Dear reader, Winter is the cruelest term. The days end early and the cold air is biting. However, many students created literary and artistic work this term worth celebrating. It was a pleasure to read the Grotonian submissions for this issue. Many were exceptional but the ones we have selected stood out from the others. From a magicianâ€™s tale to a fatherâ€™s life lessons to crumpled photographs of faces, this issue indicates the range of creative talent at Groton. We hope you enjoy this winter issue of The Grotonian! Sincerely, The Grotonian Staff 2012-2013 Faculty Supervisor Editor in Chief John Capen Alice Stites Senior Editor Editors Thomas Cecil Daisy Collins George Wells Alexis Ciambotti Mitchell Zhang Derek Xiao Starling Irving
The Table of Contents Things My Father Tells Me When I Listen 4 Sinclaire Brooks Smoke and Mirrors 6 Samantha Crozier Towering Organ 9 Ode to the Early Morning Rain 10 Loulie Bunzel Hank 12 Nick Funnell You’ve Got a Lot of Time Before the Grouse Comes 14 Teddy Oglivie-Thompson Winter Print 20 Derek Xiao A Star Burns 21 Alice Stites Epicenter of the World’s Ongoing Quake 22 Baheya Malaty once 24 Olivia Thompson A Recreation of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World 26 Starling Irving and Reed Redman The Student 27 Hayes Cooper Crumpled Faces 28 Reed Redman Bi-Focal 29 Andrea Fisher Train of Thought 30 Rosalie Lovy An Old Man in Thought 31 Derek Xiao Back Cover art by Alexis Ciambotti
Things My Father Tells Me When I Listen Sometimes my father gives me advice And sometimes I listen, and when this happens it’s usually on the porch Or in the car And when I remember it usually goes something like thisNever date a girl with more problems than you Never lie Always know what you’re shooting at Read, read, and read more Nothing good happens after midnight Never play cards with a man named Doc Never shoot pool with a guy called Slick Don’t make a promise you can’t keep And for the love of god don’t play your banjo when I’m trying to sleep Don’t drive too fast down route 22 Be careful when you wake the dog up Don’t mend your line downstream unless you don’t like catching fish And never try to save money on sushi When I was eight or nine or whatever age it was when I could read Jack London and it was just a story about wolves, He promised me 20 dollars if I could memorize “If ” And I did it, and as far as I’m concerned it’s the first thing I’ve ever understood, He never gave me the money but I still know the poem by heart and I guess that’s really All he wanted.
Because now Iâ€™m eighteen and all there is to life is in those lines and sometimes If itâ€™s quiet enough I still hear them, floating around my stomach near some organ Whose name I forgot on a Biology test, but I still give way to hating sometimes And when Iâ€™m walking in the woods some mornings I swear there are more than sixty seconds in a minute and I hope I can keep listening
Smoke and Mirrors “How very strange this world can appear, blending and breaking, far and near: friendly, a little bit unclear how good.” -Rainier Maria Rilke, “The Idiot’s Song” (1902) The audience went silent as the darkness descended. The only light left in the theater came from a row of candles with swaying flames that were placed in a row lining the front of the stage. All of a sudden, without even the smallest gust of wind, each of the candles went out at once, as if each point of glowing fire danced its way out of existence. The audience sucked in a collective breath of surprise as the room was left in absolute obscurity—a thick, impenetrable darkness settled over the crowd and remained there, turning the air to shadows. A baby cried and a woman gasped. Then, just as quickly as the candles had been extinguished, an even brighter light filled the room. A spotlight on the stage shone down on a man with dark, curling hair whose countenance was printed in fading black ink on posters all over the city beneath words reading, “Come and see the Great Riccardo—the best magic act in the city!” Now, as he held his hands up to the sky, the crowd cheered wildly for him. The magician flashed the audience a glittering smile and took a small bow. When the applause died down, he gestured to the side of the stage and announced in a booming bass, “I’d like to introduce my lovely assistant, Lola!” Lola stepped out to join him in the spotlight. She had on a green dress and long, dark tresses of hair hung in curls down her back. When she danced to center of the stage, she smiled to the audience in a way that made each and every member of the crowd want to smile back at her. The sequins on her dress shone like fairy lights under the bright yellow lamp that illuminated the room. She looked as if she were made of glass—a young woman who was both fragile 6
