homes Darcy Del Real The marigolds and lilacs that once bloomed in my mother’s garden are no more. I walk along the once perfectly kept stone path, weather-worn red clay pebbles crunching beneath me, headed to the place that used to be home. A house, the very essence of my childhood memories, shines in the soft autumn sunlight. I am struck by how empty it seems, so devoid of life. The only light seeps in from the crack beneath the door to my childhood room, not my room anymore. I avidly search for remnants of my life, of the memories I made here before a new path was chosen for me. A new home. One without marigolds and lilacs, one that I sometimes wish, was without me. As I step into my room, a wave of nostalgia hits me. I can still see the yellow and orange fairy lights lovingly placed around my raggedy wooden bed-frame. My “Welcome Home, Mom and Dad!” poster waiting to be used once more. My carefully constructed pillowfort with a secret pathway entrance only I knew. Everything I love about myself came out of this room and the memories that I made in it. Those memories

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taught me how to play, love, cry, laugh, how to follow my own path. I can almost see my once-shimmering twinkle lights. Almost. But as I look once more, I no longer see my room, but rather the emptiness of the place I called home. People say a house is not a home And I have to agree. A house is a building, but a home is a memory. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a home anymore. It can’t be just me? Trapped in all my thoughts, thinking I too might disappear in that house. The light streaming in from the unhinged window frame forms a path beaconing me away from my daydreams. To think this all started with an overgrown mossy path and the crisp crunch of autumn leaves, as I headed to what once was home. I now realize what it meant to have those tiny lights so carefully placed around that squeaky bed. To have powerful, heart-filling memories of what a home felt like to me. And while I may not have a house anymore, my new home, complete with its own red brick paths, allows me to make new memories. Here in this valley, my friends and I are given a chance to again find home. As I sit on my bed the first day of school, lovingly placing lights around it once more.

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Fickle Morality: The Hypocrisy behind Bassanio’s Regret in The Merchant of Venice Christian Odenius Bassanio: I freely told you all the wealth I had Ran in my veins. I was a gentleman And I told you true; and yet, dear lady, Rating myself at nothing, you shall see How much I was a braggart. When I told you My state was nothing, I should then have told you That I was worse than nothing; for, indeed, I have engaged myself to a dear friend, Engaged my friend to a mere enemy, To feed my means. Here is a letter, lady; The paper as the body of my friend, And every word in it a gaping wound. (3.2.255—266) ewly engaged to Portia, Bassanio has achieved bliss in Belmont, but, soon, a tragic letter from Venice sabotages his happiness. According to the letter, the trading ventures of Antonio, Bassanio’s unfaltering companion and the benefactor who borrowed money to fund his courtship, have all failed and, unable to repay Shylock, his creditor, Antonio risks losing his flesh— and his life. Bassanio’s response to this news is utterly remorseful, demonstrating his sense of conscience, but, ultimately, it highlights the fundamental good-bad duality of human nature.

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Prompted by news of Antonio’s impending doom, Bassanio shows his guilt and, consequently, his virtuous side as he confesses his misdeeds to Portia. He immediately admits that his wealth is not material but that it exists only in his “veins,” as love for her (3.2.256). Ashamed, he then elaborates upon this already embarrassing reality, telling Portia, “When I told you / My state was nothing, I should then have told you / That I was worse than nothing” (3.2.259-261). Here, Bassanio explains that he is not only poor but indebted to Antonio and, by declaring himself to be “worse than nothing,” he equates himself with that unpaid debt which has imperilled Antonio, blaming himself for Antonio’s imminent death. Because Bassanio shows remorse while also very explicitly alerting a new fiancée to the humiliating truth about his finances, this scene illustrates the great extent of his grieving guilt. With a metaphor, Bassanio takes this self-deprecation to the extreme, concluding, “Here is a letter, lady; / The paper as the body of my friend / And every word in it a gaping wound” (3.2.26566). Likening the letter to Antonio’s corpse, Bassanio suggests that Antonio is already dead, and, though he is not dead, this hopelessness emphasizes his aforementioned regret. Moreover, because Bassanio holds the letter in his hands, he implies that he, rather than Shylock, is Antonio’s murderer, carrying a dead body that is covered in figurative “gaping wounds.” Thus, he exhibits remorse at ever having been a friend’s backstabber. Nevertheless, when coupled with his earlier, manipulative attitude towards Antonio, with which he endangered his friend’s life to pursue a romance of his own, Bassanio’s display of conscience amounts to a futile act of grief. Bassanio’s decidedly inconstant virtue has emerged too late to make reparations and prove himself entirely virtuous, even if his wife has volunteered to save Antonio; rather, Shakespeare, using Bassanio conflicted morality, shows that good and bad exists in all people.

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The Divine Quality of Mercy Nate Zucker

F

ailing the first test of his marriage, Bassanio breaks a crucial promise in giving up Portia’s ring to someone he believes is another man. Portia, the woman in the costume of the doctor of laws receiving this sacred ring, succeeds in cracking Bassanio but returns to her palace with a weakened relationship. As any good marriage must overcome some obstacles, the newest couple of Belmont experiences their first bump in the road. The ring, despite the fact that it is actually in Portia’s safe possession, represents Bassanio’s first shortcoming as a faithful husband. The shattered commandment that was supposed to “presage the ruin of [their] love” (3.2.173) looms above Bassanio as he heads home behind his lady in disguise. Playing the only card he has, Bassanio asks for Portia’s forgiveness in an effort to compensate for his mistake; he pleads, “Portia, forgive me this enforced wrong” (5.1.240), leaving his wife to be the judge of him. Avoiding Bassanio’s request, however, Portia does not give him a definite answer; instead, she comes up with a plan of her own, saying, “I had it of him. Pardon me, Bassanio, / for by this ring the doctor lay with me” (5.1.258-9). To make up for Bassanio’s utter betrayal of the agreement, Portia seeks a greater, unconditional forgiveness from him for her excuseless act. Portia allows her husband to be the other half of a bond based on wholesome love and acceptance. The condition Portia needs to grant mercy toward her husband’s wrong is that he must offer the same for her. In bringing the opportunity for pardon to Bassanio, Portia weighs her husband’s values once again. While the underlying imbalance from the early stages of Portia and Bassanio’s interactions still pose a threat to their happiness, Portia’s

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deceptive plots are, in actuality, attempts at bringing equilibrium to the relationship. The woman who initially declared herself and all of her belongings “converted” (3.2.167) to Bassanio now sees the need to evaluate his dedication, too. What Portia has given up in money she expects back in love; despite all the ways Bassanio is indebted to her, from the ducats he has received to the verdict that saved his dear friend, all Portia needs in return is forgiveness. The quality of mercy, which, according to Portia, is “twice blessed” (4.1.184) proves itself to be the ultimate currency. Blessing both the giver and the receiver, mercy sets the scales even. Bassanio finally passes the true test of his marriage. Through an implied gesture of warmth, in some versions depicted as Bassanio holding out a hand and letting Portia slide the ring on his finger all over again, he finally shows that his commitment matches hers. Now with both sides willing to move on from each other’s mistakes, Portia and Bassanio’s relationship evolves from a one-sided financial commitment to a sincere emotional exchange. In a union where both members of the relationship have seen the other’s betrayal, mutual forgiveness restores the strength of their love.

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SELECTED WRITINGS: CLASS OF 2021

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The Unadorned Uniform Oscar Depp

F

rom the third floor of the indoor-tennis facility, window panes offered a view of urbanized high-rises overshadowing local Kampong villages. The indoor tennis court itself overshadowed the Anglo-Chinese School, or ACS—itself an architectural remnant of British colonization. Further beneath the sun-drenched hills dominated by modern Singaporean architecture, a village erected in the 1800s as a British attempt to divide the country by race remained preserved in the cooler section of Newton. Over time, the government effaced most of these prejudicial villages and repurposed them as housing development buildings. After spotting a man chasing roosters from the second-floor hallway in ACS, Darren, my local Singaporean neighbor and friend, immediately stopped me from probing any further. My arrival at ACS for tennis practice drew out a tense expression from the security guard, who upon seeing me reached for his radio. It seemed that my presence there was just as foreign to him as the idea of living in stilted structures was to Darren. Darren’s friends—Ryan and Mikail—came back from their daily tutoring, which they called ‘tuition,’ and joined us at the gates. For the security guard, my “foreignness” was no longer an issue. “Bloody clo-awns, ah you! Gimme ten laps,” Coach Simon assertively directed us after we had scrabbled up the hill to the tennis courts. Mikail was Malaysian, Ryan and Darren were of Chinese descent, but during tennis, we all were sluggards painting the courts with the heels of our shoes. For their parents, I thought, tennis practice was just another rigorous activity that they hungrily sought to add to their children’s ability checklist.

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Coach Simon, glaring at the visible poverty of our effort, reached for the basket and grabbed four balls. Hovering his racket head towards us with malice, we sprinted like cheetahs around the court nine times. For Darren, Ryan, and Mikail, it was routine for a coach or parent to threaten them with punishment, so Coach Simon’s motivational tactic elicited nothing but sighs. Ostensibly, the only action they saw were the cyclical laps of the tennis court and the clanks of the clock. Giving us a short break, he instructed us to “go fetch some water.” “Wah, damn hot sia, wan’ go home sleep,” Darren said, complaining dramatically. Hearing a murmur a meter away, he glanced at me making futile endeavors to first understand, then imitate his jumbled accent. The Singaporean patois, Singlish, is interspersed with the occasional Cantonese, Malay or Hokkien term, making their adapted version of English easier to interact with on a colloquial basis. Noticing my struggles, a smile dripped dangerously across his face. Reaching for a banana in his bag, he poised it adjacent to my shoulder. Peeling it to expose the pale fruit inside, he declared, “Just the same!” with mimicry of my supposedly “American” accent. He’d blanched my American constitution! However, this was hardly the case; I couldn’t care less about my American heritage. Since living in Singapore for the past ten years, I had thought my accent had already integrated with Singlish syntax, but Darren couldn't quite care to notice the development of my accent. Though Ryan and Mikail were snickering, and Darren moved onto training, I was still confused by the phrase ‘the same.’ Meaning what? Implying what? Looking different from the rest or looking like any foreigner? Was he comparing me to a monkey? I was tempted to brush off Darren’s words as the tail end of a burble that I would never understand, but it was also about more than linguistic difficulties for me; it was unsettling to feel that I didn’t have the same trust with Darren as Ryan and Mikail did. Once practice ended, Coach Simon brought us to the Newton Hawker Center, an outdoor-sheltered complex lined with food stalls, named after a famous British engineer in the 1800s. After sitting us Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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down to a bolted plastic table, he disappeared into the crowd. Scanning the miscellaneous arrangement of stalls, many of the cuisines offered varied from Malay satay skewers to Chinese char kway teow, celebrating their heritage in food. Although the cultures of food were vast, it was clear that the sellers and consumers were almost all ethnically TeochewChinese. It seemed that Mikail, Ryan, and Darren’s anticipation of whatever food Coach Simon would bring back—desperate for anything other than tuition and tennis practice—was evident in the constant sound of tennis-shoe soles grinding the ground. Coach Simon returned with Hainanese chicken rice—an unpretentious local cuisine consisting of fragrant rice and steamed chicken breast dipped in soy sauce. Scooping voraciously at the plastic plate, Darren was persistent in eating everything in front of him. As he reached for another spoonful, a group of students strolled by with their chests thrust conspicuously outwards, brandishing their embroidered logo: Singapore American School (SAS). As Darren began to hear the resemblance in their accent, the cadence of their conversation echoed away from me. Even as their school and uniform settled a likeness in my own, their arrangement of similar sounds were not as familiar. Thinking of phrases, I remembered when Darren taught me the word kiasu, a Hokkien word for “afraid to lose” in the classroom. Adapting this phrase, I was afraid to lose my intimacy with Darren. If being “at home” wasn’t routine, then neither was finding one. Would losing always imply gaining? Instead of finding an answer, I scooped up rice from Darren’s plate and splattered it all over my shirt. I plunged myself into the crowd, trying to find my vendor in the city of Singlish.

