Literary and Arts Magazine
St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes Upper School 1000 St. Stephen’s Rd Alexandria, VA 22304 (703) 751-2700 www.sssas.org Issue # 35
Printer: Master Print, Newington Virginia © 2020 by Fire and Stones Printing: 4-color process Paper: 100# Silk Text Cover: 80# Silk Cover Ink: 4/c process 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 to the SSSAS community free of charge. Submissions: All submissions must be emailed to our faculty advisors as an attachment. We only consider material offered for first time publication. Artist and writers can submit 1-3 pieces per issue. Literature 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 3, 2020. The submissions were reviewed and selected from April 4 through April 10. We have a blind judging process for art and literature. For this issue, in order to ensure an unbiased voting process, each staff member used a digital form. This format ensures that the staff members’ votes cannot be swayed by the votes of other staff members. Permissions: No part of this publication may be produced without permission. All images are copyrighted. The arts and literature can only be reproduced with permission of the artists and authors. For additional information or how to obtain copies please email faculty advisors, Kate Elkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jill McElroy (email@example.com)
Editors Amy Gastright ‘21 Hudson Reynolds ‘20 Communications Director Anna Giardina ‘21 Co-Literary Editors Adrienne Lai ‘21 Louisa Treadway ‘21 Creative Director Lena Weiman ‘21
Staff Ana Bach ‘21 Eva Balistreri ‘21 Lily Bertles ‘22 Charles Bradburn ‘22 Wendy Buendia ‘20 Elise Hellmann ‘20 Ashlyn Lee ‘20 Victoria Lopez ‘22 Maren Knutson ‘22 Mimi Shea ‘22 Lizzie Sherman ‘22 Carlin Trevisan ‘21 Sophie VandeHei ‘20 Eliza Young ‘22 Faculty Advisors Kate Elkins Jill McElroy
Dear Reader, It seems we are tested time and time again, never getting a chance to catch our breath. It becomes easy to believe that the universe is out to get us. We tend to take on adversity alone, often hoping not to trouble others. However, it is in times like these where finding strength in one another is paramount. This issue of Fire & Stones is the product of collaboration, commitment to craft, and a dedication to celebrating creativity regardless of circumstance. We hope that this magazine gives you an opportunity to ground yourself in light of chaos and have confidence in the face of it. We wish you health and solace, regardless of the distance between us all.
Hudson Reynolds ‘20, Senior Editor
Queen — Lena Weiman ‘21
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Table of Contents Literature 10 12 15-16 18-19 20 27 28 31 34 36 39 40-41 42 44-46 48-51
Artwork 4 7 11 13 14 17 18-19 21 24-25 26 28-29 30 32 35 37 38 40-41 42-43 44-45 47 49
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Gatsby Olsen ’21, Thoughts and Prayers Grace Mykityshyn ’22, When Pixels Replace Us Charles Bradburn ’22, Locked Within Amber Dunton ’23, Beautifully Tragic Maren Knutson ’22, Musica in Mea Mentes Maria Simpson ’20, Petition… Lauren Irish ’23, The Cardinal and the Raven Foster Belevitz ’20, Together We Stand Six Feet Apart Lily Hunsicker ’23, Forgotten Lives On Amy Gastright ’21, The Place I Came From Ana Bach ’21, Quiet Chaos Adrienne Lai ’21, Theme for Belonging Amy Gastright ’21, Solis Mimi Shea ’22, i am all of the characters and a frog Louisa Treadway ’21, New Beginnings
Lena Weiman ’21, Queen, Digital Painting Lena Weiman ’21, All Wrapped Up, Drawing Noelia Vargas ’20, Cost of Sanity, Mixed Media Wendy Buendia ’20, Then and Now, Drawing Noelia Vargas ’20, Depths of Despair, Drawing Eva Balistreri ’21, Air, Photograph Ana Bach ’21, Repulsion, Collage Emma Hughes ’21, Okay, Collage Catherine Seale ’21, Deserted Village, Drawing Louisa Treadway ’21, Out Damned COVID-19, Digital Drawing Caroline Grace Butler ’21, National Emergency, Sculpture, photograph Clay Waller ’21, Even the Safest Aren’t Safe, Digitl Drawing Lena Weiman ’21, Technicolor Peril, Digital Design Andrew Knops ’20, Golden Gate, Photograph Ashlyn Lee ’20, Hope and Butterflies, Fashion, photograph, drawing Monty Montgomery ’21, The Moving Walkway, Photograph Catherine Seale ’21, Café Society, Oil Painting Chris Milton ’20, Light, Digital Drawing William Adams ’22, Skateboarding, Digital Drawing Ryan Felsenthal ’20, Tunnel, Photograph Lily Altree ’21, Place, Drawing
