Gallery Art and Literary Magazine
35th Anniversary Special Issue
Volume 28, Issue 2 Spring 2014
Editors Editor-in-Chief Dana Wood
Prose Editor Scott Oâ€™Neil
Poetry Editor Connor Smith
Hannah Berk Samantha Farkas Emily Lowman Stuart Mapes Allie Nelson Blair Stuhlmuller Paige Stuhlmuller Cover Art
Misty Mountains Paige Stuhlmuller, Watercolor See the complete work on page 32
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Table of Contents Poetry
A Worldâ€™s End Find Orion Latvia Resettlement Genesis 2:18-24 The Aran Sweater Park Bench After a Day of Rain Quintuple Identity Why I Draw Fish Letters Home Attic Window Walking Through Pittsburg The Etiquette of Exhumation For Future Ghosts Revisiting the River
Playground Funerals Tritone The Laughter of Wood Sprites Letters from Merope One Liar, Liar
We, the Graceful Little Miss Hanai Self Portrait Bovine Beauty Red Roof Barn Forbidden Shore Misty Mountains Unlockable Compostable Singing in the Rain Snow and Shadow Merry Go Round
Alex Cook Ryan Greene-Roesel Kate Zimmerman Connor Smith Mitchell Mathias Rebecca Lindenberg Elizabeth Clark Jaylee Marie Strawman Chelsea Blanco Catherine Casalino Matt Schroeder Polly Hollar Chelsea Blanco Bonnie Powell Matt Schroeder Polly Hollar
4 6 8 16 18 21 27 41 42 43 44 48 50 56 57 58
Jessica Edington Sarah Stubbs Seth Friedman Caroline Fulford Sarah Stubbs
10 22 38 52 60
Michael Le Michael Le Faith Barton Blair Stuhlmuller Blair Stuhlmuller Paige Stuhlmuller Paige Stuhlmuller Patricia Radich Paige Stuhlmuller Blair Stuhlmuller Blair Stuhlmuller Michael Le
7 20 28 29 30 31 32 34 35 36 37 47
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A World's End
Two hundred years ago, no soul ventured here. Untouched by rubber, and leather, and human flesh the glacier speaks of nothing, and the air is clear. Thereâ€™s a name for this blue thatâ€™s lodged deep in the crevasse, deep and human like a railroad spike lapis lazuli borders the bounds of this board for chess, where pieces of earth were picked like a pawn and its pike to sculpt mountains, fjords and valleys, boulder and pebble alike, united in the quiet erosive rally, silent and not so quick, an ever-rolling sculpture gallery. Humans haunt this place like hungry listless spirits delivered to pose in North Faces smeared with lipstick for Facebook photos in orange vests and moon boots, tourists in repose.
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Spring 2014 Poetry Staff Favorite
Surrounded by waterfalls and endless ice, we loot and take a share of the untamed to carry in our pockets, in the prim pleated folds of ours suits to impress dates, to show Tom, Dick and Harry that we’ve been to a glacier and that it wasn’t so scary. Parceled into valkyries, we call them helicopters there was never any danger of frostbite, or hypothermia but here we once were at the ends of life itself, surpassing all borders, and there was brown moss, and ourselves and these tiny black leaves under the frost-dermis like blood blisters unknown and unaccounted for, cleaved from a long-dead tree, faraway, I slipped one petrified black leaf up my sleeve uncasing it from its cool amber that day a not-quite-fossil frozen beneath the timeless ice, another souvenir today from an arctic green bequeathed to this scape, that sprouts rocks and leaves and waterfalls and a ring of rising crags, a mountain wreath. — Alex Cook
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Find Orion his hands and feet are hammered to the night with diamond nails He is low in the sky to make the Southward flight is the disposition of the geese; it is said Winter is ending they read the stars to find the path the first crocus Orion plunges southward to escape the spring we each have our fears. He will reemerge after three seasons are bloomed yesterday into memory, movement soothes; when time swings round right, he comes again in glory and was glad. to shine again. â€” Ryan Greene-Roesel
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We, the Graceful Michael Le, Mechanical Pencil
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Latvia Grey walls run cream with one another, Supporting each other. Oily, plebian silent concrete Shooting unwelcome planks over watered mud And Jurmala blood, Where life grows through these structured dreams, Incomplete. “We are wasting the day,” I heard Inese say, And we left without breathing in Jurmala. Narrow white and windy beach forever Pine and sand together Creaking, thinning, sunlight feathered Woods with roots in cold sand mounded vertically Watch the Baltic Sea. Horizon grazed by antique sloops, eternal, Weathered. “We are wasting the day,” I heard Inese say, And we left without breathing the sea.
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Golden walls in plaster crumble blue Though outside new, Ancient art nouveau regalia Hear waltzes sink from rooms of tenants gone A spectral song Stink of splendor on the stairs of gallant Alberta Iela. “We are wasting the day,” I heard Inese say, And we left without breathing Alberta. And Riga, grand, ornate, cobbled, clean Long history seen, By Baroque design in Soviet might Sit at dusk with friends in humming market squares Shoulders bare Rare city flowing, in flowering mysterious Latvian Night. “We have wasted the day,” I heard Inese distantly say, But I finally exhaled in Riga. — Kate Zimmerman
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Playground by Jessica Edington
iss Haswell was what Alyssa’s parents liked to call a “progressive” teacher. She tried to encourage her students to call her Kimberly, and in Alyssa’s mind she was Miss Kimberly, but to her face she was still always Miss Haswell. She kept several class pets, including a turtle, a school of tropical fish, some baby tadpoles in various stages of metamorphosis, and the crowning glory of the classroom: a small brown and white hamster named Sir Newton. The hamster in no way acted like its illustrious namesake, but this suited the children just fine. Miss Haswell also helped her class to maintain a garden, which was nestled against the wall outside the classroom window. But it wasn’t the miniature zoo or garden that Miss Haswell kept which most bothered parents like Alyssa’s; it was the way she liked to do things upside down and backwards. She spent half of the school day letting the students do the teaching while she sat at a student’s desk, cramped up like a giant in long flowered skirts at a table set for dwarves. Alyssa never felt like she knew very much when she got up to speak to the class, certainly not enough to be a teacher. But somehow she always seemed to know more on the bus ride home every day than she had that morning, so she stopped telling her parents about the strange ways Miss Haswell “taught,” and they stopped calling the principal to
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complain. Miss Haswell’s favorite activity was Wednesday Show-and-Tell. Some of the kids, like Alyssa’s neighbor Sandra and her twin brother Drake, thought that at the mature age of 10 they were too old for “babyish games” like Showand-Tell, and would bring things like old pieces of gum and staples to share with the class. Miss Haswell never got angry, but instead chuckled along with the rest of the students. Alyssa, though she outwardly pretended to agree with Sandra, enjoyed the hour they spent showing off the relics of their separate lives to each other. By late October, however, everyone was running out of interesting things to bring. Alyssa brought a book she had borrowed from Miss Haswell on ancient Egypt, which was her current favorite. She was fascinated by the pharaohs, the pyramids, and the strange mythology. Her classmates just wanted to know about the mummies. “I heard once that the guys who were burying them, the other Egyptian people, I heard that they would squish up the mummy’s brains and then pull it out through his nose and put it in a jar,” said Drake, practically bouncing in his seat. “Is that true, Miss Haswell, ma’am?” “Ewww!” several of the girls squealed, and Sandra made a gagging motion at her brother. “You’re so vile,” she said. “Vile” was today’s Vocabulary
Word of the Day, and Sandra was fond of it. Drake’s cronies—Tony, Nathan, Alex, and Bobby, collectively known as the The Crew—perked up at the sound of gore. “Well, yes,” said Miss Haswell, rushing to the front of the class where Alyssa stood wide eyed. “But there are so many more interesting things about the Egyptians: just look up the hieroglyphics! Alyssa, turn to the page with the hieroglyphics and show them. See, isn’t that cool? The Egyptians were the first to use a written system like that, you know…” But it was too late. The class had erupted into a riot. The Crew were making fun of the girls for being so squeamish and being such “babies” and the girls were proclaiming that all boys were “vile.” The best Miss Haswell could do was to quietly usher Alyssa to her seat and stand at the front of the class, hands clasped behind her back, a model of serenity, and wait until the clamor died down. “Now,” she said, as Drake flung a wad of paper at Sandra as one final jab, “who would like to present next?” Bobby stood up and revealed an iridescent beetle he had captured on his walk to school that morning and kept captive in a portable pencil sharpener. The beetle clambered frantically against the walls of the purple transparent plastic, and would just reach the top of the sharpener before it tumbled down again. Bobby gave the pencil sharpener a shake, and the girls screeched their disgust and indignation, again led by Sandra liberally tossing out the Vocabulary Word of the Day. Miss Haswell dismissed Bobby and again went to her post at the front of the class, willing them to be silent with a smile. She called on Molly next to present, trying to avoid more calamity. Two outbursts in twenty minutes were manageable, but Miss Haswell knew after the third that she would lose all
control. Molly had brought a battered cloth doll, clothed in a faded blue dress and missing one of its button eyes. Clutching it to her chest like a life raft, she tripped over the words explaining how the doll was her favorite toy from the age of two, and how she carried it everywhere with her, even in her backpack to school. Molly delivered this confession with her eyes fixed firmly on the floor as she scuffed her left shoe against her right. Someone in The Crew snickered, and Molly’s speech tapered off before she returned awkwardly to her seat. “Well done, Molly!” exclaimed Miss Haswell, two seconds too late to salvage the moment. “What a delightful story about your doll, and one I’m sure we can all relate to. Who else has a favorite toy?” After a moment, a hand reluctantly rose from the rest of the silent class. “Yes, Joseph!” called Miss Haswell. “My sister gave me her old Easy Bake Oven, and I know it’s sort of a girls’ toy, but I really like making things with it. Whenever she’s home from work, my mom lets me help her bake things with the real oven.” “How interesting!” said Miss Haswell, nodding. “Where does your mother work?” “She’s a flight attendant on airplanes, ma’am,” said Joseph. “But when I grow up, I want to own a bakery.” Drake’s hand shot up, and Miss Haswell called on him next. “I have a favorite toy, too,” said Drake. “But my favorite toy is my Warrior AK-47 Airsoft Sniper Rifle, because I’m not gay.” Several students snickered, including some girls, and a collective “Oooooo,” rose from The Crew, punctuated by a “Burn!” whispered under Nathan’s breath. Joseph looked down at his desk, but made no other response. “Drake!” Miss Haswell gasped. “That is not appropriate language, you know that. Apologize to Joseph or you will be visiting Mr. Belmont.”
