Leland Quarterly Vol. 15, Issue 1: Autumn 2020

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AUTUMN 2 0 2 0



Lily Nilipour


Elizabeth Dunn

PROSE EDITORS Adriana Carter Angela Yang POETRY EDITORS Malia Maxwell Lily Zhou BOARD MEMBERS Olivia Manes Linda Ye


FICTION STAFF Chad Brechbuhler Jiayi Luo Jordan Pollock Saloni Sanwalka Sharon Tran Athena Xue Cindy Yu Serena Zhang POETRY STAFF Lucy Chae Isabelle Edgar Kira Jan Chaidie Petris Jenny Shi Carolyn Stein Callum Tresnan Cindy Xin

Copyright 2020 by Leland Quarterly | All Rights Reserved Stanford University


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE I do not want to talk any more about “these strange times.” We know. We know very well. Let’s skip the obligatory introduction. The uncertainty of starting this school year has only made the Leland Quarterly stronger. I am incredibly proud of and indebted to every member of the LQ staff of 2020-21, who all take precious hours out of their schedules to read submissions and come to yet more Zoom meetings. Your dedication to and passion for the arts makes me confident in the future of this magazine. Thank you. But art does not exist in a vacuum. It never has. It is a place to express ourselves in the face of a constantly changing, tumultuous world; it is necessary for understanding this world. For the cover of this issue of LQ, we collaborated with contributing artist Catherine Wang to highlight one of the many pressing issues of our present: the California wildfires. Those at Stanford and in the Bay Area will remember the way the sky fell orange earlier in the year, the way it made the world dark. The fires of 2020 were the worst for California in its modern history, burning over 4 million acres of land — more than 4 percent of the entire state — and pushing tens of thousands of people out of their homes in the midst of a global pandemic. There are still ways to help. On the following page, along with Catherine’s artist statement about her piece, is a basic list of resources you can donate to. We encourage you to read more about the wildfires and global warming, about the people who have lost their homes and lives, and to take action in any way you can. And of course, we encourage you to keep creating.


Lily Nilipour, Editor in Chief

Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

FROM THE ARTIST OF THE COVER This piece was created out of anger. As I was making it, communities I care about were literally and figuratively on fire, and they will continue to burn. Despite the fires that have razed California, a significant percentage of this country still denies climate change. I have watched people in this country continue to deem my friends and family and loved ones as inferior, less deserving of the most fundamental rights and respect, less deserving, even, to live. The problems in this country are twisted and ugly and rooted deep, and sometimes as an artist, I really don’t know what I can say to them except to lay out my anger so it can be seen. Maybe you’ll see your anger in this piece too and know that you’re not alone.

Catherine Wang , Contributing Artist

WHERE TO DONATE American Red Cross Direct Relief The Salvation Army California Fire Foundation Wildland Firefighter Foundation California Community Foundation — California Wildfire Relief Fund Latino Community Foundation — California Wildfire Relief Fund Center for Disaster Philanthropy — California Wildfires Recovery Fund United Way — West Coast Wildfire Relief Funds


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CONTENTS Poetry Premonition, Lara Arikan 9 A Handful of Your Hair, Isabelle Edgar 10 summer sink, Malia Mendez 16 looking in the mirror at vaden health center, Nestor Walters 18 Song of a Grieving Achilles, Chaidie Petris 32 Eagle 20’s, Victoria Hill 34 Slow, Smokeless, Elias Rimer 35 Poem to a nonsoldier where I can’t see him, Lara Arikan 38 Time Rot, Alyssa LaTray 52 “Yet they felt about them the deep and thoughtful quiet of winter”, Malia Mendez 58 i do what i can from where i am, Michelle Cai 60 your face, Nestor Walters 61


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Prose Independence Day, Smiti Mittal 12 The Tortoise and the Harry, Cassidy McCleary 20 What’s Left Unsaid, Sophia Kreider 40 Crossed Paths, Lauren Grove 54

Visual Arts untitled, Katie Han Untitled, Catherine Wang lovebirds, Matt Mettias Self #6 (Red Herring), Timothy S. Jones II Beginning to End, Rellie Liu Untitled, Ryder Kimball untitled 2, Katie Han Untitled, Ryder Kimball Untitled, Catherine Wang purple hour, Katie Han

8 19 24 30 24 36 47 50 51 57


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untitled Katie Han


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Lara Arikan In the new place you will be once you leave: It is good. I am on the edges of this new country, my eyes dislocated, un able to see where you are from among the weeds. You are on the other end of a cor ridor of wires, so I don’t know what you’re touching, I don’t know what you love. I trailed you to the ends of this rivera but stayed hidden in the shallow underbrush. You will never think to look in the water, because you came here to leave me. I am blinking furiously to catch the slightest glimpse in the mud. It is cruel that you have crossed the river. I have not even the seeds of water-flowers, not a reed to keep me company now that you are gone.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

A Handful of Your Hair

Isabelle Edgar

Mamma told me the maps in the creases of my palms have lots of rivers because my hands are always clammy I am having a hard time talking to you Every time I see your freckles I want to play connect the dots Geometry bites the iris of my eye I see in forms instead of figures Painting in pebbles instead of sand Mosaics a graffitied brain Have you ever dropped a clay potted plant? You know the earthy orange brown ones maybe it’s ceramic not clay You can’t pick it up in one handful in one fell swoop of five fingers and one palm


You must begin by eliminating your palm

Switch to just five fingers

A Handful of Your Hair | Isabelle Edgar

Then a thumb and forefinger

And last the stickiness of your palm

Mamma’s rivers And still there will be pieces left on the floor A human body cannot be a vacuum My eyes cannot be a hand a palmless hand two fingers and sticky skin all at once A moving mosaic your mouth is filled with pebbles the way a child counts the number of grapes that fit inside theirs Or maybe marshmallows I’m combing just the bottom half of a handful of your hair and following a roadmap with my fingertip topography too and its terracotta


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Independence Day

Smiti Mittal

14th August, 1947. The end of the day approaches. Clocks freeze at 11:11 and time stretches to make space for the generational suffering that hangs in the shadows of this dingy New Delhi parliament house. “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny...”1 I was sixteen and at summer camp when I first met a girl that I wanted to be with. Not as friends, but in that classic Gay soft sapphic Lana Del Rey kind of way. It was scary to think that I might be. You know. Not straight rolls off the tongue quicker than gay or bisexual or. I once asked my parents what the word ‘lesbian’ meant. They responded in kind. “Where did you hear That Word?” Some time between 900 and 1300 AD is their best guess for when the Khajuraho temples of India were built. Tall stone facades depict homosexual acts that only the BBC will ever summarise as “a wide variety of people getting lucky, in every possible combination.” I was shocked when I first heard this. Not just the way the BBC2 paraphrased it, but the content itself. Resistance to homosexuality in the West has its roots in tradition, and I assumed the same was true for my people. But the more I read about our history, the more progressive our origin story seems.

