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the phoenix Literary and Visual Arts Journal Eastern Mennonite University Spring 2012

index Angela Carter // 4

James Souder // 18

Rebekah Graham // 5 Kelsey Blosser // 19

Han Park // 32 Jack Frost // 33

Katie Landis // 6 Luis Martinez // 21 Gloria Rhodes // 34 Brendan Erb // 7 James Souder // 23 Randi B. Hagi // 35 Randi B. Hagi // 8 Tessa Gerberich // 24 David Connerly Nahm // 36 Rebekah Graham // 9 Randi B. Hagi // 25 Rebekah Graham // 37 Hannah Beachy // 11 Glenn Kauffman // 26

Jonathan Drescher-Lehman // 38

Katie Landis // 12 Hannah Beachy // 27 Adella Barret // 39 Konrad Swartz // 13 Jonathan Drescher-Lehman // 27 e. pants // 40 e. pants

// 14

Cody Troyer // 15

Malika Davis // 28

Meg Smeltzer // 29 Katie Landis // 43

Rebekah Graham // 16 Dylan Bomgardner // 30 Bekah Enns // 17

James Souder // 41

Hannah Beachy // 31


staff Editors // Lani Prunés and Hannah Patterson

Visual Editors // Becca Pence and Malika

Literary Editors // Brendan Erb and Ben Mast General Design Editor // Erica Garber Advisor // Kevin Seidel

Davis Staff // Brandon Waggy, Natalia Derstine, Bude Bude, Shelby Rhodes, Issac Peglow, Han Park

the Phoenix would like to thank...

Jonathon Drescher-Lehman - Index Page: “Untitled” The EMU Print Shop Student Government Association Our dedicated, supportive, soul-giving, intense, pizza-loving, and hard working staff.


“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” –T. S. Eliot “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin “These pages you hold in your hand are a piece of each artist that they have chosen to share with us. Each a cherished moment, a battle, a struggle, a moment of their life put into ink. As you read, skim, and grapple with these pages, we hope you will be able to share in these same moments. Our hope is that you treat each page as a portal into someone else’s life, share in their moment, be in the moment. These pages have taken us on a journey, one that we have enjoyed immensely, and we hope you shall as well. This year, we tried to make our selection process as anonymous as possible, so that we would truly fall in love with your work of art and not be swayed by the bias of a name. We would like to thank all who submitted because it is only through your passion and dedication to your art form that these pages were made able.” B. Lani Prunés Hannah Patterson Co-Editors in Chief 2012


Internal Compass in the Night // Angela Carter Tonight, I have positioned myself at the lap of the world. I cannot release the stammer on my tongue

as bitterness churns in the pit of the fruit within me that fell to soil many sides of the moon ago.

My nomadic spirit argues with my security-seeking eyes-following sparrows of stars by thin strings. Galileo’s instruments, those mules; He could not fully see with or without them. He envisioned the shape of moons before discovery. O, how my instincts have stopped trusting; my pupils have stopped adjusting, my bones recite a lock-kneed dance so instinctually. Each night I look above to the tiny dots of compasses and hear their hums above the buzzing and stings of the earth’s tent; they lead me back to the home that exists safely within the cage of my ribs.


Bethulie // Rebekah Graham


Untitled // Katie Landis 6

Abraham’s Sacrifice // Brendan Erb I descend the mountain on which the One who tells me to love and the one whom I love were reconciled. For three days I carried my weighty load, silently counting the stars. I counted them without difficulty. I found no promise in the grains of sand. After three days of lies unspoken, (where is the Lamb-Son? Son, where is the lamb?) I hold the oath that you swore unsure of how I should prod this thing that carries your name. I am blessed,

but for life you have cursed me with maddening silence from you and anguished silence from me and unanimated silence from my joy.

You nearly slaughtered my hope in a God who is not fickle or cruel. I have kept my joy, not because I petitioned, broken and frustrated, (no, I stayed silent. Why didn’t I protest?) but because you were pleased by my barbarity. I have descended the mountain on which the one from whom I expect obedience and the One whom I obey were reconciled. Pierced by your sharp mercy,

bruised by your battering silence,

I am resurrected by a silver hope that someday, when I know Your name and speak it, You will answer me.