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Mr. Belmont was the school’s nonprogressive principal. Miss Haswell was loathe to send any of her students to his office to endure his “barbaric punishment practices,” but she still threatened Drake with it nearly daily. Drake rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry, Joseph,” he said, and then mouthed when Miss Haswell turned away, “Sorry that you’re gay,” to The Crew, who held in silent laughter. A few more decidedly boring presentations later, the children went out to recess. Alyssa, Sandra, and a few other girls took off for the slides and the swings, while Molly ambled along behind, still carrying her doll. The Crew, who normally bolted for the soccer field as soon as they were out of the building, instead paused today at Drake’s signal and gathered round Molly. “What a baby!” Alex taunted, now out of sight of the teacher. He was supported by hearty snickers from the other boys. Tony made exaggerated crying motions, rubbing his fists against his eyes and crying, “Waah, waah! Baby needs her dolly!” “Stop it,” whimpered Molly, trying to hide the doll in the embrace of her arms. Only its frail little head was visible. Drake made a grab for the doll. He meant to snatch it from her and play a game of Keep-Away with The Crew, just for sport. But Molly clutched the ragged thing tighter to her, and with the sickening sound of ripping cloth the head pulled from the shoulders. Drake and Molly both stared in momentary horror at the detached face, still with its one button eye and stitchedon smile, and then Drake let it fall from his hands and took off towards the soccer field where the rest of The Crew
followed him, laughing uproariously. Molly picked up the head from the ground where it lay amidst the dead grass and began to sob, drawing the attention of her other classmates on the playground. Joseph was the first to arrive. He tried to comfort her, telling her that if she wanted, his sister could probably sew the head back on. Molly wailed that it was no use, the doll was already dead. She cradled the two limp pieces of cloth in her arms like an infant in her care that she had failed to protect. Alyssa and Sandra arrived next, and Alyssa hugged Molly while Joseph explained to Sandra what happened to the doll. “Boys are so vile,” she spat. Alyssa glanced at Joseph, but she couldn’t tell from his blank expression what he thought of Sandra’s comment. “Are you sure you don’t want my sister to try to fix the doll?” he asked Molly, but she just shook her head, tears still dripping down her cheeks and lips. Her face was red and blotchy from crying and her nose was beginning to run. Alyssa offered her a tissue from her pocket. When Molly blew her nose it sounded like a trumpet blown in mourning of a fallen leader. “We should bury her,” said Sandra suddenly. All three children turned to her, confused, and Alyssa cocked her head to the side like an inquisitive dog. “You know, like a mummy,” Sandra continued, excited. “We could wrap her up in toilet paper and build her a pyramid, right there, under those trees.” She pointed towards the farthest soccer goal, where the field met the edge of a forest. “It would do honor to her memory,” she said, her voice becoming somber as she addressed Molly. “What do you think?”
“ ” But Molly clutched the ragged thing tighter to her, and with the sickening sound of ripping cloth the head pulled from the shoulders.
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They all looked to Molly. After a few moments of scuffing her feet and making small trenches in the dirt, she finally looked up at Sandra with glassy eyes and nodded her consent with a sniffle. * * * They buried the doll the next day beneath a holly tree against the edge of the woods. Molly stole toilet paper from the school bathroom and wrapped up her beloved friend, placing her gently in a shoebox decorated on the inside and out with tiny paper flowers. Alyssa asked Miss Haswell to borrow a small garden shovel, and when she said it was for a project that involved “understanding mummies,” the teacher delightedly consented. Joseph helped Alyssa to dig the hole, and Sandra said some sentimental words over the box after Molly placed it in the ground, sniffling the whole while. Sandra even shed a few light tears, but Alyssa suspected that they were only for dramatic effect. * * * “Alyssa, sweetheart, what on Earth happened to your dress?” Alyssa’s mother asked her when she got home from school that day. The front of her dress was covered in red clay from the doll’s burial, which Alyssa had tried to brush off after getting off the bus, with minimal success. “Did that heathen teacher of yours have you digging in the dirt again?” her father asked from his position in his cushioned easy-chair in the living room. “It’s not proper to have little girls getting all filthy at school, that’s not the way to teach ‘em.” Her mother dragged her by the arm to the back deck, where she began to forcefully beat at the clay stains in a vain effort to smack them off. “Ow,” Alyssa whined, squirming away from her mother. “No, Miss Kim— Haswell didn’t do this, I did,” she said, not meeting her mother’s disapproving gaze. “Sweetie, why were you in the dirt? You’re positively a mess.” “Well, we had to give Molly’s doll a
funeral, because Drake from next door ripped its head off when she brought it to school for Show-and-Tell, and she was really sad.” “Did you hear that, honey?” Alyssa’s mother shouted to her father. “That neighbor boy is going around ripping dolls’ heads off in the classroom, can you believe that? The woman can’t even keep control of her students, how do you expect her to teach them?” Her father chuckled. “That’s right, you got to keep a good handle on ‘em, or else boys will do what boys do best: destroy things.” “Mom, it wasn’t Miss Haswell’s fault, Drake grabbed the doll when we were at recess and—” “Now Alyssa, I want you to listen to me. You just try to stay away from all that nonsense, all right? That’s a good girl.” She patted Alyssa’s head and pushed her back in the house. “And please, change into some decent, clean clothes for dinner.” * * * After the doll’s funeral, Sandra told all of their other classmates about what a good deed they had done in giving the doll a noble burial, and how sad and beautiful the ceremony had been. All of the girls and a few of the boys were jealous that they missed out on the excitement, except for The Crew, who simply continued to snicker and make fun of Molly’s “babyness.” So, naturally, when Natasha’s clay sculpture of an elephant fell to the ground and shattered in art class, they all decided another funeral was to be held. The elephant’s funeral was a hit. All of the class except The Crew attended, including Miss Haswell, who was incredibly excited that her students were so engaged in something. “I just love it when you guys take on your own projects!” she said to Alyssa. “Though it is tragic what happened to Molly’s doll and Natasha’s elephant.” Sandra again presided over the ceremony, and delivered an eloquent eulogy in remembrance of the clay elephant.
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The next day, while some members of The Crew were wrestling over the soccer ball after a disputed goal, they slipped in mud and the combined weight of Nathan, Drake and Tony was enough to pop the ball. So they came, mud-splattered and humbled, to Sandra, who was conducting another funeral for the class’s jack-o-lantern, which had rotted after being carved too early. She agreed to allow them to bury it with the highest honors, and so The Crew began attending the funerals as well. Every day there was something new that needed burying: Kendra’s torn drawing of a horse, Bobby’s beetle (which finally died after a week in the pencil sharpener without food and water), Freddie’s tuna sandwich that “accidentally” fell on the floor during lunchtime, Miss Haswell’s dry-erase board marker which ran out of ink. All were given a proper burial, and all received solemn and due respect from the class. Alyssa noticed that Sandra seemed to relish the attention and power she had as the officiator of ceremonies, and delivered eulogies of ever-increasing eloquence and magnificence. On the morning of October 30, Miss Haswell announced with a tone of deep sadness that the next day would be their last day spending recess outside, as the principal had decided it was getting too cold to let them stay outdoors. They would spend the duration of the winter recess hours either working on crafts or doing silent reading. That day the children had nothing to bury, so they spent recess collectively planning how to end the season properly. “We should have one last funeral,” Sandra suggested, and everyone agreed. “But we don’t have anything to bury,” said Molly. “Nothing’s died.” “My pencil snapped in half yesterday
after I hit it with my head,” offered Nathan. “We could bury that.” Sandra rolled her eyes, and Drake said, “No, dude, that’s stupid. We need something really cool. We can’t bury a stupid pencil. It has to be great.” “You buried that stupid marker,” said Nathan, offended that his suggestion had been so hastily shot down. “That wasn’t anything cool.” “But this is the last one,” insisted Drake, and everyone nodded along. “This one has to be something really amazing.” “We could have a funeral for Fall and bury some dead leaves,” Natasha piped up, but she was laughed into silence. Sandra waved her hand and the crowd fell silent. “As much as I hate to admit it, my brother is right. If we’re going to have one last funeral, it has to be for something noble and… distinguished. Who has an idea?” “Well,” Alyssa spoke up, and all heads turned to her. “if nothing’s dead, we just can’t bury anything. Don’t you guys think we should do something else?” “Wasn’t all of this stuff about mummies your idea in the first place?” snapped Sandra. Alyssa distinctly remembered it being the other way around, but she said nothing. “And now you’re trying to take the fun out of everything, just like your boring parents. Jeesh, don’t be so vile.” Alyssa, taken aback by her friend’s sudden rebuke, slunk away from the group and went to sit alone at the top of the slide, where she watched them continue to plan. She was tired of the funerals anyway. * * * The next morning the students came to class and found Miss Haswell looking much less chipper than usual. She kept twisting her mouth when she spoke in a way that reminded Alyssa of how her
“ ” All were given a proper burial, and all received solemn and due respect from the class.
