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The Laughing Medusa

Women’s Literature and Arts Journal Spring 2019 Boston College Round 2: Volume 14

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The Laughing Medusa Editors and Council EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Taylor Puccini DIRECTORS OF SUBMISSIONS Sonja Goldman Maggie McQuade DIRECTORS OF PUBLICITY Margherita Bassi Christin Snyder Jordan Tessler

WEB EDITORS Rose Dornon Celia Smithmier COUNCIL MEMBERS Jennessa Bryson Emma Campbell Ji-Won Ha Katherine Oksen Lexie Slotterback Francesca von Krauland

Many Thanks For Your Support: Mary Crane and The Institute for the Liberal Arts (ILA) Akua Sarr Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Peter Marino, Jacqueline Delgado, & Susan Dunn at the Center for Centers Mark Pinkham and staff at Flagship Press

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Table of Contents Untitled Cover Emmy Paulson Interior with Goldfish Bethany Falcon

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Oceans of Time Emily Zhao

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this was before I knew Sonja Goldman

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The Kingdom of Cosmic Will Natasha Zinos

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Conversation with Myself in the Bathroom at Dawn Taylor Puccini

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Provisional metamorphosis Julia Nagle

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Untitled Emma Hardy

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Yelena Emily Pollock

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The Hunt Julia Perry

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Bloodshot Emma Campbell

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Ode to Raspberry Seeds and Their Holy Blood-Letting Christin Snyder

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Self-Portrait of My House Kate Haverstock

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Monologue From My Mother Katherine Oksen

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Eve at Sunset Natasha Zinos

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sanctify Emma Roney Lights Behind the Trees Amy Yang

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Un-falling 31 Jennessa Bryson Body 32 Kate Haverstock

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Both, All. Francesca von Krauland

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“have you been writing lately?� Katherine Oksen

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Untitled Emma Hardy

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Eulogy Emily Pollock

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motherhood, 1968 Celia Smithmier

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Butterfly Clips Emma Campbell

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Pop Margherita Bassi

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What Is and Is Not Julia Nagle

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Baby’s First Protest: en Stroller Taylor Puccini

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we the people Lexie Slotterback

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Untitled Emma Hardy

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Living with a Body Samantha Kramer

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Glitter Girl Sonja Goldman

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anguish 56 Katherine Oksen Untitled 57 Emma Hardy Dear Mom Sonja Goldman

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Anatomy of Her Kate Haverstock

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Love and Socks Margherita Bassi

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The Soup Guy Lily Hicks

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Untitled 63 Emma Hardy My Honeycomb Taylor Puccini Travels Kelly O’Donovan

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marbled Katherine Oksen

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I Bled Through My Menstrual Cup Emma Campbell

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Send to Mom Sabrina Black

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85% Complete: A Girl’s Guide to Femininity Taylor Puccini

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The Vase Katherine Oksen

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Frog Emma Campbell

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Small Talk about the Weather Julia Nagle

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Exerpt from Force of Habit Andrea Chacon

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Reflection 79 Kelly O’Donovan

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i think you smell like my travel shampoo and Celia Smithmier

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To the boy in the BU basement Emma Campbell

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The Fall Jennessa Bryson

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Hidden Pills Sonja Goldman

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Spiral Emily Zhao

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What I Know of the Rain Julia Nagle

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Untitled 87 Kate Haverstock Esperanza en Esperar: Sestina Hope in Waiting: Sestina Carolina de Armas

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Untitled 90 Carolina Gazal Am I Made to Break? Sonja Goldman Paralyzed Emily Zhao

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This is how it feels to do her laundry: Christin Snyder

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Landscape of the Cataclysm / Portrait of Survivor Kate Haverstock

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Mission Statement The Laughing Medusa seeks to engage the Boston College community with the artistic works of diverse women. This journal provides a safe space for talented young women to express and examine our lives. We aim to emphasize and explore our collective humanity, and hope that all readers can see themselves in these pages.

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Dear Reader: The atmosphere of change on Boston College’s campus has inspired a year of growth for our magazine. As we’ve gathered these pages over the last few months, there have been many moments, both within our community and beyond, that have encouraged us to reconsider what we stand for as The Laughing Medusa. We are proud to see our contributors transform their personal experiences into forms of artistic expression. Their authenticity and vulnerability shaped this publication. It is with pride and excitement that we release the 2019 edition of the Medusa, a time capsule of strength, healing, and empowerment. Compiling this year’s magazine has been both dynamic and fulfilling. We hope that your reading experience compels you to reflect on how far you have come and where you can still go. It is our distinct honor to provide a space in which BC’s women can represent themselves unapologetically. As always, we hope that the content you’ll find in this issue challenges you to pick up a pen, camera, or paintbrush and create something yourself. We strive to continually evolve as you do—and collaboration with our contributors makes this possible. We look forward to growing together in the years to come.

The Laughing Medusa Council

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Interior with Goldfish In the glass bowl, the quiet swish of fin brushing forward and back smearing against the pane. The consequence: a small wave. She doesn’t feel like she used to. She says she tires of the city like one gets tired with a good book read over and over and over. Here the walls are blue and it rains. Cigarette smoke fogs the kitchen. I wipe my plate clean with a piece of bread. There is a plant in the corner overgrowing its small ceramic pot. It leans toward a shut window as if it searches for the sun in all this blue. Bethany Falcon

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Oceans of Time

Emily Zhao

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this was before I knew I had potential to help, to hold, to lift myself off the ground: in August I rest myself one strand by one strand I let myself decompress, melt each milky bone into pure confectioner’s sugar. I rip off the dead skin cells unraveling in every single direction off my body maybe this is toxic, but I’m driving backwards through the seasons the season with gold tinted leaves, I call it October. I let each vein connect, one by one, until I am hydrated with blood. I feel alive again. loosely I follow the chilled wind like tree roots exploding from the dark I trust them: I trust nature, I trust my body it is due time Sonja Goldman

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The Kingdom of Cosmic Will

Natasha Zinos

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Conversation with Myself in the Bathroom at Dawn Within this millennium, my body will produce thousands of eyelashes; and I will coat them in black before littering this wide earth with wishes. My first will be for you, just within the mirror: mouth wide, wand drawn as you try not to look at yourself. One thousand uncorked genies lack the magic to pull your gaze from the crooked arc between your eyes, a messy product of Italian design. And stars arc the atmosphere but move too fast to get you to look beyond your layers of skin on skin on skin, moon-colored and full of micro-craters. If the wind stripped every dandelion to stem, you would still flinch at your own stalk, a naked abundance taking up too much room before the shower begins to drip drip drip. Wishbone snap doesn’t sound like luck to you; it’s your flesh at the bottom of the stairs when you miss one and you betray your body. But your body does not betray you— remember, within this millennium, it will produce thousands of eyelashes. It will litter this wide earth with wishes so that everyday feels like a birthday even when there’s no candle, no light, no wish you think you need to make. 16

