pendulum the literary and arts magazine of Phillips Exeter Academy
sketch by Karl Hahn ‘15
New series • Volume 16 • Spring 2014
“For the moment, at least, I was free.” –Edgar Allan Poe
We would like to thank the donors who made possible this publication.
Pendulum Faculty Advisor William E. Perdomo Editors-in-Chief Brian Gao ‘14 Catherine Zhu ‘15
Layout Manager David Gindra ‘14 Art Editors Carissa Chen ‘17 Millie Dunstan ‘15 Emily Zhu ‘15 Writing Editors Michael Baldyga ‘15 June Han ‘15 Katie Ying ‘15 Anne Zhang ‘15
Dear Reader, Pendulum has been publishing in one form or another since 1886, and has served the Exeter community as an outlet for artistic expression. This year, we aimed to feature a wide range of voices and visions from the community, with an eye towards the often unknown works of upperclassmen. In Pendulum this year, you will find a comedy play featuring an uniquely European sense of humor, a series of linked poems illuminating the intergenerational Jewish experience in America, a portfolio displaying soulful photographic portraits of people in India, and a short story illustrating the pain of having a loved one endure cancer treatment. We hope that within these pages there is something that will speak to all of our readers. We are indebted to our kind donors for their continued and generous support. We would like to give a special thank-you to Ms. Erica Plouffe Lazure for judging again our second annual Hemingway Flash Fiction Contest. We would like to thank Mr. William E. Perdomo for his guidance as our new adviser, our hardworking Editorial Board for their efforts this year, and in particular, our tenacious Layout Manager David Gindra for his tireless efforts in perfecting the look and style of this issue. And lastly, we are thankful for the support of the artistic community here at Exeter for providing us with a wealth of talent from which to draw. As Editors-in-Chief, we are extremely proud of this magazine, and it was a truly inspiring experience to have led its creation this past year. Sincerely, Brian Gao â€™14 & Catherine Zhu â€˜15, Editors-in-Chief
Contents Hemingway Flash Fiction:
First Place: Nicky Don ‘15 Second Place: Lily George ‘14 Thrid Place: Laura Zawarski ‘14 Honorable Mention: Mickey Chao ‘14
Grace Song ‘14 – Poetry Davis Leonard ‘14 – Poetry Karl Hahn ‘15 – Play Catherine Zhu ‘15 – Poetry Amanda Zhou ‘15 – Poetry Stefan Kohli ‘14 – Photography Mirella Gruesser-Smith ‘14 – Poetry Ann Zhang ‘15 – Poetry Emily Moore ‘14 –Painting Sabrina Ortega-Riek ‘15 – Poetry Anika Ayyar ‘14 –Prose Alice Ju ‘14 – Prose Katie McCarthy ‘14 – Photography Eunice Cho ‘14 – Poetry Kaci Kus ‘14 – Painting Will Li ‘15 – Prose Jameel Mohammad ‘13 – Fashion Nicky Don ‘15 – Poetry Emily Zhu ‘15 – Drawing June Han ‘15 – Prose Sohil Patel ‘14 – Photography Kieran Minor ‘14 – Play Carissa Chen ‘17 – Drawing Cover Photo by Eric Kwon ‘14
7 9 11 13
15 17 19 26 27 28 32 33 34 37 39 41 42 44 47 48 54 56 62 64 66 68 76
Hemingway Prize v First Place
Hemingway Prizes: Flash Fiction
sketch by Karl Hahn ‘15
“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” – Ernest Hemingway
Tradition No, it has to simmer first! Two more hours, at least, Debbie drilled on the telephone to one of her two college-aged sons. Then you need to skim off the fat. Yes, two more hours. Well, you should have started earlier then. She hung up the phone. What would you like for lunch? she asked tiredly to her daughter, her youngest child. The girl checked the fridge, settling on a vacuum packed container of Tofurkey soy slices and yellow mustard. They worked as a team; Debbie sliced some challah bread while the girl separated each slimy slice of flavored soy derivative— her mother wouldn’t touch the stuff directly. When the girl was only nine, she had declared that she would never eat meat again. Her parents had acquiesced, called it a ‘phase,’ but seven years later they would never say “okay” so easily again. Debbie spread the mustard, reluctantly dropped in the Tofurkey, and threw in a surprise slice of muenster cheese. Her daughter wasn’t vegan, yet. Why can’t the boys ever listen? Debbie muttered to the air. She turned towards her daughter. I mean—a brisket, a good beef brisket, she clarified, takes at least two days. It should flake away on your fork. The fat should tenderize it, but too much is too much, you know? Little tricks like that, they’re what make the recipe ours and not something ripped off of Cooking.com. Her daughter nodded, not really listening. Why should she? She was never going to eat it. She bit into the challah tofu sandwich. The girl’s great-grandmother probably turned over in her grave right then, a piece of challah denigrated like that. Back when dresses were still sewn in New York City, a challah was something to take pride in. Her great-grandmother would cover her creation in pristine cloth. If she were a Christian, she might’ve called it dressing the challah in its ‘Sunday Best.’ I’m making matzo ball soup for dinner. I can do another batch with water, no chicken stock involved. That sound good? 7v
Hemingway Prize v First Place
Nicky Don ‘15
Hemingway Prize v First Place
Debbie asked. Her daughter opened her mouth to speak, just as the telephone trilled. Hello? Did it work? Good. No, don’t put bacon shavings on it. It’s fine as is. You know, I’m really glad you two are eating together. Tell your lazy brother to stop ordering in so often. Once, he listed my cell accidentally. I get some guy asking me at midnight ‘I’m sorry, we’re out of skim milk for your cookies. Will two percent work?’ I wasn’t sure who to kill, your brother or the delivery guy, but they were too far away. Lucky for them, huh? Debbie hung up and smiled to the phone. It wasn’t often that her sons called this often in a month, let alone in a single day. She placed the challah back into its plastic bag, twisted its metal band shut. Debbie’s mother had never taught her how to bake, but the local grocery made a decent loaf.
Embers The light reflecting off of Uncle’s old windowsill began to melt from yellow to purple, so Kaixuan tied the matches together with twine and started for the village square. The other contestants were already there, having spent the better part of the day preparing. Their arrangements were long, laid on the ground like paper-and-gunpowder serpents, organized so that one shot would light the next. It was humid--for safety, they timed the competition so the banana grove next to the square would be at it’s wettest. Kaixuan thought of Uncle buried in the thicket beneath the yellow star-shaped peels. Kaixuan took his place on the far corner of the square and packed the fireworks together in a round shape, their heads dutifully upright like sunflowers, their bases planted firmly on the ground by the fuses, their roots. Night fell and the competition began. Kaixuan stood back with the audience, silently watching the other contestants’ work. Uncle would have considered them worthy opponents. An orchestra of booms and pows played as golden willow trees and red chrysanthemums bloomed above the audience, illuminating them like fleeting chandeliers until the sparks blinked out and warm ashes landed on their shoulders. Uncle had shown Kaixuan how to make one firework light the next by stringing their fuses together. This was, in Uncle’s opinion, the best and most elegant way to put on a show--to demonstrate the passage of time and the development of events. He told stories through explosions, with clauses of light and dark punctuated by bangs and sulfurous ellipses. The light from a firework shines brightly but momentarily, so he filled the black void left by one explosion with the pop and color of the next. One bright moment ended, another one began; time moved along cotton strings dusted with gunpowder. Kaixuan was last. He lit the cotton fuse from a few feet away--a little longer than usual. He wanted silence and suspense. The flame scurried along the cotton string, leaving a black tail 9v
Hemingway Prize v Second Place
Lily George ‘14
Hemingway Prize v Second Place
behind it, until it finally hit the base and ignited what Kaixuan had made. The sparks were short at first and pleased the eyes of the audience, as if Kaixuan had made for them a small fountain of light for the square. But soon they grew in power and shot up higher until the audience could not see where the column of light ended in the now-midnight sky. Sparks fell on the banana grove, leaving luminescent raindrops to slide off the banana leaves. The base of the arrangement trembled, rumbling a hiss of power. Everything was happening all at once. Yes, Uncle had said it was best to tell a story as one thing after another. Stories with a beginning and an end. But if everything happens at once, then nothing has to end. To create eternity--therein lied real power. Kaixuan did not wait for the announcement of the winners. Little embers smoldered in the grove behind him as he made his way back to Uncleâ€™s now-empty storehouse.