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mother looked when she was deeply disturbed by something. She waited until all of the students had arrived before she delivered her news. “Sir Newton passed away sometime last night,” she said, drawing several gasps. The hamster’s cage was empty, the squeaking wheel still. “I have him here,” she said, holding aloft a shoe box for the class to see, “and I thought that, given your recent experience with conducting memorial services, it would be best if we spent the day remembering him and paying our respects. He was a very good class hamster.” They abandoned their lesson plans for the morning and Miss Haswell had them all write goodbye notes to Sir Newton, which she placed delicately in the box with his little body, swaddled in a handkerchief. Alyssa’s note read: Dear Sir Newton, I am sorry this happened to you. You were always a good hamster and you really loved your wheel. Please rest well in Hamster Heaven where there are wheels bigger than the sky. Love, Alyssa. * * * Alyssa didn’t join the rest of the class for the funeral. When recess came, she ambled over to the swing set, where she sat and watched the clouds drift by and thought how Sir Newton was probably
sitting on one of them now. Joseph joined her after a minute and sat on the swing beside her. “Why aren’t you at the funeral?” he asked her, pushing off from the ground with his feet. The rusty chains groaned and squeaked and reminded Alyssa of hamster wheels. She shrugged. “Why aren’t you?” she asked him in return, beginning to swing as well. With each push she climbed higher as the frosty winter air bit at her face. “I heard Miss Haswell talking to Principle Belmont while we were at lunch.” Joseph said, watching the clouds as well. “He was really angry. She said she found rat poison in Sir Newton’s cage this morning.” They continued to swing in silence, the creaking of the chains the only sound over the wind in their ears. The cold made Alyssa’s eyes water, but when she reached the peak of her swinging, she could still look down at her classmates and see them clearly, all gathered around a freshly dug hole next to a line of tiny mounds of disturbed dirt. She thought that from up here they all looked like little hamsters, dressed in colorful winter coats. G
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Resettlement I’ve never lost the accent. The harshness of my vowels remains a point of pride. I’m alive. This little house on the hill is home, overseen by gentle mountains and the Pennsylvania sky. My neighbors, half a kilometer down the lane, sometimes bring my mail up: bills, a magazine or two, a letter from Greta. It’s embarrassing, you know, when I stoop to pick up the mail and my bones crack. Because they rest soft and safe each night in bed, not on paper-thin cots, stretched and strained by the work, exposed by the frigid winds that stripped away my skin and froze our marrow
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I sing in church next to Mrs. Lauter. I think we’re friends, but I know she cannot understand. So, she doesn’t come round much anymore. Once, I made Mama’s potato salad for her, and she said that it rivaled the deli counter at Amy’s Market on Route 30. Amy forgot the extra ingredient: survival. My persistent potatoes refused annihilation, when Mama could not, traveled across an ocean, where they had the audacity to sit on this table in the tranquil sunlight, as if to remind me I’m alive. — Connor Smith
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Genesis 2:18-24 Sometime between the seventh day and yesterday there was a man, two eyes sandpaper lips who was afraid of being alone. His Father cumulus-cloud eyebrows resembled ol’ St. Nick on a good day. Out of dirt, dust, gravel bits, He pulled creations from the ground. Easy as that. The son, grateful for daddy’s gifts, named each piece, making his own life-size chessboard (batteries not included). But loneliness crept up his limbs like tie-dye. (Who can we blame now?) And then the Father gave his son sleeping pills, turning him into the first Rip Van Winkle. And He stole one of his son’s ribs – (gasp) Careful not to drop it to the dogs.
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And the rib, like a grass slipper or magic beanstalk became a woman. Easy as that. And the Father packaged her in tan skin, blond curls. You know the rest. And Adam awoke (I wonder what he dreamt) saying, “This is flesh of my flesh.” So they gave themselves to each other. (Probably because Adam had not learned better barlines yet.) And so Eve didn’t ask questions: Where I came from? Where I came from? A rib? Bullshit. Until years later when her vocabulary had grown With fresh air and WWII And the pill And women’s lib. Sometime between the seventh day and yesterday. — Mitchell Mathias
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Little Miss Hanai Michael Le, Mechanical Pencil
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Her hands, old as roots still hold steady the skeins of woolen yarn. She pulls the weave taut as a net around the corpse of a drowned fisherman.
They will know him by the patterns she weaves into his sweaters: the lobster, the rope stitch, the fisherman’s net – and not by his angel-blue body, peeled and scaling; or by his bloated face picked by crabs. Only the sweater, now crusted with salt, will save her from the waiting that hangs like a curse over island women. — Rebecca Lindenberg
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ria tried. She really did. She did all she could with the piano keys, a discolored cacophony of voices that cried out in pain when she touched them. Ms. Silverlit would smile without opening her mouth and lean back in her chair, eyes shut, rocking in a personal ecstasy. This ecstasy was not something Aria shared. She easily played the notes on the pages Ms. Silverlit gave her; that part was like a puzzle she had figured out once, and so could do it every time. It was almost fun. But the effect was like a ripping, a screeching, hearing someone saw sheet metal. Each chord was a white burst of ugliness in Aria’s ears; the upper registers of the keyboard made her flinch with their screaming, the lower made her shudder with their dissonant growl. It seemed that each Classical or Romantic piece her teacher pulled out of her bursting notebook of music was the new worst series of notes Aria had ever heard. Sometimes while playing she could not help but wince, and Ms. Silverlit would say to no one in particular, “Poor sweet thing, look how she feels the music.” It had only been four weeks since
by Sarah Stubbs
Aria’s mother, having noticed that her daughter often hummed, had signed her up for piano lessons after school. They had recently moved into the area, and Mrs. Lambert wanted to find her daughter some new activities to replace her constant presence in the house. Aria was willing to give it a try. She liked her teacher upon meeting her: plump with frizzy red hair twisted into a headstrong bun, Ms. Silverlit’s long pink nails clicked against the keys when she demonstrated segments of songs. She accompanied praise music at her church and several times when Aria walked into her living room for lessons, Ms. Silverlit was belting out “In Christ Alone” to an energetic chord progression. By her third lesson, Ms. Silverlit was referring to Aria as a prodigy. Aria had quickly learned which notes corresponded to the lines and spaces occupying the wrinkled sheets of music, and other than slightly sloppy form (she sat with her back hunched, and her fingers not quite rounded enough), she could be taken for an advanced pianist. Bach’s inventions fell away before her, Chopin’s nocturnes, eventually even some piano concertos. Ms. Silverlit went into a frenzy of presenting new music
“ ” But the effect was like a ripping, a screeching, hearing someone saw sheet metal.
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and trying to improve Aria’s playing, although often she would exclaim, “You can’t teach what you just did. I just don’t think I can help you any more on this.” Aria wondered whether Ms. Silverlit merely was a terrible teacher, or had bad taste. “I just don’t really like the music I have to play,” she confided to her mother. “What do you mean, sweetie?” her mother said. “I… don’t like it. I don’t think it’s pretty.” “Well, not all music is supposed to be pretty.” “No, you’re right. That’s not what I mean. The songs she gives me to play sound bad. They don’t sound like music.” “Dear, you’re playing famous classical pieces. How don’t they sound like music?” Aria had a hard time answering this question. She had never minded music. She liked some of the catchy pop songs on the radio. They were the things she hummed around the house, which had convinced her mother to enroll her in piano lessons. She had also heard some classical pieces on TV, although she had never thought of them as more than background noise. Once in her old town she had gone to the mall with her friends and outside of a store they usually avoided, she had stopped and listened for full minutes, mouth slightly open, ears tickled with sounds like worn velvet. It was metal. However, Aria had never pursued this interest, given her mother’s disapproval (not to mention her social circle’s disinterest) toward Metallica and Korn. Still not convinced of Ms. Silverlit’s
taste, she went to her school’s music instructor, a balding man whose buttondown shirt was slightly sweaty even first thing in the morning. “Can you give me a piece of music to play?” “What do you mean, child?” he asked, looking irritated. School had just let out and students trooped through the hall outside the music room’s door, left ajar. “A piece for piano. I’m an intermediate advanced student,” Aria said. It was the least complimentary term her piano teacher used to describe her skills (these terms varied from “intermediate advanced” to “insanely gifted”). He gazed at her, then turned in his rolling chair to open a cabinet and produced a familiar sheet covered with lines, dots, and curves. She took the proffered paper and sat down, arranged her hands in the key specified, and began to play. Like always she heard a murderous mash of notes that strained against each other as if handcuffed, each tone jarring her to her core. Aria forced herself to play through the entire piece, hoping she would reach a breakthrough, some epiphany that would let her hear the music others heard – but when she lifted her hands from the final fermata, the music had hurt her ears to the extent that her eyes watered. The music instructor still stood where he had when she sat down. When the room was silent he let out a long breath through pursed lips. “My dear girl, you are so talented!” Aria grew to miss the early lessons with Ms. Silverlit, which only featured her and her energetic instructor. As the weeks went on, Ms. Silverlit
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began to invite various adults to hear her, who would gather in the living room like schools of fish that flashed and murmured as Aria played. Her mother, rather aghast at the attention her daughter was getting, asked if the people made her nervous; Aria said that they did not. She only felt baffled, and when she went home from the increasingly long weekly lesson, her ears rang from the notes they so loved to hear. Occasionally Ms. Silverlit would invite her other students to hear Aria play, and they lined up against the wall with hostile expressions: six or seven kids about her age with whom she could have been friends, if not for being so talented. At Ms. Silverlit’s urging, Aria’s parents soon invested in a piano so that she could practice at home. This meant that Aria could not avoid the songs, which were now new each week. Although she still hated each one, they had not become any more difficult. In fact, they felt easier each time, as she mastered new techniques and understood more about how the notes worked together, taming her fingers to the shape of the keys. She did not need to invest the hours of practice recommended by Ms. Silverlit. But now her parents had caught the other adults’ fever, and Aria was required to practice at least an hour every day. Aria played each piece once and wanted to give up in disgust. Occasionally she considered telling her mother and Ms. Silverlit that she wanted to quit. But she liked piano. She liked how the notes fell like small hammers under her hands, the fluid motion in her fingers and the rowdy waterfall of sounds that accompanied those motions:
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the smooth gentility of legato, the startling pokes of staccato. However, the sounds they made hurt her ears more every time. Sometimes she would rub them after playing for an hour, and they were warm and almost trembling, which was how she always felt when she was sick and had just thrown up. Another reason she did not quit was that it provided a distraction from missing her old home. Making new friends was hard in ninth grade. She thought of some of the people at her school like the complaining notes from a nocturne, which she particularly hated. Others were like snatches of Bartok songs: not so uncomfortable to listen to, but still strangely distant. Despite the needed distraction, sometimes she wondered if her lessons were worth it, for she was ever more sensitive to sound. She now found herself avoiding the pop on the radio because it echoed some classical pieces. Even some people’s voices hurt her ears now – one of the men who came to listen to her play during lessons spoke in a scratchy tenor that she could not abide, and every lesson, to his confusion, she darted away before he could introduce himself to her. One day during practice her ears rang so badly before she had even finished her first piece that she stopped halfway through to hold her head. Was music the same to everyone? Why did she have to play this? Surely there was some combination of sounds that did not so irritate her sensibilities. She pressed middle C, a flat bellow of a note that, to her irritation, was actually to the left of the center of the keyboard. Not that one. She shifted her hand to A, a more solemn sound.