Cheese Stick Happiness // Randi B. Hagi Playing X-Box. Beating Maggie in Castle Crashers duels. Examining insects. Eating mozzarella sticks (from the Grand China Buffet). Reading about nature. Battling with Nerf guns. Spending time with Kenna (his cousin and best friend). Drawing animals. Pretending to be a ninja spy. Cuddling (although sometimes he tried to deny it). This is a small list of things that Chase likes, Maggie thought. In fact, in her peripheral vision she saw him sneaking around door frames and construction beams, hands clasped together Beretta fashion. In her mind’s eye, she sees him as a squirming little baby-type thing, restless and wide-eyed in her arms - right over here on the armchair. She sees him sitting on her lap, right over there – assuring her that King Kong, the violently misunderstood protagonist of the movie, was really the good guy. She sees him peeking down through the spindles of the staircase, right up there – then running upstairs yelling, “Teenager! Teenager!” as she chases him down for a hug. Maggie caught Chase the next time he ran past. “Hey, let me go!” he said. A week ago, he would have been laughing while he said it. Today, though, he meant it. His cadet blue eyes stared seriously at Maggie. “I have to track down the criminal.” “What horrible criminal are you after now?” Maggie joked, still hoping Chase would give her a smile and then be ready to leave. “The. . . the asshole that burnt down gramma’s house,” Chase replied, still feeling out the curse word, its texture foreign in his mouth. Maggie sighed and hoisted him up in her arms. He was ten years old now, the age Maggie was when she first held him, and too old to be held like a small child. Chase nestled into her arms anyways, and they walked out of the blackened living room, through the dining room, and out through the crooked kitchen door. Flakes of ash fluttered down onto their heads; though they were leaving the family house on Nottem Street for the last time, they were forever marked by it. Maybe it was the faulty drier, maybe the open-flame radiator. Maybe the oven or the ancient heating duct or Aunt Shay’s smoldering joint. Maybe even crazy old Joey-O from around the corner, professional house painter and amateur arsonist. Something had lit the Nottem Street house on fire. It had survived five generations of Runggs and three floods, but on January 5th, 2012 it submitted to the flames. Gramma had lived in that house since she was five, and went on to raise six children, two of her five grandchildren, and one of her four great-grandchildren in that house. Thankfully she’d been downtown at the Eagle’s club signing up for the nightly door prize when the fire started. Aunt Shay had been at her camp twenty miles away in Marion county. Rob, Chase’s dad, was still in jail for getting into a fight out by West Pike Street. Maggie didn’t know what the fight was about, and the whole family had been shocked to hear about it, because Rob was such a mellow character. Because the fire made the house structurally unsound, Gramma went to live with her ex-boyfriend Remy, who was now going senile and needed constant care. 8

(Continued on page 10)

Yellow // Rebekah Graham


“Two senior citizens might as well live together and reminisce about our lives, and if I have to Maggie’s parents had offered for Gramma to stay with them, but she had refused. She always needed to be taking care of people. Aunt Shay was now living full-time at her camp, since its trailer and small space heater kept her happier than having to cohabit with any of her siblings or friends. All of this brought Maggie to Nommet Street for one last nostalgic look with Chase. Since Rob was in jail and Chase’s mom had split long ago to move in with a Muslim man from Charleston, Maggie had offered to be Chase’s temporary guardian. He wouldn’t like living with Gramma and Remy, she had reasoned, and Gramma deserved a break from childcare after 60 years. Maggie had transferred to WVU last semester, a move enthusiastically supported by all members of the Rungg clan. With her parents’ help and a part-time job copy editing for The Dominion Post, she was able to hold down the modest apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Cam. Three people living there would make them all feel like a Chocolate Lab in a Cocker Spaniel-sized cage. But it was clean and Maggie was stable, and she and Chase and Cam loved each other enough that she thought they could be deal with cramped quarters. Or so she hoped, as she carried Chase out of the ravished shell that had absorbed and nurtured so much of their lives. “Hey Maggie?” Chase spoke up. “Yeah?” “If it’s not too expensive, can we go to the Chinese place for lunch? The one with the cheese sticks?” “Sure, as long as you try the spicy octopus tentacle this time!” “Ew, that’s gross!” Chase’s face went from disgusted to smiling. “Remember that really good red sauce you made me try that one time? I’m gonna get ten cheese sticks and dunk ‘em all in it!” Maggie smiled back. And as she set Chase back down on his feet by the car, she thought maybe Chase would still stay a kid for a little longer, maybe she would learn how to take care of something bigger than a beta fish, maybe Gramma would bring Remy back to earth, and maybe the family wouldn’t break up just because the house on Nommet Street was no more. Maybe happiness was just being able to dip your cheese sticks in the right red sauce, day by day. wipe an ass every once in a while for some familiar company, oh well,” she had commented.


