The "Home" Issue 1.1

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St. Thomas More College’s literary magazine since 1995

The “Home” Issue

Vol. 26, No. 1.1 December 2021

in medias res is a student-led literary magazine at St. Thomas More College that aims to publish content to reflect the identities of the campus community, its complexities and diversities. Our mission is to be a forum for community expression that showcases the high-quality work of artists in the University of Saskatchewan community. Our title describes the experience of university life, in which we are always caught “in the middle of things.” What are you thinking about? What worries you? What moves you? We want to hear the artistic voices that make up our community and help put their work out into the world.

EDITORIAL BOARD Editor-in-Chief Hannah Tran Fiction Editor Annie Liu Nonfiction Editor Olivia Kerslake Poetry Editor Douglas Barclay Visual Art Editor Aeydan Yee

Our office is located in room 158 of St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. We acknowledge that we are on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another. As part of their mission statement, St. Thomas More College says that “the work of our college is not an end in itself, but must find application for the good of humanity.” We ask all readers to consider how they benefit from settler institutions such as the university and how they can apply their learning not towards maintaining the status quo but instead towards change and meaningful reconciliation.

Associate Editor Jenna Roesch Brand Manager Kyungsoo Ryu Visual Art Team Breena Hebron Namya Jain Staff Advisor Linda Huard

Illustrations by Breena Hebron Namya Jain Olivia Kerslake

Cover Art | wildflowers and living skies by Olivia Kerslake Oil on illustration board 20 x 16.5 cm

Visit us online at Visit us on social media @inmediasresstm Contact us at

The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the in medias res editorial board. Individual copyrights belong to the contributors.

Dear readers,


This fall, we asked contributors: What does home mean to you? As we navigate our educations on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis, questions of home become important as we learn to respectfully situate ourselves and understand the positionalities we occupy. In the pages ahead, members of our university campus — undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and alumni — explore these positionalities. The fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art in this issue certainly demonstrate the diversity of these positions. Amongst the myriad of voices, backgrounds and places coming from our campus, two distinct themes emerged that lent themselves to two distinct issues: “Home 1.1” and “Home 1.2.” In issue 1.1, our contributors engage the idea of home as family, lovers, houses, travel, searching and connections to the land both here and far away. The intimacy constructed in these pages shows home as a comfort, or, as one piece astutely puts: “Home is where the heart is.” These interpretations remind us of the importance of our homes, asking us to hold dear to our hearts our own. In issue 1.2, contributors engage with the woes of constructing a home. Themes of colonialism, longing, diaspora, racism, struggle and a lack of roots haunt these pages, juxtaposing the comforting intimacy of 1.1. These interpretations of home remind us of the relationship between home and resilience, recalling that these contributors are, as one piece states, “still here” despite the adversities they have faced. No matter where our writers and artists find their homes, we are immensely grateful for their contributions to in medias res and appreciate their willingness to share their vulnerabilities. I am thrilled to write that this issue of in medias res also marks a new horizon for the magazine. After receiving a record-breaking number of submissions of incredibly quality, we decided to publish our first-ever double issue — I urge you to read both for a holistic experience of home and its endless possibilities. I am immensely excited for in medias res to continue growing and cannot wait to continue using this platform to elevate the incredible voices and talents at this university. As we move into thriving as an online publication, I want to thank some important figures — Without the hardworking members of our editorial board, talented contributors, those who have helped advertise our magazine, St. Thomas More College, and you, dear reader, in medias res would not be possible. I hope you can find a little piece of home in the pages to come. Hannah Tran Editor-in-Chief | 2021-2022


Fiction Of No Fixed Address...................................................................................................................................8-10 by Cathy Berg Hiraeth’s Door............................................................................................................................................21-28 by Vivian Truong

Nonfiction The Characters of My Living Room...........................................................................................................2-3 by Kaitlyn Clark frog songs....................................................................................................................................................15-17 by Chloë Adriana

Poetry to be loved / to be warmed.............................................................................................................................1 by Gabriella Fourie Home is Where the Heart Is .......................................................................................................................5-6 by Shreya Marya She......................................................................................................................................................................12 by Delaynie Palmer You Are My Home..........................................................................................................................................13 by Tia Hendricks Keys, Please................................................................................................................................................18-19 by Walker Pityn

Visual Art Wildflowers and Living Skies..................................................................................................................Cover by Olivia Kerslake Riverbank............................................................................................................................................................4 by MEERAH Let’s Fly!..............................................................................................................................................................7 by Kas Rea Cradle................................................................................................................................................................11 by Alina Sami Connected by Our Roots ..............................................................................................................................14 by Keitha McClocklin on the south saskatchewan..............................................................................................................................20 by Olivia Kerslake In Awe of Our Home: Mother Earth...........................................................................................................29 by Breanne Bevelander

To learn more about the featured authors and artists, hear their thoughts on their pieces and learn where to find them online, check out their bios at the end of this issue.



to be loved / to be warmed BY GABRIELLA FOURIE

This October, I wake up in the arms of the autumn sun. The taste of last night’s wine lingers in my mouth, but fades with the taste of this morning’s coffee. Bruised and illuminated, I belong to the morning light. The weather cools, and summer’s hunger is satiated. I am home again; I am held.

