Fire & Stones, Spring 2022

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St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School 1000 St. Stephens Rd Alexandria, VA 22304 (703) 751-2700 Issue 39 Literary and Arts Magazine Fire & Stones


Master Print, Newington Virginia © 2022 by Fire and Stones. Authors and artists hold rights to their individual works.

Fire & Stones literary and art magazine is published bi-annually in the winter and spring and is distributed free of charge.


All submissions must be emailed to We only consider material offered for first time publication. Artists and writers may submit 1-3 pieces per issue. Literary entries accepted: short fiction, essays, poetry, plays, and excerpts. We do not have length limits; however, try to keep submissions under 1000 words. Include names on the files: firstinitial_lastname .doc .txt or .pdf permitted. Visual art accepted: photography, illustration, painting, collage, mixed media, cartoon, graphic design, and photographed sculpture. Please submit visual art as high-resolution, jpeg files. Art and literature had to be submitted to our faculty advisors by April 5, 2022. We have a blind judging process for art and literature. This format ensures that the staff members’ votes cannot be swayed by the votes of other staff members.

Advertising & Distribution

The submission window and distribution are bookended by our Fall and Winter Coffeehouses. Like our magazine, Coffeehouse is a bi-annual event with one in the fall and one in the winter. Coffeehouse is a Fire & Stones-sponsored event where the students gather to share poetry, dramatic readings, and music with their peers.


No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. All images are copyrighted. The art and literature may only be reproduced with permission of the artists and authors.

Digital versions are posted to our website: For additional information or how to obtain hard copies please email faculty advisors:

Kate Elkins ( or Jill McElroy (

Dear Reader,

High schoolers face an incredible amount of pressure to figure out who they are as people. Society often classifies teenagers as moody. However, through this issue of Fire & Stones, our authors and artists depict their paths toward self-discovery and their journeys to find who they are as powerful, beautiful, and kind. Although these journeys are not always easy, they describe the end result as coming to terms and being happy with who they are. As you read, we invite you to reflect on where you are right now and the version of yourself you want to be. Remember to be kind not only to yourself but also to those around you.

Victoria Lopez, ‘22 Moving Day Painting by Mollie Kemp ’23 Float Digital Illustration by Tae Casagrande ’24


Victoria Lopez, Senior Editor

Mollie Kemp and Maren Knutson, Literary Editors

Zoë Coval and Nyrique’ Butler, Creative Directors

Kirsten Johnson and Elona Michael, Communications Directors

Sophie Atkisson and Charlotte Hill, Event Coordinators


Amber Dunton

Anna Strauss

Charlotte Hill

Claire McConnel

Dia Britto

Elisabeth Carroll

Elizabeth Hanley

Evan Ingraham

Ella Joshi

Finley Knutson

Gigi Lisaius

Jordan Resnick

Kalli Dinos

Lily Hunsicker

Micah Gura

Morgan Tracy

Reagan Reilly

Faculty Advisors

Kate Elkins

Jill McElroy

Literature: we keep moving by Maren Knutson 8 My Walk with Grandma by Elona Michael 11 Filter by Henrik Deininger 12 Human Error by Micah Gura 14 The Storm’s Opera by Mollie Kemp 21 Basalt by Lauren Irish 24 Roots by Bryce Wilson 26 Self Reflection by Zoë Coval 28 That Girl by Bramley Legg 32 Porcelain Standards by Zoë Coval 34 I, Truly, He by Keith Bolen 37 You, you? by Mason Worsham 38 abluvion by Carter Hansen 40 Self-Portrait by Sophie Carr 42 Showers by Finn Jensen 46 Libraries by Maddy Carr 48 21 by Iman Haddad 50 Ode to Zoom by Owen Larson 52 Starting Writing by Ella Joshi 54 Artwork: Moving Day by Mollie Kemp 3 Float by Tae Casagrande 4 Painted Alley by Codie Campbell 7 A Step in the Right Direction by Zoë Coval 9 Stories by Charlotte Hill 10 Panoply by Nyrique’ Butler 13 Buoyancy by Noah Finley 18 The Windy Day by Ellie Minor 20 Heritage by Xavier Johnston 23 Pearl by August Moon 25 Ace by Emma Lacy 27 Mirror by Zoë Coval 29 All Kinds of Time by Micah Gura 30 Repent by Owen Larson 39 The Belly of the Beast by Owen Larson 41 Seeking Wonder by Codie Campbell 43 I Will Not Shut Up and Dribble by William Adams 44 The Morning’s Touch by Sophie Atkisson 49 Hybiscus by Morgan Tracy 54 Arctic Tundra by Chris Hamam 56
Table of Contents