Taylor Puccini


Provisional metamorphosis the feel of paper on skin is a hideous affair but your nectarine-silk spots make me weep butterfly on hot cement can’t float or crawl so I close my eyes before I run him over Julia Nagle

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Emma Hardy

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Yelena When you are over a man, you are more than A God— your thighs cradle him more firmly than your parents ever held you when you were a girl. (and you are still a girl with a tearstained pillow and red bedsheets, but the soldier under you calls you Woman, and besides he is still a boy, gold braid under his soft chin which is You Know He Knows more than you ever will— even though tomorrow the French are at the river, bloody baptism for a cursed country— And You Already Know because of the boy who split like a flood under you last night.) he says you are an Alabaster Goddess, cold and mysterious but, white and red like Pomegranates, Persephone in the underworld of her own volition— except he calls you Aphrodite and compares the curve of your chin to caryatids and you long since took your own beauty for granted. The worst of them call you slut. You Tilt your chin and smile in that handsome way And they call you Queen Of Petersburg, and society fits like a corset that covers your ribs and the men who trace the tab marks with cold fingers and press their lips to you even though you know Tomorrow their lips will split and open the dams of their blood —rite of passage which you learned Long Ago.

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You know all the words to this opera. You know the death that closes it. You know of Rapture and Hellfire Both and you know of the sin of beautiful things— of red lips and wilted roses and bare thighs. and you know of the nymphs and their day in the sun and the bloody boys on the battlefield and the bloody girls in the bedchamber and there is nothing more you want than to bite the tender flesh of the world and bleed the gilded edges clean. Emily Pollock

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The Hunt I looked to my mother and found that she was God there was wisdom in her marrow but the dogs were drawing near sniffing out her omniscience in the beginning, she was born her own haven until they found a fountain of youth in her blood Diana is chased through the woods snap. she braces and falls, her leg caught in a snare the mongrels close in on all sides with frothing chops and beady eyes glinting green she feels the roots growing beneath her fingernails splintering, tendrils of bark and blossoms and bone to be buried in the earth Julia Perry

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Bloodshot

Emma Campbell

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Ode to Raspberry Seeds and Their Holy Blood-Letting On my work table, spread with some muffins on a paper plate, reminiscent of some cold, picked-over-spread, in a basement— post church service, which I‘ve been missing because it’s too easy to ask Him to love me at the beginning of the day rather than the end, sits a raspberry danish. Or rather, the idea of a danish shrunk down 4 sizes, probably from that realm where people who adore food eat less than three bites. But, today, the idea of something was enough, so it was in my mouth between thin thoughts. A raspberry seed took up residence in me, with precocious irritation. Harvesting me, from morning and my own mind and materializing me out of pain like Aphrodite out of seafoam, beautiful with feeling dripping with consciousness. This seed had a gorgeous frustration with my matter, with my form, as if it needed to exist in that spot five feet some inches in the air, somewhere in Massachusetts, as if it could have all by itself—but mostly it couldn’t if not for my birth, if not for two unbrushed teeth, only white in potential. Embryo, I’m thankful that within the paste of a brutalized raspberry lies the cure for an out-of-body episode, along with a free sermon, tithing only some gum-bleeding, and a plate stained with pastry goo, for which, I can forgive you. Christin Snyder 23


Self-Portrait of My House

Kate Haverstock

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Monologue From My Mother For months a blade of grass stood rushing to remain Out of the womb of nothingness and in one single instant Became a bundle of blood cells, spindly porcupine, tiny Mountain ranges for fists, little body swinging from my arms. You pushed me out of the cold Snow of your whispering soul so I could fall Into hearth and home. Baby, a time will come when you are no More. Gone will be your great cubic magnitude Of budding roses, and my elephantine heart will stumble Outside paths carved from pixie dust and stalagmites But we will know that Venus cannot stop standing, swaying, Dancing in a vastness that kisses, and kisses hard. Will you choke me in ivy vines or wrap me in blue satin Ribbons? When I unwrap you from my box I will fall down And crush weakness out of this womb That after two nights shrunk small and feeble. Sing and sing and sing before I birth many random acts Of kindness or at least lay on my lap and I’ll lick your fingers Clean of the dirt from the potted geraniums in the window box Out front. Red and rosy, you had almost nothing to say to me. I was not further away from you than everybody else, yet Somehow your mouth’s only subway car flew past me. My toes In the air, handstanding, I press my fingers into the earth. You always said you’d go to the moon

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And then you left without me. I listen alone to a piggy bank’s Clanking song, my mouth Tastes like pennies. I know if you don’t love him Tomorrow you won’t understand me, And you don’t know I stare most times and I don’t hide Behind my own mother’s embrace anymore. These are terrible Nights, yet still flower petals flutter upwards, onwards, licks Of periwinkle searching for my hands, your hands, and Venus. We have never held each other and meant it. The devils I’m drowning with roll their R’s repeatedly, just like you When you were young. Your father, you know, I am confident that pomegranates roll around inside of him Like 8 balls. He is neither golf course grass nor poison ivy nor Would he turn to stone if Medusa Asked him to. He definitely lies still at night And why not? I’ll drown above the waterfall when your sister Leaves. Later don’t let me ask about What happy people act like or why I can’t pull a Moon-washed body out of nothingness and love it effortlessly. Sour is my secret. I choose to ignore how All ten of your fingernails are so soft, and look past the great Valleys of the bends in your arms so tender, so warm. I want to hold your hand again and shut my eyes to the babies Like you wailing monkey battle cries. Outside our bedroom, Five kittens somersault on feathers and rice pudding, Your grandmother’s recipe, cinnamon on top.