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The Characters of My Living Room BY KAITLYN CLARK Sunshine floods through sliding doors, gently waking the characters of my living room. The once dreaded, still disliked, brown shag carpet becomes warmer. Critical Coffee Table knows my name. Rickety, unstable yet standing — ten dollars second-hand. Decorated in bobby pins and mismatched elastics, she ritualistically supports an unfinished cup of cold coffee come afternoon, and the red residue of a finished wine glass come morning. Victorian Recliner: royal blue, specks of golden yellow, majestic and thriving on curved chestnut legs, while Grey Sofa embraces the mundane. Marvelling in my throne, I gaze upon practical, polyester, plain, pleasureless Grey Sofa and think, “I need to find blue and yellow cushions.” Viv the ponytail palm. Her green, wispy curls hang freely while she sunbathes in soil. Short for Vivacious, with water and sunshine she remains full of life — even when I am not. Windowsill dwellers: intricate, colourless Coral; iridescent, opal grooves carved in a spiralling Sundial; neutral pinks and blues blending 2 | “Home”

in spiked Sea Snail Sanctuary. Burgundy painted Conch is out of place. He sits on my brown shag carpet I once dreaded, but now tolerate. Last week, I strategically placed him on top of a pesky maple bug. Autumn prairie trapped in coastal summer. Poetry devoted to you. They sit neatly on the once dreaded, now accepted brown shag carpet. Jeevan Bhagwat’s The Weight of Dreams wonders, “What does it all mean!?” Sennah Yee’s How Do I Look? emphasizes how relationships between women and pop culture media are unfair! Heidi Garnett’s Blood Orange thinks about memory, identity and their connections to what the other characters and I consider to be “home.” Middle-aged Guitar bonds with bright Costa Rican Maracas in the dim cardboard box. Their pent-up energy begs for an athome concert. Each waiting patiently, they are confident that their beautiful sounds will put smiles on beautiful faces, even if the musician lacks talent. These Books are the Pretenders. All


unread, they fake it ’til they make it while sitting pretty in shade under sticky notes screaming for more titles and authors; Catherine the Great scolds me, Arturo Bandini tells me to take it easy.


place on the shelf below my TV stand where they sit beside Polaroid Camera and empty photo albums. Jar of collected rocks and beads, a place where Bracelets go to die, support Ostenso’s Wild Geese on one end of a leaning line. At the other end, Jar of world-travelling seashells support Garland’s The Beach in feeding my post-travel depression. Picture Stand holds unexplored business cards. Agenda cringes at the procrastination. I keep Abalone Shell close to my desk; said to stimulate creativity and inspiration, they are my favourite character. World Map: depicting the Soviet Union before its landslide of new countries seeking independence, he came from inside the National Geographic magazine read during my father’s childhood. Framed in gold trim by my granny, World Map floats on an invisible pedestal above Grey Sofa; he watches over the rest of us with our best interests in mind.

The Velveteen Blankets: a selection of patterns in the rainbow made from grandma’s yarn climb one by one up the rungs of papa’s handcrafted ladder. With my love, Blankets get what they wished for. These Books, the Real Companions, earn their

Scatterbrained Notebooks, Textbooks, Pens, Highlighters: they overwhelm Desk, Chair, Sofa, Recliner and spread like a pandemic across brown shag carpet I once dreaded, yet now adore. These are the characters of my living room, the stories of who I’ve become.

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Riverbank by MEERAH Acrylic on paper ground, photograph overlayed 45.5 x 61 cm

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Home is Where the Heart Is BY SHREYA MARYA Home is where the heart is. That’s the kind of cliché saying you would expect to see hanging up in the kitchen of a suburban mom’s home. But what does it really mean? For me, my heart is split into three pieces, scattered across the globe. One piece lies in England, the home I’ve always known. Born and raised under a constant sky of grey, where people do nothing but drink tea and complain of the rain. It’s terrible, and I miss it terribly. That piece belongs to my family, who wait there for me patiently. It belongs to my friends, who watch my exchange year online with awe and pride. It belongs to the memory of my younger self, a girl waiting for the day she could escape into something more.

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Another piece is buried in India, deep in the ancestral roots of my past. Those who came before me carry it to remind me of the beauty of my heritage. The importance of a culture that will always be a part of me, even when I am so far apart from it. The final piece came to Canada, on a hazy August night. It was the piece owed to that little girl and her fantasy of another land to call home; A land where no one knew her, where she could learn to know herself. Here, I have made a new home, surrounded by new people to call my own, new traditions to fulfill, new places to fall in love with. I may only be here temporarily, but that piece of my heart has embedded itself deep within the ground, settling into what has now become home.

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Let’s Fly! by Kas Rea Watercolour on paper 20.5 x 20.5 cm Let’s Fly! was originally published as a cover page for a children’s book, in which Rea created the illustrations, while her mother Kathie Cram wrote the story. For Rea, Saskatoon has always been home, and it felt right to work on this collaboration. “Home” | 7



Of No Fixed Address BY CATHY BERG

Vibrant orange and red fire shards waved defiantly through the broken glass of the upper bedroom window frames. Charcoal gray and black-as-soot clouds of smoke escaped from the roof of the house as water gushing from fire hoses feebly attempted to limit the damage. Hosing down adjacent houses, the firefighters were hoping to save the homes of Shelby’s neighbours. She stood transfixed, ambivalent to her surroundings as if she was watching a movie scene play out in front of her and so, “this can’t be happening to me,” she thought. But it was. It took over two hours to extinguish the fire and

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soak stubborn glowing embers before the hoses were coiled back up and shine-in-the-dark yellow emergency tape cordoned off her property. Her home for the past 21 years had become a charred, monochromatic sculpture with leftover shapes jutting out this way and that. If only the rubble would resurrect itself into the earrings from her sister two birthdays ago, or the hand-painted teapot from that trip to England, or the vintage armchair inherited from her grandparents. Gone. All gone. It’s strange how objects are memories in solid form. “At least I didn’t have a pet,” she murmured.