Front Cover:


Photograph by Justin Stewart ’23

Back Cover:

Nighttime Revelations

Charcoal drawing by Sophie Atkisson ’23

Painted Alley

Photograph by Codie Campbell ’23

even when our world stopswe wake up we put on clothes we brush our hair we keep moving even if the day is ticking pastwe make our breakfast we clean the dishes we eat slowly we keep moving

even if the tests keep coming back positivewe go on a walk we shower after we watch tv we keep moving

even when we feel entirely alonewe do some yoga we clean our room we play video games we keep moving

even if we’re so frustrated we could screamwe scream at the top of our lungs we drink water after we run the dishwasher we keep moving even though it may seem like everything is overthese actions are useless what’s the whole point we keep moving even sowith all this frustration, we keep moving.

A Step in the Right Direction

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’22 Digital Illustration by Zoë Coval ’23
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Painting by Charlotte Hill ’23

The other day my grandmother asked me to take her on a walk. I said ok and put on my sneakers and the most modest outfit I could piece together. I opened the door for her and all of a sudden we were in the beaming hot sun walking down the concrete sidewalk parallel to a long aisle of townhouses.

For the first five minutes it was silent. I could hear the rattling from the wind brushing against the freshly cut grass of my neighbor’s front lawn. The sun was shining a bright yellow, and the summer air was thick and suffocating.

“You know, walking is good for me. It’s good for my knee.”

“Yes exercise is very important,” I said back confidently.

“So your father is going to California. I wish he could have brought us. I have family there. But traveling with my knee is tough.”

Suddenly, I was oblivious to the periodic tap of her cane hitting the concrete, guiding us on our route.

“Yes, me too, I love California. I remember going last time and the weather is so nice. When I grow up I want to live there.”

She shot me a smile that covered up her heavy gasps and then stopped. We stood in the shadow of a large tree that hovered over the sidewalk. I looked at the beaming leaves above us and thought about how in a couple of months they were going to fall off and die. Then new leaves would form and the cycle would happen all over again.

My grandmother pointed out the purple plants by our feet that stood in our neighbor’s lawn. “They’re beautiful,” she said.

“Yes they are. I never noticed.”

We then continued along.

“I want to cook again. Sometimes I feel so useless about not doing anything and just sitting around.”

“You’re not useless. You’ve done so much. It’s time to rest.” I played that sentence back in my head. They were a poor choice of words.

“I always wanted to ask you to go on a walk with me, but you were always busy with Cody. I did not want to interrupt.”

Her heavy gasps started again.

“Yes I know, but feel free to ask me anytime and I will always be free.”

“When I lived in Rome with your grandfather the people would take their dogs out once in the morning before work and then once when they came home.”

We both laughed.

That was the first time she mentioned my grandfather around me.

We talked a lot. We talked about her university, her art, my cousins, and the weather. And I will never forget that.

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They are sent to sanctuary camps, torture I hear, I sit at home.

On my TV, President Trump’s voice overcomes the room the words spill from his mouth, “There will be a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Eating breakfast the next morning, the words ring in the background: Muslims.

So many being turned away, broken apart, sent off; it’s not fair.

I come to school, my best friend Ali is crying. I remember his words muttered through tears: “He’s gone. My cousin is gone.”

Everything around me spins in loops, I cry watching him suffer.

We recite the anthem, Ali stays quiet. His trust has been broken, is he scared?

“They want me next,” “Can I call my mom?”

I didn’t understand.

I am 11 years old, an American citizen, a white male.

I wake up every morning in a warm bed, warm house, in a warm situation.

My life builds and builds itself, molds itself, no fear, no one threatening to take it away from me.

I’m 15.

What is a free country that isn’t free?

Fake? Flawed?

No, that can’t be, right?

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I have not seen Ali since I left. The 4 years seem like an eternity. I still have my citizenship, freedom; I hope he is safe.

The scary man on the news every day spilling a mountain of nothing, gone.

They are welcomed, helped, aided, supported they can now build and build, without fear. Finally.

