by the Students and Alumni of Palm Beach Atlantic University
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
School of Arts and Sciences • English Department • Art Department • Development Office
FOUNDER AND FACULTY ADVISOR Professor David Athey
GRAPHIC DESIGN ADVISOR Professor Tim Eichner
SPECIAL THANKS PresidentWilliam M. B. Fleming, Jr. • Dr. Randy Richards • Dr. Robert Lloyd • Dr. Susan Jones • Dr. Jenifer Elmore • Becky Peeling • Louis Park • John Sizemore • Autumn Raab Help support Living Waters. Contact Professor David Athey in the English Department. 561-803-2259
EDITOR Abigail Skinner
SENIOR EDITORS Alia Michaud Megan Konynenbelt
MANAGING EDITOR Cameron Schott
ASSISTANT EDITORS Alexandra Gomez David Doyle Kurt Burghardt Therese Hair
COVER ART Kyle Kazmier
Living Waters Review
Table of Contents
Georgia Peaches, Exit 72
A Guide to the Bears
Silhouettes Toward Infinite
A Line From a Poem
The Greenhouse Effect
Emilio J. Gomez
Amelia River Campground
Do You Know What Gray Feels Like Therese Hair
From Peace to Piece
At the Cline
Gold Light, Dark Water
Dancing on Dead
St. Annâ€™s Infirmary
Under Water Sunhat
Si Se Pudiera
Pascua Florida (A Florida Apocalypse) Charles Browning
The Deer of Radnor Lake
The Wings Between
Li Chao Knit
Friedrich Wilderness Park
Rent Paid on Pavement Strings
In the Eye
Ship in Mist
Living Waters Review
All Now Mysterious
Gardens of the Villa Moreno
I get it. I think.
Hello From the Third Stair
In the Stillness, Dancing
Notes to My Future Self (From the Diary of a Girl Scout)
Because Babel Never Learned
When the Bell Tolled
Patience and Her Fool
Consider All the Worlds
Burned Victoria Randall
A bonfire blazes under my tongue. Flint teeth struck sparking retorts behind a mouth dammed by God Himself. Hot breaths fan flames so I refrain from fuming. But I’d pay to spit embers at that pat grin smearing stained teeth between red lips. Scarlet flecks stick on a clicking monologue
full of how-you-see-its and that’s thats.
6 I’m a churning furnace of words. Smarting crimson kindling and bitter ash fueled by the twigs you try me with and stoked by the specks in your eyes. Through this incinerating conversation, I keep from becoming volcanic. But girl, I’m going home to boil tea with the coals meant for your head.
Living Waters Review
Georgia Peaches, Exit 72 Abigail Skinner
My dad believes in peaches. And weeds that look like flowers on the side of the road, trips to nowhere interesting, or at least we don’t think so. My family never went to Disney World on a vacation, even though we begged because that’s what families do, families take vacations to Disney World. “We’re not families,” that’s what he’d say, “We’re our family.” And we didn’t know what that meant except that we weren’t going to Disney World. So we’d drive to nowhere or some boring museum with things locked behind glass and definitely no pirate ship rides or princesses or little hats with mouse ears or or or and these were called Van Adventures and we didn’t know where we’d end up but that was the point, I guess, I suppose. Once, we made it all the way to Georgia, I knew because every quarter mile there was a billboard proclaiming peaches are what my dad believes in. So he pulled off the exit 72, I remember, and isn’t this better than Disney World? his grin said. So we bought peaches from the man at the stand and they were good, I’ll admit, maybe the best I’d ever had.
Dinner Maren Brander
Short Story 8
placed the sack of rice in his hands. We had traced many miles of backward paths to find homes that would welcome us, sit with us, be with us. We found many. I had never encountered these village plots in my sum of travels, just a jog from the pot-holed highway we frequented during the week. The stench of voodoo coiled in the air, married with the smell of rotting mangoes along our tracks. Both called my attention. A friend to my right offered a sack of brown beans to the frayed man while children scattered out of a mud-sealed house.The young eyes studied us and giggled at our differences. Somewhere in the mixture of shy smiles on cracked skin and murmurs of English and Creole enclosing me, I mumbled a blessing for the man holding armfuls of rice and beans and the household holding many mouths. His family extended beyond his lineage, offering grace and shelter to those with none. Prior to this encounter, we felt like we had been heaping scoops of rice and beans into plastic grocery sacks, but now it seemed we had come with far too little. Even after my lips ceased moving, my prayers echoed in the chambers of my mind. Multiply, oh please, multiply. I looked up at him, my hand still extended in our parting benedictions. I felt anxious for the things I should say to him, but in my hesitation he spoke to me first. The words I could not understand in his native language I translated through the grammar of his eyes. He spoke validation. The rice and beans were more than two sacks; they were twelve basketfuls. Many will be satisfied.
Living Waters Review
A Guide to the Bears Megan Konynenbelt
t the base of the mountain, just outside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, survives a rustic, yet predominant, tourist destination. The city itself is considered trashy, with the history of the place being low-brow. But each individual road off the main city is one that leads deeper into the culture of this mountainous world. This is the path that you’ll be taking, through the woods and the city. It’ll lead you on to the great mountain peak—where I am—if you follow my instructions. Turning left off of Main St., you are greeted by a forest of silence. This silence is only broken by the motorcyclists who treat the disintegrating one-way road as a perfectly solid two ways. If you drive along the crumbling roadside cliffs for long enough, you can leave the motorcyclists in a fit of rage at your having followed them for such an extended period. The danger of the cliffs immediately gives way to the fording crest of waterfalls, locked in a perfect atmosphere of glade-fresh mountain air. Tiny particles of spray leap up, dousing everything in their presence, making rocks slick and faces numb no matter the season. Watch your step, or you will feel too intently these mossy daggers. The spray’s visage turns snow-like as the intensity and depth of its fall increases, causing all flavors of the year to appear in tandem. The leaves fall golden into the fray, leaving the sun to beat upon your back as you lean to look at the flowers flourishing in the constant moisture. The local birds squawk their discontent at the roaring of humanity’s glee, as it disrupts their hunt and slumber. The chirrups add to the glade’s character, yet you can’t help but think the situation is sour, tainted by the palpable grievance.
Returning to the main pathway, you can take a left after a distance of about 7,000 feet. This will take you to a number of places, but if you stop here, the best place to go is to the Mountainside Bar. It is named aptly, for the interior of the tavern is carved from a giant rock that was thrown to the base of the mountain. The ceiling is jagged and rough, and the current proprietors deemed that adding bits of broken bottles from midnight fights outside the facility were what the ambiance had been lacking. The carved rock ensures that the drinkers are cool and shaded, and the bits of bottles reflect specks of light onto their shadowy foreheads. Elvis croons false compassion to the inhabitants who long for the empathy their lives have been lacking. Elvis doesn’t provide, but their drinks help convince them that he is enough. This spot is better than the others on the street because you can still find those who want connection in place of the hollow repetitions of that king. These people will offer provisions in turn for your ear, or the remnant glow remaining from your time in nature. You’ve seen the waterfalls just that morning—if you’ve been following my instructions—and can remind them that they’ve seen more waterfalls in their lives than they’ve seen anything else. A description of the next road on the left will ensure that you can recognize and avoid it, as it is apt to change its location on the map. The store is simply this: a vintagestyle linens shop that imports sheets from everywhere else to fill their already-stuffed shelves. The owners have a flash sale every winter as an excuse to wipe the dust off the weathered plastic wrappers that are slowly deteriorating in the stagnant heat of the fire inside the shop. Curiously,
Short Story 9
Short Story 10
the fire there offers no rolling waves to distinguish the movement of air currents and, consequently, there is no purification of the settling dust. Keep following the path away from the previous road. You may be tempted to avoid this stretch of the road, but it is vital that you weather this section of pavement to heighten your enjoyment of the rest of this tour. On the thoroughfare, there is a man hired by one of the shopkeepers to follow you. He follows everyone who passes, but will focus on you when you walk through. He makes no noise, lest you heed him before he is upon you. He is nameless, and would be attractive if he were not dressed in a horrible guise. Seeming to walk on your discarded breaths, the man waits for you to slow or stumble before he jumps out at you, scoffing at your terror. Do not give him the benefit of your fear, dear traveler: there will also be a man—probably in a ten-gallon hat and a belt buckle the size of Rhode Island— who looks of no consequence. As soon as the hired man jumps out at you, this old cowboy will walk straight up to you both and communicate somehow with the other. All travelling directions have informed me not to look, and I did not look when it happened to me. You must not look. I’ve heard said that the old man lifts up his shirt to reveal a gun on a holster, but others have said it is an opal-like blade. Others say that the place where the blade was is actually a hole in his shirt, but that it scares the young man away. In all cases, the young man laughs in the face of the old and holds up his hands as a mocking sign of acquittal. His air is all in the appearance that the men were joking, but you will get the feeling that there was never any jest. Now that you’ve met these two, you are able to continue to the next side street. The next street proffers a variety of options. Take the road to the right instead of to the left. You’ll find a conveyor belt to the summit of a well-defined slope. There is a small farm, built specifically for the enjoyment of young children, where you can pet sheep and donkeys and watch horses, tethered to a pole, walk for hours in the same circular pattern. The children can purchase balloons, which the hawkers fill clear with fire. The fire drives them upward, and their span across the sky acts as a ceiling of flame, countering the dank bar cave’s glass reflections with waves of glazing luminescence. The sky-fire burns the first layer of your skin and then stops, opting to toast some of the neighboring trees. You keep hoping the old man will come
join you—but his place is not on that lower slope. After a time there, the hawkers will begin to grate upon your nerves and you can decide to return back to the main road. The chained up animals and the lack of the old man spurs you down the slope once more, and you will emerge more refreshed than you were, but slightly more disenchanted. At this point, it is in your best interests to avoid all other side streets. There is not a lot you can learn from the company met with there, but, as always, discretion is advised. You may be drawn down one of them, but remember to return. You won’t appreciate the end of the road if you’ve spent all your time on a side street. If you follow the thoroughfare past all these side streets—right and left—down to the end of the touristic fanfare, there is a round finishing to the road with two motels on either side of a path up the mountain. The motels—50sstyle buildings with emerald green doors—are small, but there is always vacancy. The building on the left always has its lamp lit, but knock on the door of the right house. The attendant will lead you to the stream nearby to clean off. One of the other guests told me that someone died there once and they don’t need any more bloodstains on their carpets because steamers are expensive in the mountains. The attendant leading me, however, said they were more concerned about mudstains than bloodstains. After you’ve cleaned off, which will sting more than you expect, you can get settled in your room. There is a forest on one side of the building, making it possible to feel the cool breeze while you rest. Guests can feel the atmospheric pressure of the mountains from the interior of their rooms and open their front windows to experience the same crisp, wintery air from the fresh foliage surrounding them. You will be more refreshed by this than by sleep, so try to stay awake for as long as you can. This forest is the perfect region to view the local wildlife, too, and not in caged domesticity, locked in a permanent circle of movement. These animals roam free, comfortable with humanity but never tame. There are wild cats in the trees, stalking the wild elk from above for enjoyment, as it seems they aren’t hungry. The deer wander about, outwardly lost, though they know their way. The rooms serve as a half-way point, don’t forget this. There will come a time for you to leave, and I’ve seen guides come down the mountain for other guests during my stay here. We celebrate every time this happens, though
Living Waters Review
none of us know what is found at the precipice. Recently, when I saw a baby bear try the door handle to my room, I opened the door instead of screaming. I recognized that we were each as wild as the other, which the cub had known all along. He entered my room, sniffed around, and then left. Now, he stands on the path as others have done for former guests. I know I must follow him up the mountain, but I’m a little scared. “Wait! Wait just a moment!” I began to carry this guide with me, but instead, I address it to you. The bear turns his head back to me, and his coat glitters from purpureus to palatinate. It makes me ache to see it, but my eyes are fine. I’m going now, I’m going. Don’t worry about what I didn’t tell you, you’ll see. There will be others to show you the way. My last bit of guidance: do not be afraid. The bear will find you.
Short Story 11
Elysium Kurt Burghardt
In the fields,
the pretty things begin to gather fame,
pointing up to the burning blue.
There is love and a mystical wind
shaking up the landscape with breath like mantras.
In the fields,
frosty dew takes on the shine of polished opal.
The sons and daughters of satyrs flourish
—sprawl out in the plains,
catching moisture in their jovial hooves
and there’s a reverie of mythical spring flutes.
In the fields,
like a fuse box exploding,
one by one,
systematically pops into cognition.
A zenith of music gathers strength
—an army of praise awakening to the call to arms.
In the fields,
the cycle starts anew,
—mower —reaper —sower —grazing —gathering —hunting a body and a blood of equilibrium, a swirl of a loving gyre
and things piece together.
Living Waters Review
Twenty-Something Laura Pastorino
it’s the color of the ocean when I can’t sleep, it’s the years I swallowed the stars and burned through every paperback dictionary for the answers. i’m growing uncertainly in flower pots next to windowsills. dreaming of saving the world barefoot, finding new ways to pick flowers off
the trees, and fitting glittering cities into sundress pockets when I want a taste
of home. becoming someone who does the whole rainy sundays, elbows in butter and eggshells kind of dance while listening to stevie nicks. the hue of a rose tinted river, the sky simmering as it slightly stains my hands, my hair, it happens to you too. it’s so perfect that there is not one photograph, not a single out of focus polaroid that can capture these existences. instead, it’s putting a seashell up to your ear and hearing your entire life echoing inside it.
Vergangenheitsbewältigung Sarah Selden
Short Story 14
alking the streets of Leipzig, Pauline was struck by the newness of the city. Gone were the prodigious cathedrals and thatched roofs that had checkered all other German towns. Gone were the intimidating stone walls that had surrounded the city for hundreds of years, and gone was Wagner’s house, the only remnant being the bars of “Ride of the Valkyries” painted on the all-glass walls of the three-story building that rose in its place. Pauline continued walking through the city, her eyes scrambling to find a focal point between the towering modern buildings and the artfully weathered brass quarternote pavers in the cobblestones. The pavers lead Pauline to the next historical landmark that had been knocked down and rebuilt. She wandered past Starbucks and bratwurst stands, through shopping malls that were tucked into what were once Renaissance galleries. She passed a set of grand basalt stairs leading down to Goethe’s favorite pub, Auerbachs Keller, which had been overtaken by the American Eagle Outfitters in the space above it. As she came through an arched opening in one of the galleries, an old stone church filled her view. It seemed to be the only historical evidence in the city left untouched from previous centuries. Music began to wisp through the air, barely distinguishable, drawing Pauline’s feet across the uneven stones. As she came around St. Thomas Kirche, she spotted an iron statue of J.S. Bach glowering in front of the wooden door. Beneath him sat a man playing Toccata and Fugue on his electric accordion. Its poignant points and counterpoints propelled her forward until she was standing a foot in front of him. “Aren’t you angry?” Pauline asked. “You’re playing in front of a Burger King!” “No,” the man said, continuing to play. “Leipzig is here! You need only to listen.”
