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PARAGON 2020


[Front Cover] Andy Weinstein GREAT SALT LAKE Oil on Canvas (36X48)


PARAGON

Gilman School

Baltimore, Maryland

Volume: XLI EDITORS Editor in Chief: Charlie Nuermberger Literary Editor: Phil Rosenthal Art Editor: Dutch Senft

FACULTY ADVISORS Cesare Ciccanti Karl Connolly John Rowell Ryan Ruff Smith

REVIEW BOARD Aidan Feulner Cole Frank Charlie Nuermberger Phil Rosenthal Sam Ryu Dutch Senft «1»


A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR This letter will likely be too long. This entire process has been long, though. The resurrection of Paragon, Gilman’s arts and literary magazine, was set into motion during the final months of the 2018-2019 school year. Our faculty advisors, Mr. Rowell, Dr. Smith, Mr. Connolly, and the cadre of other members of the Gilman community, were intent on restoring the then defunct publication. We almost had it too, with our deadline fixed just after our return from spring break. Now, finally, we present to you the culmination of dozens of Gilman students’ individual, but collective, acts of creation. In a sense, style, as the esteemed Mr. Connolly will tell you, is irrelevant to the act of creation. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, painting, photography, they just serve as alternative mediums of creative expression. These separate vehicles arrive at the same destination: conceptions of the human condition, more specifically for this publication, the identity of the Gilman condition. High school art, as others will tell you, tends to lack real substance. Through curating this volume, I can say this is an inherently flawed conclusion. The adults who say this lack the perceptive ability to look beneath the surface level of the artwork and reveal the hidden stresses, joys, and motivations of teenage life. All of the works here are indicative of the Gilman condition regardless of the medium of expression. None are a paragon—an ideal exemplar—but in the context of an anthology, we can narrow our working definition of this condition. Each piece offers a fragment, representative of the Gilman student body, and, like the biological function of emergence, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. - Charlie Nuermberger

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PARAGON SUBMISSION GUIDELINES 1. Paragon seeks to publish innovative and well-crafted art and creative student literature, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and memoir. Other forms of student writing (i.e. analytical essays, editorials, etc.) will not be reviewed by the board. 2. Work may be submitted anonymously to Paragon but cannot be published as such. Any author who chooses not to claim their work after they have submitted it will not be published in the magazine. 3. All works submitted to Paragon must be the unquestionable product of the author. Any work which proves otherwise will immediately be taken out of consideration for publication, and the student who submitted it will be asked to refrain from submitting in the future.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS: LITERATURE That Far Back Room The Grand Greenness in Kyle’s Eyes Snaphots Growth Pride Lying Memories Copperheads and Cottonmouths January Morning Berlin, Germany 1941 My Nonna Sonnet to Sleep Sonnet to the Once Beetle Sonic to Dyslexia A Moon in the Hot Spring A Memory; A Wish

Dutch Senft (‘21) Hank Lin (‘20) Dante Chavez (‘20) Noah Parker (‘23) Noah Parker (‘23) Eli Webb (‘20) Charlie Nuermberger (‘21) Ben Richardson (‘21) Jack Goldman (‘22) Mattias Hanchard (‘20) Noah Parker (‘23) Thomas Soltanian (‘23) Finn Jacobs (‘23) Hank Lin (‘20) Zack Anderson (‘20)

Aaron Meng (‘22) FALLINGWATER Ink on Paper (20x24)

Nonfiction Fiction Nonfiction Poetry Poetry Nonfiction Nonfiction Poetry Fiction Fiction Poetry Poetry Poetry Fiction Poetry

6 9 17 21 21 22 28 32 33 35 43 44 45 48 56


TABLE OF CONTENTS: ART Great Salt Lake Falling Water Brothers ‘Lona Copy of Henry Coe Painting Beaverkill Rainbow Gilman Under Snow Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, Kauai Silverthorne Oops I Ate the Still Life Iceland Mountains Flower Roadside Barn Overlapping Passions Quail Work In Progress Lake’s Mirror Plant Suzy Is a Sick Dog Transitions Mac Booth and Cal Tortolani Untitled Arms Return From New York Hydrangeas Carrol Park Finest Tribe Rock Field falling down Vermont Sky Green Stag Evening on the Pond Let’s Walk

Andy Weinstein (‘20) Aaron Meng (‘22) Dutch Senft (‘21) Benson Harlan (‘21) Thomas Gammie (‘21) Jack Tortolani Ian Baker (‘20) Adam Masom (‘20) Pierce Washburn (‘20) Matt Grossman (‘22) Grant Carey (‘20) Temilade Koleosho (‘21) Cole Emry (‘21) Beck Wittstadt (‘21) Michael Maragakis (‘21) Ryan Choi (‘20) Yoon Shin (‘22) Michael Maragakis (‘21) Charlie Nuermberger (‘21) Marco Karakousis (‘22) Aidan Feulner (‘22) Aidan Collins (‘20) Noah Spore (‘21) Zack Anderson (‘20) Lulu Lemken (‘20) Ke’Yon Torain (‘22) Salvatore Ricci (‘20) Nick Boucher (‘20) Jackson Shelby (‘20) Andy Weinstein (‘20) Aidan Tydings (‘21) Ian Goldman (‘21) Benson Harlan (‘21)

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Front Cover 2 7 8 8 9 15 15 16 20 20 21 24 24 25 26 27 27 29 31 31 34 37 38 38 42 42 46 47 47 54 55 Back Cover


THAT FAR BACK ROOM Dutch Senft (‘21) I had no idea what to expect as I made my way down the hall, one foot after the other, to that far back room on the third floor of the AtlantiCare emergency center. I approached the small doorway, and as I crossed the threshold into the ICU room, I entered a new world where everything previously normal faded away, forever in the past. There, in that far back room, the rushing of feet and the chirping between doctors out in the hallways of the chaotic hospital were drowned out, replaced by the low hum and steady beeping of countless machines, all vital to my brother’s survival: ventilator, catheter, feeding tubes, too many to name. A minty aroma filled the air, a scent my mother believed promoted healing, but which now just serves as a memory, taking me back to that time and that room. Signs and posters lined all four walls, seeming to cover every inch of free space, all with the same slogan: ARCHER STRONG. Perched in the back left corner were boxes upon boxes of letters from friends, family, students, parents—I swear, every single person in Baltimore sent my brother a letter at some point. A lounge chair rested to the left of my brother’s bedside, and not a second would pass with it unoccupied. It was our vow to never leave him alone, our vow to be there for him every second of the day. That far back room was not just an ICU room on the third floor of the AtlantiCare emergency center; it was the place of my brother’s rebirth, and my own. As I emerged from that far back room, the shell of adolescence was not just cracked but busted open, and the reality of the world dawned upon me, all too soon.

Dutch Senft (‘21) BROTHERS Oil on Canvas (24x24)

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Benson Harlan (‘21) ‘LONA Gouache on Paper (9x12)

[Opposite] Jack Tortolani (‘20) BEAVERKILL RAINBOW Oil on Canvas (36x24)

Thomas Gammie (‘21) COPY OF HENRY COE PAINTING Oil on Canvas (11x14)

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THE GRAND GREENNESS IN KYLE’S EYES Hank Lin (‘20) When I was twelve, my parents sent me to an educational institution on weekends to take English lessons in preparation for the TOEFL test, which everyone who wanted to study abroad in the US had to take. This place was different from other institutions I’d attended because all the teachers were American, and because the lessons would be taught entirely in English. I was terrified at the thought of using only English to communicate, but it seemed like an inevitable step towards a different future. As I walked through the sliding glass doors, an unwelcoming burst of cold air, accompanied by the noise of the AC, surrounded me. I waved goodbye to my mother, whose smile gradually became invisible as the bulky elevator door closed. On a white wall were enormous letters glazed in blue: PATTERSON EDUCATION. “Hey, there. You must be Evan!” A middle-aged woman approached me with a professional but mechanical smile. I tried to squeeze a smile onto my face and recite the self-introduction I had practiced in my head hundreds of thousands of times. “H-hello…” My voice shivered. It must have been the cold air. «9»