Next Aria tried up and down the black and white keys, looking for a note that she liked with A. At first she worried that there would not be a match, but slowly she progressed, first finding one chord she liked, then another. Over the weeks of practice, for over half of her practice hour, she laboriously selected tones and combinations she liked. These notes did not pain her ears – made them feel better, even. After several months of lessons and growing, gawking groups in Ms. Silverlit’s living room, Aria’s teacher informed her that she and other local instructors would be holding a recital so their students could demonstrate their abilities. At first Aria was excited because she was curious to hear the other students play. Then Ms. Silverlit showed her the program. “We wanted to show off our best assets,” Ms. Silverlit said, and chuckled. The program she held was made of high quality cream-colored paper. In curly writing on the front was printed: “A Classical Evening.” Below it: “Featuring the 14 year old prodigy Aria Lambert.” And below that, in smaller writing: “And other students of Ms. Julia Silverlit, etc.” Aria’s stomach sank. Ms. Silverlit chose “an especially fascinating piece for you, my dear,” a fantasy by Mozart, for Aria to play at the concert. Its whining melody nearly made Aria sick to her stomach. As she practiced it, her mother and father peered at her from the doorway of the newly converted piano room, proud of and confused. They did not understand, Aria reflected miserably as she affixed
her fingers to the keys. The scrutiny leading up to the recital made it harder to play her music, as she had come to think of the handful of chords and melodies she had created. Sometimes after practicing her recital piece, her head hurt so badly that she went to bed right after practice time, avoiding her parents’ anxious questions of why did she not want dinner. Aria was the last performer at the recital. She watched from the front row of the auditorium as students sat at the bench in stiff velvet dresses and ironed button-down shirts. Beginner pianists played first, and performers increased in skill level as the night went on. Each new song was like a thorn lodged in her ear. She felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to see her instructor sitting behind her. “You play soon. You should go warm up in the side room,” Ms. Silverlit whispered. She had smeared red lipstick across her broad mouth and her violent hair was in a French braid for the occasion. Aria shook her head. Her ears already rang enough. Besides, she had memorized her piece weeks ago. Ms. Silverlit frowned. “Many of these people are here to see you, you know,” she hissed, even closer to Aria’s ear. This did not give Aria any more of a desire to practice. She turned back around and rubbed her temples, as she had seen her father do after a long day at work. It did not improve things. The last girl to play before Aria was a senior in high school who had started piano lessons when she was six. Aria
“ ” Each new song was like a thorn lodged in her ear.
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thought she played well, despite the dissonance of the song. However, Ms. Silverlit barely acknowledged her other student as she clapped Aria on the shoulder and cried over the applause, “You’re up! Good luck!” Aria was apparently forgiven for refusing to warm up. She felt like an over-decorated birthday cake in her dress as she stood and trudged onto the stage. The emcee announced her name and gave a short bio that her teacher and parents had written for her. Aria bowed from the waist like she had practiced with her teacher. She could see the first row of people in the audience – the truculent group of students waiting for her to play – but the light from above obscured the rest of the audience in a vague darkness populated only by the ringing in her ears. She sat on the piano bench, wrapped in the audience’s hush. Then she did not know where to put her hands for the starting notes of her recital piece. It was as if the light from the stage had blanked her memory, the weeks of forced practice, the way her fingers fit to the keys in memorization. She could not even think of the first note. The keys were white and black teeth spread in a mocking grin. All her memory could produce was the jerky progression of chords she had made up for herself while she was supposed to be practicing Ms. Silverlit’s
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assignments. Someone coughed. The front row of students peered at her, awaiting something prodigious. Aria could feel rather than see Ms. Silverlit perched on the edge of her chair. She had to play something. As if someone else were controlling her hands, she placed them on the wide white planks in the position of one of the chords she had created and pressed down. The noise floated into the air between her and the audience and she inadvertently smiled at it; smooth like butter, it was the first chord she had ever made. She threw in a few connecting notes and played a second of her chords. Already her head felt better. Hesitantly, but increasing in confidence, she kept playing her music, deeper and deeper in the sound. Each note was a shaft of light that changed and shifted as it enfolded her and she forgot her surroundings. Out in the shadow of the audience, people winced and held their ears. One of the piano students in the front row bent over with his head between his knees, clutching his temples. A couple arose and hurried out of the auditorium. Another woman retched. Aria’s parents and Ms. Silverlit stared at the girl on stage who, unaware of her spectators’ reactions, smiled blissfully and continued to play. G
Park Bench You muss the mulch in an innocent fashion, A few vengeful woodchips burrowing into your sandals. You squeal in shock and sprint to the woman who gave you your shining blue eyes. She coos and hides a smile at the unintentional irony of your self-inflicted pain demanding to be soothed. Tears still wet on your face, you become a streak of color. Silky hair exorcises a red ribbon from your head, and it lands next to the bench I’m weighing down. I pick it up gingerly, setting it beside me, securing the knot tighter and watching the tails sail. I say a small prayer for the butterfly you’ve set after. The wings you’re chasing soar farther than you’re able, And the realization stops your desperate strides. A chubby, pleading arm stretches out to the fleeting creature, Beseeching for a rapid return, or to be taken with. As your eyes water, watching your desire fly away, A flitting dragonfly gives you a butterfly kiss, Gently redirecting your attention from your recent loss. I pray you will always find your dragonfly, Little Dreamer. There aren’t so many of them outside this mulched haven. Butterflies will leave you looking up, wishing they’d return. But butterflies aren’t the only ones with the kisses you’ll ache for. And with your eyes blinded by the sun, You’ll never see a dragonfly’s wings gleam. — Elizabeth Clark
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Self Portrait Faith Barton, Oil Paint
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Blair Stuhlmuller, Acrylic Paint
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Blair Stuhlmuller, Oil Paint
Red Roof Barn
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Paige Stuhlmuller, Oil Paint
Misty Mountains Paige Stuhlmuller, Watercolor
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Spring 2014 Art Staff Favorite
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Unlockable Patricia Radich, Digital
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Paige Stuhlmuller, Colored Pencil
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Singing in the Rain Blair Stuhlmuller, Arylic Paint
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Snow and Shadow Blair Stuhlmuller, Oil Paint
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“Pauline, brown hair, blue eyes, the great glistening stars in her lips – she too lived near a river,” she continued. But he didn’t want to listen anymore. He was tired of stories like that. Plainness bored him. In fact, reality bored him. He wanted to hear something with magic in it, something that makes you think there are more possibilities in this world than just brown-haired blue-eyed women named Pauline. Delphine would have been a little better. How about just Phine? He didn’t know. He liked the name Misty. To go beyond, beyond the perilous cliffs where the purple lemmings jump at the edge of the world, beyond the darkest forests where the laughter of wood sprites dancing drifts at midnight under crescent moons, beyond the edge of the glass of the fish bowl of our lives. So he interrupted her, or thought he did, saying, “Away, lady, shall we sail away?” She said, “Sure – just let me grab my umbrella.” “It’s not raining,” he said. “It’s always raining,” she said. “No, sometimes it’s a drizzle,” he corrected her. “Quite right,” she conceded, “but I use an umbrella in a drizzle.” He looked at the orange clouds through the circular window, “I walk in a drizzle with my head up and my mouth open and my eyes closed and my heart bursting.” “Do it your way then,” she said – and this was said dismissively. So they bounded out the door into the green sea onto a raft of reeds that carried them over the hypnotic waves. “The world is drowning,” he offered. “Apparently,” she mumbled and lit a fire on the edge of the raft. “Kiss me as we burn together,” she ordered. As the flames rose up around the, as the raft slowly sank
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into the green water, as wind tore the sail and lightening cut the sky into a million broken pieces and the whitehaired thunder-god hurdled over the clouds on his terrible chariot with his violet steeds snorting the moon-dust (that sprinkled down to the man and woman embracing as a cool mist), as the heat of the flames and the heat of their loins mixed and the sweat of their sweat mixed with the sweat of their sex, they touched. They touched as the sky fell, as the sky dropped to the water – and the second that they touched the water they turned into butterflies. Then they realized that they were not flying but swimming, and that they were not butterflies, but fish. It is a common mistake when one first turns into a fish. And then they decided to continue making love underwater. But they were not familiar with being fish. They decided to talk instead. Only when they spoke their words came out all jumbled and when they tried to say things like “I like the way the light glitters through the water,” it came out, “My fin hurts.” And when he tried to say, “I delight in the beauty of my scales,” it came out, “It’s cold here.” So they decided that talk was probably futile in their present condition. She started to chase him. He was still getting used to using his ventral so he made some erratic turns, and she chased him, and then as he was figuring out the strength of the muscles in his tail, he forgot about the dorsal controls. She caught him they drifted together, circling, not speaking for a long time, just looking at each other (each affectionately out of one eye, because that is the way fish see, him out of his right eye, her out of her right eye too). They seemed to know something then, too, that there was something important about the easy way the water slid around and over and through their slick bodies. Just then they came to a strange object floating slowly ethereally through the thick water, gilded, inlaid with gems… and gems, turquoise and rubies and garnet, and they realized that in a previous world this was called a throne. And they sat on it, covering together only a very small portion of the seat. And they felt that all was good. She said, “I think I love you,”
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but it came out, “I like it here,” and she always wishes it came out like she meant it. But water does strange things. Then they were gasping and breathing air and choking up water onto the sand. And they had forgotten much of what happened in the sea of lost time. He said, “What happened?” She said, “I don’t know, but it seems as though it has stopped raining.” “By god, you’re right!” he exclaimed. And they looked straight up at the same moment toward the heavens and saw the first ever three hundred and sixty degree rainbow over them. “Now I can continue my story, if that’s ok with you.” And he smiled for the first time in a decade, and said, “Yes, I think I’d like that.” Nevertheless the fish are dead and the chair is broken. — Seth Friedman
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After a Day of
I cannot help thinking of you when I’m out walking at twilight, when the clouds on the horizon look like mountains, maroon against the orange sunset. I’d like to think they are the mountains surrounding your life in Blacksburg, but they aren’t. I live near the Chesapeake Bay, where green and gold daffodils are wilting a few weeks early. You aren’t seeing the same mountains I am seeing. Your mountains are real and mine will disperse overnight. — Jaylee Marie Strawman
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At five years old, they nicknamed her Hera and her life was planned out like a wedding. She was frosted with frills and bows, ringed by tea sets and doll houses, days tinted by a tasteful scheme of pinks and yellows. At ten, she nicknamed herself Artemis and reveled in black dirt and dappled sunlight, freckling her skin with hope and authoring words like seeds never meant to blossom. At fifteen, she nicknamed herself Persephone and measured her worth in calories and criticism she ate like pomegranate seeds, her thoughts placed delicately on a windowsill, her words crawling on the glass like ants. At twenty, she nicknamed herself Calypso and stranded herself on an island pebbled by lost hopes and withered dreams, scanning the horizon for men to break her heart in sequence. At twenty-five, she nicknamed herself Hera and tethered her life to the ring on her finger, filling her words with fabricated flashbacks and saccharinely sweet smiles and a name was all she had.
