The Lavender Issue Two: Metamorphosis

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The Route 9 Literary Collective Presents...

THE LAVENDER ISSUE II: METAMORPHOSIS Wesleyan’s Prose and Poetry magazine Early Winter, 2021

route9.org instagram: @route9wes

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About us The Lavender is Wesleyan’s student-run poetry and prose literary magazine that publishes twice a semester. The literary magazine is run under the Route 9 Literary Collective which also publishes chapbooks, social justice pamphlets, and a once-a-year anthology of writing from Wesleyan faculty, staff, students, along with the work of Middletown Residents.

Why Route 9? Route 9 is the road that connects Middletown to the rest of Connecticut. It is the central artery of movement that every Wesleyan student, faculty, staff, and Middletown resident has driven on. It connects us and moves us forward; need we say more?

Why The Lavender? The Lavender is an homage to the fact that Wesleyan University’s official color used to be lavender. The color was changed because according to an October 1884 issue of the Argus, lavender was not suitable for intercollegiate sports. “Lavender is not a striking color,” the editorial proclaimed. Well, 1884 critic, we here at The Lavender find the color incredibly striking if we do say so ourselves!

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The Lavender Team Editor-in-Chief, Poetry Editor Oliver Egger Prose Editor Immi Shearmur Design Editor, Financial Manager Annie Wendorf Assistant Poetry Editor Casey Epstein-Gross Assistant Design Editors Cate Levy and Bell Rush The Team Sabrina Tian, Amanda Ding, Sonia Menken, Emily Hollander, Jane Hollander, Jake Gale, Abby Frankenberg, Clara Martin, Caroline Asnes, Ariana Blaustein, Carissa Herrera, Shaniya Longino, Samantha Hager, Emma Goetz, Ella Spitz, Maya Scheinfeld, Victoria Dozer, Sophie Jager, Sylvie Pingeon, Julia Gardner, Ruby Baden-Lasar, and Chloe Green. Cover Design Layla Krantz Logo Design Leo Egger Head of Snacks/Snack Coordinator/ Snack Liaison Maggie McCormick Special Thanks to Kate Cilkowski-Winters, Tobias Matz, Anabel DeMartino, the Wesleyan English Department, the SBC, and German Haus for continuing to allow their home to be our weekly meeting place.

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Crucial Public Service Announcement / Note From the Editor It has come to my attention that there is some confusion about the logo of The Lavender. Our logo:

Multiple people have said they thought the drawing was meant to depict me. Though a funny idea, that is sadly not the case. The logo, designed by my twin brother Leo, depicts John Wesley, the namesake of Wesleyan and founder of Methodism, out on a midnight stroll contemplating literature. Why should we make John Wesley our logo? Is this some sort of weird Methodist magazine?! No. Fear not, we are all Jews here.1 The logo is an homage to the original (and dare I say cooler?!) Wesleyan logo before it was replaced by an old Wesleyan’s vintage logo:

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Well, not actually ALL Jews but we are the majority no doubt...


I will say that there was an alternate logo design that was not approved that I designed where I was ACTUALLY heavily feature. Oliver’s vetoed logo:

Now that that’s all cleared up, I just want to say thank you so much for picking up a copy of the second issue of The Lavender, focused on the theme of metamorphosis. As you read this magazine, reflect on how you’ve changed, what’s changed you, and how you’ve changed others. We’re all, the planet and the people, in a constant state of metamorphosis. What’s ahead, who knows? But this magazine will hopefully be there with you, to remind you through poetry and prose we’re all on this road, we’re all in the process of becoming. Before I let you go, I just want to thank the writers, artists, and editorial team who made this second issue of The Lavender possible. Putting out another issue so close to the end of the semester takes an incredible amount of love and dedication. This magazine is a testament to your creative spirit and resilience. To what’s ahead! With Love and Gratitude, Oliver Egger ‘23 Editor-in-Chief oegger@wesleyan.edu