Notes of David Rosenhan: Case 21, titled by patient as “From Inexistent.” Why can’t I talk about madeleines? Maybe Proust got there first, but he lived just as I live, or has lived just as I was living two seconds ago. Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo? Epicurus, Faulkner, Sartre—why bother. I’m going to die today. Dostoevsky lived, went on to suffer then write something new. Is it in me to live? Meursault lived even though he died—Camus did. Is he alive? Non cogito, sum? She has them in her hand. I’m going to die soon. I suppose I could call out to her—babydoll, babydoll. I’d rather say twelve, forty. She is theist, I the –est as far as she goes. Then why will I die today? Kierkegaard doesn’t like twelve, forty. But he loves twelve, forty: the numbers of his ideas are also of his enemies. He had some good ideas. If she listened, I might live. Meursault lives on the page. Is he alive? Babydoll has got crowd fever. At twenty she tried to die and get back, back, back to me. I wonder what Humbert would’ve said to that. She is my Dolly. Will I die today? They placed them to rattle in her hand. She used to smile within my arms. She does not smile within their arms. Babydoll has got fever from the crowd. I want to talk of madeleines. But if I talk of madeleines, who will remember? It will be as if I had never talked of madeleines, so why talk of madeleines? Proust talked of madeleines. He will be the only one to ever talk of madeleines. Dostoevsky had to live to be remembered. What if I don’t live? They rattle in her hand. Once she tried to die and get back, back, back to me—before she was my Babydoll. The crowd took her back to them. Can I die today? Twelve, forty. They rattle to her palm. Have I been bastard? My Babydoll is marionette. Or was she marionette to me? I wish she would call 11 v
Hemingway Prize v Thrid Place
Laura Zawarski ‘14
Hemingway Prize v Third Place
to me—daddy, daddy. Is she finally through? Dostoevsky had to suffer to be remembered. Do I not suffer? My Dolly is taken from my arms to sanity. Can I not be eternal? Will she make me eternal? Only Proust will have talked of madeleines. If I have never talked of madeleines, and cannot talk of madeleines, and will not talk of madeleines even if I talk of madeleines—non fui, fui, non sum. Non sum. It stings to our throat. I see a pen, I see a page. I will not die today. I will never die today. I will not be, but I am for eternity. Babydoll’s hand has blessed me. I have seen the page. Twelve, forty. Take me, valley of the dolls. I bear my neck to you. Non fui. Sum.
Love I am in the music building at night. The practice rooms are so small. Each can only fit an upright piano, a bench, and a chair. Sitting in those spaces brings me close to the instruments. I return to my favorite room in an alcove in the back of the music building. It is shielded from the gaze of the nosy passerby. It is the quietest room. I enjoy its serene atmosphere. Sitting alone, I play my Chopin nocturne, and my mind wanders. v
Often, I was sad. I did not choose to be sad though. Rather, I truly had no choice. I could not control other people. That one night, I went to my practice room. The light was on, but I never turned it on. There was that boy inside, and there was that girl. They were on the piano bench, giggling. For them, it was such a lovely evening being together. They seemed quite happy. I backed into the hallway so they wouldn’t notice me. The spaciousness in the hallway felt strangely awkward. I desired to be elsewhere. The lights radiated, too bright, too hot. I felt as if I were too close to the sun. I did not want to stay there. Laughter exploded from the room. The shockwave sent me reeling back. It blew me away – far, far away from my favorite place. A soft, happy sigh pierced the air. My ears could endure no longer. I could not bear to feel it, to know they had taken my room, to know they were happy, to know I was sad.
My finger lets go of the key. My foot relaxes, loosening the pedal. Then, there is the final E, a soft echo, like a rose in an icy stream, drifting, flowing away, to be forgotten. But it’s forever in my heart. I hold on to the E for eternity. The E will always be with me. I wonder, if I could simply glide away with that E, then I could truly leave my practice room and never come back. I would never again have to care that two people had been in my practice room enjoying being with each other. I would never have to remember the truth, that they were experiencing love that I, sadly, never will. And perhaps, for me, that would be true bliss. 13 v
Hemingway Prize v Honorable Mention
Micky Chao ‘14
Pendulum 2014 v Submissions
sketch by Karl Hahn ‘15
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” –Henry David Thoreau
Grace Song ‘14 v Poetry Growing Pains Jack kisses Rose and my body laps over the couch lips, a swan silhouette, my neck beanstalks into the foyer. My roommate patters downstairs touching his fresh shaven chin and sighs, stepping over my super-sized self before slinging my tuba bones from a hammock in the ceiling. He sails the Titanic into the black with the remote. You shouldn’t watch these things. Our neighbors have been complaining about my Lucy marathons, how my head sasquatches the windows and my tongue pulse-pants the panes after the Lucys. Their gardenias have been dying, their mutt digs holes for himself. My roommate flips me strips of bacon raw from the package. She really did a number on you, he says. But I only want to hear the oceans of oils sloshing in my ears. You’ll find love again someday, he says, (My fingers useless in their knuckled knots, I lick up scraps caught in my neck folds) but you need to hide from it a little while. Later, my roommate’s Mona knocks on our little white door in a little 15 v
white dress, and she is whisked away upstairs so I can hide from it a little while. But the scabbing paint at the tip of my nose and crickets bleating outside don’t mask their Moa-oh-oaning. My head balloons, scraping against the chimney. My elbows flypaper the furniture. My cuts and bruises are many but I won’t cry because they’re just growing pains.
Davis Leonard ‘14 v Poetry mine and yours Did you believe those things you said when you talked of history under our thumb and letting our hair grow long in the water? When you whisked the first wish from my eye, did you believe then? when you held it soft for me to blow? Did you believe the night we read fairy tales, and watched the pages blow in ripples cover to cover, compelled by wind or maybe, you said, magic that we just called wind because a breeze is more easy than make-believe. That was the night I wore the dress that made you call me thumbelina. The night you chased me as I made to fly and we landed at the wishing well; dipped skinny, and didn’t feel bad for dirtying water. What about those times I sipped water, believing I had done right after I blew you? When you would finish and pant that you wished I could like it like you do, and I would say “of course I do” but chew on the end of my thumb and just swallow swallow smile until you (and I) believed. It’s odd to think you were someone I believed in so completely that I swam for so long in your stupor-water. I think of the years I blew through with you, never through with you, leaving on your thumb the countless eyelash wishes that should have been mine to catch and hold and—Say, who would I be now if I hadn’t said I’d go with you on that first walk? It’s unbelievable the person I surrendered to, the wishes that weren’t me but you coming out of my mouth and into the water that should have been blood. That I let you drag me by the thumb 17 v
to the point where you all but blew my vim to dust. Who are you to blow the whistles on my cake and say I shouldn’t taste the good sugar on my thumb and—worse,-- make me believe you? I should take the cheek water that pooled yearly and drown you in my wishes. no, do not sit there watering while I stand at last and ask if you believed. now it is your wish and my thumb.