and sparkling. The Great Riccardo continued with his show, all the while making the audience fall in love with the jokes he told, the smiles he flashed, and the way he seemed so delightedly surprised whenever one of his tricks worked. Lola stood in the background, holding his hat while he dealt with the dove that had magically flown out of it, shuffling his deck of cards, and fastening him into a strait jacket. Her biggest role in the show was when she would lie down on an old velvet couch and levitate high above the enthralled audience until the Great Riccardo waved his wand to gently bring her down. Tonight, when they performed this particular trick, it earned even more applause than usual. After tricks were turned, riddles were spoken, and the floor was covered in water after the magicianâ€™s previous act involving a massive aquarium, it was time for the grand finale. Two men dressed in black brought out a painting in a gold frame. The painting was of a house surrounded by glowing, fire-colored trees. It was these trees that inspired the Great Riccardoâ€™s final trick. He removed the painting from its frame and, with small silver lighter, he set it ablaze. The painting burned, the flames jumping and spreading until everything, even the magicians hands, were on fire. The flames were so strong, so large that they made a wooshing, sparking sound that could be heard throughout the entire theater. The Great Riccardo let it burn and held it in his hands until it no longer looked like he was holding a painting, just a massive, glowing ball of fire. Then the flames spread. They chased each other down his legs an up his torso. Fire covered every inch of him until he looked like a glowing, fiery beast from belowâ€”a burning silhouette of a person. And then, just like the candles, the fire went out in the blink of an eye and the room was left in total darkness. The audience waited in stunned silence, not quite believing that a man had set himself on fire in front of their eyes. And then, after a moment, the cheering started. **** 7
After the audience had cleared out, the only people left in the theater were the magician, his lovely assistant, and the crew who assisted The Great Riccardo with his tricks. The lovely assistant, whose name wasn’t really Lola, watched as the wires that were used to make the couch levitate were reeled back in, the rigged deck of cards was hidden in a locked drawer backstage, and the tub of anti-inflammatory chemicals that the magician doused himself with before his last trick was stored away. She also watched as the magician himself removed his black wig to reveal a head of graying, mouse brown hair and slipped out the back door without thanking his crew or even changing out of the dark magician’s outfit that he wore. She made her way through rows upon rows of dusty props that were no longer used anymore to a room labeled “Lola’s Dressing Room” with a painted star underneath the title that was chipping away. In the room, she wiped away her makeup, took off the glittering green dress, and put on other clothes, her clothes. She smiled when she looked into the mirror, but this time, there was no audience to smile back at her. When she left the little room, she left the green dress dangling from a silver hanger. It would stay there until another girl with a pretty face and dreams of being on stage would zip it up and glitter in the light of fake flames and blinding spotlights. As for the girl who used to be called Lola, she never came back to that little room. When she left the theater, it was already morning. The sun was peeking out from behind the wispy grey clouds and everything was golden. When she stepped into the sun, she did not sparkle, for she was no longer made of glass—instead, she was made of something harder, more real. Maybe it was only because everything looks more beautiful when it is hit with the very first rays of morning sunshine, but when she saw the city, with its gleaming buildings, ash-black roads, and little, rainbow wind-mills spinning languidly in the grass of the park across the street, she felt whole. Face turned toward the golden sunshine, the lovely assistant took her first steps away from the theater in search of real magic. 8
Ode to Early Morning Rain The glow bounces from bulb to bulb to wall. Dances across the room in the early morning dark. As cars pass from shimmering parties full of shouting and intoxication, the light drops begin to build. Higher and harder on windshields on soggy grasses on metal roofs on a young girlĂs hand, apprehensively sticking out the window of her heated room. She trudges back to a bed, Large, inviting, familiar. She squeezes her eyes tight and listens. She hears tires wade through large sums of the sweet rain, falling as softly as light snow yet as quickly as lightning. And there in the buzzing enigma of contradicting lamps and holiday lights strung high on the corners, she feels the beauty. As she opens her eyes and squints out the blur, she sees it as well. The comfort of warm and cool, of the immediate silence, and a hissing in the background. Not like a snake, but like rice spread about a hard surface from a tough bag. It lulls her to sleep, the sound, the 10
visions, the peace. Tranquility enfolds her body; her toes rub under the heavy blankets. She dreams of the early morning rain.