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Table of Contents

Sarah Albert viii “Fast” by Lily Gitlitz 1 Io Ilex 2 “Lightning Whelk” by Ben Silverstone 3-4 “Digital Camera 11/19/21 11:21 AM” by Bell 5 Chloe Green 6 “mid autumn festival” by Amanda Ding 7-8 “while a wick withers” by Maya Scheinfeld 9 “The best way to annotate a poem” by Milly Hopkins 10 Alex Weidenfeld 11-12 “Howard Beach” by Rory Dolan 13-17 Joseph Godslaw 17 “Thoughts from my childhood bedroom (I don’t remember you)” by Cate Levy 18 “Goodnight, Goodnight Moon” by Sophie Jager 19 Io Ilex 20 “Evil Eye” by Anonymous 21-22 “Dear Poet,” by Emily Hollander 23 “Composed During a Time I Thought Would Never Arrive” by Jake Gale 24 Joseph Godslaw 25 “Slow Evo” by Jalen Richardson 26 “Hello” by Mary Ahlstrom 27 “Garden Dog” by Mary Ahlstrom 28 Bailey Chapin 29-30 “One Year” by Kevin Le 31 “November” by Lila Blaustein 32 “REFLECTIVE FLESH” by Jane Hollander 33-34 “Kaddish is Different Tonight” by Victoria Dozer 35 Chloe Green 36 “While Looking at the Mirror at 1 AM” by Andres Angeles-Paredes 37 Layla Krantz 38

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Sarah Albert ‘23

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Fast By Lilly Gitlitz ‘23 A body hollowed out from 21 hours of hunger pouring over how the word atone is just At One empty stomach, rhythmic breath I am resonant as a drum. Laying in the graveyard grass that sweeps to one side, caressing thick, dense, and feathery like the new hair I am letting grow under my arms I am at peace. Tired but not unhappy and little bugs crawl over my arms as I lay dead still. I wonder if they think I, too, am one of the corpses. I do not brush them off because the dead wouldn’t. I note the fungi at the base of the trees and the freckles upon my limbs. My skin is a tapestry of time and place–– summers drenched in South Florida sun, devouring fresh fruit while mosquitos devour me, and Dad says it’s because you’re just so sweet. In and out of chlorine showering hard to wash the film of sunscreen off only to look in the mirror and notice a new smattering of spots, irrevocably mine. Last Yom Kippur, my hair was long and I adorned myself with pink and I was sweeter, like if you tasted me I’d taste like apples and honey but if you tasted me now I think you’d pull away and say dates and olives and wine.

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Ashamnu means we have trespassed. No post-mortem member said I could play dead for the day to be inscribed in the Book of Life. Rather, to be young now is to taste death in every bite.

Io Ilex ‘23

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Lightning Whelk By Ben Silverstone ‘22 your spiral, when held to my ear, chants the rushing tides the rushing tides of blood flush my spiral ear. Your rich enamel, glaze of shells and teeth fluent knot of sand and bone speak sparks striped-jagged streaks along ridges refined by saltwater the fractal course to your coiled heart There are homes we carry on our backs, dense as the mass which tugs our tidal blood ion channels salt our nerves, cords born in the deep. This is your secret lightning helix, (you were spun sinistral, like me) there is a circuit inside you 3


it spirals up the saltwater in my left arm into my brain & spreads back to ears, homespun I hear ocean

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Digital Camera 11/19/21 11:21 AM By Bell ‘23 A yellow bush prickled but soft Approaches me slowly. It stands out in the blue-tone glaze Of Connecticut luke-warm, Ice-cube mid-frozen, I count My blessings for this unusual day I want to lick the sidewalk. My forehead crashes into warm beneath. I’m sorry for inducing graphics Projected on that wall over there. Explicit and slap-stick Fast-paced car into Bridge into Form of Anecdote. My limbs extrapolate from setting. Please stay awake while driving Or dream of catapulting Into oceans. It’s usually dad or I Driving, or a friend When panic strikes Fender fallen off The page, the yellow lines no longer Warrant direction, only the space between The wheel and the water Proposes an unceasing flinch, circumventing The shape of air.