The Violet Year It was all spilt sugar and smoking in bed and tasting new phrases at tea. We were always wrong, whatever we said. I watched the violets of the sky as it bled. From the perch of my windowsill I saw it was all spilt sugar and smoking in bed. We forgot our senses, spoke rhyme instead. Just as well sing circles since we were always wrong, whatever we said. He leapt to his knees, spilled time on his head. With the rust of resolve he couldn’t believe it was all spilt sugar and smoking in bed. One night his mind split, spitting in red. We shouted at his thoughts to stay but we were always wrong, whatever we said. I musn’t cry now, though the pillows are dead and we’ve drunk all the sap from the trees. All it was was spilt sugar and smoking in bed and we were always wrong, whatever we said.
Karl Gregor Hahn â€˜15 v Play Arthur Armada INTRO Voices come from offstage.
CHECKOUT LADY Is that all? How old are you? HEINRICH (mumbles) Yes, thank you. 16. CHECKOUT LADY Four euros please.
ARTHUR AND HEINRICH MEET Heinrich walks into the scene. He is dressed in thick wool coat, jeans, socks and sandals. He slumps and sits down against a wall and opens his previously purchased beer and takes a sip. A tan man dressed in whitewashed denim vest and jeans turns the corner. He wears khaki baseball cap backwards and has on sunglasses. He reaches Heinrich and stops-- looking down at him. ARTHUR ARMADA
(cuban accent) Oh man, where did you get that brewski from? Heinrich looks up. HEINRICH The kiosk over there. Arthur looks and walks off stage. Heinrich motions with his arms. HEINRICH Over there, it will be right there. Heinrich makes the shape of a kiosk.
ARTHUR ARMADA Hey, can you watch my bags? Arthur puts his bags next to Heinrich before he can answer, Arthur walks away. ARTHUR AND HEINRICH DIALOGUE Heinrich is still slumped against the wall but now with his legs pulled closer to his body. His beer is between his legs. Arthur sits down next to him. ARTHUR ARMADA It’s policy here to keep bags attended. Heinrich nods. HEINRICH (mumbles) Yes, yes. They sit there for a few moments in silence. Heinrich takes a sip of beer. Arthur opens his beer. ARTHUR ARMADA Hey man, cheers. They both take a drink and sit in silence. Heinrich looks over and back at his beer can. HEINRICH (hesitantly) Right here on the beercan it says ‘reinheitsgebot’; puritylaw. The germans had a purity law declairing what’s allowed into beer; malt.. Water.. Hops– Arthur cuts in. ARTHUR ARMADA Yeah you know the germans were into that kind of thing purity law-- you been eyeing that blond over there? Arthur points across the room. HEINRICH (mumbles) No no I havent.
ARTHUR ARMADA Will you look at the legs on that girl. Heinrich takes another sip of beer. Arthur takes a large gulp. ARTHUR ARMADA I havent had a Becks for 17, 18 years. Right after my son was born. Nothing takes your thirst away like a cold beer. Arthur takes another sip. ARTHUR ARMADA Cheers again, man. Arthur insists on clinking cans. ARTHUR ARMADA My name is Arthur, Arthur Armada. Arthur pulls his face together. ARTHUR ARMADA Man look at the shanks on that girl. Legs for days. You haven’t been scouting her out? HEINRICH (mumbles) No, I havent. ARTHUR ARMADA What’s your name? HEINRICH Heinrich. Arthur motions to shake his hand. ARTHUR ARMADA I haven’t been to the states for 17 years. I went to Spain after my son was born. Sometimes I miss Miami– the women and their asses. Asses for days. Heinrich takes another sip of beer nodding. ARTHUR ARMADA If I could go back I wouldn’t 21 v
change a thing-- I wouldn’t have left the Air Force. You should have seen me. You know that movie with the pilots? HEINRICH (slowly) Top-gun? ARTHUR ARMADA No the one with that actor. You’ll know it when you see him. I was going to be a pilot but I said I was leaving. On my last day the Major came down and said: ‘Arthur we need a guy like you.’ But I wanted to go to Spain. But my son- he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. How old are you? You must be 21? HEINRICH No, no– I’m 18. ARTHUR ARMADA You’re like my son’s age. Yeah he’s going up to Reed this year. Arthur takes out his wallet. ARTHUR ARMADA This is him playing little league. In Cuba– you never throw away an old wallet. When you throw away a wallet, your money will follow. Arthur shows Heinrich the inside of his wallet. HEINRICH I see it’s German– ARTHUR ARMADA (interrupting) I went here when I was 23. And I bought this wallet. I was looking for a wallet to take on my trip and I saw this one– Arthur stops talking and looks at Heinrich. v 22
ARTHUR ARMADA Do people think you’re Canadian? Canadians wear socks like that. HEINRICH Oh no. I just wore these because my suitcase is so full. I’m wearing my heavist clothing items. ARTHUR ARMADA Maybe it’s the cuban pervert in me but a woman isn’t completely naked until she takes off her socks. She can be spread eagle naked and you can see her c***– but if she still has her socks on she’s not naked. Heinrich takes a sip of beer again. ARTHUR ARMADA My sons mother is Danish. They don’t talk much the Scandinavians– there’s this story about a woman whose children all keep dying. Austrians. And she’s having another baby-- and she thinks it’s going to die. The baby is so small she thinks it’s going to die. Both take a sip of beer. HEINRICH I know the short story, Roald Dahl. With the husband who stands there helplessly. I don’t remember but the baby lives, right? ARTHUR ARMADA Oh, sure! That baby was Hitler! My son is obsessed. With all of you. HEINRICH Sorry? ARTHUR ARMADA You. Aryans. He reads all these
books. He even reads ‘Mein Kampf ’, some people know dates in history. But, he even knows the exact times. He doesn’t talk about girls. He hasn’t had any girlfriends. HEINRICH (jokingly) Maybe he doesn’t tell you about his girlfriends. ARTHUR ARMADA (seriously) I can only hope, Heinrich. When I was his age I already had sex with half of my high school. I only had sex with half because half were boys. It’s a disease, Heinrich. Heinrich takes a sip. ARTHUR ARMADA So my sons mother, she’s Danish and you know they don’t talk much, here’s a joke. So two Danish guys are sitting in a living room and it’s Christmas. One gets out a bottle of what do you call it– schnapps. And they start taking shots, you know. After a few shots one says to the other ‘cheers’ and the other says ‘we drinking or are we talking?’ (pause) You get it? HEINRICH Yes I do-- because Scandinavians don’t like to talk very much. ARTHUR ARMADA I’m going to take a piss, will you watch my bags? Arthur slaps his knee as he gets up without waiting for Heinrich’s response. v 24
ARTHUR MOVES ON Arthur walks back into scene from the bathroom, but passes Heinrich without regarding him. He walks off stage and out of scene. Arthur is heard having a loud conversation in Spanish. ARTHUR ARMADA (loudly) Hey amigo, de donde sacaste esa cerveza? Heinrich stays slumped with Arthurâ€™s bags. FADE TO BLACK
Catherine Zhu â€˜15 v Poetry the day before i was born i dreamt i was a cicada risen from the dead, crawling up to the mouth of the river to taste the liquid sun. i saw mountains i saw starlight i saw my skin hung out to dry after a long summerâ€™s rain. where i tried to sing i could only whisper. where i tried to breathe i exhaled & sank deeper. where I tried to fly I only folded into myself, letting the cocoon swallow me v 26
like the dead of night, & where I tried to love I lost, shedding layers upon layers of blood and calloused skin.