Eagle of the Pulpit
Hank Tacked up on the wooden shingles To the right of the kitchen door A picture of Henry in a chair on the terrace In his younger days which weren’t so long off. Wide-eyed and arms spread to the sky Mouth opened I’m sure he was laughing Either at his story or someone else’s. That picture never ceases to make me smile Will I still smile when I see it next? I suppose celebration is better than mourning But how am I supposed to keep that in check? This summer we’ll sit on the terrace as always But one light blue Adirondack chair will sit vacant Patiently waiting—Henry was often late. After anybody’s joke I will hear him laugh Or maybe I will just try to make myself hear him laugh And make pretend that he’s still here. On his brother’s boat I will not see the salty spray Collect in his beard that was beginning to gray. When I look out to the waves cresting off shore The white foam breakers will rumble a lonesome sound Wondering where their favorite bodysurfer might be found. When I look at my father this summer I will see his mind wander His eyes focused on some horizon where he and Henry lived Almost as brothers—certainly beyond cousins. I suppose we will all come together because of this But that won’t bring him back I hope up there he’ll find more students to teach Jerry Garcia and some good cocktails 12
Waves to ride and a boat to drive He’ll tell plenty of stories and hear many more And grace the angels with infectious laughter He’ll be just fine and I’ll act like I am too When I see that picture next to the kitchen door And break into a smile
You’ve Got A Lot of Time To Think Before The Grouse Comes In They stood in the gully, the brook wetting their feet, the old wise man, and the young boy. The young boy, who at the age of sixteen was the youngest in the line, stood clutching the shotgun, standing at the bottom of the line in a cloud of midges, swatting them away. He was positioned at the end of the line, where the fewest birds came over, as it was his first time shooting grouse. The old man, whose job it was to point out the birds as they came flying over and to load the gun, pulled some insect repellant out of the deep pockets of his shooting jacket. “Midges are the worst.” He exclaimed in a thick Scottish accent. He sprayed his hands and face, then rubbed the excess until it was all absorbed. He shook the bottle to offer it over to the boy, and gave a look as if to say ‘You’d be as stupid as you look if you didn’t use it’. “They sure are.” The boy said, extending his hand to grab the bottle, and apply it to his skin. It burned, and the boy saw it was a potent mixture. He took his overcoat and rubbed his eyes, trying to extricate as much of the concoction from them as possible. They looked up and down the glen at the beaters, whose job it was to push the birds toward the line. Beaters tend to walk very far, usually between three or four kilometers a drive, and through tough terrain, but the pace they set seemed to be quite fast. What made that observation more surprising was a combination of the facts: It was the last drive, the rain had been heavy all day accompanied by an impenetrable mist, and that one of the beaters had a birthday party the night before. In true Scottish fashion, everyone had drunk to the limits of human capacity, and was therefore extremely hung-over. Yet their white flags flapped wildly, easily visible against the backdrop of bright purple heather. The sun shone at that particular moment, and bathed the land in gold. In that momentary respite from the traditional driving rain, the 14
traditional driving rain, the land stood unrivaled in beauty, as the patchwork of old and new heather lined the hills, and the polychrome mosses that grew in the hillside bogs gave a variety to the varying shades of purple. After they had stood in silence for a while, looking at the coveys of grouse getting put to flight. Some escaped over the beaters’ heads, or out the side. But some flew toward the line, but they settled about sixty meters from the guns, getting down in the heather along the ridge of the gully. “Ay, it’ll be a wild finish. The barrels will be hot. Ay.” The old man said, pointing out where the grouse were. “Knowing my luck they’ll one by one fly slowly over my father, and politely die at his feet. Left and right, left and right, left and right…” The boys muttered, pointing the muzzle toward his dad, who stood next to him in the line. “Nay, don’t point your gun at things you don’t want to see dead.” The old man cautioned, pushing the gun back into a better place. He brushed the rain from his cap, revealing his mane of silver hair, which