Indian Angel // Hannah Beachy

Untitled // Katie Landis


What he Must Have been thinking // Konrad Swartz

I’ll dig a cave from pitch with my hands, to be darkness heavy. Separating a pool of seamless night, with no stars to stitch with constellations. Nor vibrations other than me holding tired hand with hand. I’ll add a touch of absolute, part me, a part

And they will write poetry describing a disconnect, writing: “This cave is an unfinished hourglass,

from the

dust of dark material.

But just enough to create serial lives of everlasting unrest for the best,

boundless search.

with sand dripping out into nothing.”

The best way for them to get lost & cross past

In poems attempting to discern, why they wait, hoping to feel confident enough to ease into death like a gown slipping into water. They’ll write, “whatever.” They’ll ask why they feel so

the point of searching for any thing

worth it.

Blind, through the cave, they’ll drift or fall apart, maybe re-align with no design, guided

small when they stand

holding tired hand in hand.

Yes, I’ll add a touch of absolute, part me, a part of dark material,

from pore to pore to pore with no center.

just enough to create serial lives of everlasting unrest.


Our Circus // e. pants I sat in her black leather chair,

the fabric sticking to the back of my thighs.

I lifted my legs alternately and they popped

like suction cups.

Her lacy top fell awkwardly off one shoulder

and her fingers flew to rethread the top button, a bright red foamed in the pores of her cheeks.

A plate of baked goods sat between us,

the unspoken greeting at every household.

They smelled sweet,

like she made them from scratch.


Untitled // Cody Troyer

Traffic wasn’t bad, I said.I enjoyed driving through the country. It felt like I was following some traveling circus, the Most Spectacular Show on Earth or the Ringling Brothers. My words dissolved, like the mint she clicked around in her mouth and

I knew she was done listening.

Through the open window, I could see the half-eaten moon

and its shadow scraps sweeping across our lawn.

I felt the same. Her hands flitted across the tabletop and sheltered my clenched fists, my angry prayers. I’ll save these for later, she said.


Laundry // Rebekah Graham


Juxtaposition combines // Bekah Enns

i cry, she laughs.

he screams, you dance.

juxtapostion in perfect perfection many halves to fit the whole

and complete each one's complexion combined we are mixed to make

the harmony we couldn’t be alone for now at least time stand still

and together we create a home.


Gnarled // James Souder

The Release // Kelsey Blosser You merge onto the interstate. Once again you find yourself thankful for the one-hour commute home from work. Foot to the pedal. Windows down. Most of all, this time is precious for the mind. To go straight from the office to your house without a break would ruin you. You relish the closure to the workday, allowing yourself to mentally prepare for the arrival home. You pop on the cruise control, roll up the sleeves of your beige dress shirt and detach yourself from the cubicle you’ve spent the last eight hours inhabiting. You check yourself out in the rear-view mirror. Your hair is growing. You can’t remember a time that it has been this long. You smile and run a hand through the auburn locks, smoothing it back across your forehead, and then letting it fall. For just a moment, you feel like a teenager again. Bringing yourself back to reality, you glance out the window at the mile-marker sign. The numbers tick downwards as you get closer to home. Your fingers tighten around the steering wheel. Something catches your eye up ahead. A tall person stands along the side of the road, thumb in the air. She is far enough ahead that you have time to slow down and ease over to the edge of the highway. Your heart pounds and your adrenaline rushes. You flip on your hazards, put the car in park and unleash your seat belt. Karen wouldn’t approve. For a split second you seriously contemplate driving away, but you don’t. You open the car door and walk around the hub to meet her. She is tall and blonde, carrying herself in a dignified way that is somewhat unexpected for a hitchhiker, but seems to completely fit her. She smells like patchouli, and you can tell she isn’t wearing a bra under her Navaho-printed camisole. You open the back of your car and she tosses a faded Nike duffle bag onto the seat. She picks up a small guitar-shaped case and, cradling it in her arms, brings it to the front of the car. “Alright just so you’re aware, I don’t have any money and I’m no good in bed, so don’t go trying to take advantage of me,” she says as soon as you both climb into the car. “Seriously, just because I’m a hitchhiking female doesn’t mean I’m vulnerable. I can fight you off. You’re not so big, and I’m fast.” She turns fixed eyes towards you, pursing her lips and waiting for a reply. You’re caught off-guard. You can tell she’s trying her best to keep a stern stance, arms crossed in front of her chest, head tilted. Your hand is still on the gear shifter and you become aware of the pounding of your heart and the ringing in your ears. “I have no such intentions,” you manage to say. She seems satisfied and turns straight ahead and waits for you to get back on the road. “Not to offend or anything, I just need to be cautious in these types of situations,” she continues as if casually discussing the blooming ocotillo alongside the highway. You check the rear-view mirror, wait for two small cars to pass and then gun it back onto the road. “Come to think of it, you really don’t look like a creep, but a girl can never be too sure. They come in all shapes and sizes. Where are you coming from anyways?” “About seven miles up the road, Tuscan,” you reply, “headed towards Casa Grande.” “Wow, trusting. Most people wouldn’t even pick up a hitchhiker, much less tell me their hometown.” She averts her eyes and begins to lightly drum on the instrument case on her lap. “I have nothing to hide,” you say. She smiles and relaxes back into the car seat. “Why are you sitting like that?” she says. You take notice of your white knuckles clutching the wheel, and your back barely touching the seat. You imagine you look just as uncomfortable as you feel. “Habit,” you reply. A heavy gust of wind sweeps in through the open window and messes your hair. You realize this is the first unsupervised conversation you’ve had with a woman in three years. 19

