The Lavender: Vol.5 Obsessions

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Spencer Klink

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The Route 9 Literary Collective Presents...

THE LAVENDER ISSUE V: OBSESSIONS Wesleyan’s Prose and Poetry Magazine Fall 2022

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 a multitude of other projects including Pre-Good, Good Condition, Poems of Our Climate, The Route 9 Anthology (Wesleyan University Press, 2022), and more. Learn more at route9.org. 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. 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 article proclaimed. Well, 1884 critic, we here at The Lavender find the color incredibly striking. Trigger Warning Some of the pieces in this magazine have references to violence and death. Special Thanks to The heroes at 49 Home for hosting our first meeting this year, all the dear friends who make this magazine possible (you know who you are), Alpha Delta Phi for hosting our release events, the Shapiro Writing Center, the Wesleyan English Department, and the SBC.

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T h e L a v e n d e r Te a m Editor-in-Chief Oliver Egger Managing Editors Georgia Groome and Ella Spitz Poetry Editors Jane Hollander and Emily Hollander Prose Editor Immi Shearmur Design Editors Madeleine Metzger and Bell Rush Copy Editors Sylvie Pingeon And Emma Goetz Assistant Poetry Editor Casey Epstein-Gross The Team Clara Martin, Colin Bloom, Franklin Mindich, Isabella Koz, Jake Gale, Julia Gardner, Liz Pace, Michaela Poynor-Haas, Myles Edelson, Nicole Lee, Nomi Kuntz, Sabrina Tian, Sadie Gray, Amanda Ding, Carissa Herrera, Samantha Hager, Sofia Baluyut, Sophia Neiblum, Tatiana Wolkowitz, Victoria Dozer, Katia Michals, Daniela Stahle Cover Design Ava Liberace Logo Design Leo Egger Snack Sancturary Maggie McCormick

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Welcome to the fifth edition of The Lavender! This little booklet is full of all things OBSESSIONS! If you’re not obsessed with anything, we don’t believe you. And if you are obsessed with something, we probably have a piece written about it. From a coworker to a loved one’s skeleton, we’ve got it all covered. Obsessions are key to one’s well-being—how lovely it is to be so deluded, so fascinated, and so infatuated with the specificities of the world! What else makes us feel so embedded in the here and now than a heart-wrenching, soul-crushing, and world-bending obsession?

But really, guys, we don’t get why obsession gets such a bad rap! It’s just a part of life. It’s biology (but don’t hold us to it, we’re English majors). The infant is obsessed with the nipple. The adolescent is obsessed with the pimple. The Wesleyan student is obsessed with the tote bag. As you read, we hope you can truly embrace your personal obsessions. Own them! Normalize them! Immerse yourself in the absorptions and fixations of others, and let their testaments be fuel for your own! We also want to thank all of the poets, authors, and editors who spent their early evenings in the Shapiro Writing Center with us (bye-bye Oliver’s room, we’re profesh now). We are keeping this Lavender thing going, and hopefully will for decades to come. We are so excited to share this beautiful edition with you beautiful people!

We’re obsessed with you, you’re obsessed with the Lavender. Let’s all be obsessed together. Much love and obsession, Your Editors, Oliver, Immi, Jane, Emily, Ella & Georgia


Io Ilex

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Table of Contents Spencer Klink “No Need for Water” #4, Io Ilex Katia Michals “Spit Prayer” by Leah Levine Nomi Kuntz “Green” by Amanda Ding “These Days” by Sabrina Tian Reese Chahal “Onion” by Clara Martin Jane Lillard “Sleep Light” by Franklin Mindich “Cruel Inflictions” by Nate Faithfull Reese Chahal “Kitchen Hours Part I” by Serena Murdoch “Kitchen Hours Part II” by Serena Murdoch Aryanna Headley “Wildflowers” by Ava Danieu “Killing Two Birds With One Stone” by Sylvie Pingeon Reese Chahal Jane Lillard “Isaiah 22:13” by Mia Alexander “My(les) Eileen” by Clara Martin “Fray” by Sadie Gray “lost girls” by Rose Chen “A Fall” by Xiran Tan Anonymous “Selfish ” by Jalen Richardson “Untitled ” by Myles Edelson Jane Lillard Nomi Kuntz “leggy”, Io Ilex “Searching for a Just Right” by Sylvia Maxwell “Plague Love” by Mary Ahlstrom Daniela Stahle