https://www.inc.in/en/in-focus/tryst-with-destiny-speech-made-by-ptjawaharlal-nehru 2 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-33265987 1


Independence Day | Smiti Mittal

* It’s still 11:11 and Nehru Ji, soon to be the first Prime Minister of independent India, continues: “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” In the Indo-Pak war that will take place in October of ‘47, and then in ‘65, 18 years from this date. When our country comes of age, will utterance be enough to protect us from ourselves? From each other? Luckily, history makes it easy to acquit ourselves of blame. The real reason the country that invented the Kama Sutra itself sent people to prison for 69ing and blowjobs for a large part of its independent history was Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. First imposed by the British in 1861, this piece of legislature criminalised all forms of intercourse “against the order of nature.”3 They weren’t being particularly creative. The law was modelled after the Buggery Act of Britain, and in accordance with international norms for sexual suppression at the time. Only, the British moved on. From homophobia and from our country. In August of ‘47, they left but Section 377 stayed. * “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the




Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to light and freedom.” In 2009, the Supreme Court overturned 377 for the first time. That year marked the inauguration of a host of since regular pride parades, as whole sections of society sidelined for generations were given the green light to openly and freely practice love. And my breath hitched but I did it. I shoved the words off my tongue for the very first time. “I like girls,” whispered in a voice-note Whatsapp-ed to my bestest friend. My country, my tribe and myself, we each found our declarations of Independence, through objections in court and on foot, in words spoken and swiped, over wine and under duress. But two months later I’m in a polyamorous relationship with internalized homophobia, myself, and a girl 2200 kilometres away. In 2013 a local High Court recriminalised Gay. In 2018 they took 377 down again, so eventually things turned out okay, but this is to say It’s my first week at college and my bestest friend is too many time zones away when the girls in my quad start to venture out into the world of boy-talk. They’re not at all homophobic, but that’s almost worse. I am so used to shoving, I don’t know how to casually bring up this cute girl I saw at the NSO bonfire the other day. * Perhaps my skepticism of collective liberation is misinformed. I judge in the context of what further freedom is viable, forgetting I have inherited a liberty that is already the culmination of years of reaching for further freedom. Of years of sacrifice. Death. Hope. All kinds of things coming full circle.


Independence Day | Smiti Mittal

In an interview with the CNN4, the two female lawyers that led the second crusade against 377, Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju, revealed that the verdict was not just a professional, but a personal victory. They were together. Had been. Hope to continue to be. In that classic Gay soft sapphic Lana Del Rey kind of way. And incomplete as a turnover of the law may be—in making Gay more than an insult thrown around schoolyards, or in making Gay ‘appropriate’ enough for classrooms—two women were able to come out on national television without fear of being thrown into prison. I am in a polyamorous relationship with coronavirus, myself, and a girl 5900 kilometres away. The girls in my quad are rooting for us, though the distance certainly doesn’t want to co-operate. I Whatsapp voice-noted my bestest friend that I wrote to my new girlfriend the other day, “Before the birth of freedom we have endured all the pains of labour and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now. Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now.”

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/lawyers-menakaguruswamy-arundhati-katju-the-face-of-historic-section-377-verdict-revealtheyre-a-couple/articleshow/70304218.cms 4


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summer sink

Malia Mendez The faucet water runs hot, And in tandem with summer Refracted through an opened window, The heat plants glistening beads upon my forehead. I wipe still-dripping hands onto neatly-ironed pants (kitchen rag is still in the hamper), But realize I have neglected a plate, blue bone china, And plunge my hands back into the browning sink. Chipped kaolin ridge with gilded koi slices my ring finger Clean, muted red wine blood with soapy water, Tugs at the nerve ending, as body forges its own Riot against the heat. I wipe again — the severed skin folds over Itself, milky and slender, Its curvature a rebellion, but easily stifled With a pair of culinary scissors. There are pains that are simpler Once the excruciating bite is borne, In the name of extended relief. Many pains of the body are this way. I suck like a leech until the blood slows, Wipe a third time, searing against my linen thigh, Mummify the wound, cauterizing atmosphere Licking it sealed. It is summer


summer sink | Malia Mendez

So the alley fills, too. Out the window, Children blow bubbles out of topsy tails Like the ones my mother used, tying my hair into knots, That would stay, tight, for the week she was gone. A toddler carries a speckled leaf to their mother, She tucks it behind her ear; She has learned well to tuck The most beautiful things away. I tug at the wiry curl behind my ear, And a strand catches in the wound: Reopened, It bleeds hot.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

looking in the mirror at vaden health center

Nestor Walters a postage stamp-story on a book of empty envelopes with no addresses to return from quixotic adventures in the wandering eclipses of imagination to feel in one hand strength to become light passing through a carbon prism, fundamental frequency of the universe. in the other: requiem filed without order. climb into a bottle, drift into a house on a street with no number reduced to dust – no, ash let go once, you never come back


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Untitled Catherine Wang


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

The Tortoise and the Harry

Cassidy McCleary

Harry perched on the loveseat in his family’s rarely used living room, or as his mother liked to call it “the parlor” and braced himself for the most awkward conversation of his life. He reached up to wipe away the bead of sweat trickling down his forehead from beneath the brown shaggy curtain of his hair and tried to subtly rub it into the dusty slipcover without his mom noticing. “Honey, I know it was hard, especially because I knew you weren’t expecting to, but your father and I are so proud of you for waiting until marriage,” his mother cooed, posed on the opposite loveseat next to his father, who looked even more uncomfortable than himself, if that was possible. They wish… Harry tensed up and his eye started to twitch, a nervous tic that had cropped up about three years ago. Whenever he fell asleep too early on school nights before he had prepped his lessons and had to teach his sixth-graders chemistry on the fly, rather than his favored zoology, his eye twitch spontaneously appeared. Apparently, it also popped up when he was hiding things from his mother. She reached over and daintily grasped his father’s hands in her own, “When we got engaged it was just the hardest thing to wait, but we knew it was for the best. And it was just perfect in the end, wasn’t it honey? I don’t think we said a word out loud our entire wedding night” That is a frightening thought. Harry shifted around as they gazed into each other’s eyes