grew thick all around his head despite his age. The boy hesitated in his reply, and the old man frowned deeply, his countenance deepened by cavernous wrinkles accumulated through the years. “Don’t say that laddie. He may be your old man, and boys your age hate their dads, but he don’t deserve that.” He frowned even more, and shook his head. “I’ll never understand it. Fathers turn from heroes to embarrassments in a blink of an eye.” A snipe came over the ridge, and played along the edge of the boy’s zone of fire. It danced a merry jig in the air, as snipe are wont to do, and came over with great boldness. He tapped the boy’s shoulder and whispered, “That’s in range, ‘ave a crack at it.” The boy raised the gun and swung through the flight line of the bird. There was a puff of feathers, but it remained in the air. “It just banked. Snipe are good fun, even if you don’t hit them.” “It’s like they just drank a red bull and found out they had ADHD.” The boy joked. The old man managed a chuckle, and 15
patted him on the shoulder. They stood in silence for another long while, watching birds fly over his father and politely die fifteen feet behind him in a clearing. His father’s dogs obediently retrieved them as they fell, and brought them back across the brook and laid them at his feet. It looked too picturesque to be true. The boy growled in frustration, for no grouse had come over to him, and he had not shot well that day. He had kept missing behind the bird, which was a common mistake. Grouse are fast flyers, and they hug the contours of the hill, so they pick up speed and dive toward the line. Their flight line is unlike any other bird, and they are widely known as some of the toughest birds to stay out in front of. But it was little use to tell that to the boy, as oft as the old man tried. His father was just too good, but it exacerbated his faults in the mind of the boy. “It just takes more practice. Your dad’s had that time.” “He sure has. It’s what happens when you don’t work a day in your life.” The boy had grumbled. “What do you mean?” The old man had asked. “He lives off a trust my grandfather set up. He just shoots and fishes. Oh, and he goes to the Bahamas when warm weather takes his fancy.” The boy had said spitefully. He disdained the laziness of his father. He had always worked hard at everything he did, for he found any natural talent was hard to come by. “Ay, it seems to make you angry. Don’t squeeze the trigger, the safety catch may have been made on a Friday afternoon.” The boy began to chuckle, thinking about that situation. A man deciding to head out for a pint and leaving the safety mechanism shoddily made. He could see his dad doing that, and his laugh was quickly subdued. “Grouse!” The old man yelled, as one came hurtling through the line right past the boy. He picked it up as it came behind him, but missed under it as the bird rose on a thermal hiding just before the ridge on the other side of the gully. “Ah! They just obediently die-“ He didn’t finish the sentence. “Nay. They do no such thing. Your dad is just a good shot.” 16
The old man said, with more than a touch of admiration in his voice. The boy didn’t want to hear it, and shot at a pigeon flying far overhead. “That’s ambitious. There’s a lot of air around one of those wee tweedy birds, and it’s a ways up.” The boy didn’t respond, and the conversation chilled to silence. It picked back up again, when the voices of the beaters began to be heard by the line. They were faint, having dispersed across the hillside, and the howling wind, which had picked up in the last few minutes, carried them away from hearing. “You know what I like about driven shooting?” The old man said, a wiseness lingering in his voice. It seemed he was educating through questioning. “The fact that you’re good at it?” The boy responded cynically. “I’d want to see a gamekeeper and loader shoot. The grouse population would never recover.” He tried to not appear bitter in front of the old man, who he respected and admired greatly. His façade had not worked. “Nay. I like having that time to think. Some think about girls in that quiet. Ay, many do. Some think about how they’ll shoot, which is stupid. You just mount, swing, and fire. Nothing more.” He paused for a second and smiled. The crow’s feet made his smile all the more endearing. “I like to think about stuff, you know? Family, friends, life… It’s a good feeling to figure it out.” The boy nodded, and the old man continued. “But you, you think dark thoughts. Ay, you think about your father, and competing with him, and you talk so negative. It must be drawing from a poisoned well.” The boy subtly recoiled. He needed to defend himself, or justify his position. “He’s never worked-” The boy protested “And you hold that against him? You haven’t either boy…” The old man’s eyes wandered with his mind for a mere moment, as shots fired far along the line resounded through the glen. “He’s split from your mum and remarried. The new one I don’t think is cut out for this land. She’s more velvet, your mum’s very much cut from leather. Saying that, it must make it tough, because you’re in the middle of your dad, who has got a man’s pride, and a mother cut from sterner stuff, so it must be nasty. You’re the playing piece 17