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Moniker Daisy Dundas

O

mi’s maiden name, Wilfriede Knipping, laid freshly scratched into my notebook. I looked at it, traced it, formed the syllables with my tongue; it was so German it stung my eyes. The biting W, the percussive K—every piece of it radiated efficiency, mechanical bluntness. And as I whispered the syllables, I could nearly taste the sharp tang of pickled herring slicing through potatoes. Omi was Protestant. I never knew exactly what this meant. Sure, she mentioned God often enough, when I sneezed or hugged her goodbye, but her religious beliefs were never made clear to me as a child. When my mother talked about her own faith, Protestant was a lot easier to spit out than Irish Catholic, although neither quite rolled off the tongue. The latter burned her sinuses like liquor. It reeked. I had always wondered why Omi kept his name after the divorce; it didn’t suit her remotely. She was all perfect right angles and sharp points, at least in her youth. Knipping takes focus to pronounce, but Donnelly spills right out of the corners of your mouth without putting up a fight. Its soft, rounded edges bring to mind green rolling hills under a cotton-ball sky. It’s mournful, almost longing in its cadence, the way the Ls at the end pull at your tongue. Matthew Donnelly was beautiful, with golden hair and blue eyes. He was sensitive and gentle in a way Omi had never seen in the rigid German boys she was used to. He was her perfect postcard of America, a happy dream. But while Omi’s past was a simple trauma, black and white, his was endlessly convoluted. Hers was bombs and bullets; his was shame, darkness, and slow, cold insanity. His cravings didn’t make sense to her—they were a reminder of the disease of

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fallibility her German immune system prevented her from catching. My mother thinks she writes under the name Donnelly to remain unattached to my father and me in the public eye. She’s told me that. It’s convenient and might be true, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. I’m not sure she realizes it yet, but all her books say her father’s name across the cover because no one writes quite like the Irish, and even if she never wants to visit Dublin again, the drawing of Joyce in the foyer and the rolling hills in her green eyes betray her all too quickly. Even though her sister got the German looks, my mother might have more in common with Omi, including an inability to let go of some fragments of history. It’s almost funny if you think about it: mother and daughter clutching onto a beautiful drunkard’s name even long after he’s gone.

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In the cabinet Jing He is the linting of greencards under the dim yellow light is a picture book covered in dust muted photographs creased & unsmoothed lines on papa’s face is the strong smell absorbed by the wood of five-spice & oolong of cigar residue on mama’s milk white apron is the mattress that once laid in the corner of the apartment snow builds on rooftop insulating cold feet touching is papa’s savings­— dirty dollar bills among dirty socks is mama’s english books teaching her just enough getting a job at the supermarket is red grocery bags from chinatown bundled in the corner is notecards with uneven lines from the 99 cent store scribbled with letters stained with soy sauce is the cold wooden floor inking pretty patterns onto my skin bruising it with purple is the unspoken boundary of my parents’ past is a reflection reflection of mama and papa and the invisible weight on their shoulders.

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Red Was Never Lucky Natasha Leong

T

he majority of my life has been spent diving headfirst into a foreign culture that never once welcomed me. After years of arduous heartache and confusion, I finally unlocked the unutterable secrets of how to surf the tumultuous tides of American culture. Soon enough, it was almost as if I’d been swimming in its vast ocean, amidst its rocky waves and unforgiving storms all my life. I eventually learnt that part of my journey to assimilation, required one simple key: hating, absolutely hating my true heritage. And once I took that step forward, my feet firmly grounded in the shore of my promised land, there was no going back. ***

My daughter Julie has always been lost in a state of perpetual curiosity. As a child, she would always ask millions of questions in the span of a day, words flying out of her mouth a mile a minute. Until one night, as she clasped a mug of hot chocolate in her hands, eyes trained on the TV, she fell silent. “Mom, why don’t we ever learn more about our culture?” She finally asked, voice quiet and unsure. I froze. “Our culture is American, I’m not sure what you mean,” I responded quickly. “No, I mean our Chinese culture,” she mumbled. “Why would you want to know about that?” I frowned, “it doesn’t benefit you.” “Please?” She begged, starry eyes pressing me to tell her.

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Memories of all the times my culture has alienated me fill my head like an infestation of ants, forcing me to remember. Like a scar I had forgotten for years had ripped open, I was reliving the pain all over again. *** When I was eight years old, I celebrated my first Chinese New Year in America. I couldn’t wait for my two worlds to collide and to finally witness the traditions I’d loved so much back home kiss the shores of a brand-new country. Some things were the same, but others were different. I didn’t get many red packets that year, because all our relatives were on the other side of the world, oceans away. In China, we always held a huge reunion with loads of food and presents, celebrating the holiday with our families and friends. Each party was full of laughter and overheated with the radiant warmth of being surrounded by the people I loved. But this year, we spent it alone. It was a little strange and a little unfamiliar, but some things did stay the same. The morning of New Year’s Day, my mother braided my smooth obsidian hair with her nimble fingers, humming the tune to her favorite song. She tied my two pigtails with two beautiful satin ribbons. They were red for luck in the coming year. It was a small gesture, but an ode to the past nonetheless. I was so excited to have my mom’s homemade dumplings for lunch at school. It was all I could think about as we counted fractions in math, and colored in our Valentine’s Day cards in art class. Her dumplings were a treat I hadn’t appreciated before we moved. Since coming to America, she rarely had any time to cook. Sometimes, I would stay up until midnight to watch her come home from late shifts through the crack of my bedroom door—her hair was always in disarray, and she would still be wearing her dirty waitress uniform. Her apron was ridden with stains from cleaning dirty dishes, and pinned to the collar Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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of her dress was her misspelled name tag. Finally, the bell for lunch rang and I practically skipped to the cafeteria. I sat down with a group of girls from my class, and I eagerly pried off the lid of my plastic lunch box. The aroma of chili oil, herbs, and home wafted into the air, and my heart sung in happiness. The dumplings were shaped so perfectly, and I was immensely proud of my mother’s handiwork. For a split second, I was even tempted to show them off to all of the girls at my table. I wanted to skip through the halls of my school and announce that my mother was the best chef in the world. I wanted everyone to know that these beautiful dumplings were the hidden gems of my culture. Breaking the daydream, Sarah, a girl with platinum blonde hair and knobby knees who looked like one of those Barbie dolls, wrinkled her nose in disgust, “What is that smell?” Her eyes were a piercing blue, chilling to the bone. I’d never noticed their color before. It was the first time I felt shame creep up the back of my neck, prickly like a spider crawling up my skin. My face went red—red like the chili oil on my dumplings, red like the ribbons woven into my hair. Red was supposed to bring me luck, but I felt anything but lucky. I shut the lid of my container, mumbling a quick apology. I didn’t eat lunch that day. Instead, I reheated them in the microwave when I got home, and with fumbling fingers, finally crammed them into my mouth. I felt like a caged animal, wild and hungry, devouring food that my master would disapprove of. Despite being in the comfort of my own home, ice-cold embarrassment trickled down my spine. Tears sprung to my eyes as I realized that my favorite food had somehow been reduced to a guilty pleasure in a matter of seconds. I wanted to enjoy them so badly, but all I could think about was the way Sarah had twisted her face in revulsion. As I chewed, the dumplings I had grown up loving began to taste like sand. When mom asked me if I wanted to bring some leftover dumplings to school the next day, I shook my head and looked down at the floor. 120 

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I couldn’t look at her. *** On my twelfth birthday, my mom brought me to the mall to buy some last-minute groceries. I normally would’ve been annoyed, but I was too busy admiring my brand-new sneakers that I’d been begging my parents to buy me for over a year. We were walking to the grocery store when suddenly, a middle-aged man stumbled through the entrance of the shopping mall, tripping over his own two feet and struggling to form coherent sentences. In school, they taught us to not wear skirts too short or shirts with too much cleavage to avoid any unwanted attention. Watching his eyes roll over us, scanning us from head to toe, I felt sick. I wondered if he was staring at us because we were women. It was summer, and it was the hottest day of the year, and I instantly regretted wearing shorts so short outside of the house. I shrunk into myself, crossing my arms over my chest, hoping he would just completely ignore us. I prayed that my anxiety was just a figment of my imagination. As he approached the two of us, my heart sank into my stomach. But something confused me. His eyes weren’t masked with a salacious glint like I had expected. They weren’t drinking us in, hungry, like a predator that had found its prey. Instead, I felt an aura of anger, permeating the air as he got closer. Tendrils of fear threatened to choke me. He was drunk. He reeked of alcohol. His words were slurred, undecipherable, peppered with profanities. But he did say one thing clearly. “Chinks,” He spat, “Go back to your country.” I couldn’t move. The shame I was beginning to get so familiar with stung, and I felt the weight of a million eyes staring, watching us tremble in silence. I looked down at my light blue shoes like they were the most Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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mesmerizing things in the world. Mom yanked me away and we walked as fast and as far away as we could from him. My heart was racing, and I wondered if it would ever slow back down again. It was only minutes later, when we checked to see if he was still following us, that I could finally breathe again. It was a waste, but after that day, I couldn’t wear those sneakers anymore. I couldn’t wear them without remembering how he had screamed those words with such certainty, and how no one stepped in to save us. When we got home, I looked over at my mother, as she stuck twelve candles into my cake. The way her shoulders slumped, and the way wisps of her hair clung to her sweaty forehead, somehow made her look like she had aged a decade. “Why did that man say that to us?” I asked. The words trembled in the air, heavy with the weight of unfamiliar solemnity. She paused, holding the last candle in her hand, frozen in midair. “You are Chinese in a white country. Sometimes you will not be treated as nicely as others,” mother said with broken English, voice hoarse, eyes pleading me to believe, “It’s life. You must learn to accept it.” I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. It wasn’t fair. She tried to smile, but it was more of a grimace. That night, I stared at myself in the mirror right before I went to bed. I stared at my long black hair, my yellow skin, my dark eyes. I wanted to be proud of being Chinese, proud of being myself. It was getting harder and harder. *** When love was thrown into the mix, the disappointment I had grown accustomed to over the years transformed into a scary form of pain—the type of pain that leaves you numb. The pain that just feels like a dull pang of constant aching, pulsing through your bones in a 122 

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perfunctory rhythm until it miraculously reaches a state of normality. Essentially, it hurts until you forget what it feels like not to hurt. His name was Stephen. He had light brown hair and brown eyes that almost glowed in the sun. His laugh made my heart flutter, and he made me believe in things I shouldn’t have—as first loves often do. It had almost been a full year since we first started dating, when he decided it was time for me to meet his parents. I so desperately wanted them to love me. As much as I tried to resist it, I couldn’t help but picture his mom hugging me in the doorway, and his dad telling me embarrassing stories from his childhood. I’d imagined that they’d have warm brown eyes too, and nice smiles. Little did I know, I was setting myself up for bitter disappointment, by thinking up such a sickly sweet, candy-coated daydream. It could only be described as a nightmare, sitting across the table to the two of them, only to see such a blatant look of disapproval in their eyes. With each bite of home-cooked spaghetti, my stomach curled in uneasiness, twisting into knots. We had just finished eating, when his dad, who had stayed awfully silent throughout the meal, finally spoke up. “Okay, I think we have to cut to the chase,” he cleared his throat uncomfortably, “Look, you seem like a very nice girl. But I’m not sure if it’s right for our son to be dating you.” His words burned. It felt like my face was on fire. “I have to agree,” Stephen’s mother pursed her lips, looking straight into my eyes, “you’re just too different.” But what hurt me more, was when Stephen, the one person I cared about the most, turned to look at me with a face ridden with uncertainty. Like he wasn’t sure what he was thinking, dating a Chinese girl in the first place. He shrugged and apologized and drove me home and told me his parents’ opinions were just too important to him for him to ignore. And it was over. Just like that. It was like his parents’ disapproval was a wakeup call, and it was all Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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he needed to hear to let me go. To throw me away like trash. Watching his pearl white car pull out of my driveway, I wanted, more than anything, to be able to fix everything. I wanted to wake up one morning and look in the mirror, to find a pair of blue eyes staring back at me, and a sheet of blonde hair swept behind my shoulders. I was sick and tired of feeling ugly and unlovable and unworthy of respect. It was the thousandth time my appearance had made the possible impossible. For weeks, the echoes of their unforgiving words ricocheted off the walls of my bedroom, refusing to let me fall asleep. Some say, the best technique to memorize something is to go to sleep with it on your mind, so that by the next morning it will be freshly ingrained in your memory. From those sleepless nights spent recounting every second of that mortifying dinner, that moment and their words were forever set in stone, locked in the concrete walls of my mind for eternity. It took me months to realise that their words were not only a wakeup call for their son, but for me as well. If I wanted to belong, I needed to learn the lesson that I’d been taught time and time again, all these years. *** Slowly, as I got older, I began curling my nose at Chinese food, and rolling my eyes whenever someone spoke Chinese. It seemed like the country whose love and acceptance I longed for, would always hate my yellow skin, my small eyes and my race. Eventually, I did too. There are consequences to thinking that the world is fair and equal. And there is a danger to not realising that being different puts a target on your back. Naivety is a beacon that attracts the scariest monsters, and knowing less keeps you safe. “Please?” Julie pleaded. “Learning about Chinese culture is a waste of space,” I said, “Go watch some TV.” 124 

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Collecting Starlight Aneesha Mishra