Living Waters Review
The Guardian Therese Hair
uiper Baily was the son of a hippie and an opportunist. He was born on a Wednesday in a halfway house, and his mother said he spent his first year of life between here and the grave. After living in a sordid city apartment, they acquired a house so far from the urban din that he would screech despairingly into the dark silence of the walls when night lowered over the mountains. Only the crickets outside his window could console him, take the place of his traffic lullaby. Kuiper learned the geography of the house from the ground up, pulling himself up on dusty furniture, wobbling over uneven floorboards. He found a crawlspace in the cupboard where he hid for hours one afternoon, sitting still and quiet while his mother searched and pleaded for him to show himself. There were no stairs, just a stoop leading to the front door that he liked to jump off. The bones of the house were ugly. Its exposed wooden face looked out into the woods with an expression that conveyed its tiring age. His mother, Anita Baily, got a job at the post office in town on his first day of school. He did not know how they got money for food or if they paid bills for the house before this time—she was always there; making curtains for the kitchen, playing hide and seek with him, painting stars on the ceiling of his bedroom and flowers on the wall over her reading chair. The school where his mother dropped him off was really a church. Or maybe it was a church that was really a school. It had a large courtyard and a cluster of picnic tables under a tree that split the two buildings down the middle. Anita left the boy inside the gate with a teacher that assured her he would be fine by the day’s end. Kuiper
didn’t cry or wave when his mother walked down the path back to the center of town to where the post office sat behind the Dunkin’ Donuts. He colored pictures of apple trees with the other children, listened to a book, and waited in line for his mother to pick him up. *** With the seasons, the house changed. One summer his mother painted their house yellow; even the dense trees surrounding it couldn’t conceal the happy blight upon nature’s palette, its rays peeking through the branches from a mile down the mountain. In spring, soon after he had started second grade, Anita planted a garden behind the house. A few winters later snow caused the roof to leak and a new one was needed to replace it. The house looked younger as the years passed, as the life inside it developed to illuminate it’s outside. Kuiper was ten when his mother told him that his father was a scientist. She was cutting bell peppers from her garden over the sink in the kitchen when she said, you know, your father would have enjoyed all this space. She told the boy that he was an inventor. An explorer of new ideas, she said. What kind of ideas? he asked. The kind that change people’s worlds. She stopped chopping the peppers and wiped her hands on her jeans. I’ll show you something. He padded in socked feet behind his mother as she went to the nightstand beside her reading chair, pulled out the drawer and sifted through a clutter of papers. She pulled out a stack of eight-by-eleven photos covered
Short Story 15
Short Story 16
in plastic sleeve protectors and placed them in his hands. Names were scrawled in a foreign hand at the bottom of the sleeve in waxy pencil: Orion, Cancer, Scorpius, Cassiopeia. Pictures of the constellations, distinct against a midnight curtain. It was a hobby for him, his mother said. A higher inspiration. Kuiper sat in his mother’s reading chair and flipped through the pictures. He had captured the moon and a meteor shower. Of course there were other worlds like those in his comic books, but this dark and fantastical world his father had glimpsed was alien to him. In his lifetime he had only lived in two worlds, and remembered very little of the first. The sound of cars outside their apartment is the one thing he is certain he remembers for himself and not from a memory his mother had relayed. Their home now was so different from that distant memory, a kind of peaceful haven from the city life he saw on television. All Anita knew about Kuiper’s father was in that folder. The pictures. A thin pile of useless paperwork—a partially completed application for a car lease, sketches and scribbled math equations—was the only reminder of him. The folder had slipped out of his briefcase and she found it under the bed in the morning after he had left. She carried it with her, as though they were the pieces to a puzzle she might one day put together. Your father was a story, she stroked Kuiper’s pinewood brown hair as he poured over the photographs. *** Kuiper never brought friends home from school. On his birthday each year, his mother took him down to Patty’s Parlor for ice cream and they hiked up the mountain for a camp out. The year he turned eleven, after his mother showed him the pictures, which he hung up in his room, he read books about stars, learned about the atmospheres of the planets, memorized the greater known constellations, and borrowed a telescope from school to go stargazing. On a warm day in October, Kuiper ran home from school, taking the shortcut through the trees. The white hatchback was not out front, so he let himself in and paced along the rough wood floors barefoot, listening to the clock above the kitchen sink tick. His mind was on the stars. All he could think about was what his teacher had said in science class that day and he had been holding in his excitement since second period. He heard the crunch of tires rolling over pine needles and scurried to the window.
His mother was carrying groceries, balancing the paper sacks on her hip as she fiddled with the key. Kuiper pulled the door open and stepped aside so she could get to the kitchen. Mom, can we go camping this weekend? He clutched the back of a kitchen chair as his mother placed a bottle of milk in the fridge. Your birthday isn’t for two weeks. Can we go early? Mr. Schneller says there’s going to be a meteor shower on Saturday night. His mother pulled her long blonde hair away from her neck, wrestled a band around it and let it flop back down her spine. I guess we could go this weekend. Do you have any homework due on Monday? *** They set out early Saturday morning, before the crickets had stopped their chirping. His mother carried the tent on her pack, Kuiper carried the camera she gave him last night as an early birthday present. They hiked up the mountain until their feet hurt, they leaned against trees to rest. It was nearly nine o’clock. He ate a packet of gummy worms he had packed while his mother wandered off the sparse path into a bramble of leadwort. He watched and chewed and did not speak as she coaxed the blue blossoms from the cold ground and wound them through her hair. She returned to the path and tucked a flower behind his ear. Ready? Another hour and they had reached the clearing. It was a small spot at a peak that overlooked the neighboring mountain, a stream far below. From here, they could see the sky, a cold bright blue, unobstructed by trees. Kuiper helped his mother set up the tent, then spread out the picnic blanket she had brought. They ate sandwiches, drank Gatorade, and spotted shapes in the clouds. He enjoyed the silence, the scent of pine. The sun warmed his hands, his face, and he pulled off his baseball cap. His mother had fallen asleep on her back, head resting in the crook of her arm. Kuiper rolled off the blanket and stood, looked down the slope to the river. Where are you going? His mother’s sleepy voice. He hung onto the tree beside him, putting his arm around it. I’m just looking. She was quiet again and he resumed his watch. Breathing in, straining to hear the water below, breathing out. Listening, breathing, listening. And then footsteps. He turned around
Living Waters Review
when he heard them, distant, no one to be seen. A blue jay flew from a branch without a sound. Kuiper waited and listened, remaining by the tree. And then his mother was awake again, as the sound of the feet grew louder. Anita sat up, brushed off her shoulder the flowers that had fallen from her hair. There’s someone coming up here? Kuiper shrugged and went to stand on the edge of the blanket. They listened together to the plodding of boots and the swish of leaves. His mother gathered up the sandwich bags and stuffed them in her pack. And then he was there, walking up the path with a backpack on, a walking stick in his hand. He spotted them, stopped like a deer caught in a hunter’s sights. The man was older than his mother, tanned wrinkles around his eyes and throat, gray stubble on his chin and cheeks. Anita stood and put her hands on her son’s shoulders. I guess this isn’t just my camping spot; the man tossed aside his stick, stepped forward. Mind if I rest here? Kuiper’s mother offered him Gatorade. I’m sorry we took your spot. We usually come here a few weeks later. But there’s a meteor shower tonight, Kuiper broke in— interrupting his mother—a thing he rarely did. The man looked at him, glanced down to meet the boy’s eye. Meteors, huh? Elbows touching, the man and the woman and the boy lied on their backs on a blanket, staring up at the darkening sky. Kuiper pointed out Orion, Cassiopeia, Gemini, the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. The night was clear—the stars like bright ripples in a reflection pool. The Draconid meteor shower is named after Draco the Dragon, Kuiper pointed at the Draco constellation. It’s in the Ursa Major family and Mr. Schneller says that it was discovered by Ptolemy who was a Greek astronomer. Do you know the story about Draco the Dragon? The man asked, looking over the boy’s head to that of his mother. Anita smiled. No, Kuiper said. There is a Greek myth that tells the story of Draco. In this myth, Draco represents Ladon, the dragon that guarded the golden apples in the garden of Hesperides. The golden apples were a gift to Hera from Zeus on their wedding day. She planted these trees in the garden on Mount Atlas and asked the daughters of the mountain to watch over it. But Hera didn’t trust the daughters not to
steal the golden apples, so she placed Ladon at the head of the garden to guard them from theft or harm. One day, Hercules was asked to steal the golden apples from the garden, so he killed Ladon with a poisoned arrow to gain access to the trees. They say that Hera was so saddened by the dragon’s death that she placed his image in the sky. Do the other constellations have stories too? The man folded his hands across his stomach and looked to a cluster of stars in the east: The names of the constellations are Greek. They match up with a story about a god or goddess or mythological creature like Ladon. Kuiper was quiet. He stared into the sky, thinking about two of his favorite things—stars and superheroes—and how they just collided in a nebulous realm of possibility. He began to plan the hours he would spend reading these stories and felt a shiver of pleasure wiggle up his spine. Look, look! his mother grabbed his arm and pointed to where tiny streams of light were beginning to smudge the sky with satellite blue. Like sequins and smoke the meteors trailed through the heavens. Kuiper scrambled for his camera, tugged it out of his pocket and pointed it up into the night. He closed one eye and pressed it to his other. Tip; snap. Tip; snap. He exhausted the roll and sat back as the sparks began to fade. *** The man’s name was Garth and he showed up at the house some weekday afternoons to give Kuiper a book or drink lemonade or cider in the kitchen with Anita. He had been coming since the camping trip, since he had given Kuiper an insatiable desire to learn about how the Greeks and astronomy intertwined. A week after they parted ways on the mountain, Garth showed up at their door with a Greek mythology book—a birthday present. Stories of the heroic Olympians filled the house; at mealtimes he would tell his mother the creation myth or the myth of Apollo and how he pulled the sun across the sky with his chariot. The peaceful silence that had enveloped their home was broken by stories of stars and gods. His mother didn’t mind. She listened with focused intent to his stories. Instead of putting the groceries away with a sigh when she got home from work, she stowed them in the fridge and tided up the kitchen for Garth’s visit. The times he came by were like milestones, small moments of security she savored. They had always lived alone, and she enjoyed it. She loved their house and the
Short Story 17
Short Story 18
trees and the solitude, but on certain days she wished there was someone around to fix the stove when it broke or get Kuiper to play outside. Sometimes, when he stayed for dinner, she would try out new recipes, Kuiper reading off the instructions to her as she stirred in spices and chopped vegetables. They listened to his mother’s old records as she cooked. She enjoyed music with a halting beat, a certain discontinuity that spun her feet around the kitchen floor in a dance that made Kuiper laugh and roll his eyes. Sometimes he sang along to the music, but most days he just read his books. On a warm spring night after an unforgiving winter with few visits from Garth, he appeared on their doorstep with a tall rectangular box wrapped in brown paper. Anita answered the door. You’re back, she said. You cut your hair, he said. She fingered the braid that only reached midway down her back now and flipped it over her shoulder: I usually do in the winter. He chuckled and told her she had it backwards. Everyone knows you’re supposed to get a haircut in the summertime. She eyed the package in his hand. Is Kuiper here? The boy skidded in his socks to get to the door and peeked his head behind his mother. Is that for me? Anita invited him in. She warmed up leftover pie and they ate in the kitchen, leaving Kuiper on the porch to discover what was inside the package. He ran his hands along the seam of tape and pealed it back, taking care not to tear the wrapping. The box inside was brown too, cardboard leaking no details about what was inside. He pried it open and pulled out a long cylinder, then several circular pieces that looked like lenses. It was a telescope. He pulled out the rest of the pieces, carefully placing them on the stoop before beginning to fit them together. By the time the adults had finished eating and come to check on him, he had finished assembling it. How does it work? Garth asked. Kuiper was positioning the scope towards the sky, he moved to show Garth how to adjust the lens, then pointed it upwards. The moon looks amazing with this! He looked out into the night, up at the infinitesimal stars his father loved. There were so many worlds, he was learning. So many
constellations and galaxies. A multiverse of stories. He straightened and tipped the telescope towards his mother. Come look, Mom! She looked back at Garth for a moment, You really shouldn’t spoil him, his mother said as she bent to look through the scope. Garth stood back to watch, looking up at the sky, hands in his pockets. Kuiper showed her how to position it against her eye to get the best view. See? Mh-hm, she said; It’s beautiful. She handed the telescope back to her son and placed a hand on his head before she stepped back. She sat on the stoop and pulled the cardigan she had knitted more tightly around herself, looking out at her boys in the yard.
Living Waters Review
Silhouettes Toward Infinite Susanna Loe
A Line From a Poem Emilio J. Gomez
Short Story 20
amuel sits on a bench near the sand, and he reads.The bench is wooden, old with fresh paint the color of azure and white, the town’s colors. The town is prosperous and concerned with appearances. Councils ensure that the bench is immaculate, as serene and majestic as the sea and palm branches that surround it. Assorted gum, abandoned, colors the planks beneath the bench; they remain as unscathed as the ghosts of children who placed them there over the decades. Presently, the bench holds one Styrofoam cup three-quarters full of espresso and milk; one faux leather journal, dark brown; a black fine-point pen, which rests atop the journal; and Samuel, who reads from a collection of short stories. Samuel looks up from the book. Aloud, he repeats, “Nothing is comparable to sleeping in those waters, to wake pounded by a thousand light lashes, by a thousand assaults that withdrew laughing.” He looks to the sea, studies it intently. He seems to be looking through it, beyond it. The sentence repeats in his mind. The sea is a wall, a green screen. He does not see it or the sand or the ships on the horizon. Samuel sees the words, and he loves them. The words were written by Octavio Paz, a Mexican writer. They were published when he was in his mid-thirties. Samuel is in his mid-thirties, Latin-American, mochahaired with coarse whites stubbornly advancing. He has been published once, years ago at a university not far from the town. He would walk from his dorm to the bench, bathe in the sea, and write until dusk. Now, he teaches high-school English and reads obsessively. He has not finished a story in over a year. Samuel returns to the book. He shifts as he reads, crossing and uncrossing his legs, stroking the hair on his
chin, resting his chin on his hands as he considers words. Clouds shift above him, briefly darkening the pages. “The rain was a welcome distraction,” he begins in his journal, then strikes the words through with one line. Paz continues, “I thought I was drowning. And when I was at the point of death, and purple, she deposited me on the bank and began to kiss me, saying I don’t know what things. I felt very weak, fatigued, and humiliated. And at the same time her voluptuousness made me close my eyes, because her voice was sweet and she spoke to me of the delicious death of the drowned . . .” The sea gently oscillates fifty feet from the bench. She is a transparent teal. The wind lengthens her croons, and children of travellers respond, adore her. The faces and shoulders of the children are spotted with sunscreen, white like the crown of the sea and the hair of Samuel and the legs and backs of the bench. The children jump into the arms of the sea, searching her depths. A couple walks the shore. The woman is pale beneath a straw hat, turquoise and floppy, one weathered hand interlaced with her lover’s. Her lover is tall, arms freckled from years in the sun. He treads the sea with his toes. The woman arches, clasps an empty shell with magenta grooves. She rinses it in the sea, then places it inside of a net half-full of shells, each unique in size and pigment, treasures amassed to bestow. Samuel stands, collects his belongings. The breeze strengthens. He looks to the sea, admires its curves. He sees the children and lovers, remembers a line from a poem he wrote, a poem inspired by the sea. Aloud, he recites, “She is a formless mountain crashing on shadow shores, whispering solemn vows in blazing ears.” He looks at his journal and back to the sea.
Living Waters Review
The Greenhouse Effect Megan Konynenbelt
In her mind, the shattered panels
Wondering at the fluorescent fading
had prepared her—ready and equipped—
for the any and the all,
of those beloved petals, she saw
the flowers and the floods.
that her panes protected
All to be welcomed
only against the good.
into her frozen hothouse. She remained, Her life’s joy—heal, be healed—
desecrated by folly, yet
crafted a diligent teacher. She poured
her heat over the winterscape,
for the gardener to return,
hopeful for herself,
replace his sick
for her patients.
and fraying daughters.
Red Bench Cameron Schott
Living Waters Review
Amelia River Campground Olivia Taylor
At the turn of the beach thereâ€™s a small tree cove, a scrap of New Zealand barely in Florida, a wood between the worlds wavering with the ever-summer cedar scent of canoes and crystal lagoons. Past the crunch of ghostly booted footprints the tannic river salts and sparkles, sailboats and shrimp boats working ancient pleasure past
the jetty-sharp Atlantic arms.