“My name’s Julie,” she said, interrupting me, “I’m the manager here at Patterson. Come with me, I’ll take you to your teacher today. We have…three minutes left before the lesson starts.” She turned around and started walking, so I, left speechless by the rapid pace of her words, followed closely. After walking through a labyrinth of hallways, we stopped in front of the door of a small classroom. The frosted glass blurred everything inside; all the colors blended together into a mixture of unknowables. Julie knocked on the door, and an indistinct shadow loomed behind the fuzzy glass pane. The door swung open. In front of me was a young man of average height in his early twenties. His deep gray, sunken eyes appeared unfathomable under his prominent brow, on which a pair of intense, dark eyebrows resided. Between the eyes was his aquiline nose, its edges clearly defined as though they had been carved by a skilled sculptor. Over his thin lips sat a nicely trimmed mustache, which connected with the short beard he had grown on the sides of his face. His skin looked pale under the fluorescent light, paler than that of anyone I had ever seen. A plain black cap hid his hairstyle, casting a shadow on the upper part of his face. “What’s up, Evan? I’m Kyle.” He extended his right hand for a handshake. “Hi…I’m Evan.” His hands were, surprisingly, quite warm. “Have fun, guys!” With the same affected smile, Julie exited the room and shut the door. Kyle leaned back in his chair and rested his hands on his stomach. “So, Evan, tell me a little bit about yourself,” he said. The air in the room froze. An awkward silence took over. It was the first time I had met an American in real life, and the first time I’d tried to converse with someone in English. I opened my mouth, but a suffocating self-consciousness quickly snatched my throat, preventing me from making any sound. The ticking of the clock on the wall became cacophonous and disruptive. Small beads of sweat formed on my forehead. But Kyle seemed to have noticed none of these things. His calm face remained unchanged, and, naturally, he picked up the conversation again. “Well, let me introduce myself first, then. I’m Kyle Wilson. I grew up in the state of Tennessee. Here.” He pointed to the map hanging on the wall. “It’s this long strip of land on the map…” Kyle’s voice was soft and soothing. The boundless forests and mountains he described completely entranced me, a boy who had barely travelled anywhere outside of Shenzhen, the city in which I was born and raised. It was why I had come to Patterson––I was looking for a place outside my colorless world of cars and skyscrapers. As Kyle continued his description, a wild greenness seemed to grow and shine deep within his eyes. “You should definitely go for a walk on the trails if you get a chance in the future. I’ll tell you about « 10 »


all the nice places you can visit there,” Kyle said. “Now that I’ve shared with you about my hometown, is it fair that you leave me hanging here, Evan?” The corners of his lips curved upward slightly, and that fresh greenness made it impossible for me to avert my eyes from his stare. “Uh, I…I’m Evan. I was…I grew up in…” Muttering and stuttering, I gave Kyle a brief overview of my somewhat tedious life: wake up; go to school; come back from school; watch a little TV; homework; bed. Nevertheless, Kyle’s eyes did not show any sign of boredom. The encouraging smile on his face affirmed every syllable I uttered. He continued to ask things like: “How do you go to school? What’s your favorite class in school? What TV shows do you watch…?” Kyle’s questions encouraged me to speak more about myself, but I soon noticed the weary repetition of my language; my voice became so monotonous that it bothered me to speak each word. Was it because of the constraint of speaking an unfamiliar language? I knew the answer was no: my life was indeed a repetitive circuit of the unchanging. As this thought came across my mind, the whole world around me turned gray: the desk, the computer, the pen, the books, the words…all the colors leaked into a bottomless void, except that ever-burning greenness in Kyle’s eyes. I stretched my hands toward it, and it expanded and expanded, reinvigorating all the dullness around me. Gazing at that dazzling greenness, I tried to shout; no English came out. The greenness was still distant, but I knew the path leading to it was no longer in haze. Within a few months, Kyle and I quickly befriended each other, and my English was improving substantially. Despite my grammatical errors and meager vocabulary, I felt confident enough to chat with Kyle casually in English about anything and everything: games, TV shows, books, music, and, of course, sports. “My favorite sport is baseball,” Kyle said, after we had just finished a practice exam. “I used to play a lot when I was in college, but I got injured in my junior year, so I stopped playing. I still watch baseball a lot, though.” I had never seen baseball except in a TV show I was watching, so I was intrigued by all the interesting rules and techniques Kyle was talking about. “I want to play baseball when I go to high school,” I said. “Good for you!” Kyle smiled. “Just remember, don’t tear your rotator cuff like I did. It’s painful, and it puts you out for a while…anyway, I’m sure you’ll be great!!” I sensed a strange sadness behind Kyle’s encouraging tone, so I diverted the conversation. “Well, there’s no baseball at my school, but I really love ping-pong. Have you played ping-pong before?” « 11 »


“Only once or twice, but it seems fun.” “We should play ping-pong together sometime!” I proposed without hesitation, though the choppiness of my speech sounded like a bouncing ping-pong ball. “Sure! I’d love to learn, especially because I don’t really play any sports anymore,” Kyle said. I was amazed at myself. I could speak English without reciting it over and over again in my head! Maybe studying abroad in the US was not just a distant dream anymore. As time went by, I felt closer and closer to that vast greenness in Kyle’s eyes. Just a little more time, and I would be able to grasp it with my own hands. It was another Saturday afternoon in November. Withered yellow foliage covered the doorsteps of Patterson. The leaves were swinging in the bleak autumn wind. I pulled my jacket tighter and walked into the building. After finding my way to Kyle’s classroom, I knocked on the door. No one responded. I checked my watch: two o’clock. My lesson with Kyle should have already started, so I knocked on the door again with a little more force. Still no response. After gingerly pushing the door open, I saw that Kyle was sleeping at his desk. He had buried his head in his arms, and the black cap he always wore was on the table. I saw his hairstyle for the first time: he was partially bald. I shook his shoulder and called his name. “Hey, Kyle. Kyle?” A few seconds passed before I felt any motion from Kyle. He lifted his head and started rubbing his eyes. His beard had grown out a little; it seemed like he had not trimmed it in a few days. Then he saw me, his bloodshot eyes underlined with swollen dark circles. “Oh, it’s you, Evan! What’s up? Wait, let me check…oh crap, it’s 2:03 already. I’m sorry, man. I’ll be right back.” He quickly picked up the cap on his desk and put it on, and then rushed out the door toward the bathroom. I sat and waited. Something felt off about Kyle, but I couldn’t tell what it was. He came back fresher after several minutes. A few beads of water still clung to the left side of his face. Otherwise, everything about him seemed typical, though his gray eyes did appear slightly dimmer. “All right, let’s get to the lesson for today! You ready, Evan?” Kyle was as energetic as always. We proceeded to do the listening practice for the TOEFL test. It was my weakest skill, and I had not been able to improve it recently. After missing three out of five multiple choice questions, I put my pencil down on the desk. Kyle sensed my frustration and said, “Hey, Evan, you know what? I’ve noticed that you’re missing some key information in these lectures because you’re way too busy trying to take notes. Let’s try this: « 12 »


for this next recording, don’t take any notes. Just close your eyes and focus. I believe in you.” The unconventional approach Kyle proposed surprised me, but I gave it a try. I closed my eyes and concentrated on the recording he was playing. Two characters started conversing in my head, and the scene was so clear to me that I could see every movement of their lips. I opened my eyes after the conversation ended and answered the questions. Five out of five. I high-fived Kyle in joy and disbelief, and we continued to experiment with this new method. It turned out to be the key that unleashed my potential. Kyle had removed the greatest obstacle in my way, and every time I shut my eyes, I saw in front of me that same vibrant greenness, so close and so real. Before I knew it, our time together reached its end. It was four o’clock. I shook Kyle’s hand and thanked him. Then I turned and started to go, excitement flickering in my chest. “See ya, dude!” Kyle said, waving goodbye. “See you next time, Kyle!” I never saw Kyle again. After that lesson, I did not go to Patterson for a while because school was getting too busy. I had to prepare for midterms in Math and Physics and Chemistry and Chinese and History and Geography and Biology. All the practice problems and recitations and formulaic writing blended into a stifling hodgepodge of boredom and exhaustion. I felt trapped, as if in a fever dream. Every once in a while, I would wake in the middle of the night and find myself drenched with sweat, feeling as if I could easily see myself in years to come, buried by books in a crowded classroom or enclosed with computer screens at a small desk; then I would realize I hadn’t really woken up from the nightmare. Not until three weeks later, in December, was I able to break away from the endless loop of dullness and go back to Patterson. It was a cloudy Saturday. The gloomy sky felt heavy. The tree in front of Patterson had lost all of its leaves, its bare branches sticking out into the air alone. I walked into Patterson and was surprised to see Julie at the front desk waiting for me. “Hey, Evan. Follow me. Phoebe will be teaching your lesson today.” She led the way with her familiar smile. We arrived at a different classroom, and the new teacher, Phoebe, was sitting in there. After sitting down and introducing myself, I couldn’t help but ask the pressing question on my mind: “Hey, Phoebe, where is Kyle?” Phoebe’s blue eyes trembled, and she bit her lip before she spoke. “Evan…Kyle is gone.” “What do you mean he is gone? Where did he go?” “He…passed away.” « 13 »


“I’m sorry. I don’t quite understand what you mean.” My breath became short and rapid as I spoke. “Hey, Evan, listen. Kyle…he…he died.” Die, dies, died. Dead, death. Yes, I had learned the vocabulary. I knew what it meant, but I simply could not grasp its meaning as Phoebe pronounced it. “Sorry? He what?” “Evan…I’m so sorry to tell you this. I know you liked Kyle a lot, but he was going through a really hard time…” Warm tears rolled down my cheeks. I could not hear what Phoebe was saying next. I can’t remember what else happened at Patterson that day. The next thing I realized, I was lying on my bed and crying, with my door locked and my head wrapped in the bed sheet. I could not hear anything but Kyle’s soothing voice when he talked about his hometown; I could not feel anything but the ominous exhalation of death blowing into my face; I could not see anything but Kyle’s pale face, so familiar yet so strange, in a tight loop connected to the ceiling, on the cold cement ground in front of a tall building, on a pillow with sleeping pills scattered all around. That greenness in his eyes had disappeared, engulfed by darkness and despair. Maybe, just maybe, when I first noticed the vanishing of that greenness, I could have done something, but now it was too late. And now, Kyle, I stand on your favorite trail in Tennessee, where I’ll be living for the next four years of high school. The air here smells as fresh as you described it in that small classroom at Patterson. Maybe I’ll even make the baseball team! The greenness surrounding me is so grand, just like the shimmering greenness in your deep, gray eyes.