Panoply Digital Design by Nyrique’ Butler ’22 Issue 39 | 13

The time was 8:19 in the morning. City bus #17 took a left turn off of 13th Street and beheld a strange sight- a burning bus on the side of the road, surrounded by police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks, the orange blaze streaking up through the windows and turning into a massive plume of black smoke.

One passenger of bus 17 turned to his brother in shock.“John, did you just see that burning bus over there?”

“Yeah, the roads are getting more dangerous by the day.”

“But that was the worst wreck I’ve ever seen! No one could have made it out of there,” said the first brother, Trey.

“Oh, I don’t know about that.”

“Are you guys talking about that crazy wreckage?” asked someone sitting behind John. “You think it’ll happen to us?” asked another bored passenger.

“Come on Trey, stop scaring everyone. It probably wasn’t even that bad,” said John.

“What, are you crazy? I’d be surprised if there were any survivors.”

“So you mean we’re all going to die?”

“Of course not!” retorted Trey, a bit too loudly.

“Hey, keep it down over there!” shouted an elderly businessman a couple rows over.

“You shut up, old man. Now anyway-”

“What did you just say to my father?” yelled a middle-aged woman. “All this nonsense about some bus crash is driving me insane. I’ll bet you’re making the whole thing up.”

“Lady, I think you’re insane,” Trey said.

“Yeah, she’s right,” said the man sitting in front of her. “How do we even know there was a crash?”

“I just saw it with my own eyes! Other people can vouch for me.”

“He’s right,” said a young man in front of John. “How could you not see it?”

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“Sure, if you say so.” The other man shrugged.

“Actually, I think I took a photo of the wreck,” said a young woman, pulling out her phone.

“You did?” Trey exclaimed. “Well why didn’t you say so?”

Just then, the bus hit a large bump, causing the woman’s phone to fall to the floor of the aisle. A teenager who was passing by slipped on it, inadvertently spilling the drink he was holding onto a tall man.

“Hey, watch what you’re doing!” the man shouted while another curious passenger picked up the phone, which was then snatched by another woman.

“Give that back!”

“No, it’s my phone!” But there was nothing that could be done as more passengers joined in the fray.

“I wonder why they’re fighting over there.”

“I don’t know, but it looks fun!”

“Leave my sister alone!”

“Lemme see that phone! That other guy said there was a crazy bus crash.”

“No, he said we’re going to crash.”

“We’re all gonna die!”

A new voice came over the bus speakers.“Passengers, please stay seated and do not engage in violence of any kind.”

“Say, I’ll bet it was the driver on that bus who crashed it!”

“You’re right, those idiots can’t be trusted!” said the tall man, who had managed to grab the phone. He held up the photo to everyone. “How can a bus crash like this without any human error?” The others nodded in agreement.

“Who knows if we’ll turn out the same way?!”

“I assure you all that the crash you saw was a rare occurrence,”

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said the driver. “Now if you’ll please sit…” He glanced to the side for a moment as people started to crowd around him

“Keep your eyes on the road!”

“Is this the person in charge of our lives?”

“Here, look at this photo. Are you telling me that was an accident?” The driver glanced at the phone, wondering how that wreck could have happened and why these people were so crazy. The passengers took this glance as the final straw - this driver was not paying attention to his duties and was about to crash. I’ll be a hero! Trey thought as he reached for the steering wheel and tried to keep it straight. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. With everyone grabbing the wheel, the driver could only pray as the bus started veering off to the side, which only resulted in more people trying to maintain control. As the bus was supposed to make a sharp turn, it slammed into the cliff beside the road, immediately bursting into flames.

The time was 9:26 in the morning. City bus #42 took a right turn off of Greenwood Street, and beheld a strange sight- a burning bus on the side of the road, surrounded by police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks, the orange blaze streaking up through the windows and turning into a massive plume of black smoke.

One passenger of bus 42 turned around in a shock to her sister. “Hey, did you just see that burning bus over there?”

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Photomontage by Noah Finley ’24
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The Windy Day
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Sculpture by Ellie Minor ’23

With the pounding of rain bouncing off the metal roof like tiny dancers in an intricate tap dance, I abandoned my dolls and rushed down the steep staircase. Sliding on the wood flooring, I swerved through doorways and rooms until I reached the entrance to the garage.