D

ubai somehow looked even more beautiful at night. It was one of those enigmas people just shrug off and accept as a natural part of life, not considering it noteworthy enough to investigate. As the light faded from the bustling streets, so did the people, quickly rushing to finish their menial tasks and get home. The malls, filled to the brim with curious tourists, marveling at the sight of a ski slope inside a building and the rotating hotel, miraculously became as deserted as the sandy dunes enclosing the city. The lights shut off one by one, each a warning to the children loitering on the sidewalks that it was past their curfew, as well as a signal to skulking pickpockets that they will be in luck soon. CEOs and shawerma vendors retired, allowing the presence of the moon to gently guide them back to their homes and greet their families. The air tasted much the same as it does everywhere else—stale and lackluster, as though tired from being recycled from too many noses and mouths. But a tangy scent lingered, especially near the beaches, which at that time were almost completely empty, though still imprinted with the footsteps of all the families who’d walked through earlier that day, waiting patiently for the tide to smooth the sandy canvas blank again. But one family was foolhardy enough to venture out into the cold. Mine. It was our last day in Dubai and I was raring to do as much as possible, much to the chagrin of my elder sister, who wanted to rest in preparation of the long flight back we’d have to face tomorrow. My parents decided to indulge their youngest child and allowed

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themselves to be pulled outside by an overly enthusiastic seven-yearold. I ran outside excitedly; my parents never allowed me to stay up this late before, much less explore the world outside at night. Once I’d made my way halfway across the beach, I turned around to stare at the city behind me. With nearly all the lights off, the dazzling city, which my father had called a technological marvel earlier that day, didn’t seem so impressive after all. What really caught my attention were the stars above, spread out like glitter knocked over black fabric by an overly-ambitious fashion designer. I’ve lived in cities my entire life, and the sight of so many stars is rare but extremely welcome. I stared at these stars as my parents talked softly and my sister seemed to fall asleep. I decided each member of the family was one from the cluster of four stars hanging tantalizingly close. I glanced at my family; just like them, the stars appeared close together and would hopefully continue to stay that way through the passage of time, no matter what happened on Earth. I later learned that those stars are thousands of light years apart, and they could all be dead. Stars provide light even after they explode, as they are so far away it takes centuries to finally see that they’ve faded into obscurity and the blank, vast spaces of the Universe. Surely many of them are gone now; it is possible that, like butterflies and fireflies, they belonged to a dreamier world incompatible with the pollution and congestion of a modern metropolis. But much like butterflies and fireflies, they were scattered memorabilia of my childhood I wanted to hold on to for as long as possible; little pockets where naivety and innocence still prevailed. The stars were reflected by the softly shifting water, gently lapping at the beach, and I was tempted to run into the water and scoop it into my hands. Collecting starlight, I’d call it if my parents asked what I was doing, and they’d shake their heads fondly, telling me to get back before I fell sick. 126 

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But I managed to resist my childish, impulsive thought and kept lying on the beach, letting the whispers of my family and the cold wind blowing carry me to sleep.

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The Other Side Jaxon Palmer

I

t was quiet at the beginning. All was dark, all was calm, and all was quiet. Then came an unforeseen knocking noise that stole the boy away from his slumber. He sat up in his bed, bewildered, his foggy eyes searching for the source of the noise. As his vision cleared, his eyes fell upon his bedroom door. The knocking maintained a steady pace, mimicking the monotonous sound of an analog clock. The boy, too drowsy to investigate the sound, turned over onto his side as his heavy eyelids slowly crept down. Sleep was once again taking over. However, the sound could not let sleep have that much control over the boy, so its tempo and volume escalated. The sound would not let the boy escape. The thoughts of sleep that once occupied the boy’s mind were now replaced with thoughts of fear. The curiosity that commonly led the boy to investigate such instances was now diminished by the pounding that continued to strike the door. It was as if the sound was beckoning the boy, begging him to open the door to see what lay on the other side. He could not move, for panic had a strong hold on him that denied any action. Displeased, the once clock-like sound intensified, evolving into a sound one could only describe as deafening. The boy covered his ears with his small hands, attempting to create a barrier, but the sound had come too far to let this stop it. Like a snake slithering through a cobblestone wall, the sound crept through the boy’s fingers and continued until it reached his brain, its violent vibrations putting him in a daze. Then, all at once, the sound subsided. It was not gone, but it had reduced to an almost silent knocking noise. The panic that once held the boy loosened its grip, allowing the boy to move. He didn’t move, though; he remained frozen, staring at the door. He waited for the sound to

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make a grand reappearance. Two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes – nothing happened. As time passed, the boy’s curiosity seeped back in. He swung his legs over the edge of his bed and hopped down onto the cold wooden floor. He took slow, nimble steps forward, closing the distance between himself and the door. Once he was an arm’s length away, he stopped. The rhythmic sound continued as the boy reached up for the handle. He twisted it, pulled the door open, and took a step into the other side. The door closed behind him, and all was quiet once more.

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The Game of Life Aim Poonsornsiri

T

he perpetual badminton game acts as a central structure in Zadie Smith’s story, “The Embassy of Cambodia.” The main character, Fatou, is an unpaid, quasi-legal maid from the Ivory Coast who lives in Willesden in North West London and works for a wealthy Asian family. In the same way that the shuttlecock is “passed back and forth between two unseen players” (2), Smith uses two voices to narrate the story: a third-person limited narrator who has access to Fatou’s experiences and an elderly observer who speaks in the firstperson plural and claims to represent “the people of Willesden” (1). As the tale unfolds, Smith exposes Fatou’s inner thoughts, emotions, dreams throughout her fight for survival in Africa, Italy and now England. The use of the badminton motif switches from context to context as it represents Fatou’s hardships, her resilient character, the unseen human suffering, and the unjust inequality of wealth and power in the world. Smith divides the story into 21 short sections— “0-1, 0-2, 0-3,” up to “0-21”—which structurally reinforces the symbolic significance of the badminton game being played in the grounds of the embassy. The badminton game indicates that Fatou is always on the losing side of life. The game ends with one player crushing the other, emphasizing the reality that Fatou is continually oppressed by her impoverished social situation, as she is mercilessly and unfairly fired from her job at the conclusion of the story. By the time the badminton set ends at “0-21,” her position in life has not improved from when she was in the section “0-1.” At the same time, however, there is hope that this may only be the end to the first set and Fatou may have a chance of finding the upper hand after the story ends. Thus, the section numbers reflect

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the fact that Fatou has come out on the losing side throughout her life but leaves the reader with the anticipation that she might recover and start to better herself later in life. The repetitive nature of the badminton game symbolizes the ongoing struggles that Fatou has to defend herself against in her life. The repeated refrain “Pock, smash. Pock, smash” (1, 2, 22) alludes to the continuous cycle of conquest and hardship that Fatou faces in life. Fatou’s life, like the game, is a constant struggle between trying to go forward and being held back. The rhythmic phrase reinforces Fatou’s constant need to defend herself and fight for survival, just like a soundtrack in a film which is ever-present in the background of a story. A crucial difference between the “pock, smash” aspect of the badminton motif and the one-sided scores above is that the “pock” shows Fatou’s ability to regularly counter the onslaught that she faces. She is able to maintain employment, and even at the end when she unfairly loses her position with the Derawals, there is hope that she will find a new, and possibly better, job through her friend Andrew’s contacts. The “smash” shots from the other player represent society’s discrimination against Fatou, and her returns are no more powerful than a gentle “pock.” The recurring “pock” and “smash” sounds thus label Fatou as a fighter and a survivor. Smith emphasizes Fatou’s resilient character through examples of situations in which she has taken advantage of small opportunities in order to improve her chances of survival against the odds. Smith explains, “the first player [is] always somehow able to retrieve the smash and transform it, once more, into a gentle, floating arc” (2). In this context, “the smash” represents the oppression that Fatou fights against and the “gentle, floating arc” stands for Fatou’s cunning resourcefulness. Fatou steals the Derawals’ guest passes to the health club every Monday so that she can go for a free swim and even manages to pretend that she is wearing a bikini by wearing “a sturdy black bra and a pair of black cotton knickers” (6). There is a delightful irony here, as Fatou’s ingenuity allows her to turn the tables and gain free access to Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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luxurious facilities. She even uses her initiative to gain Andrew entry, even though this necessitates persuading the receptionist to make an exception just one time. These details of Fatou’s resourcefulness give dimension to her ability to return the smashes that life hits her with and become a winner in a few situations. A final and more sinister theme revealed by the badminton motif is that most people are usually unaware of, or at least unconcerned with, the disturbing extent of human suffering happening to poorer people in the world. Using the mysterious first-person plural voice of the elderly observer, Smith writes, “the players in the garden of the Embassy of Cambodia are silent. (We can’t say for sure that it is a garden—we have a limited view over the wall. It may well be a paved area, reserved for badminton)” (2). The lack of sound and vision of the game represents the fact that most victims of abuse suffer out of sight and without a voice. Smith leaves out many details from the story and chooses not to expand on dialogues, leaving them to the imagination of the reader. An example of this deliberate omission is Fatou’s memory of being raped while working in a hotel in Ghana. All the reader knows about the assault is that “the door shut softly behind her before she could put a hand to it” (13) and this lack of information forces the reader to personally fill in the details and imagine Fatou’s unheard suffering during the attack. This makes the abuse appear more vivid and menacing. Following the rape, “Fatou listened to his blubbering and realized that he thought the hotel would punish him for his action, or that the police would be called. This was when she knew that the Devil was stupid as well as evil” (13). In the aftermath of her assault, Fatou’s hopelessness conveys the seemingly unresolvable injustice of her predicament. Thus, by describing the imbalanced badminton game as silent and only partially visible, Smith draws a clever parallel between the game and the unheard suffering of exploited people. This comparison is further exemplified by the fact that the badminton game takes place in the Cambodian Embassy, as Cambodia is a country situated far away from the story’s setting in 132 

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England. The insinuation here is that people might feel less concerned about exploitation and human misery if it occurs in a place which is geographically and culturally removed from their own existence. Zadie Smith’s “The Embassy of Cambodia” develops to symbolize the many faces and stages of Fatou’s battle through life and provides a personal case study of human suffering and resilience, emphasized through the badminton motif. Through characterization and plot development, the short story highlights Fatou’s predicament and her oppressed position in society. Smith’s use of badminton as a metaphor for Fatou’s life exposes the imbalance of power between the two extremes, such as Fatou and the Derawals, and gives a memorable human face to the abuse and misery that is endured by so many people around the world.

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My Dearest Gwydion Isabella Rolfe

M

y dearest Gwydion, Another humdrum week has passed. I miss your presence. This morning I woke up to the sound of the hummingbirds outside our left bedroom window. It amazes me how they continue to chirp, even though you are no longer alive to appreciate their voices. I took a walk into town. I couldn’t help but notice the stares. Every child, bored housewife, and tightly wound businessman snickered as I passed by. “She’s a witch!” “Haven’t you heard?” “Ten years later and she’s still concocting potions to bring her husband back to life!” Oh Gwyd, I don’t know why I feel so prickly. It’s usually so easy to ignore them. I think it's the change in seasons. It always affects me. I kept my earnest smile on, but it was of no use. Tightening the hood of my cloak over my knotted, crimson locks, I slipped down the side street to Boggles and Trouble. The door was ajar and the store was buzzing. They'd just received a new shipment of hemlock. It was the white flowered kind we used to include in the brew for my toothache years ago. Arthur, at the counter, was kind as usual. He seems to be the only human I interact with these days. After running errands, I came back to our veranda. I played with Merlin. For a cat, I’d say he’s highly intelligent. His presence soothes me. He makes me forget that you are not with me. Do you remember when you brought him home? I wore a black blouse embroidered with silver crescent moons for the occasion. Oh, how I’ve changed Gwyd! If you could see me now, I don’t know what you’d say. I’ve been studying Morgan le Fay’s spells. I’m getting closer, my love. I’m not losing hope. You will be with me soon enough. The lunar

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eclipse, in two summers, is rapidly approaching! The moon is rising tonight, and I have to go mix in the new ingredient. There are only eight more seasons until we soar again as one. Forever yours in magic, Arwyn

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We Would Not Burn Michelle Zimmerman And when the fading sky catches on fire The ghosts knocking on her door to proclaim; Steal her from her home, calling her a liar Whole world deaf to her screams, set her aflame. The cautionary tales that your mother Told you still echo when you are too smart Or too strong for the men who would rather Have you smile and settle to play the part. But before you know, your reflection curls: Singed cheekbones, mascara running longer Streaks down your face, and your mother’s pearls Around your neck, you look back — hands stronger And eyes colder and walk the ashes through Of all those who had dared to question you.