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My tiny menace, in old galaxies there were snowflakes and beaches and slicks of dirt deserving of meditation And pain and hate. Great plague, giant spit drip, one star flailing and flourishing, My devil, my baby, grand earthquake, crystal lake, pearl earring, bitty bag of bones— You are the best of me Katherine Oksen

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Eve at Sunset

Natasha Zinos

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sanctify when i say love is a church, i mean it is beautiful even when it is vacant. i mean, sometimes you savor the quiet of an empty room. or the joy of so much noise. i mean, sometimes you hate it. you drag your feet on the way to worship, each word slips out of your mouth but you don’t mean it, though you find yourself there the next sunday, the most bittersweet habit. i mean, the beautiful exterior can’t make up for the broken ideals. you whisper i love you like it is a sin—lips pressed to my ear in confession. there is something easy about dressing up to praise something you might not even believe in. we are the best pretenders. Emma Roney

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Lights Behind the Trees

Amy Yang

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Un-falling In love with the idea of you, I traversed blue-black canyons in my fever-dreams, pioneered past the edge of the map, sludged through swamps thicker than night, found (and then lost) Atlantis and the Holy Grail twice, held my breath for you in a sunken submarine on the floor of the Pacific, sold my soul to you quietly when you weren’t looking. We sat in your just-vacuumed apartment one colorless morning drinking lukewarm Earl Grey from mugs that could’ve been plastic or glass, looking out the window that looked out to the window of another apartment that also disappeared into the sky. God, your eyes are an ocean, I thought as I slowly unlaced my muddy hiking boots, rolled up the yellowed map under the table, slung the weathered knapsack off my shoulder, its thud on the beige carpet soft and final, gentle hiss of rain outside like the exhale of fizz from a soda can Jennessa Bryson

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Body

Kate Haverstock

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Both, All. Both Bow-th A word like a knot pulling tight two strings overlapping— overlapping like my side on your stomach, your arm on my back and our legs stretched in opposite directions, a v like the knotted string’s ends. Lapsitting, the open-armed invitation I answered with my thighs on your knees, like both, as half of the same body, bo-dy, bo-oth a break at the syllable as an exclamation of surprise, a solid-dy to finalize. The. The both, the us, the bodies, lap sitting, laced. The syllables higher, softer later that night ah— ah— all. We were so much more than both, both, body, could not encompass us, we were not solid, we were not laced, we were an open ah— a deep, pained, teeth-gritted—ll, we were all, all, all

Francesca von Krauland

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“have you been writing lately?” fuck you, “writing,” of course not, have you seen me? i can’t remember who i was before dirty clothes puzzle pieced my floor. when i feel sunlight on my back i hope to hold it there, feel it slip away like grain through cupped hands i scoop gray sludge onto red slabs like the third little pig, the only one who cared enough to make something that could last through the up and down of the sun the left and right of the wind whipping across fields blowing licks of dandelion hairs somersaulting against the background of blue sky til they hit the windows of my tiny house. i pick up their parts and stitch them back into flowers. i tell them i know what it feels like to break when you are bent. i can’t remember when i started talking to dead things, i can’t remember when all the dandelions died or why i decided to stick and poke myself with the outline of their skeletons on days when ribs collapse i tell myself i am the perfect amount of soft and hard. like oysters nestled in shells of armor, flayed and waiting to be lapped up. douse me in lemon juice, i can’t remember how bad citrus can burn. i don’t know what the arch of my back can symbolize but i’d like to mention it right here alongside the oyster shells­—husks of aphrodisiac, shuck of a delicacy i can’t remember nights i sang to the mollusk moon or why i used to sit in the kitchen by myself til dawn. maybe there was peace then. there are only pieces now every painting in my house has been turned upside down since you came to visit. do you remember you before you took me from me? if my hands could talk they’d tell you inhabiting this body feels shameful. i stick two fingers into a tub of icing again and again over and over til i scrape the bottom and when i look down inside vanilla streaks shout like tea leaves that beg to be read. they tell me “you could use a therapist” so i press the lid back on and toss that shit into the recycling bin 34


dead things cannot escape being looked at and i know this because when you see me you stare. you offered me nothing and called it something. took away everything and called it nothing. this is a painting of a painting. a poem about a poem. and i know nothing looks good repeated or replicated, like sea breeze as nail polish or coral as lipgloss or banana flavored anything or me, stealing lines from prettier poems, acting like dead peacock when all i am is girl all i am is wounded mouth, when i open it i can swallow the town. i ate up boston because boston drank me down, knocked me back with cheap vodka and chamomile i am wet tea bag. too hot or too cold and always limp. if you press used ones to the corners of broken lips they can heal faster. wounded mouth like wet hole, like sand pouring down pipes, like dark mist swallowing me up, like you can’t remember who i was before you took me from me Katherine Oksen

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Emma Hardy

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Eulogy The soil at home tastes like citrus, dripping sweet and life-giving, or so I remember— the feeling of lying in the courtyard after the rain and soaking the land into my skin trying to get a taste of home— not mud and rainwater but maybe dark chocolate and butter on bread and sunlight doesn’t have a taste but if it did it’d be bright and warm and drowsy and tart and bursting sweet. Oh, I’ve forgotten, haven't I? These words taste like citrus, like the solar flare of flavor from the orange tree outside— and remembering how bittersweet oranges can be brings tears to my eyes, and they fall tart and ripe like oranges, like rain, tasting like home. Emily Pollock

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motherhood, 1968 in december, my grandmother remembers to cook deviled eggs. she says it’s the only recipe she knows but i know it reminds her of that corner house on west oak drive, before the tune of scratched-up radio and baseball games overpowered the screams of motherist rhetoric and before she walked out of that house at eighteen with a bearded artist for a husband and a daughter in her stomach and before she knew the parents who made her, even though she’d always say her real dad was john. when i was five she stamped out her last cigarette on our pinkchalk sidewalk, the ashes scattering into the petals of the flower my mother had drawn with me, and my mother cried but she said she wasn’t sad and i asked why she was crying then and she said because mom didn’t want her grandbabies to see her smoke. once i told my grandmother that i felt more like her than i did anyone else and she said honey i’m sixty-nine and i said that’s not old at all and now her belgian malinois hovers beneath her legs and she dangles yolks above his nose like a mother bird and i wonder if she still wishes to be a veterinarian. Celia Smithmier

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Butterfly Clips I’m an elementary school girl. I have butterfly clips in my hair, Bandaids on my knees, And a permanent knot in my stomach. I have a talent for reading. I sit with the “gifted” kids and we read sentences with harder verbs and bigger nouns And I tell myself it’s good that my brain is so strong and maybe the other thoughts are just a product of having such a strong imagination. I’m an elementary school girl. My mom calls me a worry wart, But she doesn’t know my mind is a broken projector Stuck on the same slide of my parents dying in a car crash when I’m not there to save them and I call them twelve times in two hours to ensure their hearts are still beating. I’m an elementary school girl. I wear bright colors and I take the yellow bus home from school And I ask the lovely lady with the blonde hair In the main office if my bus number was called over the intercom everyday without fail. If I don’t ask her, my bus could have left And how will I get home and my parents will think I’ve been kidnapped and I have to stay at school and I don’t know how to call them I’m so young and so scared as “Bus 310” rings out of the speakers. My heart beat slows down and I let out the breath I’ve been holding since I woke up. The butterfly clips eventually get traded for bobby pins and too much eyeliner And puberty and first kisses And a boyfriend and too much sex To college applications and the bleak road to adulthood. The thoughts still stay.