The remains of a midnight campfire belonged to the rangerâ€™s children, but to us it was a sure sign pirate refugees had sought shelter here. Across the water is the untraceable Tiger Island infested with snakes. To the north is Cumberland, where castaway horses roam through ruined palaces. Through the channel of the river come the long, black, secret ships carrying cargo of instantaneous obliteration. The cove is a strange marriage of safety and death homeward longing, living Nautilus. In the coarse sand of tales we retreated to our woods and called it Narnia.
Regla Alexandra Gomez
Short Story 24
couldn’t know then that tamales are bitter work, often stolen after the three-day labor for cheek kisses. But I think I was nine when I first sunk my feet into the sun-bleached edge of my birth city. My great-aunt tía Reglita stood by the picnic tables a quarter mile from my cousin and my great-uncle Gerardo and me, and she watched. Tío waded into the dim golden waters with us in the afternoon, and never invited her in. But I was nine. I didn’t ask. *** My cousin and I held our breaths in my grandparents’ community pool. Tía stood on the concrete shallow end, where I could see her anxiety in crossed arms and carded fingers through silver-tinged frizzing hair in the summer swelter. I was ten, and I asked why she would suffer it. “Sí, me baño, pero aquí no.” I laughed because I didn’t understand. Not the words, but the meaning behind her almost-smile. I bathe, she’d said, but not here I don’t. *** Six years ago I sat across from my cousin at a rehearsal dinner. Large platters of milanesa and palomilla and chicharrones, the staples in white rice and black beans, many forms of plantains and garlic-buttered steaming breads for all three tables of our party except for him. “I’ve been taking the train to school,” he said, and dipped his McDonald’s chicken nugget in some sauce. I knew better, but I asked, “Don’t you have a car?” His excuse was half the danger of highways, half the glance he made toward his grandmother, my tía, who was
driving conversation down the line with the people we’ve always known. But my cousin, he’d always had three homes: the one he visited, the one he returned to with his mom and step-father, and the one he continued to be fostered in with collectibles from childhood. *** My cousin inherited it, her fear. She wore it from the moment she set her path as a newlywed fourteen-year-old from the birthplace of herself and of the guayaba. She boarded a rickety vessel which trudged the noventa millas— all ninety miles through nature’s weapons, the opportunists; the near-blind leviathans which often scored perimeters for them in the deep Atlantic, or trailed behind for the Guard’s bycatch. And afterwards, my family alone became hers. Miami may have indoctrinated it but the guayaba which makes your guava is still a foreign fruit, at times too sweet for its history. And Reglita, she is my tía, who makes tamales on Christmas Eve.
Living Waters Review
Do You Know What Gray Feels Like? Therese Hair
I am not allowed outside when it rains. The house, cavernous and breathy, is a baritone labyrinth. A table, a chair, my shoe against the baseboard, my hand on the wall The darkness muffles the sound of the pit pith plink like Morse code on the pavement It beckons but I must never answer, in frustration it roars behind closed doors, slashing at blacked out windows. The air is gray, not with dustâ€”the absence of color. Nighttime lurks in the corners, in faraway places I cannot touch. My palm to the glass, I see the emerald rain. A quick slip, a gap between the pane and the rain is blue. Ice on my fingertips, electric sliver, then steady gold. This is what a rainbow feels like.
From Peace to Piece Elizabeth Fisher
Creative Essay 26
ling. The little pellet of fish food lands on the surface of the water. Waves toss the pellet around until it finally gets sucked into the fleshy abyss. Pling. Another pellet leaves my hand, never to be seen again. It breaks the calm of the water, releasing a chain reaction in the aquatic realm. Chaos. More pellets hit the water. Anarchy. They disappear in an instant. Battle of the beasts. *** The koi pond rests peacefully on the east wing of the church grounds, basking in the light of the setting sun. I put my hands in my pockets and stand there, observing and admiring the foliage and stonework. I notice the pond and I approach it. Upon doing so, many koi propel at the sight of a human, one that may have food. I frown and put my hands out, as though they could clearly see that I do not have food, and that they would understand and swim away. Sorry, guys. I got nothing. I then notice a little machine that, when given a quarter, pours out a handful of fish food into my palm. I might as well, I only have one quarter. I toss a couple pellets into the water only to create a mass of waves and color. I sit along the edge of the pond and watch them. Each one varies in color. Some are like rotting oranges, and one stands out like a fresh tangerine. Some are spotted like Dalmatians, speckled with scarlet acrylic, and some are black like naturally smooth, uncut onyx. One is gray, like the mossy stone that holds them captive.
The runway of liquid is a reflection of the outside, a world the koi will never be aware of. Their eyes see what the surface allows them to see: large quivering things looking down at them. Still content, they swim through their world, oftentimes disrupting the glass surface with eager ripples in the hopes of food. Their massive mouths open and inhale both water and air, making the weirdest sounds. Finding nothing to satisfy their hunger, they descend once again. Whether grazing the floor of the pond or drying their backs in the sunlight, the koi all have a common purpose. A purpose that has been served for millennia, originating in the Asian cultures. They unknowingly provide peace and tranquility to their spectators, symbolizing the virtues of endurance, strength, and peace. Their intelligence, while surpassing much aquatic life, is often overlooked by their beauty. I put their meal on pause and absorb the calm around me. As I sit back and close my eyes, I realize that these creatures, although the epitome of tranquility, are still creatures nonetheless, and become ravenous beasts when food is on the line. I open my eyes and resume the feeding. Pling. The race begins once again, as their vacuums struggle only to consume water and air. They spit out the water, frustrated that they were not the one fortunate koi to suck in the pellet. Pling. And again, they scramble to be the lucky winner. Ah, what the heck. I dump the handful into the sea of mouths. This oughta be good.
Living Waters Review
Teeming Kayla Webbe
Biometrics Megan Konynenbelt
Short Story 28
he figure emerged from the rock, the top of which was blocked from Frank’s place on the leafy ground. He couldn’t see it, but he felt it—a shadowy presence unlike any he’d ever encountered. It didn’t feel spectral in a dark sense; it actually made him remember the beams of early summertime and rolling in the wildflowers that made his nose itch and his hope soar. His mother’s voice rang in his mind—“come in, come in, Frank!”—and his eyes opened back to the color of reality. It was gold, the reality of all-encompassing gold, but the rich color was not the focal point of Frank’s scene. The figure of light, as he had begun to call the being in his mind, was a fluffy and prismatic squirrel. No longer startled, Frank stood, leaving his deer rifle on the bed of spongey leaves where it would spend a lonely and purposeless eternity. Now that the depth of the rock was visible, Frank looked deep into the shimmering pool of liquid gray ore and saw shapes—watery antlers with algaeic moss covering the points, the enormous paw of a diamond-spotted leopard with the claws retracted. The squirrel of light and vacillating color fully emerged from the stone and tested out the ground beneath him, which began to wobble under the pressure of the tiny foot. One of the squirrel’s claws lacerated a fallen sprig of leaf and the shimmering from the stone began to invade the forest. The other animals began charging out of the stone, creatures who wouldn’t fit through the rock’s sides burst out in pairs, filling the forest with watery light refracting from each stony being. Frank was enchanted to find that the ground beneath him, waving and glowing as it was, held his weight. His
lungs, too, were not ineffective, wheezing lumps within the dry cavern of his chest, but the moist breathing of the creatures filled the air, humidifying Frank’s body once more. He looked down at the yellow paper cemented over bone and muscle, cracked and grimy with old, decaying foliage and flesh—but the hands were tender again, and he could feel the cool air flow around his body. The squirrel lifted his head and clicked, clicked, clicked a sound that sounded like a sound that sounded like Frank’s memories. All of his life clicked in the squirrel’s hymn, and the forest came alive, singing the life back into the wasted body of Frank. A shot filled the air and the animals scattered like the smoke Frank had instantly known they were not. A single blink restored the world to an acrid and dry state, and Frank fell to the ground once more, joining his rifle. His outcry had long dissipated when his sons found him, next to the mossy stone. One son knelt next to Frank’s face while the other sat on the stone, his tears the only water now present in the forest. In their rush to the body, they had thrown their hunting gear down next to the pile of Frank’s, all now resigned to the same time without end. There was no music. There were no creatures. There was only a body and its two children. In the tree above the misery, an ordinary squirrel perched, thin from the longer-than-expected winter. It was not watching the grief, for the squirrel did not ponder that which it had no desire to know. The squirrel instead clicked, clicked, clicked—and remembered Frank’s song.
Living Waters Review
Skywater horizon Anna Dutchak
Deluge David Doyle
And it was God who said that He would not destroy the world by waters, so man, composed mostly of water, took it upon himself. The Greek gods worried on the flame passed down to man, the heat that melted Icarus and gave light for Odysseus to follow, but I tell you now, once and forever after, Life is in the water, but it is a life we cannot live.
This is why man was born with skin, something thick enough to keep the sea within us, but thin enough to capture drops of rain. This is why every death involves tears, and every cut brings blood: we are not doomed to the flood of Noah, but rather, we are born of it, set sail within our own.
Living Waters Review
Relativity Jane Carver
o, here it is. We are sitting on the edge of the earth, feet dangling, thinking to ourselves, will our lives ever be better than they are right at this moment? But the edge of the earth is relative, and feet lose feeling after extended suspension, and of life we know next to nothing. “How far do you think it is from here to the ground?” Jasper grips tightly to the rain gutters and peers over the edge of the roof. “Far,” I say, grabbing the neck of his shirt and yanking him back. “It’s a two-story house.” “I bet I could jump. Bet it’s not as high as you think. And besides, the sandbox is still down there. I’d aim for that.” I nod thoughtfully. “You could. But it depends. How important are your legs to you? Or your ability to walk?” Jasper tilts his head to the side, as if he’s really thinking hard about his answer. “Mariah, would you still like me if I didn’t have legs?” I flick his forehead. “Of course I would, dummy. Now would you please scoot back? I don’t think your parents would be too happy about spending the night before you move in a hospital.” “I thought we agreed we weren’t going to talk about that,” he says, not meeting my eyes. I lay down on the roof, ignoring the way the shingles dig into my back. With my thumb and forefinger I make a tiny circle, hold it up to my left eye, and close my right. It’s a trick my dad taught me, a handmade telescope for pinpointing stars. But the clouds swallow the stars and I see nothing through my fingers. For tonight, though, it is perfect. Jasper always preferred cloud-watching to star-gazing.
I do not remember a single day without Jasper in it. When we moved into our house ten years ago, he was outside his, right next door, three years old and riding a red tricycle with tassels and a bell. And after tomorrow he will be gone. “Oh, by the way,” Jasper says, “I got you something.” He digs around in one of the pockets of his green cargo pants and pulls out a tiny, square-shaped book no bigger than a deck of cards. I look at him. “I didn’t get you anything.” “So?” He says. “Just take it.” It is a book containing the names, origins, and photographs of every known constellation. We both know it is basically a useless gift because I already know everything there is to know about constellations. “I know you already know all these, but it’s not just a book,” Jasper speaks quickly, sounds embarrassed. “Each page is actually a collectible card. You can tear them out and, I don’t know, hang them on your wall or something. I guess it’s pretty lame.” I shove his shoulder then link my arm with his. “It’s great.” “Mom said we might come back for Christmas,” he says. “That’s only four months from now.” “Good. That’s good.” After awhile, I say, “You know, maybe the ground isn’t so far away after all.” I look down over the roof, nod. I hope he understands. “I think you’d be okay.” Jasper beams. “Hey, you know what they say. ‘What goes up.’” And then he jumps.
Short Story 31
The Landscaper Laura Pastorino
Saltwater, rough facial hair. Birthday flowers and burnt hotdogs. Green shirts with holes in them, covered in dirt. Six brothers. Three daughters. Fifteen hour days, awake for the sunrise for thirty-five years. A little bit of autumn in your grin. November comes and he never leaves you. Butterfly garden off the patio for your youngest. Lay on your back in the sea, breathe. No vacation, no one wants to work in the sun all day. Trimming trees, planting in the soil.
Earmuffs for gusting the leaves into the street. We are waving to you but youâ€™re wearing your cool shades. Red dump truck with, loud back up beeper. Why did I used to be embarrassed by that sound when you would drop me off at preschool. Why did we all believe that the car would fly.
Living Waters Review
At the Cline Alexandra Gomez
You loop the thread of it,
Three-hundred thousand words
wrap it ‘round the belly of a problem and a path,
that meant everything until they were dead to me
pitching at a cline Desire against Necessity
as the finale of every children’s show—
and that’s how it starts.
better left unsaid for fear of ruining Sentiment or truth or principle or language entirely.
Or is it hesitation marks, shading for what is— may be, will be with a bit and a lotta—well,
They couldn’t mold bones
a hue and a touch just shy of sardonic.
or create shape never-before-seen.
Ignition: mile zero.
Could only assume some preexisting arrangement
Twilight hours and the remnants
of someone else’s innovation: a first-form sketch.
of sweet-singed Café Bustelo. And that’s what it’s like to love and hate and forgive and Someday—maybe—the scrawlings of one, two—
three a.m. become the master blueprint;
one’s own hands in equal measure.
full calcium beams and crude carving of a being
That’s what it’s like to start from first position:
whose face is in need of defining lines, and
unravel the thread.
It spits out too many pages.
Gold Light, Dark Water Johnny Hedger
Living Waters Review
The Stump Daniela Pereira
he white tent covered— was it two hundred faces? Why are there so many, Jon thought, I need to get out of here. But then he remembered, I need to fix my son. Incandescent lighting hung all around, painting the air amber, and the surrogate father on stage finished reading a short story by Shel Silverstein: The Giving Tree. The surrogate father likened the giving tree to a parent, who gives himself away unconditionally, and the aging little boy was likened to a child who has no eyes to see this love. But Jon’s world has been spinning on a different axis; reversed, upside down. It’s been three decades since it happened. “Up front, there is paper with envelopes…You may all come down orderly, get however many you need, and write a letter to your parents; we will be in charge of sending them out to where they live,” the surrogate father ended and disappeared from Jon’s sight. A curse that smelled like blood entered the tent and Jon could not move. His son of fourteen years, Luke, who reluctantly came with him to this stupid Jesus camp, looked at his father and still hated him. Luke could not move. The two watched the others walk to the front, one by one. Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, all reaching for those blank pages, their sniffles getting louder and louder, composed from the simple Silverstein story colliding with their own mangled memories. Some guy patiently played the piano in the background. Jon wondered how many tears had watered this mountainous campground. The blood curse lingered, but something more powerful resided within the walls of this tent and Jon, in full weakness, stood up and reached for a blank page. Luke
pretended not to watch his aging father limp to grab the stupid paper and envelope. When his father turned to walk back, they caught each others’ same-colored eyes for a quick second. Luke clenched his fists and wondered when the hell he was getting out of there. Jon bent his tired back onto the chair once again. One letter. One envelope. One pen. I swear, if he writes me a stupid letter, I’ll rip it to pieces in front of his face, Luke devised. He pretended not to watch his father’s shaky hands hovering over the blank page. Dear dad, the father penned. Now Luke was curious. He kept pretending. Dear dad, I chucked that book in the ocean the day you stopped taking me to school. I thought I got rid of it for good, but it came back tonight, in this freaking tent. I remember that last night, I stayed up behind mom’s back, waited for you to come home so you could read me that damned story. I hate you. Luke’s heart tightened and kept pretending not to watch the truth unfolding: because no one can tell it like you papa. I hate you because you were always enough, and I promised myself I would never be like that boy. I would’ve made sure you never became a stump. I hate you because I would’ve loved you, and if you would’ve told me what you were planning that night, I would’ve done everything to stop you. I still remember the red ground, your face covered in it. I would’ve sat under your shade until the morning came. I needed you. Ten years is all you gave me. I miss you, I miss you so much. I don’t understand. I’m supposed to send this to you, but time travel doesn’t exist. And I guess I— Jon couldn’t write anymore. He began to shake and so did the curse. Luke laid his hand on his aging father’s trembling shoulder. They could only stare at the green ground, for their same-colored eyes were glossy with mangled memories. “I didn’t know,” Luke said. “I didn’t know.”