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i vi viii 1 2 3-4 5-6 6 7 8 9 9 10 11 12 13 14 15-16 17-18 19 20 21-22 23-24 25-26 27-28 29-30 31-32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39-40


Katia Michals

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Spit Prayer By Leah Levine Still swinging through my mind like flaccid snakes, his breath ghost clings with teeth clamped to my lips, the touch of stumbling truth elapsed awakes my clumsy foothold’s soft apocalypse. With straw-spit chain or buttered cactus jaw in fragile paper planes of softened glass, his tumbling arms whisper electric awe a scent of warmth ensconced in sky and grass. Long gazing at a shadowed popcorn sky I wait to melt into a happy sleep, burrow my nose into his neck and try to slow my breath or dolefully count sheep. A crack of sunlight bleeds into the room. It weeps and glazes brow and cheek and chest, nulls wide-eyed dreams and soon blondely blooms the sweet insomniac of the obsessed.

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Nomi Kuntz

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Green Amanda Ding I slowly ascend the staircase tucked in the corner of an alleyway we both share brushing shoulders waiting on salutations you will never speak and the telephone, engulfed in smoke number six is so worn when I call my superior’s wife to say her husband is late once more on her birthday he brings home a scarf I bought for her laced with cream and soaked in burgundy our hallways are purple cast in the same shadow of the space lamplights cannot reach the veins of one hand curled around another a third shade of my two toned dress only when your wife uses the telephone to tell you she is working a double shift and smoke from your cigarette engulfs her superior as he tells you she has left early asking why you do not already know this then, when we pass each other on the staircase meant for one our eyes meet and i cannot say whether it was better to know you whether it was better to know at all

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that the silence birthed from our shared wall would grow so large the walls would bleed and my tears find their way to your bed so you would also come to know these truths and we would become them and I would call you from a green telephone we would sip from green porcelain green tea and longing for each other a color I would come to love

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These Days Sabrina Tian Grandma can’t go outside these days, even if she wanted to. She’s got a bad foot and spends her weeks knitting on the couch, perfectly content pulling sweaters out of her fingers. She needs to make a lot so that she can hold me even when she’s gone. Grandma’s friends say girls at twenty-one don’t want smelly sweaters with giant lobsters on them. But I do. There were lobsters on my childhood blanket and I’ve always dreamt of a Proustian garment. I’d wear that lobster every day, but if I did, it would lose its magic. The yarn can’t keep her scent forever. It’ll collect the perfumes of all the apartments I’ll rent, streets I’ll walk, lovers I’ll take. What magic is a sweater that smells just like me? I already have skin. Grandma still lives alone in California, and I want to go back to help her with groceries, paint for her, give her the time we lost. Grandma says I should focus on my studies;


she is happy knitting her days away. What would she do otherwise? Grandma liked embroidery when she was little. She learned how to knit when she was ten years old, never stopped. She used to cook a lot of soup for Mom She used to make all of Mom’s dresses. Grandma has spent an entire life making things to keep us warm. and me.

Reese Chahal

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Onion Clara Martin Ordinary day hello to the strange hydrangea flow. The onions fell over and are ready to be plucked. Big bulbs, brutally pink nestling naked in the dirt. We harvest we dig down I hold their peeling bodies heavy in my palm like stones and afterwards I smell (of onion) Uh oh. Sunday amphibious, scraping beneath my nails in an all-day devotion to getting clean as if I was never once the child who proudly refused to take baths, touching my newly roughened hands, calloused from my summer. Summer of my tongue hanging out my eyes two holes running away my mouth open to the world oh word open my mouth to the mouth of the world oh to the word mouth and the open-mouthed world and my mouth open on the world like a dog. Have I always been such a cruel, fleeing thing? Have I always tended

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to lean away?


Jane Lillard

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Sleep Light Franklin Mindich What transformation happens in the night? Is sleep a host that bids stragglers away?

The corridors of my heart all bathed in dark. The terrace empty. Distant sounds of rain.