Front Cover: Hudson Reynolds ’20, Satore’s Antrozous, Drawing Back Cover: Noelia Vargas ’20, Panic Room, Mixed Media Chapter Dividers: Excerpts from Invictus, by William Ernest Henley, 1888
All Wrapped Up — Lena Weiman ‘21
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Thoughts and Prayers — Gatsby Olsen ‘21
And all I heard were the words, ‘This is not a drill.’ *** I positioned myself in front of the door with the scissors. I had a weapon. If anyone was going to die, it was going to be me. I couldn’t let anyone die for me. *** I texted my parents telling them how fortunate I was to have had them in my life. I said I was sorry for not being kind to them. I said goodbye. *** If they had evacuated through the windows I wouldn’t have been able to make it. Thoughts and Prayers. Send meaningless pieces of mind whilst we lose our peace of mind. And when we cry, they say be thankful. They say shake it off. Laugh it off. They say it was nothing.
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Cost of Sanity — Noelia Vargas ‘20
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When Pixels Replace Us — Grace Mykityshyn ‘22
your lifeless eyes dance in sync with the glow and I can see it deepening enhancing your thoughts as it shines through a glossy window a world at your disposal by the simple of a button you hide behind the
but is that really you?
username perfect picture flirtatious texts
it’s a fictional world where beauty is seen through photos not interactions emotions are expressed through emojis not facial expressions we spend more time talking through text not face to face no wonder the world feels we experience things through people
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empty a fictional place with who don’t exist
Then and Now — Wendy Buendia ‘20
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Depths of Despair — Noelia Vargas ‘20
— Charles Bradburn ‘22 The cold wind blew across her body, and, despite her clothing, she felt the cold run down her spine. She knew the sudden gust of wind was caused by Him coming back, probably bringing more gifts for her, gifts she didn’t want or need. “Honey, I’ve brought you some pears to eat!” She heard Him yell across the house, “Archimedes was wondering why I was buying so much food. I told him I was eating a lot these days.” He chuckled and walked into the room she was in. “So how was your day my love?” He walked slowly toward her, His fingertips grazing against her forearm and up her shoulder. She pushed down a shudder of revulsion and stood there as His hand drifted across her body. “I missed you all day,” He said moving closer and pulling Himself into her arms, “It was all I could do to prevent myself from running back here to you.” She knew He would talk to Himself for a little while longer before He went off to the other parts of the house. It seemed, however, that something kept Him by her for a little while longer. “I went to Aphrodite today.” His face was expectant as His icy gaze traveled up and down her body. “I asked her to give me the perfect woman for me, so I thought…” Saddened by the lack of reaction, He started to leave before something caught His eye. A single strand of hair, laying on the ground next to his paintbrush. His wrath was immense. “Who else has been here!” He screamed in her face. The slight, bitter scent of pomegranate wine was overpowering and painful. “Who else has seen you! Has touched you!?” He started looking wildly around the room before taking a chisel and hammer, striking her with both. “I know you saw them! Tell me!” The pain was too powerful and rendered her mute. She knew He had cut her and could feel the blood, even if she couldn’t see it right then. He stalked out of the room, taking