The Tortoise and the Harry | Cassidy McCleary

for a sickeningly long time, looking uncannily like two Agapornis roseicollises. Watching your parents cuddle like lovebirds was not Harry’s picture of an ideal afternoon. He glanced down at his feet where his pet tortoise, Darwin, had parked himself a few minutes earlier, in a much-appreciated show of moral support. You’re twenty-seven years old, for tortoise’s sake. You can handle your parents. Deciding he had suffered through the silence long enough, Harry finally said “Yup… It will be great, but Mom, can you please send your adoring thoughts to Dad on your own time. Also, did you happen to think about what I asked you before, which, by the way, had NOTHING to do with waiting to mindmeld until marriage.” “Well, yes, honey, I think Darwin as a ring bearer would be adorable, but I expect you probably have a lot of questions about the mind-meld, and I just wanted you to be able to ask them before your father leaves to make his tee time at the club.” He rolled his eyes as another bead of sweat trickled down, trying to feign nonchalance. Even the kids in his classes knew about the mind-meld; once they had figured out that he was engaged, they spent the first five minutes of every class speculating what thought he would send to Wren first, once their thoughts linked up. Little did they know… His eye twitched as he squeaked out, “Mom, I’m pretty sure the logistics of it are not so difficult to understand, given that humans have been joining and amplifying the waves from their cerebrum and prefrontal cortexes since before we even evolved into homo sapiens. We think at each other and then we can think to each other. Pretty simple stuff.” “You and your biology talk. I’m still surprised Wren even agreed to go out with you with you blabbering on about this and that all day long. Fine, I guess if you don’t need anything, we’ll just see you tomorrow. Eight o’clock sharp, honey.” “I know, Mom. I’m not gonna be late to my own wedding. Also, for your information, Wren loves it when I talk nerdy to her.”


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

He quirked up the corner of his mouth at his little inside joke that had begun when he had met Wren wearing a talk nerdy to me t-shirt. “Well, since we’re done here,” he jumped to his feet, “I’m gonna head back to my apartment with Darwin before the rehearsal dinner tonight.” He bent down to give his mom the requisite kiss on the cheek, and then bolted out the door, Darwin following as fast as he could. Once he and Darwin were securely situated in his car, he exhaled. T minus 18 hours until it was Wren confession time. Honestly Harry, I don’t know how you’re gonna get out of this one. *** Seven thirty p.m. saw Harry sitting to Wren’s left at the head of the long rectangular table that dominated the formal dining room of his parent’s club where they would be holding their reception the next day. Tomorrow the room would be filled with small round tables and slightly tipsy guests who had imbibed one too many drinks from the open bar, but at the moment, he only had to face down their two sets of parents, his best friend, Paul, who would be serving as the best man, Wren’s bridesmaids: her younger sister Larken and her two girlfriends from college, and of course, Darwin. Not that many at all. You’ve got this, probably… The eye twitch was back, and he felt himself tense up at the thought of disappointing so many people the next day. He felt a familiar hand rest on the clenched fist he had hidden under the tablecloth and tilted his chin up to meet Wren’s sympathetic gaze. Her raised eyebrows asked him questions he didn’t want to answer at the moment. He shrugged. “You gonna tell me what’s going on in there? Or am I gonna have to wait until tomorrow when I can weasel it out myself?” She asked, her voice teasing, but her stiff shoulders belayed a little stress. Odd.


The Tortoise and the Harry | Cassidy McCleary

Eye twitch. Apparently, the reaction wasn’t exclusive to his mother. You are so dead. The natural curiosity he had adored since they met was a little less adorable right now. She was going to see his eye twitch and then he was screwed. “I’m all good. Nothing to worry about,” he murmured, trying to avoid the attention of both of their parents who had been fairly quiet all evening, for different reasons; his parents had fallen into their usual thought-sharing pattern that most traditional married couples used once they decided to mindmeld. Wren’s just glowered at each other like they tended to do these days whenever they were forced to be in the same room, most likely using their connection to privately yell at each other. “If you say so. No backing out on me though, Mr. I’mnever-gonna-fall-in-love-because-only-my-tortoise-understandsme. If I can get past my fear of the mind-meld, you can make it to the altar,” she replied with a wink of one of her chocolate brown eyes, and shot him the grin that had made him melt instantly from across the bar a year and a half ago. The slow-burn kind that warmed his insides like a Bunsen burner until he was just a puddle at her feet. It was hard to believe a girl as wonderful as she was had fallen for one of his science pick-up lines. He had known she was the one when she had fired one of her own right back. “You’re never gonna let me live that one down, are you” he said, with a wince, the barest hint of a smile teasing the corners of his lips as he remembered how badly he had bungled their first conversation. It was their mutual love of Jeopardy that saved them. With his mind far away from their rehearsal dinner, distracted by memories of their first meeting, he almost missed her whole comment. But, after a moment, the second part of what she said sank in. “Wait, fear of the mind-meld? What does that mean?” Wren looked like a kid with her hand caught in the cookie


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

lovebirds Matt Mettias


The Tortoise and the Harry | Cassidy McCleary

jar. “Oh. Well… Obviously, you know about my parent’s issues. I just got really freaked out a few nights ago about us and all the what ifs. Like what if you turn out to be a yeller like Dad? And what if I end up having to take migraine medicine for the rest of my life like Mom, but then I realized that I trust you, and I can do this.” She nodded. The last part seemed more for herself than for him. He winced. “I love you,” She smiled. “Wren, I…” He started, but then his eye twitched again, “I… love you too”. Oh boy… This is worse than I thought. *** When Wren stepped through the large wooden chapel doors the next morning, Harry’s heart almost stopped. She looked more graceful than a swan, with her simple white dress trailing behind her. The morning sun streaming in through the windows behind him cast a warm glow that brought out the blond highlights in her curly caramel hair, pinned back beneath her veil. As she strode towards him, the soothing chords of Pachelbel’s Canon in D started to feel like his personal funeral march. After her admission last night, he felt even worse. When she found out what he had done, she was going to kill him, or worse, jilt him at the altar. Wren reached the base of the altar where he was waiting and grasped his hands tightly, which he attributed to anticipatory jitters. She looked up at him with her eyes shining. She was perfect. And after today, if he told her, he was going to lose her. Most of the ceremony passed in a blur. He responded when prompted, although if you asked him what he had said, he had no clue. He must have said the right things though because before he knew it, he heard the officiant say, “If anyone can think of any reason why these two young lovers should not be bound in heart, and especially mind, speak now or forever hold your peace.”


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

At the mention of minds, his eye twitched yet again. Come on Harry. Fess up. Silence ensued, although Harry could feel the sweat pouring down his neck into his collar, which suddenly felt a lot tighter. He wanted to reach up and loosen it, but his hands were firmly in Wren’s grasp, in preparation for the mind-meld to start. Harry, if there was a time to tell her, it would be now… “I neither see nor hear any impediment to this union. Without further ado, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. You may now meld your…” “Wait!” Harry exclaimed to the officiant and then turned back to Wren, “I have something I need to tell you.” He heard a sharp gasp from the congregation; he didn’t even need to look to know who it came from. “Can’t it wait? We do have an audience, you know” Wren nodded her head towards the guests filling the chapel, whose faces ranged from intrigued to veritably horrified, his mother falling decidedly in the second category, mouth still open after her earlier aspiration. His father sat stoic beside her. No surprises there. No, it most definitely cannot. “Ummm, not really,” he grimaced, teeth bared in an expression that was trying really hard to be a charming smile but looked more like a chimpanzee’s grin. “Not even until after the mind meld?” “Ya… about that…” Her eyes got the biggest he had ever seen them, so big she bore an uncanny resemblance to his favorite primate, the Philippine Tarsier. “Harry, what is it?” “So you know how I always used to joke about dying alone with my tortoise?” “Of course. I tease you about it all the time. What does that have to do with our wedding?” “Well, when I was about thirteen, I hit peak nerd.”