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Chloe Green ‘23

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mid autumn festival By Amanda Ding ‘25 so we shared a mooncake slicing buttery textured folds of creamy pastry into equal fourths crumbling egg yolk smooth red bean paste melting in pleasant waves on my tongue powdery, sweet seconds of neither this or that, just unfolding lawn chairs on the damp fields where an inquisitive darkness peered through flittering shadows you broke a pomelo, handing me softer sections, hard ones to keep coughing at the dryness, (but you like it) we decided to abandon the moon in favor of wondering whether it was stars or satellites or airplanes coursing through the sky they looked all the same yet you were determined to identify a flashing light, a constellation, Insistent i let you convince me of something i never tried to understand the existence of gravities besides our own, a woman who lives with a rabbit on the moon, the demigod who drowned in sun drenched hubris so we shared a mooncake splitting sections of mango walnut date mung bean taro

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i use two knives instead of one two blankets two plates i close my eyes and listen to the night as if you were by my side

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while a wick withers By Maya Scheinfeld ‘24 “Another yahrzeit,” she says, and I wonder why I only just began to understand that for every ghost of a smile, there were a million tears. I always thought he was strong—whatever that means—but now I think he just made sure I couldn’t see the cracks that created creases in the mosaic of his crooked smile. Bent teeth and bent futures and hell-bent, barren vengeance alike. “He always gets difficult this time of year,” she says, and I wonder what it feels like to share hurt so deeply that the chasm of grief has widened to accommodate another’s; his currents and hers melding, folding upon one another into indistinguishable boundaries and undefined peripheries of pain. He is stoically dry-faced as she dabs a napkin to her cheek; but he sits outside on a slanted porch step while she puts on a pot for tea in the kitchen— one cup for her, and two for the daughters who sit in restless silence on the couch. There’s a candle on the counter, burning on a patchwork of messily-glued, faded and chipped pastel tiles. The arts and crafts project of a nine-year-old who did not live to see it in use. It will burn for twenty-four hours, bathing the kitchen in a dim, orangey glow until the wax is used up and the wick crumbles into nonexistence. And he will come back inside the house, where his wife and daughters wait for him with teacups that now hold only the shriveling, cooling bags of depleted tea leaves. Next year, she will light the candle again, and she will say, “another yahrzeit,” and I will wonder how she learned to be content with simply a ghost of a smile, born of a million tears.

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The best way to annotate a poem By Milly Hopkins ‘24 is to circle the words you think are important Even if you don’t really have a reason to Because then they stay in your prefrontal cortex. It’s also important to explain it to yourself as you go, But dangerous, even, to worry about explaining it to the people you left behind Use a blue pen and approach it like a scientist, Extracting what you can best re-use. If you come across something you don’t understand, simply talk about your own experience, (which is very important) Read it fast, while you are still pre-grad, pre-med, pre-law, pre-loss, pre-arrival, and pre-return Post- nothing, in fact, except -pubescent Do not think too much about whether this poem would have made sense to you in high school Or to anyone in that dark and ironic place called the real world. If they ask, define it with words like “transcendent”, “liminal”, or “subjective”, To throw them off your trail for a bit Do not think about survivor’s guilt, About whose seat you are filling as you scribble about Foucault and do not get red when you pronounce the “L”, because your pen is blue, and the colors would clash.

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Alex Weidenfeld ‘24

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Howard Beach By Rory Dolan ‘23 There was the airtrain. Nothing was sudden in its arrival, and yet the smooth inevitability of its aluminum mass seemed to reject the implied movement of arrival altogether. It simply hadn’t been, and then—albeit gradually—it was. “Howard Beach Station,” announced a prerecorded voice. On cue, sets of double-doors slid open in perfect unison, allowing a steady flow of bodies to board and exit. They spread out into the station, filling some fraction of the space with hurried movement. It all happened with a great deal of certainty. Even the snag of each set of suitcase wheels, loudly slipping into the small gap between the train and the platform seemed to beat a rhythm that was steady enough. Each clack was a resounding reminder of where they had come from, and where they were going. “This is the Howard Beach train. The next station—” “Hey pal this is us! Don’t wanna miss it.” The voice came from slightly in front of him. An Air Canada employee, dressed in a well-fitting navy blue shirt with a red trim beckoned hurriedly. She flashed a smile that was practiced, but not without warmth, and hoisted his suitcase toward the halted doors. He wished he was carrying the suitcase, as now his fingers tapped on the armrests and on his pant leg in frantic little rhythms. He had been trying to find an angle where he could see two walls at once, but it was proving difficult; he was proving to be very small. So it was nice to feel his legs begin to move beneath him, and feel them follow her onto the train. Those aimless first few seconds where passengers found their way to seats and searched for some baggage-leg arrangement produced a comfortable din. He began to feel the weight of his backpack again and tasted the remains of a hastily eaten breakfast. But then he was sitting, not by his own conscious decision, and the sounds were dying down as quick as they had come. He stared straight ahead, allowing the steady rectangles of the station to unmake themselves into a smear of gray and silver. He could focus on that at least; let the other things lurk where they were, just outside of his thoughts. The train was moving. “Hey? Hello?” The attendant had been speaking to him. “Alright pal. When we get to the terminal, you’re gonna follow me to the Air Canada desk—that’s the one with the big maple leaf above it—where you’re gonna tell them your name, and your flight number. The second one’s 13