in their game of revenge.” The boy cracked under the weight of the old man’s wisdom. His masquerade had been lifted, and his disguise had been foiled. He seemed naked in a way. He didn’t even raise his gun at the covey that flew just over his head. The old man didn’t expect him to, and knew that there would be more opportunities. The beaters were still a long way off, and they had slowed in the mist, as they didn’t want to break their near perfect line. “Yeah. It is…” His mumbled words seemed to squash together like drunkards in a pub. “You can stand here and say, ‘My father is this or that, and I hate him.” The old man said, nodding to himself as he dispensed such wise words, “Or you could become a better man. Negative emotions are like fire, lad, they can be fuel or the agent of destruction. It’s fire that heats a house on a cold night, and it’s fire that cooks your meat. But’s it’s also fire which burns the house down, and it too can ruin it.” He kept nodding to himself, pleased with himself for passing on such knowledge. The boy sighed, seeing a piece of the wisdom. But it seemed vacuous, wise words that are unrelated to anything except their own wisdom. The old man noticed this, saying “If you’re not putting two and two together you better go back to school.” “What the fuck do you mean?” The boy spat. He was trying to seem tough, but the phrase lacked the venom required of it to be more than merely a child trying to act grown up. “Don’t swear, don’t yell. It’s ungentlemanly. Your father, or grandfather, however way you see it, has invested in you more than that. Hell, your mum wouldn’t want you to use words like that either.” He was curt, and the boy shrank back. “Sorry sir.” The boy was being submissive. He dropped his head momentarily and cursed himself over and over. The beater’s yells and the flapping of their flags resumed gently. A bird or two came past, and the boy missed them in turn. His father shot them both down. “See, one day you’ll be like that.” The old man pointed out, dropping a cartridge into both of the barrels. “You waved at those birds. You looked like you stirred porridge there. 18
Next time just swing and fire.” The mist enclosed them like a blanket on a cold night. The boy looked at some birds coming in over the line, well out of his range. “I’ve binned it haven’t I?” He asked, his countenance contorting into one of shame. “There are always more birds my boy. You just need to keep the barrels up, and your sense alert. They’ll come. But you’re at the end of the line, so you have to take the smart birds. The center of the line gets the dumb jocks that want to outrun the pellets. You’re aiming at the ones who don’t want to see any at all.” He patted the boy on the shoulder and sighed. The boy took a couple of potshots at pigeons and snipes, taking a feather off here and there, but no lasting damage. A smile crept onto his previously sullen face. “It’s a lot of fun cracking at wee tweedy birds, isn’t it?” The old man chuckled. “Most definitely.” The boy couldn’t suppress his enjoyment. Suddenly, a covey of grouse sprang up from the mist, and began screaming down the line. The whole line was unable to take a bird out of flight, as they had picked up speed, and the mist made it very hard to judge their distance. The boy readied himself, and raised his gun. Before he could put it on his shoulder the old man tapped the stock. “Nay laddie. It is of no use to line up a shot you can’t take.” As he finished his vignette, the covey tucked into the gully, and picked up speed. The boy quickly raised his gun and fired. With each of his shots a bird fell from the sky like a fallen angel, flapping wildly as if their broken wings could bear them skyward. The boy opened the gun and an expression of sheer jubilation was slathered across his face. He turned quickly up the line, looking for a show of approval. He got a slap on the back and a grin for his inquisition. “You were the second person on the line to take two from two shots. Ay man.”