Emergency services paid for three nights in a budget, cookie-cutter hotel, but after that she was on her own. In exchange for DIY housekeeping and scant laundry services, Shelby negotiated a monthly rate with the manager and booked the room for two months. Her first purchases post-fire were cleaning products, a toilet brush, toilet paper, a carpet sweeper, underwear, three t-shirts, one pair of jeans, a pack of socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste. To keep the low rent, she offered to buy her own shampoo and soap. No hotel freebies for her. All her possessions now fit into the new overnight bag including the carpet sweeper with its collapsible handle. She bought groceries too, squeezing perishables into the bar fridge and placing the rest in the empty dresser drawers masquerading as kitchen cupboards. Shelby had never filed an insurance claim, so she was unsure if the meeting would be favourable. The adjuster was clearly a seasoned professional going through his robotic form-filling motions. His fingers skittered across the keyboard until his left arm reached sideways to grab the printed copy at the exact moment the final page emerged, while his right hand reached for the stapler. He slid the stapled fourpage document across his desk to Shelby and smiled as he asked her to sign here, pointing to the horizontal line at the bottom of the page. She did. That was easy. She gave Mr. Robot a smile back and asked when she could expect her money. She would pick it up as she was currently of no fixed address. Mr. Robot stated her


claim could go either way pending the outcome of the fire department incident report, with the standard wait time between 90 to 120 days. “We have to rule out arson,” he added, glancing in Shelby’s direction, handing her his business card. Stretched out on the hotel two-seater sofa, feet dangling over the wooden armrest, Shelby stared at the ceiling wondering what to do next. What if they didn’t pay? What if she missed some hard-to-read print disqualifying her policy? With her low-paying job in retail, it would take years before she could cobble together enough for another down payment. She would have to sell her scarred-earth property to cover the cost of debris removal. Then what? Without the payout, she was reluctant to commit to a rental lease and start buying another lamp, another chair, some curtains and all those other items that make a home your home. Her hotel room would have to do for now, although it was living in limbo. A tourist in her own city. As the first month drifted into the second, Shelby became accustomed to the creaks and groans of the room, the on-and-off purr of the bar fridge, the totter of the housekeeping cart wheels as they rolled by her door, and the traffic outside her window. She knew the names of the staff on her floor. Jocelyn and Karen worked weekdays and Nicole and Rita worked weekends. Shelby waved goodbye to Ted or Susan at the front desk on her way to work and hello to Donna or Carl at the front desk when she returned. She was settling into hotel life. With her weekly cleaning schedule, Shelby began

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to think of Room 237 as her own. The unfamiliar was becoming familiar. She paid for a third month. Ten weeks from the date of her claim, Mr. Robot called and asked her to swing by his office. She perched on the edge of the chair, too anxious to lean back and relax. He explained that the incident report stated faulty wiring as the probable cause due to the age of her house, but the cause would remain officially undetermined. The investigation took note of her biennial house inspections, and she reassured the investigators that she made repairs as necessary by handing them the inspector’s sign-off. In this case, the owner was not held responsible, nor was there a hint of arson. Mr. Robot handed her an envelope. The insurance would pay in full, and cover debris removal and the cost of her hotel stay and expenses. Shelby looked at Mr. Robot and remembered. Jeff. His name was Jeff. “Thank you,” she said. What Shelby did with the insurance money and the sale of her property might seem illogical to most, but not to all. She bought a camper van. An older model in excellent condition with new tires, lower-than-expected mileage, and priced right. The white exterior sported a lively slate blue zigzag on the back doors and part way around the sides. It was her tiny home on wheels. She spruced the interior up with bright blue and yellow throw pillows and matching yellow curtains with a pattern of miniature teapots (a lucky find). She stocked up on road maps and, of course, paid her insurance in full. After she quit her job, Shelby felt released. Officially, her 10 | “Home”


destination was also undetermined. She would just start driving across the country and perhaps arrive at an endpoint. As Shelby drove through the city, she glanced to her right and decided to make a spur-of-the-moment purchase. She pulled into the small parking lot around back, grabbed her new purse and walked in. Ninety minutes later, she walked out of the animal shelter with three harder-to-adopt older dogs, Boots, Jesper and Boris. The four of them would be of no fixed address and this suited her fine. A home can be anything, anywhere, with anyone. It’s contentment spurred on by a sense of belonging and well-being.



Cradle by Alina Sami Oil on paper 28 x 18 cm

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She carried me for nine months. She has carried me these twenty years since. She has held me through scraped knees and nightmares and a broken heart. She has laughed with me. She has wept for and because of me. She has always been and still is there. She is my safety, my security, my sanctuary. She is my home.

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home is with you with or without a roof home is where we eat and walk and cuddle and talk and dream and shop home is the person I miss when I have gone astray when I get bored of my place and run far far away when I plan for a year or so and then regret my decision only two months in home is where I am calm and under stood, where fatigue sadness anxiety can’t take me away, so I always come back I always come back home where my routine is set where my comfort lies where all my love is mom: don’t you know? you are my home

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Connected by Our Roots by Keitha McClocklin Drypoint with mixed media drawing, painting, collage and relief block 56.5 x 75.5 cm Connected by Our Roots is a drypoint intaglio print with additional mixed media including charcoal, paint, collage and linocut relief block applied by hand. This piece was conceived while considering what makes a place a home — or is home more than a place? How do geography, culture, technology, gender, age and other factors influence one’s sense of belonging? What links are visible vs. invisible? Connected by Our Roots explores factors that tie and hinder connections between human beings.

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i. Smoke billows in the rear-view mirror, mighty and undulating. The first forest fire of the year, the comfortable disaster we’re starting to know too well. Power was out for a couple of days at the resort; toilets were plugged mercilessly and rooms were freezing in the middle of May. I am driving back to Saskatoon, away from where I’m working up north this summer. Away from a place I am hesitant to call home, towards a place I no longer feel is home. My bedroom in my mom’s house feels cold and alien, like I’m walking into a stranger’s room. I steal a couple items of clothing and throw them in my car, thinking hopefully of when and where I’ll get to wear them. Bringing my cute little going-out clothes to wear in the middle of the forest, doesn’t that seem funny? Up north, you’re so isolated from big city living that walking into a Walmart has you meek and suspicious like a kitten. It wasn’t home but it was home. The trees embraced me like a welcome friend. I felt safe and hidden up there, for a time. ii. This was a place where anyone would offer you a ride if they saw you walking up the dirt road away from the accommodations. At first this shocked me, this outright kind gesture mak-