the terrible smell with Him, and she knew He must be searching the house. A shout was heard from what she presumed was the paint room, which was usually locked. He rushed back into the room and got in her face. “Be warned, my love, if I find out you’ve been unfaithful in ANY way, you’ll have a lot worse than that mark on your arm!” “I’ve been waiting all day for this; I will not have it marred by a thief,” He whispered softly in her ear. The next morning, He helped her back up, and as he did, tore off the thin clothes she still had on. “You won’t be needing these today, my love.” His grin scared her. “I’ll be back before sundown. I must go pray to Aphrodite again. She must find me the perfect girl!” Issue 35 | 15
As He left, she let out a sigh and looked quickly around the room. Nothing was out of place, and all the windows were closed, because, even though He was a freak, Pygmalion was a widely known man in the city. She knew it would be a while before He returned, so she contemplated what The Goddess had told her. She would have to be swift. She would definitely take Him by surprise, but how long might that last? She spent all day thinking of this before she heard the door slam shut and had only a few seconds to prepare herself before He burst into the room. “Good, you kept those pesky clothes off. I’m glad.” He turned away from her and she could see tears in His eyes. “The fires in Her temple rejected me. I’ll never get my perfect wife.” He suddenly looked at her with anger in his eyes. “Which means you’re not perfect. You’re just like all the other stupid, pathetic women out there!” He gestured to the window before closing it, with one swing of a hinge, shutting down the breeze that had been running through the house. He approached her and slapped His hammer against her shin, breaking one of her legs. “You were supposed to be perfect, to marry me!” He brought the hammer down again and the pain in her arm was replaced by the emptiness of not having one anymore. His rage had not subsided until a pile of marble lay before Him. With one of her eyes, she saw him collapse and sob into His hands. She was not worried, as this had happened before, and also because the pain was so great, she could feel nothing other than agony. A voice whispered in her ear, soft and lilting, like the voice of a lover. “Now. You must do it now my darling.” She couldn’t see how. She would have to wait until He put her back together again for that. “No, it must be now!” The voice grew louder, but no less caring and sweet. She asked the voice how it should be done. It answered, unfeeling for Him. “Any way you see fit, my darling.” As a burst of magic hit her, she could feel herself reforming and reshaping, turning from rubble back to solid marble, and then, that cold, unfeeling marble was given the breath of life. Her limbs could move, and she could now speak. “W-what has happened!?” He asked incredulously as she picked up His chisel. “Nemesis sends her regards, my love.” With a swift swing, all the pain in her life fell away and, despite only living as cold, unfeeling marble before, a burst of elation flowed through her. He was gone! With one final swing, she pushed open the windows and breathed in the warm air, happy to finally be free. Fire & Stones | 16
Air — Eva Balistreri ‘21
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Beautifully Tragic — Amber Dunton ‘23
They call me beautifully tragic. Lipstick the color of the bleeding acne scars on my back, Cheeks highlighted with tears for today’s pain and yesterday’s past, Golden hair rumpled and thinning from ragged hands running through it, The day’s anxieties scratched on arms, accented by an old sweatshirt, Clothes fraying at the wispy seams as they become too small,
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Chipped nail polish on ugly fingers, bitten so deep they bleed, Subtle dark circles caked with cheap drugstore concealer, Pain and stress fleeting across eyes lined with running mascara smudges, Fears hidden with crooked lies, Lies hidden with frozen smiles, Oh yes, I am beautifully tragic.