Winter Print by Derek Xiao
A Star Burns I was born with a burning star within my chest. Cradled in your arms you sheltered me away from the erupting nature of things. So there I remained. Then I fell into the recent past, You shook our home with reverberating recitationsThen home became a house Once I left to find a place in the sky Once I left Once. I served you a piece of my star. You swallowed Then spat it out into your hand. With that hand you gagged me. “Please smile, sweetheart. Be grateful for all you have.” With my hands tied behind my back, You bent me over, ‘Straighten up.” So there I remained. What we choose to say and how we say it can hide the broken star within our chests.
Epicenter of the Worldâ€™s Ongoing Quake The epicenter of the worldâ€™s ongoing quake Pulsating with the goods That jet, fly, zoom, criss-crossing for the sake Of public interest. The dust has settled now. For a while there it seemed it was gonna sit like the plague above our heads Forever. The people screamed curses and the headlines Blared with insults like a fire alarm. The screeching sounds frightened the children And they too began shouting, But their cries were silenced. One shot put out the fire alarms, Stopped the taxis honking furiously, And for once everyone shut the hell up. The path forward is murky with dust. Our only way through is to cough and sputter and choke.
A Forgotten Moment Remembered
We raced to the hotel’s courtyard, our bare feet brushing the sun-kissed stone bricks below us. The fountain was a pale rose color. The glistening liquid overflowed from its top basin, into the middle, and pooled in the largest one like a cascading waterfall. The bottom was littered with shining coins; wishes that had been wished long before. Sherwood and I played there, the water brushing past our fingertips working to soften the hot day. The liquid was blue, swirling, and welcoming. The spouts became poisonous rainstorms, while harmless gnats were fire breathing dragons. Sitting in the middle of the courtyard long after our legs became stiff, we were oblivious to the world around us. The few times I did glance up, my older brother had a smile that matched my own. Our fellow guests made dulled sounds as they wandered around the edges of our ocean. The aroma of spices from the hotel’s kitchen wafted in the air, while above us the blue sky lay empty as a blank sheet of paper. Our voyages were made around the stone fountain, the two of us laughing as the trickling liquid gurgled and splashed. The hours passed by with the heat strengthening its warm rays and eventually beating down on us. The taste of the dry air filled my mouth, yet cool water and adventure kept us lingering there. The twelve-year old reached down with tan hands and picked up a few of the many coins. “My treasure!” he said. Soon it was a competition as to who could get the most coins, or the shiniest ones, or the rust covered coins, or the little ones from foreign countries. Our little boats couldn’t hold all of our plunder. Mine sunk first, crowning Sherwood as the victor of our games. Our fun slowly winded down. It was time for something new, something more exciting, with our toy boats lying forgotten on the ground. And so we both grew older, leaving for the next adventure, our childhood forgotten. 23
once once she wrote some words on a piece of paper with a pen (with her hand) a yellow piece of paper with blue lines and red ink (primary) and she collected all the dirty fragments of her life (what life) and twisted them into scrawling stupid letters and set them down one by one hoping they wouldn’t break (fragile, this side up) and then when they didn’t she found she wished they had. and so she took the twisted pieces and found a little bottle (child-proof cap, push down and twist) and shoved them all inside. but she could hear them crying from inside the bottle louder and louder until she feared someone else might hear them too. and so she took the little crumpled bits (pipe-cleaner cursive, dot your i’s) and she stuck them in the bathtub and turned the faucet for hot water and watched her smoky letters curl circling round the drain and still their screaming silence would not stop. and so she took her battered twisted withered crumpled little splinters and she found a box of matches and when the funeral pyre was stacked she burned the bones (goodbye my little paper cranes) and she watched the ashes twisting up up up into the air 24
and behind the broken static she heard them singing and behind the broken static she found she did not know the song.