Amanda Zhou ‘15 v Poetry Biking After Rain Let’s ride our bikes down the roads of trailers and forget about the eight-dollar kite, folded flush against your back closet wall. The road will be washed and empty and the air, just humid enough for us to muddle between what is sweat and what is water. In the woods, we’ll take our chance over rain slicked wooden bridges and paddies of skunk cabbage with curled purple pods underneath Let season old yellow needles thread themselves into our browning gears, and a twig caught beneath my seat, xylophone against the spokes of the wheel. Just weave around the columns and whorls of white pines, striped, bleeding, and zibra’d from the sunlight in the canopy. Underneath those flashes of light dropping in though the leaves, listen to the stroke of my pedal clanging in each cycle, against the crooked kickstand. This is what Sundays should be about: Hearing the cadence of our youth as rubber tires bounce calm on primordial roots. Not the equations and sleepy solitude of the library.
Stefan Kohli â€˜14 v Photography
Mirella Gruesser-Smith ‘15 v Poetry (untitled) i like the idea of something shining glimmering truly pure and cool a warm silver color and the color of light through leaves or petals is so full my heart divides/drinks it up the light’s like liquid calms the buzzing
seaswept Try to see through the windswept sea-glass tint— Washed over again, again by heartless waves, Pounding pebble smooth the shardy glass knives. Sand’s no place for living solid. Sand will sink From a house, tipping it over the fenced sand brink. Yet you want to live there—touch ripples of moon from night skies, Run salt through your hair, let waves crash around your ears, Let their grains wash you over until you’re seaswept—glintless. Inland on bedrock, the glaring glassy high-rises Fit with rulers, right angles, steel cutters. Light colors Turn black in the city or sear through the dust, too bright— Color buzzing in your eyes and ears—electric. But here—the tide is dragging driftwood against The beach. The wind sweeps dunes through a ribcage of sand-fence.
Ann Zhang ‘15 v Poetry Even my grandmother knew that violence existed in between the spaces formed by the cradles of silence. She knew that the body cannot describe anguish the way the mind can. The arch of the spine, and then, she said, “it was like he fell from the sky.” Only the eggshell pavement remembered the sound of him landing like persimmons into the flesh of the dirt. Their trees flower in October when the rest are contemplating the end. Sweet ignorance is the best remedy for doom. Back in the village of thatched roofs, the fields as green as Emperor’s jade, they said that the more seeds at the heart of the copper fruit, the longer the winter. The year my grandmother planted the seed, the straw ceiling reinforced with sticky rice porridge caved in from the snow. “Your uncle went blind from the whiteness.” It is easier for him not to get lost when he remembers the motion of the air, the way it guides him down the road shaped like five, the persimmon tree at the sharpest turn. Negative ions in the bark repel him into the restless emptiness of safety. But always, there is raw soil underfoot. So that when the sinuous cords in the neck 33 v
of the man who fell from the sky strain against the noose, each ply of rope visible against his sapphire skin, my grandmother stores only the folding sound of his body
Emily Moore â€˜14 v Painting/Digital Art
against the shallow mud in her mind. The fruit that winter was cloying, the syrupy juice coating the earth.
Strength â€“ Painting 35 v
Linh Tran â€˜14 v Digital Art
Sabrina Ortega-Riek ‘15 v Poetry Golden Valley There was a girl who lived in Golden Valley: she had named it after herself, and every night she could not sleep she put skulls on the shelf. She found them in the forest, she found them under rocks; she tried to stay inside at night but wouldn’t use the locks. In the desert, she knew goddesses who ran naked over the sand; she found skulls warmed by sunlight and carried dust storms in her hand. She told them all she was better but just stayed in her room; she counted teeth and polished bone: her mind became her tomb. She didn’t fit inside her skin, So she wrapped herself in wool. She never slept, but watched the cars: her head was always full. In the winter, there was goblin snow and bears and snakes and birds She gave them skulls in paper bags And they sold her strings of words. She lived there a long time ago, Where the seagulls lick the waves, But she ran away into the forest To dig one hundred graves. 37 v
It’s hard to say what will become of her; none of that has happened yet, But she’ll wish, she’ll fight, she’ll hope, to stay free of her own net.
Recovery: a poem for my mom Come with me. Run with me into the forest. We can follow the path through the soft mulch of fallen leaves to the place where the trail gives way to a muddy stream of rainfall bridged by logs. We return to this place upon an anniversary. It has been one year. We can count back through the days of that year like the beads on a rosary and locate the beginning. Or we can count back many more days, thousands of beads on a heavy cord, to when it truly began. But today is not a day for returning. Today we can cross the stream and continue up a hill. We can follow the arc of that hill and find a path that passes through a tunnel of aspens with sunlight filling their leaves. It will be hot out and the insects will buzz in the undergrowth. Today is the day to cut the string. We have carried it for our whole lives. We can spill the beads onto the path. A long time in the future, we will still find them embedded in the dirt, but by then we will have stopped worrying that we will trip over them. We can run until we are not running anymore. We can run until we are living. v 38
Anika Ayyar ‘14 One Lobster’s Life I am five feet away from a Spiny Lobster that is about half a foot long and a third of a foot wide. The lobster, a ripe tomato amongst the chopped salad of underwater boulders and weeds, is staring straight at me with eyes that sear through my tinted goggles and peer into my uneasy soul, threatening to plunge straight into it if I edge any closer. The sunburnt spots on its back momentarily merge to form an admonishing “X,” but at second glance I realize that the warning was only a mirage. “Just one lobster,” I console myself, “I’m only spearing one. And I’m not even going to eat it, I’ll just bring it back for someone else.” I string my spear through its rubber clasp and position my left arm directly in front of my right, perfecting my aim so that I catch the lobster right in the middle of its torso. “Too far up and it still has its legs, too far back and it’s still got a brain,” my dive instructor’s reminder about accurate aim rings through my mind. As I bend my elbow to release the spear, the lobster suddenly twitches and scampers under a nearby ledge. My eyes jerk open and I drop the spear, which floats calmly down till it is no more than a sliver, too deep to be reached. The lobster remains within range; if I act quickly, there is a good chance I can still catch it. I unhook a second spear from my belt and align my arms to shoot once more, but my fingers clench tight around the metal as I catch sight of a second lobster crawling forward from under the ledge. It is a baby, probably belonging to my initial target. Its eyes peer cautiously around the ziggurat of rocks it emerged from, scanning the floor for any predators. As soon as it notices my spear, it shrinks back into its mother’s shadow. My arm remains paralyzed in mid-shot, and I drop my spear again. I shiver, taking in the commotion I have caused. All of a sudden, I feel like an invasive species among this family of lobsters, a predator in their underwater ecosystem. I want nothing more than to swim away from the pool of guilt surrounding me, and crawl into the shadow of my own 39 v
mother, who will comfort me and soothe my torment at this lapse in morality. I quickly deflate my vest and ascend towards the ocean’s top; I have no intention of wreaking further havoc on this ocean floor. My dive instructor grabs my wrists as I break surface. “So, what are we eating tonight, young lady?” His jaw drops at my empty palms. “Slippery fingers, huh? Do you want to go back for a second run?” “No, I’m not really feeling it,” I reply. “I think I’m done for the day.”