Pigtails flying I gave a shout behind me, “Dad! It’s happening, come on!”

My dad had just returned home an hour ago from work. I could see his jacket hung on the hooks, white shirt unbuttoned a few notches, and his tie draped lazily on a nearby kitchen table chair. The remnants of a hard day at work. Nevertheless, the rain waited for no one, and I was intent to meet it.

With one last encouraging yell to my dad, I leapt up to twist the doorknob and was immediately welcomed by a gust of warming wind. It reached and wrapped itself around me, little tendrils of whooshing force inviting me further into the garage. My hurried pace was forgotten and my attention turned toward the rushing melody of the wind and the continuous yet inconsistent drum of the rain.

My bare feet scraped against the gray dry concrete, and the smell of clay drifted into my senses and out, a tide fueled by the wind. Feeling brave, I dashed to the edge of the garage, dipping my crudely painted toe into the stream flowing from the pavement of the driveway into the young grass.

Peaking my head out from under the dry canopy of the garage, hot droplets splashed into my eyelashes and onto my face, dribbling around my arms then finally rejoining with the stream. A sizzle of pleasant electricity tangled my already knotty hair and magnetized me farther into the storm.

I stuck my hand out and collected a puddle in my palm, a minuscule oasis in the raging oceans of water forming below. However, the rain didn’t like to be handled so it splashed and bounced out of my palm until my oasis was gone.

I felt as if I was somehow out of place, like an intruder in a private moment. It was like watching a flower open its petals or a vine grow an

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inch longer. Like watching a bird close its eyes and rest, or a leaf fall from a tree. Yet I was persuaded further into the storm by the sweet talking rain until I had totally left the safety of the canopy.

Fully exposed in the rain I blinked droplets out of my blue eyes and looked up at the clouds. I had goosebumps, but I wasn’t cold, I was kept warm by the thick trickle of rain and the dense breeze. I wondered why there weren’t more people out enjoying the rain; it was perfectly pleasant. Why had we retreated from the soccer field when it began to rain? Why was recess moved inside when it began to drizzle?

I stared up and pondered at the unknown, when suddenly the opening swish of the garage door and a crack from the sky above shook me from my daze.

“What are you doing out there? Come back into the garage so you don’t get all wet.” My dad had obviously spoken too late as I was soaked to the bone.

Shaking his head with a chuckle he walked to the back of the garage and pulled out two beach chairs, propping them up facing the storm.

Taking a seat, we laid back and enjoyed the opera of the storm.

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Heritage Sculpture by Xavier Johnston ’23

On fine Puerto Rican sands I stravaged adjacent to the bellicostic ebb and flow of the Caribbean Sea. The conspicuous whitecaps that choked the basalt lining the coast and seafloor were as much of a warning as any animal’s colorful aposematism, and yet I ignored them for my mind was on the potential of the perfect swimming spot.

The water was warm despite the recently chilled air, and the palm trees were pirouetting with the squall, which blew my hair to the left, sticking to my sunscreen, and playfully blinding my view of the blanketed sky. I fearlessly kicked at the incoming tide, and declared my greatness to the sea. I told it that I was unafraid of its depth and strength, and would defeat its slow movements in a game of tag any day. I stepped into the waters to begin the game, confident of the outcome.

When I was five years old, the ocean tried to steal me away, and what I can remember is enveloped in inky waters and jagged seaside basalt.

A stroke in the wrong direction, and the current greedily swallowed me whole. I can recall my hand clawing at the open air, but my eyes squinted past the salt as the rest of my body stayed under. My arrogance washed away with the last of my air as my scream was contained in quiet bubbles below the surface. No one was coming to help me.

In one last attempt to return to my life, I pushed my feet from the bottom of the sea floor towards a nearby jut of rock, slippery and speckled chartreuse. I hugged the basalt and ran forward, skidding across the recalling waves. I tumbled onto the dry dunes and away from the deafening sounds of the sea.

Still twelve years later, that moment snags on the daydreams of my lotus-eating mind. The soggy silencing fate that could have occurred

has injected a feeling of ironic kalopsia in some recent musings. I find now, that in the stress of college preparation, failed relationships, and countless sleepless nights, the endless black quiet of the ocean calls sweeter by the day.