a little hard to remember, but it should be right there on that little necklace we gave ya.” As she spoke he reached under his hoodie, and felt around for the small laminated rectangle. What he grasped instead was cold metal. He pulled the lanyard out, and indeed the tag was gone. The attendant’s face—her name was Jess, reading it from her nametag, still very intact—flashed from concern to practiced comfort, with a brief spat of annoyance in between. “Agh! It must’ve come off somewhere back there. I’m sorry bud. Don’t sweat it though, your mom gave me your passport and boarding pass, so you can just show them that. Let me give ya those before I forget.” She laughed in a way that was more exhalation than anything else and set about digging through her tote bag. He began to fiddle with the bare clasp, flicking it back and forth between his forefinger and thumb. The lanyard had been there before. “UNACCOMPANIED MINOR” spelled out in bold red letters. Below it had been some numbers—above it, his name. He was certain she didn’t know it. He tried to picture it again but the laminate was growing foggy and the red ink was blurring into a single bar. Then came a piercing thought. He pushed it back, and instead, it cut straight through to the front of his brain. It was gone. Lost somewhere between the countless layers of parking lot—the hurried goodbyes and reminders—and the mirror-clean floor of “Howard Beach Station.” A lump was forming in his throat. “There we go. Ok... Leo! Make sure you don’t lose these! You’ll need to show that pass to my friend at the desk, and, well, if you lose your passport then nobody will know who you are.” Jess handed him the small booklet, trailing off. He opened it, and read his name as many times as he could, forcing it back into place, hoping it might appear plastered across his chest and glow with the warmth of certainty. Leo Nelson. He read it again and again. He read the citizenship, read every digit in his passport number forward and backward, looked rapidly back and forth between the photo and name so that they might blur together; might bear some lasting semblance. Leo Nelson. At home, it meant curly red hair, an enviable Pokémon card collection, the fourth locker down from the music classroom. It rang from across the house to point out a cardinal or bluejay perched in the backyard. In Toronto, it meant “long time no see kiddo!” It meant the big chair in the corner, and the small room upstairs, trips to the university campus and his father’s office, and memorizing Clash lyrics in the car. In Toronto, it also meant 14


a lot of time alone. But here in the deafening silence of the airtrain, hurtling noiseless between uncertainties, it was hollow. A balloon with no weight attached that could just as easily float away and get lost in the massive rafters of the airport. He clutched the passport tightly, pressing it into his chest, afraid it would evaporate between his fingers. Sound was not lacking. Rather the train was full of silence, full of air, the stuff of nothing. It seemed to press at the pores of his skin, threatening his very outline, confusing him into the space. He shuffled in his seat, creasing his pants, tapping his foot, using every finger to expel sound into the space. Each sound seemed to hit some invisible wall and falter. That feeling at the edges: panic. He named it and its power redoubled. Dread poured in through his ears and filled his head. He was pushing away, away. There was a window in front of him. Perhaps it was the light, perhaps it was perfectly unclouded because no sound was present to distract its surface, but Leo saw straight through it. As the car became a vacuum of sense he was pulled through the glass and out into the world. And he did not see the miles of asphalt, nor the distant planes, nor the concrete monoliths grouped into terminal after terminal. As the train arched a slow bend, he saw a pond surrounded by reeds. Its presence seemed impossible, so profoundly out of place, and yet it exuded a feeling of permanence that miles of concrete would always lack. A quiet marshland, penned in by parking lots and parkways, but rife with moss, teeming with shade, stubbornly green. The marsh grass swayed easily in the morning breeze, and the vague blurs of groups of bugs seemed to set the space in constant, slight vibration. Dragonflies skimmed across the water like stunt pilots, and he swore he could count each individual wing. He could hear them, too, he realized, the loud hum of their flight. The thrumming croak of invisible frogs amongst the muck. And, parting the grass, came two figures. Traipsing forth on legs like stilts, a pair of Great Blue Herons lowered themselves into the shallow water; a pair of slender actresses, testing the temperature with the tips of their toes. Their necks bent at every angle imaginable, one stretching forward into the murk while another nestled between its own shoulders like a nervous teen in a turtleneck. They were proud, bashful, insistent creatures. He could see them. He could hear them. “It’s getting cold.” Intoned the first. A tad perturbed, but with an easy nonchalance. The second Heron removed its beak from the water, releasing” 15