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SELECTED WRITINGS: CLASS OF 2020

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American Airports Kareena Bhakta Eyes widened, heart racing, and mouth slightly ajar. The only thing that can elicit this kind of reaction from the average American nowadays goes by the name of TSA pre-check. At the airport, one has the incredible chance to witness a wide range of people. Each person carries their own life story and reasons for travel. To observe such an event and partake in it as well should feel like a privilege although most view the airport experience as mundane, tiring, and even frustrating. Dark circles define the eyes of people glued to various electronics as more people drag their feet and push their four-wheeled carry-on bags past coffee shops with intricate lines of nameless faces standing around for their morning, afternoon, or nightly fix. Weak smiles and small exchanges fill the surrounding air that seems to suck the moisture from just about everything. All of the small decisions that comprise a trip decide if it will be a pleasant or terrible experience. For example, while rushing to board a flight, I had to decide between two TSA security lines. One had many elderly people while the other had a middle-aged-looking man. I chose the line with the man thinking he would move faster, but then he turned around and had a baby strapped to his chest. In that moment, I knew I had severely misjudged. Afterward, I had to face the unparalleled stress of grabbing my bags from the belt quickly, but accurately, so that I appeared as though I knew what I was doing. Finally sitting in my seat, I watched the happy airline people in the pre-flight video while angrily jamming in my earphones to block out the boarding chaos. But zooming out from this personal anecdote, a larger influence controls the narrative. Although airport security stories can be comical and relatable, the systems we observe at the

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airport did not always exist as such and changed drastically after the pivotal event of September 11, 2001. Before 9/11, scenes featured in films where people could go straight to the gates without having a boarding pass and bid their lovers farewell were realistic. The airport experience was one of privilege— people would dress up to board their flights while others would go to the airport to simply watch the planes take off and land. Airport security was handled by individual airports and not the federal government. The types of items one could bring on the plane were much less restricted, including a four-inch knife. Nowadays, racial profiling leads to special bag checks, which lead to questioning and potential ticket confiscation or getting on a no-fly list. A personal story that I have heard belongs to a male friend of color who feels as though he cannot grow out his beard in fear of being profiled or, even worse, being feared by the people around him. What makes the airport experience American to me? Fear. A common experience such as 9/11 is powerful enough to unite us in our tragedies yet divide us in our reactions. What makes the airport experience American to me? Hope. America is many things, but, in my opinion, she is never idle. Everything changed after this fatal day in history and continues to do so. Mistakes are bound to be made along this path of recovery, but I have hope that a safer country can exist without pointing fingers. Perhaps next time you will remember to look up and witness that aforementioned wide range of people surrounding you. And most importantly, for the love of TSA precheck, remember to take your laptops out of your carry-on bag.

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The Art of Appearances: First Impressions Trisha Boonpongmanee

T

here’s a distinctive harmony to your name—The United States of America. Even before you introduce yourself, you’ve established and defined your presence. “The” sets you apart on the assumed basis of individualism, “United States” reigns you in with an undivided solidarity, “America”—well, “America” is the nickname you carefully curated, carrying connotations of not only freedom, justice, and democracy, but the promise of opportunity. After I knew you, of course, I learned the subconsciously contradicting values you held behind the charismatic mask. You told me that your opportunity wasn’t blind—in fact, you prided yourself on your interviewer’s eye for understanding the character behind each applicant. You showed me that stories embody a real person, that numbers on a page would never replace the words that came out of someone’s mouth because numbers didn’t speak for themselves, and that not speaking up for myself was the most passively destructive action I could do. You taught me that no version of my story had the potential to be as powerful as my first impression. Now that we’re old friends, let me tell you about the time I met you. I didn’t even have a chance to ask you who you were because you told me right away, walked up and grabbed my hand with the brusque excitement of a businessman closing a deal. It caught me off guard: I jumped uneasily, squeezed a little too tightly, squeaked out an uncomfortable greeting. We didn’t know each other, so what you perceived as cordial I perceived as presumptuous. You interpreted the respect I thought I projected as doubt. I didn’t know yet that failing

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to fall between the bounds of an unwritten guideline that you never showed me, one that you didn’t even know controlled your judgement, would invalidate my candidacy, convince you to refuse to hear me out. When I spoke to you, I was following the guidelines of a different book­—one my parents gave to me, one that was also painstakingly written and rewritten over generations. I read that handbook; I knew every word. It didn’t matter, though, because you were marking off boxes on a different rubric. Something you said tipped me off: a doubtful “Really?” It was your way of offering me a second chance. Previously, I had assumed that our copies of the manual were the same; this moment revealed that they not only differed in opinion, but outright contradicted each other. To survive, I ditched my copy, read over your shoulder and absorbed your notes instead. I’m thankful—you gave me the opportunity to make a new first impression, and that’s a gift few are willing to give. I remembered the advice you scribbled in the top center margin: every meeting is a pitch, and you’re the presenter and the shiny new product. Learn to listen to the voices that are learning to speak for themselves because they’ve spent a lifetime being taught to let their achievements speak for them. You gave me another chance, but your idea of opportunity hasn’t changed—every day you dismiss the most qualified hopefuls. Although you’ve mastered the art of appearances, you’re still learning to uncover the art of deception. You never realized that those mirages, presented in shiny silver wrapping paper and pretty red bows, came straight from an assembly line. The contents of those engineered boxes didn’t hold more value than the ones wrapped in sensible cardboard. Too often, I watched you embrace that sparkling illusion while ignoring a true treasure. I have to ask: why didn’t you take the chance and offer an opportunity?

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Deerfield Sonnet Ethan Chen After Terrance Hayes I lock you in a Deerfield student that is part Lion, Part Tin Man, a little fry suspended in the whirling riptide, I lock you in a schedule that is part alarm clock, part slave master to whip the sanctuary out of the beast’s hibernation. I lock your persona in the click click clicking of typewriters While your lifeless corpse prostrates itself towards the deans. I make you both Margarita & Curtsy here. As the Margarita You undergo the intoxicating mirage of Hercules though the mirror Reflects that of Achilles. As the Curtsy, the image of black Blazers swooping to the ground is not unlike that saying You preach at dawn and dusk and day and dawn. I make you a crown of wood and rubber labeled ‘worthy.’ Lessons to learn, dream & tame. It is not enough To pretend I am you. It is not enough for me to kick you out.

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Pride Molly Fischer

J

une 28th, 1970, Christopher Street, New York. A group of about one hundred gay men, lesbian women, and drag queens stand anxiously in the street, waiting for the parade to start. They are scared—terrified, even. Nobody is ready to declare their identities to the world. Nobody is ready to face the police or the crowds waiting alongside the street. These people are here because, finally, after decades of discrimination, oppression, and hatred, the LGBTQ community decided they had had enough. When the police came to arrest them at the Stonewall Inn, they stood up and said: “No!” They refused to be arrested. They refused to be beaten and harassed. They refused to hide in the shadows. They stood up and fought for their rights. And now, standing in the middle of Christopher Street, the marchers are embracing their uniqueness and celebrating their identities. Despite the fear, despite the doubt, despite the people who warned them not to, the marchers are all here. May 5th, 2018, Northampton, Massachusetts. I am standing on the corner of the sidewalk, my eyes overwhelmed with colors—pink, yellow, green, blue, red, purple, black, grey, orange, and variations of the latter—it is like a paint bomb exploded in the streets and covered everyone from head to toe. Scattered throughout the crowd are street vendors and their carts, filled to the brim with pins, magnets, sashes, hats, and flags. I am surrounded by friends, strangers, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and our allies. With the blare of a trumpet, the parade begins. Everyone turns their heads in the direction of the music playing, and I smile as I recognize

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the lyrics of Hayley Kiyoko’s ‘Curious.’ The marchers begin to saunter down the street, and everyone responds instantly by clapping and cheering. Floats move slowly through the crowd, transporting drag queens, old dykes, furries—even firefighters. Trailing behind them are countless preachers, students, parents, dogs. This is it. This is the place where we can reveal our true selves. This is the place where we can love ourselves unconditionally. This is the place where we can celebrate being a part of a community that embraces uniqueness and individuality. This is the moment where hate disappears and progress begins. The parade is over, and we are back on campus. I trudge silently up the stairs before turning left and opening the door to my room. I pull the door shut and lean against it. (heavy sigh) I slide the backpack off of my shoulders and place it on the bed. Walking towards my closet, I grab the box that was pushed to the back of the top shelf, and set it next to my backpack. Then I begin to undress. The first item that comes off is my hat, the one that has the word ‘Pride’ stitched across the front. Then come the colorful beads that adorn my shoulders, and after that, I untie the rainbow flag from around my neck. The flag gets folded up carefully before it is placed into the box. Finally, I empty my backpack of all the papers, bracelets, candy, sunglasses, and pins. Everything that I got from the Pride Parade goes into a brown cardboard box. Trying to hold back the tears forming beneath my eyelids, I slide that box back onto the top shelf of my closet and to the very back, so that there is no chance of my family seeing it when they come and visit.

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Family Story By Madeline Lee Sometime in mid-February my mom would stuff me into six fat layers. “Make sure to wear a lucky color,” she’d say, as if wearing bright red would stop me from picking at the skin on my fingers and the lint on my crimson jacket. the next thing I remember is the clang of metal against metal as the second door shut behind us, a big, cacophonous bell announcing our arrival. It helped lock the happiness inside. I loved how the room smelled like turnip cake and dusty fruit, like the ones you buy at the market and when you sniff them they smell old but whole and when you hold them they feel heavy and cold and stiff. Just in the other room, in the tiny kitchen with stoves and tables crammed up against the sides, loud, unbridled laughter trickled through the door

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like oil that hung in the air you could catch whispers of gossip and secrets they kept from the kids. I was one of those kids, but to clarify, it was just me and my brother. We sat in a fat black armchair together and ate chocolate coins. My brother liked cracking sunflower seeds in his mouth and spitting out the shells in bunches of tissues and shoving them in my face. I laughed. “We’re thinking of sending her to America soon,” said my dad. His voice cut in like a sharp blue knife in a room plastered with red. “They all go at some point, might as well get ahead of the game.” (He mentioned America a few times before, planting the notion of leaving my home and letting it take root in the whims and fancies of a ten-year-old girl. I didn’t like it but that was before things got worse and I always said No.) I looked up and cried, “Da-ad, I don’t want to go!” and turned my attention back to the dog which had conveniently sat down at my feet. (This was how the discussion went at least, more than half the time 146 

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when he talked about America.) I felt the lump in my throat. It was my aunt that day who took me aside: I don’t remember much of what she said but she told me, Whether you’re home or halfway across the world we will still be here, in the daytime we live under the same sky and in the night we sleep under the same stars; we are closer than you think. The room became a little brighter, the scents became a little stronger, and for a moment, the world seemed a little smaller.

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Rooted in Comfort Nikita Pelletier

E

ndlessly betwixt May and Ellen, convention and passion, love and loyalty, Newland Archer must finally make a decision. All his life he has turned from one position to the other, never pleasing either side, nor himself. Now, as he sits on a bench beneath Ellen Olenska’s apartment in Paris, he at last has an opportunity to cast convention into the wind and pursue what he has craved all his life—the one person he has longed for. Yet, he remains confined by his own mind. He is consumed by the societal habits that have been engraved into his life and his quixotic understanding of reality. In this moment Newland proves his realization of his self-confinement, but he does not take the step towards unconventionality just as he never has and never will. Newland is a man who finds himself lost in his own perceived thoughts, often to his own demise. His desires are so fantastically articulated in his head that the true reality of a situation is too difficult and uncomfortable for him to understand or accept. Consequently, he does not act upon the true reality, but rather remains safely in his imagination. As he internally debates meeting Ellen, his thoughts build up to his final conclusion when he says out loud, “It’s more real to me here than if I went up” (269). In vocalizing this verdict, it is no longer one of his mental conjurings, but a decision. The widower reassures himself that whatever could possibly happen if he were to join Ellen would never be as congenial as what he can construct in his own head. Throwing himself into a situation in which these thoughts could possibly not hold true anymore would be shattering and could potentially fracture his currently concrete thoughts. And so he remains anchored to the comfort of doing nothing and savoring