Hand by Yanni Cho
Starling Irving and Reed Redman’s Christina’s World
The Student Ninety-degree clean-cut corners don’t prevent Amorphous masses from being. A conjugation, gridded in impregnably, shan’t tame All your slippery spaghetti meanings. Corinthian columns, however upright, never have straightened A spine. (unless one fell, and flattened you) Inundations of perfect squares, mounds of identical white rectangles, one rigid ruler Instruct and obstruct, Just as if Socrates were to be a hypocrite, And your Master met death improperly, Having responded “Good” to “How are you?” (imagine how awful, please) Despite the golden mind, the student still will learn. Refining and refining a stubborn ruddy ore. Luckily, while liquefied and polished, this crucible cannot infuse gold, And impurities it finds are not discarded. Rather: An effervescent alloy swirls and grows, And something more than lovely shows. (this is the end all seek)
Crumpled Faces by Reed Redman
Bi-Focal Within this sleek sleeping beast, A purr begins. Is it the waking of emotion, The empathy and hate that rule our lives? No, those are only The stained glass windows Everyone peers out of To percieve the world. The purr is, without having To be interpreted, The furnace inside each one, Un-self aware and determined. As the raw power of Being alive purrs and stirs, So our beasts living in us Purr us onward.
Train of Thought I crack my knuckles, roll my neck, shake my shoulders, wiggle my ear and then sit, perfectly still, for just a moment. My hands freeze from their usual frenzy of activity, curved perfectly over the keys. My brain buzzes, full of snippets of prose, of colons and commas, and of beautiful, musical words, all of them tumbling together, feeding off each other, destroying each other like a vast literary solar system forever keeping itself in balance. As phrases collide and new ideas fall like luminous meteors to my hands, my whole being springs into action like a well-oiled, if slightly haphazard, machine. My fingers fly across the keyboard in their own crazy typing patterns not taught by any credible tying school, I compulsively gnaw at my lower lip and tremble, almost rocking, to the beat of a strange typing tango, a prosaic polka, a fictional foxtrot. I string ideas together in my mind at top speed, transferring them immediately onto the page to make room for the next piece of the puzzle in my ever-cluttered mind. As ideas run out, the beat slackens. I grow angry with myself, with my words, and the music crescendos as I pound mercilessly on the helpless keys. The pace quickens again as I easily flow through my thoughts, finally slowing to a triumphant, stately march as I conclude the piece. I skim over the fresh words quickly, but if anything, be it poor word choice or a comma splice, is not to my liking â€“ the whole paper is gone in a burst of uncontainable anger, leaving nothing but a painfully white, heart wrenchingly blank page and an eternally flashing cursor that beckons me, tantalizes me, seduces me into trying to prove that I can best it. But even as my words shoot across page after page, paper after paper, the cursor remains the untouchable last barrier, the final frontier, mocking my futile attempts at catching it. My words are the only remnants of this battle, the only reminders of the hot frustration that, once all-consuming, now fades into distant memory as the smooth sentences slide of my fingertips, ending the struggle for the time being. Finally as my hands begin to ache and the room starts to spin into a hectic blur around me, I stop, crack my knuckles, roll my neck, shake my shoulders, wiggle my ear, and rise fluidly form my seat, relaxed and ready for the assignment my day has in store.
An Old Man In Thought by Derek Xiao
Grotonian, Winter 2013