(Continued on page 20)

“Are you married?” she asks, having caught sight of the gold band resting in the cup-holder. Her eyes widen, questioning its absence on your finger. You forgot that you’d slipped it off as soon as you climbed into the car. Sometimes you take it off and frown at the pale circle it leaves at the base of your finger. It feels good to let the naked skin breathe. You exhale loudly. “Going on two years,” you say. “You’re young.” “She was pregnant,” you reply, surprised at the edge in your voice. You catch sight of yourself in the rear-view mirror again and immediately see yourself dressed in black from head to toe, minutes from taking your very pregnant fiancé as your wife. Your eyes scan the reflection: shaking hands, heaving shoulders, neck dripping with perspiration, and your eyes…your young, fearful eyes. You’d always been told you had mature features; people began mistaking you for a university kid when you began high school. But on that day, you’d never felt more like a child. She pulls you back from your reverie. “And your son? What’s his name?” “Daughter. And we lost her three weeks after the wedding.” Your passenger creates an ‘o’ with her thin lips and she turns towards the window. You barely have time to dwell on your last statement before she whips around again. “So why do you stay in an unhappy marriage? You don’t have any other kids, I assume – am I correct?” You tilt your head downwards, in a slight nod. “You’re young and adventurous,” she continues. “Heck, I’m only 22 and I’ve seen almost every state in this country. Yeah, I’ve had my slew of boyfriends – even dated a girl once- but they all just hold me back, you know? I’m more of a free spirit, anyways.” She shrugs again, pulls out a cigarette from her pants pocket. She rests one end on her bottom lip, sucking it gently. “I think everyone could use a dose of spontaneity.” You are about to scold her, what will your wife think, but refrain. “It’s really not that simple. Karen - my wife - she needs me.” Does she? Wouldn’t she be better off on her own, with someone who wouldn’t dream of rebelling against her structured, routine life? You look at your hair in the mirror again and smile. Karen will probably schedule you an appointment when you get home tonight, or else cut it herself. It’s unprofessional, she’ll say. Deep down, somewhere, you still love Karen. You love her deep brown eyes and those moments where she marches around the house in her bra and panties without a care in the world; when she sneaks a bite of cookie dough from the mixing bowl or when she says ‘Honey, you pick what we watch tonight, I’m too tired to care.’ “Sounds like you’re living the life, my friend.” She puffs out the window and offers you a smoke, which you decline. “Don’t smoke?” “On occasion. I’ve never been a huge fan, though.” She goes to snuff it, but you interject, “Really, I don’t mind.” She smiles and tosses it out the window anyways. “My whole family smokes. I think I had my first cig when I was eleven. I know I’ll get yellow teeth and lung cancer – yada yada – but we’re all gonna die somehow, right?” She chuckles and you can’t help but follow suit. “Big family?” you say.


“My dad, sister and me. My mom was in the picture at some point, but I never knew her. I left You listen intently as she relays the adventures of her life thus far, describing in great detail the month she lived in the studio of an up-and-coming artist, learning how to watercolor and creating all kinds of statues from junk. Just three weeks ago she was staying with relatives in Atlanta, spending the days washing dishes in a small bakery and nights playing mandolin at a coffee house. She describes each story so vividly that you feel you had experienced the past year by her side. As she concludes a tale about a man she met at a gas station, your eyes catch sight of the Casa Grande exit up ahead. “I’m sorry, I failed to catch your name earlier?” you interject. “Julia,” she replies. “And where is it you’re headed, Julia?” “San Fran.” You raise your eyebrows and relax your shoulders into the car seat. “I think we can make it by the end of the week,” you say. home right out of high school and never looked back.”