ing me uncomfortable. It took a leap of faith for me to finally accept a ride from the initially mean-looking but joke-cracking fatherly maintenance guy. Just the other day, I was rushing to the bus stop on my street and a truck sped by me; I thought instinctually that whoever it was should just offer me a ride. I hope I find that again. iii. Imagine this: the thick green denseness of the forest all around you, deep inky sky filling the rest of your vision as far as you can tilt your head back. Your body feels like lead and your head fills up with the mixed spices of mosquito spray, weed and the pine euphoria of the night. You’re sitting on a deck on cheap patio furniture with people you know nothing about and have little in common with, the only similarity the approximate price of your body to work. I got paid $15.75 per hour, a little bit more than my male coworkers—because I was a girl, I’d reassure them. Good for morale. Some coworkers and I stood one night chatting under the tangy fluorescent lights of the unkempt communal kitchen. They told me they couldn’t talk to me about their spirituality right then and there because they weren’t sober and it wouldn’t be right. I remember thinking I wish I “Home” | 15

NONFICTION had anything that I respected that much. iv. I felt most at home in what we called our shipping containers; my hole, my little worker’s accommodations, where if I stood in the middle, I could touch both walls on either side with the points of my fingers. The best part was the view: a sweetly accidental lookout onto a grassy field that had a mass of trees lining it. The highway was on the other side, a couple metres out, which you couldn’t tell just by looking at it. It was like an unintentional snapshot of beauty that you could only find up there if you looked hard enough. It always surprised me how ugly that place could be even when it was surrounded by nature. v. The first night I spent there, just two months shy of a bitter and dramatic break-up, my loneliness in the world was emphasized in the most piercing, chilling way. It wasn’t the same type of loneliness I’d felt before when living in a new city or moving back into my mom’s house; it was a different kind of gnawing emptiness, a kind that drove me to read the Bible on my phone for the first time out of desperation. You feel your loneliness much sharper in the middle of the forest, because your body knows you have no one around. vi. I wake up for my six a.m. shift at the crack of dawn, the world already bright and eager with the summer sun. Like every morning, I instinctually push up from my pillow, nearly 16 | “Home”

ADRIANA hallucinating with exhaustion, and peer out the window directly above my head. In the thick of my fatigue, I am hoping to catch sight of a deer lazing through the meadow, slender and unbothered, munching on grass; to be suspended in that moment of awe and beauty, and to forget everything for a while. One time, when I happened to look at the right minute, I saw a coyote trotting suspiciously across the meadow, head swivelling side to side until he disappeared. vii. My secret favourite thing I liked to do up there was visit a bog near the entrance to the resort. It was fenced by a ring of tall, assorted trees that stamped a circle in the sky, and where the sun dipped down early into dusk. The highway just beyond rumbled faintly when the odd car sped by, but it still felt majestically peaceful. There I set up a lone patio chair stolen from the worker’s accommodations, where it stood plastic and proud amidst the landscape. I’d wander down to it, sit and read in the spring air before a shift, my rubber boots dipping in the water in front of me. I watched the seasons turn from brown spring with its nipping air to lush, green summer, bugs aplenty and vicious. I liked going there because there were frogs, tons of frogs; they had their city in the water and held council at all hours of the day. I heard them, but I never once spotted one. They would hear me crunching towards them from the bush and would all shush themselves as I approached. I would squat in absolute silence at the foot of the bog, both of us waiting for the other to speak. Eventually, one frog would brave the si-



lence and pipe up first, questioning his friends in a lone call. Then their conversation would take up again and I would sit stock-still, mesmerized at the chance to witness their cacophonous discussion; either because they forgot I was there, or had decided to ignore me and carry on about their business. As June and July carried on, I visited the spot less and less. The last time I was there I was surprised that the grass had grown so tall that you couldn’t see the water anymore; you could have walked right into it if you didn’t know. And the frogs were done croaking.

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Keys, Please BY WALKER PITYN A court – house that likes to spread its seed, covering green spaces and gavel talk. An entrance with a portico so stately that justice seems to live between the columns. Spoiled in rich mahogany, even without varnish that door would shine in my neighbourhood. I never knew such a home. Something similar but more green, less talk. As a twenty-something-year-old, it’s gotten worse / better. The apartment has folds, layers from being stuffed with people, inflated, silence balloons. No foyer for formalities, my space shares, but the door is better chained and locked. A box of thin drywall that everybody hears and nobody talks. I’ve unpacked many times in my short life. Motion sickness takes a toll on the stomach and head. The more I unpack, the less room I have to fill. A knocker made of copper or a knocker made of brass, the sound inside is the same.

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But the more feet that walk through, the more my woven welcome mat frays. I used to think home was a place. But now I’m certain it’s a feeling. Not justice, not space, just something familiar I’m trying to find.

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on the south saskatchewan by Olivia Kerslake Oil on canvas 25.5 x 20 cm

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To my Dearest Wanderer, I pray that this letter finds you in the finest of days when the sky is high and it is warm. Or when water falls from above, pitter-pattering upon your window as you allow your mind to wander. I hope this finds you when you are in need of something dire — a laugh, perhaps? Or maybe something as simple as a smile. Or even something as complex and new as a story. I hope this letter provides you that much. After all, is that not the purpose of letters? A reminder that someone is thinking about you, that they took the time in order to write out a letter for something that will be seen by your eyes only. I would like to formally apologize, as I have already lied. This is not a letter only for you. It is made to be seen by many and none at the same time. It is also not a letter, but a story; one that I have been yearning to tell for quite some time, Dear Wanderer. It is for you: you who feels lost: you who feels swept away by the tides of an ever-changing world: you who feels far too small in a world that seems far too large: you who feels as if the world is slowly draining and corrupting your every being: and most importantly, you who is in need of a reminder. This letter is for the souls that are lost, wanderers who have gone throughout the lands to find that one place, only to wander again, driven