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Ian Baker (‘20) GILMAN UNDER SNOW Watercolor on Paper (9x12)

Adam Masom (‘20) MAHA’ULEPU HERITAGE TRAIL, KAUAI Oil on Canvas (36x24)

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Pierce Washburn (‘20) SILVERTHORNE Oil on Canvas (30x40)

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SNAPSHOTS Dante Chavez (‘20) Is there such a thing as a perfect picture? A picture that completely defines what it attempts to capture. The word snapshot itself implies that there’s some form of imperfection or something left out of the frame that may be even more important than what is shown. Sometimes the full context would’ve added even more of a story than the image already tells. Even the greatest pictures of all time have this problem. Take “Migrant Mother” for example, the picture that has essentially become the poster for the Great Depression. You’ve probably seen it even if you don’t realize it. What you didn’t see in the picture was the massive dust storm the woman and her children had to travel through on their way to find work, the frozen food that they had lived on for months on end, the other four children the woman had to provide for. That would be too much for the eyes to search for and understand, so instead, you see only her and her three sons. The only thing readily apparent in the photograph is the fatigue on the woman’s face and the three resting children snuggled around her. Everything else, sacrificed in favor of the element that demanded the most attention, the timeless feeling of not knowing what comes next. Professional or not, all pictures are this way: the subject demanding attention one way or another. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been snapped. So I look to my own pictures to see which elements in my life demand the most attention. Today, 9:22 AM: A close up of the left front tire of a black Camry complete with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 gaping slits. Never had I had a flat tire before, so how could I have known what it felt like? Yet as soon as I pulled off, it was impossible not to know something had gone wrong: the whole car shaking like an old beaten-up washing machine; a slight veer to the left. I thought the engine had malfunctioned at first, so I waited because I thought it needed time to “warm up.” It wasn’t until I had violently rumbled halfway down the street that I got out and saw the damage. That’s why a washing machine made a full lap around the block this morning. That’s why a 65-year-old retiree had to get out of bed to drive her grandson to school this morning. That’s why Mr. Gnanadoss’s calculus class had a total of one tardy this morning. Yesterday, 4:02 PM: A serene abandoned neighborhood street, taken from behind a windshield with sunlight coming through the right side. At the time, I had just passed another car, but the six-year-old boy who wanted to be a photographer in me couldn’t ignore the crisp fall scene despite the speedometer « 17 »


telling me to. Perhaps somewhere lurking within the picture is the cause of the flat tire, but maybe it’s best not to ruin the serenity by grouping it with a picture charged with such chaotic evil. Friday, 11:05 AM: A bizarre drawing in a math notebook. An angry zeppelin not only on fire but with arms and legs attached. Smoke seeps out of every opening. “MAD ZEPPELIN IS Furious AT THe current situation” scrawled in between the smoke plumes, in between the arms and legs, intertwined with the zeppelin itself. It’s the long-awaited sequel to another drawing titled “Sad Submarine” from a tenth-grade Latin textbook. Maybe one day, I can round off the trilogy with “Glad Locomotive.” Depends how I’m feeling. October 31, 6:11 PM: A falcon, perched on the seat of a mesh blue chair on my balcony. However, the falcon’s fenced off by the same material it’s keeping vigil on top of, isolated from the outside by the surrounding panels of black mesh that make up the balcony’s walls. By the sound, I thought a squirrel had violently fallen off the roof, hitting every groove and bump of the awning. Instead, I found one of the black panels had been torn down, and now, the falcon couldn’t figure out how to escape its new prison. I wanted to help but it didn’t seem to want me to. Briefly, I thought of keeping it. Maybe if I fed it a few seeds or something, it would’ve started to come back every day looking for food. I heard that’s how squirrels work anyway. Eventually, it made its way to the same panel and, once again, sat perched there for a short time. I wonder what was going through its bird brain in that instant. Then, it just flew away like it had never come in the first place. October 31, 3:56 PM: Three dead wasps, stiff on the floor of a bathroom shower. Two more lie out of frame. I counted ten in the back room. I think we have a wasp problem, but Mom doesn’t want to admit it. October 30, 9:19 PM: A stock-photo-like image of the coach of the school wrestling team, the team I left this year. His hands are clasped with an anonymous wrestler whose back is turned to the camera. Just from the look on the coach’s face, I can tell the anonymous wrestler over here lost. He’s got his signature stoic look of silent disappointment. Haven’t talked to him since I left. Still trying to decide if that’s a good thing or not. For the best or not. He tried to talk to me once, sent a text to me and « 18 »


two other similarly disgruntled former wrestlers who had dropped the sport, asking, “Are you sure you don’t want to get certified for wrestling?”—sent and seen Nov. 23rd. It is now December 5th. No one responded. October 28, 9:33 PM: The logo for this year’s Gilman v. McDonough shirt. An unmistakably shredded greyhound in a paladin helmet stands in front of the Gilman shield, its feet behind the year 2020. Sure, good art, but why is the greyhound becoming increasingly anthropomorphic? Can’t it just go back to being a loyal and dependable dog? Did anyone ask for this muscular grey—I hesitate to even call it a dog. I mean it has fists. The dog has fists and abs. The dog has abs. Am I the only one who thinks this is off? On top of that, he’s wearing a skin-tight (umm fur-tight?) grey shirt, nearly the same color as the fur. He might as well be shirtless. That’s what we have in 2020. Let me put this in perspective. 2012 Cynosure: A greyhound, true to form, running across the cover. He’s a good boy. 2020 Spirit Shirts: A ripped, mutant, dog, ready to tear someone apart, whose physique could give Hasselhoff’s a run for its money. What happened to it? Nuclear accident? Evolution gone wrong? Call me some kind of traditionalist but I don’t want to be haunted by thoughts like Hmm, I wonder how hard the neck muscles of my school’s mascot feel…when I’m lying awake, staring at my ceiling in the middle of the night. October 23, 12:25 AM: A meme I decided to keep from an AirDrop war (when people start anonymously sending random images via AirDrop). Just a dog dressed up in a bandana, t-shirt, and a backpack captioned “WTF? A dog going to school bro?? I hope he don’t eat my homework.” See? That’s a good boy. These eight images may not fully capture every emotion or every connotation behind the shutter, but that doesn’t mean that my own memories and meanings haven’t bled their way onto them. Hell, you’ve probably put these pictures together like puzzle pieces and formed your own snapshot of me. Maybe even of others, too, like the falcon or the wrestling coach, maybe even the wasps. Maybe in that snapshot, all of these little elements are in it. Maybe only a select few of them are. Maybe none of them are. I wonder what it looks like to you.

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Matt Grossman (‘22) OOPS I ATE THE STILL-LIFE Oil on Canvas (9x12)

Grant Carey (‘20) ICELAND MOUNTAINS Oil on Canvas (24x36)

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GROWTH Noah Parker (‘23) Hi Grandma! Family, huzzah! Huh? No, I’m not taller, Maybe you’re just smaller? Anyway, food is so sublime, Almost a crime! What’s that? Not a kid anymore? Stand collar to collar? Oh crap. I’m taller!

