Élan Fall 2019 Edition

Page 1

1


Faculty Advisor Tiffany Melanson

Élan International Student Literary Magazine Produced by the Creative Writing department of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and funded through the Writers’ Guild Boosters Association 2445 San Diego Rd., Jacksonville FL, 32207 (904) 346-5620

2


Volume 34 | Issue 1 Editors-in-Chief Olivia Meiller Zoe Lathey Layout & Design Luz Mañunga Shelby Woods Jasper Darnell Art Reece Braswell Blake Melenaar Poetry Conor Naccarato Alexa Naparstek Fiction/CNF Anna Howse Sheldon White Managing Editors Noland Blain La’Mirakle Price Digital Media Catriona Keel Evette Davis Marketing Ashley Chatmon Grace Brodeen Douglas Anderson Art Liasions An Tran Sadie Ponicall

3


The artists of this book have given readers a chance to see their origins: the cultures they come from, their journeys of growing older. We all differ in these origins, and with that comes the power of engaging with art. To observe someone else’s self-expression, to reflect, and to learn. These experiences are individual and invaluable. As you go through this edition, think about where you come from. Is your life paralleled in any of these pieces? Can you see parts of yourself from years ago, or just yesterday? Or even better: you are seeing something in a new light. Either way, the diversity of work in this issue is undeniable. There is truly something for everyone—and we can’t wait for you to find it. -Editors-in-Chief Olivia Meiller and Zoe Lathey

4


Contents Hidden Look Britney Garibay When I spoke with Obatala Adeto Kunbo

Cover 8

Henry Emma Flaire

10

Portrait with House Marin Hart

11

Tranquility Carson Love

12

Clara, 1704. Katlynn Sherman

13

Catching Light Keila Smith

15

Lust Grace Brodeen

16

Bleeding Heart Cassy Miller

17

Painting in Fajardo After Hurriane Maria Dariana Alvarez

18

Bulleh Shah Nur Chodry

20

Autospy Noland Blain

21

Can You Hear It Kaimyn Graham

24

5


6

forgot again Katlynn Sherman

25

Parakeet’s Vine Makalia Carter

27

Icarus Drowning Isabella Tolbert

28

El Sueno Produce Monstruos Sam Pabon

30

Jane and the Cook Sylvia Nica

31

Wholes Ian Alexander

33

A Long Time Waiting Esther Sun

34

Maaseal Emma Flaire

36

Luray Caverns Formations as A Letter to My Father Marina Chen

37

Envy Ava Burr

39

History Never Ended Sarah Chocron

40

The Whore, The Gunslinger, And The Guy Who Wrote Their Scripts Nur Chodry

42

and at the hour of our death Mia Porola

43


In Which I Try to Explain to My Grandmother Why I Don’t Call Sofia Miller

46

Lemon Trees An Tran

48

Ars Poetica Esther Sun

49

Creature of Flight Abigail Goldsmith

50

Repatriate Lena Neal

51

Retro Kenyana McCray

58

GG Explains It All Thaiyana Pittman

59

Moona Liza Mav Johnson

61

Jew-ish Jake Shafran

62

Mexican from the Corazón Britney Garibay

64

Hathor Miracle Singleton

66

Madonna And Child Larry Fullwood

67

7


When I Spoke With Obatala Adeto Kunbo

He called me grandson. His dark and wrinkled skin framing his old and sly smile. He sat me beside him on his ancient wicker chair, a large and rough hand on my head. He told me stories of people long forgotten. Of places people no longer journey to. He looked at me, eyes radiant like two suns, and said, ‘Grandson, remember: You are the walking sun and the living moon. Every breath that you take has a purpose. Never let them pile stones upon your back to weigh down your steps. Grind them into dust. You are my blood, an extension of my old life. An extension of the lives of your ancestors

8


that walked before you. Grandson, their wealth of knowledge is your inheritance.’

9


Henry

Emma Flaire 10


Portrait with House Marin Hart

she has invaded my house by the sea. i built the house as a child out of silent, black glass i built it on the bank of a gray ocean. it is never night there, the safety of day persists. but now she is here, tall, blonde, severe, an ancestor real like wind. i wear a hospital gown and sit on the low bed. she moves a warm ultrasound wand between my shoulder blades. she looks for shadows in the thicket of my back. she will find what is in all our lonely line of mothers and daughters: the need for our own imagined houses like this one on the beach.