The Tortoise and the Harry | Cassidy McCleary

“Yes. Your mom has showed me the photos. And…” She waved her left hand signaling him to continue, the ring they had picked out together catching the light. Come on Harry, Don’t be a dolt. She loves you. You can do this. He took a large inhale, and all of a sudden, his deepest, darkest, most well-kept secret came spilling out in one giant mumbled burst that only Wren could hear. “Imind-meldedwithDarwinonaccidentwhenIwasthirteen andstupid. ha ha” Ha, Ha? Really, Harry? Oh, shut up, Darwin. “Woah, slow down. You WHAT?” She exclaimed, blinking. By the sound of the murmuring of the crowd behind them, her shout had carried farther than he had wanted. He looked down at his own left hand and started twisting his new ring around nervously. “Can we talk outside for a bit?” he asked. He turned to his wedding guests now squirming in their pews. He was sure they thought he had cheated or gotten cold feet at the worst time, but both of those things would probably have made more sense to Wren, who was looking at him like he was the tortoise. “If you could just give us a few minutes? We’ll be right back,” he said, and pulled Wren out the side door near the altar into the hallway. Away from the appalled audience, he took another deep breath. Her entreating glance gave him the courage to continue. “I used my one chance at thought-sharing to meld minds with my tortoise. It was a complete accident. We had just learned the particulars in school, you know. The stare into the persons eyes and concentrate until you feel their consciousness type stuff. Well, later that week, I had a particularly bad day. Paul was out with a cold, so there was no one to intimidate the group of jocks who sat behind me in science class. They spent the whole period


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

calling me amphibi-noob and chucking pieces of paper at the back of my head when the teacher wasn’t looking. I had never felt more alone. After school, Darwin was the only person around to talk to, like usual, so I rehashed my whole day out loud more for my benefit than anything else, but it really felt like he was listening this time for some reason. So then, I had my genius idea. Try reaching out to Darwin. I didn’t think it was gonna work. But I thought really hard about Darwin with my hand on his shell to establish the necessary point of contact, and all of a sudden, my voice in my head changed and my thoughts felt really sporadic. Then I realized that they weren’t my thoughts at all. They were far too sarcastic to have originated from me. And I flipped out because my shoddy and stupid experiment worked. I never knew I would meet someone like you who was amazing and everything I could have ever wanted but never knew I could have. I promise I would share my thoughts with you if I could. Will you forgive me?” He looked up to see tears in her eyes. His stomach dropped. He knew he was screwed. He knew it. He… “Oh, thank goodness!” She blew out a forceful breath and wiped away the tears dripping down her face, almost giggling with what seemed to Harry like relief? She wasn’t mad? He scanned her over to make sure. Her shoulders had relaxed. Her eyes were no longer of monkey-sized proportions. She seemed suspiciously too happy. Was that bad? “I didn’t know how to tell you, but I was really trying to put on a brave face yesterday. I didn’t want to meld minds either. You saw what it does to my parents. I didn’t ever want to risk that, not that you’re like them of course, but I don’t want us to have to live with that pressure… so, of course I forgive you. Not that this is really something you can guess about, but I always was a little suspicious of how helpful Darwin was whenever you two were in the same room. What kind of normal tortoise brings you the remote?” She laughed and wiped her cheek, “Can you forgive me, for not being honest with you either?” “Forgive you? I could kiss you right now for not slapping


The Tortoise and the Harry | Cassidy McCleary

me and storming out of here.” So he did. And then he remembered that it was his wedding that he himself had so rudely interrupted. “I guess we should probably go back out there, right? I think by this point my poor mother has had an aneurism,” He said with a sigh. “Maybe not an aneurism, but at least a minor conniption,” she said, and they both laughed. “What should we tell them?” As much of a relief as it was to tell Wren, he wasn’t ready to publish his experiment results too widely yet. “Leave that to me,” she said and grabbed his hand. They slipped back through the door, hands still linked, and took their places at the altar again. “Are you ready to meld minds now?” the officiant asked incredulously. “Of course, sir. Don’t mind Harry. His tortoise must have rubbed off on him, because he had some cold-blooded feet for a moment,” She winked at Harry, her dimples finally making an appearance again, and mouthed just go with it. All the guests chuckled except for his mother; she still looked a little shellshocked. But if he had had any doubts about Wren’s genius before now, they would have been erased. They grabbed hands and stared at each other for the requisite ten seconds, willing each other not to laugh while trying to look convincingly telepathic. The officiant proclaimed them married and melded, and after a quick peck, they ran down the aisle to the car waiting outside to take them to the reception. Crisis Averted, Darwin. Told you it would be fine. Although, you realize they’re gonna find out eventually, don’t you? Harry’s eye twitched.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020


Self #6 (Red Herring) Timothy S. Jones II

Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Song of a Grieving Achilles

Chaidie Petris

they’re rubbing Patroclus’ ashes in my wounds like salt the ropes around my wrists the menthol in the back of my throat the black, bacteria-filled bits between the bricks where does it stop, where does it END? I’ve got you here, in the back of a black truck trapped trapped in your body, trapped in your eyes, heart open, eyeballs ajar they pulled off insect wings and kept them in jars this one labeled wars, this one closed borders, this one prison system FUCKTHEPRISONINDUSTRIALCOMPLEX I said with eyes bright who are the women on the street they drove a black limousine they wanked on the pavement Rousseau drove his car backward booty out mooning all the girls in long ballgowns coming out of the opera and laughing they put my hands against one of the boards—do you remember? from the doctor’s office when we were kids put your hands against it it senses warmth makes a big green handprint—do you remember? waiting for your dad to get out of the psychiatrist’s office waiting waiting trying not to hear anything making art that fades away in another couple seconds but that’s what’s incredible—it’s there—and then—it’s not


Song of a Grieving Achilles | Chaidie Petris

I put my arms around her shoulder and rolled a cigarette and burned her thigh in little circles I remember watching them get infected and putting fly wings in them and then the skin healed OVER the wounds and then she had fly-skin and now I broke all their jars and they’re cutting me with the shards they’re tinged in yellow insect blood and bright red mosquito blots and they push my hands over and over again down on spiders so I feel the awful crunch of the life leaving their bodies sickening and vomiting everything I didn’t eat vomiting up my stomach lining and my organs one by one until I’m a sack of skin clinging to bones and they use the bones to carve out the bacteria-ridden blackness between the bricks and I see you and your cigarette and your bow and your laugh and I weep for you, Patroclus.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Eagle 20’s