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memories. Remaining seated, Newland makes no attempt to rekindle a passion that has been victim to twenty-six long years of distance. He “remain[s] motionless” (269) just as he has all his life. Always waiting for Ellen to decide for them, for him, Newland is practiced in the art of inactivity. He “continue[s] to gaze” (269) at what he wants without any movement towards it. In this moment, the well-lived man shows no evidence of a development or change in his outlook on life. However, unlike when he was younger and blindly conforming to ideals of society with no real rooted values of his own, he now makes a conscious decision to remain distanced. His whole life is proof to him that he is bound by convention, and that he cannot escape what has been done and learned. When Newland’s son asks what he should tell Ellen when he arrives alone, he replies, “Say I’m old-fashioned: that’s enough” (269). A testament to his acknowledgement that he has not changed, his words are a recognition that he has indeed been bound by the ways of society his entire life. He faces the truth that he allowed convention and his thoughts to get in the way of acting upon the love he and Ellen shared. It is an apology for all those years he did not take action, and a statement that he cannot change now. By deciding to remain in his own imagination, Newland confirms he always will value his comfort over the good, and possibly bad, that could arise from a new experience. The man who once thought so highly of his own thoughts now finds himself accepting the consequences of his decision to maintain distance. He can no longer lie to himself and believe that he is the unconventional man he so desperately yearned to be his whole life. He is no better than the societal laws that have rooted him in the past. Picking himself up from the bench, he returns to his room and to the comfort of his old ways. Newland Archer has allowed his thoughts to get the best of him his whole life and at last submits to them. This, perhaps, is the only true active decision he has ever made, and possibly the last and saddest. Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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Sounds of Hysteria Jazmine Ramos Here’s what you need to know. I am sorry. I am sorry for believing I have superpowers. I thought that I could have it all. Actually, I think and I can and I’m not really sorry. When D-day killed over 100,000 people. I thought it was good. The 11,000 children caged at my borders now, even better. I am a force of chaos. Reeking of intolerance and rage. Yet I know that my credibility is crucial. That my ideologies are indispensable. And even when my reasoning is wrong, I am somehow right. My sweeping change is sweeping me off my feet Every single time it comes back to haunt me And every. single. time. I look it straight in the face and ask “Oh, really?” Because I know that I know it all My power exceeding all challenges My arrogance is my alibi Enforced to fortify my defenses Leaving the rest of the world defenseless Because they are nothing to me Nothing against me No analogy can compare Because I am exceptional

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Exceptionally ignorant Unaware of my aggressors that have brewed from my immutable aggression Ignorant to the bigot in my veins At least that’s what they call me But my instability commands me to ignore Advising me to ignore the evils of my dilating domain Or rather deny Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq Legacies of misunderstanding left as living and dying evidence of my hubris My people said they learned to not trust me But what did I learn? My lesson to myself? Do it again Kill others but do not kill mine If I can’t compensate for one How can I compensate for the million? It is simple I can’t, and I won’t The foreign is valueless Subservient to my overbearing rule Victims of the bash of my phony generosity The hypocrisy that delivers blows to my stature in the world The world I see unfit to judge without me Internationally incompetent My denial is my deficiency My self-confidence, a syndrome Unshakable, it is my crutch Holding me back when I think that I’ve made it through Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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My progression a litany of empty successes My expectations depressed at the expense of my selfishness Can you hear the sounds of my hysteria? The people’s psyche radiating a pungent paranoia Induced by my idiocy I am a danger to the human race Humans burdened with a rash fever of dreams Blinding them from my integrity But they are not really blind Only held by hopeless hope Hopelessness for the future For the repeated unrevolutionary revolutions A never ending tale of betrayal bolstered by the blood on a wounded warrior His story is the fight for the sake of my esteem He bows down to me Bow down to me. I thought that my failures had been buried by my history But they are predators of my morality Hunting for any sense of my humane ethos Severing the souls of my sons and daughters The sons and daughters still confined under the delusion that I can save them Their fantasies are a disappointment Do they not know me yet? Can they still not recognize my effusive array of empty promises? Promises promoted by my distracted ambitions Fixated on personal advancement And without a change in my poor perspective 152â€

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This advancement will continue to become regression Fantasies a foul reality And death an unconditional conventionality So to those pained from the products of my pretension I cannot even save myself. I am not sorry. I will not stop. I have not learned.

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Evolution of Belief Arthur Yao

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hen I was nine, watching documentaries in science class about the shrinking ozone layer, Amazonian deforestation, and oil spills plagued my sleep with post-apocalyptic nightmares. At Shanghai American School, posters promoting “The 3Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) abounded. In this way, environmentalconsciousness was inculcated in me from an early age. Brimming with smug self-righteousness, I filled both sides of notebook pages with my loopy, slightly cramped scrawl and toted a re-fillable Nalgene bottle to sports practices. At the time, I believed that making small individual contributions to curtail my environmental impact was sufficient. Then, the world outside the liberal, Westernized bubble of my international school challenged my belief. The year I turned ten, my grandfather was excited to show off his latest acquisition: a sky-blue Volkswagen Jetta. As we settled in for the long ride to Hangzhou, my grandmother handed me my favorite snack of Oreo cookies, which I began munching happily. As the car sped on, I noticed other drivers lackadaisically tossing trash from their windows. Chip bags, candy wrappers, and used tissues: only a few seconds passed before they vanished from view. Like the iconic plastic bag scene in American Beauty, their dances in the wind held a certain mesmerizing elegance. Distracted by these sights, I failed to notice my grandfather reaching towards me until he had snatched the empty Oreo sleeve from my grasp. He then swiftly rolled down his window and loosed the trash into the air. I nudged his protruding belly and shot him a mortified look in the rearview mirror. “I didn’t want that plastic dirtying my new car Arthur,” he stated calmly as he rolled the window back up. Afraid to challenge his authority, I stayed silent. Yet

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for the rest of the journey, shame simmered in the pit of my stomach. I realized that my individual contributions to the environment were not enough. My grandfather had only been following the habits of his environmentally-unaware generation. I realized that it was my responsibility to share my knowledge and inspire change among those close to me. My beliefs further evolved when an environmental tragedy struck my hometown when I was twelve. “Xià xuěle!” (It snowed!) shouted my brother. The white substance coating our local beach certainly resembled snow; however, we were in sub-tropical Hong Kong. I knelt and to my horror discovered that the “snow” was in fact thousands upon thousands of small plastic pellets. Soon after I learned from the South China Morning Post that Typhoon Vicente had swept 150 tons of the pellets into the sea, with billions of pellets landing on Hong Kong’s shoreline, where they swiftly soaked up toxins and poisoned marine life. Yet, neither the government nor Sinopec, the corporation that owned the pellets, was taking immediate action. I decided to dial the phone number posted in the newspaper and added myself to a list of beach cleanup volunteers. The following Sunday, I joined a 100-strong group of strangers at Hong Kong’s most polluted beach: Shek Pai Wan. We spent the day retrieving as many pellets as possible. The experience was heart-wrenching. I saw seagulls bereft of life, fish swimming upside down, and enough plastic “snow” to cover a ski slope. The experience was also inspiring. It made me believe that like-minded people can make meaningful impact on the environment when they form communities and act collectively. The term “tragedy of the commons” refers to the concept that selfinterested individuals behave contrary to the common good of all individuals by depleting or spoiling a resource (e.g. the environment) through their collective actions. I believe that we all need to take individual responsibility, spread awareness among the communities that we are part of, and participate in collective action to preserve the Earth for ourselves and future generations. Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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SELECTED WRITINGS: CLASS OF 2019

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Birthright Sydney Bebon Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot? How is this night different from all other nights?

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heir answers taunt the precipice of my consciousness, they swirl smiling, easy answers; they advertise their comfort: the sweet dream of a silent mind. I used to sing the Israeli national anthem in preschool along with ‘This Land is Your Land,’ despite never learning the pledge of allegiance, never draping my stubby little right hand over my heart. We brought home fresh-baked challah on Fridays, and we spent Saturday mornings learning to soak the tufted pieces in egg and place them on a sizzling stove. We made menorahs on little planks of wood and thick steel bolt nuts with hot glue that would blister our dewy skin. I remember playing Esther for Purim, and one year a frog. I knew who Moses was and how he parted the Red Sea before I could recognize George Washington on the one dollar bill. I liked the warm scent of the ancient wood that covered the floors of the synagogue. The jingle of the Torah cover rings through my mind; I place a kiss to my hand, and I touch it. But then, one day, it was my first day of kindergarten, and in kindergarten, we sang different songs, and I forgot the words to sing along to those lilting, minor-key melodies. My cousin Alexa is an artist. She captures sweeping sleepy landscapes and delicate portraits in thick and sappy oil paint. She is also the daughter of the very much Catholic side of my family. For the past two years she has been living in Jerusalem, painting at the Jerusalem Studio School. She came home for Christmas this year

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because she was forced to return to the U.S. to renew her visa. She wasn’t unprepared and knew the duration of her time there well in advance, but she was unable to renew her visa from the embassy in Jerusalem. She said, “Yeah, they just tend to give me a harder time than some of the other international students, I’m not Jewish, so...”. We had just digressed from singing “Silent Night” to “Bohemian Rhapsody” as we stuffed ourselves with chocolate cake and the last of the wine around the piano. I was glad I knew the words to these songs; they were the words I knew well. Yesterday, I got a letter in the mail. It was bright blue and bore this obnoxiously yellow star of David on it. I didn’t realize they sent you them in the mail, but there it was, my official notice of eligibility. Upon turning eighteen, you are told ‘you are now eligible to apply for one of our free 10 day journeys to Israel’; you are told ‘Birthright Israel seeks to ensure the future of the Jewish people by strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish communities, and connection with Israel via a trip to Israel for the majority of Jewish young adults from around the world.’ I hadn’t known the lyrics to the songs sung and the prayers repeated at my friends’ bar and bat mitzvahs. I couldn’t read Hebrew, my Yiddish had mostly been acquired from Seinfeld reruns, and my challah rench toast was just never as fluffy as my mother’s. But still, I suppose, I was Jewish, and so, I got my letter. And still, I suppose, it has never been something I’ve chosen. I had this dream once. It was dark and cold, and I was running. I knew I was running away from something, but I didn’t know what. But I kept running, and I saw myself running too, as though I was both the chaser and the chased. I saw my self in flickers of light. I saw my own eyes, eyes like a deer, like a deer that runs across the road in the night, stopping mid-stride in the most honest terror to force your eyes to see their own. And so I kept running, running and running and running. Then the hallway ended, and I knew where I was. I was in a church. The chaser had been there before; she had sat in those 158 

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pews a thousand times, the only Latin she knew, the words of god. The chased had been there once before, once and only once. And then I woke up. My great grandfather was born in 1907, when the Spanish influenza had infected everything, even the air. Everyone was dying, everyone was sick. He lived his life like a normal child, who is born into this world alone. But he wasn’t a normal child, he wasn’t born alone. He had a twin sister, who didn’t have a name. She hadn’t existed long enough to get one. My mother gave my father a picture for the Christmas of 1999. They had been married in October, and my father had already known that before the date would pass again, they would be parents. But he hadn’t known that when he slid the black imaging of my mother’s stomach from its envelope, he would see not one, but two little white masses, a boy and a girl. He was ninety-three years old, the year I was born. And for ninetythree years he was a normal child, born into this world alone. But on that year, he gave my father, his grandson, a picture as well, gave him a small heart-shaped box you might imagine contained an engagement ring, and within that little box lay a small photograph that showed two little white faces swaddled together against the black. That’s who my brother is named after, my great grandfather Francis Gigi. But, only his birth certificate knows him as that. To me he was just Davis, and I was just Sydney. When Francis died, it was the first time I had ever been in a church. I had visited him many times, but I never once spoke to him; he had lost his voice to time. I saw some of my cousins crying, but I knew I couldn’t. I didn’t know the man, and I didn’t quite understand what it was to die. The priest said prayers over a black lacquered box that held his tired body. My mother’s father was the youngest of six children. Each was given a fabric store their parents owned as a wedding present, and every child did what their parents had done. He was eleven when they Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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died. When Francis was discovering his first love in a quiet Connecticut suburb, my other great grandparents were living the death of a bloodied Russia. He had been a private, she a nurse. They saw nine million people die before they had even begun to live. And, it wasn’t a place welcoming to people like us, not back then. So, he left Minsk— one brother to Canada, the other to Palestine—deserted his post, and slipped through European borders and into Brooklyn, where my grandfather owned a fabric store for many years. It took some time for him to send for his wife, Rose. The Priest sounded like he knew him, really knew him, like he had secretly retained his youth within the walls of the church. I remember the smell of frankincense, the censer swinging like Newton’s cradle, didn’t like it much, but I remember it. She was in the front row, staring, unobstructed, at the casket. I had never heard her speak either. She was only a year Francis’s junior, and to live to 103 was no small feat. I don’t remember her face, but I remember her voice, the sound of her humming to the rocking of her chair. The last time I saw her, I sat and listened for a long time, and I wondered if there was anything she would have wanted to say. Eventually, my mother’s grandmother Rose made it to Ellis Island. She set sail in Poland, in a ship without a name. The rest, we couldn't know. I got in trouble a lot in elementary school. I had this habit of humming, humming to myself and never hearing it. The vibrations thrummed through my lips as naturally as breathing, and I never had to ask myself to do either of those things. I had felt very old the day I sat there silently and watched her hum. She seemed very fragile to me, great grandma Gigi, like one of the porcelain dolls I never dared take down from the shelf. That was something my grandfather used to call me, the one who owned the fabric store, used to say I looked like a porcelain doll, with the headlight eyes to match, eyes that seemed too big for my little 160 