Alice Ju â€˜14 v Poetry Renunciation Do not think I forgot how I became so luxurious, you tell me, clasping my cheek in wursted palms. Do not think I forgot those viscous whispers, syrupped in my eyes and ears. I am not a murder. Do not think I forgot the dust, the mud. You tell me. Unearth me. To this I say: Do not think I have forgotten how you spilt monstrous, dripped monsters carried to the light-lit fence, light breaking paper tigers lit not since. I read your letters like tea leaves, held your tight-roped transgressions between one arm and the next, blew red carnations in my throat, from you, gum-stuck. The mangy cats of Marrakesh need names, but I hold your reincarnations in my throat, folding into birds with each swallow, swallow. The reek of liver stings my palms, and to kiss the lips of your calcification, I dance on your rattlesnake grave, in the long medusa of the night.
Katie McCarthy â€˜14 v Photography
Eunice Cho ‘14 v Poetry This Little Hallway Twisting, diving; tearing unpassed paths to be passed and repassed; purged of their sunnier wants through numerous generational flukes marrowed into practice, Darwin’s helpers now Warm the skies with silvered creed, tinge it by the stroke; their flapping—tripled, dry and vigorous; compressed into symmetrical tempests—is lilac split Lilac bending, tip to tip, Heaven’s gray diffuse nests. Now sliver of red shivers East (a Cardinal egress, in line with the axis), skimming Zephyr’s underbelly, tailing the turbids at the junction of three degrees and recognition; eyeing the forest below, where the pale trunks twist and branches follow, proffering their veined lace to the sun. Above the canopy, wintry feel; beneath, starburst scattered: Apollo’s empiricism—diverted inwards, stilled and smoothed to abstraction—now eases into the cove, pooling luminous secrets, roaming the incidentals of electric dreams. The Earth is dank and moony. Diminished green lingers along the knells, the sapped and bowed boughs, tracing out a little hallway. In a world where few are seen sound is the recourse. Somewhere some host of snarled stem and sickly thorn begins v 44
to breathe, unfurling: chirps budding from twitters and caws bending to ripe, seeded song fat beetles scrabbling before the snapping of the twig vertebrae. Talons, mists. Beyond, whistle of wing iridescent… A streaked Downy now drums out the hours, cleaving a wall of minutia. He flays the knotted bark, chunks out the wooden flesh—a gruesome operation, but when resistance has retired, and Mother’s on her deathbed. When there are faces all around, they are observing her form, and charting out her acreage and her assets have been allocated, and the end is lurching close, now, and there is talk of tidying and viewing now—What else can a child do but attack and bargain with her sickness? And so he beaks through the notional, foreman for those who flit, crawl and slither through the shallows, suggesting: This little hallway their zeitgeist, Hoary-mantled, cleft with snow; Where dewy darts descend upon Gulf of loam and recesses isolate— Sunning in the dark, sunning always In the passing dark Is time time time, unto and without, their Lifeblood. 45 v
Grade School Reminisces Last night I dreamt of Fathers vaulted airs and smooth glass pigment papery faces: When All Was Simple except spectacles and clocks (red plastics rotating requesting exacts through blank-faced orbitals) sterile except quiet cool smells of pews How Prayer Unlocked shiny apples spiral-skinned and chiseled to blossom tarting our mouths and hands palmed pink stiffened by recess (legs flailing beneath steeled spaces black matte shoes like bricks) Where Things Slipped into our green minds窶馬ot believed surely, but tucked neatly, without question, and now this morning, amongst the empty tables, I find that the keyholes of these chairs summon the hymns and archdioceses of dreams. Tuesdays and Thursdays we sang.
Kaci Kus â€˜14 v Painting
Delaney Lionel 47 v
Will Li ‘15 v Prose Those Nights Now Melinda liked staring out the large, square windows of the hospital cafeteria. She liked how the sunlight streamed in on warm spring days and how the clouds looked like the big, white pillows she had bought for Jack, her brother, when he first came. She liked how, at dinnertime, she could watch as the leaves turned greener then yellower and eventually halted to a vibrant red before falling to the ground. She had spent many hours in that room, sitting there, sipping her coffee as the sky grew darker and greyer, waiting and hoping for something to happen. Now, it was late autumn, and the trees and bushes were bare. The first whispers of frost had blown through just that morning, coating the dying grass with a fresh color. There was no longer anything for Melinda to stare at, no longer anything to occupy her through the quiet hours. It would be months before the birds returned and the buds sprouted from the earth. It would be months until there was color once again. She sighed, disappointed. “How’s Jack?” Mark asked, combing a hand through his sparse hair, his wedding ring matching the paleness of his skin. He was dressed casually, a thick sweatshirt hiding his bulkiness, a faint logo printed across his chest. Jack was fine, all things considered. That morning, she had decorated his room with ornaments and tinsel, and he had smiled painfully at her efforts. Originally, there had been lights as well, but the nurses had asked her to take them down. She had complied reluctantly. Later, there had also been a new scan of the tumors, the white blobs floating between his ribs and spine, and the doctors had been optimistic. The treatment had worked better than expected, they had told her. Things were going in the right direction. They prescribed a new drug for Jack, small, blue pills taken two times a day that they hoped would shrink the tumors even more, and scheduled another round of surgeries for the following week. They would be the final ones if all went well, the doctors said as they placed their bony fingers on her shoulder. She didn’t believe them or at least, she didn’t want to. Things were v 48
never as good as they seemed. “Fine. Jack’s doing fine. They say he’s getting better.” “That’s great!” Mark replied, “I’ve been meaning to go on that hiking trip he’s always been talking about. You know, the one in the White Mountains? What’s it called?” He furrowed his brow. “Franconia Notch,” she murmured. “Yeah, that’s the one. Maybe he and I could do it this spring, just the two of us.” “Hopefully. The doctors said not to get too excited.” She turned away from his clean-shaven face and tired eyes, moving her gaze from the nurses in their patterned scrubs, tessellations of rubber ducks and lollipops, to the janitor mopping the floor in big, lazy circles. It was almost evening, and the cafeteria was practically empty, silent in anticipation for the inevitable dinner rush. The salad bar was newly stocked and the “Out of Order” sign had been taken off the juice machine. She wished Jack was still well. Back then, she would have driven a couple of miles down the road to his quaint yellow house, stopping by from time to time for dinner and conversation. He always kept leftover pies in the depths of his refrigerator, and they would each take a sizable slice while they talked. Mark was usually out of town or staying late at work for some business meeting, and Melinda could always count on her brother for company. She missed those nights now, seated around the kitchen table, the dishwasher humming through the walls and the floorboards. She wished she gotten some of his recipes, taken the time to learn how to bake. Mark coughed softly from across the table, and Melinda turned back to face him. Again, she stared at his tired eyes, tracing the creases of his skin down the side of his cheek. It was his day off, and Melinda felt guilty that he had to spend it with her at the hospital. He had said he didn’t mind, but she knew there were other things he would rather be doing, other places he would rather be. Months ago, he had asked if she had wanted to go on vacation that winter, some place tropical with swaying palms and fine sand that slipped through the spaces between her toes. He could get his boss to give him some time off, he had told her, but only if she want49 v