Short Story 35
Dancing on Dead Maren Brander
Short Story 36
wasnâ€™t raised on the playground, but in the graveyard. In the rising hours of the morning, almost every Sunday morning, we went there. My mom grabbed me by the hand and trailed me down the street, past dirt-skirted beige houses to Arnold Cemetery, where the black rail fence reached the sky. My mother liked death, not for the act of dying itself but for its aftermath. The mourning, the grief, the sorrow. She enjoyed the thrill of how death made people feel, flailing for a sacred feeling when their world dimmed of light and color and loss of love. The grieving and the hurting were her favorite breed of people, and she took on all their emotion as her own. That is why she adored Arnold: the chance to mourn for the deceased and drip heartache over every new grave. In the boundaries of black fences, my mother sang and danced to the tune of tears through morbid grasses full of graves. Sometimes I danced with her and sometimes I watched from across the yard while I traced the etched angels on my favorite pink marble gravestone. I picked the growing daisies and wildflowers and pulled off the soft white petals one by one to scatter them across the grave, just as my mother taught me. â€œFor new beginnings,â€? she would tell me as we plucked and released hope onto each headstone. Today, too many years after last visiting the cemetery with my mother, I revived her ritual at her grave. I sang and danced and sprinkled daisies over her until she was dressed in petals like a well-fitted queen.
Living Waters Review
Pascua Florida (A Florida Apocalypse) Charles Browning
In the Swamp dwell dinosaurs on wing, gliding
over the haunts of Miccosukee ghosts,
the Barbarossa of conquistadores
and early-modern millionaires.
This Sandbar once housed the giant sloth and saw skies darkened by the thunderheads of applauding, squawking birds now entombed on heads. This Spanish Flower. This Australia of America. This gateway to Kingdoms, death,
and the stars.
And where is She to go? Buried under concrete, her rains replaced
by staccato sprinkler-heads?
Her fate decided by sugar-backed
Her crystal blue youthful fountains
now green as tea;
harboring the fugitives of a thousand foreign
Invaders, not only from the North
and not only for The Season?
From the air this Swamp still glistens.
Wild waterways pooled into suburban focal points,
a sanctuary of what once came before
and what will come again.
She waits, this Spanish Flower.
What cranes and mounds and drains and dikes and trains and water-pumps have done will fail.
The water will return.
38 Long after Kingdoms have lost their Magic, long after the paradisal mansions have collapsed into the sea, the Voice of God will still roll.
Vapor mountains will billow and ignite.
The firmament will empty on a smaller scale.
Positive and negative will spark the cabbage palms.
The birds will fly back.
And this finger of land will be reborn.
Naked we will walk and naked we will sleep,
humbled by the countless stars
dancing above this Swamp.
How long until you bloom? How long until the waters fill in, the highways emptied;
Living Waters Review
How long until the stones of Main Street
Are carpeted again in green;
How long until the panther rests,
curled next to a white-tailed deer?
We call this place Paradise
And we are not wrong.
Poetry But Paradise is breaking through
the facade of Paradise constructed,
this drywall and stucco accident
echoing the form.
St. Ann’s Infirmary Olivia Rawlins
Creative Essay 40
ur bus clamored over uneven potholes and around wandering goats as it eased its way down the coastline. Clear, cyan water arched into frothing, white-peaked mountains before slamming against the jagged rocks below the highway’s edge. A black and white checkered goat strutted along the wall adjacent to our bus, its split hooves leaving patterned marks on the concrete from the ocean’s haphazard spray. A fraying rope clung loosely to its neck, twisting around its unsteady legs every few steps before the animal grew impatient and stopped to gnaw at the splitting twine. I peeled my forehead off of the cool window, the animated hum of voices clawing back into my ears as my eyes bounced towards the front of the bus. Our driver, Uncle, was bellowing into the loudspeaker, his raspy Jamaican accent reverberating against cloth seats. I glanced around the bus. Every person’s eyes were glued to the front as Uncle belted an uneven rendition of “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands” across the sound system. His thick drawl spat the words, the edge of a smile biting at his thin lips. “If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘Ya Mon,’” he cheered, a chorus of voices echoing after him. His eyes peered into the rearview mirror, chocolate pupils gleaming. “If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘Irie Mon,’” he continued. I let out a knowing laugh, and Morgan, the girl sitting next to me, grinned. The busload of people continued to chime along to Uncle’s game, their voices echoing with the crackling of the loudspeaker. “If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘Jamaica Mon.’” Morgan elbowed me, chuckling. “Liv, how many times do you think we’ve heard this?” She pushed her knees against the seat back in front of her, feet swinging along to the conglomeration of voices that were the back drop to our conversation.
“If you’re happy and you know it, say ‘All three,’” Uncle paused, excited eyes scanning the rearview mirror again. The chorus responded, “All three!” Uncle’s cackle exploded across the speaker, one of his calloused palms bouncing heavily against the steering wheel. “No, no! You’re supposed to say, ‘Ya Mon, Irie Mon, Jamaica Mon.’ That is all three!” His cackle erupted again and the bus joined him in nervous laughter. I shook my head, playing with the lid of my sweating water bottle. “So many times by now,” I laughed to Morgan, taking a gulp of icy water. Morgan and I had traveled to Jamaica four summers in a row and during that time we had inevitably become familiar with Uncle’s humor, his bus-ride jokes, and his broken record of a playlist that always blared in between his make-shift entertainment shows. More importantly, however, we had inevitably become familiar with Jamaica as a country; the way the ocean races alongside our vehicle as we veer through Jamaican foot-traffic, the way the mountains cascade and nestle us against the water, the way the salty air clings densely to every part of our bodies as we work our way through ninety-degree days. The bus began to zip away from the oceanfront, leaving behind boats swaying indolently against the churning froth. Thick layers of palm trees obstructed our view before little buildings began to litter the side of the highway. Jamaicans crouched on the stoops of dilapidated and splintering wood houses, pieced together chaotically with a mixture of tin and cardboard roofs. Morgan let out a long sigh next to me, dropping her knees and rearranging herself so she was facing me. “You gonna go see Ryan?” I smiled, rolling my shoulders upwards as I leaned heavily against my seat. “I’m not sure Gritter will let me right away, but I’m definitely going before the week is over. Wanna come?” Mrs. Gritter was our trip leader and my
Living Waters Review
mentor. She had been leading teams to Jamaica for thirteen years now, a feat that Morgan and I could only hope to accomplish. Morgan’s head fell into a nod, loose blond curls falling around her face from her messy ponytail. The bus screeched, pulling up to a rusting, iron gate. Intrigued faces peeked over purple seat cloth as they attempted to gain a glimpse of our worksite for the week. An off-white, concrete building extended behind the gate in a giant U-shape, trimmed with fading olive-green paint along the roofline. A lethargic security guard fiddled aimlessly with the chains around the gate, before he unlatched it and pulled it open, its hinges groaning loudly. Uncle maneuvered the bus through the opening, abruptly halting after we had inched forward. The bus let out a whirl of exhaust as the glass door peeled open and our team began to file out. Morgan and I followed suit, our dirt-stained tennis shoes forcefully making contact with the uneven gravel that clothed the makeshift driveway. The Infirmary extended around us, its curious inhabitants slowly ambling out of their rooms to peer at us. Dolores, a well-known and well-loved member of the Infirmary galloped towards our group, a ragged washcloth hanging from her mouth, a huge grin peeling her lips away from her teeth. She enthusiastically grabbed Mrs. Gritter’s hand, thrusting it up and down. “Dolores! Oh my goodness, hello,” Mrs. Gritter laughed, placing a slender arm over Dolores’s shoulders. “Everyone, this is Dolores,” Mrs. Gritter mentioned to our group, before attempting to corral the nervous team. Dolores ran around to members of our team and grabbed their hands as Mrs. Gritter explained that we were here to work now and visit later. Million, a Jamaican that helped IsleGo with teams that came in, began to trek up the driveway, through the ladies’ common area, and down the back staircase. The stairwell opened up into a vast backyard. Clotheslines oscillated in the stiff breeze, rows of drying t-shirts bouncing along with the wind. A long, charcoal wall offered a barricade from the waterfront, the placid crashing of waves humming just over it. We all stood in an awkward line, drinking in the worksite before us. Million interrupted, his thick accent attempting to outweigh the competing waves. “You guys are going to build a ramp this week that leads down to the wall, so that people in wheelchairs can wheel themselves down. We are going to blow out that wall, so that, eventually, they can
have a view of the water. Such a shame that it has been here all this time and we have not done this project sooner.” The rest of that day was filled with shoveling sopping, freshly mixed concrete into rusting buckets, our work-worn tennis shoes becoming caked in the gray, hardening liquid. It splashed up our legs, thickening into burning, ashen splotches. Morgan and I claimed shovels and joined the cause at the foreground, unloading our heart for the project into the dusty, crumbling buckets. Curious bystanders occasionally peeked around the corner of the stairwell, intrigued eyes bouncing across the backyard in eager anticipation. I pulled my hat down over my eyes, running my forearm across my sweaty forehead. Morgan leaned against the wall of the Infirmary next to me and sighed heavily. Popping the lid off of my water bottle, I took a long swig and propped a layered shoe on top of the shovelhead. “I forgot the love-hate relationship I have with shoveling concrete,” I laughed, motioning to the battle wounds I had scattered across my arms and down my knees. Morgan snorted, wiping her eyes with the inside of her t-shirt. “For real. I think we’ll be permanently stained for the rest of the week.” The week followed similarly, the ramp expanding slowly in the searing afternoon sun. Infirmary inhabitants hesitantly made their way further than the stairwell, throwing themselves into the middle of our work; neither helpful nor productive, but we enjoyed the break in our routine and the overflowing joy that came from conversation. Dolores animatedly ran around to our team multiple times, flashing her left hand to display the plastic ring that balanced on her ring finger. Donovan, her fiancé, continually sat beaming at the bottom of the stairwell, crippled hands fidgeting with the top of his wheelchair’s tires. The last day that we were there, Morgan and I ventured away from the worksite for the afternoon to find Ryan. He sat, nestled into a corner bed in the men’s wing, plastic fan ruffling his wrinkled bed sheets. His eyes lazily rose, traipsing over our concrete-stained ligaments before he let out a crooked smile. “Well, look who decided to pay their old friend a visit,” he crooned, using his lanky arms to adjust himself on his sheets. He pulled a tattered blanket tighter around his waist, shielding our already knowing eyes from his lack of legs. Ryan is twenty-eight years old, the youngest person to call the Infirmary home, and has been living in there since
Creative Essay 41
Creative Essay 42
he was a teenager. When Ryan was little, his mother had been giving him a bath in their home when she looked away for a second. In that moment, Ryan fell over out of the bathtub, damaging his spinal cord. The one doctor in Jamaica that could surgically assist him was out of the country; therefore, he never had surgery. His legs were permanently stunted as a child, and out of use. Taking care of him became too much of a burden on his mother, as is the story with most of the Infirmary’s inhabitants, so she brought him to there to be taken care of. “You think I’d go all week without coming to give you a hard time?” I joked, crouching down on the tiled floor in front of his bed. Ryan huffed, shaking his head vigorously. “Olivia, you do not know how, remember? I thought you were dumb,” he erupted into harmonious laughter, his horse laugh catching on the wind propelling from the fan in front of him. I rolled my eyes. “You’re never going to let that go.” Morgan crossed her legs under her, laughing. “I love this story.” Ryan smirked. “Maybe if you spoke when we first met, Olivia, I wouldn’t have thought you were dumb.” “You just point blank asked me, ‘Are you dumb or something?’ I was extremely offended before I realized you were asking if I was mute.” “Friends now though, right?” A cautious grin played with the corner of Ryan’s lips as he held out a calloused palm towards me. “Always friends, Ryan,” I chuckled, shaking his hand. I glanced over Ryan’s corner of the room, taking in his splintering, lopsided wardrobe and stacks of books precariously teetering on his plastic nightstand. At the top, a worn and tattered Bible sat, its leather covering peeling away from the glue as a result of stifling Jamaican afternoons and years of use. “What’ve you been reading recently?” I asked, nodding my head towards the Bible. Ryan leaned backwards and grabbed it, flipping through its thick center until he settled on a dogeared page. He extended it towards me, tapping his fingertips on the dark black words sprawled across the page. “Psalms, mostly. But particularly Psalm 27.” He let his round eyes tremble closed, folding his palms on top of his sheet. “Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in...” His voice tapered off, hesitantly opening
an eye to peer at us. He shrugged his shoulders, reaching to take the Bible back from my hands. I smiled, letting out a slight sigh. “I love that, Ryan. I love even more that you are searching.” He let out a reverberating laugh. “He teaches me a lot through the search. Humbles me a lot too, if you could believe that I would even need humbling.” A smirk played with the corner of his lips again as Morgan and I both shook our heads. Morgan stretched her arms upwards, before rocking onto her heels. “Hey, do you wanna go see the ramp?” Ryan’s eyes glistened as he adjusted his weight with his arms. “You mean it’s done?” His hoarse voice rippled across the stifled room, as men chattered amongst themselves on the beds around us. I glanced at Morgan, whose toothy smile ran across her face. “We finished it this morning. We’ll bring you down,” She said, nudging Ryan’s wheelchair closer to the edge of his bed. He lifted himself into it and we made our way into the dense Jamaican sunshine. Ryan’s fingertips pounded against the wheelchair’s arms in nervous excitement, his large eyes bouncing from left to right as we passed by his fellow roommates. As we neared the ramp, he swatted at Morgan’s hands. “Let me do it.” Morgan released the handles, as Ryan’s palms began to push the rusting wheels down the newly dried concrete. The ocean opened up before us, pieces of rubble still layering the white sand. A large tear caressed his thin cheekbone, before he glanced back at us. “Thank you guys so much.” *** Now members of the Infirmary can ride their wheelchairs down to the oceanfront and bask in the fading afternoon light every day. Dolores and Donovan can now sit on the sand and watch the undulating water as it races towards the shore. My friend Ryan is now able to watch the frothing waves slam against the plush, white sand, and even, with assistance, he can go swimming. His legs become unnecessary as they buoy under him, arms propelled by floaties, grin swimming across his cheeks.
Living Waters Review
Dissonance Taylor Gaede
Wrought iron twisted in knots, tree limbs reaching, snapping, vines weaving—clever seamstress. Machinery working through the rot, and so I see in human thought in human action in human sayings in humans lost. I see, because I follow the same flow, cut the same corners, sway in the same alley, cuss like the sailors who sink and swim without ever touching the water. But do not look to me, for I do not look to you. And do not look to the stars, or to the ocean deep, or to the land afar. For no one—nothing—nowhere can unravel your mess, can understand your canvas. We only glance, cockeyed, forcing puzzle pieces into the wrong puzzle while you sit waiting, waiting until that observer sits and says, It will be all right: start with the corners and work toward the center.
Under Water Sunhat Tensia Clark
Living Waters Review
Lady Maren Brander
Gaze at me, I dare you, but please don’t see me for what I am. Float around my periphery, gawk at me, keep your distance. No one asked me if I desired remembrance in alloy. Archive me in your book of classical approbation but shun me from your blissful reality. Remember me, all as the sovereign art of metal, but please forget how I once owned a heart of hardware lungs of load soldier soul. I see each morn the best of you, but today you forgot my name. “Libertas” is my decided song from wild tongue behind immovable lips. Perhaps you fear what I stand for. O, but be enlightened – I have shattered copper chains before.
Si Se Pudiera Mariah Kent
If only you could leave the safety of a land first known If only you could leap into currents of liquid roads If only you could hide amidst the breaking dawn If only you could escape the siren’s song
Excitement swarms in the open waters
like baitfish pressed against glass barriers.