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â€” Chelsea Blanco
Why I Draw Fish
The swish of an archaeologistâ€™s brush disinters a half-moon of pottery, fish swim through the ancient clay. Barefoot, at an unbalanced picnic table, I pressed my needle tool into a still soft bowl to resurrect triangular faces, arrowhead tails. A thin brush pools turquoise in the arroyos of the pattern. In the kiln, scales glisten on bone-white bowls and goblets. Now my fountain pen releases their fast bodies into white margins. I draw them deliberately, like hieroglyphics. â€” Catherine Casalino
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Letters Home I. Father Before leaving, you told me I would break So I flew to the North, hid in the fire of peace pipes, dazed by days without you Ran to the South, sank in tequila, drowned in wine on soft beaches sleeping I spent all my time looking for you Always looking, never finding I’m running out of ways to say: ‘I’m sorry’ To say: ‘please come back’.
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II. I remember the night before, trying to forget your lungs hissing in steady 4/4 time (I wished my hair had fallen out) I remember the morning of, soft water roaring under three hard pangs delivering the news (I wished I had died) I remember you, Father a body bag of bones atop eight-inch egg crate in a hospital that was my home How could I forget, days gone gray while Grandma cried in the kitchen I do not remember the years prior, rather the two weeks leading up to leaving me with shoes too big
Please forgive me
my feet will never be big enough.
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I could not tell her you rode first-class, full luxuries while I dabbled in soft-suicides and shamed-secrets: The Summer sun left me ashen and cracked The Fall soaked me in spirits strong and pure I could not tell her you boarded a train to the stars How often I drag my feet through past tense only to lean into soft swatches of ‘sorry’. — Matt Schroeder
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Merry go Round Michael Le, Mechanical Pencil
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“If a young girl slept under a new quilt She’d dream of the boy she was going to marry.” The Foxfire Book My night is seventeen and willowy I stitch myself into sleep as the clouds mend. The roses are developing into a hundred suns; in the meadow the creek is a washed mirror. Bits of books ride in on the night air: a lock of Juliet’s hair, the wind on the moors, harpoons splitting a whale’s skin. West – past Laurel Fork – there’s Paris, a great pin pricking the cotton sky, paint sticking the streets. Squinting East, I can see China, her walls seaming fields where women thrash golden grass at noon. I will milk at dawn, like Heidi, plaits twisting about my head, dark ropes meeting, twin snakes curled in an African basket. The buffalo thumps, a pulse, over low plains. Momma will knot teaberry to my waist to draw a husband out of a mountain, and some dust.
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And suddenly I see him, resting on a fallen log. Butterflies from Canada weave between his fingers. His face is a traced underbelly of the coal mine. Eyes like robinsâ€™ shells jag his face in half. Clouds gather like cloth behind his head. I am skipping stones across some far heart. The harpoon pierces me and I turn, but my hands are empty. Like babies they remember nothing. A patch of sun works its way through the leaves, turning him into a quilt, unblinking attic pattern draped over my skin, filling my hands like warm milk. Morning scratches at the front door. The quilt folds itself into breakfast eggs like moons at sunrise. â€” Polly Hollar
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Pittsburg Chuck Close Leslie, 1986 David Brashear Alcoa Riverfront I, 2009.
Streetlamps and brightly lit windows guide him through Pittsburg, illuminating the footsteps ahead, prickling the back of his neck like fear Urging him to raise his eyes from the cracks and grooves of the pavement, wondering whether heâ€™ll see his reflection in the hundred-windowed office building he wanted to walk to each morning. His eyes remain steadfast, trained on the pink chewed gum on the left corner of the next block of grey, reminding him of the day she loved another.
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They flit to the crack that splits diagonally across the sidewalk, striking like lightning, like the harsh words that blistered that night and so many nights since And he canâ€™t help but wish the steel city would crawl into his skin like ice, filling the fissures in his rapidly crumbling heart, glazing his eyes so he might no longer see her face in a grid of ephemeral memories, each a perfect square left to gather dust in a neat, gray box. â€” Chelsea Blanco
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Merope One by Caroline Fulford
he following is a transcript of the e-mail correspondence between Andrea Park, of the Columbus Youth Space Program, American Fleet, and James Sands, citizen 6120648. Recorded in the years 2020 to 2040. I thought of you today, on my way home from school. It was getting late; midterms are coming up, and I had stayed after to study a while in the library. You never would’ve let me get away with that, I’m sure. You’d throw me into your car and take us to see a showing of some old noir flick in town or something. You always had the best ideas. Andrea, the Girl Genius. That’s what they recruited you for, I guess. Anyway, I was on my bike, and the sun was setting. Fast, too. It seemed like I was chasing the light as I rode down the sidewalk. So I stopped pedaling and coasted a little while, looking up. It was beautiful, you should’ve seen it. All pinks and purples with just a little bit of yellow, like a painting. And just where you could see the edge of night trailing behind, there was one star, bright as a
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little diamond. I thought it might be yours. Where you are right now, I mean. That made me happy for a while. How long has it been now? A year and a half ? Weird. It seems like – well, a lot longer than that. I turned sixteen two weeks ago, which makes me two years older than when I saw you last. How’s life up in the stars? Sorry for not writing sooner. They said I shouldn’t write to you until at least a year had passed since you left Earth, what with the time difference and all. It seems I spent a good half-year just figuring out what to say. Some boyfriend I am. Well, we can’t all be geniuses, can we? I’m sorry. That came out wrong. I just miss you. A lot. We kind of left things unfinished when you left. You were gone before I could really process everything. Please don’t think I’m angry with you for going. I know this is your dream, and you have every right to pursue it. I just wish I could be where you are right now, that’s all. I’ll be waiting for your next letter. * * * No class can prepare you for your
first glimpse of space. Real space, that is, with nothing to break the monotony of the blackness except a smattering of distant stars. I remember the first time, back when we had just broken through the Earth’s atmosphere and the windows rolled down, I couldn’t catch my breath. It was without a doubt the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I can’t paint you clearer picture than that. But it changes every time, I find. That first time, and for a while after that, all it took for me to get really pumped about our mission was a glance out the window. But it was different after a while. Now I look out the window-wall in the main lobby sometimes, when I’m on break, and I see nothing. Nothing at all. Sure, you could say it’s because of how far out (or deep in?) we are, but I’m not sure that’s entirely true. Because sometimes, when I look out into the black, the nothingness of it all pulls at me. Like if I just let go, it’ll rip me from the ground and tear me apart. Then the feeling passes and I close the window and stomp off to my room. Sorry if I sound strange. It’s just been weird around here lately, that’s all. I feel like we’re in one of those old marine divers – what’s it called? A bathysphere, right. It’s just a big metal ball with people in it, who peer out into the nothing and jot down notes on clipboards and stuff, and the only thing connecting them to dry land is one long tube. It’s been two months, and we’ve found nothing, no signs of life or even death. Sometimes I don’t think there’s anything out here at all. That we’re alone in the universe. It just gets frustrating sometimes. But your letters help. They really, really do. God, I miss you, James. With every
bone in my body, it feels like. It’s only been two months (by our time), but if I don’t keep myself busy with lab work or observations or physical training or whatever, I want to go home so much it hurts. But your letters remind me that there are people out there, outside of this damn ship. But it’s not just that, either. I’m still your girlfriend, you know. Love always. * * * Yesterday in study hall, my cell phone chimed in my pocket. I looked and saw that it was an e-mail from you. This is kind of embarassing, but I nearly had a heart attack. You would have laughed to see it. But it’s just been so long. I’m in senior year of college now, twenty-two years old. It’s been about six years since I sent you my last letter, and eight since I saw you face-to-face. I’ve grown half a foot or so, my hair’s longer, I shave. I know, right? That scrawny scarecrow kid you knew is different now. I checked with the Columbus representative back home. She said you’d be fifteen now, only a year older than when you left. I wonder what you look like. I haven’t dated anyone. Well, what a high school kid would call “dating” anyway. Make of that what you will. On a different note, I’m sure you’ll be wanting any updates on the life of James Sands, so here they are: I’m cramming for exams at the moment, and the end of senior year is bearing down on me. Soon I’ll have to join the real world. Whatever that means. I’m pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering. I may not be able to calculate theoretical physics in my head, but I’m happy with the prospect of being NASA’s newest glori-
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fied grease monkey. I know it’ll be a while before you get this, at least by our calendar down here, but I want you to know that I never forgot you. But just not in the romantic sense, like in a movie or something. You remember how in school, when a kid was out sick for a really long time, life just kind of went on without him, like he was never there? It was never like that with you gone. I don’t really dream about kissing you under your dogwood tree anymore, but somehow you’re still relevant to everything. I go about my daily business, but all the time I can sense the space where you used to be, if that makes any sense. Sorry for rambling. I don’t seem to know what I’m talking about anymore. Write back soon. * * * James, we made contact today! God, I still can’t believe it. We’ve just been up here for so long. I never thought we’d find anything, but we did. Granted, all we found was an empty observation craft, automatically run by computers, taking samples of gases from the star Merope One. For all we know it could have been floating around there for ages, doing its job as its home world lived and died. But in any case, do you know what that means? It means we are not alone. For the first time in my life, words fail me. You would love to see the look on my face as I write this letter. And also – the Columbus Mission is accomplished. We can go home now. I’m coming home.