Temilade Koleosho (‘21) FLOWER Oil on Canvas

PRIDE: A HAIKU Noah Parker (‘23) Pride is very strong Almost blinding to some, but It is human too

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LYING MEMORIES Eli Webb (‘20) The tendency to believe something happened is based on the information in our memory. My grandmother passed away with little to her name. She had spent the past seven years of her life confined at Roland Park Place, a retirement home five minutes away from my house, and with her dementia, Margie did not really allow for comfortable visits. I had only visited her five or six times in the seven years, and my father had visited her no more than 15 times. But his sister, luckily, made it out twice a month with her German Shepherd to console her fleeting mother. As Margie grew weaker and weaker, my father made the short drive more regularly, but time had beaten her, and she closed those wrinkly blue eyes for the last time at 85 years of age. At the wake, their third sibling, my Aunt Meg, drove up from Richmond and gave her respects to her brother, and especially her sister, for the care they had given their mother. Even though Margie did not appreciate that care, Meg knew it hurt her siblings to witness their mother’s pain. When the dementia had advanced to the point of danger, my dad and his sisters forced her out of her home rather quickly. She did not know why she had to leave her Salisbury home and blamed her children for the uncertainty in her future. She did not want to move away from her home, she did not want to live with strangers in a distant city, and she certainly wanted to know why she had to make these changes. My dad did not try to answer these questions. Instead, his focus was on her assets—not that there were many. He is a lawyer and wanted everything squared away before her passing. Keeping his mind on her will and belongings strangely distracted him from the weakening of his mother. Altogether, my dad and his sisters discussed her finances, her will, and her property, often stalling, waiting for death to occur before the premature declarations. My Aunt Penny would visit her every other weekend with her dog, Claire, and my dad would come around occasionally to say hello and thank the nurses for their support. I tried to stay away, aware that the building radiated death. Every time I went to see Margie, she looked more and more fragile, as if a crease in the carpet would make her trip and crumble. Her hands started turning to bone, and her walk turned into more of a waddle. It hurt me to see my grandmother in her muddled state, and I could only wonder how hard it was for my father whom she would rarely remember. After her seven years in the retirement home, Margie passed away. We had a simple gathering with about fifty close friends and relatives and without a funeral procession. It was just an open bar where my dad, his two sisters, and whoever else wanted to speak could. They shared memories of my « 22 »


grandmother and looked more at the fond and joyful past of her life rather than the last ten years. It seemed like my dad had done everything and could now rest knowing his mom was in a better place. The last order of business was simply to return to her home, which had been sold to distant family, and pick up some last little mementos of his mother. Her house was always kept warm by a central fireplace in the living room. The first time I visited, my two older brothers and I sat on the beige carpet in front of the fire and played Scrabble, Candyland, and tag for hours. All over our bedrooms and the stairs and living room remained the same shell-colored carpet that could easily give a rug burn but was also soft enough to rest our heads on. There was one couch that fit three facing the fireplace, which seemed perfect for three boys watching TV. Unfortunately, my grandmother did not understand the concept of television. Next to the couch sat the one and only chair, the one I would see my father reading in later that night when we had gone to bed. Other than the two sitting options, the room felt huge and empty, but also simple. It did not have many pictures on the walls matching the clammy white carpet that we lay on. We were disappointed with the lack of pictures because we had hoped to see our dad and his family as little kids like us, but the surrounding walls and carpet still felt cozy and as if they had not changed since our dad was a kid. Mom told us not to eat or drink in the living room, so we had to finish our mac and cheese and milk in the kitchen with the adults before we could play by ourselves in the living room. Our parents remained in the kitchen conversing with my grandmother as she struggled to remain independent, hoping to stay in her house for as long as possible. We played around in the living room for the rest of the night, tossing each other on the ground, fighting over which word was the best placed in Scrabble and who had won in whatever activity we participated in. The next day, we left. I would not see my grandmother again until she moved to the retirement community.

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Beck Wittstadt (‘21) OVERLAPPING PASSIONS Oil on Canvas (16x20)

[Opposite] Michael Maragakis QUAIL Photography

Cole Emry (‘21) ROADSIDE BARN Oil on Canvas (14x11)

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It was just my father and I on the trip to her old home. We were returning from a week’s stay at the beach, and my dad thought it would be good time management to make the trip to Salisbury while we were already on the eastern shore. My two brothers wanted to return home, not really caring to see our grandmother’s old home again, but I thought it would be fun to see the living room and fireplace that I had remembered so fondly. My dad and I got into his Volvo station wagon, packed our little luggage and our golf clubs, hopelessly thinking we might find a public course on the adventure, and drove to Salisbury. As we pulled into the modest town, my dad gave a sigh of relief and a little nostalgia. It had been a while since he had been home, probably since I had last been there. He kept on driving through the town until the commercial streets turned into residential neighborhoods and then came to a stop. I was not sure where we were and expected the memories to come rushing back. We both stepped out, and my dad looked at his phone, walked to the garage, and typed in a passcode to unlock the automatic door. He pointed to the white cotton bed sheets and a few pictures of my grandmother’s and told me to help him carry them to the car. When we had finished loading, I asked him if we could take a look around. He wondered if I remembered the house, as did I. « 25 »


Nothing sparked a memory, however, as I walked through the garage and into the downstairs bedroom. I continued on, navigating the house with my dad following. I did not know where I was going. I entered room after room wondering where the staircase was and where the living room could have been. I stepped into every room before realizing the only area with a fireplace was a little den area just outside a bedroom, and the only staircase was to the left, just where we had entered through the garage. They were not connected; there was no big living room like I remembered. My dad asked if I was good; I nodded my head, and we walked back to the car. As we drove away, I grew more and more angry about how I did not recognize anything in the house. How could my memory have been so distorted with a fantasy when the house could have never been so open? I still wonder if my memory had lied to me about my grandmother’s house, or if my imagination had helped me see the beauty in a small, poor town. Sometimes the tendency to believe something happened is based on the information in our memory. It seemed my memory had made me believe that the house was big and my grandmother lived a great life, but that that was a lie. Did it matter? No; I loved that Salisbury house, and even though many of the memories seemed distorted, the feelings of joy and adventure remain.

Ryan Choi (‘20) WORK IN PROGRESS Oil on Canvas (16x20)

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Yoon Shin (‘20) LAKE’S MIRROR Photography

Michael Maragakis (‘21) PLANT Photography

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COPPERHEADS AND COTTONMOUTHS Charlie Nuermberger (‘21) There was something alluring about the morbidity of the entire proposition. A secret graveyard, my father had said, and images of his revenants slunk from the heart of Appalachia: brittle toenails grating against flimsy casket walls; leathery skin gliding across red soil; the groans of the buried still audible below six feet of clay. But we weren’t scared of the dead, my brothers and I, so every summer we found ourselves tramping through the underbrush in search of ghosts. And the ghosts were there. They nestled, coiled in the hollows of disintegrating tree trunks. Copperheads and cottonmouths (my mother warned me upon finding one of those russet chains in our grandmother’s woodlot) were creatures of pure spite. They rustled the summer leaves into a wispy dance. Gaunt sycamores yearned over the bank of the crick, shedding their skins. Dark pines like caryatids denoted the presence of a god. Their canopies wove a chapel with the irrefutable weight of mysticism. It was backwoods religion, and we were converts. Newfound spiritualism was an aftereffect; a compulsion brought us to the woods. Crossing the threshold, we walked through the gate of the garden where my grandfather’s ashes were scattered. Our skinned knees brushed hydrangeas as we unlatched the bolt and strode into the treeline. The garden was a thing of love, but we left with death snaked in our nostrils. My grandmother’s house was mounted on a hill, bordered on one side by a narrow strip of tar and pavement, on another side by a lazy slope into the wetlands below, and on the other two sides by an embankment and a gully. Our momentum carried us, and fallen leaves crackled wildly under our feet. The base of the hill had some give. Battered sneakers sunk into the hot mud. It seeped through the linings of our shoes, leaving our socks stained and sopping. Half-wading, we plodded towards a septic tank, a waystone of crumbling cement topped by a manhole. There had been a house here once, maybe a few. Sometimes, my youngest brother found half a brick, or a rusted nail, while searching for mud turtles knee-deep in the flood pools. We mounted the concrete megalith, and from our vantage, there lay the forked path. Southward, we’d continue down this marshy road until it abutted the cul-de-sac where my cousins lived, a pocket of suburbia amid the big, bad woods. Northward, the path would end, lacerated by a creek, brown with eroded silt and white with flotsam. Beyond it, there were ghosts. We could’ve almost vaulted across the crick, but despite our already wet sneakers, we were wary of the muddy stream. Years ago, my cousin and I had found a stringy rope swing across the creek, and so we’d swung, only to find ourselves doused in silty water moments later and seething with red ant bites. Our mothers had trailed through the unconquerable woodland upon hearing our pitiful whines. Each year, the bank crumbled and the creek widened, exposing knotted roots and collapsing conifers. « 28 »


Charlie Nuermberger (‘21) SUZY IS A SICK DOG Oil on Canvas (10x14)