a squawk that resembled a disinterested “hmm?” “I said it’s getting too cold.” “What makes you say that?” Asked the second. “Look at your tufts, they’re practically frozen to your scalp. I can feel the frost locking my feathers in uncommon places. I mean look at us.” The first spread his feathers wide, alluding to some encroaching frost otherwise invisible. He gave a few flaps for good measure. “Isn’t it too early.” The second scanned the water, a hint of melancholy to her voice. “My intuition is never wrong.” “But just yesterday it was summer, and all the fish were lazy beneath their rocks. Surely...” The second tucked her neck back too, plucking at stray feathers with the tip of her beak, red eye turned up toward her companion. The first surveyed his wings from tip to tip. “This is the way things are, I’m afraid. Always halfway between something and something else. Better to get ahead of it—” He stopped mi-sentence, head plunging into the water like a harpoon, and surfacing just as quickly with a small mudfish speared on his beak. He swallowed with an unsatisfied gulp, and returned his wings to their holsters.“Better to get ahead of it, I say.” The second dipped her beak, and tucked back under one wing; a wistful gesture. “What’s the matter with you?” chimed the first. “I suppose I just feel I’m never ahead of anything. Things change and we fly, and I feel as if I’m always catching up. Beating the cold is catching up to the heat, and you can only go so far South. When will we be where we need to be?” The first lifted a leg and inspected his talon. “We’re right where we need to be.” The second craned her neck to the side. Not understanding. “And tomorrow?” “Just the same. I will still be me, and you yourself, and we will try and get ahead of the cold.” “And when we fly?” the Second questioned. “We will fly South until we find the heat.” “And then?” 16


“And then we shall be there.” Thus resolved, the first began to pick his way back into the rushes, the second dutifully in tow. Leo watched them go.

Joseph Godslaw ‘23

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Thoughts from my childhood bedroom (I don’t remember you) By Cate Levy ‘24 my carpet forces the floor into hiding. the tough patchwork appears to be smooth, but it’s not. deceiving. fabric scrapes my knees and the ground decides to give me a tattoo. now my knees feel like bubbles. there is a shattered mirror, a kaleidoscope, but no glass. the shards stay put and I am safe. I don’t remember you. only the blue, bright light as I shut my eyes. only the carpet. only my bubble knees. only the broken mirror. I don’t remember you. pictures are who I am or rather who I want to be. my walls cloaked with images of the past force the cream paint into hiding. I stare at my collage, a construction of myself. my eyes scan each “memory” and I tell myself stories I cannot remember. I don’t remember you. when I know what I want and I know who I’ll be, my walls will be bare and my hardwood floors Exposed. I won’t remember not remembering you. 18


Goodnight, Goodnight Moon By Sophie Jager ‘25 Took you out to the back of the shed wiped my eyes, shot you dead and across the field your pages strewn goodnight, my love, Goodnight Moon The killing was a quiet affair just me, the trees, your rocking chair no one spoke and no one cried as you drifted away, blasted wide I knew it was coming, it had to be done a shaking whisper to level the gun it was in the stars, this story foretold Neverland is fiction, even Wendy grew old Now that hole on the shelf where you used to lie pulls at my soul and catches my eye forgive me, dear, it’s come too soon goodnight, Goodnight Moon