Can’t wait to see you. Love always. * * * I heard about you on the news this morning, on my way out the door to work. They say you’ll be back before the year is out. I checked my email as soon as I arrived, and saw your message. It’s funny, you would think I would be happy, and I was. I am really glad you’re going to be home again after so long. You must be tired of being up there. But there was something else, too. For a good half hour after reading your message, I couldn’t move, couldn’t think. I just sat there, breathing in and breathing out. I felt like crying, as I hadn’t since Dad died last year. But I couldn’t cry. I just sat there. You have to understand, this is like watching someone come back from the dead. I don’t know when I started talking about you in the past tense, but I did, somewhere along the line. Even now, I think about you sometimes: I look in a store window and think, Andrea would have liked that¸ or catch an old song on the radio that you used to like and remember when you would sing it in the car on the way home from school. I am thirty-five years old. I grieved for you, mourned for you. Somehow I didn’t think I’d ever see you again. And now you’re coming back. You were – you are – my first love, but now it’s like there’s an entire ocean between us, and I don’t know if I can take my shoes off and dive in. You’ve only aged three years, but down here, the world has gone on without you, taking me with it
“ ” You have to understand, this is like watching someone come back from the dead.
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whether I liked it or not. Two decades is a long time to hold a candle. Look, just promise me you’ll meet me for coffee as soon as you land. No expectations, no obligations. We’ll just talk. Okay? * * * I just watched you shrink, smaller and smaller, from the rear window of the cab. You were there, and then you were gone, part of the nameless, faceless crowd in the street. Now I can hardly see anything through the rain. I’m sending you this last letter through Columbus, before they dump all the personal records to make room for the next fleet of kids. After that, our whole correspondence will just be a tiny empty spot in some government harddrive. Maybe I’ll ask if they can print out a transcript for me, for sentiment’s sake. I’m sorry about how I acted back at the coffee shop. I didn’t mean to make a scene. You must have been so embarrassed. I told myself I wouldn’t cry, but I did. As teenage girls are wont to do, I guess. I’m kind of glad you led me away, though. That park was so nice. I find I prefer wide open spaces, after three years on a ship. We talked about a lot of things, sitting on that park bench. I’m still digesting it all. How you look now, first. I think in my heart I expected to see the James I remember, all freckles and long,
skinny limbs. But you’re a man, now, complete with broad shoulders, a suit, five o’clock shadow, baritone voice. All grown up. We’ve both lost something, I think. It’s hard to put into words. For me, it feels like someone replaced the boy I loved with this man I’ve never met, with sad eyes I can still see when I close mine. But I don’t presume to guess at how you feel. Your honesty and openness helped, a little. I didn’t say much, so you did most of the talking for me. You dutifully explained all the reasons we should never see each other again, but I couldn’t stop crying quietly into my scarf. So you said, “There’s nothing I can say to make this better, can I?” I shook my head no and you held me, just for a little while. I could smell your men’s cologne, dark but subtle. My chest ached, and I felt, more acutely than ever, the barrier time and space had erected between us, paper-thin but iron-clad. Finally, I had no more tears to cry and you released me. What can we do? We move on. Our case wasn’t that different from every other young love. The world just seemed to work against us, that’s all. But, as you wrote to me once, I never forgot you. And I never will. Somehow, you’re still relevant to everything. Love always. G
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The Etiquette of Exhumation To carve the David, Michelangelo paid for corpses, bodies to touch by lamplight with shaking hands and a knife. Sculpture, like surgery, is knowing what to peel back, which bone to leave naked, revealed. We use the dead for many things. Their fingernails shine in every crescent moon I paint, the way one bit his lips – top and bottom – repeats in the raw mouth of my minor temptress, aged fourteen. Michelangelo learned anatomy from life, I From love and the passion for the microscope’s view. Some go too far to exhume their memories: Rossetti waited seven years to untangle his poems from the still bright hair of his wife. Such cannibalism should be a meal stolen in darkness, as we might steal an eye green as kiwi, a fist gripping a fork, the golden threads on an arm – we should tremble to caress such light. — Bonnie Powell
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May Spring’s sigh carry you to days soft and far Across dream eyed fields of tulips, through angry needles of longleaf pines Onward to past ghosts swinging silent in Grand Mere where Gathered, they dance on Devils Back and recall Chicago in the distance, if the sky understands clarity & Shanghai on the porch, screens keep me out I’ll Drink childish rain from the gutter above, refuse to forget the w a y w a v e s
Keep my eyes on the dunes from where night hums, let the lake carry you home & Fall asleep in good company. — Matt Schroeder
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Revisiting the River I.
Lightning bugs would land in my cup, crawling around for sticky Pepsi: relief on muggy nights. Here we swam as children, barely clothed, country kids of leftover hippies, eating hot dogs in the dwindling July light. Just cresting the Seventies, we smelled marijuana and mud, left Lennon dead in the ground. My Daddy played guitar on the bank as water striders escaped my fingers. I swam like a survivor, breathless, fighting for shore or land, beating the boys in the backstroke. After drying, we’d sit and listen to low tones of rural Virginia. The wind in the trees sounded like the sea, and I wanted to climb into the branches, ride a wave home. Momma’s arms held me tight under the moonless sky. Sliding into damp blue jeans past midnight, we’d walk home, feed the cats, and sleep.
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Fingers of water interrupt the land, The hippie kids have disappeared, some in jail, some married, one skipped off to San Francisco, one in Detroit. Tonight, one stands barefoot, watching the water stir. Dirt is caked to my knees; been digging for earthworms. Good bait, Momma would say, as we slipped the wiggling meat onto the hook. I tried to imagine that pain: rusted metal splitting your spine. Tonight I havenâ€™t caught a thing. Earlier I ate a steak at the picnic table, swatting away stray files. Camping alone, trying to grip some grand fish. Instead, I light grass in an ancestral salute. Later, I turn my back on the tent, the wet jeans, the old days of teenage lovemaking after a dip. I strip like a schoolgirl again to swim in the water, to bathe in the dark, cool earth. â€” Polly Hollar
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Spring 2014 Prose Staff Favorite
Liar, by Sarah Stubbs
his guy with a plaid shirt and scraggly beard starts eyeing my mama while we’re in Wal-mart and she really likes it. At first I don’t notice because I am looking at the cheer clothes. But then I look at her and she is way too casual, setting back on one foot so that her ass sticks out to one side, shoulders back and hand on one curvy hip. My mama wears short shorts even though she complains that she needs to lose ten pounds, and today she has her best pair on. I look over where her shoulders are pointing, and Scraggles is standing at the other end of the clothes section with his ginger eyebrows halfway up his forehead. After we check out we are rolling the cart over the bumpy parking lot and he swaggers out after us. “Damn,” he says. He has to kind of yell it because of the cart’s scraping over the asphalt. My mama glances over her shoulder like she has never cared about anything
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in her life. “You talking to me?” “I just said, damn.” He lowers his eyes and with a flick of his chin indicates Mama’s shorts. She laughs and I walk faster until she pulls on my arm. “Well, thank you.” “No, I mean it, ma’am. You look good.” My mama is flustered. She gives out a little breathy bark of laughter, and her accent makes “you” sound like “yee-ew” when she playfully says, “How old are you?” “I’m 24. Why?” She exhales and arches her eyebrows at him. “Honey, I’m a mother of two. You don’t even want to know my age.” “Really? What is it, like 28?” “More than that, honey. You don’t know about me.” “Well, I want to,” he says, looking at her like my brother looks at a well done steak. Then Scraggles asked for her number and she hedged forever while I sat in the parking lot, drawing on my Chuck
Taylors. But then she gave it to him. Then, the whole drive home, she sang along with the happy country songs on the radio. * * * A few days later I’m sitting in the back of the bus with the popular kids. “One time, this bear came into my house. Just walked up the front steps. And he ate all the cheese, just the cheese, out of our fridge. My mama and we, we was like, oh my god! But he just ate the cheese and then he left.” I laugh really hard at my story. Jared and them aren’t laughing as much as me, but at least they’re laughing a little. “If he fit through your door, he was a real small one,” Jared says. “I saw one in my backyard last year that was the size of a horse.” “No, he was huge. Mine was even bigger than a horse. Like, ten feet tall.” Jared looks disgusted, trades an elbow jab with Ronnie. “That ain’t true, Taylor.” “It is too!” I say. “Squeezed right through my front door. Ask my mom.” “Whatever,” Jared says and turns around to talk to Ronnie. Jared has a buzz cut, baggy Aeropostale T-shirt, big clunky basketball shoes that look all new because his grandpa owns half of Scott County. He talks a lot in class. My English teacher last year called him “abrasive.” That was right before he made her cry by backtalking so much. The bus jounces onto the part of the road that changes from asphalt to gravel. When it goes from gravel to fine-grained dirt that infiltrates your shoes and clothes, I’ll be almost to my bus stop. Some girls are sitting behind me, Chelsie and Shelby, talking about nail
polish and Bratz dolls. Chelsie and I always played together when we were babies, but since she started hanging out with the other popular girls, we haven’t spent much time. What they are saying sounds boring so I lean closer to listen to Jared and Ronnie. They are talking about Buffalo Wild Wings. “I’ve been there,” I say. I haven’t been there. “Last time we went my brother ate a whole pound of the really hot ones,” Ronnie says. Ronnie’s thirteen, a year older than the rest of us, because he had to repeat third grade. His hair lies on the sides of his head in greasy rows like furrows in a garden; I can see a pale roll of flesh gently protruding from the intersection of his stretched-out T-shirt and basketball shorts. “He ate them in like two minutes.” “I did that too when I went,” I say. “I ate five pounds.” Jared eyes me superciliously. “I ate ten pounds there once. Of the super hot wings. I almost threw up afterwards.” “I ate fourteen pounds. Of the hottest wings they had, and I did it in five minutes,” I crow. “Shut up, Taylor, you’re such a liar,” Ronnie says. They turn around to flirt with Chelsie and Shelby. I’ll try again tomorrow. For now I slump down against my bus seat, wrinkling my new shirt that my Mawmaw got me. It’s pink with a rainbow butterfly on the front. Really cute but not Aeropostale. Plus I got mud on it at recess, so I might as well wrinkle the thing. At least I’m sitting in the back of the bus. When you have to sit in the front of the bus, no one notices you. And Mama calls me an attention hog, but I am afraid that if no one notices
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me for too long, I will turn into a puff of vapor and float away above the newly budded trees. The bus jolts to a stop next to the dented sign reading Blevins Crick Road: my cue to pull on my backpack and slog my way down the littered aisle. My bus stop is a fair hike from the trailer: a halfmile’s walk past the abandoned stables and over the crick. The air makes me sneeze because dandelions have begun to poke out their greasy yellow heads. I wore shorts to school today because I couldn’t stand winter clothes anymore, and my legs poke out like pale dowels, dotted with goose bumps in one of the last chilly breezes left over from winter. Around the road it’s mostly hilly pastureland – I can smell the earthy spice of manure – and the woods rear in the distance like a tall proud carpet. Later in the summer I’ll go there to pick blackberries. As I walk I chant a cheer. Next year is middle school and we can try out for the cheer team. Everyone loves the cheer team. When we go to my brother’s football games in the fall, I always shriek the cheers along with the cheerleaders, louder than anyone else because I’m practicing. The whole crowd watches the team, applauds their flips, does what they say. I want to be the one down there like a conductor, with that much control, that many people with their eyes on me. I yell into the afternoon stillness and a rabbit bursts out of the shaggy wild onions growing by the road.