Repulsion â€” Ana Bach â€˜21
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Musica in Mea Mentes — Maren Knutson ‘22
i have music in my mind melodies in my soul songs running through my blood lyrics everywhere i go but you said i was flat that i wasn’t even that good that you were surprised i would show the world who i was i look back on my past songs and wonder what people thought of me then surely what you have always thought “looking for attention” “trying too hard” “just being polite” lying to me all this time friends family and strangers protecting me from the truth that you do not hesitate to share so now i’m scared to sing to belt, to hum, to harmonize for fear that the music that comes out of me won’t be mine anymore
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Okay — Emma Hughes ‘21
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Deserted Village — Catherine Seale ‘21
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Out Damned COVID-19 — Louisa Treadway ‘21
Petition for a Home Epidemiologist — Maria Simpson ‘20
Hello Doctor, My name is Rachel Smith. You probably don’t get many letters from teenage girls on a Tuesday afternoon and I’m sure you’re rather busy due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but I was wondering if I could maybe hire you? After being told by countless friends I should get medical support, I decided to reach out. They’d tell me, “You should really look into therapy with all this anxiety you have. Therapy is for everyone!” and while this is true, I think what I really need is my own personal Epidemiologist. Okay, hear me out: a regular therapist would just tell me I’m struggling to find control in my life and like there’s nothing I can do but focus on the little things - the things I can control. But you see, they could not bring me any true comfort as all I want are answers. Suggestions for our sessions together: A BuzzFeed-esque quiz that predicts my chances of survival, listing out all of the essential medicines I need, telling me the REAL time we will get out of here (I know they’re all lying about June - just give it to me straight, I can take it!), maybe getting me up to date on all those shots my mom told me to get but I pushed off because the woman flicking the needle lookd really scary (proof that you should always do what your mom says, she is ALWAYS right). Hey, I mean you’re technically a doctor, maybe you can try out prescribing me Xanax or something I don’t know (just a thought tho)? Also, you could answer a few of my questions, like is what I’m having really shortness of breath or am I forgetting how to breath? Don’t think I’m crazy, I’m talking about when you’re focusing on your breathing so hard that you forget what a normal breath feels like and you start taking these really weird long breaths or forget to tell yourself to breathe in. I’m not insane right? It’s like when you think of blinking and then you become super aware of every time you blink, thinking about the last time you closed your eyes and how now your eyes feel dry and you have a very strong urge to blink again (sorry if I made you think too hard about blinking). Anyway, I think that having you here would be better for me than a therapist. All I want are answers; I don’t care how grim the answers are. I just need to know certain things and a therapist can’t give me that comfort. Stay safe, Rachel Smith P.S. I really think you should consider making that BuzzFeed quiz even if you don’t take me up on my offer.
The Cardinal and the Raven â€” Lauren Irish â€˜23
I am a bird, a crimson red cardinal I fly along with the even breeze I nest in a large maple tree, my home of branches I seize They came one day and knocked it down, my wonderful maple tree I flew away, found their solemn grey homes Their faces covered with a strap of white They coughed and they hacked and I watched them go One by one, until there was none I soar above their abandoned homes and yards The sky is blue again What made them go I think I know Their downfall was their destruction of the earth, it was of their own device I am a bird, an onyx black raven I fly against the harsh blowing winds I nest in a pipe, my home of branches I fought for They could not remove me, from my home in the pipe Their faces covered with a strap of white I would not fly away, despite the obvious signs The disease began slowly, but soon it began to take lives One by one, until there was none I soar above their abandoned homes and yards The sky is gray again What made them go I think I know Their downfall was a disease, not of their own device
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National Emergency — Caroline Grace Butler ‘21
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Even the Safest Aren’t Safe — Clay Waller ‘21 Fire & Stones | 30
Together We Stand Six Feet Apart — Foster Belevetz ‘20
I spread like a wildfire in a dry forest. I’m silent like a wolf through the woods. I bring utter chaos everywhere I go. Where I go, sadness follows. People lose jobs and money, and stock markets collapse. Schools and businesses shut down, and restless kids, eager to enjoy the new warmth of the spring, must stay inside. Athletes who have been training their whole lives for this year are crushed as they must sit at home and think about what could have been. High school and college seniors must spend their last year with their friends looking at each other through a screen. All of this is because of me. I cancel sports seasons and bring major cities to a halt. I cause fear and distrust making everyone feel like they might be next. I have no mercy for those who live paycheck to paycheck. I could care less about canceling events that cannot be rescheduled. I cause things to happen that have not happened in a hundred years. Untouchable organizations and traditions crumble beneath my feet. I am the epitome of darkness, evil, death, and despair. Yet, friends gather on Facetime to talk and spend time together. People applaud from their apartments as courageous workers roam the streets in effort to defeat me. Random people play music to complete strangers on their balconies to create a little happiness. And somehow life goes on, but just in a different way. I try my hardest to crush the spirits of everyone. Everything in the world is different for the worse. Yet people are resilient and look forward, coming up with creative ways to both enjoy and enlighten themselves in times of trouble. I do not understand how. Even though they are six feet apart, people stand together strong. I will keep trying to tear them down. Somehow, though, I don’t think I’ll win.
