Sink Hollow Issue 12

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Sink Hollow Issue XII




Allow me to echo the words of my predecessor when I say the past year and a half has been difficult. The onset of so many changes has left us feeling breathless, as if floating into an infinite oblivion. Everyone was forced to search deeper than ever to find something—anything—to cling to for clarity. Artists and writers turned to creativity. If you look back through our past two issues, you can see a glimpse at some of this work that strove to understand the unexplainable. The stars we created to fill our abyss. Gravity has slowly returned, so while we continue to float, the connection we so lacked and craved is beginning to call us back to earth. Stars are returning and blending with the ones we made. I need not tell you of artists’ and writers’ sensitivity—many of you know it firsthand. It should come to no surprise, then, that the submissions we received this semester reflected this subtle transition. The issue you are about to read is brighter than our last few. While the haunting concepts, stirring images, and riveting rhetoric that fills the following pages are true to our Sink Hollow identity, there is also an indescribable clarity, an intangible lightness. Our staff underwent multiple shifts this semester, and yet they responded with alertness without a pause to rub the exhaustion from their eyes. I have witnessed their passion, commitment, and resilience through the difficulties. Every line, every piece, every page of this issue is evidence of their continual effort. They have made stars from shadows. Open your eyes with us, dear reader. Take a breath. Discover life’s hidden nuances through the paint strokes, pen strokes, meter beats, heart beats of this issue. Look to the stars. They shine for us, because of us. Dara Lusk Editor In Chief





Letter from the Editor





Nicholas Jones


Little Elizabeth’s Ghost Chloe Rohl



Zoe Stanek


Gargalaphobia Jessica Baker



Elizabeth Romanova


The Times I have Known God to Exist Claire Ellis


Chicken House Zoe Stanek


Photos Fade to Memory Shea O’Scannlain


On Perspective Patrick Pickering



Weining Wang


Memento Memoriam I Helenor Harris-Evans



Elizabeth Romanova


B54796B1-CC1A-4AB8-B602-39090B9964A3 Audrey Lewis



Zoe Stanek



B54796B1-CC1A-4AB8-B602-39090B9964A3 Audrey Lewis


To Those Before Stonewall Katelyn Allred


The Green Bathtub Aldona Casey



Elizabeth Romanova


Tough Tank Women Rachel Brooks


seize my senses Aldona Casey


Elegy for a Star Claire Ellis




Cover Design: Hannah Lee Claire Mayfield Cover Art: Daniel Zoe Stanek (reprinted on Page 17)

Peony N i c ho la s J o ne s


Little Elizabeth’s Ghost Chloe Rohl Bedsprings creaked and groaned in the night, Little Elizabeth felt her mattress sink low; Though she laid still, she was awake, affright. She’d seen this ghost before, pale as moonlight, She’d seen his shadow cross the floor, dark as a crow; Bedsprings creaked and groaned in the night. The sound made her grip her blankets so tight, And Little Elizabeth felt the covers pull back, slow. Though she laid still, she was awake, affright. The ghost laid down beside her, without an invite. It turned to face her back, moving in close, Bedsprings creaked and groaned in the night. Little Elizabeth could hardly breathe; her cheeks turned white. The ghost reached towards her, placing a hand on her elbow. Though she laid still, she was awake, affright. Finally, she turned over and yelled, “Get out of my sight!” The ghost didn’t move; he would not go. Bedsprings creaked and groaned in the night, Though she laid still, she was awake, affright.