However, there is always a lingering sense of life that will hold strong against the current for one to grab onto. And for me, it is the beaches I have not yet visited and waves I still must challenge. So while my thoughts will salt my eyes and pull me under in a blind frenzy, I will reach toward the Heavens, and cling to my basalt.

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Pearl Sculpture by August Moon ’24

Sometimes I lie straight. Other times I curl.

Sometimes I bounce.

Other times I swirl.

It doesn’t matter what I look like. Only where I come from, But everyone seems to focus on Making me feel glum.

Sometimes I’m simple Or adorned with the finest jewels.

Sometimes I have intricate designs Or I don’t follow the rules.

It doesn’t matter what I do. Only what I mean. I just wish that people would realize That I want to be seen.

Sometimes I have bad days Or I’m casually topped with a hat.

Sometimes people change me And I’m okay with that.

Ace Print
by Emma
My culture and ancestors, Who fought for serenity, Did this to their hair, To express their identity.
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—Bryce Wilson ’25
Issue 38 | 27

I once wished I was thinner. You would never see me eat dinner. I never felt like the perfect pretty princesses in magazines. Or the bewitching beauties behind the screens. They would wear skin tight jeans, so tight they couldn’t breathe.

If only I knew, they stuck on their teeth with glue. If only I knew, how they trashed and masked, painted their faces and ripped out their braces.

Words that once filled my vast sea of tangled thoughts, Images, stupefied and strangled my eyes until reality was nothing but knots. But now my vision is cured. I’m older and more mature. Though I’m not the one to praise. I’m not the one who yanked me out of this hopeless haze. I used to shatter at the sight of my own reflection, But now I welcome the shards of glass that mimic my complexion. So, a thank you to my mirror, For helping me see clearer.

The calm cold shiny surface is smooth to the touch. The soft stillness of each edge enhances every scar and stretch mark. The lingering luminescent light traces the glass just right.

I’ve learned to love all my blemishes and bumps. I’ve sought to see all my talents and triumphs. I’ve worked to welcome all my scars and secrets.

However, this competitive chase of personal penchant is not done yet. It’s not so easy to erase and dismiss my dismal debt. I’m afraid of the threat tightening around my throat, how it weaves my words and burdens my breaths. But even in every shortened, silent sigh, my mirror will continue to mimic the ravishing roundness of my thighs, and the glossy gaze cast from the black holes of eyes.

So, a thank you to my mirror, For helping me see clearer.

Mirror Digital Design by Zoë Coval ’23
All Kinds of Time
, Drawing by Micah Gura ’25

No heels

No sneakers with a heel

I am taller than every boy, girl, teacher

Even mom and sister

I hate being tall

Killing myself finding ways to get shorter, I Need to be shorter

All night long I study, what can I wear to be smaller?

How do I look petite? I Need to look petite

How do I look cute? I Need to look cute

How do I look like That Girl?

I squeeze my stomach, suffocating in disgust

Skinnier, smaller, anything to change the way I look

I Need to look like her, small and pretty

The boys like her, why not me?

How do I look like That Girl?

I starve, I cry, I color my hair

Does it need to be blonder?

Straighten it, fry it, soak it

I need to be blonde with straight hair

How do I look like That Girl?

I just wanna be pretty I want them to look at me

I Need be pretty I would do anything to look like That Girl.

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Might as well be a doll, When you drop me I’ll fall. Button eyes and painted smile. It’ll rub off in a while.

Trade in my yarn for blonde hair, And I’ll change what I wear. I’ll also need to get paper thin. So maybe then I’ll fit in.

Might as well stay in my box. I feel safe behind key and lock. Small head and big heart. But my plastic is torn apart.

Trade in my yarn for blonde hair, And I’ll change what I wear. I’ll also need to get paper thin. So maybe then I’ll fit in.

Might as well sit on my shelf. Even though I’ll be by myself. Chipped paint and strong thread. Too much dark in a little head.

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Trade in my yarn for blonde hair, And I’ll change what I wear. I’ll also need to get paper thin. So maybe then I’ll fit in.

Might as well undo my hem, Cause I’ll never look like them. Extra skin and pure soul. Why is this world so cold?

Trade in my yarn for blonde hair, And I’ll change what I wear. I’ll also need to get paper thin. So maybe then I’ll fit in.

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Once upon a time, used to wear dresses.

complain at ballet because the tights were too itchy. tear through books like they were burning. cry because Mom and Dad were the same polarity and couldn’t stick together. be an old soul. be bribed with nail polish to stop putting big blue pompoms in the Class Feeling Jar. be a daughter.