11


Tranquility Carson Love

12


Clara, 1704. Katlynn Sherman

You are perched on the edge of a rotting tree stump in the wooded area behind your house, picking at the light yellow ribbons tied loosely around your wrist, watching the stained washcloth splayed over your bare thigh dry in the sunlight. Elise, your oldest sister, is mashing a small wooden soup bowl filled with blackberries into a watery paste, swirling a stick harshly against the bottom of the bowl to get out all of the chunks. You’re nervous, your leg that isn’t holding the washcloth is bouncing uncontrollably, your bare feet occasionally making contact with the dry soil or the small tufts of grass around the stump. The grass keeps tickling the callused soles of your feet, along with Elise’s breath whispering across the back of your shoulder from where she sat behind you to mash the berries. Your fingers tremble like the trees, slightly shaking the yellow ribbons in time with your erratic heartbeat. This was Elise’s idea. Once the paste is to her standards, she gestures for you to scoot closer to her on the wide stump, and motions with the paint brush for you to face to the right, towards the running creek. You’ve missed the serenity of being deep in the woods, surrounded by large pine trees and newly fallen needles, the grass moving gently with the breeze, strings of your hair tickling the sides of your face, sticking with sweat, Elise humming the hushed sounds of gospel through her nose. You shake visibly with anticipation, clenching and unclenching as you try to hold onto the stale air surrounding the two of you. Elise yanks the washcloth off of your thigh, laying it across the back of your neck. You can’t help but flinch from its dampness, almost untying a ribbon when you tug on it from the sudden jerk. Gently, she gathers your hair into her palms, the blonde gleaming in the sunlight between her fingers, soon disturbed by the glob of black goo she slaps onto the strands with the old paint brush. The sun feels too bright between the trees, and your eyes clench shut at the concealed blindness, your body instinctively moving away from her cool touch.

13


Some of the goo splashes onto the back of your arm with the movement, but she pulls you back harshly by your hair, and you’re now facing the sky with an outcry of pain, your mouth and eyes held open at the pressure from your scalp. She tells you to sit still. The blue of the sky is overwhelmingly saturated from the sun, the few clouds you can see in the distance are thin, wispy, and useless for rain, weak like the brittle brown needles on the ground. Your father will be unforgivingly disappointed. When she is finished and the paste is done drying, she makes you dip your hair into the creek to wash the excess off. She dries it with the towel the “She jokes that you are a woman best she can, and your now, like her.” once light hair now fades into a murky brown, tinted lightly by the berries, but stained by a new maturity. Elise smiles, tying her own faded red up into one of the ribbons before beginning on yours, pulling two braids into a crown around your head. You sit motionless. She jokes that you are a woman now, like her. She is pleased with her work, but you have yet to see it, having to wait until you can sneak back into your bedroom window, to look into the mirror, to face what you’ve done. Your mother would be so ashamed if she were here to see it.

14


Catching Light Keila Smith 15


Lust

Grace Brodeen the fragrance that follows her is that of a chrysanthemum trampled, its scent flooding up from under footsteps mother once held out the same flower in her palms, told her to watch as its petals withered in her tightened fist. dappled flecks of crimson line her intimates. she folds origami in bathroom stalls hoping that nobody hears the disembodied crumpling of her girlhood.

16


Bleeding Heart Cassy Miller

17


Painting in Fajardo After Hurricane Maria Dariana Alvarez

I. I imagine my father outside on the porch of our aunt’s house. He was out in Ceiba the other night, drank till he couldn’t even remember who he was. This is the Fajardo I grew up in. The Coquí made wonderful music through the night with their unique croaks that our Taíno ancestors adored. Arroz con gandules in our stomachs made by grandma’s hands as she tells us that we are Boricua; A word from the Taínos that means good people, Puerto Rican. Street art of Jesus somewhere in the island promises to protect us. No te preocupes por mí. My father says. A reporter on my Floridian TV tells me things I can’t process yet. II. Maria comes in like the prostitute that she is, ties Puerto Rico down till she has taken what she wants and leaves him with almost nothing. Roofs torn from our pueblos’ houses, lights disappear and leave an eternal shadow over the island as my father hides from Maria in a basement in Las Calderonas. Our president comes in, throws supplies at needy Boricuas, and tells us that we cost him a lot of money while our fridges are as empty as our pockets. Guns go off near the apartments close to my aunt’s house. “Han matado a mi hijo,” a woman screams into the night. My aunt calls me to tell me that her neighbors have a new baby boy named Dilan, and I worry about his blood staining the concrete with a fresh look of bright red. The street art of Jesus watches the cars pass by,

18


He waits helplessly to see violent red on His flesh once again. III. As my father sits in front of my aunt’s porch a year later, I can imagine a gang pulling up to the curb. They take a gun out of their car and offer to start painting. I can only see our blood on the walls of my aunt’s house like a trophy for our neighbors to see. This is the Fajardo I don’t know, reckless, murderous, and dissolved. As I sit here on my bed, I look at our native artwork. Where the hell are the Boricuas now?