Kelp Zo e Sta ne k


Gargalaphobia Jessica Baker Gargalaphobia, not to be confused with pteronophobia (the very specific fear of being tickled by feathers) is the phobia of being tickled by anything, big or small, real or imaginary. It is classified on Wikipedia under “phobias,” “rare phobias,” and “stupid phobias.” I have a mild case of gargalaphobia and the mere idea of being tickled makes my entire body clench. It feels wrong, somehow, to hate what makes me laugh the most. There are several schools of thought over why people laugh when they are tickled, if they do at all (for there are some lucky people who aren’t ticklish). Scientists have concluded that tickling stimulates your hypothalamus, which is responsible for your emotional and pain reactions. When you are tickled, you are experiencing both pain and pleasure—that mix of tightening nerves in your armpits while your toes tingle with joy and you laugh until you can’t breathe, can’t speak, can’t cry out, “Stop!” The body has an automatic, emotional, and physical response to tickling. It is impossible to ignore the firing synapses that make you howl and writhe, to turn off this awful reaction. And when the tickling is done, and your sides ache, only the mild tingling of nerves remind you that there was pain involved. I’m not entirely sure laughter from tickling is caused solely by the firing of synapses and nerves. I cannot imagine that the brain is the only reason we laugh when we feel both pain and pleasure. If we only laughed because of an automatic, helpless response, what do we make of those who enjoy being tickled? When I was a kid—young enough to believe in fairytales—my father was a monster in the night. It was habit, well learned, that when footsteps thundered in the upstairs landing between mine and my sister’s rooms, I was to hide under my ratty purple blanket. My breaths evened out, my toes curled up as the stomping grew louder, and I opened my eyes as wide as they would go, straining against the fabric to see whatever I possibly could. My door creaked open. I stopped breathing. One, two, three footsteps, and then heavy breathing paused, just above my head. He growled, snarling, sniffed at the air. “I smell little girl!” said a guttural voice. A breath left me—I couldn’t keep it in any longer. The monster had begun to stomp away but paused upon hearing my exhale. “Is there a little girrrrllll under there?” The monster pawed at my bedpost, narrowly avoiding touching my toes. I squeaked as I felt the faintest almost-touch pass over me. “There is little girl!” cried the monster.


Large hands found my tiny ankles and yanked me from the safety of my blanket. I was pulled to the end of my bed and flipped face down so that I was on my stomach, exposing my sides, the soles of my feet, the back of my neck—all of my softest places. The tickle monster went to work. My monster, the tickle monster—he tickled me until I screamed, until I was hoarse with laughter. His fingers dug into my sides until I kicked my way free, crawled under the blanket again, laughed and cried and laughed. He stomped his way around the bed—starting our game over—and wondered aloud if there were any little girls hiding under the blanket tonight. I wheezed with a grin breaking my cheeks and stitches pulling at my sides. Eventually, my door squeaked shut, and the tickle monster left to terrorize my little sister. As I grew older, I began to realize it was my father under a blanket—a checkered old blanket his mother had given him. The tickle monster visited less and less at night as the years passed, even though I waited, breath held, under that ratty purple cover, night after night. The tickle monster was soon retired to a summer specialty—brought out when the cousins all gathered in the upstairs room of my grandparent’s beach house. We were two, sometimes three, to a bed, all clustered under blankets. During those nights, I called out for the tickle monster. I begged him to come, to terrorize us, to tickle us until we screamed for freedom. I stuck my feet out of the blanket, I yelled his name when he was in the room, I pleaded with him to pluck me out from under my safety and bring me laughter. Tickling is pain and punishment as much as it is joy, but I willingly brought it upon myself for those moments with my father. My father knew he could only make me laugh as much as he did whenever I was tickled, and he made himself a monster to achieve it. I was terrified of the sensation; my insides curdled and I cringed at the thought of being tickled. But I craved the attention—I craved knowing my father was there for me, to make me laugh. The tickle monster made me feel loved because when I laughed, my father did too. We see each other less, now, as I am older. The tickle monster has been retired indefinitely, perhaps eternally. When he realized I was “maturing,” there became an innate fear of tickling the wrong spots. But really, truly, my father was afraid of hurting me. The last time the tickle monster made an appearance was the summer I had an appendectomy when I was fourteen. He was terrified of touching my scars, of giving me pain and no joy. Now, even though I am older and stronger, we are too old for cheap laughter. There has to be a reason beyond a natural, physical response to tickling that creates laughter. A study posted to BBC reports that laughter is used as a tool to deescalate aggressive situations—when we are tickled, we are signaling that it is an aggressive situation, and that we are having fun, not fear. But tickling is fearful. The body enters a state of increased tension, fatigue, and anxiety. All motor control is lost. Every reaction—every kick, every flail of the arm—is a natural reflex in attempt to stop this form of torture. If a person is repeat-