Not long ago abandoned half-sisters in the maws of Mr. Narcissism and Mrs. Neurotic. fought to keep the pride flag up for the wedding. pretended that focus on school was the reason friends were all gone. wasted two months of Mom’s salary and a dip into college funds to get diagnosed for a disorder that wasn’t there. dug two graves in a mental graveyard. stopped being a daughter.

Now, will wear blinders like a horse, induce tunnel visions of college? bottle up anger and sadness again, age it like cheap beer to drink at a house party?

quarentine/isolate, till the mask is allowed to come off? claw and rip at unwanted flesh, ache for what’s not there? ask rhetorical questions? become someone in life, like dreams and parents dictated? live long enough to find out?

start being a son?

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I’m somewhere new.

What do I do?

Where do I do?

When do I do?

I can finally be someone new.

“Who are you?”

I am changing myself. I like it, but I’m losing my root.

“You’re not you!”


“Who are you?”

“You’re not like me.”

Should I be like you?

Stay you, honey.

You’ll always have your past.

It won’t last ‘cause they don’t like me.

You stay you.

Won’t like the not you.

That’s not you.

Who are you?

Are you, you?

Become you.

—Mason Worsham ’25

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Issue 39 | 39
Photograph by Owen Larson ’22

there is so much i want to express in so little time, i am afraid i have not shared what i want to share, contributed what I need to contribute.

please i need more time, more opportunity, i know i can do more, i just need the chance. please let me stay.

i’m sorry. i am sorry. i do not know how to begin to tell you. the mistakes i have made were reckless, and nonsensical it’s all me, and you did not deserve it.

i tried my best, but my best wasn’t enough, i thought i did everything you asked, i am not sure how i failed, but i am disheartened that i did.

how much longer should i continue to beat myself up, live in the nauseating past, re-experience the dreadful nights, where you proved that i did not meet your expectations.

you know what, maybe these apologies are fake. i am imperfect, but i warranted none of what i received. you are the problem. you. not me.

there is so much more i am pining to tell you, ransom my anger, strain, and regret. but you are right, there is no time left.

i am not sorry.

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The Belly of the Beast

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Photograph by Owen Larson ’22

I love sunrises. I love sunsets.

I love

The feeling of rising my arms in the morning, Holding that deep and never-ending stretch, Rubbing my tired eyes.

I love the act of splashing my face with crisp cold water, Feeling my eyes brighten, widen.

I love

The act of opening my silly little tube of mascara, Painting my eyelashes and seeing their color darken. I love dabbing my fun little peachy pink stick along my cheekbones, Looking lively.

I love gliding my favorite lipgloss along my lips, An act that feels ever so familiar; I love being feminine.

I love

Putting on my favorite pair of Levis that fit my legs so well, nearly perfect. When my soft hair frames the edges of my face, Maybe I even love realizing I am beautiful.

I love Sunday mornings as the aroma of steamy hot coffee moseys its way into my nose.

I love drizzling syrup along my pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes. I love slicing up mounds of fresh fruit for my family, The sweet, juicy flesh melting in my mouth.

I love spending Saturday afternoons at Grape and Bean, Laughing carelessly among my coworkers, All older and different, but that doesn’t matter Because we have just that one thing in common.

I love the feeling of layering on the chalk that binds my hand to the bar.

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I love Releasing the bar, Flying through the air, Feeling my muscles

Move, unfold, extend, soar, In the routine they know so well.

I love catching the bar, The rush of adrenaline racing all throughout my body. I love the feeling of having the whole day in front of you; The fate of whether it’s good or bad Lies partially in your hands.

I love nighttime.

I love The way my fragrant lavender body gel lathers, Reading a page-turner until my eyes fail to open, Feeling my head on my warm fuzzy pillow before I drift off.

I like loving the little moments in life That bring me Joy.

—Sophie Carr ’23
Seeking Wonder
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Photograph by Codie Campbell ’23
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I Will NOT Shut Up and Dribble Photomontage
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by William Adams ’22

The bathroom its basic blue walls think they can foreshadow your purpose, you sit, in the corner, a monument of sedentariness, a paragon of rigidity. My dear old man, you know you’re set in your ways, like a mountain, a pyramid, a cathedral, a temple, you sit there, doing the same thing, 23 hours and 30 minutes each day, each year, housing your precious elixir.