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Io Ilex ‘23

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Evil Eye By Anonymous In my father’s room, up the creaking, rust-colored carpet covered stairs, inside his closet, there lies a monster. A flat slab of metal with two stout legs that sleeps silently on the floor, a shut black rectangular eye in the center of its forehead. With pressure on its slate grey face, the eye turns bright blue. The eye blinks out rising numbers until they glare into the weight of final judgement. My fear was born an afternoon in late May, the kind where you can smell the approaching summer in the air. I was standing next to a friend, Emily, side by side in her bedroom, studying our reflections in the mirror that covered her sliding closet door. She asked if I knew what a thigh gap was. She had read about them in one of her mother’s magazines: “20 Exercises for a Perfect Bikini Body!” My eyes slid down to look at her legs. I was suddenly aware of the negative space between them, how they disappeared under her sundress as two parallel lines, straight up and down. Mine were fleshy, rubbing together as I stood there in my too-tight shorts. “Oh,” she said, her eyeline matching mine. “I guess you don’t have one. I do, though.” When I returned home, I ascended the stairs to my father’s room, snuck into the closet, and flung cupboard doors open in search of the scale. At last, I found it lying dormant beneath hanging jackets. I reached down to grasp it; Its body was surprisingly heavy, and it fell to the floor. I was unprepared for its weight. Casting a furtive glance behind me to make sure no one had heard, I turned the scale’s body upright, revealing the dormant eye. I shed my clothes, ensuring the accuracy of the result. Anticipation, then the unforgiving, blinding blue burst to life. I was lost, hypnotized by the gaze of the squatting beast. Visiting the monster became a daily ritual. I would sneak up the stairs while my father was making coffee, pull the scale from its cavern, slip off my pajamas, slide my feet onto the slab, smooth and cold. Eye flares. Blue-tinted shame courses through my bloodstream. 21

With this new consciousness, two scrambled eggs were no longer sim-


ply part of Sunday morning family breakfast, standing at the stove breathing in the warm scent of butter swirling in the pan, yolks bursting and sizzling, whites turning opaque as they’re dropped in one by one. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, not just lunch after a long summer day spent in the pool wolfed down wrapped in a towel, hair still dripping wet. The menacing reds and oranges and greens of holiday meals taunted, smoke signals in the steam emitting from their peaks. “Eat me, eat me,” they whispered, but I wouldn’t dare indulge. Just one bite and I felt rolls bulging, cellulite puncturing thighs, clothes growing tighter until I couldn’t breathe. Each bite tasted of the bright blue I knew I would see the next morning, the ultimate judge of my gluttony. It was a risk I was unwilling to take. I learned to fake bites, take empty sips, to escape from the table unscathed. Only packaged foods were safe, those white nutrition labels with black block lettering my holy scripture. The numbers have taken residence in my brain. They are unkind tenants, earworms, suggesting a trip upstairs every time their ranks exceed one thousand. I haven’t paid the monster a visit in some time, but still, there is something sadistically comforting about its presence in the room above mine. Its eye remains closed, for now. But the road is warped and doubles back on itself. It might lead me again up the stairs, to the darkness of my father’s closet and the glint of metal that lies within.

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Dear Poet, From Oliver Egger’s email “SC&A Poetry Exhibit” By Emily Hollander ‘23 The idea is celebrating good, manifest materials exhibit, engage The idea is Brief inspiration, Displayed if you agree, We will get back to you with more information. The idea is According to your interest, list poetically, provide process The goal is: to be a part, a good addition, to the exhibit Please do not hesitate to write! Arrangements can be made To set up inspiration So, do not hesitate We are considering you If you agree To be influential, 23

First drafts are due by the second Monday.


Composed During a Time I Thought Would Never Arrive By Jake Gale ‘25 Things started coming back to me the day Jackson got his license. He told me he fantasized about having sex with me in the car he’d spent all that time saving up for, so late at night we parked next to the football field and stopped to smoke and lie down in the middle part, but all day things had started coming back to me. By the time he kissed me under the floodlights, I couldn’t deny that something had happened that I had not previously recalled before that night. We were in his car, seats pushed back and my lips on his dick, and a camera made its way above me like a kidnapper about to snatch a baby. By the time we were done, cuddling in the back seat staring at his perfect moment, I was fiending for the recollections, my chasing of them turning into a kind of orbit around the camera that seemed to have cemented itself into the air. I worried that that was how it was going to be from then on. I worried I’d spend the rest of my life making out with dudes while in my head turning every stone over for one more memory of an afternoon that should have never happened and that I made myself forget. I was smart to worry, because how was I supposed to know that somehow I’d get a little smarter as I got older, that somehow I’d make my blood run in reverse crawling away from any stones concealing memories, that I’d look around my room and say maybe I should do a little bit of tidying up, do my laundry and make my bed and wipe down every surface except for the camera lens letting it become dirtier and dirtier and Thank God I did.