Bliss E l i za b e th Ro ma nova


edly subjected to being tickled without a recovery period, they can die. Brain aneurysms have been reported in tortured prisoners who were subjected to extended amounts of tickling while restrained; if you’ve ever heard of “Chinese tickling torture,” this is where it comes from. Why, then, is tickling such a cultural phenomenon? Historians, rather than scientists, believe that it was the first language. Parents tickle their children before their children can speak—because laughter is universal. Before spoken word came about, laughter communicated happiness, joy, satisfaction, and other pleasing emotions that bond a tribe together. Laughter eases social and physical tensions, and yet, we create physical and social tension from tickling. Laughter increases our pain threshold. When you are tickled, you are in pain, but when you are laughing, you are increasing your tolerance for pain, allowing yourself to be tickled more, and laugh more. This feedback loop continues until you cannot possibly laugh harder or be tickled further—but why do you continue to laugh after the sensations have stopped? When you laugh, you release endorphins into the brain. Endorphins are being released while you are being tickled, but when they come flooding in at a high-speed rush (the combination of post-tickle laughter endorphins and muscle/stress/tension relaxation endorphins) a high sense of pleasure follows. The brain remembers tickling as a positive experience, and you smile. When you smile, a good memory (tends) to be formed. When a good memory is repeatedly formed and associated with an event, tickling becomes a bonding activity for both the tickler and the ticklee. This laughter/tickling/bonding/positive experience association does not mean I enjoy being tickled. There is a certain sense of dread when I see fingers poised to dig their way into my ribcage. My stomach leaves my body, preparing the rest of my organs to steel themselves against this onslaught. But I smile when Sal, the not-boyfriend, does it. I laugh in anticipation and willingly subject myself if it means he is here with me, in the now, looking down at me like that. Like I am someone to be adored. Like I could be loved. Before, during, and after—he made me grin wider than I ever thought possible. Our unconventional meeting (“it’s just a fling, just casual”) created our unconventional relationship (“it’s not actually dating, but we have an understanding with each other to what we are. It’s… it’s… an open relationship, of sorts”). We are loosely bound on a bad day, tightly interwoven on a better day. We laid in bed together, sometime, anytime in our history, but likely last May. Our legs were wrapped around each other like snakes and our fingers laced, holding us together. I was nearly asleep as the TV played distantly, and he whispered my name. I stirred, barely, murmuring, “hmm?” “You know what time it is?” he asked, breath skating across my cheek and tickling my skin. My shoulders raised unconsciously and a shiver picked its way down my back. “Time to sleep?” “Mmm, I don’t think so,” he replied, gently, tricking me into thinking this was going to be something I enjoyed. He was shifting, subtly repositioning himself,