“Everyone knows that we’re the best, Proudly fighting, O – M – S!” While I’m chanting I see the feral cat in the poison ivy by the tracks. I see it practically every time I’m going to or from the bus, staring at me through one eye. Its other eye isn’t there. There isn’t even a hole, it’s just gone with some clumpy tufts of fur left over. For a while when I saw that cat in the mornings, I would take the tuna out of my sandwich and try to feed it, but it would just snarl at me through a few yellow teeth until I left the tuna on the ground for it. Mama started to notice that every day I would come home from school and scarf all the peanut butter because I had hardly eaten lunch, and now she hollers at me when I give my food to that cat. “Taylor, you shouldn’t ever love on something that isn’t gonna love you back,” she keeps saying. And it’s true, that cat is mean as a mountain lion. Even looks like a little one, all tawny and battered with scars like thick zippers. I have tuna left over from lunch today but I stick out my tongue at that ugly tufted cat. It hisses. When I get home our dogs scrabble out of the space at the bottom of the trailer and rocket up to me like furry missiles. All three of them, big yipping mongrels, are rescues from a couple years ago when the sheriff busted a dogfighting ring next county over. Our trailer squats in front of a wide unruly field of grass and wildflowers, the Appalachians perched far behind
“ ” I have tuna left over from lunch today but I stick out my tongue at that ugly tufted cat.
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with bluish haze wafting around their rounded heads. We don’t have a big house and we live way far away from everyone else, but we have those mountains. Plus a trampoline, however rusty, and an aboveground pool for the summer. I slam into the trailer and smell Mama’s perfume mixed with something burnt from the microwave, hear small artificial voices: we always leave the TV on the cooking channel or the soap operas, and today it is the soap operas; Lauren and Jeff are having another fight. Looks like Mama did laundry because clothes drape the kitchen chairs, her lacy undies and my T-shirts intermingled and scattered every which way. Mama had been in the middle of doing laundry on a cold Tuesday three months ago when I came home and heard screaming. When I opened the trailer door the first thing I saw was a pair of pants flying across the living room. Daddy’s work pants, the heaviest pants I ever had to pull out of the tangles inhabiting the washing machine over at Maw-maw’s house, the jeans that are permanently covered in mud and black grease stains, and Mama had thrown them – I don’t know how because I swear those pants weigh as much as me – she threw them at him, bunching up her arms and heaving them because she was the angriest and saddest I had ever seen her. But she only wanted us to know she was angry. Daddy didn’t have to dodge the pants because she couldn’t hurl them far enough. Instead they landed on our sofa and little chunks of dirt splintered off and sprinkled the cushions where Mama and Daddy always would cuddle and watch the news. I guess she hadn’t washed them
yet. “An apartment?” Mama screamed with a raw blade to her voice. “An apartment all to yourself. And we can barely pay the rent here.” “Delilah, I’m sorry – ” “You’re not sorry, you asshole! For two years you’ve been saying you have work trips to Knoxville – ” “I do have work in Knoxville – ” “You have a little slut in Knoxville that you’ve been shacking up with.” I didn’t understand what they were saying, just the meaning of individual words themselves, as if the sentence parts were randomly chosen – dog brick jump rocket meow. Mama was saying words I get my mouth soaped for. That’s when Daddy looked over and saw me. All I could think was that his face looked like my dog Pooter’s face after he snatches a hot dog off the kitchen table and I wallop him. Or like they say in Gone With the Wind, that Maw-maw reads to me sometimes when I can’t sleep: Daddy looked sorry, but he wasn’t sorry for what he did. He was sorry he got caught. And when I walked into the trailer and he saw me, he didn’t look sad. He just looked embarrassed. Having an affair. I never had heard that saying before that cold wet Tuesday. And it’s such a weird thing when there’s someone who you always saw as the biggest person ever, and suddenly you have to hate them. My daddy is almost six and a half feet tall but he’s also just a big person, someone who fills up a room just by coming in with a grin peeking out under his mustache. He would take me with him to the hardware store because I was his little tomboy and I liked to help him pick out tools, even when I was wearing my pink sparkly
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butterfly shirt. But now I have to hate him. At first I would forget and accidentally ask Mama when he was coming home that week, or mention him in conversation. Then Mama would look at me with her face all undone and I would see how puffy her eyes were and remember how long they’d been that way. And that something about us wasn’t enough for Daddy, and how I have to hate him now. When I remember that, that’s when I tell lies to the kids on the bus, and at recess and when I have friends over after school. Being me isn’t enough. I have to add things. I pluck a handful of my underwear off the trailer floor. They’re from a 6-pack from Wal-Mart, and the elastic waistbands are all stretched out. I bet Shelby buys all her underwear from cool stores like American Eagle, and throws them away as soon as they get holes. Mama sits on the couch with a glass of wine from the box on the table. She wears her short white robe and I can tell she is getting ready to go somewhere because her hair is damp from a shower and she’s lining her lips. She looks up at me, the dark rose liner unfilled in, making her mouth look cartoonish. “Hey, muffin. How was school?” I put on a bored socialite voice to make her laugh. “Exciting as always.” Her throaty giggle is the happiest sound she’s made in months. Cheering Mama up has been my job since Daddy left. “Tay, sweetie, can you and Rob put in a frozen pizza for yourselves tonight? Or hang out over at Maw-maw’s?” Maw-maw lives in a little wooden house next to us, or as next to anything as you can get out here: a few hundred
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yards away from our trailer, through the tall grass Daddy used to mow. “Where are you going to be, Mama?” She smiles, then covers her mouth as if it was an accident. “I’m going out on a date.” Mama has a date. With Scraggles who she met at Wal-Mart. Only now she says that if I meet him I have to call him Rick, and not to embarrass her. “Why, Mama?” I make myself smile and pretend I’m a gossip at the school lunch table. “Do you liiiike him?” “Well, Tay, he’s a nice guy. He says the sweetest things.” I guess it doesn’t matter whether she likes him, then. A strain of a Buck Cherry song outside the trailer announces the homecoming of my brother, Rob, who gets his friends from the football team to drive him home from school. Rob is like my dad in that he walks into a room like he owns everything. He swaggers in, punches my shoulder (a happy punch because it only hurts a little), gets the milk out of the fridge and drinks right from the jug. Mama is so happy about her date with Scraggles that she doesn’t even reprimand him. “Gross, Rob,” I say. “Whatcha gonna do about it, booger?” he says and I shut up because I don’t feel like getting beat at wrestling. Mama finishes her soap opera, paints her toenails, puts on her dress with the neckline that plunges all the way from her shoulders down to the dark mysterious crevice between her breasts. I glower because why is she going on a date with him? Also I don’t want to do my math homework. After she has driven off to go meet him (she has to pick him up because he
says his car is in the shop), Rob and I put in a pizza and sit down to watch The Avengers on Netflix. I try to concentrate on the movie but not even Iron Man, my favorite superhero, can make me smile tonight. “Rob?” “Shut up, booger, I like this part.” “Rob, I think it’s weird that Mama is going on a date with that guy.” “Why?” “Well, you didn’t see him. He’s all skinny and he wears jeans that are too big. And he’s a lot younger than her. Why does she want to go out with him?” “She probably wants to get some,” he says, then looks like he wishes he hadn’t. I sure wish that too. “Ew, Rob!” “But seriously, Tay, he’s got to be better than Dad. Plus she’s a grown woman. She can take care of herself. And she’s our mom. I don’t want to think about her doing stuff on dates.” What stuff ? I don’t know if Rob has even gone on a date, so I don’t know what he is talking about. For the rest of the movie I fend off thoughts of Scraggles touching Mama. What if he touches her knee? What if he touches her boobs? I see men do that to women in soap operas. A lot of her boobs were showing when she left the house. After the movie is over Rob and I decide that we’re old enough that we don’t need to go stay at Maw-maw’s house. He falls asleep right away, but I stay up, wanting Mama to come home. It’s nearly eleven. The late night soap operas are always weirder. As I watch,
Gerald meets a woman in a bar and asks her to go home with him, even though he is married. Gerald always does this. I change the channel because I don’t want to watch them taking off their clothes. * * * My eyes are all glued shut in the morning when I wake up on the couch, the TV still prattling before me. I always wonder if the things I hear while sleeping in front of the TV are somewhere in the back of my brain. Maybe someday I’ll remember them, a wealth of recipes from the Food Network, and sex scenes from soap operas, and commercials, countless commercials. I see Mama’s purse tossed on the kitchen table and feel relieved: yes, she came home last night. It smells funny in here, kind of musky and spicy at the same time. Was Mama burning a candle after her date? I realize with a jolt that it’s Tuesday and I have to go to school and the bus comes in twenty minutes. Rob already left. I throw on clothes – fashion will have to wait until tomorrow – and snatch a Pop-Tart from the kitchen. But before I leave I want to bid Mama goodbye. I tiptoe back through the hallway, little pieces of dust and crumbs clinging to the bottoms of my bare feet, to see if Mama is asleep in her room. But when I enter it he is there, a second mound in the bed. I see his nasty scraggly hair poking out of the blanket right next to my mama. It smells like
“ ” I see his nasty scraggly hair poking out of the blanket right next to my mama.