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porcelain head, eyes like a deer, grown large in the headlights. My cousins had all been to the church before. Each had walked down the break in the pews as infants, then children, then young adults. I once asked my mother if I ever wore one of those little white wedding dresses and got to walk down that aisle towards the cross. But they weren’t wedding dresses, I was told, and that kind of thing wasn’t for me. I asked my dad why we didn’t go to church on Christmas or Easter like everybody else. He said he didn’t like the Church, and that it wasn’t for me, anyway. We always had other things to do when my cousins were being confirmed. Christmas was one of the only times I saw my father’s parents. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter were the three times a year we would file into the car, powdered and primped, and journey to the place my dad never wanted to visit. I loved Christmas, and that Stopand-Shop ham and marshmallow sweet potatoes that tasted too good to be considered food. Being on the younger side of sixteen cousins, I never spent a moment alone in that house. Never a moment, except when they’d lock me in that room. The room with the dolls. The china cabinet stretched the entire length of the room, but its shelves were never seen under the endless plastic shoes of the porcelain dolls my aunts had once received. They were the kind of dolls that had those blinking eyes that stare you down in mock horror for thinking they weren’t alive. I always thought of my grandfather then, the one that owned the fabric store, when my eyes grew wide and bright in fear. Grandma Rhoda seemed to be a part of the very fabric of Summer. She was just as expected as the ice cream trucks returning to the corner of my street, just as natural as the ice melting in sheep’s meadow and the grass returning to green. She picked us up from camp, cooked our meals, took us swimming, and tucked us into bed. It takes about four hours and forty-five minutes to get from my New York apartment to the Worcester, Massachusetts cemetery where my mother’s family is buried. Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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I knew my grandmother was dying for a long time. I think she started dying when I was at my ice skating lesson in the first grade, taught by a widowed woman named Moira. A car had bumped into her in just the right way, rattling her brain and causing a stroke. When I got home that night, the lights were off in the living room, even the ones on our Christmas tree. I was told my mother wouldn’t be coming home, and I should just go to sleep. She didn’t die for another two years, regaining the ability to speak, only to lose it again along with her hair. It was the cancer in the end. There is this weird thing that happens to women on my mother’s side of the family. When they are born, they are named after the last to die, the first initial of the name that will call the new life taken from the first initial of the life no longer had. When they are married, they will take the initial again, their names reformed in spontaneous alliteration: Rose Rosenberg, Sally Savage, Rhoda Rosenberg, Sydney Silverman, Barbara Bebon. That’s where I got my name, from Sydney Silverman, my mother’s great aunt Syd. I had another name of hers too, one I don’t remember, in a language I can’t speak, or maybe just can’t remember. My preschool was only two blocks from my house, the closest one that wasn’t in a church. That’s where we got our challah on Fridays, and put on plays with locusts falling from the sky and pharaohs and princesses. It was where we would sing, too, sing songs I can’t quite remember, but to which I often hum the tune. When my friends had to take the bus to Hebrew School, I would go to the park. When my friends were spending Yom Kippur in synagogue, I was at the beach, throwing bread into the ocean. I lit the menorah every night of Hanukkah with the only prayer I’ve ever known and woke up on Christmas morning to presents. Between the seventh and eighth grade I went to around ninety bar or bat mitzvahs. I hated going to the services at the synagogues, early in the morning, stuffed into a dress, where everyone would sing songs that were as painfully familiar as the ones on the radio, but I didn’t 162 

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know the words and couldn’t sing along. I asked my mother why Davis and I didn’t have one like everyone else. “You didn’t do the Hebrew school thing,” she had said. “Well aren't we Jewish?” I had asked. ‘No, don't say that, your father wouldn’t like that.” “Well am I Catholic?” “No, don’t say that.” “Well, didn’t you have one?” “Yes, but..it doesn’t matter anyway. Your grandmother was never bat mitzvahed—my sister and I were the first, women never used to do that anyway. When you turn thirteen, you are a woman, and he is a man.” I think I knew my grandmother was dead that Passover when my aunt had to cook the noodle pudding and the matzah balls were too soggy to taste right. We drank Welch's grape juice for the first time. Grandma would never let us buy it. She wouldn’t drive in my father’s Mercedes either. Yesterday I got that letter in the mail. ‘Happy 18th birthday’ it said. ‘Jewish young adult,’ it called me. I’ve always asked too many questions and always expected too many answers. I remember the first time I had regretted asking a question, the question that turned to spoiled milk in my mouth. “Isn’t it great the U.N. is going after those Israeli soldiers?” “Sydney,” my father gruffed in a condescending humph of disapproval, “are you kidding me? They just think they can go after Israel now with Obama in office.” “What are you talking about? They broke the law, they killed innocent people, they should be held accountable.” “Those men are heroes, Sydney. I swear to god, if only that antisemite would have some common sense and back up Netanyahu—those guys are terrorists, Sydney. They are terrorists, and they want Israel gone. Those are bad guys, bad guys. That Arafat, he was a terrorist, Sydney, and the U.N. is punishing war heroes, for risking their lives to stop Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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terrorists, terrorists Sydney!” But still, I suppose, my religion isn’t the only thing I haven’t chosen. I’ve always wanted to go on a birthright trip. Nearly everyone I know has been to Israel, and many of those past the age of eighteen have also been for birthright. The hostels of Israel have never sounded more appealing than when described by a college student having just left Tel Aviv. Visiting Israel has always seemed like a rite of passage, not something you do, but something that should be done. The first time I went to Israel, as soon as the customs agent realized my family was Jewish, they stamped our passports and stopped asking questions. Even when coming back through the borders from Jordan on our day trip to Petra, all we had to do to circumvent interrogation was have my brother’s best friend speak to the officer solely in the Hebrew he had learned after school. And, if we wanted to stay, it would be even easier to attain citizenship. But now I had this letter sitting on my desk and a sheet of Christmas carols in my hand as Uncle Ted played the piano. I was eligible, I was eligible to go to Israel and reap the benefits of my genetic line. But the Palestinian national anthem sounds an awful lot like Israel’s: ‘Oh my land, the land of ancestors...with the longing in my blood for my land and my home...Palestine is my home and path of triumph.’ My father had wanted to visit Nazareth and the tomb of Christ just as much as my mother wanted to visit the Western Wall. And now I have this letter sitting on my desk, and it feels wrong, it feels like a mess I keep putting off to clean up later. It feels wrong, somehow, that I can go, but young Palestinians can’t. They can’t visit the places their ancestors once lived as well. I am a lot of things, and I am from many different places, and I want to learn about what it means to come from all of these places and people—but, not like this. Birthright doesn’t feel like an opportunity of learning, or remembrance or international unity, but entitlement. Why am I entitled to this place, to this land, more than any other with connection to it? Who am I, who am I to have a birthright? 164 

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Ma nishtana, Ma nishtana, Ma nishtana, Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh mikol haleilot? How is this night different from all other nights? On Passover, we ask this question, we acknowledge the importance of remembrance of understanding that our people have known hardship and suffering and slavery. And on Passover, we remember that we are not a people of complacency, of ease, of inaction. We are a people who must act, who must fight for constant change, we are a people who fight for freedom, for rights, not a people born with them, not a people with a birthright.

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The Death of the Chicago River Abby Bracken

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ach year, on the morning of St. Patrick’s Day, my mom would pin my hair into a scalp-straining bun and affix a curly brown wig into my head. Then, she would make me get dressed into an outfit that featured a vibrant green vest, a stiff embroidered skirt, and bleached-white socks that I had to glue onto my legs so they would stay up. If I was lucky, she let me wear some of her grownup lip gloss. As an Irish dancer in Chicago, I had to walk, wave, and dance in the downtown parade, no matter the weather. If St. Patrick’s Day was on a weekday, I got to skip school and dance in pubs, which felt normal then, but certainly doesn’t now in retrospect. St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago celebrates the city’s important relationship with the Irish, who comprise nearly 10 percent of the population of Chicago today, as well as participating extensively in city politics. Irish immigrants first came to Chicago in the early 19th century, when they “left a homeland teeming with a myriad [of] political, social, and economic problems.” During this time, Irish Catholics faced religious and political persecution by Protestants in the newly-developed United Kingdom. This discrimination, coupled with the Great Famine in the 1840s, led to a flood of immigrants coming into Chicago and other burgeoning urban areas in the United States. New engineering projects in the city, such as the Illinois and Michigan Canal that linked the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico, corresponded with the Great Famine and further encouraged immigrants to move to work as laborers. The Great Chicago Fire in 1871, which undermined both physical and social foundations of the city, granted lower-income residents, such as Irish immigrants, even more “upward mobility” in

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the “newly rebuilt city.” A critical component of St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Chicago is the annual dyeing of the Chicago River. Motorboats empty dye into the river until it develops into a deep, brilliant green as thousands of people watch from the banks. This event, though it celebrates the city’s relationship with the Irish, began when Mayor Richard J. Daley sought to cultivate the downtown area near the river in the 1950s. In order to develop the riverfront, the city had to first clean up the pollution in the river. To discover who was dumping waste into the river, plumbers used fluorescein, a bright green chemical, to trace the flow of waste into the river. Inspired by this practice, in 1962 Mayor Richard J. Daley asked the Plumbers Union to turn the entire river green, rather than just streaks. Environmentalists in Chicago immediately lobbied against using fluorescein dye, as it is an oilbased substance that is very harmful for the environment. In 1966, the Plumbers Union began using a top-secret vegetable-based dye recipe that is supposedly less environmentally destructive. It’s truly fascinating that the centerpiece of celebration on St. Patrick’s Day originated from illegal waste dumping. In a similar fashion, I’m not sure if most people consider the lasting impact of the dye in the river today. While it celebrates the strong Irish culture in the city, it also represents the perception that Chicagoans have of the river. Many people see it as a structural element of the downtown area, rather than a legitimate ecosystem that supports living things. While the dye may disappear from view after just a few hours, it travels down the river into the habitats of animals that live outside of the city. While visiting the Deerfield River with my class, it was impossible for me to imagine an identical event happening here. Even we, as Deerfield students, “bleed green,” we would never dye the river green. We view the Deerfield River as an ecosystem that supports the region, full of dragonflies, brook trout, and beavers instead of a feature that solely exists to serve the school’s campus. I’ve spent my whole life near water–– tubing on Lake Leelanau on Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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sweltering summer days in Michigan, canoeing with my family along the Blue River in southern Indiana, and searching for frosted shards of sea glass along the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. I learned how to sail with my dad on Lake Huron in an orange and yellow Sunfish from the sixties––the same boat he used when he was little. My favorite thing to do when we went out was to lean over the side of the boat, glance my fingers over the surface leaving a wake of smooth ripples, and peer into the water. If I was lucky, I would spot a fish darting between the boulders underwater, remnants of the glaciers that moved across the region. There’s a small river called Frog Pond near our cottage in Michigan. The cold water, snowmelt from northern Michigan, flows through the forest towards the beach, ultimately emptying into Lake Huron. When I was little, I carried plastic buckets and shovels to the mouth of the river on the beach and built castles and towers out of sand, a kingdom for the frogs that lived there. To me, that river is undeniably alive. It is teeming with life––pond skaters, minnows, tadpoles inhabit the miniature branches of Frog Pond’s little river delta. I imagine that the Chicago River used to look like a larger version of Frog Pond; it traveled through wetlands and forests before venturing across the beach and into Lake Michigan. In the winter it nearly froze solid and in the summer the water ran cold and clear. The banks of the Chicago River are now stark concrete walls, corralling the river into a straight line through downtown Chicago. Innumerable canals, channels, and dams shape and mold the river to serve the factories and people in the city, a centuries-old highway for the runoff and sewage of millions of people. Even today, when heavy rain falls on the city and water floods the aging sewer system, the waste empties into the Chicago River and travels to the Mississippi, ultimately reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Construction to mitigate these issues, featuring a massive engineering enterprise called the Deep Tunnel project, began in 1975 and isn't expected to be completed until 2029, costing the city nearly $4 billion. The Deep Tunnel project is an underground 168 