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I’m a freshman in college. I sit in a small room in a soft chair with geometric patterns as the man in front of me with a pad of paper asks me when I first felt the anxiety. I tell him, with tears in my eyes, the knot in my stomach, the projector still broken, But no butterfly clips, “When I was an elementary school girl.”   Emma Campbell

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Pop

Margherita Bassi

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What Is and Is Not Indecision is getting out of the pool when it rains, and sentences that end with semicolons; it is not inchworm ideas or glistening icicle opinions, jump rope reasons or puzzle piece probes. I’d like to spend my days in the Adirondack swing of youth and breeze my options afloat but then again, I’d like nothing at all. Julia Nagle

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Baby’s First Protest: en Stroller

Taylor Puccini

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we the people baptized by the tears of women— Atlas women— and at last women are being seen as wall tearers, not mere child bearers, a vessel for more than life. we the people, a part of the people, the heart of the people, have been told to be seen, not heard. generations of women peeking between the gaps in their pretty fingers as they hold their hands over their eyes, waiting. we the people seeking more than a peep hole, tunnel-visioned view— seeking redefinition, the right to bleed love and pain on our own terms. we the people of formidable women, carrying the weight of universes on their clay shoulders, portraits of ages past and to come painted on their naked skin. man claims the title of Ceramist, but a woman’s skin is hardened by heat and fire that no mortal would dare brave. we the people, a beautiful people of all those unrefined and undefined, glorious gradients of brazen beauty. we the people whose former fragility is now the strength of nations. Lexie Slotterback 44


Emma Hardy

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Living with a Body Feet:

Are your shoes filled with blood? My feet are cinder blocks soaked in copper and iron. My mom makes me see a therapist when I am twelve because I pick my feet. I sat her down in our living room and told her that I thought I had a problem. I was out of control and had become bad. I was picking at my feet and couldn’t figure out how to stop. I said it was caused by habit because I didn’t know what made me to do it. I did not pick because I was unhappy, but because of the weight from an itching, compulsive desire to rid my feet of dead skin and leave them raw and fresh. I saw the act of picking to be akin to taking a shower or brushing my teeth. To me, picking and personal hygiene were twins. In high school, I self diagnose skin picking as a behavior of anxiety. A therapist will suggest the possibility of OCD. Four years later, after formal testing, a psychoanalyst attributes the picking as an expulsion of nervous energy produced by ADHD. Labels categorizing neuroticisms stamp my skin like brand logos on sneakers. My toes pulse with heat and shallow, purple scars decorate my ankles like the print of unflattering calf high socks. I feel the skin constricting. I sit in a classroom, my legs just reach the floor as I perch on a seat made for a child. I am eleven. My stomach twists uncomfortably as the teacher passes back a spelling test. My toes curl in my sneakers, and I can 46


feel the blood pulsing through the soles of my feet making them start to prickle. My heart beat races and my neck gets warm. The pulsing in my feet matches the tempo of my chest—a staccato of itching, throbbing compulsion. The thought of a layer of dead skin clings to the back of my head, and I wish I could scratch behind my eyes. My feet are on fire. Someone put them out.

Legs:

A brown spot on my calf shines on pale smooth skin, like a reversal of the moon on a clear night. “What is that thing on your leg?” a shrill voice of a ten-year-old girl in my dance class echoed through the studio. All eyes turned. “It’s a beauty mark.” At least that’s what my mom tells me. My aunt has one too, she calls them twin spots, marks that keep us in touch even though she lives far away. It is a nice thought. Regardless, mine is much darker. Hers is a coffee stain, a smudge. Mine is dark and round. You can’t not see it. Regardless, my mom tells me it was God’s stamp of approval saying I was finished before I was born. Another nice thought. I begin using hair removal products in fifth grade, a razor in seventh. Calcium hydroxide bubbles and eats away at follicles and skin cells, leaving calves and thighs smooth but nostrils burning with chemicals. The razor succeeds more admirably, but I clumsily fumble with the handle, resulting 47


in pinpricks of blood easily mended by small band aids. My mother tells me to go to a dermatologist to get the leg spot checked. She tells me nothing is wrong, most likely, and that we won’t have to do anything, most likely. But when I’m older, she says, maybe I will want to get the spot removed (most likely). I imagine the brown spot being lifted from my leg like a quarter being clawed out of a cardboard coin collection book. Swallowing embarrassment and shame, I quickly forget about the dark blemish. Sometimes I don’t even realize that it’s there. Now, I see a turtle shell cutting through placid water, a wax seal pressed into clear flesh.

Hips:

I think about getting a tattoo on my hip. I do not want a tattoo on my hip, but the hip seems like the easiest place to hide a tattoo, so I think about getting a tattoo on my hip. I want to get a tattoo on my wrist, but my mom will be upset, so I don’t even consider it. If I do get a tattoo on my hip, I can’t help but think of it as something even more secret than getting a tattoo on my back or ribs. The only people who see a tattoo on your hip are the kind of people who see you in your underwear or without your underwear. Somehow, this seems even more intimate and incendiary than if I were to get ink under the skin of a forearm or ankle even though the audience is much more selective. I guess I will know that the tattoo is there, whether it be a flower, a date, a name, a symbol, or a shape. But why should I get a tattoo if I can’t show it off? A voice says I will get a tattoo when I stop worrying about what my mother thinks about me and 48


about how mad she would be at yet another body modification. I still like to think about a tattoo on my hip though—a bundle of sunflowers peeking around the side of my pelvis, poking out from either end of snowy lace underwear, black on yellow, on cream, on white. I like to imagine myself in my seventies and the flowers have shriveled into wilted petals clustered together like a crumpled up paper bag. They droop under the elastic of cotton high-waisted briefs. I still think it would be sexy.

Stomach:

The image of a woman holding scissors and pinching belly fat between the two blades sears into my mind. It’s a common image on the internet. Clip-Art. My stomach makes me sad. Stomachs make me sad. Why do we hate our stomachs? How can we attack something that is cute enough to earn the nickname belly? We literally call the scar tissue left behind from the tube that fed us nutrients as parasitic fetuses a belly button. Bellies are literally cute as a button. I think these thoughts at thirteen. I have spent most of my life hating my belly and do not think I will ever come to a point where I unconditionally love my belly. That being said, there are moments of clarity where I see it for what it is—planes of skin only marred by a central dimple. It can smile at me, so why can’t I smile at it? My stomach has always been a stranger to me. Someone who I ignore or stare at when I’m confident they’re not looking 49


back. I retract and clench to concavity at the thought of digestion. I am ungrateful to my core. I got my bellybutton pierced as a fuck you. I replaced sadness with passion, and rejected disgust with a step towards pride. The jewelry stands­—a flag pole buried in the moon or a finger hooked in promise. This stomach is mine.