46 As predators close in from underneath, tropical pallbearers carry the mists of the mind, lain to rest on island time, complete and nostalgic blackness derives.
Hands scurry across an open canvas Hands rebuilding once you’ve landed Hands row towards an unknown Eden Hands unbound in search of freedom
I’ll take it.
Living Waters Review
Triple River Cameron Schott
The Deer of Radnor Lake Jane Carver
Creative Essay 48
he deer wasn’t dead when we found it. It lay in a light brown heap on the damp earth, breathing slowly, carefully. My uncle was the first to spot it. He always walked a few steps ahead so he could scout for wildlife to point out. On the day we found the deer, it was just me and him on the trail. Bulbous storm clouds had moved in over Tennessee earlier that day and the less adventurous members of our family had decided against hiking in the rain. But Uncle Jeff and I, we weren’t afraid of heavy weather. As we started along the manmade trail that afternoon, Uncle Jeff said, “There’s no better time to come to Radnor than right before a storm.” He’d brought nothing with him other than a pair of antique binoculars that had belonged to my grandfather. They hung from a worn leather strap around his neck and bobbed with each step he took. We didn’t talk much. The woods demanded our silence. Radnor Lake was located just outside Nashville, behind all the tourist attractions, garish souvenir shops, and college students clad in pink cowboy hats and matching, tasseled boots. A repose that none of the tourists even knew was there, which is why I liked it. The lake occupied the middle part of the preserve and several trails wove around it. We’d chosen the simplest, flattest trail because it was easy to traverse and offered a panoramic view of the lake as we walked along the paved path. The rain came not long after we started walking, heavy pellets that we heard hitting the lake but couldn’t feel. The trees above us created a canopy so dense that hardly a single drop was able to make its way through. I looked down at the umbrella in my hand that I’d taken along as a precaution. Now I wished I’d left it in the car. “Probably won’t be many animals out today,” I said, voice raised over the rain. I tilted my head back and opened my eyes wide, taking in the sensation of being outside during a storm but protected, safe from its effects under a ceiling of leaves. “You might be surprised,” Uncle Jeff said. “Animals are used to rain, and the trails are pretty empty. We might see some deer.” He held the binoculars up to his eyes, sweeping
his body back and forth in great arcs so he wouldn’t miss a square inch of forest through the tiny, magnified lenses. I said, “You think these animals are still scared of people? I mean, they’re used to seeing them all the time. Like the squirrels and pigeons in New York City, they aren’t bothered by people.” “Wild animals shouldn’t be used to people,” he said, “it doesn’t seem right.” “Yeah.” Suddenly I felt wrong for being there. I hoped the animals would be hiding, that the rain would keep them inside their homes and maybe they wouldn’t even know we were there at all. Abruptly, Uncle Jeff held up a hand and brought it to his lips, warning me to stay silent. I followed his gaze, trying to see what he saw. He was looking at a dense patch of bushes but I couldn’t discern anything interesting about them. I whispered, “What is it?” Instead of answering, he grabbed the binoculars and peered through them again, taking a few steps forward. “Come here,” he said, and I followed quietly behind him. Half under a bush and half on the mulch trail lay a deer. I gasped softly when I saw it. I’d never seen a deer sleeping on the trail before. But there was something wrong about the way the deer’s body was positioned. It wasn’t curled in on itself, hind legs resting comfortably under its haunches like they should have been. “What’s the matter with it?” I asked, horrified. The deer’s belly was exposed, delicate and white, and it shuddered with each inhale. It was a female, I noticed, and she was clearly in pain. Her ears were pressed flat against the top of her head and her stubby white tail twitched every few seconds. Uncle Jeff didn’t speak, just pointed a trembling finger at a spot on the underside of the deer’s neck. A stick was protruding from it, knobby and nearly a foot in length. Blood dripped out of the wound onto the bright green leaves, turning them into a kind of macabre Christmas decoration. I wanted to ask my uncle how he thought it had happened, how that stick had become lodged in the deer’s
Living Waters Review
neck, but all I could do was look at her. I looked at the doe’s round, watery eyes and she looked right back, and it was like she was begging for something. Uncle Jeff turned and began walking back towards the beginning of the trail. “We should let the Nature Center know. They probably have a protocol for situations like this.” “Wait,” I called. The rain was getting heavier and a few drops were finally pushing their way through the canopy, landing on my skin in quick jabs. “Can we stay for a minute? I don’t want to leave her.” His face softened. “Just for a minute.” I sat down on the ground, not caring that my pants and shoes were getting coated in mud. The deer was still looking at me with her big, begging eyes. I fought the urge to reach out my hand and rest it on the coarse fur of her back. I knew it wouldn’t do any good to touch her. “You’re gonna be fine,” I whispered. Her ears perked up at that. “You hear me, don’t you? You’re gonna be okay.” The rain had crescendoed into a torrent. The pink umbrella was still clenched in my hand, useless. The canopy could only protect us for so long. I turned towards my uncle. He stood, eyeing the scene below him with a mix of curiosity and pity. I asked him, “Have you ever seen Stand by Me?” “The 80s movie? With River Phoenix?” “Yeah.” Jeff nodded. “Years ago, maybe. Why?” “There’s a scene in the movie where the main kid, Gordie, is camping in the woods and he finds this deer. Remember?” “I think so. He doesn’t want to tell anyone he saw it, right?” “Exactly.” “I understand,” he said. He sat down next to me then, both of us soaked and freezing but not yet ready to turn the deer over to the park authorities. The doe started breathing more shallowly then, each breath coming out in a little grunt. For a second I wondered if she was going to die right there, right in front of us, if she was going to let us be witness to that. I wondered if she had been waiting. Suddenly I was thankful for the rain, thankful that it kept everyone away. I thought of the terrible commotion this deer would’ve caused if it had been a normal, bustling day at the lake. She was directly off the main trail and
would have been easily spotted. I was glad it had been us. I was glad we were the ones who found the deer and not someone else because they would’ve ruined it. I was glad my uncle understood. The deer looked at me. She hadn’t stopped looking at me. I stood slowly. “I think we should go. She’s not breathing too well. We should tell the Nature Center so they can help her.” “We’ll tell them,” Uncle Jeff said, “but that stick is in there pretty good, you know?” I didn’t answer. I wrapped the strap of my umbrella tightly around the palm of my hand and began walking towards the Nature Center. “We need to hurry.” *** When we got to the Nature Center, Uncle Jeff told the lady at the front desk everything we’d seen. She seemed a little shaken, as though things like this didn’t happen very often at Radnor Lake. “Thank you for letting us know,” she said, a sad smile on her lips. “We’re going to contact animal control and see if there’s anything we can do to help her.” I don’t know what I was expecting her to say. Maybe a guarantee that the deer was going to be okay. But I knew she couldn’t make a promise like that. I knew there was a chance the deer would die. I’d known that even when I’d made my own whispered promise. “It’s a good thing you guys found her though,” the lady continued. She held a landline phone against her ear. “There weren’t many people out on the trails today. She probably wouldn’t have lasted long if it weren’t for you.” Before we left, Uncle Jeff grabbed a pamphlet from the top of the desk and wrote his phone number on the top. “Please let us know what happens to her. Can you do that?” The lady hesitated. “I’ll try my best.” As we walked out the door and back into the rain, I turned and said, “Please call. We’d really like to know what happens.” She gave a quick nod—too quick—and then the door clicked shut behind me.
Creative Essay 49
Vultures Alia Michaud
Short Story 50
t’s TIME. Sunlight sprawls supine across the red clay and dusted brush, sweat sticks the thin of her shirt to the thick of her skin, and honestly, she regrets taking a job in the desert. More importantly, she’s starting to regret being a desperately broke freelance photojournalist. She has to keep reminding herself of things like It’s TIME Magazine and Photojournalists don’t interfere and I could make rent this month. She could make rent this month and maybe have a steak dinner. “Just think,” Van drawls behind her, his hair plastered to his forehead. “Further south and we could be in a swamp.” She’s thought about it. It’s not any better. “Further south and we’d be in a war zone.” “Semantics.” She squints at him. “That’s not what that word means.” “Ironic,” he decides. They’ve been wandering for hours and she’s got some decent shots of the sun just breaking through a crack in a clay wall, the shadow a pleasant study of decay. Some of a vibrant basket of sorghum bouncing on a small girl’s back as she walks, held there by her fingertips. Some that, admittedly, would only make passable stock photos. None that will mean a thing in the long run. His camera is filled with the downward slope of a child bearing arms; a series of photos that capture an urban cityscape on the far horizon of a dilapidated shack; the mottled face of a mosque-bombing victim; three pristine evangelists congregated around a borrowed television, a small and dusty girl in the background curled against the
building across the street. The really heart-warming stuff that she’s realizing Van loves. She studies him from the corner of her eye—fit, flushed, and sporting dimples even here, even still—and decides that as long as they’re probably not the Devil incarnate like Van, a normal person would commiserate her desert-born misery. He’s sweating at least, but… But where Esmé Todd is a fresh-faced hopeful with pretentious parents, the name to prove it, and a degree that says she can take a decent photo, Van Spencer is a veteran unperturbed by the heat and the poverty and the stench. In Van’s mind, the flytrap is unhinging its jaw once again for him to press his finger to the heart. It will taste the ghost of him and snap closed its hungry maw and Van will step back to show the world how a green thing starves. Still. He sweats. If someone had clawed their way up from the depths of hell, Sudanese temperatures probably wouldn’t compare. They walk further away from the shelter, a relatively modern shack of missionaries who promise food flavored with mustard-seed faith and endless springs of living Zephyrhills water. It’s not until they’ve trekked for a few miles, one of her many water bottles tipped casually down the fronts of their shirts, that they find him. Truthfully, they would’ve kept walking had he not peeled his dark skin from the bark of a naked tree that he had been resting against. She catches it from the corner of her eyes, a form born from the tangled roots, scuttling on its hands and knees in the direction they’ve just come from. Van taps the back of
Living Waters Review
his hand against her chest and gestures. Her snarled “I see him” seems to go unnoticed. She pulls her camera from her bag and rests the strap on her partner’s shoulder. They wander closer. He’s young. The typical dusting of clay lays thick and flaky on his skin, his color more a faded smudge than anything. And the only part of him slightly proportional to his head is his distended belly—which hangs too large for the frame of his ribs and shoulders and hips. She half expects sores or lumps or legions of lice when he spares them a glance, some horrible disfigurement from being in the wrong place at exactly the right time, but instead he’s just pitifully human. He bends low to touch his forehead to the ground, moves his mouth around nothing. Van sighs a casual, “Disfigurement would be better. Liberals love to feel guilty,” just as the boy retches. Her body lurches towards him without her permission, a sun-drunk and clumsy creature with half a mind to reach out and touch another, when a hand clamps onto her shoulder from behind. “Don’t,” Van hisses. There’s a long moment where his hand holds her still that only breaks when she sits back on her heels. “Don’t touch him. I’m serious. You’ll get something and bring it back to the States.” She stares up at him and works her jaw into empty shapes. She barely manages a scoff. “You’ll cause an epidemic.” And then, viciously, he says, “Don’t look at me like that.” He leans into the shade of the tree and produces a cigarette from her camera bag. They both look oddly preposterous against a backdrop of far-reaching red clay and a watercolor blue sky. His traitorous eyes that she once thought of as warm betray nothing. When she manages to turn back around and lift the camera to her face, she feels the toe of his boot nudge her hip. After a moment, she drops the camera to her lap and looks back, impatient. The smoldering end of the cigarette juts upwards and out. She follows the motion. There, no more than a mile away, dark figures swing lazily, spatters of black acrylic paint on the blue-blotted canvas. She can tellvthey’re massive creatures with magnificent, rotten wings. And despite the heat, she feels cold. “Wait a bit,” Van advises casually and presses the side of his pointer finger to his mouth, eyes set on the horizon. “For what?”
He watches her. Then, mildly: “Vultures.” His hand drops to his side. When she doesn’t respond and doesn’t turn away, he clarifies. “They’re not polite dinner guests. They like to watch. One’ll land.” Her lip trembles and, preposterously, when Van meets her gaze, she feels stupid for it. She doesn’t realize she’s losing her balance until her fingers instinctively dig into the clay, steadying her. On an inhale she reminds herself it’s TIME; the exhale, rent. “Try to get him with his wings open. When he lands.” She leans forward, the boy’s glassy eyes tracking the lens of the camera, and lines up the shot.
Short Story 51
The Wings Between Joel Henson
Living Waters Review
Li Chao Knit Emylee Ballo
Li Chao Knit became the youngest worker learning to stitch. With her thimbled thumbs, she sewed and sold white dresses for porcelain belles across the Pacific. While hemming and altering gowns of silk and chiffon glory, Li Chao’s mind began another wander-story: “I wonder if anyone knows who helps the threads grow from a lonely string to a gathering scene of flowered lace and more.” Li Chao Knit signed her name, needle and string to the inside hem—a special signature to an unknown friend.
Small-Glittering Fragment Olivia Taylor
even in my small wanderings i have realized that people leave pieces scattered across the earth glowing invisibly in other hearts and cities deserving and undeserving like so many meteors and i am glad to have shared this momentary patch of earth
with you who have beheld spires and cobbled stars rimming moon-melted mountains and the living pages of plaster walls or the breath of green-rolling fields and felt the clear singing of frozen lakes upon your winged feet and my wish is (even in our wide disparate wanderings) you will leave a small-glimmering fragment to go with me
Living Waters Review
Friedrich Wilderness Park Kurt Burghardt
e were high up on a precipice facing that unplanned, but well-placed, golf course. I heard a mockingbird or two and you hated the noise. I said something about our midday adventures and you laughed. It was all up to chance where we would be led by those strange and inexplicable currents of the childhood spirit. I threw a rock. It bounced and bounced, hitting the sides of the slope until it stopped in a juniper bush. We hiked all the way up here and saw nothing out of the ordinary, so we moved onwards, past a barrier covered in etchings concerning the commemoration of a young careless girl. She fell to her death, we thought. Idiot, but hey, things happened. We concurred on this sentiment and journeyed on. We wouldn’t die, I said. You said something about hopefully not, Gee it’d be great not to die. I said yes. We climbed down a slope. There was a movement. We both saw it: a porcupine. Over there. Run. Move. Careful...they shoot their quills. My dog came home one day with quills in her nose. We made it to the bottom where the woods began like a receded hairline. I stopped and said listen to the noise. You stopped. There were birds, but most importantly there were crunches in some nearby twigs. And you heard it. Wildlife. Of course, we were in a forest so it was only natural that’d we run into a this or that living-wild-thing. Probably a deer. We both nodded, moved on, and picked up some very large sticks. There was the sound of limestone as we walked and the rocks kept on colliding with each other and our footsteps—and more twigs far off, anxious twigs. Then there it was, an ancient dried up crik bed. I said we gotta watch for snakes and you called me a pansy. This is why we bring sticks and wear long socks. The bed was
eroded all to hell. The whole thing was taller than me but not as tall as you. A twinge of jealousy, being the middle height in the fifth grade. More limestone now, but thicker. No little fragments bouncing about. Whole chunks, like the ground was made of it. Little walls surrounding both sides of us. Lichen, I pointed to a sneeze colored fuzz on some rock face. You said they move from place to place, but real slow, and I said that was moss you were thinking of. A black patch in a small crack in the wall. I said look inside. You jumped back as the patch began to shake. Spiders: daddy-long-legs. Thousands. Everywhere, kinda dancing to ragtime or some weird old-people music. I poked the mass with my stick and lanky little spiders fell to the ground. I picked one up and said that you should smell its head. Lemons. It was hot, of course. I’d bet that we were mostly made of sweat and we had no water because we were young. We climbed up this time, around an old post (probably for trail horses). It smelled like juniper. Sweet and later associated with gin. My dad said something about it being a nuisance tree. You pointed to a sign. It read “Juniper Trail.” I saw a rabbit that you did not. You said aw man and that you wish you saw it. I laughed and said we should track it. Off the trail? No, you said we should, but wait we already left the trail. Maybe we should follow the rules? I don’t know. We moved on. The climb was strenuous and still, yes, very hot. Midway up to the top of the other slope was a windmill. It slowly creaked as it spun slowly along. It had been here forever. Saw it when I was five. Saw it when I was seven. And I saw it now. Forever. Next to the old steel thing was an actual well. The well was full, almost brimming with green aged water. Inside the well there was a lot of algae and some gold-finger like fish. You tried to grab one, failed,
Creative Essay 55
Creative Essay 56
tried again, and failed. I said that you ain’t a racoon. And we moved upward, upwards, up the mountain. The rocks up here were different and there were smaller plants too. The rocks were scalloped, literally. Inside, if you stopped and looked, there was an abundance of small little fossil imprints. Hey, do you remember that time, that field trip, where we met Dinosaur George, I said. And you laughed and commented on the general “coolness” of Dinosaur George. Texas used to be underwater. That’s why you can find rocks at the top of these hills. Lots of dead things, but tiny plants and, oh, the cacti. Everywhere. Just as bad as the porcupines, but the cacti don’t move. I plucked a prickly pear and forgot about the miniature spines. And you, of course, laughed and called me an idiot. We trudged on and saw that the sun looked bigger up here and that there were these little plants that felt real soft. You said they were called sheep’s ear and then I told the story of the binding of Isaac. It was late in the afternoon. It had to have been a hundred degrees out. That’s Texas. I pointed over to our left as a blue jay flew past. You said they don’t sing well and I said they’re the mascot for Monterrey’s baseball team. We sat on two big rocks tattooed with fossil indentions. I ate my sandwich and I really don’t want to know what you ate. We regretted our lack of water. The sun was there reminding us of our imprudence. Then we made it to the top of the hill we called a mountain. It was the great point, you said. I didn’t speak, I just looked out onto the blazing horizon.