black butterfly // Luis Martinez 21


Earth Above Earth Below // James Souder


The Impact of Strangers // Tessa Gerberich Namaste, Namaste! I see the image of God reflected in your eyes And I praise God for you because of it! Namaste, Namaste! Beautiful child of the streets, you take my hand and I feel its warmth. I hear the bare soles of your feet slap the pavement, your footsteps falling into step with my own. I look at you, in your rags and unkempt hair, Your tiny body and beautiful smile. Your eyes meet mine, and in that moment I see the image of God reflected in them. You are created in the image of God And I praise Him for your precious life! Namaste, Namaste! Dear old woman with no teeth, tin cup in your hand, You are dearly loved and cherished by God, Whose image you are created in. I pray that He may fill up your cup so that it is overflowing And I praise God for your precious life! Namaste, Namaste! Hard-working Hindu farmer, toiling in the fields. You invited me to your house to sip a cup of chai. Together, we watched the sun set upon the Himalayan foothills, Casting everything in a golden glow. You showed me hospitality, generosity, and kindness And in these acts I looked into your eyes and saw the image of God And I praise God for your precious life. Namaste, Namaste! Leg-less woman, depending on wheels to move from place to place, What has polio not taken from you? I saw you struggling up a steep road, and in your struggles I saw the struggling of Jesus Which is why you find me behind you now, pushing you; Adding my strength to your own we can get up this hill together. I don’t care if you have stubs for legs; When I look at you a see a beautiful creation of God And I praise Him for your precious life! Namaste, Namaste! Beautiful people of India-Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Zorastrians, Christians, We might not all share the same beliefs But when I look at each of you I see a beautiful, unique creation of The Great I Am. When I look into your eyes I see His image. I praise Jesus for the opportunity to cross your path. I pray for humility, that I will not soon forget the impact of your very real and valid lives. 24

Moss lake // Randi B. Hagi


suddenly there are friends // Glenn Kauffman For silent assenters to the status quo, change happens fast. When old taboos of exclusion and discrimination finally give way,

out of the previous silence

suddenly there are friends.

“We were with you all the way”,

they say;

and some of it is true.

Maybe. When

the dam of obsolete tradition


rocks from the barrier,

caught up in the current of change,

“Just waiting to be released,” they say; hoping no-one notices their location in the river bed

is newly acquired.

baby monks // Hannah Beachy UNTITLED // Jonathan Drescher-Lehman


Untitiled // Malika Davis


A Tribute to Middle School // Meg Smeltzer The air was heavy and slightly musty, as if the fan had devoured an old attic-stored blanket and expelled the remains into the expanse of tacky yellow gymnasium. She stared distastefully upward, taking in the peeling panels of the ceiling and the dishwater-grey basketball nets. She slid her left foot along the blue out-of-bounds line, feeling the skinny pink heel of her shoe scrape against the plasticky gym floor. “You should never have bought those ridiculous shoes,” said the voice in her head. In the five years since middle school, when all self-esteem hell had broken loose, her mother’s voice had followed her through life, giving a ceaseless and dreary commentary to every decision, every expression of thought, every encounter with the mundane or the profound. The bleachers slumped open and empty, a testament to the lifelessness of the gym on a summer afternoon. A mental image of herself as a clumsy eighth grader lurched into her consciousness, and for a moment she was once again loping uncomfortably across the floor of the gym. Her hands tingled with the memory of the plastic, sweaty lacrosse stick, and her heartbeat quickened at the very thought of once again subjecting herself to the torment of eighth-grade boys. The metal double doors clanged behind her like a prison door locking. She shoved the image away and wheeled around, nearly tripping over those awful shoes. The purple hoop earrings from last week’s shopping trip slapped her neck purposefully. There in front of the doors stood a disheveled, unimpressive youth who looked as if he had endured one put-down too many. He slouched forward, trailing ambivalence and carefully crafted attitude. “Well, don’t talk to him, for goodness’ sake. Just look at that outfit. Who knows where he’s been?” “What are you doing here?” She spoke loudly to drown out the voice in her head, realizing too late what an inappropriate question it was. What if he actually started talking to her? Then he would know what a loser she was for returning to the birthplace of her worst memories. She forced her facial muscles back into a configuration resembling normalcy. His expression of utter disinterest squelched her moment of panic. He raised one cynical eyebrow and jammed his hands in his pockets. “Nothing.” He drifted toward the trophy case, leaning against a wall to observe the infamous legacy of highschool star athletes. He probably wished his name was up there. She wiped her sweaty hands on her white flowered sundress. “You really should quit that habit – it makes you look nervous. And that dress is too short.” She exhaled and clamped her lips together. She strode to the double doors (prison doors) and imagined that the decisive click of her high heels was speaking for her. She imagined that they were declaring her freedom, her self-worth, to every last Frisbee and deflated soccer ball. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him turn to face her, but the doors burst open at her outstretched hands, and the outside world welcomed her. 29