Spine:

The spine is a delicate stack of calcium blocks—beads of bones sitting on an electric string. Body checking is the term used to describe touching parts of your body to see if you have gained weight. I make a habit of doing this to my wrists and neck when I am sixteen. My fingers would reach up to prod at the vertebrae jutting out between my shoulder blades. You do not gain weight between your shoulder blades. Body checking is useless like that. It’s an illusion. It’s a false comfort if everything seems in order, and a dangerous lie if something feels softer. A spine’s intention is to support, not to moderate weight gain. I insulted my body by ignoring my back’s main function. I held my bones in my palm, rolled the vertebrae between my fingers and tossed them in the air. And I tumbled to the floor.

Arms:

Hold your friend’s hand. Close your eyes. Turn your head. Let them use their other two fingers to dance a waltz up your forearm to the crux of your elbow. Tell them to stop when you think 50


the pads of their fingers have reached that crease. Open your eyes. Generally, you will fail and find their pointer and middle finger sitting mischievously two inches away from the blue bundle of veins. My body likes to play tricks on me. That’s okay, because I like to play tricks on my body. Every tickle, itch, or mistake of perception my body teases me with, I respond with a more severe attack in the form of abuse. I have starved my body. I have poisoned my body. I have hated my body. And what has been there for me? To hold me up straight? Keep me warm? My body. The gift of a healthy and beautiful body. A body that I could have been best friends with since childhood and would have never left me, but instead I chose to bully it for its perfect imperfections. I hold myself with strong arms. These are the arms that have constantly cracking joints, twisted fingers, and a mended wrist. These are also the arms that have given me the most—food, water, applause, a thumbs up, a fuck you. They comb through my hair, massage my sore shoulders. They reach out—

Chest:

I like my chest. I am proud of my chest. Even in high school, when I weighed twenty more pounds, I liked my chest. Chests and shoulders are the most attractive feature of the human form to me. It’s all angles. Sharp slopes. Muscles. Sinews. All covered in tender skin like fondant on a cake. A piano plays gently in the background and echoes through51


out the grey dance studio. Light from the LED overhead lamps ricochets off the endless mirrors, brightening the space. I clasp the barre with gentle fingers. The balancing bar is constructed out of a pipe painted black and coated in peeling duct tape. The result is sticky paint dust clinging to my palms along with what I assume is endless germs of countless adolescents. I am at the end of the barre, so I am facing the mirror and am two feet away. I stare at my collar bones and trace how they meld into the meat of my shoulders. We change into 5th position, so my ankle beats forward to a point and returns so it presses against my big toe. My arm not holding the barre floats up above my head. As we change the position of our feet, I move my arm so it floats up, falls to the side, and stretches in front. I watch as the bones under my chest peek out as my skin strains against the movements. The complexities of the shadows are striking. After a shower, I tilt my head to kiss my shoulder. I rub my sternum where I get sore and step out of the bathtub.

Neck:

Vulnerability lives in the neck. The jugular, the esophagus, and the spinal cord all in one spot. Blood, sustenance, and sensation. Life breathes in the neck. There is nothing to complain about with the neck. It is pure functionality. My mother bribes me with free books to get me to clean out the turkey for Thanksgiving. The first step is wrenching the skinned turkey neck out out the gaping hollow of the abdomen. The neck is long, bones encrusted in muscle. The neck shouldn’t be 52


separate from the body. The neck isn’t far from perception like an arm or a leg. There is nothing closer to your head after all. A virgin touched my neck second. Lips and fingers, gentle and warm. The first time twinned with the first time I realized I could say no, and I ran home crying—my cheeks dusted red with the blood of embarrassment. I have grown to fear sexuality and romantic partnerships. Desire and passion exist as a well of liquid fire, consuming air but remaining contained by the throat. Mine has dried up. She sits cold and barren and all moisture is scrubbed away by a lukewarm breeze. Occasionally, the breath stops—and morning dew clings to my esophagus and quenches the stones and grout. A relationship beyond the ones I already had as a child terrified me. I have had the same group of friends since I was eleven and my parents are still together and my family hasn’t changed. A very select group of people can touch me and have touched me. Sharing my body with someone new, without knowing what will happen, was like me bearing my neck to the sky. Collar to chin, opening up to naked vulnerability.

Head:

I lie on the bathroom floor, crying silent tears. Acid has replaced cerebral fluid, but my brain is exploding, not dissolving. I am not in my head, my head wont let me in. This is a migraine—a bad one. The floor is hard under my hip but I do not notice the cool tile of the upstairs bathroom. Instead, I fight to re-enter my body, break through my skull, and take ownership of my head. I pass out.

53


I am jerked back into my head the same time my eyes flash open. I’m too comfortable here. Thoughts roll like sea glass softening in ocean tides and prevent me from seeing the beach. Twentyfour hours later, an IV and nausea medication has me back in my head. The absence of pain is numbing. I pull my legs up and hug them. The fear of separation helps me to settle into my body. I can feel everything. Toes to calves, thighs to hips, stomach to arms to neck. I am here. I whisper to my body. I am here, and I won’t go anywhere. The same voice told me to pick, the same voice told me to cut away flesh and keep the physical and the mental far apart as if we aren’t the same. You’re just a body, but you are still so much more. I am here. The voice says. It’s okay. It’s over now. Isn’t that great? Aren’t the sheets soft? Doesn’t it feel good? I close my eyes that are groggy despite the harsh light shining above me. I feel like I could swallow that light. Aren’t you happy to be here? And to my surprise I am. Samantha Kramer

54


Glitter Girl

Sonja Goldman

55


anguish ants crawl out of me and they’re all on fire bruising and breaking and burning and busting open cans of tuna fish whose contents have calcified my capillaries into dried daffodils. there were days i compared my body to the dead exoskeleton of a lone cricket. today, when i exhaled figs fell out of me from now on, i won’t gather the ghosts of the grasshoppers who were ground into the ground, instead i plant hydrangeas, hold them in my hands, then place them in my hair Katherine Oksen

56


Emma Hardy

57


Dear Mom I don’t have ringlets like you half-baked black curls formed around your forehead floating chimney ashes like your own mom and your own grandmother, you take after them my hair is straight and brown: does that bother you? it has always bothered me the ferocity in my strands you crafted a letter once, about how much you love me every single second you wrote every single second of your life I remember And I believe that, because you are my mother and tell me I’m already good enough so, tell me when your finger hit the square button on our Nikon camera you needed it as proof proof that you’re not the only one who remembers these moments but light captures it too and the amazing part is that it doesn’t seem to fade: the light that captured me as five after being tucked away in our closet for fifteen years is still living I made you stop touching my hair when I was ten here I’m five, and I can tell you touched my strands because they’re wavy which means I slept in two side braids