Victoria Hill

When we kiss, our nose rings turn inside out and my glasses leave an imprint on both our faces. You don’t ask questions when you find me on the porch, my nose and my mascara running. You light a cigarette and give me the first go. You don’t complain when I run through half the pack by myself (even though you’ll want one when you wake up). At the bottom of the steps, a possum pads past us and I can’t help but laugh. So, you laugh with me, through the night, through every blow we’ve had to take on our own: the four times you broke your left arm; my long black hair, cut off along with the abuse; your nose, crooked by the hand of an old oil rigger, that still bleeds when you crack it. It’s 6:44AM when I finally pull the covers to my chest. The smell of smoke still strong on my fingers and the birds already too loud. I lie awake another thirty minutes, even though I have class in four hours. I walk to the gas station at the end of the street, to buy you as many cartons of cigarettes as you could want, my pajama pants tilted to one side by the weight of my wallet.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Slow, Smokeless

Elias Rimer Abreast we lie, allay, Whilst you tenderly sip Cold – asleep. I survey: Wisps arise from your lips And they quiver, murmur Of dreams, your eyes flutter; But O, my fair amour, Your cheeks – their colour! A morning rose would not Glory jovial blush As they do. Minute blots Of pale yellow, like lush Lilius, freckle them; As would a painter Nimbly texture a stem. Astute oil, only fainter. No sharpness to touch, No bones to flay And mal-form. Dunes of Kutch, Soft, white – a duvet Blanketing, as the snow Outside veils the hill. Winter supplies the glow That warms this mourning chill. All too calm. I must be Aware that I cannot hold – Basking in serenity – That of Midas’ Gold. For now, the ice is outside So, leave us to bide As two lovers embrace – Sensing their love erase.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Untitled Ryder Kimball


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

from the artist I’m sitting on a bench at the Coney Island boardwalk, eating a cheap hot dog that has no right being as good as it is. I graduated a month earlier and I’m back in New York, jobless, painfully uncertain about my life’s direction, and spending my evenings wandering around and taking photos—one of the few things that makes me truly happy. I’m waiting for that illuminated twilight hour when the sun hasn’t quite given up on the day yet but building lights flicker on in an attempt to seize control. I’m considering whether to return back west for graduate school and pursue a career in what I love or to settle for the corporate New York grind when I notice that the natural and artificial light have reached that beautiful, transient compromise. I walk down the boardwalk snapping shots and being followed by that nagging and persistent voice telling me what I already know but don’t want to admit: that I’m not supposed to be here, pursuing a path that satisfies others but kills me inside. I reach the end of the boardwalk and turn around to shoot one last image of the sky, later finding that a seagull, flying west, had crossed my camera’s path.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Poem to a nonsoldier where I can’t see him

Lara Arikan I love you. You can keep this in your mouth. I love you In your wrists Behind your eyes I love you in your nerves Your shin-bones. It’s yours. And my feet are yours Small, cold. My blood yours. Teeth. They bite a thousand little pearls My kisses. I love you In the dust of war. I love your prostrate body, mouth pressed not to a cross but my words, not to die Not to die. You live with me, my parakeet, my svelte bird, you live. In the dust. I will say my words again So they are clean. On your stomach on the ground I love you. In the soldier night I love you. At the front men sit, male, alone, you touch yourself because I love you. Your throat because I love you there. The days are moving. Come back


Poem to a nonsoldier where I can’t see him | Lara Arikan

To my touch and the wind and the rain, the pregnant clouds, to me. Come back and leave your army to watch over itself. Leave the front When it is time, there is more to see yet I carry the silence of you there I love you. You know. Next time you can ask Your bones. Your bones.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

What’s Left Unsaid

Sophia Kreider

I imagine you dead – more so out of curiosity than morbidity. Emotion escapes me. The mental wall I constructed to block you out, sturdily built over the years, prevents any sadness from seeping through, brick refusing to crack or crumble under the weight of your death. I wonder if, with you gone, I’d feel the same freedom that I do now, sitting in silence in an empty house. Maybe the absence of your physical presence would relieve my self-inflicted pressure to fabricate an emotional connection between us. Maybe I replace my days of tiptoeing around your encumbered sighs with guilt-free conversations. I get a job to help support the family. Mom and I move out of the house. We grieve, we move on. I walk down the aisle alone but healed, craving the closeness only a father can give from a man who will promise to love me, but who’s love I’m incapable of accepting. A fork scraping the bottom of an empty burrito bowl cuts my telenovela short. I clean up my dinner and turn to Jane the Virgin’s portrayals of worried loved ones for guidance on what to do next. I’m not the screamer or journaler type, nor am I the stone-faced sufferer or anguished weeper. I don’t really know what I am. So, I take a page out of your book and head to the kitchen. Crouching next to the dishwasher, I rotate the lazy Susan fifteen degrees clockwise, just past the bucket of rice. Next to it stands your confidant, your stress-reliever. Golden liquor peeks over the label. There’s enough liquid left that I can swipe some of the stash without arousing suspicion. I reach into the cabinet above the counter, searching for the appropriate vessel to carry


What’s Left Unsaid | Sophia Kreider

out my first taste of rebellion. A glass cup seems fitting. I grab the bottle from the bottom shelf, twist off the cap, and pour myself a glass of whiskey. * I stood in the living room entryway when two strangers carried you up the front steps. You’re hunched, back contorting into a C, face pale with the effort to be on your feet. Mom rushes out to help your coworkers bear your weight. I stay an observer. When you make it inside and collapse on the carpet, panting and weak, I run to the kitchen to get a glass of water. It’s not a practical act – you can’t even sit up, much less swallow anything – but it keeps my hands busy. I kneel next to Mom who’s begging you to go to the hospital. Reason can’t persuade you. The threat of astronomical health care charges overrides your artery’s protests, so you lie on the floor for the next two hours, trying to catch your breath. * Mom told me she had to fight hard to have me. She didn’t want Sarah to be an only child. You pushed back. Dance classes, tennis privates, orchestra tours, music lessons, China trips – they add up. And that doesn’t include the cost of living, my price of existence. Mom won the argument like she always does. Your side-comments and rare, explicit verbalizations over the years taught me that when money is on the line, the path of limiting expenses is always the best route. Don’t call an ambulance, drive yourself. Don’t order take-out, make your own food. Don’t buy new clothes, wear what you have. Although you don’t always express your disapproval of unnecessary spending, a nonjudgmental eyebrow raise after Mom forces me to parade my Marshall’s loot in front of you is enough to send me back to my room, embarrassed and self-conscious.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