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Technicolor Peril — Lena Weiman ‘21
Forgotten Lives On:
(Response poem to “Let It Be Forgotten” by Sara Teasdale) — Lily Hunsicker ‘23 We will all be forgotten. So it is a mistake to believe that Flowers will stay in bloom. The truth is Life will just shrivel up and die. So never believe that The fire will breathe for eternity. Because, in reality, The gold flames will eventually lose their hue. So do not be convinced by the deceitful lie that Our footprints last forever. Instead, remember that Nature will have its way, covering up the tracks we have paved for a millennium. So it is wrong to assume that Seasons cycle: with every death, there is a new beginning. The truth could not be more clear: Winter is the end, a landscape frozen in time. So do not be tricked into thinking that The memory will live on through the hearts of others. Because, whether we acknowledge it or not, the truth is It will be forgotten. So it is a mistake to believe that Time will remember another side. (Now read from the bottom line to the top)
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Golden Gate — Andrew Knops ‘20
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The Place I Came From — Amy Gastright ‘21
There’s a filter that exists over small towns like the place I came from, a gauzy filter like being drunk, or woozy, or just tired. It shimmers in sunlight, and it smells like dirt, and it holds everything in place. Or do we hold it in place? In a place like that, with a filter like that, roots run deep, real deep, almost as deep as grudges. Dirt roads and dust buckets and shimmering hot wind and somewhere I came from a long time ago. Sixteen. Sneaking out, letting my bare toes touch the dust beneath my ground floor window. Running for that boy’s rusty pick-up truck with all the giggling girls in the back and the jabbering jocks in the cab and the moon overhead, mocking us for our youth. Momma said, ‘don’t you go near that circus tent’, so we went. We had to if she told us not to: that was the rule. Stripes and tights and too much skin, and dancing and music and magic. It was magic. We howled like wolves to no one at all, and all at once the world froze and spun so fast. When we walked through the tent flaps the smell of dirt finally washed away, and the razor-sharp edge of not-reality cut the gauze right off us. When the night was over and the sun peeked from behind the tree line, it seemed like we had been there for moments and for days and for years. We packed the tents and they shouted goodbye and I let go of the frayed edges of the old reality and I let go and I let go and I let go. Of fear, of shame, of roots, and of grudges, I let go of it all. And when my feet left the ground and I let go of all those strings, I was gone.
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Hope and Butterflies — Ashlyn Lee ‘20
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The Moving Walkway — Monty Montgomery ‘21
Quiet Chaos — Ana Bach ‘21
Sound waves of high tempos throughout the undiscovered places of my body Places where feeling had been numbered or absent They teach me that it is okay to feel things without sharing them That it is okay to keep my thoughts safe, unexposed to the toxicity of the extramural The curtains are drawn The empty stage emphasizes the energy but lacks the radiance of the individual An environment where light and the outside world are forgotten Where light is substituted with darkness Only glimpses of warmth in the brisk crimson and cool cobalt are displayed I am surrounded by others who have a love and appreciation for the craft We wait patiently together Waiting for the moment when the healing begins That’s when it starts The music echoes, the bass becomes louder and louder until it consumes the whole room A weight has been lifted while heat from the others starts to rise I start to sweat, but I don’t care It’s not my concern My concern is that the more I want, the longer my pain will dwell All I ask is that a swift voice with passion come and rescue me from this dark hole of noise Mindless noise, where I am foreign to the language others are fluent in The sea of raging people starts to intertwine and push until they are closer than close The cheers are overwhelming but interpreted as a signal that the artist is ready to perform The lyrics of the first song are sung The glowing persona of the performer is enough to bring me to my knees A single strum of a guitar drowns out the constant ache my heart endures Butterflies are trapped within the lining of my stomach This only makes their fluttering faster A weight has been lifted I am finally quiet A moment where chaos can feel invigorating Where spontaneity is cherished Until the vibration comes to a close as well as the curtain The masses are then forced to face the real world, where the hurting meets no end They go back to their everyday lives, hoping that what was felt can be felt again Issue 35 | 39
Theme for Belonging â€” Adrienne Lai â€˜21
I am a seventeen-year-old girl from Alexandria, Virginia. I live surrounded by red, brick sidewalks, quaint, secure townhouses, and medians of sprouting trees that make the asphalt roads look less gloomy. Halloweens in Cameron Station are spent with hundreds of children giddily running from houses lining Ben Bremen Park (an oasis in our suburb filled with the clinks of a baseball on a well-swung bat, geese that flutter beside paths looking for new friends, and a pond where fish are fed exclusively with bread) to the grand apartment building beside Samuel Tucker Elementary School. Each year, families leave as children grow older, which makes me, a junior in high school, a rare sight. While friends have moved away, I cannot imagine living anywhere besides the friendly, squat, brick sanctuary with a welcoming garden of dried flora that is my home.