58


now I’m 21 and sleep in braids after I read your letter because if you remember everything, you must remember how you braided my hair and I miss the feeling of sleeping on bumps but nowadays, my hair loses the waves faster than it did when I was younger the hold is gone but I want the waves to stay, because I want to be like you and sometimes I think my hair is the thing that separates us: but maybe the braids will close the gap Sonja Goldman

59


Anatomy of Her

Kate Haverstock

60


Love and Socks You make love and she keeps her socks on but she takes her rings off because her feet are cold and your back is smooth and she scratches with her nails, which is enough. If a woman makes love to you with open eyes watching your open lips don’t be frightened. She’s counting the little breaths and the big breaths and wonders if they can be shared. And perhaps when she remembers how to breathe and decides yours were sweet she’ll forget her silver rings in your bedsheets and you’ll remember her socks. And perhaps the next time when the sun births the morning and paints silver patterns on the ceiling from the silver rings still in your bed she’ll be there, too, and the socks will be on the floor and the scratches will be on your back but lighter, sweeter. Margherita Bassi

61


The Soup Guy Geometry in the back of a pickup: cartons of zucchinis and strawberries. Steaming, sweating lid on the concrete, chili in a paper cup, three dollars each on his folding card table. Bare thighs on a weathered bench, splinters to the back of the knee Sunlight pierces the eye like darts. Ducks slipping across the water, ripples spreading from their chests in expanding angles. “This is freedom,� Willa said. Lily Hicks

62


Emma Hardy

63


My Honeycomb Once, I built a nest for honey things— egg-noodle making on Grandma’s kitchen counter; wrapping pale yellow cotton around my head into a bride’s veil; and Make-Believing the pantry into an elevator that only goes up. I melted waxed walls against time. And hexagonal crypts are good cradles, So I waited until the sun slipped back through the windows before splitting apart the walls. Taylor Puccini

64


Travels

Kelly O’Donovan

65


marbled

after Anne Carson

you make me hopeless i don't care why anymore i just want to get away i'm tired of motorcycles and broken sidewalks, hot coffee and sliced kiwis. when i look at vienna i want to melt into her collapse your paper umbrellas, they’re no good here i’m fishing for the sun with a grappling hook lodged in fiery flesh i wrestle her to the ground only to look up at empty sky, weeping there are marbles in space colliding with more marbles in space when kids graffiti walls and doors and staircases do they walk into la ferreteria and shell out ten euros for two angry cans of spray paint one red, one black what i want to know is do you feel safe hanging onto his waist as he runs off the edge of the earth there are peaches rolling around inside of me and marbles collapsing in the spaces in between you could taste cobbler oozing out my hair follicles i can hear it dripping down my back now Katherine Oksen

66


I Bled Through My Menstrual Cup

Emma Campbell

67


Send to Mom Hey mom, this is a voice message you know one of those voice dictated texts so I apologize for any escapes period hope you and dad are doing well and you haven’t had any problems with leaking in the Arctic recently did you hear burning Sanders no delete Bernice you know who is running for president again period I was wondering if you could find a book if it’s still there I don’t remember what it’s called or tooth it’s by but it has a kind of a turtle picture on the back cover and the main characters named Sue something could you send me the title or the whole book actually please tell me you didn’t get rid of it I really need a word from there comma do you know that word you said it to me once on the way to the airport without even noticing what a word it is what a meaning the fly that I also should be kind of fish but I heard do boot office office office office profits provost never mind yes I’m teaching Long Island lately because it’s pain English sorry about that got kind of windy and conduit expression sorry I’m sober I promise love me Sabrina Black

68


85% Complete: A Girl’s Guide to Femininity

Taylor Puccini

69


The Vase is bronze and oblong, phallic if you will bulging at the bottom, bit of flora fawning at the base, trimmed carefully, the leaves wrap themselves around the trunk and hold her steady vase is smallest at the waist like the opposite of expecting mothers. piñatas filled with oranges. if this poem gave birth there’s a chance it would defecate on the baby. some of us come into the world glazed in piss and shit tiny frogs crawl up and down me in the haze of the arcade lights, blue yellow green i’m left handed but when i play ski ball i use my right mom asks why i say i suck at ski ball with my left she says do you know what suck means? i say of course, it means i’m bad at it she says suck is when a woman puts her mouth on a man’s penis i blush at the word my jaw hanging low my mouth shaped o the very idea choking me the word bouncing around my nine year old body like a game of pinball penis penis penis penis i say i’ll never suck a penis she says i bet you will 70


the first time i suck a penis it’s so much smaller than i thought it would be skinny around the middle, skinny around the rest of it, size of my thumb, probably easy to slide between teeth after one minute of not much suck boy says swallow salty like brine, ocean scum, washed up seaweed pulp congealed to sandy boat ramp baked in solar power for hours thick tea, chunky milk, nothing how it should be i conclude i must be pregnant with frogs. tiny living things swim inside me. my stomach like fish bowl, i ask acid to kill them quietly boy says thanks, and won’t kiss me in fear of smearing tadpoles on his mouth i wash my lips clean in his parents’ bathroom when i get home i push the vase off my nightstand while getting into bed and phallus shatters i kiss my mom goodnight in the morning, i ask her if she shit on me while giving birth Katherine Oksen

71


Frog

Emma Campbell

72


Small Talk about the Weather days when worms plague the pavement like landmines, those are days man’s tongue is too big for his mouth; too soaked in spinal fluid to float in puddles sucked dry by lips too chapped to close comfortably while swallowing shrapnel. Julia Nagle

73


Exerpt from Force of Habit I am an emotional sponge, absorbing what is mine and what is not. I remember being six-years-old, sitting on top of the kitchen counter at my grandmother’s house as she washed a huge pile of dishes. We had just eaten what seemed more than what is humanly possible in one sitting—grilled chicken breasts, along with sides of mashed potatoes, fried plantains, and white rice because a meal without it is not a real meal, honey! My grandmother’s meals were always big in scale. It didn’t matter if she was cooking for two people or seven, one could assume that a variety of tasty food combos was at the dining table waiting. Inevitably then, great amount of yummy dishes equaled a great deal of cleaning afterwards . . . for my grandmother at least. I remember wiggling my short legs back and forth on top of the counter to the rhythm of this salsa song playing on the radio—taka-taka taka-taka, but my precision got sloppy when my grandmother started speaking. With every two plates she rinsed off in the sink an Ay, mi niña blurted out from her mouth. As if I am the only person living in this house! she said, Your grandfather doesn’t move a finger. Ever. Just sits on his chair all day long. Pft. He’s not even good at listening either, let me tell you that—ever. I felt my heart beating so fast that I wondered if my grandmother could hear it too. I didn’t say a word, just occasionally locked eyes with her as she spoke so she could know I was listening. Never stay in a relationship where you are not appreciated, me entiendes mi niña? Pft. Too late for me now, but not for you. I saw her frown diminish as she let those last words roll out of her lips. Sigh. She looked at me and smiled. I smiled too, even though my legs were now shaking. My grandmother dried her hands on her apron and then softly kissed me on the forehead, as if my innocence or young age could not possibly allow me to absorb the magnitude and truthfulness of the things she had said. She had spoken just so she could feel heard, just so she could unburden some of the baggage, and there I was ready to take it in. All of it. **** It had been almost a year and half before I finally spent a summer back home in Venezuela. The nostalgia pushed me with desperate excitement against the walls of my old room, beg74