Now, on our hands and knees, we inched across a white pine, stripping its surface of bark and sending wood dust cascading into the foamy Styx. It’s important to note that we were engulfed in this wilderness, yes, but it was a wilderness of our own conception, our own mythos. The rush of

cars stalked us; a black snake of asphalt glimmered through the pines. Pink blazes shaped a crooked trail that we never followed. When we slipped my dog from her leash and let her romp with us, we heard the throaty cries of other dogs, bound by invisible fences. I told my brothers that their desperate pleas were the howls of hobos camped in the woods; they ate little boys and would come for us. We once, with our cousins in tail, scaled our uncle’s hunting stand, miles into the wood cover. One of my brothers cut back without leave, and our fears of those cannibals materialized. We never found the hobos, but we did find endless miscellanea accumulated over time. As we crossed the fallen pine and re-entered the silence of the woods, we too became an object of the backwoods’ hoard. It claimed us, bound us with manacles of poison ivy weals. The objects of this cache were just novelties to us: a circle of sun-bleached plastic chairs arranged around a rope draped from a pine limb like a noose; the alabaster skeleton of a buck, picked clean by the buzzards and the crows and the coyotes and the mice; the carcass of the hobos’ brick fireplace, ashes long since extinguished. We only happened upon the graveyard once. It was sunset by the time we found it. A little brown bat wheeled overhead, and the woods respirated with the swell of cricket song. In the half-dark, I stepped gingerly, wary of the vitriolic jaws of a copperhead. The descent of twilight wasn’t sinister whatsoever; the gossamer cocoon of night wasn’t suffocating. Without the high summer sun beating down on our welted necks,

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the swampy air pricked goosebumps beneath our baggy t-shirts. It was still muggy, and mosquitoes wreathed our sticky bodies like a hissing circle of salt We’d just happened to come upon the graveyard. The pines opened into a narrow game trail, their fallen needles pounded soft by frequent travel and their chiseled facades glistening with sap. It was a straight shot to a second gate, iron like my grandmother’s, but leaning on broken hinges and twisted by rust. A stone wall of dubious structural integrity edged a hesitant perimeter around the graveyard. The lot was meager: five graves. The headstones were illegible and spotted with fungus, but we placed our clammy hands on the sandstone, and something was there. There were no reanimated corpses, no spiritual awakenings, no copperheads, and no cottonmouths; it was just a five-plot graveyard burrowed deep within the Appalachian tangle. Its atmosphere of significance was defined by its isolation. In this haunted, thriving landscape, the graveyard was a little parcel of civilization and decay. We’d crossed a hundred boundaries to reach this site of pilgrimage, steered solely by faith in my father’s words. We had entered a world antithetical to our own, but then the woods had yielded to familiarity, even nostalgia, amid the harsh alienness of it all. We children immersed ourselves in the backwoods religion: the graveyard our summertime paganist shrine. The etchings, upon decryption, dated to the nineteenth century. The earth, shrouded in moldering leaves, was undisturbed. It was sharp and tangible, exorcising us from our spirit world. We were young and unacquainted with death, but we knew that bodies were buried beneath our muddied sneakers. That was enough to invoke a ritualistic solemnity. We stayed a little while, and then we left. We never revisited the graveyard, with its modest collection of five headstones. The following year we attempted a return, only to be obstructed by fluorescent orange fencing. Despite the best efforts of human development, I knew the tangle would not be tamed; the backwoods were, in truth, an indiscernible mass of serpents. The million crossings of the woods now appeared inaccessible, but the artificial cordon would be breached. The copperheads and the cottonmouths, as is their nature, lie within the boundary.

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Marco Karakousis (‘22) TRANSITIONS Photography

Aidan Feulner (‘22) MAC NICHOLS AND CAL TORTOLANI Acrylic on Canvas

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JANUARY MORNING Ben Richardson (‘21) We rose early and faced the cold air. We wore pink hats. The mall was a sea of pink. I could hear all around me The proud and hopeful cheers of many And saw so many new faces. Joining the crowd, I cried for our country, Contributing to The sea of pink. “My body, my choice,” Cried the women of the crowd. The men united with them, responding, “Their body, their choice.” We infuriated those in the white buildings, Making their faces red and pink with rage. We would not let them forget; We would not forgive. When I returned home, I grinned and laughed at the sight of my younger sister in a cat hat.

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BERLIN, GERMANY 1941 Jack Goldman (‘22) Now that I am dead I know everything; I know what happened to my parents; I know the fate of my friends and loved ones, but I do not know why someone would do this to us. I was only thirteen years old when the Nazis took everything from us. They plundered our home, took my mother, and sent my father and me on a train. They grabbed me by the collar and forced me into a train cart crammed with older men and some boys who looked around my age. I recognized some of my classmates, most of whom I would never see again. The long ride was quiet besides some rare murmurs and sniffling. We were scared, alone, and hungry. After what seemed like weeks, the blinding light broke through the opaque darkness of the crate. Two men dressed in dark green coats herded us through a large dried brick entrance surrounded by tall, pale fences and barbed wire. They lined us up, shaved our heads, took our belongings, and tattooed numbers on our arms. Another man, clothed in a bloodstained coat, issued us striped garments. The shirt was too big and was missing a sleeve while the pants were tattered and spattered with dried blood. But the days went on. I watched men collapse to the ground, their legs folding like paper. Each fallen man was addressed with a bullet through his skull from the officer on duty. Their clothes were ripped off their lifeless bodies and given to the next incoming train cart of adolescent men. Each body was hurled to the top of a pile of other bodies from the previous week. I kept my head down, did what I was told, and prayed that one day I would see my mother and father again. Every day, I thought of my parents. I wondered if they were even alive. After a while, my ribs appeared so prominently I felt like a skeleton, a cold, hungry, and isolated skeleton. I witnessed my classmate, who was about a year older than me, spit into a commander’s face. The commander drew his service knife and slit his throat while the blood ran down his hand. The commander shrugged the body to the ground, wiped off his hands on his pant leg and continued with his day. No remorse. No sympathy. No regret. These unnecessary killings happened often. All of them were just excuses for commanders to slaughter Jews. After almost two months at Auschwitz, I had witnessed awful things; I can vividly hear the screams escaping the gas chamber in my head. My only goal was survival, but I was weakening every day. I became out of breath often; my legs shook when I stood up for too long; then I collapsed. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I knew what this meant. I knew what was going to happen to me. I knew an officer would approach my nearly lifeless body and end my suffering. I could hear the thump of mil« 33 »


itary boots getting closer, and gravel dispersing under the thick black sole of his boot as he got closer, the sound of the cold metal handgun slide rubbing against the frame. And then suddenly: darkness. So now that I am dead, I know everything.

Aidan Collins UNTITLED Oil on Canvas (36x36)

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MY NONNA Mattias Hanchard (‘20) On August 1, my nonna passed away. “Nonna, fai schifo, Nonna, you suck,” I used to tell her as I cheated in a traditional card game we liked to play. What I would strategically do was hand her the large brownrimmed glasses sitting on top of the fridge, which she only used to cook with, and convince her to wear them. The lenses of these glasses would take up two thirds of her entire face, and I would sit at an angle where I could see the reflection of the cards she had in her hand. I would confidently ask to bet on these games even at a young age. For me, this was easy money. I used to spend a good part of the day with my nonna. I will never forget our walks to the supermarket when she was still active and in good health. Nonna would grab her large brown fur coat, slide on stockings and comfortable slippers, and stylishly leave the house. She would bring her navy-blue shopping trolley, like many old people did, and waddle as she dragged it behind her. She always complained that her feet hurt, but slowly and surely we would make our trip to the store. We would arrive there after a short ten-minute walk, and then our first order of business was to get the shopping cart that required a coin to be inserted into the handle. I would beg her to give me the coin so I could do it, because there was no better feeling than slipping the coin in and hearing the popping noise the cart made just before the wheels unlocked. Aisle by aisle, I would follow her and hold her hand as she guided me. I was always too energetic for her, so to keep my attention, she would let me do menial tasks like bagging the tomatoes she was going to use to make her world-famous ragù. On the way back from the store I would see if I could find some cacca di cane, dog poop, that I could laugh at with her. When my father came to visit me once, he was angered to see my nonna and me laughing at dog poop because he believed her influence made me “weird” and was the reason I had no friends back home. “The boy needs socialization, and this is what you encourage him to do?” my father would complain to my mother. One summer, everything changed. I had arrived fresh from the United States and rushed with my mother through the baggage claim, out of the airport, onto the highway, and finally to my nonna’s front door, like I had done almost every year. I eagerly rang the doorbell three times just to hear the tangy sound I loved. It evoked a sense of belonging that I did not feel in my own home. Breathing in the fresh Mediterranean air, I couldn’t wait to see her, but I needed to act cool so my mom didn’t know I was excited. But she knew; she knew very well. Nonna opened the door. I was expecting the large, genuine smile I only saw once a year, a smile that was followed by a large, open-palmed hug and the smell of stale cigarettes and biscotti. But this time, I was confronted with a surprised face, one she only used when meeting someone for the first time. This was when I knew I had become a distant memory « 35 »