The snap of thoughts becalmed by gentle wear. Abhor the twitch of fists. No words restrained.

Dream light is that which plasters wants on eyes.

Soft talk flits by like friends past window frames. A flood of gray as lids un-blink and sigh.

Knuckles turn white at part from sheet, unlay. Like coffee scent impressed by dreams alone,

Her face wafts through my mind, a phantom limb. Cruel Inflictions Nate Faithfull How easy it is to pin my pain upon another. The guttural stirs and flurries, wrenching my attention from the light, They must be the cruel inflictions of my dreamed-up lover; As if it weren’t I who gleefully rode my imagination into the night. My self-deceptive flight… I surely got it from my mother. Expectations are boring at best and heartbreaking at worst

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Reese Chahal

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Kitchen Hours Part I Serena Murdoch Keys like marmalade, Harsh and sweet, She says Play me. I’m yours. We sit on this bench together, Come: sit with me (Warm leather/Worn skin) I laugh Bare breasts brush mine as I laugh.

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Kitchen Hours Part II My mother always said She deserved her chaos Anyway. I laugh, Cackling like a wound in salt, As you stare on with pillars of gold. When I am old I will find Ways of laying my long body My mother says I think of this now – Covered in smooth kisses and blisters – And I know that These are the words I will haunt back.

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Aryanna Headley

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Wildflowers Ava Danieu In secret, you built what I had always wanted hidden in the high grasses and dense brush A place of your own in plain sight, on borrowed land, next to a trampled course Your traitor revealed the oasis He led me through starlit darkness to a threshold known to some Moving aside a disguised pile of sticks an opening emerged I imagined long summer days mowing, whacking, moving bending the thicket to your desires On the night before my departure Armed with Goldenrods, Purple Loosestrife, and Queen Anne’s Lace I invaded Wildflowers in the firepit a farewell note as kindling My ashes fertilize the soil with each passing summer the thicket grows back stronger

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Killing Two Birds With One Stone Sylvie Pingeon They are birds before they become children. Alight on the rocky beaches, picking orach, russian olives, the supple, tart thorns of the cat-briar which has not yet grown woody and sharp. They wake together always, their salt-streaked bodies nestled close, Laila’s larger wing tucked over her little sister, Freya’s, fragile, pulsing back. There is no time, just now, and they soak in this nowness, let it saturate their feathers, drink it up through their beaks. Laila is flying, wheeling in circles, her feathers not quite grown in, all straggly and brown and dancing with her movements in the air. Freya is perched on a gray rock down below. She’s younger even, all down no feathers (she has not yet–perhaps will never–learn to fly). So for now, she watches her sister swoop and race. Watches her go fast fast fast. But winter comes eventually, and the sisters migrate from the sea. The feathers fall off their little bodies, a few more every day. Everywhere they go, they leave a trail of down in their wake. I was here, this trail seems to say. I was here and as a bird. Their wings grow longer, pinker, pliable. Claws turn into toes. Hands grow. Fingers. Fingernails. Laila goes to fly and finds she cannot leave the ground. And just like that, they are little girls. For Christmas one year, Laila gets an orange fleece. She puts it on and races circles round the yard, a gleeful, offset grin stretching her face wide. Her twiggy limbs move everywhere all at once. It’s the best Christmas ever and the fleece must be magic because she feels like she’s flying and she loves it she loves it she loves it. Freya doesn’t get a fleece, and she must start to cry or pout or scream because a few weeks later, a blue one comes for her. When she tries it on, though, she finds it cannot make her fly. That same year, Laila and her friends invent a game they like to play with Freya. The older girls are in the Six Year Old Club. They make up dances, play hide-and-seek, run around screaming, jump up and down. Freya’s not six, so she can’t join. But it’s okay since she’s in the Four Year Old Club. She sits alone in the closet, nestled in blankets, listening to the shrieks and giggles seeping in from beyond the notched, white door. She spends hours this way, ear to the wall. Occasionally, she peeks her head out. The older girls laugh at this, and Freya glows. Months pass. The sisters have their own beds now. Freya begs and begs to sleep with Laila, but Laila’s walls are high (and Freya never did learn how to fly). She crawls in at night sometimes, tiptoeing over from her bed across the room, despite Laila’s warning to stay out of her space. She always awakens back in her own bed. She never remembers how she ended up there.