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labyrinth––109 miles of tunnels and reservoirs spanning Chicago and its suburbs, designed to expand the sewer system to hold more wastewater. However, a report regarding a record-breaking rainstorm in 2008 noted that the “deep tunnel‐reservoir system in Chicago is not adequate to handle the magnitude of water produced by [large] rainstorms.” While the Deep Tunnel system may have appeared to be a good idea forty years ago, the changing climate means that, once finished, the project will not be able to handle the more frequent and larger storms in the 21st century. Despite billions of dollars and many decades of construction invested into securing clean water, the city continues to face the same century-old wastewater management issues. In the 19th century, Chicago was growing incredibly fast. It became the trade center of the Midwest––a place where farmers in the West and Midwest brought their goods for manufacturing and trade throughout the United States. As a result, the infamous Union Stockyards, the meat-processing facility in Chicago, became one of the largest in the world. In 1870, the Stockyards “processed two million animals yearly” and by 1890, that number had more than quadrupled. The sewage from the Stockyards, which included large amounts of animal waste and carcasses, was discarded in the South Branch of the Chicago River. This stretch of river is aptly named Bubbly Creek, as the organic material from the Stockyards decomposed on the bottom and released gas, creating foul-smelling bubbles. In his 1906 novel The Jungle, which revealed the unsanitary conditions of the Union Stockyards and led to massive reforms regarding food safety, Upton Sinclair described Bubbly Creek as an otherworldly pit of filth. “The grease and chemicals that are poured into it undergo all sorts of strange transformations, which are the cause of its name,” Sinclair wrote. “It is constantly in motion, as if huge fish were feeding in it, or great leviathans disporting themselves in its depths. Bubbles of carbonic acid gas will rise to the surface and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide. Here and there the grease and filth have caked Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava; chickens walk about on it, feeding, and many times an unwary stranger has started to stroll across, and vanished temporarily.” This waste ultimately flowed into Lake Michigan, which served as Chicago’s source of drinking water. Today, Bubbly Creek continues to hold true to its name, as “the riverbed is covered in an 8-to-18-foot-deep mixture of soil, carcasses and other animal waste products, which release gases as they rot.” Sylvester Chesbrough was a daring and enterprising engineer–– the kind of audacious figure that often characterizes the end of the 19th century along the lines of Edison, Bell, and Ford. Charged with solving Chicago’s water drainage issues following his success building Boston’s water supply network, Chesbrough confronted the city’s big problems with grand solutions. In his first attempt in 1859, he resolved to raise buildings in Chicago “by as much as twelve feet” using hydraulics in order to install “the first comprehensive sewer system in America” underneath the foundation of the city. The event was quite a spectacle for the public to behold, as hundreds of men simultaneously turned jackscrews in order to lift entire structures off the ground. David McCrae, a Scottish traveler visiting the city during this time, described a scene in which workers raised a first-class hotel: “The Brigg’s House, a gigantic hotel, was raised four and a half feet, and new foundation built below. The people were in it all the time, coming and going, eating and sleeping, the whole business of the hotel preceding without interruption.” Despite the elaborate sewer system, the city’s battle for clean water was not over; the newly-constructed, state of the art sewer still emptied into the Chicago River, which flowed into Lake Michigan, the city’s source of drinking water. For his next plan Chesbrough set out to move the water intake further from shore, out of reach from the contaminated water at the mouth of the river. There were two teams of workers digging—one at the shore and another two miles out in Lake Michigan using an intricate system of water pumps. Tim Samuelson, “Chicago’s official cultural historian,” emphasized the 170 

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intricacy of the project, saying “‘It was like a precision army working under Lake Michigan in this brick tunnel… it had to be done in perfect synchronization because you didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver and to have things build up. So it was…this amazing ballet.’”18 The two teams met in almost perfect alignment in 1866, two years after beginning the project. However, the sewage reached the intake site after a rainstorm, recontaminating the water supply. Yet again, the city was back to the beginning­­—the citizens of Chicago were still drinking the city’s wastewater. Chesbrough’s final project was his most ambitious: reversing the flow of the Chicago River. It was a massive undertaking that required extensive planning and resources. In order to reverse the river, Chesbrough set out to deepen the river upstream, forcing the river to reverse its flow using gravity. The canal “would be six times deeper than the Erie Canal and four times as wide, cost millions of dollars, and take years of hard work.” Before construction could begin, the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 forced the city to redirect funding away from the canal project. Eventually, “in 1892, six years after Chesbrough’s death, Chicago finally got to work.” People in the city, especially those personally affected by the sanitation problem, felt that their problems were finally over. Early in the morning on January 2nd, 1900, when Chicago officials “broke open the last dam holding back the Chicago River, Sanitary District President William Boldenweck, who lost both of his parents to a cholera epidemic decades before, cried ‘Let ‘er go,’ according to the Chicago Daily News, calling his remark ‘the nearest approach to formality of the entire occasion.’” In reality, the officials ceremoniously stuck a shovel into the dam, which was frozen solid as it was January in Chicago, posed for pictures, and then stood back while engineers brought in machines and explosives to obliterate the barrier. The citizens of Chicago were amazed at the effects of the reversal. Just after January 2nd, the Chicago Record wrote that the “Water that was actually blue in color and had blocks of ice of a transparent Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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green hue floating in it…caused people who crossed bridges over the Chicago River…to stop and stare in amazement.” However, while the people of Chicago were reveling in their newfound clean water, cities further down the Chicago and Mississippi Rivers suddenly faced an onslaught of waste. On January 17th, 1900, more than two weeks after the Sanitation Department destroyed the final dam, St. Louis took the issue to the Supreme Court. The court ultimately ruled in favor of Chicago, writing that, “the Illinois is better or no worse at its mouth than it was before, and makes it at least uncertain how much of the present pollution is due to Chicago and how much to sources further down, not complained of in the bill. It contends that if any bacilli should get through they would be scattered and enfeebled and would do no harm.” However, contrary to the opinion of the court, the sanitary conditions of the Mississippi and connected rivers continued to worsen. In 1911, two biologists noted, “The water…was grayish and sloppy, with foul, privy odors distinguishable in hot weather… Putrescent masses of soft, graying, or blackish, slimy matter, loosely held together by threads of fungi… were floating down the stream.” The river continued to carry sewage across the Midwest, but structural additions such as wastewater treatment plants helped reduce the amount of waste leaving the city. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the city has implemented a number of measures, such as sanitation plants and a larger sewer system, to help keep the Chicago River clean. However, during heavy rainstorms even today the sewer system overflows and the city releases the extra wastewater, which is full of sewage and runoff, into the Chicago River. According to the Chicago Tribune, even an inch and a half of rain can force the city to open the locks separating the sewer from the outside world, releasing untreated sewage into the Chicago River. Additionally, “signs posted along the river warn that the fetid water flowing out of combined sewer overflow pipes during and after storms ‘may contain bacteria that can cause illness.’”30 In order to mitigate this issue, the Department of Streets and Sanitation is now 172 

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encouraging citizens to participate in small projects designed to collect water, such as installing rain barrels and planting rain gardens, to help prevent flooding after storms. This could prevent water from flooding the sewer system and therefore wastewater from entering the Chicago River, eventually traveling into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. When the dams broke in 1900 to reverse the Chicago River, the Grand Rapids Herald praised the act, reporting that the engineers had corrected the river to its ancient, natural course by artificially redirecting the water away from Lake Michigan. The “ridge [causing the river to flow eastward] has now been cut, and the divorced waters are to be reunited after thousands of years of separation.” Despite this justification, Chicago’s heavy-handed influence on the eponymous river has transformed the natural landscape into something that is wholly unnatural. Perhaps further east, far away from the city, the river feels more similar to what I envision a veritable river looks like. In some places, maybe it even looks like Frog Pond and is home to river otters, blue-spotted salamanders, and largemouth bass. Yet in the city, the Chicago River is no more than an open-air sewer, a place where wastewater disappears from view and becomes another city’s problem. On top of issues with overflowing sewers, Chicago is also facing falling water levels in Lake Michigan. As a result, gravity is trying to right the river, to again carry the city’s waste into its source of drinking water. However, we know that the city will always prevail in this battle between humans and nature––there will always be a new engineering feat to patch the holes nature creates in an effort to turn the Chicago River back into a river.

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Evening Train in Summer Sam Crocker

A Stranger on the train was yelling about antidepressants and to distract myself I out the window. We were over a tall stone bridge. Ruined portions of it had fallen many years ago And now jutted up from the water. Tufts of grass and vines grew from cracks in t and wanted to float downstream but could not.

The Stranger yelling about antidepressants began yelling about dialectics. We were past the bridge. It was almost dusk, but not quite dusk, so the light was fading but warm, and it cast soft shadows from the leaves of trees, dappled on the ground.

The Stranger yelling about dialectics began yelling about capital. We were through the trees. The forest gave way to farmland with hazy blueish hil distance, and the grasses swayed in the evening wind, and bats and fireflies began

The Stranger yelling about capital began yelling about love. We were close to the station. It was dark enough to see lights in the distance, and beside the station with a car alarm going off, and I started packing up my things i paperback ear-marked at page 47. We pulled into the station and the stranger stopped yelling. Everyone stood up and shuffled towards the door feeling relieved to stretch their legs after sitting for so long.

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I looked

the rock and fell partly into the river and drifted back and forth in the current

e

lls in the n to appear in the air.

d a parking lot into my bag: a water-bottle, a flannel too heavy for late July, potato chips, a

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The Eyes of Iphigenia Colin Olson “And there, by furious madness driven, his wits adrift in insanity, seized a keen flint, slashed away the weight of his groin’s double complement… she felt the members left her shorn of all their virility dropping still a spatter of fresh-shed blood on the ground as she sped along…”

W

ithin the classical world, a societal compulsion urging a sense of inferiority relegated many women to silence, forcing them to earn representation and notoriety only through the extreme: the revolutionary poetry of Sappho, the powerful governance of Cleopatra and Dido, and, later, the ferocity of Nero’s mother. As Greek texts serve as the foundational rationalizations regarding such patriarchal trends and implicit rules, the vocalizations of women in Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and the reception of their respective audiences shed light on the plight of contemporary women at large. The female characters of the ancient tragedy, whether cursed, cast aside, or physically gagged, are actively silenced by the very men who demand their purity and unfaltering loyalty. Thus the notion of devotion, at least in some cases, takes on a dark double-meaning as women are expected to endure the abuses of the toxic masculinity bearing down on them and the whims of various men’s decisions. Perhaps the greatest victim of such double standards within the Agamemnon is Clytaemnestra; the queen, expected to remain devout, agonizes as her husband brutally slaughters their daughter Iphigenia for the oracular prospect of favorable winds to Troy. Clytaemnestra, silenced among the ranks of her late daugh-

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ter and the war-prize Cassandra, methodically captures societal respect and recognition via the retaliatory murder of Agamemnon, distinguishing herself from the other women in the play both in her agency and, parallelly, in her brutality. Thus, Aeschylus, with female characters acting as the main rhetorical and narrative thrust of his work, tragically highlights how, within the framework of classical Greece, in order for a woman to exert herself she must contradict the supposed principles that uphold her femininity. Despite the fact that women are doubted regardless of their societal standing or assumed gender roles throughout the play, Clytaemnestra, when occupying her role as slayer of her husband and avenger, is heard and understood whereas Cassandra and Iphigenia, both the epitome of the chaste woman, are misunderstood and silenced. Clytaemnestra suffers the doubt of the chorus and the confusion of her husband in the context of her womanhood, yet challenges those who belittle herself following, and in relation to, her vengeful killing. Admittedly, Clytaemnestra’s power is addressed towards the beginning of Aeschylus’ masterwork, yet it is only in relation to her fated killing of Agamemnon as the chorus resounds, “[she is] the architect of vengeance / growing strong in the house / with no fear of the husband...” (Aeschylus, Agamemnon 150-152). Most likely said with cynicism, the characterization of Clytaemnestra “...growing strong...” with regards to her lack of fear highlights not only how she might secure listeners, but also how her power is inversely related to a sense of reverence for her husband. With the queen herself delivering the news of a Greek victory over Troy, the chorus in her presence comments how her explanation is “Spoken like a man...” and relate how they have “heard [her] sign / and now [her] vision” (Agamemnon 335-337). Although this may at first suggest that, by the very nature of her position and the subordinate one of the chorus, she might be able to circumvent her status as a woman and garner an audience without the fated slaughter, in private, the chorus doubts the relations of Clytaemnestra, commenting “Just like a woman / to fill with thanks Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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before the truth is clear” (Agamemnon 474-475). Thus the mere nature of the queen’s gender bludgeons her truth into oblivion as her correct claims are dismissed as being the product of a hysterical rumor. As Clytaemnestra welcomes her husband home with a prescient speech foreshadowing her later revenge with phrases such as “...our child should be here,” Agamemnon completely misses the innuendos of the soliloquy and ultimately only regards the speech’s feminine nature; he begs that praise “...come from others, then we prize it. This— / you treat me like a woman” (Agamemnon 911-912). Thus, in establishing a gendered hierarchy, Agamemnon casts aside the vital words of his wife and associates her womanhood with a degree of weakness. After killing both the king and his slave Cassandra, Clytaemnestra strikes at the chorus, saying, “...you try me like some desperate woman...” (Agamemnon 1426) leading the chorus to cry out “Woman!...You have cut away and flung away...” (Agamemnon 1431, 1434). Aeschylus’ words resound with tragedy as the juxtaposition of gender norms and Clytaemnestra’ conception of justice lays bare. As Clytaemnestra addresses the “...desperate woman...” (Agamemnon 1426) she distinguishes herself not only from her daughter but also from Cassandra as the marked piety of these women inherently subordinates them; thus, the chorus’ claims of separation speak to Clytaemnestra’s deviation from her gendered norms. In this way, Clytaemnetra kills not only to rid herself of her savage husband, but also to remove herself from the connotations of her womanhood, connotations that have hitherto deprived her of the recognition that she demands in full with the realization of her fated familial bloodshed. Thus, within her welcome speech to Agamemnon, as Clytaemnestra says “I am older, / and the fear dies away...I am human...” (Agamemnon 843-844) she highlights her desire for recognition as a person rather than a woman and, unfortunately, speaks to how her fear must give way to assert herself. Clytaemnestra seeks to be defined by her courage and her fury-esque power with age as she removes her sense of self from her femininity; she does not hesitate to control her new king 178 