19


Bulleh Shah Nur Chodry

20


Autospy

Noland Blain The gun shot the man is a simple sentence, a simple function: shock. Bleeding internal. Your editor breaks it down into basic parts of speech, like pulling files from the cabinet, like teeth: article, subject, verb, article, object. Automatic delivery, like a subscription, like an email. Your editor says to fix your piece’s structure or you will never see the front page. Needs a good hook, he says. Needs pop, revision. Think about what you’re saying. Article The is a deceptively complicated word, the unsuspecting specifier of which gun—is it a pistol, an assault rifle, or the shotgun stowed in the closet? Articles present the sentence “Your editor says to fix your piece’s clearly. Things must be in a certain format structure or you will never see the front page.” or no one will listen to you. Gun shot man is not a sentence. Distortion. Media trickery. Isolated incident: the gun shot the man. Where is the journalistic integrity in letting an article betray the people? The gun is equal in weight to the man. The fault is equal. Low likelihood event. Thoughts and prayers. Subject The gun is a complicated organ: the chamber, the firing pin, the connotation; all that muzzle, barrel, and sight. Gun. Hard g like a bag of groceries. Running n like Norman Street. There was a break-in just last week. He bought a gun at Walmart on Tuesday for the same price as a My Little Pony bicycle. He and there are pronouns that throw cloak over the subject. It shot the man. See? No punch. Tell it like it is; the people like your newspaper because it is gritty. You have a story to report. 1313 Norman Street. Shotgun. Loaded. Two victims—every crime has two victims. You draft in the margins of your mind, rubbing a pencil between

21


your fingers, masticating your editor’s comments. Make it catchy, he says. Not catchy enough; red pen, this morning’s draft. Subject. Who did it? Why did she pick up the gun anyway? Wouldn’t she know better? English teachers want to know. Verb Shot, past tense of shoot, of which there are seven definitions as a verb and five as a noun, all of them referring to explosions. Shoot, verb; to germinate or grow as in a plant or seed. Shoot, verb; to kill or wound with a bullet or arrow. A verb is an action, is orchestral, has direction. A gun is an action, is orchestral, is an accident, this time. The girl didn’t know what she did, or couldn’t speak after the fact, they couldn’t even arrest her because—you know why. You can imagine all that rubble: the blast scarred the pink walls with pockmarks. The gun plowed a hole through him. He had left the gun out on accident. The trigger was pulled by a mentally unstable youth. It’s technically true, but that verb slows everything down. The trigger was pulled— your editor carves through it like a protest. PASSIVE VOICE! This story cannot mitigate. This story needs verbs that punch holes through English teachers’ chests. A weak verb kills the sentence, as in, local teen wonders about the next victim of gun violence. Instead, say: local teen fears the unstable political climate. Community mourns loss. What can we do about it, argues victim’s neighbor? Like so. Object Man is the object of your sentence. (What, did you think the verb would never find a target? Everything that ruins itself ruins another thing identically. This is a rule of grammar.) He is an object because a thing is done to him. Replace man with father. Your desk is littered with pictures of him and his family; one of these photos will make this a front cover hit if you could just find the right angle. Consider: Gun held by unstable youth maims father. Not quite. Consider the like of: Local community weeps. Victim’s church offers thoughts and prayers. Remember next draft to add names. Use quotes. Quote the killer, get the perspective

22


of a daughter who killed her father, classic patricide story, heard it before, so find the quotes. Do you have quotes? No. Of course not. She didn’t know anything. You asked for a quote, and do you know what she said? Nothing. Passive. The way she just stared at you with her small hands in her small lap. Useless. She was only two years old, what could you expect? Headline: Horror in the home; gun found by toddler, leaves child fatherless. Your editor loves it. But there are unanswered questions—what happens next? Who escorts her away from the site of the tragedy and does she still live there? Would she learn the shape of a toy after having clutched the wrong one? Too many questions and it’s too late. 5 PM and the office closes. The front page goes to Stacy and her story about the shooting one town over, next to the ads for Plexiglas windshields and Bugles. Your editor says not to take the loss too hard. After all, it is only the first week of the month.

23


Can You Hear It Kaimyn Graham

24


forgot again Katlynn Sherman

There is a puddle of gasoline in my driveway, a small layer filmed over the crater in the sidewalk filled with water from the hose that still has a hole, after months of saying I will fix it. I don’t. I forgot again, about the hose that leaks water in the driveway, and the car that leaks gasoline into the puddles, and the puddles that leak rainbows into the grass where I forgot to fill the bird feeder. I forgot again, about the bird feeder. I forgot again, why I’m stuck, only getting up to look out of the window to see how far the rainbow has progressed, or if you pulled your unleaking car into the driveway next to mine. We forgot again, that the puddle has gasoline, that the birds drink the water and die in our uncut grass, and how my cracked driveway is as lonely as an egg without a nest. I forgot to pick up our dead birds again— This time, they stop to sit on my branches and stare back through the window, mocking and squawking over what I think is nothing but their own reflections in the glass. I wave, but they don’t notice, too focused on the bird writhing below them to care about the killer, watching

25


behind a barrier.

Opening the door is the hard part, clicking the lock to the right and slowly pushing it open, the birds stop singing. I grip the dead bird by its feet, the crows above floating up with a screech, circling the sky for prey. But, the bird is heavy, so I drop it.