Living Waters Review
Chattanooga Cottages Laura Pastorino
Driving down Mimosa Lane, houses hang in the trees, a moody creek laying below them. On a porch of primary colors, leaves trickle down fallen bark. Red paint splatters underneath my eyelids with each blink, fences are stitched with sprinkles, wagon wheels and light, too. Twirl his curls, a ballerina in a music box. Wood chips off the piano keys, thereâ€™s a guest book with no room for us. Outside, the binding of a cottage builds a perfect backdrop.
Hitting our heads, falling down, hurricane hail. Coming down, the blanket masking the piano blows away. Dandelions turn into daises from the rain. My handwriting, a lighting streak, spelling out only our names. Tell the cottage how we shook the sky and slipped off the page. How the sun rose up, leaving everything thriving, radiantly. And after all that, we became a story you tell like filtering sunlight, dreaming through a polaroid snapshot. Your heartbeat sewn, stuck mid-flutter. A butterfly flying in a flute jar. Like you found it in the attic covered in a thin, whisper of dust.
Dantesque Rachel Morrison
Living Waters Review
Rent Paid on Pavement Strings David Doyle
Far too late to consider ourselves mourned
and far too early to even call this night,
but I squeaked my chalkboard smile:
“We are gonna’ dress two leaps past our paycheck
and we will tour the top of our Manhattan.”
We became looters and nomads,
thrift bungalows like a rhino looking at ivory.
Plucked a patchwork suit,
salmon thrown from some river-scene, fabric in a basket.
I was a changed man, with a change of clothes.
Combed my hair with a dried fish bone, something from the toons,
but all I could imagine was 74 floors above;
glass eyeball doors on the Manhattan egg-side
ran over easy when the breeze behooved like a dignitary.
Mausoleum for our simple tastes,
hanging gardens meant for rulers accustomed to cow-gods
and polytheistic wonders on the stars.
Planetarium or dinner guests who asked obvious rhetorics,
like “what was ever-done with the bricks that danced off Babel?”
So, we boarded the steam, elevator, John Doe and his Doe-eyed wife,
stepped onto the phoenix-nest balcony, jaws, plummeting 74 floors.
Sultans, Tsars, Rich-men with monocles…they could not afford this. The act of purchase the size of Louisiana–doubled over.
Copy/paste…a couple states lifted from their present state
and presented stately–to the hand-or-wagon lot of hobos,
the poor date and I, on the upper East-side.
“Yes, we are millionaires.” I choked like Tarzan pointing at Jane.
Yes we are millionaires,
just a loan or two away.
In the Eye Jillian Kane
The optometrist will see you soon. We just finished putting up the planks. Hello little Miss, my how you’ve grown... I’ve never seen one like this… Today we are going to dilate you, okay? Have you seen the size of the eye? Your retina looks healthy. It got stronger overnight. However its pressure levels are rising, Should we stay or leave,
which could be dangerous later on. they say it’s too late. Oh! Let me get that eyelash for you. No! The big oak tree just fell. Close your eyes for a second. I hope this will be over soon. Now wipe the sand out and I’ll add some drops. The streets are flooded and our sandbags are gone. Follow my finger… Where is it going to go… Your prescription has gotten weaker. Do we know what it is now? Negative 1.75 Somewhere between a one and a two See? That wasn’t too bad. Thank God it wasn’t worse. It’s over. It’s over. In the blink of an eye.
Living Waters Review
Ship in Mist Joel Henson
All Now Mysterious Tom Lubben
Creative Essay 62
nside was warmth. As the doors of the church sealed shut, they forbid the snow and the bitter wind. My brothers and I with our instruments were led to a wooden loft, and we unpacked in the ancient smell of dry wood and cloth pews. Although built to hold one hundred people, the sanctuary at this “Blue Christmas” service probably housed twenty. A hundred candles flickered on pictures of deceased friends and relatives at the altar, and all was stillness. No one spoke. Instead, we listened to the muted clamor of the winter against the church walls and the dusty creaking of the pews. An A-frame, the church’s walls rose steeply and eventually met at a narrow apex far above. In the loft, however, we were halfway up these walls, and they sloped attic-wise around us. Soon, we began the prelude music, soft, acoustic sound that swirled in the scent of the wood and only deepened the stillness, the immutability of the room. *** The three ladies that founded Music of Hope began playing stringed instruments in their fifties. Led by Mary Dieter, they met in a single-story, bland brick building in Roseau, Minnesota. Word travelled on snow-mobiles, skis, and pick-up trucks in the North Woods, so it didn’t take long for my brothers and I to hear about fellow string players. During the winter, we’d jump from the steaming car and shuffle as quickly as possible through the negative twenty-degree air outside trying to keep our fingers warm. First, fingertips lose feeling, then the joints move slowly, and next the entire hand struggles to communicate with
the arm. One of the most embarrassing, disheartening moments for a musician is the moment when a wellpracticed piece sounds amateur because of cold fingers. We would wear mittens and ball our fingers into the center of them like a dense harmony. No matter what magical material we had on our hands, being together was the only working method to warm fingers. At the rehearsal building, we would knock snow from our shoes, then make our way past stacks of old t-shirts and clusters of toddler toys (another charity also borrowed the space). Mary Dieter would be slipping her cello from its “silk pajamas”—she would dress the instrument in them every winter to keep out the chill. *** Our first event with the group was a Blue Christmas service at a hospital in downtown Roseau. For this service, my three brothers and the ladies formed a wide arc facing the congregation. In the glow of central heat and Christmas lights, they waited to be healed; they longed for the joy of Christmas, the stable-baby’s laughter that death in the family seemed to have suffocated. Many of us were amateurs—we played because we loved music. Some hardly understood notes. We play, though, because of the beauty of the music. To us, they are strange and awful, impossible to define, those cryptic, running figures scattered across the page. But we love the music—the mystery of melody, when a single note travels on the breath of a bow and tells a story; and harmony, when those many scattered notes somehow fall into place beside the story and support its singing. Those listening understood even less than we did. But despite all sorrow, the air was warm, the light gloamed softly, and there was music. And who would call a baby born for sacrifice good news? Not only His very own mother, but the armies and choirs and all voices of Heaven—and they sang. *** “Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake To guide the future as He has the past.” We had been peering from the loft. When the minister queued us to begin the first hymn, the sacred silence awoke, and the little group sang: “Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last.”
Living Waters Review
Because of the drafty room and our place above the congregation, our last notes seemed to hang in the air and slowly evaporate into the ceiling and the radiance of the candles. I couldn’t hear the minister as he gave his message; he spoke softly, and we were at a distance, but we watched the people as they listened. The stillness had again resumed, the small candle fires glowed, the wind outside was only a distant noise, and our hands were warm. The minister stood next to the altar, his voice resonating like a warm wind that had worked its way in from the outside despite the snow, despite the ice, despite the winter. He, like the others in the room, awaited the voice in the stillness: “Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.” Like a thick ship in the wilderness, the church had battled the cold and now its battered souls had sought refuge. We played another hymn, and everyone sang of Christmas. From the loft, we could only faintly hear their singing—we were surrounded, swallowed by the music. *** With Music of Hope, we began to practice at nursing homes. The elderly folks would appear in elegant deliberation and sit down near the group. Old men would tap their loafered feet, old women would nod. And everyone would smile like summer had breezed in and eradicated all frost. The seniors smiled at the threshold of death, at the threshold of that wild leap into the eternal. How much could they understand? Our Blue Christmas music meant less sorrow and more empathy—they’d one day leave the same way their friends did. A Blue Christmas was in this sense not a time of sorrowful remembrance but of preparation for an eventual reacquaintance. But how did this long-lived earth resound, then, for these men and women at the cusp of “all things new?” I watched the elders, and I certainly understood less than they did. But they listened; despite all sorrow, the air was warm, the light gloamed brightly, and there was music. As if preparing their wondrous minds for a time with bodies to match, the old men and women listened and glowed. *** “Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on When we shall be forever with the Lord.”
In the winter church, all was tending toward a conclusion. We transitioned from calming postlude music to a prelude, an opening to a new story. “When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.” “Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.” Beneath the loft where we played, the benediction arose; it blessed the little group in the sanctuary and lifted to visit us as well. The congregation eventually disbanded into the silence and sacredness of the air, and we began the postlude music. We had been distanced from the activity of the rest of the church, and yet had been more than background music— we accompanied hymns, leading the blue worshippers to sing and fill the silence. We were a part of something simple, yet interminably full of wonder, and we’d played the last piece thinking the congregation had left and we were poetically enlivening an emptied hall. Of course, my musician’s ego enjoyed some self-pity, contemplating a lack of artistic appreciation. But while we continued playing, a woman climbed the steps and stood listening. “Thank you for playing. We loved hearing your music. You guys made this service more meaningful.” We were oddly gratified to know that what we’d felt in the loft had, in fact, been happening below us. The great ship of the church had wheeled and rocked through a stormy wind and the voice “the waves and wind still know” had quieted it into peace, ordering the chaos into notes, into a melody and harmony. We understood very little, but what we knew we loved. And one day it will be clearer, perhaps the day we too celebrate a Blue Christmas as members of a congregation— standing at the door of infinity, the snow clumped to our tired feet—waiting fervently to walk through.
Creative Essay 63
Gardens of the Villa Moreno Eden Prime
My dear old friend, Monet. Oil mist. A mistress. Seine: My mystery. I was little and my mother was teaching, talking in that teacher-way, “Monet…” You refined me,
you beckon me to Paris, “Come,” you say…Monet. You taught me that true form was an idea long before Plato did, yes, you. In this garden, a single path leads me to a vulnerable blue horizon, it must be like your eyes. Searching, down that path— Where is the little artist inside of you, girl? Where is the impressionist buried? …You tell me.
Living Waters Review
Berth Jen Arthur
We left at night. Our parents thought it would be easier if we slept while they navigated Treasure Coast to Lucaya, five kids squeezed into the V-berth of our friend’s boat. The next morning we’d dive for conch and lobster, the turquoise expanse an undulating picnic blanket, sun branded into sky.
But now there was nothing to do but sleep, gestating in that varnished cabin on cushions of foam. It’s the best sleep I’ve ever had— that comforting darkness, the ocean’s cool breath coming in through the open window above us before I learned to fear, to wonder if we’d get lost, if someone might fall asleep at the wheel. This was when grown-ups were right, the boat parting the waters so fast, the rocking felt gentle, and I rolled in my sack, breathing in salt and clouds, waiting to be born.
Carnegie Alexandra Gomez
Creative Essay 66
he walls of Carnegie Hall were built with the assenting consciousness of a Great Man. The Scott-born Andrew, who built his portion of work union America with two-thousand tons of pig iron, George Pullman’s version of first-class freight travel, and a heap of gold bonds measured today in too many billions. While shaking hands with Twain and democracy leaders, his hundred million donated bricks arose in shelters for treasured relics and trees, books and people. I’ll tell you now that the brown masonry stacked on 57th and 7th back in 1891 was made sans steel frame—was made from a philanthropist who made possible a manslaughter. But only because Economy often likes an Old Fashioned, made of two parts irony with a dash of red bitters. The walls of Carnegie Hall shielded me once from eighteen-degrees-and-dropping, from frigid toes and fingers. Its gold hand-carved moldings and layered balconies going up and up and white panels framing a discus crowned with lights—it was like the ceiling of Heaven and History. The Beatles had shared part of their mania on this polished wood. Judy Garland gave the “greatest night of show business” before Duke Ellington gave new face to jazz; before the likes of Nina Simone, of Celine Dion and Luther Vandross, of Ike & Tina Turner, and of Led Zeppelin in more rippling shades of genre and rapture. How many bows and brass and pure symphony had it taken to litter the air with such legendary colors? All of this could be yours for $209 even. A ticket priced for just one of those 2,804 plush chairs; that would have been my deal, if I wasn’t already a small inclusion in the program of February 27, 2012. Guest conductor Dr. Hugh Floyd was the precisely necessary kind of eccentric needed to corral and polish a group of high school choirs from different parts of the country, to
unite them all under Handel and Barnum and “Now, try it with your arms hanging down and bend and the waist so your nose is parallel with the floor.” He had us reverberating from the tops of our heads, occasionally cracking from previously poor vocal technique, yet eventually made us a unified chord progression that could rival any collection of strings. On the day, my sensible flats were hidden by a slightly less sensible, but required, short-sleeved black dress. Crossing 57th from the rehearsal hall to the backstage of the Isaac Stern Auditorium was like pulling the curtain behind Disney magic and finding an inanimate broom and wash bucket. In those moments I forgot what I hadn’t truly seen the night before in practice. Four steps brought me to the stage and into a vast, still multiverse, where darkness was forward and beyond, and above was dust in spotlights. But in that place sound was a living thing. Even silences were charged with now and past in almost equal measure, and while my eyes followed Dr. Floyd and time signature and dolce and notes below the staff, I impressed upon myself, this this hold onto this. I don’t remember the name of the orchestra that stayed like soldiers at rest after our part was done and we were made spectators in back-end theater seats. They played Eric Whitacre’s “October” for wind instruments, which I had only heard before through seven-year-old Sony headphones. Yet that was all that reached and stayed with my gasping ears when it wasn’t dark anymore and we were forced to leave the way we came in. I didn’t know then that Andrew Carnegie had once given his right-hand man a free pass in creating war with starving laborers. He closed his eyes in June of 1892 to a demand for fair wages, treating his headaches with a Scotland vacation. When he again opened his eyes, ten of nearly four-thousand battle-weary men laid dead on bloody Pennsylvania earth. In a letter to a colleague he called it “that Homestead blunder.” And yet and yet… For the remainder of his life turned from mogul to benefactor, June of 1892 would likely be the reason Andrew Carnegie signed checks and dedicated schools, public libraries and concert halls. Still, I don’t believe that damning charge— The one that says all gifts are tainted by their sorry gift givers.