I pegged your saving strategies as thrifty, a consequence of learning the value of money at an age where the biggest worry I had was how to look cute for a fresh pool of boys on the first day of high school. You tell me how you slaughtered chickens for Pappi’s business and paid your way through college, how you saved and invested to fund your daughters’ aspirations. To provide for your family. Why else would you still be working now, if not to support me through college at a job that makes you reach for whisky after dinner? Your sacrifice doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. Yet what monkey sees, monkey does. Scanning menus for the cheapest dish and insisting on low-cost backyard birthday parties was my new norm. I became an extension of your ideologies, adopting them as my own, different only in their heightened extremity. As my obsession with money grew, my distinction between what you believed and who you were blurred. The night I got into Stanford, I phoned home with the news. Afraid of receiving a rejection at home with no privacy to cry, I had opened my acceptance letter alone and on the toilet in the Proctor’s first-floor bathroom. Mom picked me up shortly after; I wanted to celebrate with my family. I walked into the living room to see your reaction, slightly underwhelmed by Mom’s stunned silence on the drive home. You closed your book and stood up to give me your signature bear hug that makes me feel safe, secure. But the joyous cheers and tears that I craved never came. I wracked my brain, trying to figure out what I did wrong. What made me so different from the countless kids in college acceptance videos I’d binged on YouTube, jumping and screaming with their parents in triumph? In a fluster, I said, “You’re probably thinking about how much this is going to cost you.” You chuckled to hide the wince on your face. Just as I turned to head upstairs, Mom told me to check the freezer. Inside sat two tubs of chocolate ice cream – my


What’s Left Unsaid | Sophia Kreider

favorite. She said that after I called, you bought it to congratulate me. I ate it alone in my room, with only Netflix as my company. * I lay in bed when Mom set off the house in creaks of protest. The rub of wooden floorboards protesting under pressure isn’t normally loud enough to wake me, but along with your labored breathing and Mom’s attempt at a hushed voice, I’m robbed of my morning doze. I just want you to shut up. I fiddle with my sheets, hoping to ride out the abnormal commotion. You and Mom think I’m asleep, which is nice. I don’t want to help, and I don’t have to. Guilt gets the best of me, though, and I roll out of bed. I couldn’t find a comfortable position anyways. You sit on the edge of the bathtub, naked. You ask me to grab a shirt, a productive task, at least more so than fetching a glass of water like I did yesterday afternoon. I offer to help you stand, and even in your current state, stubbornness gets the best of you. Mom and I watch as you scooch down the stairs one-byone like a starved inchworm, centimeters from a hunger-satiating leaf, determined and nearly resigned, accepting your fate of paper gowns and billable lab tests. I go back to my room and curl into fetal position, waiting until the drone of the car engine subsides. I have the house to myself. Finally, some peace and quiet. A pink three and a half by two-inch card sticky-tacked to my closet door catches my eye and pulls me out of bed. Mom gave it to me in fifth grade with new tennis clothes for my birthday. I thought its message was a little silly, but I’d rather read it than be left alone with my thoughts. The silence I desperately craved was more suffocating than freeing. An inspirational sentence is sickeningly smushed between white and pink daisies, and given the circumstances, I figure there’s no better time than now to heed its message. Kneeling by my bed, I clasp my hands, close my eyes, and pray to


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

a God I’m not sure I believe in. I tell him that I can’t lose you, that I need you, that I love you. With each admission of weakness, a different muscle in my body tenses until I break out of prayer. My confessions feel insincere, so I head downstairs to eat leftovers for breakfast. * I tell you I love you on special occasions. The words fumble in my mouth and come out in unsure cadences, betraying my hesitance, but it’s sufficient in expressing my fondness for you. It is only in these rare instances when I make myself vulnerable that you return the favor. Tit for tat. I tell Mom I love her at least twice a day. Once in the morning and once before bed. The mandarin translation of the three little words pop stars can’t stop belting about comes more naturally to my tongue, its meaning left untainted by overuse. Pure intentions radiate from each shift in intonation, a cohesive sandwich of a fourth tone nestled between two thirds – wŏ ài nĭ. I wish I love you wasn’t a delicate phrase of deceit, a transactional statement littering Instagram comment sections alongside “omg STUNNING” and “you’re perfect I can’t.” I wish it wasn’t tossed haphazardly between teenagers as affirmation of a budding friendship, devoid of the great meaning it’s supposed to hold, serving as a replacement for sweeping paragraphs of passion and adoration – a trisyllabic phrase that somehow lacks the simple, elegant tone of wŏ ài nĭ. I wish it were considered as sacred instead. If you spoke Chinese, then maybe saying I love you would calm my anxiety rather than induce it. Perhaps sharing a language besides English would fill up the lulls in small talk that permeate our conversations, though we don’t have many conversations to begin with. Maybe that would change too. While you avoid conversation with stacks of books, I avoid the thick silences that hang between us, ballooning in


What’s Left Unsaid | Sophia Kreider

volume after small talk, with a screen shoved in my face. Occasionally, you cut these silences, doing so when you’re most out of your natural habitat. It’s as if leaving the safety of the living room’s familiar yellow glow and the rocking chair’s reliable click strips away the mask you put on at home. It’s during these times when you break character most. On New Year’s Day, I sat around the Schweig’s dining room table playing Apples to Apples with the kids while you and the other parents were talking about big, important adult things. That evening, I witnessed an enthusiastic intellectual discussing the latest physics discovery, only breaking topic to segue into a detailed account of the most recent home-improvement project – a complete re-laying of basement tile to prevent flooding done entirely by you, carefully executed so that it not only granted the satisfaction of a job well-done, but also saved tons of money(!). This man laughed with a hearty Santa Claus chuckle and smiled without a pained twist. He carried conversation with ease, eager to engage. This man disappeared when we left. Silence settled back in on the car ride home, interrupted only by the clank of the key missing the backdoor lock and the trudge upstairs to prep for bed. It being nearly 10pm, your bedtime routine had been pushed back over an hour, driving away any energy for post-party gossip. The mask was back. I caught you in the hallway after you brushed your teeth and gave you a hug goodnight per Mom’s reminder. You said, “Goodnight, Buppr.” I said, “Sweet dreams. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” An I love you stuck in my throat. For a split-second, I thought I’d say it. Habit kicked in, saving me from a near lapse in judgement, and I swallowed the words without second thought. * I sat in the visitor’s chair when Mom unpacked your Panera. The room’s not what I expected. Bland and cramped, it’s