One day, Laila walks into their room and finds Freya crouched in the corner, a pink and blue journal clutched in her hands. It’s Laila’s journal. Laila’s words in Freya’s hands. Laila screams for hours; Freya catches her words with open arms. And then there’s silence for three days. Laila spends these days building her walls higher to keep creeping hands from thrusting in where they’re not wanted. The days pass by. Amends are made. Freya doesn’t ask to share the bed again. That same year, Freya walks downstairs in Laila’s shirt. It’s white with little flowers, and Freya likes it better than anything she owns. Laila’s in the kitchen, and she sees Freya in the shirt. She goes still for just an instant, and then she starts to scream: I’ve told you again and again Freya. My stuff. Mine. Stay away. Freya stands and does not speak. So Laila starts throwing fruit instead. First it’s peaches. She slams them down and stomps and stomps. Juice and pulp and skin spread across the floors, press their way into the wooden beams. Freya still just stands and watches; she tries to speak but finds she cannot move her mouth, her arms, her legs. And so Laila grabs a bag of oats and dumps them on the peaches. She grinds them into the pulp with her heel. Freya vaguely thinks she should try peaches in her oatmeal. The words keep coming, faster still: Evil, Disgusting, Scared of You, Hate. Freya cannot leave because Laila will just follow. But then, Freya realizes she doesn’t have to stand there as a child. Just like that, she turns herself into a stone. She does not know where the rock comes from–maybe it’s the sand still inside her somewhere from those years she lived as a bird upon the sea. But however it may be, here it is, a casing of granite pressing up from her skin. Within minutes, Freya is a smooth, gray boulder. Not a trace of girl in sight. From within the rock, Laila’s words are muffled to the point where they barely sound like words at all. Her monologue cuts off abruptly at the sight of Freya as a rock. Oh my god, she says. You’re not even human. You’re an it. I want it out of my sight. And so Freya, the stone, rolls out of the kitchen and back up the stairs to their bedroom. There, alone, Freya pushes at the rock encasing her. It chips a bit, granite flaking off onto the yellowed carpet. She keeps pushing. Flakes fall away. Larger pieces, too. She forces out one arm and then the other. Her legs break free and then her head. So now she is half girl, half rock. She no longer ever thinks of flying.

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Reese Chahal

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Jane Lillard

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Isaiah 22:13 Mia Alexander “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” my father thinks being fat is a sin gluttony, like it says in the bible. he is a 51 year old jew turned buddhist. saturday astrid & i skinny dipped in the east river watched the crescent moon slip up over the horizon. she told me she used to hate me because i was thin & someone loved me for it. what changed? my sister collapsed last sunday 3 weeks after being diagnosed with bulimia nervosa 6 days after her 12th birthday. i found her prostrate on bathroom tile head slumped onto basin lip. binging & purging & fasting until the body gives out in the ambulance my mom mumbled prayers for the first time in 6 years.

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My(les) Eileen Clara Martin I could barely hear the fireworks over the hot air blasting from my mother’s hair dryer. It was the Fourth of July, or maybe it was New Year’s Eve. Whether the fireworks were ushering in another year or punctuating a patriotic performance, I didn’t care: I was focused on the soaked book before me. It was a library book, a copy of Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles, and somehow on a beach trip, I had managed to drop it in the ocean. At 13, I’d never read a book like this one. By that I mean, I’d never read a book about someone queer, written by someone queer. I’d never even read a book that used words like this, wielding them like pop rocks on a tongue. When I walked to the library and surreptitiously searched the word “lesbian” in the catalog and Chelsea Girls popped up, it felt like a spiritual intervention. I checked it out and carried it home like a gift from the gods. The back cover described the book as “cobbling together Myles’ 1960 Catholic upbringing with their volatile adolescence, unabashed lesbianity, and riotous pursuit of survival as a poet.” I went to a Catholic school, I loved poetry, but it was the middle phrase that was the most revelatory. It sat there, eyeing me like a reptile. Those two previously incompatible words opened up an explosion of narrative possibilities for my life. Chelsea Girls both joined and ruptured the path of books I had read before that moment, all those stories that had set the terms of my possibility. Eileen’s words were my permission slip for The Field Trip, the one where the yellow bus sweeps the night with its arms out vermillion and the children howl with excitement and then the bus arrives in the early hours plastic and gritty and you tumble off, girl-like animal, rolling into the night. Before Eileen, it was the Hunger Games. “Are you Team Peeta or Team Gale?” The question came from a stranger in the seat next to me. The only movie theater in my small town was packed, probably for the first time in my life. So many preteen girls had shown up to see the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 that the staff had taken down the dividers between three small rooms to create one massive theater. This was the single most exciting event of the year for girls my age, myself included. Every year of middle school the same question would show up, wrapped in different disguises. In 6th grade it was “Team Edward or Team Jacob?” Twilight. In 7th it was “Team Peeta or Team Gale?” Hunger Games. And in 8th it was “Team Four or Team Jace?” Divergent. There were buttons and shirts and stickers you could buy with your team on it;