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Aegisthus even ordering “[n]o bloodshed now” (Agamemnon 1690). Ultimately, Clytaemnestra’s role as a woman causes her narratively and rhetorically pungent speeches to be cast off as she contends for recognition after she departs from the societal conception of purity. Iphigenia, the sacrificed daughter of Clytaemnestra, represents a woman marked by unwavering purity and, parallelly, by physical submission and silence. As the chorus outlines the slaughter of Iphigenia, the princess is characterized by her “innocence” (Agamemnon 228) and the fact that she is “young” (Agamemnon 211). Ultimately, as the prophet Calchas demands blood for Artemis, Agamemnon and his entourage physically silence his daughter as the father calls out “but slip this strap in her gentle curving lips… / here, gag her hard, a sound will curse the house...” (Agamemnon 235-236). Thus, the men around her forcibly silence the embodiment of supposed pure femininity; not even the paternal bond connecting Iphigenia to the great warlord Agamemnon is enough to save her life or supply her with a voice. Consequently, the princess is not able to tell her own story and thus to personally preserve her memory. In relation to Clytaemnestra, it is almost ironic that Iphigenia’s “...sound will curse the house...” as the queen, in asserting her authority, will slay the very killer of Iphigenia and thus strike another blow to the lineage of Tantalus as Iphigenia’s silence, to an extent, propagates the curse. Aeschylus in this way highlights the futility and thus the tragedy of Iphigenia’s slaughter. Ultimately, Iphigenia, guiltless and honored, is killed by her father as her submission manifests itself in her gagging. Much like Iphigenia, Cassandra’s chaste nature postures her as a prototypical female character within the framework of the Oresteia, leading to misunderstanding on the part of her more masculine counterparts. In recounting her tale to the chorus, Cassandra speaks to how Apollo “...came like a wrestler, / magnificent, took [her] down and breathed his fire / through [her]...” and how she ultimately “... yielded...recoiled...deceived Apollo!” (Aeschylus, Oresteia 12111214). Leading to her curse of prophesying correctly in vain, by Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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rejecting a series of divine sexual advances and thus protecting her “womanhood” to the greatest degree, Cassandra’s punishment painfully deprives her of a voice despite her overwhelmingly truthful nature. Admittedly, the leader of the chorus initially expresses belief in the words of the Trojan woman saying “We believe you. Your visions seem so true” (Oresteia 1219). Despite this admission to confidence, Cassandra tragically recognizes that the completely-male chorus does not comprehend her words as, in relation to her predicting Clytaemnestra’s ensuing slaughter, she exclaims “You are lost, to every word I’ve said” (Oresteia 1264). In this way, Aeschylus tragically draws upon the direct relationship linking femininity to societal relegation as the chorus dismisses Clytaemnestra’s critical words. This misunderstanding contributes to Cassandra’s constant expressions of agony as she foresees the destruction of both her city and herself, yet is not able to act on her premonitions. Furthermore, Clytaemnestra, about to cast off her conception of womanhood with blood, rules over Cassandra saying “I speak directly as I can—she must obey” (Oresteia 1051). In this way, Cassandra, a female character representing purity and womanhood, is silenced and deprived of agency by those more masculine around her. Ultimately, Aeschylus highlights his sympathy for the plight of contemporary women within the Libation Bearers; the allfemale chorus adds to the notion of women seizing power through slaughter rather than working within the narrow societal confines of womanhood. Aeschylus initially addresses the slave women’s disdain for their subjugation as, in a frenzy, the leader comments “And the rippling cries of triumph mine / to sing when the man is stabbed, / the woman dies— / why hide what’s deep inside me...” (Aeschylus, Libation Bearers 383-386). Thus Aeschylus frames the slave women as entities with desires unto themselves, and, seeing as their womanhood constrains them, he frames their desire to kill their overlords as they express, “You are the seer for me, I like your reading...” after they seemingly invent a narrative for Orestes to interpret as a call-to-arms 180 

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(Libation Bearers 538). As murdering of Aegisthus and Clytaemnestra ultimately liberates the chorus, the intertextuality of feminine resistance by means of force argues that Aeschylus, in the works comprising his Oresteia, seeks to highlight a conundrum for women that, in some ways, remains applicable today. Aeschylus, by showing that women can only capture respect and agency through a defiance of their inherited feminine creed, argues that the societal connotations of womanhood need to be reconsidered. The invocation of Pallas Athena in the Eumenides serves a similar rhetorical purpose. While Athena’s desire to “...honour the male...” (Eumenides 752) through trial may appear to detract from Aeschylus’ sympathy for women, the fact that Orestes calls upon a distinctively feminine goddess to “save [his] house...” (Eumenides 768) and the relative success of the court proceedings corroborate Aeschylus’ belief in the power of women while still retaining their femininity. Furthermore, Athena addresses the people of Athens with regards to the fully female Furies saying “I enthrone these strong, implacable spirits here / and root them in our soil” (Eumenides 940-941). Thus, after the brutal justice of masculine characters, Aeschylus places two female entities at the helm of Athenian governance. As the women of the Oresteia ultimately drive the plot narratively and rhetorically in a manner that puts their male counterparts to shame, Aeschylus in some ways martyrs both the female slaughterer and those slaughtered as activists striking against the impossibly narrow confines of femininity and victims to social construct respectively. Thus, as the agency of Clytaemnestra, the slave women chorus of the Libation Bearers, and the divine entities of the Eumenides juxtaposes the devotion of Cassandra and Iphigenia, Aeschylus demands a new conception of womanhood if, for anything, to keep the cumbersome men away from their graves.

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At West Meadow Katie Parker Mussels hidden deep within their shells find a silver-blue splash of nature polluting their startling black homes as seagulls call out to one another, their yellow beaks opening and closing rhythmically. At the very end of, and underneath, the strained wooden dock, the foamy water crashes roughly and pushes itself onto black stones which form a modest protective barrier between the wintry Sound and the coarse sun-warmed sand. Away from the dock there is a metal pipe, silver, and out of it

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flows foreign water. “Holy water,” locals name it, and I bend down to put my mouth to the opening, where the invigoratingly pure water splashes out in cycles, and I taste it. He bends down too, next to me, and we perch, mirroring the birds that sit stagnant on branches, watching the mussels, their black and silver shells.

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Shedding a Shadow Harbour Woodward

A

transformation, no matter the form, takes time, and for Treefrog, the tunnel lover in Colum McCann’s This Side of Brightness, his metamorphosis is slow and prolonged. The inhabitant of the chasms below New York City, he struggles with his identity, taking refuge in the underground darkness to drown out his internal aching. While tunneling into himself and, in essence, fossilizing his inner self, Treefrog masks his true core: Clarence Nathan. On the surface, Treefrog battles his dueling identities; perhaps this is why he feels an intense yearning to make maps, so that he can preserve his poignant past and keep Clarence Nathan alive within him. Ultimately Clarence Nathan’s resurrection from the depths of darkness allows Clarence Nathan to “defeat” his heavy shadow and simultaneously bury the past, turning over a new leaf as he rises into the light. The lover of darkness’s circular journey is represented in the final moments on the catwalk: he “manages to turn himself a half circle” (288), slowly beginning this transformation into his true self. “Halfway there” (288) denotes that he is not only physically halfway through his journey up above, but also symbolically midway through his internal change. His complete transformation is revealed through the “full circle” (288) and, in essence, the “changing the structure of his body” (289)—both illuminated in his shaved head and beard and the new persona he adopts. After completing his transformation, Clarence Nathan steps up to the gate, “hefting the weight of the word upon his tongue, all its possibility, all its beauty, all its hope, a single word: resurrection” (289). The way in which he “[hefts]” this word on his tongue, as if

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it were a burden, is exceedingly reminiscent of the way in which his grandfather, Clarence Nathan, held “fossil” upon his lips after hearing Maura relate the term to her husband’s death. The ancestry between Nathan Walker and Clarence Nathan is also highlighted in the correlation between the fossilized past and the present resurrection. Fossil and resurrection invite an intriguing comparison, and while stark opposites in meaning, their significances complement one another. Fossilization quite literally means the preservation of something, seen in Treefrog’s innate desire to construct maps and freeze moments in time so that he may keep them forever. Moreover, “fossils” are associated with excavation and uncovering artifacts; Clarence Nathan has been fossilized deep down inside of Treefrog, lurking in the shadows and hoping someday he will be brought out into the light. In contrast, his resurrection is a revitalization—an attempt to bring back Treefrog’s true self: Clarence Nathan. Rooted in religion, resurrection stems from Christ’s rising from the dead into the light. While the internal fossilization has been a heavy weight upon Treefrog’s shoulders, resurrection signifies a new beginning in that his true identity is brought into the light. Though a parallel can be drawn between spiritual imagery and Clarence Nathan’s resurrection, there is also a reversal. Upon the rebirth of Clarence Nathan, Treefrog is simultaneously killed. The haunting conscience correlates with the idea of fossilization in that Treefrog slowly hardens, but he is also cut loose from Clarence Nathan’s memory as well as possessions, thus a more appropriate word may be “forgotten.” With the burial of the darkness and his tormenting history, Clarence Nathan slowly comes out of himself, switching from a “tunneling in” mindset to a literal tunneling out of his consciousness. The word “single” is an important inclusion in the moment at the gate in that it illustrates how Clarence Nathan is unencumbered by his shadow of Treefrog and has been able to transcend to a higher headspace. In his last moments underground, there is “not a single Issue 25 · FALL 2019 

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shadow cast in the tunnel,” and while he still “[hefts]” a word upon his tongue, it is a “single” word, representing a lighter strain. Furthermore, the rising figure is fully stepping into a new character of Clarence Nathan, someone who is not bound by the necessity of calculating the equilibrium within his body as well as actions. By shedding his body, the former lover of darkness abandons Treefrog’s cravings for balance and symmetry. In this way, when Clarence Nathan lets a word rest upon his tongue, and it is “a thing of imbalance” (289), due to its singular nature. A new reality frees Clarence Nathan from the former security in calibration and formulaic measuring to ensure equilibrium, thus providing a “lighter”—in terms of less weight and also literally gleaming—future. Clarence Nathan sheds his negative history of craving for darkness, metaphorically and physically facilitating his transition into the light. Resurrection revives the idea of “rising, rising, rising” (285) first seen in the geyser beneath where Con O’Leary died, but is also associated with the idea of climbing higher and rising out of the shadow in the way Treefrog does. The final words circle back to where the tunnel dweller’s journey began—deep down in the depths of the darkness— and then ultimately complete the transformation, as Clarence Nathan literally steps out into the light. In retrospect, the title This Side of Brightness finds meaning with the grandson’s emergence from the tunnel, as a new persona is revealed, synchronizing the internal glowing and weightlessness with which Clarence Nathan enters his new life. As he ascends, the psychological shadow that has clouded his mind remains in the past; however, with his new lightness in broad daylight arises a new silhouette which he will carry onwards, nestled with hope into the future.

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Department of English at Deerfield Academy

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Profile for Deerfield Academy

Little Brown House Review 25  

A journal of writing by students of English at Deerfield Academy.

Little Brown House Review 25  

A journal of writing by students of English at Deerfield Academy.

Profile for deerfield