26


Parakeet’s Vine Makaila Carter

27


Icarus Drowning Isabella Tolbert

When he fell from the bridge, The bustling city below Became silent with death. Falling, he reached out For his father, too far Ahead to hear his son calling out to him. Surely the boy’s wings should’ve hoisted him up, Small body folded into his Father’s hands (hands that had created so much), Soaking in the stagnant water. As the commotion of the city Moved all around them, the father Stood staring at his son, shouting Obscenities of his grief to Greek Gods, Jewish Gods, the very labyrinth of his mind All knotted around his only son. He rises From his son’s side, joints aching under The weight of an entire lifetime Left to live. Hours pass, Minutes lingering on like stains on satin sheets, The sun baking the backs of policemen—of passersby Watching the boy’s body swell in the water, wondering What could’ve made him jump, How his hands lay outstretched, Stuck grappling at the air. He was cautioned about The fiery rays from above, his very

28


Autonomy melting in the sun’s gaze. Now soaking in the swampy deep of death, Flies swarming his flesh, This childhood fascination Of the sun wasn’t the only thing He needed to be afraid of.

29


El SueĂąos Produce Monstruos Sam Pabon

30


Jane and the Cook Sylvia Nica

Jane sat in the empty restaurant, and felt his wrist for a pulse. Nothing. Simply a cold, squishy feeling of flesh and the sight of blue eyes open, staring at her sneakers. Jane almost retched—soul fleeing her body. Glancing at his face, at the small pool of vomit by his mouth, she was overtaken with a guilt so great that she almost hauled the dead chef to his feet and held him, as if he were her father. But then, she thought she saw his face move, she fled. She loved the cook. Loved him like a father. “What are you doin’ now Miss Jane?” he’d ask and she’d say, “Nothin’ Ben, just thinkin’ of those buffalo wings you make so good.” He would laugh and slip her a wing or an “Childhood is a skin too tight, onion ring. When she had she told her father.” to wash dishes, elbowdeep in grimy blue water, they would work in silence and listen to the radio blaring old tunes from the ceiling. Jane always felt centered then, as if her soul was firmly attached to her feet. It had been a good feeling, feeling her soul in her toes. Usually she was just a bundle of flesh ambling around. Having a soul felt like having a purpose. Something. Doing, something. She lost that sometimes. And sometimes she was a bundle of flesh. Sometimes she sat melting in the rain. While the corpse cooled in the kitchen, Jane let the rain fill her apron. Ben had been there when she stumbled into the restaurant, so fragile and translucent the pale sunlight almost blew her away. He’d made her coffee and put in the orders while she became nothing but a shiver. Ben hadn’t asked her what happened, just hugged her when she started screaming. He could have asked. Maybe he wouldn’t be here, dead. Ben soon learned, like everyone else, how her father had been found, naked and choked on vomit, in the pink bedroom she’d slept in as a kid. She’d moved out of that bedroom by the time they found him, moved to an apartment so she could stretch out of childhood memories.

31


Childhood is a skin too tight, she told her father. However, her father had kept her room the same so she could always come home. Jane tore at the apron around her waist, her breath stopping. Back to the red bucket. But no. Ben knew what happened to her father. Why didn’t anyone run over and find the body instead of her? But no one came, and she left him rotting. It only takes ten minutes for maggots to lay their eggs on a corpse. The rain water began to overflow the bucket. What would her father say? Fear kept her from entering the restaurant. She unspooled the years from her memory. “Watcha doin’ just sittin’ there?” her father slurred, half-drunk by the time she came home from school. Her cheeks wobbling with barely contained sobs, she’d explain how Charlotte pulled her hair or how Violet hit her, and her father would listen, dumbfounded. He’d ask why she was “just sittin’ there instead of doing somethin’?” She’d been so startled she stopped crying. Eventually, Violet invited her to parties and Charlotte stopped pulling her hair and smuggled her bits of weed. Jane never understood what she had done. She only found out years later it had all been her father’s doing, that he had stopped the girls’ bullying. Jane never had the guts to do anything.

32


Wholes

Ian Alexander 33


A Long Time Waiting Esther Sun

(After Lisa Olstein’s “Dear One Absent This Long While”) I. It has been so hot concrete sears like whips; honeybees shimmy through midsummer thick. In the slow darkness, we try to think: moon and I, spider and I, the road. One sleepy afternoon, I met in the living room someone so familiar I thought he was you, but with a puff of the rickety white fan and a whisper of Grandma’s jasmine, he was gone. We try to think—moon and I, spider and I, the road. II. In October we drank swishing russet that muffled questions and paused. The spider asks me where you are. In a daze I reply: there there, baby, there there. Maybe someday we will understand that the foot of the stairs prefer the shiver of light, the base of the drive daybreak. I pin your picture to my hair and sway in the slice of evening.

34


III. December loosens gently. I read Mary Oliver by the fireplace as the sleet outside the window feathers you away and glazes the ground like stars. Mild-eyed, we dissolve into spring. Balmy light in the water, undertones of gold in the hardwood floors. Yours is a name the sweet alyssum have forgotten as they elegize the ember and the reeds.