by the need to run, to experience, and to learn. I will admit, I have fallen to that need far too many times to count. But I do hope that I have engineered it correctly to only appear for those lost souls who will be given a very important decision to make. As I begin, please take a seat and make yourself comfortable, as this story is intended for that exact purpose. And as so, I will tell it that way, as if it were a nighttime story told to a child. Warm and dramatic and full to the brim with comfort and nostalgia. An experience that brings the most beautiful smile to your face, as you are struck with the joy that only a child is able to experience, free of worry and obligations. That feeling is precisely what this story is about. The story of a door — a simple door — one that looks like it could fit in any home. A door that was not quite there before. A door that leads to home. No, not a home found within a landmark or within a coordinate. But a home that is created specifically for you. Whether it be a field of flora you used to play in when you were young or a melody to an old folk song that you cannot quite recall the words of, something in life screams home. And if you have not found it yet, do not worry, Dear Wanderer. You have time. Home awaits. Even if you do not re“Home” | 21

FICTION member it, it is there. And that is precisely where Hiraeth’s Door lies. From the outside, it is merely a door. It may appear to be painted white, but as you examine it further, you may see the dents from where you had accidentally damaged it. Or it may still be covered in residue from where you attempted to paint the night sky and failed, only to find that even after countless hours of scrubbing there would still be streaks of colour left over. Perhaps the door is the dark mahogany wood of your father’s study. Or maybe there is no door at all, simply a pane of glass, a black string connected to it so it can be opened. Hiraeth’s door is like any other ordinary door from the outside. The exterior is a memory, but what is hidden behind that door makes all the difference. But before I am able to tell you what is behind Hiraeth’s Door, I must first tell you the story of Hiraeth, a Wanderer just as much as you are; a lost soul attempting to find any semblance of home in any of the lands. I had met Hiraeth so very long ago, a millennia or so back, but for some strange reason it all feels so very recent, almost as if it were merely a dream. However, no matter how well I am able to recall them and their journeys, I have found myself unable to recall their face. I know that they had long hair, but I could not tell you what colour it was, nor the texture. I remember their mouth had always been twisted into a grin, but I could never explain the shape of their lips. However, there are aspects I remember. They wore a set of thick goggles, obstructing half their face — whether their goggles had 22 | “Home”

TRUONG been used for safety or fashion purposes, I will never know — but it was a reoccurrence. Even in the dark tavern where I had first met them, a place where I had taken a job to waste away a few years before the urge to run returned and I would move on to another land. Light was always dim in the tavern, as the busiest hours were night, and the only light that was provided was the small amount of moonlight that trickled through the windows and a giant hearth built into the wall that kept blazing year-round. Hiraeth had been the one who had kept me working in that tavern for far longer than I had intended. They were extraordinary; an attentive listener, a charismatic speaker, always grinning as they called for a pint of ale and whatever stew we had that night. Someone who could make anyone leave with a smile. They were one of those people you could listen to for hours on end just to hear what they had to say, no matter if they were reciting their last adventure or telling a story from their childhood. But what truly struck me, what intrigued me, was their presence. There was always something new to admire about them, but most of all, I admired that whenever they frequented the tavern, they would pick someone. Somehow, this storyteller had the ability to glance into a room of drunks and strangers and pick out the one that seemed the most lost, and provide them with a brief moment of home. I will admit, I did not know their name until their fifth visit, when they had taken a seat next to an older woman and made sure she left

FICTION with a smile. Usually they would have left with a quick wave. But that day, they had made their way to the bar, taking a seat right in front of where I had been drying glasses, asking for a top up in the quietest voice I had ever heard from them. And in my shock, I found a simple word slipping between my lips, a question. One that had been festering in the back of my mind, stealing away my hours of sleep as it begged to be answered. “Why?” The universal question. One that generations have contemplated and challenged, searching for an answer to ‘why this?’ or ‘why that?’ But my question was far more specific than that, a question only they could answer. Why did they go out of their way to find these people, to spend their time and energy to speak to them, to listen? Why did they do so much for a total stranger? Why did they take the time to provide them with so much when it would fade as the night died, and be gone when they woke up the next morning? They looked up from their ale, grin absent from their face as they shrugged, offhandedly stating,“Someone has to.” I then turned away to attend to another patron who had dranken far too much, and when I had returned to the bar they were gone. In place of the storyteller, there was an empty pint glass, along with a few gold coins that were enough to cover both their’s and the woman’s bill with quite a bit left over. As I walked to the back of the kitchen, I finally noticed the cold that had settled into the tavern, which was strange, since as far as I could recall, it had been

TRUONG a warm night. I looked over to the hearth, and suddenly realized the fire was blazing less than before, as if the fire was mourning the loss of someone who held the sun in their every step. And in a way I found a small part of myself mourning as well. My eyes widened as I picked up the gold coins, realizing that the storyteller had left something else, a small slip of paper that had read: When lost souls find those just as lost as they are, being able to provide even the smallest reminder of home is a greater gift than life itself. Signed, Hiraeth. They had provided no last name, no title, nothing I could use to find them. But I remember being confused by the writing, as it was written in sigils from a language I did not know. And yet I could read it perfectly. But that was a short-lived thought as I closed up the tavern for the night, retiring to my own quarters. The next time I saw them was months later, and at that point, I had read the note so many times that the sigils had engrained themselves into my mind. And I still could not find a single language that fit the sigils or even the meaning of their words. When they had first walked in, I had not recognized them. Hiraeth’s grin had fallen, their mouth pressed into a thin line as their goggles had been pushed up onto their forehead revealing their eyes, strange and unnerving in some ways, yet weirdly comforting; wisps of thick, “Home” | 23