to my nonna; she no longer knew who I was. The wrinkled face I was greeted with that afternoon is now ingrained in my mind forever, and it is an image I won’t ever let escape me. After giving her a hug and feeling my arms latched around her soft back, I quickly realized I did not feel so at home anymore. The only thing keeping me grounded was the scent of coffee as I walked past the kitchen to find my grandfather sleeping on the red, covered couch, the same couch my nonna had warned me not to sit on so many times. She would tell me, “Diventa una schifezza, it’s going to become a mess.” I think her obsession with this couch was one of the first signs I noticed of her disease. It was odd. It got to the point where any time anyone sat on the couch, she would shuffle her feet, as she did, and fluff the large pillows by balling her fists and beating the bottoms of the cushions until the duck feathers inside must have felt like they were receiving electric shocks from her defibrillator hands. It was just after lunch, maybe around three in the afternoon, which meant that, along with my grandfather, the entire city slept. The security gate of each small store and restaurant firmly gripped the black concrete. The storekeepers dared not forget to lock up. As my grandfather slowly opened his left eye, I approached him and tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. His left thumb and index finger supported the weight of his forehead as his elbow pressed against the soft armrest. He seemed to be at peace, but I could tell that something was draining him. Noticing this made me think of my father. About me, he often used to tell his friends, “You know, he has great people skills. He picks up on people’s feelings faster than I ever could. It’s almost as if he knows what people go through.” I would smile when I heard this compliment, because as a young child I was almost always silenced and chastised for my behavior rather than praised for it. I did not expect my grandfather to get up out of his seat to greet me, so I leaned in to give him a classic double-cheek kiss, which reminded me that I was back in Italy. I noticed his hands as he hugged me and held me. These were the same hands that would later grip the photo of me and my nonna together. The same hands that used to slap me across my face as my mother yelled at him for being too aggressive. The same hands that used to caress my cheek and tell me, “Vuoi sempre bene a mamma, always love your mother.” After I had finished greeting the maid and my uncle, it was time to find my bedroom. Unlike in previous years, I’d have to share a room with my mother. It was at the end of a long hallway that I had sprinted down, walked through, and kicked soccer balls in for years. My old room had been perfect. Shiny blue walls reflected the light that seeped through the plastic blinds, which my grandmother would gently lower and adjust to my liking. Sometimes, when I was scared at night, I would peer through her « 36 »


doorway as she slept beside my grandfather, and whisper, “Nonna puoi venire a cantare, Nonna, could you come sing to me?” “Si, mo vengo, yes, here I come,” she would reply. I would then run in my little pajamas back to my room, my naked feet slapping the grey tile flooring, and snuggle into my sheets before she could even get up. After a few moments, she would gallantly glide through the doorway in her white nightgown and sit next to me on the bed. Her crooked fingers, which I’d always marveled at, would run in circles along my forehead. Her raspy voice gently touched the moist air as she sang to me. The song was titled “Tutti I Bimbi del Mondo, All the Kids in the World.” The song’s cadences must have been laced with melatonin, because it would rock me to sleep like a lullaby. Only after I lost her did I realize that my nonna knew I was different. I wasn’t like the other kids I used to play with. She made me feel comfortable and safe in a place where I was not accepted by everyone. I was never awake by the end of the song, but I can imagine her lifting her large hips off of my bed and walking back toward her own as her slippers tapped the floor with every step. She must have then looked at me, as I lay sound asleep, and slowly closed the big white door, lifting the handle just before the clasp of the lock hit the hard metal gap.

Noah Spore (‘21) ARMS Mixed Media (31x18)

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Zack Anderson (‘20) A TRIP TO NEW YORK Watercolor on Paper (10x12)

Lulu Lemken (‘20) HYDRANGEAS Oil on Canvas (12x8)

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The tension in the house was unlike I had ever experienced before. People I had never met came in and out of the house. Some were young and some were old, but to me it made no difference. I sat on the red, covered couch as my grandmother murmured incomprehensible things while the nurse attended to her in the other room. I stared at the clock, which as a child I had never understood, because, for one thing, it was not a digital clock, and also, it was marked with roman numerals. Only this time, when I read the clock, I knew exactly what time it was. It still made no difference to me. I sat and stared, motionless, without any urge to move. I realized that, amidst the commotion, I had not eaten. Maybe my body was still confused and tired from the flight, but I got up to go to the kitchen. I walked slowly as I approached the white door frame that led to the corridor and then her room down the hall. Stepping into the corridor, I glanced to the left to find an image I’d seen earlier that day: the nurse, my mother, my uncle, and the maid all surrounding my nonna’s new bed, propped up to the left side of my grandfather’s, with fencing surrounding it like a baby’s crib. The bed reminded me of the boxing rings I used to see when watching fights with my father back home. Only this time, it was not two multimillion-dollar fighters scrapping for a shot at the heavyweight title. It was my grandmother versus the undefeated opponent of death, and she had waited to come out of her corner until everyone was present and watching. In the kitchen, chewing on my snack, I held a staring contest with the microwave. The microwave won. I was left alone with my thoughts and the sounds of the final curtain call down the hall. I wasn’t sure if I was being consumed by her death or by the stress of the situation. Was I suffering because I could not stand to see my mother sad, or was I genuinely sad that my grandmother was passing in front of my eyes? What had happened to all those vivid memories: the card games, the cheating, the dog poop, and the supermarket shopping carts? The truth was, after the previous summer, I had really lost my nonna. Our interactions filled with affection and love quickly turned into repetitive conversations and soft smiles. Our relationship faded, and she became more like a patient of mine rather than the caretaker that she was. I left the microwave and sped past the corridor to go back to my mother’s room. The crumbling wallpaper and the smell of old glue soaked my nose as I opened the door to our room. It was better than the smell of old piss and gauze strips that made my head hurt, anyway. I took off my black sandals, one by one, and lay on top of my bed, which was still covered with bright baby-blue sheets. I put no effort into getting under the sheets. I began to play an old game on my phone, and it distracted me for a bit, until I knew the time had come. To this day, I don’t know what drew me to get up and go to her room, which I dreaded so much, but I rolled over and slid my feet back into my sandals, pulled myself up, and walked to the door. I opened the door and stared down the long, dark hallway. I was expecting « 39 »


to be emotional as I started walking, but I was empty. I was trying to force feelings of sadness because they did not come naturally to me. I was losing my grandmother, the woman who had birthed my own mother, and I could not feel any pain. What if Nonna hadn’t been able to have kids and she’d had to adopt? My mother would have never existed, and neither would I. I arrived at the living room, still experiencing the same numbness I had in the hall. Perhaps I was naive to think I could summon a different feeling in just a matter of seconds. I walked through the same doorway that I had to get to the kitchen, but this time, there was no avoiding the room. I had to make that left turn I despised so much. Looking at my nonna from down the corridor, I could not help but listen to her voice. She was trying to say something, but no words were coming out. Just noise. Was she singing? Did she remember who I was all of a sudden, or was that just wishful thinking? Was she looking at me, or had her head just been stuck in that same position for hours? I finally entered her room, and everyone was there watching. My mother held her hand over her mouth, shedding tear after tear, her face and nose red from the continuous wiping of her cheeks with the underside of her wrist. I had only seen her cry like this once, when I found her on the floor in the kitchen, back home, listening to serene music, music I could not stand. Had she been crying over the thought of this very moment, or was she just crying for crying’s sake? Had she been crying because she was uncertain about her future? I remember coming downstairs that day and running over to her. I thought that she had injured herself—she could be clumsy with the kitchen knife. I lifted her up by her arms and held her until she felt steady enough for me to let go. Now, my uncle, who I had never been close with, began to cry as well. He and my mother were the only people staring directly at my nonna. Their eyes were red and full of sorrow, a pain I had not experienced yet. The maid, who had been taking care of both my grandparents for a while now, sat at the edge of the bed in disbelief, covering her mouth. It was my turn to look at Nonna. Her once strong and delicate skin had turned hard and taut. Her skin reminded me of a thick layer of plastic that had been vacuum sealed to ensure its freshness. Her skin was ashy and chapped, like the cold lips of my soccer teammates on a mid-December day. I moved closer to her. I was close enough now to see individual flakes peeling from her skin one piece at a time. She was still making noise, but I had gotten used to it. Her legs were a yellowish color unlike any I had seen before. Her hair was thin and white as a sheet of paper. I wanted to hug her, but I couldn’t bear to do it and not receive a hug back, so I reached down and grabbed her hand. The same hand that had rubbed my forehead when I was scared. I guess roles can change, and maybe she was scared, too. As I slowly stroked my thumb back and forth over the thick veins on the top of her hand, she turned her head and made eye contact with me, her eyes grey and light blue. I knew she was ready to go. I only began crying after I let her hand go. As men, we are taught not to cry, but nonetheless, a tear « 40 »


drizzled down my face very slowly. I continued to hold her hand until it was time for me to get out of the way and let the nurse go to work. Nonna was wheezing now, as if she had forgotten how to breathe. Her chest was making irregular jumps. I glanced at the nurse, and I knew that the curtain was closing. I looked back down at my nonna and her chest stopped moving. The noise stopped, too. Quietly, the nurse told everyone to leave. My mother would now have to walk back into the living room to tell my grandfather what had happened to his wife. I followed her. “Che è successo? è morta?” my grandfather asked. “What happened? Is she dead?” “Si papà,” my mother said, crying. My grandfather began wailing and got up quickly from the couch. He grabbed a photo sitting above the chest of drawers in the living room. It was a picture of my nonna hugging me as a young child, in the red gown she often wore around the house. He looked at me and said, “She always loved you very much, always.” I will never forget how tightly he held that picture to his chest, looking up at the ceiling. Nonna had to stay in the house that night, lifeless. The nurse would take her to get cremated the following morning. The nurse was primed and ready to stare death in the face. I wondered what it was going to be like once it was her time to go. I pictured her shaking hands with death just before he took her under his wing, too. It would be the type of handshake only friends or long-time colleagues share. It was her job to prevent people from meeting him, but even so, he always won. I, unlike the nurse, was not ready to experience death first-hand, but I felt the same way she did, empty. To her, my nonna was just another patient. After my nonna passed, she would give her condolences and pack her things. Then she would be on her way to visit her next patient, like clockwork. She would open the heavy front door, the same door my nonna had opened to invite me into her home time and time again, and press the dull red elevator button until it lit up bright red. She would go back to her car, place her things on the passenger seat, and drive away.