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bodies in the dim room. I slam the door hard as I can and run outside, Mama’s scream trailing me through the thin morning air that still can’t quite make it to spring. Squatting in the bushes at the back of the field behind our house makes for a good hiding place, but you really pay for it because thistles scratch your arms and ragweed makes you sneeze like all get out. At one point I see the wild cat with one eye crouched in some weeds and I wish I had some tuna for him. I listen to Mama calling me for hours. I know it’s hours because the sun is almost overhead when I finally can’t stand the thistles anymore. I wait until I finish crying and fan my face to make my eyes less puffy, then shamble toward the trailer. He’s gone when I come inside. He sure better be gone, anyway. Mama sits wrapped in her puffy robe even through the heat is on. The long-dry clothes are still strewn around the living room. She smokes a cigarette. When she sees me she turns the news down to mute. “Taylor Sexton, I been worrying myself sick about you all morning,” she says. I just glare at her and go to sit down in the kitchen because if I talk, I will cry again. She stares at me with her hair all in a rat’s nest. I can see some of her dark roots beneath the red-blonde color she dyes it. Mama puts her cigarette down in the tray by the couch and wipes a bruiselike makeup smear from under her left eye. She has a smear under her right one
too but I don’t tell her. “Do you hear me, Taylor Marie? I tell you, you are not funny.” I press my lips together real hard and yank on the ends of my hair so I will not cry. She sees and comes to the kitchen to sit next to me. “Taylor,” she says again, but this time she says it all soft, like she’s talking to a horse about to spook. “Baby, I know why you got upset.” “Do you, Mama?” I yell, startling even myself as the noise boomerangs around the living room and comes back to slap my own face. I don’t even know why I am so upset. Her mouth just opens like a painted O. Now I can’t hold off any longer and the tears slide out all sneaky like hot snails struggling down my cheeks. “Do you even like him, Mama? Why would you go on a date with someone who is so weird? Why did you let him sleep in your bed? How do you know he’s even nice?” “You can’t scold me like this. I’m your mother!” she says, and I feel like we are Mama and Daddy arguing back when he still came around here. “I am the adult, and I made this choice. Rick took me to a nice dinner and I decided that I wanted to spend more time with him.” It’s like she is saying this not only to me but also to herself. Now I feel bad because she has tears in her eyes too. And what did my mama really do wrong? She slept with a man, that’s all. I can try to give her what my teacher calls
“ ” I wait until I finish crying and fan my face to make my eyes less puffy, then shamble toward the trailer.
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the benefit of the doubt. I go through the steps of smiling: you pull up the corners of your mouth with your cheek muscles and you show the person your teeth. Double effect if you wrinkle up your eyes. Easy. “Ok, maybe he’s a special guy. Right, Mama?” I thought this would make her feel better but she just frowns. “Yeah, I guess he’s special. Yeah, maybe.” “You don’t think so?” “Stop questioning me,” she cries, making me jump. “I need someone to love me, Taylor. There’s nothing wrong with that. There isn’t!” I feel my whole self pulling back, cooling off, like drops of water are sliding down my back. Now I understand. It’s not about who Rob
is. It’s that he exists at all, and that he looked at her shorts and said, “Damn,” and that he bought her dinner at a restaurant, which Daddy hadn’t done for months before he left. Mama with men is like my lying. We have to do it so that someone will love or admire us. So Mama and I dry our tears and forget about the fact that I’m skipping school. Instead we go back to her bedroom. I’m glad it’s me there now instead of Scraggles. She has washed all the sheets even though she just did laundry yesterday, but the room still smells funky, like salt and skin. I bury my face in her perfume-smelling shoulder as we cuddle in front of the soap opera. Gerald admitted to cheating on his wife and, yet again, she will take him back. G
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Contributor’s Notes Faith Barton is a super senior at W&M and a Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies and Studio Art Double Major. Chelsea Blanco is an English major and Creative Writing minor, and loves writing with all of her heart. She is absolutely thrilled to be published in The Gallery, and can’t believe it actually happened. Chelsea is completely obsessed with fictional characters, and secretly hopes to create her own someday. Her patronus is a phoenix, and according to Buzzfeed, she is going to live in the Netherlands one day. If you’re still reading this paragraph, Chelsea is duly impressed and would like to end with a few words: nitwit! blubber! oddment! tweak! Elizabeth Clark is an English major and a rising senior here looking to go into education. My name is Alex Cook, and I’m a senior English major at the College who’s always looking for something new. I’m an avid cook, music collector, sports writer, and general seeker of good times and good company. I hope you enjoy this little poem! Jessica Edington is a Junior and English major who recently realized that she really should have been an Environmental Science and Policy major, and consoles herself with writing (and eating lots of locally grown food). She once got a fortune cookie that read, “As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never point your way,” and she wishes that fate for everyone nice enough to pick up The Gallery and read her story. Michael Le: As a rising senior majoring in Hispanic Studies with a minor in Japanese, drawing doesn’t play a large role in my academic career. But it’s what keeps me sane and grounded and connected to my humanity. And that’s enough to keep me going. Patricia Radich is a senior currently studying for a Biology major at
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William and Mary. She makes digital art in her spare time with the help of Photoshop and a tablet. When she’s not Swemming until two in the morning, she likes hanging out with friends, reading obscure Russian literature, and imbibing copious amounts of tea while catching up on her favorite TV shows. Matt Schroeder is a junior and is currently studying abroad at Leiden University. He’s an English major and likes to ride bikes and make friends. He’s interested in finding the feeling of home and is grateful for the opportunity to be published. Connor Smith dares disturb the universe... but only on occasion. Jaylee Marie Strawman, class of 2014, is an English major, coffee drinker, archer, painter, playwright, and poet. She loves antique books, adventures, and Christmas ornaments. Sarah Stubbs has been writing fiction, nonfiction and poetry since third grade, and possibly hit her creative peak around the age of 14. Nonetheless, she continues to take creative writing classes for her English major. She is on W&M’s ultimate frisbee team and is a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega; she is also an occasional contributor to the Flat Hat. After her college graduation in May of this year (gulp), she plans on pursuing a career in communications, or publications. Blair Stuhlmuller is a sophomore Geology and Environmental Science Major who seeks to conserve and preserve the beauty of nature in the field and on a canvas. She loves painting landscapes and pet portraits and dapples in some multi-media sculptures. She aspires to be a high school science teacher and looks forward to incorporating her passion for art into the classroom. Paige Stuhlmuller is a sophomore geology major marine science minor. She loves experimenting with color and composing unusual compositions. She believes art should be a fun way to express yourself and convey what you find beautiful in everyday life.
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Editor’s Note Dear Reader, I confess that I find the task of presenting this issue of The Gallery daunting, and not only because it constitutes my editorial debut. Spring 2014 marks our magazine’s 35th birthday, the culmination of 35 years of brilliant prose and poetry, beautiful art, and hard work from generations of Gallery staff and William & Mary students. Who can introduce something like that without a red carpet, stage and an evening gown? Instead, I’ll let the magazine speak for itself. For this issue, we scoured our archives, seeking out the best pieces to stand beside this year’s selections and represent The Gallery’s history—the old with the new. They were tough choices, too. We were so impressed reading from the “Chronicles of Galleries Past” that we added 20 pages to our normal size to accommodate all the pieces we absolutely had to have. Even this issue’s cover returns to our roots with the solid, classic white background that distinguishes art like a gallery wall. While we hope you have as much fun exploring the annals of time as we did, this celebration is only a small reflection of our long history. More than that, this spring issue offers a taste of our future. In an extremely close contest, we selected three winners from our 2014 submissions, one in each category (prose, poetry, and art) as our staff favorites: the best of the new best. We believe all of these pieces demonstrate the deep and evolving talent in our student body, which we are—and always will be—proud and privileged to showcase. We also owe our success to you, dear reader, for whom we do what we do. Happy birthday, Gallery, and may you have many more. — Dana Wood
The Gallery Volume 28 issue 2 was produced by the student staff at the College of William and Mary and published by Western Newspaper Publishing Co. in Indianapolis, Indiana. Submissions are accepted anonymously and through a staff consensus. The magazine was designed using Adobe Indesign CS5 and Adobe Photoshop CS5. The magazine’s 70, 6x9 pages are set in Garamond. The cover font, along with the titles of all pieces, is Linux Libertine. The Spring 2012 issue of the Gallery was a CSPA Gold Medalist with All-Columbian honors in content..
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email@example.com est. 1979