FICTION white mist leaking out like tears. Their long hair had been cropped shorter than I had ever seen it, falling unevenly around their ears. Hiraeth had not looked around for a lost soul, instead they walked over and sat down in front of me as they had all those months ago, asking for their usual order like they always had. I of course complied, but it was silent now. As if even the fire held its breath. I remember them attempting to smile when I had given them their order, but only a slight grimace was achieved. Hiraeth had sat there, but there was no trace of a story anywhere in sight. I had seen many things from my years in the tavern but seeing Hiraeth silent and alone was not one of them. It felt wrong almost, like they were not truly there. Then they spoke, voice soft and almost melodic, as gentle as a mother’s hum. And I had almost collapsed to my knees in relief. They had spoken like a storyteller, voice growing stronger with each word as they told me of all their adventures as if the one they were comforting was me. And suddenly as they approached the end of one story before beginning another, two frightening realizations dawned on me: I was the lost soul they had chosen to comfort for the night, and they had no plans to ever return to the tavern. The night began to die as they continued to tell story after story. I had closed up long before they had reached halfway through their second story, not having the heart to interrupt or stop their storytelling. And so, I pulled up a chair from behind the bar and listened as they spoke portraits of places I could not believe. 24 | “Home”

TRUONG They told of a forest, far away where foxes and wolves would hunt trolls and goblins alongside hares and deer. Where there had been small patches of unbothered flora that could place you under a sleep you would never awake from. They spoke of small beauties, of a colony of small people who had built their lives in a mushroom patch, weaving tapestries and nets out of spider silk. They told stories of giants, monstrous creatures who were the kindest people you could ever meet.

They told a story of an amazing library, where there had been books piled from floor to ceiling, packed to the brim with ancient knowl-

FICTION edge, and they had spoken of a man. One who had been alone, who had dedicated his life in order to protect the knowledge stored in those pages. As I listened to story after story, I felt warm, almost as if I belonged there. And I suddenly understood how all those people felt when they had left with a smile far wider than the frowns and worried faces they walked into the tavern with. Slowly, an unfamiliar feeling erupted within me, because at that particular moment nothing in me wanted more than to stay and listen. The warmth slowly overtook my desire to leave, my innate reaction of curiosity. Their voice quelled the parts of me that had wanted nothing more than to run away, to search for a place that would never exist, a place that I could stay and call home. But in that dimly lit tavern, the hearth burning brighter than ever, I stayed and listened. I listened, and when they had finished telling their stories, I told my own. We talked until smiles were bright on both our faces and the sun had begun to peek through the large window of the tavern. And when I had just completed my final story, my voice hoarse from overuse, they began to stand, digging around their satchel, to which I had waved off stating that it was on the house. Hiraeth had looked surprised, and then they said the final words they would ever say in that tavern: “Thank you for a moment of home.” And with a smile, they left, leaving behind two empty glasses that I had refilled far too many times to count. I guess there was a small part of me at

TRUONG the time that wanted to be selfish, that wanted to chase after them and listen to them tell their stories over again and again until their adventures were ingrained into my consciousness, to feel that warmth all over again. But I knew that would not have changed anything. They needed to go to a place where they would be needed as both a Wanderer and a storyteller. It was centuries later when I experienced Hiraeth’s Door. The tavern had been long destroyed, only to be rebuilt as a factory. And I was long gone, venturing and discovering new lands, and new people. As time passed, I slowly forgot about the lonely storyteller, whose presence made me want to stay. I forgot about them, busy with the pressures of daily life, of adventures that I had yet to see. As time went on and the world changed, I began to feel out of place, overwhelmed by the constant rotation of the world. I had decided to go outside on that day, unwilling to cave in and give way to the hollow feeling that had begun to dig away inside me. And as I pulled on my coat, I noticed it — a door. An ordinary door, of course, dark brown and plain, matching the other ones in the house I had chosen to reside in. It was a tad dusty, but it was a door nonetheless. However, that was not the most peculiar part of it. The most peculiar part was the dawning realization that it had not been there before. Of course, I had panicked as any other sane person would to a random door appearing that had not been there before. I spent what felt like hours staring and examining the door, debating on whether to open it, attempting to “Home” | 25

FICTION find a solution that was not there. My brain ran theory after theory of what could lie behind the door, each becoming far more terrifying than the last; a room of snakes, a hallway that led to nowhere, a trap that could keep me locked away for a millennium until my mind had long gone astray. Eventually my curiosity won over my self-preservation, and I opened the door to a sight that had never once flickered across my mind. I almost collapsed with relief and awe at the sight before me. The dark brown wood of tables, a bar with bottles and barrels stacked high behind it, a blazing hearth and a glow that made me remember the moon. Stepping into the tavern felt like stepping into a dream, as I was unsure if it was real. I walked into the room on shaky legs as I examined the room. It was the same as I had left it all those years ago, a mere month after the disappearance of Hiraeth, having no reason to stay as I held the knowledge that they would never return. The fire was blazing brighter than it ever had when I had worked there and the windows showed that it was dark outside. As I stared out the window, I saw the dark outline of rooftops of that small town that had been turned into a series of factories. But as I looked around the room, I felt my breathing stop as a figure stood behind the bar, drying a wet glass. It was Hiraeth, their hair once again long, but this time there were no goggles anywhere on their person. Their eyes were bright, a thick fog seeping out, fading as quickly as it had | “Home” 26 | 26 “Home”

TRUONG appeared. They had greeted me with the same grin they had adorned before as they called me over, pulling a chair over behind the bar and filling two dry glasses with what I presumed was ale. I walked over with shaky legs, taking a seat in front of where they had placed the glasses down before taking a sip of the one in front of me. It was ale, tasting the same as the one I had served them centuries prior, and I almost began to weep into my cup. But I did not, as I watched them take a seat, listening as they began to speak, as they began to tell a story. They told me about the door, about a dream they had wanted to fulfill ever since they had told their first story. They told me of a door that would only appear to those who had lost their way, the ones who strayed so far that they had lost the place they would be able to call home, or those who had never found it in the first place. A door that would be a small pocket dimension of home. I felt tears begin to trickle down my cheeks, but I was too enamoured in their story to even care. They continued nonetheless, telling me of the space we were in, about the knowledge they had to obtain in order to develop a place like it. They told me of how they had traded a story of a cruel king for knowledge on pocket dimensions and time manipulation. How they had traded a story of an old man for knowledge of shifting magic. They eventually told me the story of how they had traded their mortal eyes for ones that could see one thing that a person calls home. They told me of how they had built the