ed him to. She imagined it then, the blue, expansive sky meeting the blue, expansive sea in a thin, blue line. She imagined sunning herself by the beach, a glass of iced tea by her side. It had been so appealing, so tempting, but she had shaken her head. At that point, Jack had just gone through a particularly bad set of chemo, the mouth sores and the fatigue leaving his body weak. She’d been worried that he wouldn’t make it to September and was forced to tell Mark no, she preferred to spend the holidays at home with their dog. Mark had agreed, a small nod of acquiescence, an understanding expression pressed into the wrinkles of his face. Instead, in mid-August, they had taken a small day trip into Portsmouth, gliding in and out of shops, catching a show at the music hall. In the afternoon sun, they sat by the waterside, her husband looking on as she fed the pigeons crumbs of her leftover sandwich. He did not speak much that day, the occasional whisper in her ear as he brought his head close to hers, the words slipping from her mind moments afterwards. She had wanted to stay out later, to wander through the cobblestone streets, searching for their own forgotten laughter, but this time it was Mark who shook his head. He was tired, he said, the heat draining his energy, and Melinda hadn’t wanted to argue. On the way home, driving in the dying sunlight, he had promised to bring her somewhere exciting, far away, the West Coast, if she’d let him. It was beautiful year-round, he told her, so much better than the humid summers and the modest towns of New Hampshire. She remained silent, unresponsive, and they both knew that it was more of a rhetorical suggestion. In the months that followed, neither he nor Melinda brought it up again, soon forgetting about it altogether . She adjusted herself in her chair, picking at a loose thread hanging from her jeans. Tomorrow, Mark would be gone once more, on a plane to South Africa and then Shanghai on some consulting job. She had never really bothered to get the details, only knowing that he would be back by Christmas Eve. They had already made plans to go into Boston for a nice seafood dinner and maybe, if it wasn’t too cold, a long walk by the river. She hoped it would be v 50
romantic, an evening full of rose petals and candlelight. She had even taken the initiative to order that strapless gown her friend had worn at some gala she’d be invited to that summer. It had flowed nicely when she tried it on, sweeping from her back to the floor, enveloping the surrounding air in a wisp of red fabric whenever and wherever she moved. Melinda thought it beautiful, something she would’ve easily worn five or ten years ago when life was still fuzzy and glowing around the edges. “What time’s your flight?” she asked, fiddling with her iPhone. “9:15. I need to get there around 7:45 or so to check in. How about we leave early and get some breakfast at Rogan’s?” “Yeah, sounds good,” she answered. Melinda looked down at the touch screen, swiping through her emails, then her texts, before somehow landing on a Facebook album of her and Mark taken from their first year together. She stopped at a picture of them at the beach, her finger hovering over the image. The sun had washed out the entire background so that only the two of them were clearly visible. They looked so excited, his arms wrapped around her shoulders as they both squinted into the camera, their sunglasses perched on their foreheads. Mark’s skin was already a pinkish hue, and they had left the seaside an hour later to drive along the coast with the windows down, the wind blowing past their faces. “Anything you want?” he asked abruptly. “Hm?” “From China. I hear there’s this great marketplace in the middle of Shanghai,” he said, “I could bring you back a scarf or something. It could be a Christmas present.” She hesitated and then smiled carefully. “Sure, that’d be lovely.” Back when they were younger, she and Jack had stayed home every Christmas, not bothering to take out the artificial tree from the basement. Their father had given up on the holiday after their mother had died, opting to give each of them a twenty-dollar-bill to “save for college.” One year, when she was nine and Jack was thirteen, they stayed up all night watching TV specials, falling 51 v
asleep to the cackles of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. When she awoke the next morning, Melinda found a badly wrapped present beside her pillow, the paper hastily taped and crumpled along the edges. She had torn it open and gasped. Somehow, some way, Jack had managed to procure a Cabbage Patch Kid, the one with the blue spotted dress and the brown pigtails. The doll had come with no name, no tag, and so she called it Mary, spending the subsequent hours straightening her dress and running a comb through her long hair. That night, she slept with Mary grasped firmly to her chest. Every Christmas since, they had exchanged gifts, starting with toys before gradually moving on to books and an assortment of other items as they got older. She looked forward to December 25th every year and had spent the preceding weeks scouring websites, searching for the perfect present. This was her only family tradition, the one unchanging constant in her slowly devolving life, and she wondered what would happen this year or next year or the year after that. She wondered what would happen to her. The air was brisk and sharp as they exited the hospital and crossed the street towards the parking complex. The sun had set hours earlier, and Melinda was reminded of how much she hated winter, waiting while the days grew shorter and shorter. But she also hated hospitals and was glad when Mark had finally suggested they go home after finding Jack fast asleep. She rested her head against the window as Mark drove calmly, braking at the stoplight before turning left towards the center of town. They rode through the streets, quietly passing the restaurants and tiny shops, their storefronts filled with fresh, new merchandise. Colorful Christmas lights hung above the road, and she couldnâ€™t help but notice how they twinkled together, faintly and spontaneously. They continued onwards, past the river and the old brick buildings, and soon, the town had receded behind them, lost in the whisperings of the wind. A couple of minutes later, they pulled into their dimly lit driveway, the tall pines obscuring the orange glow from the street, and the car shuddered to a stop. They both got out, Melinda folding her arms v 52
into herself, shivering, as Mark unlocked the front door. “I’m going to brew some tea,” he said, wiping his shoes on the carpet, “Want me to bring you some?” “No,” she shook her head.“I’m fine. I think I’ll just go take a shower.” He nodded, padding into the kitchen, and she climbed the stairs towards their bedroom at the opposite end of the house. The mattress squeaked under her small frame as she sat at the edge of her bed, her feet just barely grazing the floor. In the mirror, a woman looked back at her, one with sharp, sunken cheeks, and a long, pointed nose. She saw herself in that moment, exhausted and empty, the lamplight filling the hollowness of her face. Downstairs, the kettle began to whistle, and without knowing it, she began to cry. The tears rolled slowly from her eyes as she cried for Jack, for his sickness, and for herself. She cried because she could do nothing else, nothing that would change the world, nothing as useful as two blue pills swallowed twice a day. But most importantly, she cried for Mark. After a few minutes, she composed herself, wiping away any remnants of sadness with her shirt sleeves, before changing into a loose t-shirt. She slipped between the covers, her knees bent towards her chest, her head positioned facing the window. Outside, snow was beginning to fall for the first time that season. She watched as the big, feathery flakes hung in the air like paper airplanes, defying gravity and physics. It coated the trees, the branches, the earth, and tomorrow, she knew that everything would be white and new. Melinda closed her eyes, and soon, she heard his footsteps on the stairs and then the door opening. “Honey? You awake?” She did not respond, and he did not say anything more. The lights turned off, the curtains closed, and moments later, she felt his body against hers, their warmth shared beneath the thin blanket, his legs fitting perfectly into hers. He wrapped his arm around her waist, hugging her tightly, and together, they fell asleep.