35


Maaseal

Emma Flaire 36


Luray Caverns Formations as A Letter to My Father Marina Chen [Fried Eggs] You always made me these even on school mornings. when walked past fried eggs on the cave tour, I said I’m gonna write about this and you said girl, never stop. [Stalactites] Grow downwards. I’ll never forget when Mama told me that you traded your career for time with your daughter. She thought I was old enough to know. I can never do enough to repay you but Baba, I’ll never stop trying. [Grottos] At six years old I realized the Little Mermaid would have envied me: I don’t have to hide shame from my father. but there are no secret grottos in Luray Caverns, anyways.

37


[Flowstones] Water comes like breath from beneath, plunges into light, then into dark again. we later paint this cave, burnt sienna, at the kitchen table. you dip thin bristles into black and wash. I decide you are not a cave, for caves are dark and your hand guiding mine is too warm for that.

38


Envy

Ava Burr 39


History Never Ended Sarah Chocron

No one speaks at the dinner table tonight. Tension amplifies; blade-like, exacto-knife precise, biting at our souls Reminding us that some never truly know where bloom and lilac laughter go. Grandfather’s hands shake and flutter, drinking daydreams in aniseed liquor As he speaks wise words broken to shape his thoughts. A table of mahogany with a walnut bottom sits between us Scratches from the nails of men following great causes scar its corners that hold the bloody scarlet from my brother’s scraped knees. Every saffron-golden grain of rice sits still in the linings of my throat Choking all free lyrics and reckless laughter from fleeing away As yellow seeping oil drips eerily from the luminescent veneer of roasted chicken which shines against the dimming kerosene lights. Grandmother doesn’t question my inability to swallow. She is a woman whose resilient ribs had the power of the hills And who once spoke of romance and illustrious ventures. Police sirens softly shriek and blare; “we all have a heartache,” As burgundy and cerulean lights hover on our linoleum floors. Sounds of slender silver against frosted alabaster china cut through silence; One note for every longing for words to warp themselves around us; The blush giggles and devious gossip and wholesome grins, so glorious— Stability groaned in our gut. Father slowly locks every door and window— meticulously precautious. He is a maker of guitars with strings that serenade the pulsations of untamed places And banjos that thrum tones resounding with the humble ruins of nations. The locked windows bare the sight of our neighbors being cuffed in steel, Escorted by iron-clad armies to places where none hear the soft echoes of newsies. The sky disintegrates into a purple haze and heat lingers between my fingers. Mother mumbles mutterings as she seemingly slurs all sense of meaning, My sister grips my hand with a fierce force sinking into every delta of my fingerprints. All moments of greatness have stemmed from this dinner table; We drunk our despairs and dreams until dusk and made kings from dust.

40


I long to remember the days where I would forget the way to my father’s house, Where I was but a note in a noise of drive and whirl. The generations among us hum rhythms in silence As a knock resounds from the door.

41


The Whore, The Gunslinger, And The Guy Who Wrote Their Scripts Nur Chodry

42


and at the hour of our death Mia Porola

“Johanna!” her father’s voice erupted in her ear. She snapped her gaze up to see him and Elisha vertically over her, his eyes squinted in the inner corners with his brows shaped downwards. Elisha was quick to put a hand over hers and ask if she was feeling well, but Johanna couldn’t find the energy in her vocal cords to properly respond. The walls began to enclose her again. “Obviously she’s not well! She needs the doctor!” Elisha was the next thing she correctly heard, as well as her father’s scoff that followed. The only strength her body provided her was the ability to look up. As she did, she saw that people had gathered, and all of them had their pupils set on her. Their mouths moved out of unison to create a murmur. Husbands shook their heads while their wives gasped. “She’s just a girl being dramatic. It’s nothing serious,” she heard her father address them. Another shouted, “Probably just some monthly pains!” to which he received a few chuckles for. Behind Elisha was her mother with a sympathy-laced expression, though she stayed still and silent. Their little sister clung against her hip. It hit her what a scene she was causing. “No,” she eventually mustered after a few lost tries. “No, I’m sorry. It… it’s nothing.” She pushed all her weight from the wood and pulled herself to her feet, and as she did, the crowd lost interest and dispersed. Elisha put an arm around her sister to keep her stable. Her chest still pulsed as she watched her father and mother walk down the aisle with her little sister skipping lightly beside them. Their mother walked slowly alongside their father, though each step was hesitant and barely lifted her shoe from the floor. Eventually, she turned to her eldest daughters for a quick moment. “I’ll get Father Abel to see you,” she informed them softly. Elisha looked Johanna in the eye as they made their way out. “I’m getting you to the damn doctor,” she said lowly. Johanna lurched back. “No! I don’t…don’t care what