unlacing our fingers and straddling my hips. I was pinned beneath him when I finally opened my eyes, blinking wearily before opening them fully in fear. “It’s tickle time!” Strong hands dove into my sides and I had nowhere to go, no escape to wiggle into. I shrieked as he relentlessly drove his fingers into my ribcage, twisted and writhed on the bed as tears began to stream down my cheeks, yelling his name over and over, unintelligible between my ear-splitting laughs. I was panicked, fearful— joyful, somehow. I wasn’t trying to escape as much as I was trying to trap his fingers in place so that he was still connected to me, so that we were still in this moment, only with all happiness and no pain. Sal laughed with me, adjusting to my flailing and finding ways to keep me trapped and subject to his tortures. He laughed as I tried to bite him, he laughed as I lurched upwards with my knees (and failed miserably), he laughed as I laughed and laughed and we laughed until I pulled out our safe word. Our emergency stop button for when I’m too overwhelmed or I’ve been twisted into a painful position. The switch was instant—he stopped entirely, moved away, and held his hands up. I was allowed to catch my breath and swipe away the tears from my cheeks. He still lay next to me in bed but until there was another clear signal—I wouldn’t be tickled again today. I sighed, chest deflating as I brought my heartbeat back to resting. He laid next to me, watching me, and I couldn’t look at him. “I hate being tickled.” “No you don’t.” I rolled my eyes at him, but it was enough to break my self-conscious embarrassment—the unnatural feeling of being perceived whenever he laid next to me and looked. I turned towards him, shifting so we were each on our sides facing the other. “I do, Sal,” I said, attempting a pout. “If you do, why can’t you stop smiling?” Because I don’t enjoy the sensation, but I enjoy being here, with you. I can’t stop smiling because you fill me with such emotion that there’s no other option but to stare and laugh. I let you tickle me because I adore your laughter and sometimes I wonder if that’s the only way I’ll truly make you happiest. “Oh, hush,” I sniped at him. He told me later that he did it because it was the only time he felt as though he could truly hear me laugh unburdened. Every other time, I covered my mouth to hide my too-small teeth or checked my laughter so it wasn’t too loud, too disruptive. He told me that he adored seeing me happy in the way that tickling makes me happy, and if I didn’t smile “forever after,” he wouldn’t do it. Research shows that those who claim to hate tickling often smile wider, laugher harder, and overall give a louder reaction when they are tickled than those who claim to enjoy it. Scientists believe this is because those who hate tickling associate the feeling with anxiety or embarrassment and are able to be unburdened in the moment but quickly return to mortification after. Sal and I are not dating. We are not an “official” couple in the traditional sense of the word. In our gaps—the time I’m at college and he’s at home—we see other people. We laugh and smile for others to see.


In these moments, in the afterglow, I am still smiling at him, hoping I will be the one he wants most. I will be the one who laughs the loudest for him, who smiles the widest for him, who is whoever he wants me to be. In these moments, I am trying—quietly in my heart, loudly in my joy—to remind him that I am the one he picked first. Please don’t leave, I seem to say. I’ll lay down and let you tickle me if that’s what gets you to stay. Let me be the one to make you laugh, always, please. Laughter caused by tickling is the only laughter that is entirely automatic, entirely natural. In order to laugh at a joke or a scene or an awkward situation—it must pass through the frontal lobe. In sharp contrast, tickling is processed through the somatosensory cortex before travelling to the hypothalamus; the distance is shorter between the cortex and the hypothalamus compared to the frontal lobes and the hypothalamus. Jokes are given a chance to fail the laughter test—tickling is not. For those who are ticklish, the sensory endings being lit up and sparking at the hypothalamus will always elicit a roaring, gut-heaving sound of joy. Laughter spawns laughter. Studies have proven that when sounds of joy are heard, the muscles in the face involuntarily contract to respond to the noise—but don’t respond in the same way to negative noises, such as crying or gagging. When I laugh, Sal laughs. Tickling is uncomfortable and painful, but it produces the happiness of social interaction, of physical contact. It is something I subject myself to, have subjected myself to, in order to hear laughter surrounding me, feel my sides split, to grasp at affection from those I want to hold closest. It is not something I will ever truly enjoy or seek out. But it is tolerable, it is worth it, even, for the softening smiles and lazy holds and being tucked back into bed after it’s over.


B54796B1-CC1A-4AB8-B602-39090B9964A3 Au d rey Lewi s


Daniel Zo e Sta ne k


The Times I have Known God to Exist Claire Ellis When my Aunt Mary’s house burned down to its nuts and bolts, and she stood, on live TV, where the old cast iron stove had melted into memory, to forgive the teenageboy bimbos who accidentally Sherman-ed the shit out of Appalachia Even though 140 miles away, the smoke had blurred the sky above my high school so that I could smell the heirlooms burning on the way to AP History. Yes, then, and again, when we went back for the first time, a year later, and she pulled from the carnage the Virgin Mother from her favorite ceramic nativity, and we saw that the charred graveyard of a garden dared bare fruit. (the plants may burn, but the bulbs, they sleep; they wait for autumn) Yes, especially then.