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I am from many different places. When introducing myself, I take a deep breath and say that I am from Alexandria, Virginia, which, depending on who I am talking to, can mean different things: Alexandria, a northern city adjacent to Washington, D.C., or Virginia, a southern state where people address adults with “Ma’am” and “Sir.” Normally, I am also asked where my parents are from, and I respond with, “they are from Hong Kong.” Like Alexandria, Hong Kong has a variety of connotations: a prosperous Chinese port, a former British colony, or a westernized city that has strayed from its Chinese culture. These conflicting viewpoints are the reason that, when asked where I am from, even if it is what school I go to, the room seems a bit brighter, the faces look more attentively toward mine, and my back straightens to make the delivery of the words perfect, for I know certain characteristics will be placed beside my name in my audience’s head once the words leave my mouth. I hope these adjectives involve kind, loving, and energetic, since I love to spend soft, spring days spotting spectacularly shaped clouds, laughing under a canopy of trees, or skipping off into the pale, blue sky with friends. One could add the adjective nerdy, due to my obsession with Survivor, fangirl squeals during discussions of my favorite book, and desire to learn more. Maybe even crazy, due to my insane love of a hard challenge and aggressive excitement. For these small pleasures shape the joy locked inside my heart just as much as my environment does. I am not only from Virginia, but from cookies and cream ice cream, The Princess Bride, card games, mahjong, sporadic dancing, dreaming, optimism, and innocence, too. I am from the Broadway show tunes I listen to more than I care to admit, alertness after a deep sleep, and the comforting lull of dreams. I am from syntax errors, infinite loops, patched up rockets, and popsicle stick bridges. I am from the wonderful miracles of life along with the equally important sad moments. I am from group hugs, hope, and love, which make any place one where I belong.
Cafe Society, — Catherine Seale ‘21
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â€” Amy Gastright â€˜21 I remember the sun. The way it shone through tree canopies like stained glass and rendered my skin spotted. The way it warmed asphalt even on cool days. We used to lay in the road, like they did in The Notebook, except in the day. We used to spread out like starfish, close our eyes and just let the sun embrace us. How strange that a star so lonely shines so warm and kind. How giving. We used to lay on the asphalt and spread out our arms and close our eyes and just stop for a moment. We stayed still, and let the Earth spin us round till we were dizzy. Our hands reached for each other, desperate for comfort and solace, stretching miles across two yellow lines. We stretched out our arms, reaching like astronauts against the roaring winds of time passing and spinning space, silently crying pull me closer. We would let our hands rest side by side, warmed by each other and the sun. Vigil. Reverence. A moment in infinite moments, given back to the solitary star.
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Light — Chris Milton ‘20
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i am all of the old man characters and also the frog â€” Mimi Shea â€˜22 this is an ode to summer. to peach trees, to citrus air, to bike rides down the street with your helmet buckled on until mom canâ€™t see you anymore, then letting your silk hair flow through the lemongrass clouds a season when it was once said that being alone is not being lonely. it makes no sense but it means everything when you feel it in your blood.