43


you…people think. There’s a way we…do things here, since you’ve clearly forgotten.” Her voice morphed into a sob by the time she got them out. Elisha didn’t respond, but accelerated their pace out of the chapel and into the lobby, with her eyes dead set on the exit. They were only a few steps from the outside and could already feel the cool against their skin when Father Abel caught them. “Johanna,” he spoke in an uplifting tone. “Your parents wish for me to help you. You are in pain, I hear.” Elisha tried to keep moving, but Johanna pulled her sister’s arms away from her, leaving streaks of sweat on Elisha’s arm. Father Abel walked to them and took Johanna’s palms, then told her to follow him. Elisha tried once more to hold on to her sister by gathering the fabric of Johanna’s dress in her grasp, but it was no use as he led her away. Johanna struggled to follow the Father on her own and tried to focus on her destination instead of “‘You know, in many stories of the pulsing compression at her heart. She was led the Old Testament, invisible pain to the back row of the is attributed to the Devil.’” chapel, where she found some relief in the seat. Father Abel wasted no time. “You know, in many stories of the Old Testament, invisible pain is attributed to the Devil. However, just as Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his beloved son for the Lord, we all must be willing to suffer pain to prove ourselves to him. Johanna, what you are feeling right now is merely a test from God.” He took a short pause after looking at Johanna’s pained face, then resumed. “Now, albeit, it’s not an enjoyable one, but I believe in you and, most importantly, so does God. You can get through this with the right faith.” Johanna listened to his words to the best of her ability and attempted to let them soak into her conscious, but some of her focus was still laced with the pain. Father Abel, having seen many cases hike hers, noticed this disengagement. “Do you know what your name means?” he offered. She shook her head. “Well, a biblical woman of the name Johanna suffered

44


as well. She was one of those who was healed directly by the hands of Jesus in the New Testament, and eventually got to see firsthand his resurrection. You can do the same. To you, I recommend this: stay here and recite five Hail Mary’s, then do the same each night until God drains the venom from your body.” Johanna agreed and thanked Father Abel, who stayed for a few more moments to recite the first prayer alongside her, and then he was gone. She remained alone in the pews of the pentagonal church, with her knees once again pressing her outfit’s fabric flat into the mahogany where she kneeled. By this time, the other attendees were so far from the worship place that Johanna’s crippled echo could fill the chapel without being drowned out. Things remained this way as she made her way to the fifth Hail Mary. Her voice was still thoroughly shaky as she began for the final time. “Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, a—” Johanna’s voice came to an abrupt halt as the walls tightened and suffocated her chest once more, until everything around her was just that pain. Then, there was no pain left to feel. Twenty minutes passed before Elisha’s father finally moved from the church’s round door. She swung them open and dashed into the chapel, and then the only noise to be heard from the center of the old town of Ashewood was a deafening scream.

45


In Which I Try to Explain to My Grandmother Why I Don’t Call Sofia Miller The ocher toilet-brush-seeds of the lilies I threw mercilessly into the trash four days ago are staining my white nightstand, which according to my poor memory, was either my grandmother’s, or great-grandmother’s, or aunt’s. If it was yours, Grandma, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to let the pollen crumble and sit and seep. I know this nightstand has ridges you can slip into when you’re not paying attention, entire ravines to wade through on days when my shoulders convex inward and I am small. I know these are the places where things collect: -CDs I don’t have a CD player for -D.’s old pocket dictionary -Dad’s old baby shoes, white, or at least the tinted memory of white. I know the sides of D.’s pocket dictionary will always soak in the color of whiskey and desaturated pumpkins, but the alphabet always needed color attached, didn’t it?

46

A for apple and blood and the front cover of that red dictionary.


B for boy and blue and all the skies I fell for in the background of How is school?’s C for crush and blush pink, rush pink, the pink-feathered dream catcher above my nightstand, your nightstand. I know the disintegration of what was meant to spark life can be unsettling for the stomach. I know you’d lament these forever-seeds if I ever called and let it slip. If I ever called. (I do the slipping anyway.) If you saw the painting push-pinned above. If you saw it without a frame. If you clicked your tongue at this painting, at this frameless body. If you wondered what it was. What it is trying to be. If you saw the life plastered onto this nightstand. The framed picture is from you. The girl inside is who I used to be. The nightstand is stained and sagging from all the books I’ve yet to read, the letters and their colors, each fleck of living accumulated over the years like the spreading stain splotches you would disapprove of. Grandma, thank you for the nightstand. Don’t judge me too harshly if you ever see what I’ve done with what you’ve given me.

47


Lemon Trees An Tran

48


Ars Poetica Esther Sun

I have never learned how to write a poem. Instead, I dream of waking up alone in the darkening forest, the tenor of nocturnal creatures sifting through the distance. In the space between quiet & unspoken, a butterfly leads me through the silver -striped woods. Shows me where to find the softest moss, trumpet king mushrooms, lavender milkmaids blooming from the quiet earth. Wax films over my eyelids as I forage for tubers among the undergrowth, but my butterfly flickers with every snap of my hands on the forest floor. I hurry. Soil & stones clumping under my fingernails. Then the butterfly disappears & the trees are no longer silver, & my hands are no longer hands but fountains, & the woods are just full of starlight.