FICTION room, how they had dedicated themselves to the craft, linking the room to their eyes, and therefore, as long as they saw a need for home, the room would thrive and the eyes would never expire. They told the story of how they had been given immortality as a gift from a King long forgotten, back when life had been as abundant as air, and death had been seen as an honour. They spoke of how the room ran a different timeline than the one outside its doors, allowing as much time they would need in order to remind the guest of the feeling of home before they left, allowing Hiraeth to find another lost soul to guide. They told of the place that would provide something as simple as a home through stories and would listen if you wanted to tell the story yourself. Hiraeth had engineered the room to show the place where the guest would feel the most at home and it had worked. Hiraeth had said it so excitedly that I could not help myself but to be as excited as they were. They told me about their first guest, and all the guests that they had since. A rooftop overlooking a city where the buildings had touched the sky and windows covered every wall. A warm library with an old couch and two steaming cups of tea on the table in front of it. A dark alleyway covered from ground to sky in graffiti. They told me of place after place where people had once called home, libraries and forests, places that were physical and those of fiction. But then their voice took a slightly melancholic tone as they explained the souls who would make the room blank, with an object in

TRUONG the centre, or those who would just have a blank room. For the lost souls who had never felt home, and how for some strange reason, they always came back here, to my tavern. Hiraeth told of the first time it had happened, when the room had been blank, how they had panicked fearing that the mechanism had failed. But as quickly as it had gone blank, it transformed into the tavern, a consolation to Hiraeth as much as it was to the guest. They then told the story of the one part of the room that was imperfect, the one flaw of Hiraeth’s Door. It would only appear once in a lifetime for anyone, no matter if they decided to open the door. It would wait for as long aS it stayed in your mind, but after you stopped thinking about it, it would vanish, searching for another lost soul. And with that, I resigned myself to the fact that this would be my final chat with Hiraeth. I sat patiently, listening like there was all the time in the world, though there was not, and eventually I needed to take my leave. So, I smiled at them, standing on protesting legs as Hiraeth grinned back, raising their glass for one final toast, and I said one last line, the same one they had said so long ago: “Thank you for a moment of home.” They nodded sadly, as I turned and walked to the door, feeling the grooves of the old door handle under my palm as I turned and pushed the door open, walking out without even glancing back. And I stood there, hearing the door click shut as tracks of tears streamed down my face. I forced myself to stand outside “Home” | 27

FICTION of the door without turning around until I knew it was gone. I then whipped around to see the blank wall and collapsed to the ground. And for the first time in far too long, I truly cried, alone, knees curled to my chest as I sobbed. Whether it was out of relief or sadness I still can not tell, but interpret it how you will, Dear Wanderer. Thus, there is my story, and it will always be the same story. Now you may wonder why I had not stayed in the warmth of that pocket dimension of Hiraeth’s for eternity, conversing with an Old Friend. Dear Wanderer, it is because that is not the true purpose of Hiraeth’s Door. The true purpose of Hiraeth’s Door is to provide a reminder — a temporary feeling of home to give the guest motivation to find and pursue their own form of home. I, of course, have accepted that I will never find mine again, but alas, that is the life of an immortal. But whether you find home in a place, person or thing, Hiraeth’s Door is designed to give you a nudge in the right direction, not to provide a destination. It is now your choice whether to open that door and step into Hiraeth’s domain, to listen to billions upon billions of stories that they could tell, to feel a reminder of what it feels to be home, to listen to their stories, or to even tell your own. But I do have one request if you do decide to open their door and a reminder. Home is not just a place. We find home in people as well, sounds so soft and mellow that they can only be registered as a voice, and the comfort we find in the warmth of others. Immortality is as much a gift as it is a curse, and “Home” 28 28| |“Home”

TRUONG we live through life and place after place never stopping, never faltering. And in a strange way, I believe I became as much Hiraeth’s home as they became mine. From one Wanderer to another, please, if you do end up entering Hiraeth’s Door, when you are at your lowest, when the sky is not quite as high and the warmth is far too cold to be considered warmth, I request that you say hello to them for me. Do not fret on names, as they will know who it is when you tell them. Because, after all, every lost soul deserves a reminder that they have a home. Sincerely yours, The Wanderer



In Awe of Our Home: Mother Earth by Breanne Bevelander Photograph 3456 x 4608 px My dog Sox, my coworkers, my partner, and I set off on a hike on a smoky morning in August. We were surrounded by beautiful mountains and vibrant pink fireweed. We reached the crystal-clear lake, and my dog was enthralled with fish swimming near the surface. We took a side trail and were lucky enough to find a colony of marmots with a few ground squirrels and pikas sprinkled in. It was all so serene and brought me peace. Experiencing nature with my dog, my friends, and my love showed me that home is truly where your heart is.