I pull open the glass door I enter your hallowed chamber This bunker, This fortress, block me from the missiles of the outside world. I turn your silver handle all the way up, the key, the passcode, the bolt, unlocking your vault of liquid gold.

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Old man, I know you don’t like change; you release an icy avalanche, at first you’re stubborn, you make me wait, you only give me icy glaciers, lecturing me on the wisdom of patience. My persistence annoys, you want to be left in the peaceful ease of your solitary corner. “I’ve waited long enough,” I think, you show me your irritation, you dump an inferno on me, you make me fall in lava “Too warm.” I turn the handle back slightly. You, begrudgingly, accept my company.

Your water flows over me, falling into the drain enveloping me, consuming me; this waterfall of antidote is me. Heal my wounds, fade their gashes, take these pains into the drain. Rejuvenated, I step out of your sanctuary.

Shower, old friend, those blue walls underestimate your power. We have our disputes, I know, but you are my steadfast refuge: rejuvenated, I step out of your sanctuary, ready to brave the world.

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Quiet washes over its inhabitants, The threshold becomes a portal between worlds. Thoughts do not drift down a river, They strengthen like a riptide, Waves crashing against the rocks. They hold life.

A tree at the center filled with knowledge, Branches out in all directions. The roots ground us in history, Branches yield creativity and growth, Leaves are poetry, short stories, and novels, Giving us oxygen. They are humanity. We are reminded of who we were, And who we want to be.

All consuming, Those who dare to pick up one of its many volumes, Are transported into Heathcliff’s Heights, Madeline’s Monterey, Or Offred’s Gilead. A lover sweeps them off their feet, Unable to let go until the last page turns. Computers are tucked into backpacks, Keys rattle, Notebook pages chatter against each other as they shut. Footsteps thump one by one, Until the door opens. The body goes into shock as Ears adjust from the glare. As daily life resumes, So do the temptations to return.

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The Morning’s Touch

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Painting by Sophie Atkisson ’23 Hybiscus
Fire & Stones | 50
Drawing by Morgan Tracy ’22

The street, lined with tall, twinkling branches of pines, filling up the open air with arms reaching towards the stars and roots sinking into the cool earth.

If you were to walk by without taking a glance you may not notice the white buds that dust the outstretched arms in the springtime. Or the way the air is filled with green pollen and humidity. It’s the kind of air that sticks in your lungs when you step outside into the morningthe trees that lined the street are being reborn.

You may not notice the songbirds that fill the air in the summertime when their nests are filled with young chicks nestled within the emerald leaves that crowd the sky. Summertime storms never seem to disappoint, the rain sizzling on contact with the heat of the concrete. The air smells like summer when it rains; the trees are filled with life.

If you were to walk by, you may not notice the way the trees look when the air turns cool and the sun rises late. Or the way that your steps sound while walking on the pavement, how every movement is filled with a crunch of leaves beneath your feet. The way that yellows, reds, and oranges fill up the atmosphere. In a glance they’re gone, and it’s like they never even existed. The trees are moving on.

If you were to walk by, you may not notice how lonely the trees look without their leaves, how the atmosphere turns white in an instant and the air tickles your nose when you breathe or how we bring the trees inside for December. Oh, how I love to watch the seasons change, their shifts and turns over the year. Their uniqueness and vibrancy fill up our lives all in their own way.

Issue 39 | 51

Oh, fairness be thine, Zoom, The little blue icon In the corner of my little machine, The solution to public safety And pursuance of education.

The excuse

For an extra hour of sleep, For a lack of attendance, For a lack of preparedness, That you provide.

You let me hide my face When I feel ugly, Hiding behind a curtain Of an avatar That distills my character Into a single image.

Staring at my screen, I click the link, Waiting for my teacher To click admitA mutual exchange

Transmitting me Into a two-dimensional classroom.

Sudden intervals Of dogs barking, Babies wailing, And chairs squeaking Form a formal setting

Stripped of professionalism: A glimpse at true humanity.

Fire & Stones | 52

Awkward silence echos loud, Amplified by the keyboard strokes Of a poorly connected teacher; Words breaking, Derailing the lecture, And in the snap of a finger, Authority dissipates.