ging me to feel its warmth from everything and everyone who watched me grow up, begging me to feel its cracks from its exponential descent towards collapse. Overwhelmed, I made my way to the fridge because who doesn’t love to eat their emotions instead of facing them head-on. My go-to is about three bowls of cereal. Oh, sweetie there hasn’t been milk in the supermarket for almost two months now. As my mother said this, my chest filled up with a dense sense of guilt and impotence. The detrimental situation in Venezuela was depriving my family of trivialities I enjoyed daily back in Boston. I now live in a place where fridges are always filled with food, and it doesn’t really matter if you eat everything that’s inside them. I now live in a place where supermarkets overflow with products, where pharmacies overflow with medicines, where I don't have to be afraid of the night. I live in a place where I feel safe. My family, on the other hand, has spent years sinking farther away from this reality. They live in a place where food is scarce, where medicine is scarce, where you always have to stop at six different supermarkets just to get half of the things on your grocery list. They live in a place where both day and night prey on innocents. They live in the flesh, the harsh Venezuelan reality I mostly experienced now through the news. **** I stare at my phone, the twelve messages I sent to my mother still unread. I check her “last seen” and it’s at ten p.m. Maybe she went straight to bed after she got back from dinner with my dad. I stare again, still no double checks. She just forgot to text me when they got home, they’re fine. This has happened before. I put my phone back on the desk, but my English teacher has already erased all the notes she had written on the board. Shit, I didn’t get any of that. It’s hard to keep track of the 204 lines from Alexander Pope’s “Epistle to Burlington” when there’s a rate of ninety deaths per 100,000 habitants in Venezuela, around seventy-six violent deaths occurring daily, and my mom hasn’t answered my texts since last night. How can I put that into words? My parents, just as many others in my hometown, are bound to this sickening movie script none of them agreed to star in. A Whatsapp notification lights up my phone. Honey, we’re okay. We just woke up. Constant distress and despair can numb the soul, reaching a passive compliance that normalizes one’s anxiety with every new sunrise. Wake. Sleep. Repeat. 75


**** I don’t understand why people always say it’s not possible to be in two places at once. I’m everywhere. I am there, calming the daily unnecessary tensions between my competitive pre-med friends; I am there, in every body that drops in Venezuela, every injustice that goes unpunished, every piece of news that pops up on my phone. I am there, alone and surrounded by others. Just like those napkin dispensers found in every fastfood restaurant, every cafe, every university dining hall. People take one, two, three, four, all at once and as many as they can no matter if they actually made a mess or not. People take, because I am there exposed, willing to give, but forgetting I am worthless if I am empty inside. If I am empty inside—I don’t know what comes next. Every morning I get up and, with fingers crossed behind my back, promise myself I will do better. I will try, I will speak up, I will share with others little-by-little what unsettles my heart. The thing is. I can’t. I don’t know how to communicate about what is going on in my home country within this environment, how to explain it when Venezuela’s situation feels so out of grasp here for others. At times even for myself. A monthly salary doesn’t even buy a box of cereal in Venezuela. Meanwhile, my kitchen here in Boston is filled with four different kinds. How can I swallow the fact that $5 chicken nuggets are about 120 million bolivares? Fast food is a luxury back home. Again, fast food is a luxury back home. I guess I have just become more aware, more sensitive to so many things that I wasn’t as much before. It’s as if my mind tries to link everything I experience here to the situation my family is living in Venezuela. This in-between is paralyzing. I try to remain connected, to understand, to capture the depth of the overwhelming struggles in my home country. But, then—then, I find myself eating the cereal, even blowing through a box in two days. I eat the chicken nuggets, drenched in barbeque-blood as I attend to my indulgences. I have used the toilet paper without even considering there are those who know it’s a desired treasure. Due to the humanitarian/economic/political crisis in Venezuela, over 75% of the country’s population has lost an average of twenty-four pounds in weight in the last year. Meanwhile, I’ve gained over six pounds this semester. Each pound has made me heavier in guilt, in confusion, not knowing how to exist between 76


these two extremes. Am I everywhere, or am I actually nowhere? Life in Boston and life in Venezuela seem to run next to each other like two parallel lines, always together but never actually touching. I know how to start making this better. I constantly help my friends come to terms with their own struggles and face them with hope. Communication is key. However, I cannot seem to do the same for myself. Put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others This has never made sense to me. **** I’m standing alone in the middle of the desert. Its immensity is breathtaking. My eyes wander off in every direction, curving softly with each bump of sand and locking themselves onto every horizon possible. I want to explore every inch, even though my vision is getting hazy. The wind whispers my name repeatedly. It sounds desperate. It calls on me to move, to follow, to go. But my legs are now tired, as if something is weighing me down. It’s getting harder to swallow. My tongue trembles as it feels my chapped and dry lips. These slowly split in an effort to call out for help, but there is no one around. My words are lost, swept away by the wind. Up to 60% of the human body is made up of water, yet, once again, I can never seem to help myself out. I’m standing alone in the middle of the desert. **** My friends praise me for being a great listener and great at giving advice whenever they need it. Caring for others seems like a benign addiction, but in my case it has made me become a secondary character in my own life. I help others because I don’t know how to help myself. I immerse myself here because I don’t know how to immerse others there. So many words my lips have carefully sculpted for those craving a guided exhibition that now I am only left with the dripping blood of a job well done. It is easier to make sense out of a situation from a distance, because distance provides perspective, and perspective leads to smarter actions. On the other hand, trying to untangle my thoughts from within only seems to make everything tighter. Living in both extremes, barely living in both extremes, all the repercussions of what this means squished on the inside of my brain. Tugging at my heart. It’s like trying to build a puzzle with 77