it was a commercialized affair. I remember analyzing which guy was better for Katniss, plot-wise, but later I realized it wasn’t ever about that. It was about which guy you thought was the hottest, which actor you had a crush on.

The silence after the stranger’s question was crouching with a knife ready to catch me in a lie.

This was the murderous middle-school silence into which Eileen came swinging with

their hair down in butch glory, like the bravest kid in my third grade class who jumped off the swing at its highest point and flew through the air and didn’t even get a bruise.

Hanging on to Eileen’s every word like a patient dog, I was learning how to become a perverse reader:

“For many of us in childhood, the ability to attach intently to a few cultural objects…

whose meaning seemed mysterious, excessive, or oblique in relation to the codes most

readily available to us, became a prime resource for survival. We needed for there to be sites where the meanings didn’t line up tidily with each other, and we learned to invest those sites with fascination and love” - Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Tendencies. Unabashed lesbianity. Unabashed shares a root with astonish. Gaping, I sat before my books, sucking every bit of metaphor with my sharp teeth, hungry, waiting for a slip up or a crack, a gap in the

fabric. I was always hungry for contact which looked like this: rubbing my fingers over the back side of the thin lined pages in my notebook.I would press so hard when I was

writing that the little bumps of letters would be all raised on the back and they felt good against my fingertips, getting all tactile with text, the only way I knew how to be sexy (there was this rift there). And when I pushed hard enough sometimes the back of the page would be all colorful instead of gray. Oily. Neon from pressure.

Anyway I was like, oh, I guess I’ll be a lesbian now. It was really a choice. Not one I wanted to make–one I needed to.

So there I was, sitting in my bedroom with a borrowed hair dryer and a soaking wet borrowed book. When I dropped Chelsea Girls into the ocean before I even had a chance to

read it, it felt like my new Bible was being destroyed before I understood the terms of my spiritual conversion. Reading this felt like a necessity for my survival, so I hunched over

my desk with a hair dryer in hand, pulling apart each sticky wet page and gently pressing

the heat against each sentence, careful not to smudge a single word, while faint fireworks raged in the Florida heat outside my window.

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“fray” Sadie Gray

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lost girls Rose Chen summer nights are dark and pregnant with possibility— from hence she sprung. i knelt as adam in the barren obscurity of these trees, ripped to form this wretched mirror: grief shattered only to come alive. all my violence, borne from existence— all her existence, borne from violence. she lives only when i am clutching her swan neck silk as moonlight pale under watercolour lakes from heaven. god-sent, she pleads mother, mother not yet knowing i, poised before rapture, must purge my sins through her sorrow— i have only myself and these bloodless bones. surely, there is a word for monsters like me— a woman whose rage bleeds from her hands into her child. i play at creator, unable to love myself in mine own image, setting fire between my ribs, rearranging them in some other life.


such a curious thing, finding faith. these days, faith finds me—again a girl, revolver in her hand. only sometimes am i holding it. hello, she whispers, face drowned and vague, ambiguity that cannot be misunderstood.

ambiguity that cannot be misunderstood. i’m sorry.

what for?

she pulls the trigger.

look at what you have done, my own corpse demands. we go to such extravagant lengths, memorializing our dead: my father, his funeral, a semester of private school. when did i begin to think of cost as a relative? my daughter, she learns this from me— the playground as a market, she barters for herself my tender childhood, she who will never have mourn her monstrous father, living on as he does in her likeness and my grief. i move the handgun from her temple. the chapel is empty. her body crumples between these sacred pews. i hold her as she dies. tell me a story, she asks, hair blood-stained, lotus soft. child, if i knelt and said you could run to God, would you come still—home to your mother?