Living Waters Review
I get it. I think. Laura Wills
The Mural Abigail Skinner
Short Story 68
e sit side by side in front of the wall. Me, Cath, Martin, Emilio, and Mr. Suarez. Between each person are cans of paint, orange paint trays, and a few brushes, each one a different size and shape. No one speaks. We just sit, cross-legged, eyes searching the cracked gray cement wall of the building as if there is some answer to be found there. Behind us, the basketball court. Normally, on a weekday afternoon in mid-October, before it has gotten too cold and dark for outdoor recreation, the court would be alive with voices and the smack of basketballs hitting the pavement, but today there is nothing and no one but us. The small rusted-out set of bleachers on the side of the court, too, is empty. Beneath it there is a backpack, purple with camo patches sewn into the fabric. It belongs to Natasha. For a moment I consider bringing it to her house after we’re done here. But then, of course I can’t do that. Mr. Suarez speaks, finally, but doesn’t take his eyes off the wall. “Well,” he says. Martin says, “Well.” Cath says, “Well.” Emilio says, “Shut up.” “Marco?” Mr. Suarez turns to me. “Anything you’d like to say to commemorate this moment?” He picks up one of the brushes next to him and points at me. I think for a minute. Cath makes a face like get on with it already and Mr. Suarez raises his eyebrows at me and Emilio burps loudly. I smack an open palm against the wall a few times. “Do any of us even know what we’re doing? I mean, like know how to paint? Or draw? Or scale a mural, or—”
Mr. Suarez laughs. “That’s the spirit.” There is no patronization in his voice. “Everyone, let’s give Marco a round of applause for his inspiring and uplifting pep-talk.” He puts down the paintbrush and claps loudly. No one else moves. “So the idea here,” he says, unfazed, “is that we each pick a section of the wall and paint whatever we’d like on it. The sections don’t have to go together, just think of something important to you—a specific scene, lyrics of a song, a special person in your life—and paint it as best you can. When we’re done, it should look like a set of five panels, and hopefully each panel will tell a different story. Or,” he is smiling wide now, and his excitement kills me a little, “if we’re lucky, maybe they’ll tell a story that’s not so different.” “Gross,” Cath whispers. Emilio looks at Mr. Suarez and shakes his head. “If I had known joining this group was just gonna mean painting rainbows and sunflowers on stupid buildings, I never woulda let my mom...” he trails off. Mr. Suarez, though, is still smiling. He gives us each a small nod. “Whenever you’re ready.” Martin is the first one to pick up a brush. He is also the only one of us who looks even remotely excited. “Come on,” he says. “Stop being apathetic jackasses and for once in your lives try to care about something.” He looks at Cath and Emilio and me and we look back at him, all of us surprised at how stern his voice sounds. “Stop staring at me, you freaks. Just paint. You heard Suarez. Just freaking paint.” He stands up, picks up a paint tray and a gallon-sized can and walks to the far-left end of the wall. Emilio sighs loudly but follows Martin, grabbing a can and a paint roller. Cath doesn’t move. “This is my section,” she says to me. She opens her arms wide and gestures to the wall. “Claimed.” “Fine,” I say. I move to the far-right end of the wall, still with no idea what I want to paint. There are no scenes or song lyrics I like enough to immortalize them on a building right in the middle of South Bronx. Mr. Suarez comes up behind me, hands clasped behind his back, thick glasses sitting low on his nose. He looks out of place in his sweater vest and fancy brown shoes, but he acts as though his being here is the most normal thing in the world. “Don’t think too hard.” “There’s nothing,” I say.
Living Waters Review
“Yes, there is.” “I don’t think so.” “Marco.” “What.” “You have something. I know you do.” I shake my head and he jabs a finger in the middle of my chest. “In there.” “So, what, you want me to like, paint from my heart or something?” I scoff. “Come on, Suarez, even you gotta realize how dumb that sounds.” “Maybe it sounds dumb. But that’s all there is, Marco. In this entire world, that’s all there is.” He points again at my chest and then walks towards the others. I turn to face the basketball court. A couple balls lay abandoned at the half-court line, and even from here I can tell they are deflated and useless. The hoops do not have nets and their backboards are covered in rust and bird poop, and looking at them I understand why Mr. Suarez chose this building to paint the mural on, and not the building behind the school or the one next to the community center that used to be a bank. My eyes fall on the backpack underneath the bleachers. The backpack that belongs to Natasha, the one person I want to talk to more than anything and the one person I cannot talk to. I look at the backpack, listing in my head everything I know to be in there. Extra socks for gym, several packs of grape bubblegum, an emergency sewing kit, lip gloss, an eyelash curler, a set of gel pens. Nothing, I think, that is actually required for school. Suddenly, I know exactly what I am going to paint. I turn back to the wall where Emilio and Martin and Cath are busy at work. Mr. Suarez stands a distance away, watching them with a satisfied smile on his face. I search the paint cans for green and pick up the last unused roller. “Find some inspiration?” Mr. Suarez asks. “We’ll see.” I paint without stopping, without noticing the sun going down or the rest of the group packing up the supplies and getting ready to go home. I do not register the numbness in my fingers from the growing evening chill. “We can come back tomorrow, Marco. It’s getting dark,” Mr. Suarez says. I take a step back. “It’s okay. I think I’m done.” I drop the paintbrush into the tray and for several moments I just look at the wall, at what I’ve created. It’s not very good, the
ratios are screwed up and some of the colors have mixed together, creating ugly brown patches in certain spots. Mr. Suarez takes a few steps closer, Emilio and Cath and Martin close behind him. “I think it looks great,” he says. Cath squints. “What even is that?” “It’s a long story.” “I guess it’s kinda cool,” she says. “Boys?” Mr. Suarez says to Emilio and Martin. Martin is quiet for a minute. He folds his arms across his chest and nods. “I get it. I think.” Emilio says, “You’re weird as hell, dude.” “Alright,” Mr. Suarez says. “Good work today, gang. We can come back tomorrow.” He gestures for me to stay behind as the others walk back toward the bus. He puts a hand on my shoulder. “It’s really good, Marco.” “I don’t know.” “I do.” “It’s not exactly how I wanted it to be.” “That’s not what matters.” “Yeah,” I say. “Maybe.” “Just give it a chance, okay?” He looks at me and I know he understands and I realize he is waiting for me to respond. “Okay,” I say. ***** Later, after I get home, I send Natasha a text for the first time in close to four months. Hey, sis, (sorry, I know you don’t want me to call you that anymore) you left your backpack at the basketball court today. I saw it under the bleachers. Maybe you left it on purpose, or maybe you actually forgot it this time. Either way, you should probably pick it up. Not tonight, though, you shouldn’t go there at night. It can be hard to see. Go tomorrow morning, after the sun’s gone up, okay? You don’t have to respond to this if you don’t want to. Or if you want to, that’d be great, too. Anyway. I guess that’s it. Marco
Short Story 69
The Forlorn Kurt Burghardt
March young brothers and sisters, weâ€™re all away in this trepidatious, ambulating journey off to the searing hell of truth. Our eyes grow weary of the insurmountable hovels, appearing and fulminating on the tops of the novel hills,
extending out into our five-thousand hill lifespan. Our feet, want to cease their finite, but seemingly infinite, drudgery, this mundane skullduggery of mages and erudite sages. Our lungs, confused and grasping for air as we sluggishly climb upwards. Our hearts, beating and beating and never ceasing and beating and beating. Our minds, dull and despondent, unaware of the possibility of hope. Never mind your biology, brothers and sisters, I say march and march, march, we must march onward towards that city on the hill so far away.
Living Waters Review
Whiskey Stains Gavin Kraiss
chime shattered the silenceâ€”thrice. Smells of smoke and of musty books overwhelmed the room. Above the mantelshelf was a painting, harsh in its brushstrokes, of the head of the Havashim family. It hung like a muddled mirror of the man in the rightmost recliner. He slouched in the chair, firelight barely reflecting in coal-black eyes, casting shadows on his face like a boney specter. He held a glass in his hand. Its contents were potent yet untouched. How has it come to this? He wore a suit jacket. Bright green in its prime, now withered to a pale marsh color. His undershirt, once white, now yellow, held crumbs and stains due to past carelessness. Figures of animals adorned the wall. Trophies of deer, a wolf, a bear. There was also a raven. No recollection of how it got there, but it still stared out of black opals, as if to lay blame for its being there. On the table beside the rightmost recliner were hospital papers. Whiskey-stained and strewed, they were anchored by an unlabeled bottle. The man raised his glass and drank. In the fire were smoldering pages of a will, unwritten, offering all he had, â€œto whom it may concern.â€? How has it come to this?
Short Story 71
Dear Senator Nathalie Gedeon
Wanna watch two kids shred themselves on the court on 7th street after the vote tonight? Wanna hit up the bathroom stall my preggo girl Chanelle was shoved into at her school before you head back home to the fam? Could I interest you in a picture of a dirty and bleeding Omar? No?
Wanna check out a homeless vet named Daniel passed out on the street, veins bulging white while he lies face first in the gutter? Wanna give my cold mix-tape a listen? Wanna hear me freestyle right now? Wanna see me break down and dance like a minstrel? Or maybe you wanna see my high school degree? My bachelors? Masters? My doctorate diploma is arriving in the mail real soon. No? Well...they’re hung real nice by my pulsing heart, which I have to put up each night after a long day—it usually stays hung up real nice on the wall like that. But every now and again I’ll wake up to find it has flopped onto the ground—hearts can be tricky things to hang up. Where do ya put yours?
Living Waters Review
Hello from the Third Stair Noah Thaman
Hello from the third stair. I am older. I can no longer remember cool nights, Maria Van Zandt in her yellow dress. I’ve been thinking about the other side of the lake. I’ve been thinking I lost Maria down one of these county lanes. Flamenco is the name of a flower and a street and a sort of missile discovered beneath the ironworks of a European city. I have never been, but I plan to visit if I ever find the shadow of a cockatoo’s forelock. I had an apple today. I suppose that isn’t true, but the thought feels green. Down by the pier the planting of rocks has stalled and no one’s ecosystem works quite like it should. Do you understand what I mean when I tell you I have dug a well? I cannot see the bottom. I cannot sail into the sea. I cannot own a single blade of Augustine grass without a permit from who knows who anymore! You and I are rooks and everyone else is a queen and there are no more horsemen. Why do you cry for the beast where he cowers beneath the feathers by the door? There are no more eagles, no more cups, just the same birds we’ve seen circling all our lives. This is all I know about weather patterns, young fox. This is all just a thirst dream, you know.
In the Stillness, Dancing Abigail Skinner
Short Story 74
now falls and silence is a slammed door in your face. Has there ever been a sound before now? You cannot remember, cannot recall the scrape of a car engine or the ringing of a telephone or the nauseating murmur of a television with the volume turned too low. For a moment your heart is broken, but it passes quickly. This is why you came here, after all. *** He made no announcement of his leaving other than a hastily scrawled note stuck to the refrigerator with the magnet version of a drawing Caleb did in first grade. It was an owl, the drawing. Or a cat. He was never quite sure and afraid to ask; he didn’t want to hurt Caleb’s feelings. It was black, the owl-cat. He knew the note would hurt her more than the leaving, and maybe that’s why he did it. Why he chose that magnet over the one advertising a real estate company or the one shaped like a palm tree that she bought on a trip to Florida. For days afterward he could not comprehend his own malice. Was not aware his body housed the type of man who could do something so wretched. But he has long surpassed acceptance by now. *** When he came here he was not sure how long he’d last. His father was a woodsman, built this cabin and the three others scattered across the Yukon. Every piece of meat he ever ate breathed its last breath in his father’s hands. But he never wanted to learn, always turned down his father’s offers to go fishing or small game hunting. Something about it made him sick to his stomach. He did not ever want to be responsible for a living thing’s cessation. And yet.
He had brought books with him, twenty-five. Most of them he knew nothing about. He’d just grabbed the smallest paperbacks off the shelf in his office and piled them in his duffle bag on top of the three changes of heavy winter clothes he had packed. And even as he reads them in the cabin during the silent hours of days that seem to come and go too quickly, he barely registers the titles or the words on the yellowed pages. Some days, he takes one of the books outside and reads out loud to the trees because he thinks maybe they will make better listeners. But somewhere between his mouth and his ears, the words become nothing more than sounds that have no meaning, and the trees are just trees, and they do not care one way or another. They cannot hear him. *** Caleb had never learned how to swim. They had tried, had put him in classes and then, when he refused to get in the water with the other kids, hired private teachers to give him lessons. But he hated the water. Screamed when it touched him, as though the chlorine reacted like acid against his translucent skin. “He has to learn how to swim,” Emily had said, over and over. “We’ll try again in a couple months, okay? Maybe he’ll be over it by then,” he’d said, knowing the older Caleb got the harder it would be for him to learn. He was almost eight. Most kids his age had been swimming for half their lives already. “He has to learn how to swim, Daniel.” “He will, Em. I promise.” I promise, I promise, I promise. ***
Living Waters Review
It has been almost three weeks since he left. The air outside grows colder and the days shorten; light lasts only a few hours. He reads but does not comprehend. He sleeps but does not dream. He eats but does not taste. He tries not to think of Emily, of their son; he thinks of them too much. Here, in the middle of the winter-bare woods, there is nothing to keep him company but the sound of his own breathing. *** I’m sorry, Emily. I need to get away from this for a bit. Going to the cabin. Don’t know when I’ll be back. –D Emily found the note stuck to the refrigerator when she walked into the kitchen to make herself tea before going to work. Yellow lined paper, red pen, Caleb’s owl magnet. The one she always used to display his A+ spelling tests or his yearbook pictures. And she knew that Daniel’s choosing this magnet was not an accident, but she was not angry, not about the magnet or the leaving. She took the note down, folded it, and placed it in the drawer of the desk that sat beside the refrigerator. She made her tea. She went to work, and she hoped he had remembered to pack extra socks. *** On the twenty-third day, he spots a snowy owl outside the window, perched on a low branch of a naked spruce tree ten feet from the cabin. It is the first living thing he has seen since he arrived. He goes to the window, stands close enough that his nose touches the icy glass. The owl stares at him for a few seconds, then turns its head completely around in the grotesque way that owls do. If he lets his eyes fall out of focus, the owl disappears, blending in peacefully, exquisitely, with the bitter brown limbs of the tree and the snow covering the ground. Refocus, and there it is again, motionless, regal. Vanishes and reappears with each blink. He knocks one knuckle against the window, hard, and the owl swivels at the sound. It watches him without blinking, then flies away. *** It is the owl you think of as you refold your dirty clothes and place them back inside your duffle bag, when you stack each of the twenty-five books you read into a pile on the mantel above the fireplace. You won’t be taking them back with you; you don’t need them anymore. You have been gone for a month, but it feels like a year.
The quiet, the stillness of the woods has made you think differently of time, and for a moment you feel sad to leave the trees and this place. But then you remember. The earth does not care for you, does not cradle you in its branches or long for the sound of your weeping. The earth does not care if you stay or go. So you go. And the sun remains the sun, the sky remains the sky, and, yes, the snow under your feet gives way beneath your weight, but don’t worry. It will fall again.