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Salvatore Ricci (‘20) TRIBE Oil on Canvas (36x36)

Key Torain (‘20) CARROL PARK FINEST Photography

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SONNET TO SLEEP Noah Parker (‘23) Oh dark and deep embrace that I struggle to keep, I just can’t seem to moderate how much time we spend together; When we are with each other, my mind goes on adventures in such great leaps, But now too much, then too little, the cycle continues forever. When I am without you, I must pay a fee. I can’t tell you how much I care, For your absence often causes me to say “Woe is Me!” I just can’t find you anywhere. Without you, I often find myself tired, And when I’m tired it’s hard to work Because a lack of sleep leaves me uninspired. Sleep deprivation hits daily like clockwork. I’m afraid I’ve become infatuated with you, my love, But your affection is fleeting, like a frightened dove.

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SONNET TO THE ONCE BEETLE Thomas Soltanian (‘23) There was a beetle in my shower It took me by surprise I stared for about an hour The beetle was the victim yet I felt victimized The beetle I approached It started to scurry I backed up in shock of the roach Then up the wall it went with a hurry I turned on the water and put it on hot Aimed the faucet head Then without a thought Put it to bed while the water turned red. I am sad to announce what has been done And I will say it was no fun

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SONIC TO DYSLEXIA Finn Jacobs (‘23) As the days went on noticed powerless behavior aside had due to learning the fact that I was dyslexic I became very blue As I found out this fact an exertion shock I couldn’t believe I’ve my eyes fled through my head as the day it would be ok I new Knowing that I could not change this aspect of my life I knew I had to cope with this unbarring fact. Heartbroken, how would this affect my future wife When the results came back and confused then I sat I knew this would change my life at that god sent. My family came to the harsh decision that I had to switch schools for me we looked at other schools that would help with this moment my learning difference differs from what I see As I look bad on this day I seem that my dyslexia is here to stay

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Nick Boucher (‘20) ROCK FIELD Oil on Canvas (36x60)

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Jackson Shelby (‘20) FALLING DOWN Oil on Canvas (36x48)

Andy Weinstein (‘20) VERMONT SKY Oil on Canvas (12x12)

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A MOON IN THE HOT SPRING Hank Lin (‘20) The silky mist slid through Tim’s fingers and wafted into the wintry sky. The frigid breeze, having forgotten to trim her nails, skimmed across Tim’s cheeks and left a few reddish scratches. He lifted his head; the solemn moon sent a piercing chill down his spine. He closed his eyes; the heat surrounding his body reminded him that he was sitting in a hot spring. Everything was at peace. He heard a splash. Tim opened his eyes to see what had just dropped into the still water. A shadow loomed in the mist. It was his brother, Jeremy. “Hey, how are you doing out here?” Jeremy sat down in the hot spring across from Tim. “Pretty good. I love how no one else comes at night, so I get to have all of this to myself. Man, I mean, just look around. What could be better than this luxury!” Tim exclaimed. “Well, I guess I’ll have to steal a little piece of your luxury now!” Jeremy leaned back and spread his arms on the edge of the pool. The towel he had put on his forehead made it difficult for Tim to see Jeremy’s face. When was the last time they were this close to each other? Tim could not remember exactly when, but he did vaguely recall that small bathtub in their parents’ room. They would bull their slippery feet against each other to see who was stronger; they would throw shampoo bottles; they would draw caricatures on the glass door clouded with steam. That seemed like an eternity ago. That little bathtub had not been filled with warm water again since Jeremy left home for a boarding school ten years ago. “It is an odd feeling, isn’t it?” Jeremy said. “Huh?” “Feeling cold and warm at the same time. You know it’s 20 degrees outside now, right? Yet my head is both freezing and sweating now.” Jeremy unfolded the towel and wiped the beads of sweat on his face away. “Yeah, the separation of the mind and the body…and the alienation from oneself. It is a surreal experience,” Tim responded. “Hah.” A smirk crept onto Jeremy’s face. “That sounds exactly like something a Harvard Philosophy Major would say! Anyways, what have you been reading? I saw the huge book—I would call it a brick—that you were carrying on this trip.” “Oh, that’s Plato’s Republic. He talks about the ideal form of government and the philosopher king in the dialogue. And he also discusses the—” « 48 »


“Yeah yeah, I know he talks,” Jeremy interrupted. “Well, technically, Plato himself doesn’t talk in his dialogues. Socrates is the one who always asks questions and challenges other people.” “All right, let it be Socrates or whoever it is then. I mean, why in the world would I care about some dead dude’s conversation with some other dead dudes? I’m more interested in what you think. Do you believe in what Plato wrote? His ‘realm of forms’ and all that?” “I…” Words evaded Tim’s mouth as the irritating anxiety in him grew. He didn’t know the answer to that question. What does he even know at all, he wondered? What are those readings he has done day and night for? Is there such a thing as truth? Or is everything relative? All the confusion engulfed him and left him staring blankly at the trembling reflection of the moon on the surface of the water. “You see, I used to think about all those philosophical questions when I was in high school,” Jeremy said, “but after I got into college, I just realized that the world was too big for me to be thinking about those useless questions all day.” “Oh, really?” Tim said. “Well, why didn’t you become a tour guide or something like that so you’re always travelling and seeing the world? Instead, you just decided to be an engineer. I’m sure there’s a beautiful world behind those computer screens, huh?” A fierce wind suddenly carried all the mist away. For a brief second, Tim was staring right into Jeremy’s eyes. Deep down in those familiar eyes, Tim sensed an unfamiliar angst so intense that he could hardly breathe. Jeremy looked away. The wind stopped. “That was cold,” Jeremy said. “Yeah…” Tim replied. The steam was coming out of the water and surrounded them again; however, Tim still felt a lingering chill under his skin. “A tour guide…how much money could a tour guide make? I don’t care whether I get to see the world or not as long as I can make money,” Jeremy said. The milky mist completely covered Jeremy. Tim could hardly recognize that this was the same adventurous person he had been chasing all his life. That determined smile on Jeremy’s face when he left home for boarding school seemed to have dissolved into the mist. “You know,” Jeremy sighed, “I never wanted to go to grad school. But Mom and Dad were always worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a decent job with only a Bachelor’s degree, so I worked and worked, and…” “And here we are, on this skiing trip that you paid for with your bonus. You wanted to prove them wrong, didn’t you?” Tim asked. « 49 »


“Well…I guess so. I also just wanted to spend more time with you. We haven’t really talked to each other much since I started working,” Jeremy said. “Yeah, thanks for inviting me on this trip. I’m enjoying it a lot so far. It’s really nice to spend some time away from school.” Suddenly, it started to snow. “It tastes kind of sweet,” Jeremy said, sticking his tongue out to catch the falling snowflakes. “Try it.” Tim lifted his head and stuck his tongue out like Jeremy had. The bright moon gilded the snow with a glow. Small flakes of snow dropped into his eyes. Tim shut his eyes and felt the snow falling and melting on his tongue. It was a funny feeling, but certainly not sweet. How did Jeremy even taste sweetness in this? It’s essentially just small frozen water crystals… Tim wiped his face; Jeremy had thrown a snowball across the hot spring. “I got you good there!” Jeremy said, laughing. Unable to see because of the snow on his face, Tim kicked Jeremy. Jeremy defended himself with his feet as well, and it quickly turned into a bullfight in which both of them were pushing into each other with their feet. Suddenly, Jeremy slipped from his seat into the water. “Oh crap!” Tim exclaimed, and he reached for Jeremy’s hand to help him up. “You all right?” Tim asked. “I…” But he was interrupted by an intense urge to cough. “I’m fine.” Tim patted him on his back, and they both laughed. “The good old times, huh?” Jeremy said, sitting down beside Tim after calming down. “Yeah, you still remember the bathtub in mom and dad’s room when we were kids?” Tim asked. “Of course I do!” Jeremy’s lips curved upward, but the smile soon receded from his face. “I never did it again with you though, because I knew that I would always lose like I did just then.” “Well, you slipped.” “Yeah, but I just knew that I could not have won. In fact, I came to this realization a long time ago. There are always people in the world who are way smarter and stronger and better than me, even my own brother.” Jeremy gazed at his stomach, which was slightly swollen because of all the pizza and burgers and hot dogs and fries and chips and beer that he had stuffed into it while working late nights. “I could never get into Harvard.” “Well, Cornell is a great school, too…” “Even Cornell I don’t think I got into by myself !” Jeremy yelled. “I know that Dad was running around and trying to get that Economics professor to write me a recommendation letter. I was not interested in Economics. I did not know anything about it at all! I enrolled as an Economics major but « 50 »