Untitiled // Dylan Bomgardner


The elements // Hannah Beachy Like a turtle dove towards the sun, You flew from me, And blinded on the ground I stood Until my fever broke And my ache, acute, slowed into a gentle drizzle And what can you do for shelter Caught unaware in a drizzle rain

But close your eyes and let it soak? Well the puddles formed and then they left But the mist stayed in my eyes Like a water stain, ingrained And to think of you and your bronze-eyed flight With the sun at your back and no mist in your eyes Well it left me lethargic and filled me with lead Finally, I eloped with the road to get out of the rain And found you, perched divinely, Charred and oozing, arched in pain Your hair smelled like eggs that had been left too long And your eyes, when they rose to meet mine on the road, had a new fire burning and a new ashen song

And before the sun rose and before the cloud broke Ahead we walked and in perplexity spoke of all They had told us a raw wound to mend

With your burned clothes now sloshing and my pruned hands dry again


the real // Han Park


rebirthing // Jack Frost Where does the impulse begin to pull apart all that is good from all that is not,

then throw out that which is and parade around with the vestigial entrails on display for all to abhor without knowing the name that belonged to the corpse before their eyes,

giving a smug sense of superiority to the drum major beating out the rhythm of death without life and unborn questions?

If I should hold up that which is worth celebrating would you even recognize inherent value?

Of course

you would but would you

celebrate too, joining in the choir singing out the primal rhythms of life with death and beyond?

And would you recognize

the final pleas of trodden dreams before it is too late?

Of course

you would but would you

stop to honor the life that still remains, outsider that you are,

sacrificing yourself to preserve one

who might be your professed enemy?

What is it that cuts across chasms of culture, connects sinew to bone, blends light into white, emulsifying (not left and right, not black and white, not wrong and right, not dark and light, but) me in you and you in me? Let us set before us

visions known to be unthinkable, yet worthy of proving viable.

Let us be unashamed and courageous and strive to say “Yes� through the darkest night. Because I know, while we will never get there alone, we were never meant to anyway. 33

Where is that other what? // Gloria Rhodes That what I am of me is hard to say. I lean close to the mirror and see a me that is not me. A me of freckles, lines, a scar and hairs and more of the what than I remember. I squint to see that other me. The me that climbs rivers and trees. The me that slides and screams feet flailing. The me that runs freely without worry of turned ankle or skinned knee. The me that swerves and skids on snow packed streets. The me that was careless of the what that is me. That me recedes to reveal this new old what. This me that walks in wide comfortable shoes with a slight waddle, a creak, a few sharp cracks. This me that wears elastic and foundation and 44D. This new old me that frowns and asks serious questions,

has more than a patch of white hair and needs a nap in the middle of the day.

How do I get to know this strange new what? This new old me that is more and less than what I know. This me of knowledge and idealism, of limp not leap this me of experience and exhaustion, of humility not hubris more and less of time, weight, friends, wisdom, perspective, respect. When did both gaining and losing become grief? What I am must be this me that I and others see, yet I know me to be more and less than this. How do I teach the me that climbs rivers to accept and appreciate this what that I am and the what that will be? 34