Breakout rooms start, The discussion ends. One leader is all it takes, Leading a masked army Of newly awkward scholars.

Oh, fair Zoom, You morph our class Into a mosaic of confined life, Carving my room Into a little rectangle; My own little plot That speaks with grass-green borders For flowers of discussion to grow.

Yet class starts In 5 minutes, And still I remain in bed.

Issue 39 | 53

Starting is infuriating. Watching the cursor. Racking your brain. Watching and waiting. Stalling until you can’t anymore.

The cursor. Blinks on. Blinks off momentarily. Blinks on. Blinks off momentarily. Watching and waiting, hoping for anything else to do.

My brain. Hurting thinking. Thinking of anything else. Anything but this. Stalling for time. Hoping for anything else. Anything.

Watching and waiting. Waiting and watching. Watching videos, stalling for time. Anything but starting. Please, no, not starting!

But eventually, no matter what happens, writing has to happen. Writing has to be done. It just has to.

Starting time. Starting something new. Restarting something. Trying, again and again, until it works. Waiting for a hook to bring me into the swing. Wanting to be pulled into the fog. Into the unknown. Into the unknown, into the unkno-o-o-own. Oooh-oh-oh-oh.

Rants make writing so much better. Losing yourself in the words. Writing until there’s nothing left. Ebbing and flowing with the tide. Inspiration coming in waves, not always predictable.

Fire & Stones | 54

Writing is like a piece of art in some ways. Allowing yourself to get lost. Saying what comes out and not always what you want. Not being able to control. Flowing and going, never stopping. Not for me, not for you, not for anyone. Just flowing and going.

So here’s to starting. Letting yourself get lost. Allowing everything to melt into the background until you only see the blinking cursor. Blink on, blink off. Forever.

Until, if I’m lucky, something appears. Almost like magic. Comes out of my forever blinking cursor, out of nowhere. Something in the nothingness of a blank white page. Something in a void, a vacuum. Something, from nothing. From nothing but flowing and going, flowing and going, flowing and going till going doesn’t work. So stopping is the only option.

Issue 39 | 55
Arctic Tundra
Fire & Stones | 56
Painting by Chris Hamam ’23

Articles inside

Ode to Zoom by Owen Larson article cover image

Ode to Zoom by Owen Larson

pages 54-55
21 by Iman Haddad article cover image

21 by Iman Haddad

pages 52-53
Showers by Finn Jensen article cover image

Showers by Finn Jensen

pages 48-49
Libraries by Maddy Carr article cover image

Libraries by Maddy Carr

page 50
Seeking Wonder by Codie Campbell article cover image

Seeking Wonder by Codie Campbell

page 45
Self-Portrait by Sophie Carr article cover image

Self-Portrait by Sophie Carr

page 44
abluvion by Carter Hansen article cover image

abluvion by Carter Hansen

page 42
I, Truly, He by Keith Bolen article cover image

I, Truly, He by Keith Bolen

page 39
Porcelain Standards by Zoë Coval article cover image

Porcelain Standards by Zoë Coval

pages 36-38
That Girl by Bramley Legg article cover image

That Girl by Bramley Legg

pages 34-35
Mirror by Zoë Coval article cover image

Mirror by Zoë Coval

page 31
Self Reflection by Zoë Coval article cover image

Self Reflection by Zoë Coval

page 30
Pearl by August Moon article cover image

Pearl by August Moon

page 27
Roots by Bryce Wilson article cover image

Roots by Bryce Wilson

page 28
Basalt by Lauren Irish article cover image

Basalt by Lauren Irish

page 26
Float by Tae Casagrande article cover image

Float by Tae Casagrande

pages 6-8
My Walk with Grandma by Elona Michael article cover image

My Walk with Grandma by Elona Michael

page 13
Panoply by Nyrique’ Butler article cover image

Panoply by Nyrique’ Butler

page 15
Human Error by Micah Gura article cover image

Human Error by Micah Gura

pages 16-19
The Storm’s Opera by Mollie Kemp article cover image

The Storm’s Opera by Mollie Kemp

pages 23-24
Filter by Henrik Deininger article cover image

Filter by Henrik Deininger

page 14
we keep moving by Maren Knutson article cover image

we keep moving by Maren Knutson

page 10
Moving Day by Mollie Kemp article cover image

Moving Day by Mollie Kemp

page 5