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A Fall Xiran Tan When I went to interview him for the journal, it was late fall. Yellow leaves dripped from the trees outside of his house in the soughing of the wind. We were friends from college, but he stopped coming to our reunion gathering ever since the accident. I was preparing to walk up to his door when he shouldered his partner out. He grinned as he saw me, putting his partner down on a large pumpkin – the bones crisply clattering together – and greeted me in. “No, this is not something we had discussed. He doesn’t know he is a skeleton right now. The accident was so sudden, but if he were to know, he would be so happy that he’d giggle. Sometimes the wind blows by, and the ribs rattle and squeak, as if he were laughing one of his mysterious evil laughs. The kids love him. He’s way more interesting than the plastic skeletons at the other houses. “Normally? No, I have him at home most days. He’s just out for Halloween. It doesn’t seem good for him with all the thermal expansion and contraction of different seasons, you know. “Yes, I did consider cremation. But ashes are so inconvenient –imagine bringing an urn everywhere. But I did fake some of the ashes that his parents requested. He was really into aromatherapy, candles, and incense and all that, so I burnt all of the incense cones and sticks that he liked in one night. Such a big flame, and his smell lingered on my laundry for a long time. Anyway, I put all the ashes in a box and mailed it to his parents. I don’t think they actually opened it, and even if they did, they wouldn’t tell the difference. “And yeah, I do think it’s more convenient this way. It’s easy to take apart too, you see. When I go on hiking trips and stuff like that, I can bring along the head or one of the vertebrae. It’s kind of lovely to have him in my backpack and to have his toe, say, stepping on Chauncey peak. We always planned to go in the fall. Oh, you remember the evolutionary anthro class we took back in sophomore year? It was all about looking at skulls to distinguish different primates. And I look at him—he is so Homo sapiens. So human. “When you look at him, you’ll see. He is just very open, upfront, and sincere, and just charming, you know? In fact, wait a sec, I’ll ask him to come in.”

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I watched as he went out to the porch to fetch him. They used to be of similar height, but being a skeleton made one shorter. He grabbed the spine with one hand and held the pelvis with another, fitting himself into the space of him. He leaned him gently onto his chest, collarbone to cheek. Two bony arms hugged him and hung down from


his shoulders. When he slowly walked, the two dangling legs clattered in resonance with his steps. He eased him onto the couch, and gingerly brushed every joint back into place. “Of course, I know every nook and cranny of him. I knew him when he had hair and flesh. And I know him now. You see, he had a pretty serious injury when he played basketball in high school. Right here, a bit of the bone was chipped away by surgery. This is also why bones are better than ashes. “Yeah I know not everyone wants to bring the dead ones home. I can’t imagine bringing my mom home. Can you even think of putting your hand through your mom’s chest and touching her ribs? I guess it’s because there is a whole chunk of history in your mom’s life that doesn’t belong to you, and her future doesn’t belong to you either. How do you manage to see your mom so exposed without any reservation and so shockingly pale that it hurts your eyes? “Yeah, I guess you can say that. That I can live with the fact that my mom has gone to somewhere she wanted to go. I can bear to let her go. Under some moist moss where that kind of purple and yellow flowers grow, you know. She said she’d like it. “And what about him? He will leave and go somewhere someday. I’ll let go, of course. Haha, or I’ll learn to. You see, because it’s growing more troublesome to travel with him on a plane or just go through any security check. “Hmm where . . . ? That’s exactly the problem. He never said where he wanted to go. But I’ve also been thinking about that. The sea, maybe. We watched a video on Facebook about whale falls you know, just those random videos that pop up to consume your life, and when he procrastinated on grading papers, we just curled up on this couch and watched a shit ton of those. Anyway, it was about how when a whale dies, it becomes a whale fall. The little fishes, octopuses, sea cucumbers depend on it for food and shelter. It will be an oasis in the deep dark desolate sea floor for decades. The only place to hold onto until it’s all gone. The image of a fall is just so lonely but joyous; sad but cathartic; but scary nevertheless, yet calming, but agonizing, but . . . I think he’ll like it. How cool is a human fall? He is a human fall for me. “When? Maybe later, just a little bit later. After all, he has his Halloween duty to scare kids for now.” I nodded, finishing up the interview. I asked him to come back to our college reunion dinners, and bid him goodbye. He saw me out and then sat with his partner on the porch beside the pumpkins, waiting for kids to pass by. Autumn leaves goldened the ground like rain.