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my hair is tied loosely above my neck, wisps of frizz tickling my cheeks i feel like a blobfish, meaning i am melting with your love. i melt with the earth, until i am one with it. my mosquito bites are kissing each other on the backs of my thighs, a consequence of sitting on pavement, but it was worth it to be able to love you again
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breathing isn’t fun when asthma forms plasma in your lungs and you feel them closing up the more you run, but maybe it is when you breathe so happily, it pulls the moon to you, maybe breathing was made for you and the sky childhood cartoons on a fingerprinted screen, you tell me i am all of the old man characters and also the frog, i say this is my favorite color sky you say it’s hopeful, it’s a sunrise and i love you for that tonight is a fever dream: we hold our futures in our hands making clouds with our fists air like fresh-cut grass reminds me of home, and look at mother moon. i hope she is happy with nature, for she only sees it when the sun is dead. the wind is nice, you say, it feels like heaven and i love you for that. trees like shark bites cutting the clouds and shattering the sunrise into pieces Sunrise: colors melding into a cacophony of sky and echoes of your laugh residue make the corners of my smile curve up towards the sun. tell me all of those nice things you said before, like if you were a bug you’d be an ant because you carry the weight of my love on your back you are an orb, child, and we are the people of the sun, the stargazers, the orderers of the constellations. we keep you in our minds like memories of the dead, only you are true and living. you are my favorite memory.
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Tunnel — Ryan Felsenthal ‘20
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— Louisa Treadway ‘21 My Darling Lou Lou, As an obstetrician gynecologist, my job was always about new beginnings. The start of a new family. The beginning of a new life. In my more than sixty years as a physician, I have realized that my life has been defined by fresh starts. I’m writing you this letter because it occurred to me the other day that I have never told you about how I came to the United States or why I left Canada. I could tell you this in person, but I want you to have a record of my story. I fear I will soon approach Shakespeare’s seventh stage of man — second childishness. Sans strength, sans control, sans memory, sans everything. It is my hope that through this letter you will always have a part of me, and my story can have the same life as Shakespeare’s lovely and temperate summer day. I can picture it just as if it was yesterday. My brother Dick drove me to the airport in my old car. I was gripping my seat for dear life because Dick loved to speed, and when I bought the car I only had enough money to buy a seat belt for the driver’s seat. “Well dear Ian, are you absolutely sure you’re making the right decision?” my brother asked. He had the look in his eyes he always gets when he’s about to give me a long, boring lecture on a dense topic, like the evolution of homosapiens, so I tried to answer him before he started in on a tangent. “Dick, I could not marry her. She’s not the one.” Before I met your grandmother, I was engaged to a woman named Mary Armstrong. I met Mary when I was in medical school at the University of Toronto. I’m not sure when in our engagement I realized I could not marry her. Whether it slowly rolled over me like a river or hit me square in the chest like a speeding bullet, I couldn’t tell you. I just knew that I had made a huge mistake in proposing, and she was not the one. “Ian, moving to a different province is one thing, but America?!” “Dick, Dr. Armstrong made it clear that I would never be able to practice medicine in Canada. I have dreamed of becoming a doctor my entire life. I can’t give that up now even if that means starting over.” Mary’s father was on the board of the Toronto General Hospital where I worked, and after I broke off the engagement he told me that he would make sure I never practiced medicine at the General or any other hospital in Canada. Dick continued to try to convince me to stay and figure out some alternative solution as we arrived at the airport and he walked me to the gate. “But, Ian, your entire life is here in Canada — your home, Grandma and Grandpa Anderson’s house on Lake Simcoe, your University friends, Dad, our dear mother Pinkie, and me. Ian, we have always been a team, like when we helped build that highway in order to pay for med school or —” Fire & Stones | 48
Place — Lily Altree ‘21
Issue 35 | 49