Chicken House Zo e Sta ne k


Photos Fade to Memory S h e a O’ Sca nnla i n



On Perspective Patrick Pickering Dribble dribble tinkle on paper personal Pollock piece made by me urine design peed on for a week straight in the beginning of June submitted—declined museums—galleries space for rent in studio buildings all said NO and broke my heart when they said piss paper is not Fine Art.


sculpture2 Weini ng Wa ng


Memento Memoriam I Helenor Harris-Evans





Childhood E liz a b e th Ro ma nova 28

B54796B1-CC1A-4AB8-B602-39090B9964A3 Au d rey Lewi s 29

To Those Before Stonewall Katelyn Allred

“‘All of that was a hundred years ago,’ Frankie barked at me. “Nobody wants to hear about it.’” -Lisa E. Davis, The Persistent Desire: A FemmeButch Reader Reluctantly, you speak of the burn of whiskey and the brush of gentle femme hands in yours, years ago. Ancient history now, your fingers gnarled and knotted and the bars and clubs long renovated (one is a monument. what do you see in its brick-and-neon front?) life rots to feed the ground and you are happy to go, let your roots dissolve into soil. You are sure the branches don’t need you. but it is your blood that I carry in my veins. Our genealogy reaches through ages; Sappho to d’Aubigny to Woolf and all the steps between, and you. You remember, don’t you, the first time you read that fragment and its audacious promise that our kind would be forever? Those words punched through my rib cage and stole my breath and that is not the point.


I have spent hours combing through history and hearsay, trying to find you, because I want us to grow wild, never pruned. Tell me of the thick air perfumed with cigarettes. Tell me of the taste of an illicit lover’s lipstick. I need to hear it all.

The Green Bathtub Aldo na Ca sey


oneeyeopen E l i za b e th Ro ma nova


Touch Tank Women Rachel Brooks

limbs branched out wide the long legs of a Starfish with Supple pink undersides soft and moist to the touch of Strangers whose hands splash into her waters just long enough to fill her pores with foreign bacteria and the lonely Absence of warmth


seize_my_senses Aldo na Ca sey 34

Elegy for a Star Claire Ellis

More likely than not, the star You bought online and named for my Seventeenth birthday has already Died, and we will not be able to feel Its absence in our lifetimes. When the last of its light Disappears from this shared sky, More likely than not, we will already be There, among the heavens, to see The fading— our earth bodies laid Out as if stargazing, Eyes up, six feet down. Stardust to stardust, Or something like that. And it will be a fading, I know it, the death Of our little celestial blip, collapsing Just as we collapsed, slowly In on ourselves, ran dry of the fuel To keep this thing burning. But who am I to speak of galactic Things, all these ions, eons hence? Maybe I’m wrong, more likely than not. Maybe we will get our supernova after all— I always thought we deserved it.




Katelyn Allred is a poet and writer from rural Utah. She has been published in

The Merrimack Review and Weeds, the literary journal of Snow College. Her poetry has also been featured by the poet laureate of Utah. She’s currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Utah State University. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, listening to audio dramas, and thinking about outer space.

Jessica Baker is an undergraduate at Elon University studying media analytics,

statistics, and creative writing. She is a writer for Cripple Media, Elon News Network, and her nonfiction work has appeared in Bridge: The Bluffton University Literary Journal. Currently, she works as a nonfiction co-editor for Colonnades Literary and Art Journal.

Rachel Brooks is an undergraduate student at The University of South Carolina. She loves writing poetry, hiking, and enjoying time with family and friends.

Aldona Casey is a sophom__ore at College of the Holy Cross; however, she does not like it. She likes painting, though! Aldona is a double English and studio art major with a minor in art history. She aspires to be an art restorer.