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

nothing like the Grey’s Anatomy set with too good lighting and spacious ceilings. You’re lying two feet away from me with your back propped on a diagonal by two flimsy pillows. At some point during your stay, you donned a paper gown which now crinkles under your thighs. I never thought I’d see the day when you weren’t in the practical navy or gray or white tee you wear religiously. Who knew it’d be severe oxygen deprivation that’d get you to break routine? Mom hands you a broccoli cheddar soup and you turn your attention to me. You say, “How are you?” It’s been just two days since my seductive dance with whiskey, just three since your affair with the living room carpet, just one since my dabble with panic attacks. I say, “I’m good!” You crack a smile, the kind that I see you use at block parties and the Schweig’s – genuine, full of life, happy...? I check my enthusiasm when it disappears as fast as it came. We small talk for a bit, and when we run out of things to say, Mom swoops in. I’m ready to go home after fifteen minutes, but I want to stay for at least an hour. To pass time, I picture myself fading into the background as an imaginary camera zooms in on you and Mom chatting about Panera’s ridiculously priced Pick-Two deal. Here on the periphery, I can observe without disturbance. You look sad. Of all the things you are right now – ill, weak, tired – that’s all I can see. I prefer it to the bursts of harbored frustration and on-brand Dad jokes that break your otherwise emotionless complexion at home. I pause on this moment, hoping to capture its novelty with a mental picture. I label the image: “A Peek of Vulnerability,” then stow it away in my growing album titled “First Times.” *


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

untitled 2 Katie Han


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

The first time I saw Mom cry was in first grade. She gripped my hand in shock, her face wet and blotchy. Nai nai had lost her fight against lung cancer. Even then, in the eyes of a child expecting perfection from her parents, Mom’s tears only made her more superhuman. I’ve never seen you cry, though. I think the threat of vulnerability triggers a suppression of your feelings, creating more resistance to emotional intimacy. When this becomes too draining, you use annoyance and anger as a defense mechanism. On the rare occurrence that it surfaces, your anger fuels alienation. I sat smooshed between friends in the Proctor’s basement, celebrating Galentine’s Day nearly a year before your brush with death. In the middle of our rom com, a notification popped up on my lock screen. Sarah dm’ed me on Instagram. Distraught, she messaged me that you picked a fight, yelling at her for taking advantage of your car and claiming that you “ruled” the house, only digressing from rampant accusations of her slipping grades to call her relationship with Siri “abnormal,” mandating them to break up on Valentine’s Day. You reminded her that once she turned 18, she was no longer your legal responsibility. Her response? She’d be the perfect child until she could financially support herself and then cut you off. The next time she’d see you would be at your funeral. The following morning, I acted as if nothing happened. You didn’t know that my respect for you plummeted, fueling my own silences during family dinners and occasional car rides, nor did you realize that removing your mask of “stoic father figure hardened by the world,” once or twice even, could’ve redeemed you from last night’s confrontation. Refusing to be let anyone in or let anything out didn’t make you superhuman, it made you unrelatable. *


What’s Left Unsaid | Sophia Kreider

I sat in the living room after my visit to the hospital and proceeded to picture your death a second time. I’m sad. To my surprise, the emotion I deemed inaccessible broke through a wall I thought to be impenetrable. I no longer feel relieved, either, but guilty. Guilty because I didn’t try harder to get to know you when I had the chance, blaming you for our distance when in reality, relationships take two to tango. Guilty because I held your faults against you, ignoring everything else to create a dimensionless character that’s easy to judge. Guilty because I didn’t try to see you. I think that’s the one thing you’re afraid of most – that someone will really see you. It’s why you wear a mask. But I don’t want to let your fears of intimacy determine my future regrets. I refuse to sit idly while we inch closer to being strangers, at least more so than we already are. Something has to change.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Untitled Ryder Kimball


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Untitled Catherine Wang


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Time Rot

Alyssa LaTray It’s not really Thursday unless it’s Thursday, but 7 o’clock always comes ten minutes early. And it seems like bathtubs drain faster than they fill when you’re waiting. Rooms become dark before the sun has its chance to disappear into the plains, And the grass doesn’t always sway, it’s often pushed by the wind. But then it’s Monday morning, and I’m searching for $4 and change for coffee, Before I realize the months that’ve passed since I called my cousins or my grandma. Dolly Parton plays when I put her cassette in the decade-old stereo, Then my mom smiles without showing her teeth.


Time Rot | Alyssa LaTray

Kitchen towels are thrown onto the carpeted living room floor after I spill my wine, And she laughs about it while I saunter drunkenly behind the couch. The red apples on our kitchen table will rot before nights like that repeat themselves. And soon, dreadfully warm sunlight will warm the floors of the living room, and it’ll be Saturday morning.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Crossed Paths

Lauren Grove

There is a boy with blood orange hair who skips to school. There is a girl with a heart-shaped face who rides the bus. The boy moves like a deer, his feet lightly tapping the pavement. I imagine he is a dancer, flying across the stage in great bounds. He takes a bow and red roses are thrown, surrounding him in a floral perfume. When the curtains are drawn, he pulls petals out of his hair. He is obsessed with the names of nail polish. They fill the margins of his notebooks: Calypso Blue, Moon Yellow, Apple Blossom Pink. He buys bottles with his favorite names, mixes them together, and coats his nails with it. He doesn’t get his license on his sixteenth birthday because he drives too fast. He stars his favorite sections in books with a purple pen. He has a dying succulent on the shelf in his bedroom. He sets reminders to water it every Tuesday. He never does. He works at a macaron bakery on the weekends. His boss tells him he can’t sell the macarons with cracked shells, he can take them home if he wants. He handles his little brother’s favorite flavor, pistachio, a bit rougher than the rest. Sometimes he’ll bring home a random mixture of macarons, and they’ll play a flavor guessing game. The boy always lets his little brother win. He likes to move freely; he doesn’t like tight spaces. When he’s younger, he gets stuck in a bathroom. The door isn’t opening, no matter how hard he pushes it, and he can feel the room getting smaller and smaller, the fluorescent lights getting


Crossed Paths | Lauren Grove

brighter and brighter. He closes his eyes and thinks about open spaces, spaces without limits and boundaries and walls. He places his palms on the walls of the stall and pushes, imagining that he can push them over, imagining they are made of cardboard, frail and weak. He’s hot and sweaty and noxious fumes are filling his nose, and he’s desperately, desperately trying to get out. Then he turns the doorknob and he’s free. The girl steps off the bus, and the boy brushes past her. She catches a faint scent of rose petals. The girl’s backpack is decorated with pins that say, “Jesus Loves Me” and “Got Faith?” I imagine her picking out a bright, summery dress, combing her hair and twisting it into a tight bun. She washes her face with vanilla soap until her skin is raw, her image unfamiliar. That seems to please her mom. The girl falls in love with someone who doesn’t love her back, who can’t and never will. She drinks too much coffee, until her hands are shaking and her stomach turns. She doesn’t understand astrology, and she hates the taste of cumin. The girl buys fifty-cent makeup at the drugstore. She rubs gold glitter on her eyelids and red ink on her lips and feels more like herself than she ever has. She comes home one day to find the glitter in the toilet, the lipstick in the trash. Her mother doesn’t talk at dinner that night. She sits in a pew at the church, and tries to focus on the sermon, but gets distracted by the light coming through the stained glass windows. She loves the way the light bends and softens as it shines through the Virgin Mary, how it casts colorful light on the tile floor. She traces the shapes of the stained glass with her fingertip on the wooden seat of the pew. Her mother places a stiff hand on top of hers. While heads are bent in prayer, the girl’s head is still turned upwards. She believes there’s too much beauty in the


