Quilt Mini 3: The Sublime

Page 1


M a s t

h e a d

Sara Starling

Sara Starling

Table of The Hound
p a g e 7 p a g e11 p a g e9 p a g e13
I will raise my Babygirl sing! o sweet...
Landscape between Storms 5
Tamara Carnevale
p a g e 21
of the Rat Redamancy Put Aside Contents p a g e15 p a g e19 p a g e 17 Lauren Hisey John Di Girolamo Kaiya Mongrain by Auguste Renoir 6



Work Cited

Burke, Edmund. A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, with an Introductory Discourse Concerning Taste, and Several Other Additions. Thomas McLean, Haymarket, 1823.


As a child, I would cling to her arm Both my hands wound tightly around her muscle; skin that sunk and sagged from gravity fifteen years too early. My dad looks at photos of her from their twenties and tells me, “This is how I like to picture your mom.” She looks nothing like that photo. The one thing linking them is the cigarette dangling from her frail wrist I suppose that even then she wasn’t eating I used to cry when she would leave the house I would rip my hair out in clumps that would stay matted to the carpet for days.

Her hair sits limp and wiry on her scalp. Her eyes are the colour of daffodils, and her teeth are stained like she’s just finished a lavender latte. She doesn’t drink coffee. She never has. She never could remember my first words or the time I was born When I was seven, in her closet, I found small containers that sang when I shook them. I opened them and they held baby teeth: three containers, one for each of my sisters and me. Some remnants of a childhood where she remembered to let us believe believe in the tooth fairy, in superheroes, even in God But never in a mother that was patient, and forgiving, and would braid our hair in matching princess silhouettes before bed each night.

I had my first drink at seventeen. In a friend’s basement, I was handed a vodka cooler coated in condensation. It was sweet and fruity and tasted like the juice my parents gave me before bed I had another, and another, and another, and another, and my blood felt like warm milk under my skin. I wonder to myself, is this why she did it? Maybe she didn’t pick the drink over us Maybe she picked the feeling of warmth-filling craters, of baroque champagne flutes, and the excitement of winning ten dollars on a scratcher the exact amount it would have cost to send me on that field trip, or to buy that bottle of Moscato in the side door of our fridge.

I wander into churches. I’m surrounded by saints I’ve never heard of and am told to pray Only I don’t know how I don’t know how to ask. Every week I condemn atheism for being the only thing that makes sense to me, the only thing I’ve ever chosen. I beg to believe again; maybe if I could understand Him, He could stop it. If not alcohol poisoning or cancer, then something charitable Something of mercy She calls me two days after my twenty-first, “Happy birthday Babygirl, mama misses you.” To this day, she calls me Babygirl. I wonder if she says it because she’s trying to remind me that she raised me or if it’s just because she doesn’t know which of her children she is talking to

I watch how the mothers of my friends envelope them after heartbreak, how their arms wrap around their daughters like plexiglass, shielding them from the damage I mourn for my own mother, six blocks away and asleep in front of the TV. I mourn for myself for having to be my own protection, always being hit by debris in the gaps that my own arms can’t cover.

In the deepest crevices where I bury myself, I stretch the tender skin apart and pull her out of me I watch as her eyes open, and there’s light like there is in mine, but it’s brighter. Unsullied. She laughs without pardon, and she talks without fear. She looks like me, but she’s younger. She believes in the tooth fairy, in superheroes, perhaps even in God. And, again, I pray to Him I pray to be a mother, to fill her lungs with baby’s breath and stir honey into her bloodstream. Let me raise her once more and grow her from the inside out. Let me do it again. Let me shield her from every thrown bottle and glass shard on the hardwood. In this life, she will go on every field trip, and she will go to sleep each night with chalk under her fingernails and laughter in her belly. She won’t be a mother. She will be a child, my Babygirl.