Claire Ellis is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina studying English

and linguistics. Most of her writing features themes of family, home, and memory. She considers all of her poems love poems.

Helenor Harris-Evans is an artist, writer, and translator from Richmond,

Virginia. Her work is always some degree of autobiographical, and explores themes of womanhood, loss, obsession, and memory. She goes on long drives to unwind. Currently, she attends college in Oberlin, Ohio, where she studies creative writing and comparative literature.

Nicholas Jones is an undergraduate student at Utah State University. He loves

creating and sharing his artworks and writing for others to enjoy. He spends most of his time outside and with his family.

Audrey Lewis is an adequate “doodler,” as well as a student, an advocate, and

an avid Urban hiker. Audrey is studying global communications through Utah State University. Creating elaborate doodles began as a way to keep Audrey focused in class. She found the sporadic lines of fine pen was her way to combine the traits of learning with art to create visual connections in her academic studies. She finds that through the expression of chaos (by pen) helps to keep her love of education thriving.

Shea O’Scannlain attends The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Shea works with oil paint and deals predominantly with the themes of memory and identity.


Patrick Pickering is an undergraduate student studying creative writing at Uni-

versity of North Carolina Asheville. Patrick is a poet and skateboarder who enjoys movies, music and the company of cats.

Chloe Rohl is an artist, photographer, and writer from Prescott, Wisconsin. She is an undergraduate student at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she is studying creative writing and entrepreneurship.

Elizabeth Romanova is an undergraduate student at Anglo-American Universi-

ty in Prague. She explores the theme of memory, deja-vu and nostalgia, as well as expressing her own feelings on the canvas using various mixed media. She as well is fond of making videoart and taking pictures on 35mm film.

Zoe Stanek is an amateur writer and artist in the final year of university. Zoe is an

art minor who loves to explore the human form and gender roles in art and is interested in exploring various media including acrylic paint, watercolor, ink, colored pencil, and paper collage. It Zoe’s my hope to produce art and writing simultaneously throughout her career.

Weining Wang

is a Senior student at Beloit College, majoring in interdisciplinary studies--East Asian Studies. He published one short paper in a famous Chinese literary journal--Beijing Literature 北京文學-- which is collected in the Harvard-Yenching Library and Princeton University East Asian Library. He was the winner of the Global Chinese Youth Literature Award (literary translation group) 全球華文青年文學獎, which is organized by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His Beijing flavor fiction, “The Old Snack Shop,” appears in The Sucarnochee Review, an undergraduate publication at the University of West Alabama. He translated eight poems from the Tang dynasty and published them in Equinox, a journal of contemporary literature at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; two pieces of artwork, “Nose_Paper” and “Star_Canvas,” also appear in Equinox. His Chinese-style artwork, “Fire and Ocean,” “Black and White,” and “Great Wall,” are forthcoming in Long River Review, an annual literary journal of art and literature staffed by undergraduates at the University of Connecticut. His artwork, translation, and fiction have also appeared (or forthcoming ) in Black Moon Magazine, Wordgathering, Third Wednesday, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, Glass Mountain, Euphemism and elsewhere.


Staff and Faculty Advisors


Editor in Chief

Fiction Faculty Advisor

Managing Editor

Nonfiction Faculty Advisor

Design Editor

Poetry Faculty Advisor

Fiction Editor

Design Faculty Advisor

Dara Lusk Hannah Lee Claire Mayfield Mckayla Beauchamp

Fiction Readers

Deren Bott Alexandra Jensen

Nonfiction Editor

Keegan Waller

Nonfiction Readers

Mya Bethers Sandra Edwards com Janae Ollerton Kyler Tolman Dara Lusk

Poetry Editor

Jay Paine

Poetry Readers

Isabelle Scott Jenni Cooper Stefani McClanahan Hannah Lee


Charles Waugh Russ Beck

Shanan Ballam Robb Kunz


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