49


Creature of Flight Abigail Goldsmith

50


Repatriate Lena Neal

INT. ZAIRE’S ROOM. NIGHT A thin melon-colored cloth spread across the top of a lamp. ZAIRE’s bedroom is cast in a warm glow. The walls are lined with African Prints and hand-drawn maps of the Congo. Across the room is a home studio-set up and a collection of drums. His prized djembe sits on top of the desk; it has etched pictures of monkeys along a winding river and a swirling Kapok tree. The glow of the city below softly blinks against patterned curtains. Zaire sleeps. INT. MIND. NIGHT The sound of RAINDROPS DRUMMING the canopy of the Congo bathed in blue moonlight. The silhouette of a young man against the reflecting Congo river. Fingers against the etched djembe play along with the rain. Quick. Precise. Soft. INT. ZAIRE’ APARTMENT. DAY Sunlight reflects off of the honey colored walls.

51


Feet touch down to the hard wood floors as Zaire sits up. We stay within the room of milk and honey. Zaire walks out— Sounds of BRUSHING TEETH, TOILET FLUSHING. He walks back in and grabs clothes from the closet, laying them out on his bed: A maroon and gold dashiki-print shirt, worn jeans, and bright-yellow shoes. He dresses and exits. INT. SUBWAY CAR/ MIND. DAY Zaire boards the Brooklyn-bound subway. He sits. Adjacent to his left, a man stands clutching a pole. He wears a collared shirt and khakis. On his belt, a badge and gun in its holster. Zaire stares for a moment, transfixed, then places headphones on and shuts his eyes. The car gently shakes him. CUT TO: A dirt road paved by the footsteps of a village. Various restaurants and stalls are painted in incandescent pinks and oranges with blue accents. At the window of a shop, Zaire pays a woman. He turns and sits underneath a sunbleached umbrella in a plastic blue chair.

52


Greenery sprouts indiscriminately along the road and around the legs of the table. Zaire closes his eyes. BIRDS CHIRPING... WHEELS SCREECHING. CUT TO: Zaire takes his headphones off and opens his eyes. He leaves. INT. NYUMBANI AFRICAN MARKET. DAY A shop with African garb and food. A convenience store turned ethnic shop, really. Zaire sits behind the counter, reading. A woman, ELENA, 73, shuffles in. She heads to the wall of freezers and grabs a Mango Fanta, then shuffles to the counter. Zaire rings the pop and hands it back to the woman. He grabs a bottle opener from under the counter. Bottle opener to cap: PSS He slides it towards her. ELENA Al mal tiempo, buena cara. (At bad weather, happy face) She takes a swig of her pop and motions towards the door. Zaire nods, places his book down, then heads for the door. He opens it for her. ZAIRE Hesabu fupi hufanya urafiki mrefu. (Short reckonings make long friendship) His eyes water.

53


She presses her hand to his cheek. He shrugs. ZAIRE Tuonane tena. (See you soon) He closes the door after Elena as she leaves. He spends the rest of the day in the shop. INT. OPEN MIC CAFE. NIGHT Zaire sits in the audience. Each table is lit with a candle. The atmosphere is of different vibrations. Velvet upholstery, groups of college-age kids, the scent of coffee and pot. A MAN steps onto the stage. He is tall, strong, dark. He wears dashiki print like Zaire. He steps up to the mic, closes his eyes MAN Amani Means peace in Swahili. Amani Was the day that my mom first held me in her arms after 12 hours of labor. Amani Was my big bro watching cartoons with me on a Saturday Morning. Amani

54

Was walking home from the bus stop with my two best friends.


Amani Was the day I held hands with a girl on the swing set, while everyone else ran inside. Amani Was a family trip to American Beach. Amani Was my first trek to the Zaire. Amani Was my graduation from Midwood. Amani Was staying up until two, studying Zulu theology at the library. Amani was absent as walked home one night only to be stopped by a man who pulled a gun and yelled GET DOWN ON THE GROUND! NOW! Amani was absent despite my plea. It left. And I would search, but I could not find it again. I had been robbed of my Amani. No justice, no peace.

His eyes open. Zaire stands where the man stood, looking out over the audience. His

55


face, wet with tears. He can only see a comatose version of himself sitting in the audience. The rest of the room, empty. INT. ZAIRE’S ROOM/ MIND. NIGHT Zaire crashes onto his bed. His eyes are red, he breathes heavily while taking off his shoes. He drags himself to the djembe on his desk and collapses to the floor. Fingers caressing the skin of the drum. He begins to play. Hands bouncing between the center and edge of the drum, variations between bass, open, and slap tones. His eyes close. From close-up we pull out to reveal Zaire playing in the moonlight greenery. All is silent for his drum. The distant glow of his honey-colored walls reflects in the waxy highlights of the leaves. The shadows take on the color of midnight. His skin blends in with his surroundings, but his hands radiate warmth. GUN SHOTS. He beats at the bass tones harder...faster. GUN SHOTS. His room is no longer war, but hot. The city lights against his curtains are harsher. INT. NYUMBANI AFRICAN MARKET. DAY Zaire sits behind the counter. He stares at pivoting fan. Elena shambles in and sets two Mango Fantas

56


on the counter. Zaire opens them.