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Joseph Godslaw ‘23


Slow Evo By Jalen Richardson ‘25

From a budding flower To the Eiffel Tower I insightfully scour the earth, Searching for power and worth, While wondering if the taste in one’s mouth Isn’t sour at first...

Maybe we should let it marinate a little. One would never serenade the spittle, But expose it to the air and wait a little... Where’d it go? It evaporated, like the sun to snow, So many changes and phases one can undergo. Like a metamorphosis, Wet is wet on orifices, But it’s set on more switches, Better yet an orchid is, What I see as a source of bliss... Life can feel unfortunate, From blistering heat To blisters on feet There’s no difference to me If it’s hard I adapt - simply rinse and repeat... Or I sprint to retreat. Taking two steps forward and one back Is still progress there’s growth being tracked I just wish I could see it sooner, Thoughts eclipse and I call it lunar, But I won’t circle back to the past person, If it’s mind over matter I’ll outmaneuver, And if mind doesn’t matter then change has fewer - no, Less allure. 26


“How beautiful is her unshakable sleep.” –“Her Grave” by Mary Oliver Hello? By Mary Ahlstrom ‘23

So this is Biggest Love.

(Shoulder blades)

It’s depressing. Cared for (Bones) Calico cat caring for All my love is sitting as you sit, a sweet heart, the softest bone, I’m taking care of you. Your mean cat, Your smell has changed. Shoulder blades, goodnight and goodmorning, The sun sweetens you. We snap peas We calico I think you are soft. I say, “You’re losing it” 27


When the Big Care arrives, I pat your shoulder blades in a Big Love type of way. Garden Dog By Mary Ahlstrom ‘23 There must be a whole web of this underneath. I go digging with my fingers. When I pull, I break. When it breaks, I smell. Bits of orange above. My companion is attentive with her belly in the grass. It is rare for us to spend time together anymore Because, She is dying. No money, No sex, Only dirt And little roots So easily undone, So willing to be pulled. My companion is my best friend. I stand, turning around. Orange is gone, And so is she.

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In the Western tradition, the female body has often been portrayed as a landscape. As feminist art historian Dr. Linda Nochlin wrote in Representing Women (1999), “women and nature are interchangeable as objects of (male) artistic desire-and manipulation” (32). The association of Mother Earth as distinctively female has justified the subjugation of both women and nature for centuries. What will happen, however, if women reappropriate this metaphor through metamorphosis? What would a space look like where vaginas take over our cities? The Subjugation of Woman and the Earth is One and the Same Colored pencil on paper, 9 x 11 Bailey Chapin ‘24

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One Year By Kevin Le ‘22 Soon, school and graduation. Summer, an attempt. And on this uphill walk, I repeat magic hour . Soon sweating all the way to the end of the road, and catching, like a ball the sun make it real, make it real me. Start over like a messed-up throw .Make many fights. Remember? Midnight and me, my sister, and mom in a van . But instead of sleep, snowfall. Sprinting now, close to dusk . The heat remains in fall. It’s beautiful: on the power line, the ivy sprouting Rosewood Road. One year.

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November By Lila Blaustein ‘23 And you’re there, walking across the field, late like always, probably griping in the car about what the gps is very clearly telling you, but you’re here, wrapped in fat coats, walking dots of connection, parents, trying to figure out where on the field to stand. It’s just like when I was a kid sweat swiped forehead on the court toying with the strings of my basketball shorts and your eyes would widen as you told me to cut it out, tuck them away. But you’re both here, and I’m somewhere between white painted lines running myself silly. And when the point ends and I jog to find you, standing side by side, together together, what is it, Pulling me into a hug with puffy coat arms, what is it, it’s you, something’s different, what is it, you’re old. I didn’t know a thing that takes so long could happen suddenly, on a November morning, your bodies the curves of smoothed over cracks, your hair washed so many times it’s grown soft, your faces not skin but held right through to the muscle and the bone, a thing formed with countless touches the endless reaching in and out through the world, you’ve seen years I can’t fathom, held down to the world that you’ve spun with. You’re old standing there watching my legs extend and snap together like teeth, I worry it’s too cold out here for you, (do I have to start worrying?) so I try to force you to take my sweater you say stop babying me, I’m sorry, you just got old, you’ve always been precious, but something’s different now, what is it?