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Selfish Jalen Richardson I’m so selfish You make me feel helpless Can’t help this The adrenaline is worthless Now I’m wealthless Can’t take the hand I’m dealt it’s Boutta melt this Pop the sickle into my skull It tickles and all the blood It trickles into my eyes So when I cry I cry blood diamonds all worth less than a nickel. See me smile, then I’m fickle Never not civil Feeling Optimal… Keep -the -war -and -peace -inside -a -safe But -then -you -made -the -lock -jiggle I cannot giggle at the state I’m in. Wait a minute, the state I’m in it’s… A waste of my energy, it’s not so Kinetic in Connecticut, irrelevant is your sentiment So it’s potentially raising my entropy, Empty the ink in my pen till the empathy enters my entity Fall on my sword, for what I swore, must be the remedy But it was darkness - I’m my worst enemy Thought I was heartless, soul was like ebony Looked in the future And saw that I’m sewed up with suture-like centipedes… I thought this girl was my amenity… and yet…

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I liked you, hoped you liked me too, but you didn’t and it isn’t meant to be Heaven sent for me, and I told them I’d be there eventually But first I must converse with you just what you meant to me: You meant everything, with you in my life I thought I didn’t need anything I’d wear a wedding ring and wait for you, but you never picked up my line You just let it ring. Yeah thanks bro that kinda stings. I can’t be quiet or I’ll start a riot of remembering There’s waves of water on my fire, it’s embering I want to die, but I don’t mean that I just mean that, I wanted you -but I didn’t get to -have a second chanceSaid I would never forget you but I bet you, Feel as if we never met Why am I upset? Because you’re hurting my heartForget it. I wanna wallow in a willow tree Cuz I cannot continue to be This obsession. Saw myself as selfish for wanting you, and learned my lesson.

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Untitled Myles Edelson I am the mask and the wearer Infatuation, gestation tonight Adorn me in dermis Crawling across telephone wires, we reach between pillars Accompanied by my heavy bedding and the blinking of your voice beside me Moving islands and my futile signaling One hundred twenty-seven hours Ralston caught in Paimon’s snare Ride away

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Jane Lillard

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Nomi Kuntz

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Io Ilex

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Searching for a Just Right Sylvia Maxwell I used to cut the hair off my dolls, Searching for a Just Right that always passed with one foul snip that always passed with one too many picks one too many pokes, and one too many prods. She’d start to bleed but that’s the cost. I’d pick her plastic pores. I’d pick her perfect plastic pores until they’d bleed. Just to make a scab to scratch off. There goes my purpose down a one way street. There goes the exit at Just Right. How do I get back to what I passed? To protect a body is to perfect a body is to dissect a body until she’s a corpse. How do I get back to what I passed? How do I get back to my body if she doesn’t want me? Do I shave until I choke on my hair in the shower? Do I bathe in my own dead skin? Peel layers off my legs to look thin? Chew my cheeks so deep: I flash my teeth. Am I smiling? Is there something in my teeth? Something to pick until my gums bleed, until my gum turns pink I can blow a bubble to pop the pimples bubbling under my skin until it burns. My stomach churns: I missed a spot.

37


Plague Love Mary Ahlstrom There was no blood involved, only sleep. Another crack upon understanding, another disruption in person, these shiftings are burying me. Big darkness spreads like grains of sugar spilled in my coat pocket. Sleep clots warm and sticky blocking breath. blocking blood. A collection of lessons surely ending. The sugar will remain until I shake it out. Sweetness falling. I open, I breathe. My whole life anew.

38


Daniela Stahle

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