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

living world to worry about the afterlife. After church, her mother places crackers with cheese, fresh berries, and mini cakes on the kitchen table. Her mother lights long candles and plays a soft song on the radio. Her father puts on a clean button down and sits in the leather chair while her mother yells at him for not helping. He tries to help. He can’t do anything right. He sits back down. The girl brings coffee or wine to the guests once they arrive. Then she sits, and she watches. The boy and the girl pass, the vividness of their lives trailing behind them, intertwined for a moment. The memory of their passing fades like diluted watercolor.


Leland Quarterly | August 2020

purple hour Katie Han


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

“Yet they felt about them the deep and thoughtful quiet of winter”

Malia Mendez —for the unrequited i can never answer you at the moment you unhand your question you remind me of the man who overbundles in boston, and your question arrives like your overcoat dropping to the floor i can never catch it — these arms have grown tired, kid, and the orange bottles in the junk drawer insist i’ve grown up and maybe it’s not a good enough excuse anymore to say that i’ve released the balloon again i can never keep the rings on my fingers so i bury them in a childhood music box Dad tells me cognition dictates sensation How the daggers in the air only pinch If you let them except all i heard was the bile in his voice and his crimson lie you’re getting better


“Yet they felt about them the deep...” | Malia Mendez

i can never because these circuits only know disorder i can never answer “where do you go?” “what do you see?” because i am with you and scaling the alps, i see your coat hit the floor

titular quote from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

i do what i can from where i am

Michelle Cai i miss the air tinged with smoke, remnants of burning prairie. i miss all the trees infested, then splintered, cut down. when i return, the street is bare, but i am relieved to smell the air sweet with thunderstorms. the glowing blue of evening even the ants that crawl across my skin when i am too still. in fear of falling once again into the pull of inertia, i took my time, listened closely soft voices in morning, wind whispering through leaves i was grateful when the birds returned. i let pain, slivers of it, dissolve slowly. these last few summer nights, i squatted bare legged by the window wishing stupidly for fireworks, a fistfight. last week i took off my glasses and thought this could be any street. now the quiet is an indictment it was never enough just to mourn


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

your face

Nestor Walters the night before you left, that night the ashtray was just out of reach. gray-white flakes, weightless as dreams, drifted through the cracks in the table.


Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Contributing Artists & Writers Lara Arikan (Poetry) grew up writing poems in Ankara, Turkey. She wants to make sound out of everything. Michelle Cai (Poetry) (she/they) likes pretending to be in a music video in her backyard, Burger King drive-through, and making pottery. There are lots of other things she wants to make. Isabelle Edgar (Poetry) is a remote freshman living in Chicago, studying English, and dancing with an artists’ co-operative in the city. She is originally from Cape Cod, MA. Lauren Grove (Prose) is a sophomore from San Diego, CA. She likes to cook, play beach volleyball, and write creatively in her spare time. Her favorite color is red and she is a part of The Stanford Daily “The Grind” section. Katie Han (Art) is a sophomore from Maine. She enjoys photography, painting, cooking, and rollerskating. She is currently undeclared, but is interested in combining psychology, architectural design, and art practice. Victoria Hill (Poetry) is a visual artist and poet from Portsmouth, Virginia. Much of her work is concerned with the aesthetics of the human body and sexuality. She is currently an undergraduate studying art history with hopes of a career in art conservation. As of 2020, she is Design Co-Director for MINT Magazine, Stanford’s sole fashion and culture magazine. Timothy S. Jones II (Art) (he/him/his) is a 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Theater and Performance Studies with intersecting research interests in race, movement, sexuality, and the aesthetics of risk. He is primarily interested in the Black male body in undervalued movement and protest practices. 62

Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Ryder Kimball (Art) is a photographer, storyteller, and digital designer from New York City. He’s currently completing his graduate degree in Environmental Communication from Stanford University. As he studies and works remotely he’s been moving around the country, capturing what he sees on film and writing about his experiences. His full portfolio of images can be found here: https:// www.ryderkimball.com/. Sophia Kreider (Prose) is a sophomore planning to major in Human Biology with a concentration in brain and behavior and minor in Violin Performance. During her free time she enjoys playing tennis and guitar, cooking absurdly long recipes with friends, and writing. Alyssa LaTray (Poetry) is a Blackfeet and Little Shell sophomore. She is majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Cassidy McCleary (Prose) is a Senior English major and Music minor who loves to write in her spare time. When not writing, you can find her reading, singing, or ordering pizza from Dominos. Matt Mettias (Art) is from Hawai’i. He dabbles in minimalist art creation – especially when he finds opportunity and basic resources. Other than talking about himself in the third person for bio descriptions, he enjoys learning new languages, producing sound art, and writing in both nonfiction and fiction genres. Malia Mendez (Poetry) is a junior majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, Prose track. She has also written for The Stanford Daily, MINT Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine. Smiti Mittal (Prose), a rising sophomore at Stanford University, has dabbled in slam poetry, creative non-fiction and play-writing over the years. Regardless of the form, she is drawn to narratives that interweave universal themes with her personal experiences as a queer, Indian woman. When not lost in thought, she can be found reading, running single cell data analysis or curating playlists. 63

Leland Quarterly | Autumn 2020

Chaidie Petris (Poetry) is a poet, writer, and illustrator from the Seattle area. They are currently working on a collection of poems based on dreams recorded over the course of a year. Elias Rimer (Poetry), often and regretfully taking for granted the utter fortuity of his existence, attempts to write stories – drawing inspiration from his experiences – that would assist people facing the same questions. He does not promise any answers – he knows nothing – but at least the blade could be blunter if he’s trodden on it before. Coming from Geneva, Switzerland, Elias finds himself imbued with the francophone romantic culture and its seeming incompatibility with the technological age. Nestor Walters (Poetry) is a half-Greek part-time writer, full Navy veteran, struggling math major. Find him at insta: nestor_ walters or on his blog nestor.walters.com. Catherine Wang (Art) is a senior majoring in Art Practice and Computer Science, and has been doodling since she could hold a pencil. Lately she’s been experimenting with mixed media landscape drawings and dabbling in photography. When she’s not making art or slogging though problem sets, she’s probably reading a book or sleeping.


Cover Art by Catherine Wang

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