Jameel Mohammed â€˜13 v Fashion
Nicky Don â€˜15 v Poetry Namesake
for my father, Irving Don
The Search A man hunts across the Arlington lawn, clutching names of sunken sailors, stone upon stone marking hallowed out ground searching for Irving Don. My father had arrived in Washington with a history to confront, of another Irving who joined the war efforts to fight on another front. An engraved cross now marks the spot, its pale marble tinted with gray. A purple heart for a family distraught, over lives lost in Ormoc Bay. It was during the winter of 1944, midnight, When the Japanese closed in, the USS Cooper sank despite the heroes contained within. A long life spent with family and a life brief but brave, a family who sat shiva for a man beneath the waves. Irving Don was in the Navy, but my fatherâ€™s a trained CPA.
He says now to the cross, Grandma Dora, forgive me, Grandma Dora, he says, Oy vey. His Form Said Protestant A young boy raised in Brooklyn, a life of Axis threats and of cigarettes, of Filipino women, of a soldier’s grin, of a boy lost in view of the islands. A boy named after a shadow a life of stoop ball and of lecture halls, of American life and prayer shawls, of his childhood ages ago. He places above the cross a stone rounded and smoothed by the sea. a pebble that signals a cover that’s blown, of that Brooklyn boy’s Jewish pedigree. Why would you lie? asks Irv to the cross, The art of self-denying, replies he, of prisoners of war, of Nazi threats ashore, of a sailor afraid of dying. Lie Like a Dog Your dog tag will protect you, its rounded metal, stamped with power, stamped with Uncle Sam’s finger wagging in front of you. Your scarlet blood can’t lie, your brand of hemoglobin, blood saturated with a young man’s last night drinks at a Brooklyn bar while his mom cries at home, 57 v
blood distilled to a letter imprinted onto a slice of metal, a necklace of numbers to define a life. Your scarlet blood can’t lie, but it can’t tell them what type of man you are, just what kind of blood men like you will spill on the battlefield. The sign says wait over there, wait for a tag to save the wounded, mark the dead. Your full name, blood type, next of kin. These lines will save you. The next line defines you beneath that slice of metal when you lie beneath the ground, a young man’s last night, last rites, miles away from a smoky Brooklyn bar. So what’s your letter, son? the man says. Are you a Protestant, or a Catholic? The third unspoken option, a Hebrew, suffocates in the heat of the decision. Are there Nazis in the South Pacific? What’re you gettin’ at, son? Just tell me. I’m…I’m… Scarlet cheeks on a sailor’s face, garlic pickles at the deli, after tefillin, when the local shul would hand out bagels. Before horror stories filtered in. Before Pearl Harbor. Before being a Jewish soldier meant more than just fighting for America. v 58
Before the letter H on a dog tag meant risking exposure, even if the Japanese would sink your boat before the Nazis found you anyways. What’ll it be? There’s a line, you know. A final mumble, a failsafe, a Sh’ma to the skies. I’m a Christian, he says. G-d, please don’t let me die. Jewish Socrates Nu…? asks the cross to Irving, A question that spans the seas, If they caught you would you recite the Sh’ma, or would you want to be me? Irving stares past stone upon stone. Each symbol, engraved ivory, counts the same. A star, a crescent, symbols unknown, And a cross to bear the burden of a name. Their lives become like a sailor’s knot, as Irving stares at Irving. Between the two, that carved out cross, a reunion most unnerving. The Underwater Cairn Grandma Dora never went to the Philippines, but if she had, she would’ve found green leaves hanging over Leyte Gulf, water’s rainbow surface shimmering above 59 v
a thousand souls. A stone on his grave is all she wanted, but even that’s out of her reach, as likely as seeing his face one more time. He’s miles away from their brown row house in Mill Basin. He had a proper Jewish burial if anything, Dora reminded herself during shiva. Humble, no delay, a simple return to the flow of the world. Grandma Dora never went to the Philippines, but if she had, she would’ve found an empty bay, nothing else. She would’ve stared at that perfect blue water, miles of ocean in front of her, while hidden, just out of reach, fluttered the memories of a thousand souls, memories of war, beaten into a numbed peace by the undercurrents of fate. If only she could’ve gone to Leyte Gulf, seen through that water, watched each grain of sand get swept up from the seafloor seven hundred feet below her, stones, stones so small as to be called grains of sand, an eternity of stones guarding the grave of the USS Cooper, remembering her son. But seven hundred feet below thousands of miles away we’ll never know if v 60
Grandma Dora’s tears, her prayers could’ve reached that far, or if they were just swept away like the sand, buried but forgotten, lost just like everyone else that night in Leyte Gulf. Home He’s a Jew, change the stone, Irv demands on the phone To the Arlington employee, but the forms don’t lie, says the man with a sigh, And to change it we’d need to agree. Paper upon paper the employee must read, Of a family with Yiddish in their veins, Of a Brooklyn home, of shabbat shalom, The employee cries, then slowly proceeds. A three months delay, he explains to his mom as they approach the marked empty plot. More than that, says she in disbelief. Years one after the other, of a mother and a brother, a half century of sorrow and grief. Slowly they walk toward the tombstone, Its Star of David apart from the rest, neither flowers nor photos but a small pebble tower For a young man just home from his quest.
Emily Zhu â€˜15 v Drawing
June Han ‘15 v Prose/Poetry Sugar Water Fiery temper: a meteor still burning and falling through space, always crashing against the softness of consciousness… ask her about it, and she’ll tell you it’s a meteor shower that you wouldn’t want to watch. This tautological process began with her grandfather in the rural shadows of poverty before slipping into the pile of worn-jokes and sayings her father always kept in his front pocket. It skipped over her older brother and finally embedded itself into the cavities of her mind, very much diluted, but yes, still very much there. At first, she wasn’t even aware of its presence for the first fourteen years of her life. Her father liked to call her daddy’s little girl and tote her around on his back as her pony when he was in one of his goofy moods, the times he wasn’t working on his PhD dissertation. Her brother loved to make her run errands for him that she would patiently carry out as he seated himself on his throne to preside over the world of pixels she loved watching him rule. And of course, there was her mother who was fond of modestly bragging to her friends about how sweet her daughter was, a little shy and quiet, but sweet like sugar water. I’m not bragging, her mother insisted when her daughter tugged at her hand for her to stop. I’m just telling the truth. But this truth eventually distorted itself into something else entirely, manifesting in little doses at a time, creeping until the decisive bang. You’re daddy’s little girl, her father once told her when he calmed down after a day of firecracker-nerves she and her brother kept accidentally igniting. It was dark, so she could see the flames of his thoughts, azure wisps with orange veins, flare up against the night before they smoldered into embers around her feet, dying, but still dimly burning. No, she said, discerning his every thought she could capture. If that were true, you wouldn’t yell at me like that, and for the v 64
first time, she let the door slam closed between them. Her mother eventually stopped telling her friends about sugar water since it seemed to have all burned away, and after a while, she tentatively began to tell them about her son instead. Strangers and family friends commented, You’re a mix of your parents, but you look a little more like your father. Her mother said, You’re beginning to resemble your father. She merely gazed back, eyes crescent moons that only wanted to fade away into the dark. I’m not, she thought. But she didn’t say it aloud because it held the desperate echoes of an excuse. Land of Tigers Dust: sandstorms for vision. Still roaring tigers, prowling, but their joints are rusting. Eyes of God are burning skins: blackened lungs and cigarette rings pass over eleven children. They slip by and disappear into tents of transient rags; I haven’t seen them since. That sewage odor— what smell?, you ask. Cat calls and whistles for milk and cheese. Stop: milk and cheese? Please— The air is full of phantom growls. Better than those days when land was tearing by root seams underneath our feet. We’re so lucky, we said, He spared us from being swallowed whole.