“Home” | 29


“to be loved / to be warmed” Gabriella Fourie is a fourth-year history honours student who is interested in the history of media, national mythologies, gender and sexuality. She was born in South Africa but moved to Canada in 2007 and has been living in Saskatoon ever since. Through this poem, she hopes to invoke in readers the experience of warmth and belonging through the utilization of light and autumnal nostalgia. “The Characters of My Living Room” Kaitlyn Clark (she/her) is a sister, youth worker, student, and nature-enthusiast-wino aspiring to be a writer. After years of travelling and uncertainty, she enjoys being a third-year USask student majoring in English and minoring in French. “The Characters of My Living Room” is her first ever publication and was inspired by the literal act of sitting in her recently moved-into living room as a Saskatoon newbie and wondering what the heck to write about. Upon looking around, she reflected on where she’s been and how she got here. It wasn’t long before the stories came to life. Riverbank MEERAH is a second-year student at USask pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Interactive Systems Design. Riverbank examines her solace when out in nature with the South Saskatchewan River as the background. MEERAH currently serves as the Branding Director for YHYSaskatchewan and sits on the Board of Directors at PAVED Arts. She is also the President of USask’s Visual Arts Students’ Union. Her Instagram is @meerah_official. “Home is Where the Heart Is” Shreya Marya is an exchange student from the University of Liverpool in the U.K. She has studied two years of law over there, but is enrolled in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan, where she is studying in a variety of classes, such as English, drama, history. Writing has always been a good outlet for articulating her thoughts and emotions, which is exactly what she was doing in her poem when considering where in the world feels like home to her. Let’s Fly Saskatchewan artist Kas Rea (she/her/hers) has been involved in the visual arts for over 12 years. Rea works with a variety of materials including chalk pastels, coloured pencils, graphite, acrylics, watercolours, oils, photography, and face/body painting. Currently, Rea is enrolled in her fourth year at the University of Saskatchewan pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with Honours in Studio Art. The inspiration for Let’s Fly! was the beautiful riverbank that flows through Saskatoon. Rea wanted to capture the natural and architectural beauty of this city, which is why she chose an aerial view. | Website: | Instagram: @kasreavisualarts “Of No Fixed Address” Cathy Berg is a part-time clerical assistant for the non-profit art publication The Structurist and a USask staff member. She has a BFA (Alberta) in graphic design and a BFA (ECIAD) in visual arts. Cathy worked for many years as a graphic designer in Vancouver before relocating to Saskatoon. After living in three provinces, three cities and a potpourri of apartments, she reflects on the definition of home in her piece “Of No Fixed Address.” Does that sense of home stay with you as you shift environments? Cradle Alina Sami (she/her) is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Pharmacology. She is also the Senior Editor of the Natural Sciences section of the University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal, an open-access and peer-reviewed journal that features original research and artwork by USask students. Her painting, Cradle, explores the inextricable ties between home and identity. Cradle is inspired by her ancestral roots and nostalgia for her childhood home.

“She” Delaynie Palmer is an undergraduate student at the University of Saskatchewan pursuing a degree in English. She is also an associate editor at the University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal. Her poem “She” aims to capture the comfort Delaynie has found and continues to find in her mother’s love. However, she hopes the reader may be inspired to contemplate whom they find a home in. “You Are My Home” Tia Hendricks is a third-year undergrad honours English student at USask who has always had a passion for creating. She is motivated greatly by her mom as she is the most hard-working person Tia knows, and she actively tries to motivate others around her in return. Tia spends her time reading, writing or knitting when she is not working, and loves finding inspiration in her daily life for future stories. “Keys, Please” Walker Pityn is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Saskatchewan, where he writes poetry and realistic fiction. He is also a contributing editor at ARC Poetry magazine and a content editor for ReForest London — a non-profit organization with a mission to enhance environmental health in London, Ontario. Originally from London, Walker moved to Saskatoon for his master’s degree in summer 2021. His Instagram is @walkerpityn. Connected by Our Roots Keitha McClocklin (she/her) is a fourth-year USask student pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours). Keitha works in a range of disciplines including printmaking, painting and drawing — often weaving techniques from one discipline to another. Her work is characterized by the use of layers, multiple media, colour and a playful mixture of simultaneously rendering form and flattening pictorial space with collage and pattern. Keitha’s techniques and subject matter — fluidly moving between representational and abstract — give her work its unique contemporary feel. You can find more of Keitha’s art on her Instagram account “frog songs” Chloë Adriana (she/her) is in her final-ish semester at USask as an undergrad in Arts and Science with a major in French, planning to do God knows what after; but hopefully something in the field of therapy. She really wanted to write a piece for this issue and wasn’t sure where the theme would take her, but reflections upon nature and running away from home are what she knows best. The poet, Mary Oliver, is her inspiration always. wildflowers and living skies; skies on the south saskatchewan Olivia Kerslake (she/her) is a fourth-year student at USask pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics. She is currently the Nonfiction Editor at in medias res and enjoys creating art in her spare time. Olivia has always enjoyed painting nature scenes and has found inspiration from Saskatchewan’s landscapes many times. on the south saskatchewan and wildflowers and living skies are renditions of the beauty that Olivia has seen all her life while growing up in the prairies; for her, these are the moments at which she feels most at home. “Hiraeth’s Door” Vivian Truong is currently an undergraduate student at USask. Vivian has been writing and reading since a child, as it provided a place for calm within the chaos of life. Her piece “Hiraeth’s Door” was written as a love letter to those who do not know where they are going nor how to return to where they once were, and was inspired by the concept of losing yourself in an ever changing world as you follow the footsteps of others while slowly forgetting your own, and in a way, forgetting is where home is. In Awe of Our Home: Mother Earth Breanne Bevelander (she/her or they/them) is a settler living on Treaty 6 Territory. She is a fourth-year double honours student in Biology and French. Over the summer, she had the opportunity to research Columbian ground squirrels in Sheep River Provincial Park, Kananaskis, Alberta. This opportunity helped her reconnect with nature after a year of being largely strapped to her laptop at home during the pandemic. The experience made her realize that home is where your heart is, and her heart is anywhere she can experience nature, especially when she can do so with her dog Sox.

Cover Art | wildflowers and living skies by Olivia Kerslake Oil on illustration board 20 x 16.5 cm

in medias res is a student-led literary magazine at St. Thomas More College that aims to publish content to reflect the identities of the campus community, its complexities and diversities. Our mission is to be a forum for community expression that showcases the high-quality work of artists in the University of Saskatchewan community. The work of 15 writers and artists is included in this anthology, part one of double issue of “Home” that explores the kindness of home. These pages contain fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art from the University of Saskatchewan community — undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and alumni — that exhibit home as family, lovers, houses, travel and connections to land both here and far away. Find us at


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