I wake to the sound of unclipped claws scratching against my wooden door. A quiet moan comes from just outside my bedroom I roll over and turn on my side light – yellow light falling across my skin It makes me look sickly. I ease out of the cocoon I have made for myself in my twin-sized bed. A rush of cold shudders through me I consider sliding myself under the covers and cradling the warm blanket around my body, like crawling back into the womb. Again, I hear a yelp from outside the door. I feel my knees shake with the weight of my body as I stand I christen the door handle with my touch, and it screams with the turn of rust and old brass

I prepare myself to see the hound. To press my palm on the side of her face, and give her a scratch on the ear. To my surprise, the space at my feet is empty The pale green nightlight in the hallway illuminates wetness on the wall. I run my finger along it. It’s slimy. Like when it was small, the hound must have brushed her cheeks against the wall, rubbing mucus across the paint It’s tacky and lingers on my fingertips until I feel smeared in it. I am halfway down the staircase. I reach the landing and step into a pool that ripples outward from the centre of my foot. Pieces of kibble swallowed whole by the hound only to be thrown up again. It’s the colour of peanut butter and smells like soured milk.

In the kitchen, liquid is splattered across the cabinet fronts. The glow from the streetlight outside the window makes scarlet glisten I grab the icy ledge of the marble countertop as I crouch beside it A smattering of cranberry sauce left from Christmas dinner, perhaps. I glide my finger through it. It’s sticky. My finger slides across my bottom teeth and into my mouth; I lick it clean. A pop sound comes from my lips as my finger exits It’s warm and smells like copper. I edge closer to the cabinet and stroke my tongue through the red, leaving a streak straight through the centre The warmth of it reminds me of the tea my grandmother used to make me before bed The taste reminds me of papercuts in middle school, sucking on the split skin until it ran dry. I swallow and feel it line my throat like cough syrup

In the centre of the carpet lies the hound. The wound by her temple is soaked with the same wine-coloured liquid as the cabinet. It leaks from her skull into the folds of the cream rug, like flies rushing to the belly of a rodent I can tell for certain, even from here: she is dead. Across her canines, there are pieces of vomit that have hardened on her teeth. Her fur is matted and slick Her body sits crooked and limp I try to roll her over, but I see the way her pelvis twists: broken and separated at its centre, like someone tried to rip it in two from the inside

I take one of her paws in each of my hands and drag her, streaking blood across the porcelain floor and through the grout of the tile. We exit the house, and I feel the hound’s fur pull on the rough surface of the concrete porch I rip her from her position, and when her body scratches the ground, it sounds like Velcro. By the time I’ve reached the driveway, I’m tired, heaving, and coated in sweat. I drop one paw from my hand, and using my right arm, I pull the hound behind me. It feels wrong, like dragging lace across gravel.

I take my sled and push her onto it, dragging her through the subdivision. I take her on a long walk. Past the houses, she wasn’t allowed near because she would bark, through the ravine where she would cover her fur in pollen, and to the park where people admired her for the beauty of her coat and her playful demeanour–always sweet, never aggressive At last, I drag the hound to the baseball diamond, where the lights are still shining. Each fleck of snow reflected by the fluorescent lights I walk to the centre of the field and feel the ground sticking to the vomit on my foot. Gripping the side of the sled, I push it upwards until the hound tumbles onto the snow with an unremarkable thud In my hands I take her legs and rearrange them so that none touch–just as she’d prefer. I adjust her snout upwards and lift her ear over her skull, convincing myself that I don’t see the rip in her skin that gives way to bone.

I take a few steps back and admire my work. As she lays there, you could believe she had escaped in the night and found a well-lit spot to rest until morning. That her bones had not been broken and shattered, that someone had heard her cries of anguish That her pelvis wasn’t broken and that she wasn’t left when she was supposed to be protected. I take the handle of my sled and pull it with me across the baseball diamond, towards the bleachers I take a seat and the cold metal bites into my legs. I stare at the hound. As she lays there, another bitch that no one knows what happened to, I wonder if one day she and I will share the same fate.

s g! o etd creature swee wing c eatu

by John Di Girolamo illustrated by Audra Crago


Afterword Afterword

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