Heidi // Randi B. Hagi


FRAGMENT FROM AN UNFINISHED NOVEL // David Connerley Nahm 1. She didn’t know the name of the song the bald man with horn-rimmed glasses was singing to himself as he stared at her. 2. “I hope something didn’t happen,” she said. “You remember what happened to—” Isolated, house-bound, no visitors, children barely sparing the time to call days after his birthday or before Christmas, the old man slipped and fell down basement stairs. He kept a small workshop down in the basement and despite the pleading of his attorney, he continued to slowly slump himself up and down the steep, wooden steps into the pale fluorescent light in old slippers on a daily basis. Until the day that his ankles gave out on the third from top step. And then weeks went by. It made the house quite difficult to sell, much to the chagrin of the beneficiaries of the estate who would call and ask the executor when they would receive their share. “It isn’t that I care about the money. I just want some closure.” There had been several offers on the house, but they’d been rejected. “It isn’t the money. It was the house we grew up in and I know how much my father put into it and what it meant to him and what it means to us and what it should be worth and I don’t want to sell it until we find a buyer to appreciates what it means to us.” Money was given for a burial robe, but bills were pocketed and the bare body was placed in the bare wood. 3. On the day her father made her touch a skeleton in a basement, it was the presence of mushrooms on the pizza they ordered for dinner that made her weep. Sometimes she could make out a sliver of song, a muffled voice in mid-phrase, a lonesome love song fading as the car passed. 4. Was something in the house? Her skin prickled, responding to the slightest fluctuation in pressure, a sensitive flame. The house spoke the sounds that houses speak: that too-heavy creak on the stair, that groan of door hinge, that rough breath. But no sound came that she could discern from the clutter of sound that comprises the silence of the night. 5. Indoor irises scream in outdoor light. Yards thick with trunks. Trunks covered with soft green beards. Houses hidden and only crumbling walks disappearing on their way to dim doors. Sun rests on skin as she frisks ahead, voice flowing in an unending stream. The voice of the breeze and a click-clack of boxcars at the edge of town. The all-invading wafts of stock-yard stalls. Wind rattles Oak and Sumac. A mackerel sky, and thus, three days dry. When the sun sets, there will be ribbons of pink. 6. Winter wind bends trees. She worked at a center for low income women and children. Near the complex where she lived in one bedroom apartment, there was a stream and in the evenings she walked in the woods alone along the stream’s banks. Water rushed over rocks, colorful garbage caught in fallen branches fluttered. Bits of blue between bare branches. Capering plastic tatters. After college, she changed her name and ended up in Kentucky and walked in the woods by the apartment in the evenings alone. The women came and waited to speak with her, their children swinging legs. Broken spines of donated books left open on empty seats.


Her hand went to the nape of her neck when the wind blew. A birthmark in the shape of a crab Her hands through her hair to keep it close. When she was a child, her mother took her to the beach. She didn’t like to go in the ocean. Rather, she preferred to sit in the sand and build elaborate drizzle-decorated castles around her legs. Every time the water would creep closer and closer and eventually suck the sand away. Even when she built a dam with her interlaced fingers to catch what she’d built, it would slither through. There was more than one stream in more than one wood, more than one wall around more than one pair of legs, more than one name for the woman watching rainwater erode the banks where she walked. She worried about this until late at night, eventually falling asleep on the couch. The record skipped on its inner circle. underneath her hair, hidden by crimped tresses.

7. She slept outside the night after her brother disappeared, outside to get away from the sounds inside, and she saw two little girls in brilliant calico dresses walk from the garage and climb up the Maple tree. They didn’t come down, not that she saw. The night was silent. The stars were silent. The grass was silent. The world was empty.

Lesotho // Rebekah Graham 37

Untitled // Jonathan Drescher-Lehman


We are not dying // Adella Barret You live on the eleventh floor

of a building that sways in the wind,

in the middle of a ravenous city. (See how the concrete and steel never lose their appetite for the green and the soil).

You stand at the open window

with a cigarette between your lips

sucking poison into your lungs, breathing a gray river out into the summer heat.

You were a child once with soft tiny hands

that reached only for your mother.

You choked on the absence of a father,

grew up on wonder bread and electromagnetic waves from the television, and were told not to talk to strangers.

There is not enough space for your life in this room,

there is not enough space for your reverberating questions and feverish desires.

The city is only building up, the space is only thinning. A prison, you think to yourself, home is a prison. This morning you woke up crying and you could not stop. “Where am I?” you asked the ceiling,

but your words slid back down your throat unanswered.

You lie down on the floor beside the open window, the sound of sirens pounding in your temples,

your hands clenched into fists pounding the wooden panels.

While the noise of traffic shreds the air into chaotic phrases,

the neighbors upstairs rock the bedframe back and forth

seeping the pulse of life into your atmosphere. You imagine their fingers gliding along each other’s spines,

you imagine their body heat rising and the song of their breathing.

You unclench your fists into two opened palms and begin to laugh. You laugh. You laugh. Listening to the prayer of the lovers. You laugh. You laugh. They are making love to survive. 39


The note on the fridge said Wendell Berry was coming for dinner I had to squint my eyes just to read the writing but the way each letter floated into the next, I thought the note was sprouting. The note on the cupboard said Wendell Berry was coming for dinner with the number 7 scribbled underneath and a star beside the words *use good plates and then the word crystal. The note above the sink said Wendell Berry was coming for dinner it was stuck to the window and just outside I saw grandma kneeling over the flower beds with one hand behind her, in the air, holding a tight bunch of deep purple flowers. The note on the table said Wendell Berry was coming for dinner and had three sets of cloth napkins underneath it one, plain white one, deep blue with tiny beige flowers embroidered to its surface the other, burgundy and another star beside the words *use good plates. The note in the bedroom said Wendell Berry was coming for dinner and had a deep blue skirt and matching blouse underneath some hosiery was hanging on the bedpost next to a pair of black orthopedic shoes and a double-strand pearl necklace. The note on the bathroom mirror said Wendell Berry was coming for dinner with sprouting reminders beside more stars *put your teeth in *comb your hair *remember, his name is Wendell Berry Wendell Berry Wendell Berry