switched out within a month. I wouldn’t have got into the school without that rec letter.” “That rec letter may or may not have helped, but you could get into Cornell, really, because your GPA was good enough. They wouldn’t have taken someone with a very low GPA regardless of how good that rec letter was,” Tim said. “Oh, yeah? Well my college counselor apparently did not think I was qualified enough for Cornell! He got really mad because I applied Early Decision to Cornell. He thought in no world could I get in.” “Ah, it’s just a college counselor thing. Plus, who cares what they said? I mean, you proved him wrong, didn’t you?” “Hah, sure I did!” Jeremy said bitterly. “You don’t understand, Tim, and you never will. You know why? Because you never have to prove anyone wrong! Nobody has ever needed to worry about you. I still remember that dinner when we were celebrating the Harvard offer you got, that proud smile on Mom’s face that seemed to be yelling ‘This is our son Tim!’ It has been scorching me ever since and keeping me working my butt off to catch up with you, but deep inside I know I never can. It’s just the sad reality that I’ve got to accept.” Tim opened his mouth, but no words came out. He didn’t know what to say. He didn’t even know to whom he was speaking. A bead of melted snow slid down Jeremy’s left cheek. “Sometimes I just wish I could be you,” Jeremy sighed. “You are like the moon, always high up in the sky, shining through the darkness, and I am this dim reflection.” Jeremy splashed forward and shattered the image of the moon on the surface of the water into tiny shards. “No matter how hard I try, I will always be this reflection of you that constantly wavers and causes worries about whether it will scatter at any moment. I am jealous, Tim. I am jealous.” Jeremy raised his head and extended his arms, reaching for the moon. After a few futile grasps, he slammed fiercely on the water. The water that splashed onto Tim’s face was so cold that Tim felt it almost burning. Jeremy stood up and turned his back to Tim. Tim was surprised to see that Jeremy’s back was rounded. He could still remember how straight it had been, even under his bulky baggage, ten years ago, when Jeremy left home for school. The weight did not slow his step one bit. “Hey, Jeremy,” Tim called, “straighten up.” “What?” “I said straighten up and sit down. I don’t want you to catch a cold. I still need you to teach me how to ski tomorrow,” Tim said. “Okay, fine.” Jeremy sat back down next to Tim. « 51 »


Two squirrels poked their heads out of their den in a tree. One of them looked around and dashed into the dark woods; the other quickly followed. “You may think I’ve got everything about my life figured out, ever since the beginning, but I really don’t,” Tim said. “Every day I am haunted by all sorts of ‘practical questions’ I have about my own future. Does what I study really have any use? Who could it help, if anyone? I’m not even sure if I will be able to get a job after I graduate.” “Yeah, it’d be embarrassing if you can’t get a job after graduating from Harvard, but you’ll be fine,” said Jeremy. “Everyone except myself is so sure that I will be fine; that’s what makes the future so scary.” Tim stared into the dark woods. “What if I don’t do fine? What would our parents think? What would you think? So many teachers of yours in high school have told me how proud you’ve always been of me. What if I fail all these people who have so much faith in me? Every day I show up to class in clean shirts, but only I know that piles of dirty laundry are taking up every inch of space in my room. My desk is such a mess that books and papers just randomly multiply or disappear. I got sidetracked by Sudoku when I was writing my mid-term paper and had to turn it in late right before break.” A lighthearted laugh disrupted Tim’s distressed voice when he mentioned Sudoku. “Whoa, I see you were secretly training to beat me in Sudoku on this trip,” Jeremy smiled. “Well, I’ll beat you in Sudoku whenever I want,” Tim said. “Seriously though, I sometimes feel that I can’t get myself together. Yet I always have to pretend that I know what I am doing. I just wish that this terrifying future would never come.” “I see what you are saying. Expectations. Seems like it has become a part of you already.” “It has become something I have to live with all my life. Even I myself have so many expectations.” Tim sighed. “The thought of the future just incapacitates me, but every time I shudder because of it, I think of that fearless smile on your face when you strode toward the airport terminal. When it came my time to leave home for school, I thought to myself that everything would be fine because I could always see and follow your straight back. But…” “But now that back is not so straight anymore, huh?” Jeremy tried straightening his back but went back to slouching after a few seconds. “Life eats us up, dude. Let’s talk about something happier than this. How’s your relationship with that girl been?” “We broke up last week.” Jeremy let loose a sneaky chuckle but then quickly straightened his face. “Well, that was awkward. Why?” “Well, this might sound pretty silly. Basically, I forgot her birthday.” “What? Well the fault’s on you, dude.” « 52 »


“Why would anyone want to celebrate birthdays though? That’s what I don’t understand. On birthdays, I always think of a new year for myself and the stuff I’ll have to do in the upcoming year. It just stresses me out, so I’d rather not think about it at all. Anyways, she was just a pretty stressful person, and I’ve got enough stress already, so it’s probably good for me that we broke up. The birthday thing was just the trigger.” “I see. I would definitely not want to date you, though, if I were a girl. You are just not a nice guy.” “I know. I’m not. What about you? Any update on your romantic life?” “Nah, I’ve got nothing.” Jeremy scratched his head and saw a few strands of hair on his hand. “Damn! I can’t go bald yet! Not before I get a girl!” “Hahaha, I see why you are not getting any girl,” Tim laughed out loud. “But seriously, what’s going on with you? You got a girlfriend as early as middle school! I still remember those little paper stars you were folding for her that you hid in your drawer.” “Hey, shut up!” Jeremy blushed and started splashing water onto Tim. Tim fought back and kept bringing up the embarrassing anecdotes he had heard about Jeremy’s precocious romantic relationships. After a little while, the two kids calmed down and acquiescently signed an armistice. “I don’t know. It’s like I forgot how to handle an intimate relationship.” Jeremy lifted his head in confusion. “Quite frankly, I have hardly made any friends since I left home. I’ve always had a feeling that being in any relationship just means having some more people to prove myself to, so I wouldn’t even try.” “Maybe it’s time for you to take some weight off your shoulders now. You can’t just be trapped in the past forever.” “Yeah, maybe I should. Maybe we both should.” Jeremy tapped Tim on his shoulder. Hope flickered in his eyes. “That’s right, especially given the fact that your forehead is growing exponentially larger and larger now. You should definitely try to get a girlfriend out of desperation,” Tim teased. Jeremy pushed Tim and laughed. “Damn it, Tim. I’m going back. Don’t cry for help when you are stuck on the piste tomorrow, because I’m not coming!” Jeremy stood up and stepped out of the hot spring as if the cold air was nothing. With his back straight, just as straight as it had been ten years ago, he walked into the light. Beaming with joy and hope, Tim quickly followed. On the surface of the hot spring, a moon rose, as bright and as still as ever. « 53 »


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[Opposite] Aidan Tydings (‘21) GREEN STAG Ink on Paper (9x9)

Ian Goldman (‘21) EVENING ON THE POND Oil on Canvas (11x14)

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A MEMORY; A WISH Zack Anderson (‘20) As a comet, I soar through the Milky Way, Diving into an earthly sea to fish; While two young souls on a dark, empty field lay, And from their tongues escapes a forbidden wish Heard only by the ears of a frozen gale, Perhaps better suited for a fairy tale. Stars of iridescent shade and hue Expel all clouds within their wake, Clearing the pair’s magnificent view, A future neither would forsake: A promise; a wish, for an impossible climb, Everlasting in splendor, outliving a lifetime. The two lie still, untouched by frigid wind, Struck by the light of a mid-autumn’s moon. Illuminating sound of heartbeats twinned, In sync and pure are each one’s tune. No winter breeze strikes unseemly harm When one finds warmth in the other one’s arms. And now and then, when time comes to pass, I’ll recall the stars which seldom sway, And how the earth grew old with emerald grass; On that dark, empty field two souls lay, Dreaming of life, happiness, and a veil, The kind found only in a fairy tale.

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[Back Cover] Benson Harlan LET’S WALK Oil on Canvas (11x14)

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Profile for Gilman School

Paragon 2020  

Paragon 2020