ELENA Furaha inahitaji cha kufanya, cha kupenda na chakutumaini. (Happiness requires something to love and something to hope for)

He looks up at her, then reaches into his pocket. He places a pair of keys in her hands, then walks out. INT. ZAIRE’S ROOM. DAY Zaire grabs a backpack. He stuffs it with clothes and small trinket, then grabs his djembe. He walks out. EXT. CONGO RIVER BANK. EVENING Greenery reflects golden light. Fingers patter the skin of a prized djembe. The sounds of a rainforest and rushing water provide a symphony of instrumentation. Furrowed brows. A bobbing head, pulled by rhythm. Amani.

CUT TO BLACK.

57


Retro

Kenyana McCray 58


GG Explains It All Thaiyana Pittman

Baby take out the dried black-eyed peas for me from the fridge please. I already sorted and soaked them overnight. I wasn’t tryna be rushin’ today. Fix your face and hand them to me. I ain’t gotta tell you; you eatin them. Child, you just don’t know; to ingest black-eyed peas, is to be filled with indescribable beauty, allowing ancestral tradition to course through your veins guiding you throughout the course of your life. As a child I remember the smell of wet dog creeping into my room to wake me up. I hated it. But my mother not only forced me to eat black-eyed peas every New Years—not caring one bit about the rebellious tears streaming down my face—but she also instilled in me the feeling of obligation to put a handful of peas in everyone’s wallet or pocketbook so that they would have money for the entire year, so that a woman will finally be blessed with motherhood. Get the ham hock and two onions out the fridge. The Manding call these black-eyed peas “soso,” the Wolof call them “nyebe.” Go ahead and start choppin that onion. Imma need it in a min’. An ancient staple of the African diet, the black-eyed pea grows well in hot, drought-conducive conditions. A symbol of resilience, mercy, and kindness. Come add the onions in the pot. Now stir it as I add the salt, cayenne pepper, herbs, meat. After I put the peas in, fill the pot with water till e‘erthing is covered. Put the timer for an hour. Nyebe is the kind of cooked food one gives as sadaka—

59


righteously-given charity—to beggars on the streets of Senegal. The kind of cooked food given to the poor blacks inspiring them to survive and thrive. When you’ve made this as many times as I have you don’t need to measure. Our ancestors take the reins, knowing the right amount every time. Witness the power of your tradition and culture creating roots in your soul. One day, you’ll be able to hear them, the hymns of your people caressing your heart, encouraging you to continue to live.

60


Moona Liza Mav Johnson

61


Jew-ish

Jake Shafran 1. Peer Leadership Sometimes, the camp counselors let the teens lead services for a day. Today is one of those days, but no one is paying attention. The kids “leading” weren’t doing anything productive, talking amongst themselves. I look around, trying to find something to do other than sit on the benches and watch the teen “leaders” talk. Three of my friends in a small circle, praying on the tennis courts behind me. The blue prayer books shine in their hands, reflecting the light of the hot, summer sun from their shiny covers. I walk to stand with them. I sing and pray with them, the four of us leading each other through the service. Oftentimes, the faith aspect of summer camp is lost. Sure we learn about Jewish scientists and Israeli politics, but we don’t learn about G-d. After all, camp counselors can’t teach how to connect with Adonai, the Jewish name for G-d. That’s up to us. As we continue the service, I look at the faces of my friends. We bow, and we bend together. We sing psalms of praise and prayers of need, and I realize that I believe in Adonai. I don’t know “As we continue, I look at the about the other three, faces of my friends. We bow, and but I feel connected to we bend together.” Him in this moment. Before, I never thought a lot about my own beliefs in Adonai. If someone asked, I brushed them off, but as the heat beats down on us, I feel a connection. My mom always tells me not to ask Adonai for something physical, rather I should ask Adonai for something abstract, something intangible He can grant me. She tells me that Adonai doesn’t give people things; He gives people the ability to get those things. My mom always tells me these strange sayings or insights I never would’ve had on my own. I think about them a lot. Sometimes, I agree with her. Sometimes, I don’t. I wonder where she comes up with these things. I chalk it up to her life experiences, being much older than I am with much more perspective. All mothers have this

62


collective knowledge and I wish I knew where they got it. I could always use some. I look up to the sky on the scorching tennis courts, and I ask Adonai for courage. I know I need to lead myself in finding my identity, and I need the courage to do so. I ask Adonai for wisdom. Where do I begin?

63


Mexican from the Corazรณn Britney Garibay

64


65


Hathor

Miracle Singleton “Hathor embodied motherhood and fertility; it was believed that she protected women in child birth.” Goddess of the sky, fertility, and love. the Egyptians praised. carved cows on ancient monuments, the women knew you’d keep them safe. as they pushed out their brown babies. knowing you’ll never let their souls drift into the afterlife. won’t let their bodies kiss the insides of a tomb. in the present, brown and black women cannot trust like the Egyptians did. we have to pray our babies’ heart beat will beat, beat, beat with ours. pray the last thing our children know is their mother flatlined. since our life is put into pure white palms and traditions haven’t stopped. we pray harder than the Egyptians believed. we have to.

66


Madonna And Child Larry Fullwood

67


Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.