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REFLECTIVE FLESH, 2002 By Jane Hollander ‘23 a thin crease marks the fold of flesh on flesh and upon closer inspection, it isn’t just darkness but reds, greens, and yellows touching, vibrating a psychedelic line splicing the fatty pink underside of a breast from a soft beige torso however, the most beautiful description in paint is not this division of flesh but the rich and earthen chasm beneath it dark like humus red like clay See what I’ve got? Made you flinch by shoving myself at you. Don’t worry, I won’t use it on you. Whew. curls of hair, slick like they’ve been coiffed with gel or wetness which is oddly difficult to find a name for cum? female ejaculate? lubrication? Anyways arresting and flagrant as porn in Saville’s case it’s really linseed oil or some other varnish which makes her shine in the velvet folds between her thighs 33


allows her to situate a lovely face in a painting outre enough to maintain critical respect it’s powdered pigment, slaps of color next to one another or emptiness big white swaths of thighs, breasts, stomach It would be great to see her apply this same facility to commonplace things and people rather than rely on the spectacle of unappealing bodies and body parts to get people to stop and not look away. and I can’t look away, not for some spectacle but for snow and dirt powdery limestone and clay the mundane existence of all this soft flesh reflected in all directions.

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Kaddish is Different Tonight By Victoria Dozer ‘24 A friend is crying at Shabbat and I’m no solace. Over loudspeaker, it’s announced: Kaddish is different tonight. Poway has fallen, Sending California earthquakes through the community. Another temple abandoned, Candles snuffed, Torah burned, shots fired, My friends born of San Diego salt and sand must grieve again. Adonai, why did you not linger longer? They were praying, you know. I can predict public opinion: It’s fine, I hear in goyishe skepticism. While yours are attacked, we blame matzah-makers and the surface area of your nose. Just an hour away, my mother’s shoulders sink an inch more. This is not news. Her father taught her of Adonai’s absence, tattooed and wary. She calls me six times, And drafts a letter to her aunt. It’s happened again. Trauma tumbles down Pacific Coast Highway To me. But I refuse to be cracked skull. I pound pavement with fist or foot instead. I have much left to do: My mother wants me to marry the Jewish neighbor boy, I want to stomp along the Pacific coast, And I just turned twenty. I will continue Tikkun Olam, polish her cheeks of mascara, Second Holy Temple crumbling or not, I will be praying. 35

In honor of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, as well as the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.


Chloe Green ‘23

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While Looking in the Mirror at 1:00 AM By Andres Angeles-Paredes ‘24 Deep and sunken eyes, as dry as the last leaf of Autumn, stare at an unfamiliar mossy array of body parts. It was not that long ago that my face was as full and smooth as the first leaves of Spring. But now, millions of dead cells flake and fall from my face like snow and drift away in the air. My twisted hair grows wild like the most persistent and resilient of weeds, tickling the back of my neck and threatening to strangle me in its many strands. Marks sprout up suddenly, not like a blooming flower, but as if a woodpecker, or a gang of locusts, stopped by and butchered a couple hundred notches into my chest, marring the surface with spots and creases. I didn’t always have these marks on my body or that much hair on my arms, or on my face, did I? Was that mole always there? At this rate, I’ll wither away into a stagnant trunk that holds thin 37


branches with no leaves, hollow crevices devoid of life, pale roots seeking food. I don’t want this metamorphosis.

Layla Kantz ‘24

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Color this butterfly in after feeling so inspired by your peers:

Share and read the online version at route9.org Follow @route9wes to get involved and learn about future projects with the route 9 literary collective 39


And in the end...

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“i let you convince me of something i never tried to understand the existence of gravities besides our own, “ - From mid autumn festival, Amanda Ding