Short Story 75
Notes to My Future Self (From the Diary of a Girl Scout) Therese Hair
Short Story 76
January 27, 2008 It is forty degrees in Florida and you are wearing exactly four layers of clothing: A tank-top tucked into your underwear, a turtleneck tucked into your jeans, a sweater, a coat, and somehow you’ve managed to bend your arms enough to shrug into the mint green vest that gives you license to be standing outside Wal-Mart with a box of cash and a sign that proclaims: It’s Cookie Time! Joanna Gladys is wearing only a pressed white shirt under her vest, shivering over a pyramid of Thin Mints as she wrestles her fly-aways down with bobby-pins. Your mother—the troop leader—tells you not to slouch and you begin to regret your decision to join up. You will remember two things from this day: That Joanna got pneumonia from standing in the cold half-naked, and that looking miserable and pathetic while holding cookies makes old people take pity on you. June 3, 2009 You take up photography and force all your friends to be your models. Sitting, standing, up a tree, on a fence. Groups, singles, doubles. You take mostly black and whites. You zoom in too close, focus on eyes. Every week your mother picks up a new role of film for you. She insists you start paying with your own allowance. The prints clutter your bedroom walls, the bottom of your desk drawer, your vanity mirror. You start middle school, get a bad haircut and pierced ears. Tell your mother, “The 70s are coming back!” and purchase the tie-dyed shirt with a peace-sign bedazzled across the front. You still pick up litter on weekends and save ducklings from storm-drains in your spare time, just less frequently now that Benny Hollings sits in front of you in math class. October 18, 2012 The troop sisters have threatened to demote you from your position as secretary if you don’t show up to meetings. You’ve skipped three this month to help your father move into his new apartment across town. You know the meetings are pointless. They’ve organized a union. They talk about animal rights and collect charms instead of badges. Maybe the hippie age really has come back.
You begin listening to rock music. The harder the better. Your mother disapproves. She hides your CDs and your eyeliner. She calls this your grunge phase. You think she’s gotten the term wrong so you ask your best friend who is an expert on all things fashion. She says the 80s are in and hands you a scrunchie. Never take fashion advice from her again. August 1, 2014 When you tell your mother that you want to study art in college, she asks you why you are so ungrateful. She will not have you living in a cardboard box, or worse, with her. Your error is evident. Never talk to your mother when there are dishes in the sink. Better yet, mop the floor and wait until she’s holding a hot cup of tea before breaching any issue of importance. Your father offers to pay for college. Your mother suggests he pay her the money he owes her. Colorful language is exchanged. August 15, 2015 College is nothing like you thought it would be. There are always two sides of everything: the difference between the Girl Scout promise and what your mother calls the low road; and the dorm you share with a blonde-haired nursing major who enjoys constantly pointing out that all of your classes are easy and that painting shouldn’t count as homework. March 13, 2016 Remember how you thought going camping with your roommate, her boyfriend, and their five-pound Pekingese was a bad idea? You were right. You spend the entire time wishing you had brought earplugs and just to be safe, a blind-fold or at least a sleeping mask. Love is uncomfortably gross. Thank god for cinderblock walls in college dorms. You date one guy for a while and break up with him when he tells you he loves you. You find another but dump him when you find out your parents are dating other people. The thought of your mother swimming around in the dating pool with you makes you nauseous. You’re liable
Living Waters Review
to bump into one another and you’ve always thought you and your mother are creatures that need their space. Like the distance that should be maintained between a coyote and a rabbit for the safety of everyone involved. January 30, 2018 (Note to Present Self) You’re wondering if you’re going to get a job after graduation or if maybe you should start looking for a sizable cardboard box to inhabit. Your father got married and you catch yourself daydreaming about trading your tyrannical mother in for the newer model who bakes and does your laundry when you visit on weekends. You’re also worried that your mother has sensed this so you surprise her at home on a Tuesday night when you’re procrastinating your senior portfolio and she takes you out to Archie Moore’s on the lake. A treat for your grades. She tells you that one of the girls from your old troop got married. Another is studying to be a lawyer. You tell her that Joanna Gladys moved to California to pursue an acting career and got pregnant. While you are filling your planner with lists, you stop to get a snack, reminding yourself that there are few things cookies cannot cure. You pour yourself a glass of wine and break out the Tagalongs. You eat half a sleeve while reading your philosophy textbook, then fall asleep on the couch with cookie crumbs in your hair.
Short Story 77
Because Babel Never Learned Taylor Gaede
To touch the sky— that was the dream of a few who stacked their bricks on clouds. Pipes slunk down like snowy snakes but became yellowed, aged, weathered. Every storm thrust them down. And they thought to build higher,
but the sun melted their pillars, made them fall onto mountaintops that bruised their heel. Higher, they cried, higher! Then there were no clouds, only air. They had no place to stand and the fire of reentry erased their kingdom. Splash down to the ocean— splay on the sand— They thought they were building an Empire among empires, in grace, in love, in brotherhood, but all they built was a tilted tower— for they knew nothing of creation— only dreams.
Living Waters Review
Stained-Glass Eyes Jon Swick
ells ring across the subtropical landscape. Across the tailored grounds I occupy and the detailed architecture I call my own. I reside here in a compacted land of mansions and private streets. Shopping bags and golf tees. I rest amongst it all. Atop my spired height these bells call out, and I seek to host the souls of man. Who will hear this call that rises above? Will it be the hopelessly poor, or the affluent few, or anyone in between? The answer is not needed by material measure, for I am only interested in matters of the soul. I know the nature of man, and I have seen the beauty that can be conjured from the complex desires and emotions of humanity. Alas, for I’ve also seen the grotesque. The desperate among you who would break the laws of man for personal gain. I will not hold you accountable, but the host who resides within these walls may. Regardless of your beginnings or age, these doors exist for all humanity to walk through, and for a moment he calls the universe to pause and life begins anew. Will it be the devoted lovers who have come to see me? Those who dress these old walls with bouquets and wreathes? Who invite their kindred spirits and family to witness yet another miracle? For this I bring my guest again, who is a generous and loving host. He will sit amongst the pageantry in deference and respect for a moment. A parade of white washes over these old wooden beams and floors and with it a joy for what awaits in the future. There are tears for those who arrive alone for they are never to be seen again. In their places arises a covenant. The Lord unifies souls
here, and he makes one from the two who have requested his presence. The bells ring once more, but I know who will be arriving today. These bells sound a request that is undeniable by all mortals. Humanity in its entirety is equal to this sound— regardless of their stature by any measure. Understood by all to be the end of this existence, but fear not. Beyond their fading resonance awaits his call to a luminous flock to celebrate amongst infinity, and your soul will shine as a star in the pasture of the night sky. I have stood here for one hundred years with the walls and arches that rest on either side. I have seen the greatest of sinners traverse these stone walkways and worn pews, and my stained glass has shone on all manner of man. To some I have housed the irredeemable, but who I am to judge? I have stood for one hundred years, and in that I’ve seen promises forgotten. I’ve seen covenants broken for lustful gains, and I’ve seen those who would protect only themselves while sacrificing the lives of others. Yet I will always offer a moment and eternal peace to anyone who needs it, until the shore marches inland and waves lap against these storied walls.
Creative Essay 79
Luna Dreamscape Ali Rose
Living Waters Review
When the Bell Tolled Tom Lubben
Her head hung low from twenty-one years, years that pendulum-like, strung from her neck, had pulled her, bent her, side to side, and she—unwilling face—had twisted to their stride. His head thrown back from ninety years— ninety years that fixed to a bed his gnarled spine but not his soul— the watchmaker wheeled by. And as the two passed in the hospital hall to her, it was twelve, the midnight hour to him, it was no time at all. And as they passed, her mechanical eyes followed his face upturned. And time stretched and stretched as he farther sailed, as she waded in his endless wake— and weight was a senseless thing in the mist in the heave of restoring waves. And time stretched and stretched as he farther sailed until time snapped and fell. Her I.V. pulsed to a distant beat and she was well.
The Dentist Caleb Roderick
Short Story 82
o you’re a dentist?” I looked down at the shirt I was wearing that proudly proclaimed “Dentist-con 2017” featuring a tooth dressed as Superman. “Well,” I started to answer, but my assigned neighbor for the three-hour flight to Atlanta kept talking right over me. “I’ve always thought that had to be the worst job a man could have,” he said. “I mean, first of all, you spend all day with your hands in someone else’s mouth, and that has to be filthy. You know how some people could never be surgeons because they faint at the sight of the blood? That’s why I could never be a dentist. I guess I’m just too squeamish. I’m really sensitive. My friends tell me that all the time. They say to me, ‘man, you’re just such a sensitive guy,’ and that’s why I could never be a dentist. Not that I’d want to. Of course I don’t mean anything bad by that, I actually really admire you for being willing to put yourself on the line like that. It’s brave. Maybe not soldier brave, but it’s still pretty brave.” The flight attendant came by and dropped off bags of pretzels. I didn’t much care for pretzels, but I was hoping that at least I’d get a little peace while my neighbor was eating. He shoved pretzels in his mouth and continued talking as though he believed himself to have two different mouths: neither activity conceding to the other for an instant. Pretzel crumbs came out of his mouth like a gentle snowfall on my arm as he leaned forward and continued. “The thing that drives me crazy is flossing. I mean, you spend all your time trying to get people to do that. A hundred times a day you probably just ask people to
floss, and you know they won’t. You already know that they’re not going to floss, because no one flosses. I don’t floss. Do you even floss?” “I…” “It must be terrible to be ignored like that all the time, to feel like you don’t even get a chance to talk.” “As it happens…” “People do that to me all the time. Either they don’t give me a chance to speak or they ignore everything I say. I have really good ideas and people are missing out on them because they just won’t listen to what I’m trying to tell them. It’s a real shame.” He’d eaten all the pretzels, so I used a napkin to brush the crumbs off my arm. “Yeah, it’s a tragedy,” I said. “A tragedy!” he declared. “You’re exactly right, it’s a tragedy, although I shouldn’t be surprised about you being right. You have to be pretty smart to be a doctor, right? Even if you’re just a dentist and not a real doctor? I have so much respect for dentists. I couldn’t possibly deal with everything they have to put up with. Worst job in the world, isn’t it?” It went on that way for some time, and I began to wonder if the plane had crashed and I was in the midst of eternal torment. However, I pushed that thought aside, because in Hell he’d have more pretzels. At last we landed and my neighbor and I went our separate ways. He raised a fist. “Keep fighting the good fight.” I smiled and nodded half-heartedly. “See you later.” I waited through my layover, dozing off once or twice but
Living Waters Review
trying to stay awake so I wouldn’t miss the boarding call. After about an hour, I was pushed onto the plane by those behind me in line and shoved to my seat where I hoped to have a little nap on my way home. I opened my eyes when the seat next to me was filled. I watched as the stranger turned and looked me up and down. He pursed his lips, and I tensed up, waiting for whatever he was about to say. “So you’re a dentist?” he asked sharply. He continued before I could answer. “Don’t think I don’t know.” “What?” “I know it’s a conspiracy,” he said. “I’m really not sure what you’re talking about, sir.” “Don’t play dumb with me,” he said. “Like I told you, I already know.” “Know what?” I asked, though I probably should have let the matter drop. “What conspiracy?” “Dentists.” “Dentists?” “You heard me. Dentists.” “Dentists are a conspiracy?” “Ha! So you admit it?” “I suppose my wording may have been confusing,” I admitted. “They’re useless,” he said. “They are?” “I mean, of course they have purposes, like if you chip a tooth, or get a toothache, but really, you people aren’t nearly as necessary as you seem to think. Like if your teeth are all over the place and you can’t even chew, maybe you should consider braces, but if they’re a little crooked that’s no reason to fork over tons of cash or go through the pain, and what’s the deal with bi-annual check-ups? Why is that necessary?” “Something about plaque build-up, I think.” “You think? See, you don’t even know, and it’s your field. Compare it to other kinds of doctors. Dermatologists are super important if you get a rash or strange moles or whatever, but that’s no reason to go to a dermatologist every six months to get checked out or washed with special dermatology soap, so why do we give that kind of attention to our teeth? Or, to go back to braces, at least we don’t see everyone’s awkward adolescence compounded by heavy machinery to improve their posture and prevent back problems in the future. Somehow, dentists took over our
culture, and no one even questions it, but I do. I listen to NPR, so I’m a critical thinker. We got by for thousands of years without you dentists and your sterilized offices, and we’ll still be here long after your gone. Your moneygrabbing conspiracy can’t last forever. We’re going to run you and your ilk out of town.” “Um, thanks for the heads up,” I said, staring at the maze of his tangled and yellowed teeth. Fortunately, this flight was shorter than the last, and we were back on the ground soon. I got off the plane and hurried away. I didn’t have any bags checked, and I headed straight for the airport door to get a taxi home. As soon as I was in my apartment, I peeled off the dentist’s shirt. I had picked it out of the motel’s lost and found after I’d spilled coffee on my shirt at breakfast. They had thirty of them lying around—apparently the conference had been in town, and the shirt had not been popular, even less popular than travelling all day with a giant coffee-stain.
Short Story 83
Patience and Her Fool Austin Parenti
Black fumes rise to shroud my mind. So I asked for your voice and I heard you: Wait. Wait? Would you command a falling sparrow,
be still? Ask of a hunted doe, patience? Was it false kindness which kept your hand from slaying hope? That mocking voice in my chest but I dare not extinguish her myself, for though I rage, I know your sovereignty. Thus I still sing and obey and pray and wait.
Living Waters Review
Shirtwaist Waste David Doyle
Ape arms dangling over earth, wind, and fire, a couple drunk couples reaching up a little higher to the blood moon, to the blue moon, to anything but the Earth. Stained the satin waitress with a tip minus two, tipping in the moonlight hours but I wouldn’t give the moon. I’ve choked on oiled whiskey sour black and blue I’ve thimbled down a timeline tack, but on that night, second street, them flashing lights and dancing arms, almost cut me right in half, you see. But on that night, second street, I ventured further down beneath, past candle light, closed deli meats, saw the golden calf reflect to me: reflection of handleless door, hour glass in time, so I grabbed your hand, and you grabbed mine, pushed a little farther, and you pushed and pulled a little more. Sitting, screaming, serenades of hand grenade winds, there was a fire on the inside of that building, but we both wanted in.
Consider All the Worlds Abigail Skinner
Creative Essay 86
ucked into a corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there is a church. It sits on grave-dappled grass and among trees that, when the season is right, bleed vivid color onto its walls. It is a plainly designed building, small and white with a few windows and an oldstyle campanile, long out of use. On the day we visit the church, perhaps because of the suffocating July heat or simply because we lucked-out with our timing, the grounds are empty and still. The headstones of the graveyard act as sentinels before the doors of the church, sturdy and saying: life only beyond this point. No birds or squirrels, no shiver of leaves today. Just the seven of us, and the church, and the mountain. Dad makes a joke. “These mountains are holy. Get it?” But it’s true that this section of the park feels somehow more sacred than the other miles of winding roads and old historic buildings scattered across the mountain, and I wonder about this as we walk into the sanctuary. Inside smells like hundreds of years of stagnancy, the dust of those who walked through these doors before us, in search of something they couldn’t put a name to. Referencing the informational pamphlet I picked up at the entrance of the park, I read that the Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1830 and its construction acted as the genesis of the Baptist denomination in Cades Cove. The building that still stands on the mountain today was built in 1887. “They still held services here until the 1960s,” I say to no one in particular. My family has spread out inside the church, each of them gazing in intent silence at some
ancient detail of its design. Though we have been here before, I’ve never noticed there are still Bibles in all of the pews and a few hymnbooks with frail, yellowed pages. I sit down and open one up while the rest of my family leaves to wander around the small cemetery and play a game to see who can find the oldest headstone. The hymnbook’s ink is still dark and I imagine not many people have turned these pages in the last fifty years. For a moment I am so lost in the loneliness of the book in my hands that I do not register the words of the hymn: O, Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. It is one I’ve sung in church hundreds of times, “How Great Thou Art,” but the words hang differently in this place. Perhaps it is the incomprehensible grandeur of my surroundings—hundreds of miles of mountains and rivers and trees—that causes the lyrics to now stick to my soul. I am suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to take the book of hymns with me as a reminder that here the mountains spoke, and they spoke to me of the hand that made them. But I know the words belong here and they are not mine to take. I put the book back in the pew, next to a thick black Bible with a gold cross etched on the cover, and leave the church to catch up with my family.
Living Waters Review
P.O. Box 24708 • 901 South Flagler Drive West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4708 www.pba.edu • 561-803-2000 Living Waters Review
P.O. Box 24708 • 901 South Flagler Drive West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4708 www.pba.edu • 561-803-2000 Living Waters Review