Molly // James Souder


Biographies Dylan B. is a First-Year with a major in digital media and a minor in theater. He is from Annville, PA, a suburb of Hershey, PA. He truly enjoys working with photographs and eventually hopes to make a career out of it.

present and majoring in the dissection of cultural

Senior. When she graduates she will be indebted to the Mennonites for their absolute quirkiness and incredible humility, intelligence, and faith, which they shared with her over the past few years. After graduating she plans on acquiring a cat. Adella Barrett

Bekah Enns aspires to be inspired; to see the beauty in the ordinary, watch for God in the intricacies, and find life in loving. She is studying the complexity of life, both past and

is a

Hannah Beachy is a Senior majoring in Early Childhood Education who enjoys poetry, photography, and children. Kelsey L Blosser is a First-Year nursing major at EMU. She has always enjoyed creative writing, and wrote her piece during her first semester’s writing class. Angela Carter serves as the Human Resources Generalist of EMU. Originally from Brunswick County, VA, she also lived abroad in before choosing to settle permanently in Harrisonburg, VA with her husband and two daughters. Angela has written poetry since a young age, and is currently in the process of finalizing a manuscript for her first official collection of chosen poems, dating from


Malika Davis makes all the final decisions around here, thank you very much. Don’t be fooled by her quiet exterior; inside she has caramel, creativity, and a nougat of something awesome. Jonathan Drescher-Lehman has a long name. I didn’t even know he took pictures, did you? Weird. Well, he’s quite good at it. Check ‘em out. e. pants is a Senior at EMU, majoring in thought, love and food. Her poetry stems from the corners of the world that are teeming with life, but sometimes are forgotten. She believes that poetry

and music are the closest things humans have to time travel.



She is.

Brendan Erb, walking across campus in the early evening, often looks east toward the sun-gilded feed mill. Jack Frost is a figment of his own imagination. He dances on the strings that bind souls together, harmonizes with the rings of Saturn, and prefers non sequiturs for breakfast (to start the afternoon right). He wishes you would believe in global warming enough to save him (and your children too). Tessa Gerberich is passionate about people and treasures encounters that allow people to be unique beings rather than stereotyped strangers.

She is seeking to know and be in God who holds as much redemptive promise for a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, as for a Christian.  She loves riding bike and wearing skirts, preferably in combination, being creative, and drinking tea in the company of friends (among many other things).  She is a Junior relationship with a

nursing major determined to maintain a social life throughout the nursing program.

Rebekah Graham, whom I imagine is a world traveling yodeler, takes sweet pictures. Randi B Hagi would like you to “remember what the dormouse said.” Glenn Kauffman is an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and an occasional dabbler in words. Katie Landis is a Senior photography and digital media major. Luis Gerardo Martinez, in the Master in Divinity Program, says, “God is my inspiration.”

David Connerley Nahm teaches Constitutional Issues and Reading for History and Law. He is a practicing attorney.

someday figure out what she wants to be when she

Han Park who believed Pablo Picasso’s quote “everything you can imagine is real,” just realized that... ‘It’s easier said than done’.

James Souder is a super-cool Environmental Sustainability major. At last count, James has 17 grey hairs.

Gloria Rhodes teaches peacebuilding and conflict studies and is an eclectic life-long learner, conflict engager, bed-time story reader, star trek fan, lima bean grower, enthusiastic singer, and sometime river climber.

Konrad Swartz from the suburbs of Philadelphia, does this and that at EMU.

Meg Smeltzer is a junior celebrating life, especially people, music, laughter, food, and nature. She hopes the world will learn to listen, and endeavors to

grows up.

She wants you to tell her about what

inspires you.

Cody Troyer did not send us a bio, like we asked. Several times... probably. So all we’ll say about him is that he’s a digital media and photography major.

Untitled // Katie Landis 43

Profile for Eastern Mennonite University

The Phoenix - #54 Literary and Visual Art Journal of Eastern Mennonite University  

Eastern Mennonite University's undergraduate annual literary journal, produced by students in the language and literature academic program....

The Phoenix - #54 Literary and Visual Art Journal of Eastern Mennonite University  

Eastern Mennonite University's undergraduate annual literary journal, produced by students in the language and literature academic program....