Sohil Patel â€˜14 v Photography
Kieran Minor ‘14 v Play Supernova Althaia – Late thirties, coming on forty. Dressed in a silver dress, with sequins. Oeneus – Same age as Althaia. Dressed in black. Meleager – A child. Dressed in black, with a red baseball cap. Lights fade up on Althaia, sitting center, glass of scotch whiskey in hand. Oeneus and Meleager sit in chairs, back to the audience, toward the back of the stage, in the dark. Althaia: Don’t you look lovely tonight? in that little slip of a dress a silver little slip like a star a dazzling star you are a star, dear just look at you! he’s so charming so well groomed and so well behaved and your boy he’s like a dream and you, that figure, that personality elusive, spinning, dancing on the air – am I embarrassing you? I’m sorry, dear you’re simply the life of the party the joie de vivre the flame, you know? (pause) I remember my soiree days I’d throw Christmas lights all around my apartment to make it look like San Francisco v 68
the stars and the bay and the summer night smell and all the people that I had met the actors and the performers and the circus men with their big muscles and tattoos yes my soiree days my orgy days, as my husband used to call them Oeneus: Honey, I didnâ€™t mean it that wayâ€Ś A: Have you met my husband? the one with the smug expression yes, him, over there uncombed hair, smoldering eyes always that same little lilt that could undress you with a single gaze that could leave you in his bed for days some sort of gravity, pulling on you, always he has his own gravity, I tell you thatâ€™s probably why when I knew I would soon soiree no more it was probably for the better anyway at their peak, I would have up to fifty people on a Saturday night twenty-somethings crammed in the bathtub, hanging off the fire escape smoking cigarettes wandering through, clutching their stomachs, tripping over beer bottles laughing, giggling, climbing up the walls one night, circus men were in town, and somehow got invited over we all gathered around and watched them their big biceps and robust figures eating the flames from torches and spitting them back out in a rippling, fiery belch and the applause and the drinks and the second cigarettes and the laughter and the music ah, the music, dear 69 v
I can sometimes hear it in my head, faintly, like an echo, sometimes it all comes back to me, the haze, the forever nights I blink and it’s gone (pause) well, my husband help me put my feet on the ground, that’s for sure got me a steady job working uptown instead of traversing the stages downtown like a “nomad,” a “half-baked” theater career with a “second-rate” degree in acting he’d say to me, “listen” “you can’t live your own life” “what makes you think you can live someone else’s?” I guess he had a point O: Honey, I didn’t mean it that way… Meleager: Mother, may I come out now? A: my son he’s an angel just like his father those same stormy eyes when I was carrying him, he’d kick and claw and beat though like a little savage he came into the world screaming, thrashing his legs around he teethed early he has a lot of his father in him, that’s for sure he looks a lot like your boy, dear! when he was that age they’re sweet then M: Mother, may I come out now? A: I’m sorry about him kids! v 70
parental disclaimer: they turn into little shits around age twelve where they realize you aren’t a god and start to talk smart in front of your friends, in front of your parents, in front of your husband I’d sometimes feel like I was double-teamed sometimes the two of them at the few parties I’d be able to have the little one bickering and pinching me and asking me the same damn thing “can I have this can I have that can you make me this” “mother I’m bored mother I don’t feel well mother what can I do now mother?” I’d be talking to an old friend, a friend from the theater, and he’d be there, standing between us, pulling at my dress and my husband would be in the corner, with those eyes, and a glass of scotch resting in the palm of his left hand O: I think I’ll go out for a bit A: that’s what he’d say to me, motioning me over, faintly in my ear O: I think I’ll go out for a bit A: and he’d be gone and my friends would be standing there saying “my dear, you are a wonder” “how do you juggle it all” my boy crawling up the walls I’d send him to his room and if no one was watching lock the door M: Mother, may I come out now?
A: in truth I was just trying to get a breath you know? do you ever feel that way? O: Honey, I didn’t mean it that way… A: he’s a good man, though I love them both so having a family it’s like you meet a stranger and create more strangers until your living in a house of strangers well-behaved, well-groomed strangers and you only recognize it when one’s “out” and the other’s locked in his bedroom and you’re left alone with the shell of your former life looking at the dress you used to wear and you look so good in it, dear, truly like a dream (pause) I had been having bad dreams, quite frequently ones where I’d wake up in the night covered in a hot sweat choking on the air I’d go out O: I think I’ll go out for a bit A: in the night and I’d walk by windows where the lights were on and you could see people inside smoking, flirting, falling, talking, dancing, applauding, singing in a haze I’d come back some nights and see him there v 72
by the darkened window and all the breath would leave me the scotch whirling around in his glass he’d ask “where were you” I’d say O: I think I’ll go out for a bit A: but he’d say “where were you” “you think you’re twenty again don’t you you think this is a big game don’t you” and I’d say “no” but he would come toward me with his gravity and his eyes like swirling ash and I’d say “no” and he’d grab me and press into my ear and say he’d say like another language he’d say and I’d say “no” hurling me against the wall and I’d say “no” the splash of scotch on the floor, the cascading glass and I’d say “no” and I, in a pool of shards and a tattered dress, and the banging of a distant door and a crying child M: Mother, may I come out now? A: and the silence that always would follow he’d run his hands through his hair O: Honey, I didn’t mean it that way… A: and in him I’d see the little savage inside me the true, silicon, sliver of a stranger before me the paralyzing paradigm 73 v
and to think I was once the one like you the life of the party he’d say O: I think I’ll go out for a bit (pause) A: now you must think I’m a bit off, right? telling you all this telling you my Greek tragedy at a party like this I just saw your husband over there and I thought: aren’t we all like little matchbooks meeting strangers, like little pricks of wood coated in a poison, that burst into blue flame when they hit us the wrong way (pause) I came home one day I made myself a pot of tea I left the burner on I left all the burners on I spilled his prized bottles of scotch I spilled it all over the floors and the furniture and the walls I went to my son’s room I turned the lock I lit the cigarette From the bottom of the building I watched it blow a fiery, rippling belch brighter than the San Francisco stars
M: Mother, may I come out now? (a long pause) A: You look like – what’s the word – you look like a wisp a whisper of smoke a cigarette’s last silver soliloquy you look like a ghost you make me sick you make me sick you make me sick because you look like me: the brightest star before the supernova and the smoke that billows, following the forever nights we could confuse it with life (pause) and a girl like you tonight, so bright, so full of light we could almost confuse you with the dawn. Althaia raises her glass in a toast. The stage lights blare with maximum intensity. She bows her head and chuckles in the brilliant yellow light. Blackout.
Carissa Chen ‘17 v Pastel
Holi – Pastel
Widowed â€“ Pastel