“Digging graves in order to help Pinkie pay the bills and feed us. Yes, isn’t that every twelve-year-old’s favorite boyhood memory? You know, if Dad actually gave a damn about us and worked hard we wouldn’t have had to do that.” “Stop that,” Dick cut me off, “he did his best.” Dick has always tried to put the past in a better light, but like trying to colorize a black and white photograph, the past looks like an unrealistic dream. “Ian, I’m trying to say that I’ve always been there to protect you and I cannot protect my little brother if he’s off all alone in New York. I mean, they couldn’t even protect their own president from getting killed.” As we reached the gate, I sighed exasperatedly, “I’m not President Kennedy and —” “I know,” he said, relenting. “I’m just trying to say that I’m going to miss you.” “I will miss you, too. Remember that song Pinkie used to sing?” “You mean, Wish me luck as I wave you goodbye,” he started to belt. “Cheerio here I go on my way.” I began to shuffle with the other passengers onto the little plane. “Give me a smile that I’ll keep all the while.” Unlike the Pilgrims’ long journey on the Mayflower, my flight was fairly short, maybe only an hour or two. “In my heart while I’m away.” On the flight, I thought of the life I was leaving behind, “Wish me luck as I wave you goodbye,” and my new life to come. “Cheerio here I go on my way.” When I landed in New York, I was greeted by Harold Tovell. He smiled at me with his piercing blue eyes. He reminded me of the Candian piano player Glenn Gould. Maybe that was because he, like me, was a Toronto native and a fellow graduate of the University of Toronto. When I was searching for a hospital to join in the U.S., he offered me a job. Harold Tovell was the chairman of the Obstetrics Department at Women’s Hospital in New York City. When I arrived in New York, he helped me start my private practice and gave me my first patient in America. Dr. Tovell, like Lady Liberty, used his torch of imprisoned lightning to guide me to New York, the city of dreams and opportunity. I owe the launch and success of my early career in this great country to him, and I will be forever in his debt. A year after I started my new beginning in New York, I found another beginning. I was doing my rounds at the Women’s Hospital. I was on my way Fire & Stones | 50
to meet with Harold Tovell, and I hopped on the elevator with a man pushing a dirty laundry hamper. The rattling hum of the elevator and the chiming of each approaching floor had become the soundtrack of my work days. Then the elevator doors opened like the gates of heaven. The elevator’s monotonous creaks and chimes transformed into a heavenly chorus. What caused this change, you might ask. Well, to put it simply, when the elevator doors opened, I came face to face with a six-foot tall angel. “Is there room for one more?” she asked. “Yes ma’am,” the laundry man said. She walked to the other side of the laundry hamper. Her blond curls bobbed up and down like a buoy guiding lost sailors to harbor. She radiated strength like the sun on a summer day. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. I had to talk to her. “Uh hi. Um, I’m Ian Van Praagh.” She turned to face me and smiled. I felt like my entire body was electrified. “I’m Flicka Delafield. What part of the hospital do you work in?” she asked. “Obstetrics and Gynecology, and you?” “I’m the director of Social Services,” she replied. “Do you want to have lunch with me?” I asked. I was so afraid that she was going to say no. It would have made sense. I mean, who in their right mind would have lunch with someone who they just met next to a laundry hamper. But to my surprise and joy, she agreed. You know the rest of the story. Your Granny and I got married two years later in the middle of a blizzard worthy of Canada, Dick moved to Boston to practice pediatric cardiology, we had your mom and two uncles, and spent our time between the City and Long Island. From my American new beginning, I got to have my American story — I got to practice medicine, I met the one, had three wonderful children, and five amazing grandchildren, including you. So, be open to new beginnings in your life. They might take you to someplace special. Love Always, Cappa
Issue 35 | 51
During this unprecedented time in history, we found solace and inspiration in a poem published in 1888.
â€” William Ernest Henley Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowed. Beyond this place of wrath and tears Looms but the Horror of the shade, And yet the menace of the years Finds and shall find me unafraid. It matters not how strait the gate How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.
A Literary and Art magazine produced by the students of St. Stephen's and St. Agnes Upper School.