my eyes closed. The tips of my fingers make their way through the beaten down edges, feeling as though every curve is trying to spell something. I drag my heavy feet while the beaming sun traces my steps through the streets. Its harsh light shines on my back like an ongoing interrogation, trying to make me plead guilty for withholding self-love. I’ve learned by now that we live trying to escape the holes we carve ourselves. I make it home with a sigh of relief, but these walls can only hold off the voices for so long. The shower seems like the only place where I can drip, drip, drip, and no one has to know it’s coming from me. With eyes almost wide shut, I step out onto the bathroom floor. My hair seems like the only mess I can untangle these days. I look straight into the mirror and try to hug myself. It looks weird. It feels unnatural. Wrapping this towel around me is the only selfembrace I have done all day. **** Being away from my family is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. Sure, at times it’s easy to get wrapped up in so much schoolwork, stress, friends, parties, boyfriend troubles, but then there’s always that moment, again and again and again, when it hits you. You haven’t seen each other in months. You miss the sound of their voices, the way you felt safe in their arms. You miss cooking with your sister, you miss listening to your father’s snores two doors away, you miss your mother’s blue eyes. You miss being around them, all the time. Knowing I’ve left them back home, a place I long for and a place I don’t recognize anymore, is a burden I carry with me everyday. Our connection and our love is never-ending, unconditional. It lies suspended in mid-air, here, there, everywhere, as if it knows no distance, it knows no place other than each of our hearts. I know this. I feel this, no matter how many times other existing realities try to separate us… …“Honey, look please!” says my mom in disbelief as she shows my dad the pear in her left hand. We’re in Star Market’s Aisle 9. I laugh, weirded out by my mom’s comment. “Mom, that’s just a pear,” I blurt out with hints of ridicule and ignorance. “We haven’t seen one in so long!” she explains with saddened excitement. I cry. Andrea Chacon 78


Reflection

Kelly O’Donovan

79


i think you smell like my travel shampoo and dutch canals and pad thai and in between, pooled change for public bathroom fees and well-kept trash because we can’t afford real souvenirs; expired train tickets, empty mint wrappers, labels peeled from cheap wine bottles and instant-coffee cups; too late for the bus, too early for check-in, and lots of oh shit i’m sorry for bruising your ribs but i don’t know where i’m going with this damn backpack and it may weigh twenty kilos and i do love you but i need to handle it on my own. i just want some cold-beer-nights in your broken-windowed basement with the television on and you next to me without worrying about the next departure or what “take-away” means or if we’re going to get charged with international fees for buying travel toothpaste because i don’t even know where to find that here. you handle the cash and i handle the maps while our bank accounts slurp international data and money we don’t have for lives that we can’t afford but what if, what if? what if, we ask. on wednesday my mother asked me if i missed home, and i know i miss the boston smoke, the feel of your pittsburgh laundry, and i already long for yesterday’s grit of dublin and london and amsterdam beneath our fingernails but i think i’ll always miss that simple-city-scent. Celia Smithmier

80


To the boy in the BU basement I wish I knew your mother. If I did, I’d tell her Your son is a sheep Following a herd that thrives on feminine fear and discomfort. If I knew your mother, I’d walk into your house unannounced And sit her down on your couch and say Your son is a hyena He feasts on blood and longs for release Especially when I do not give it to him. I’d tell her that you wanted to dance with me, But dancing meant invading my space And grabbing parts of me That you were never invited to touch. I’d tell her I spent the night Avoiding your presence like the plague Like prey being hunted, I the meek deer And you the wolf. I’d tell her your final words when I pushed you away The venom seeping from your lips as you said “What, that’s all I get?” Yes, BU frat boy, You got enough. More than I wanted. You will never have me again. I’d leave your mother with “If I had claws, I’d rip his throat out,” And I hope she would finish the job. Emma Campbell

81


The Fall

Jennessa Bryson

82


Hidden pills I: heart attack, July 2010 girl is thirteen mom’s heart attacks. thirteen: an intersection between watery ripeness and dull surprise. mom’s heart keeps beating. mom skips the dry synthetic pills every damn day. left corner: girl finds pills piled high in the bedroom dresser, 5th draw from the bottom. the lack of pills in body system catches up. it’s too late: stroke. the loss of the ability to move, to feel the body. II: one year out, July 2011 girl doesn’t look like the mother’s daughter. stroke, it must change features of the face: contracts differences whispers directions connect them, one by one.

83


why does the girl love her mother just why is the girl lured to her mother’s echoing heart, an enclosed semi circle: plated metal disgust. girl shrugs off the tightness in her gut. where it counts. why, girl, do you not feel the need to break the mother. feed on her spirit, her ache. surrender her name. III: the end thirteen: she let her daughter go mother passes, she is done. and gone. the mother is gone. daughter is lonely, alone. thirteen: intersection between watery ripeness and dull surprise. girl peels herself out of unzipped skin, one layer smothered onto another. her eyes aren’t fully open. without touching anything, or anyone, she feels the half-illuminated harmony in humid air, girl, you are finally free. 84

Sonja Goldman


Spiral

Emily Zhao

85


What I Know of the Rain asphalt scrapes like thunder but bare feet still survive mere cicada shells of dried summers past crouching on the cracked covered porch as the storm burns strange blisters on our soles when the creek swells past its banks, we don our boots and trudge through gloomy fields and feelings until we reach your flooded yard creekside grasses become tidepools where we catch crawfish and colds with ease all the while filling our pockets with feathers and making room in our boots for tadpoles who never make it home Julia Nagle

86


Kate Haverstock

87


Esperanza en Esperar: Sestina Hope in Waiting: Sestina

I was in my bed when I reassuringly whispered to my frowning mother that I would wait. She sighed and brushed my unkempt, tangled hair out of my face and softly said: eso espero. It was late at night and I was at a loss for words. But I kept awake, for I knew she was afraid. I was in your bed when I too became afraid. Your eyes were closed; I pulled away and whispered apologetically. Puzzled, you opened your lost eyes, searching for answers. But my mother’s espera convinced me to leave you, in hopes of not losing you by becoming entangled. I wish we had our own, secret bed. Two tangled bodies under the sheets, never being afraid. No mother saying I am foolish, pendeja, hopeless. But that is not my reality. Instead, I whisper my truths to a purple curtain that waits until the end of the session to ask: si he perdido la pureza. I bite my lip and press my loose legs against each other. The curtain tangles tightly around my neck, choking, hurting, waiting for a confession that it believes I am too afraid to blurt out. I wish I had shameful truths to scream or whisper, enough to make you believe how much I hope to be with you. But how do I explain that hopes of a future with you, means not losing myself to you. Not now. Not with so many whispers in my head telling, urging me to untangle my trembling fingers from you hair. I am not afraid of you I hiss back at those voices, but they scream: ESPERA!

88


And they scream it again and again: ESPERA, ESPERA, ESPERA! until I am forced to stop, and explain, and wait, and hope that you will understand, even when I cannot. I am afraid of losing you if I give in, and I am afraid of losing you if I don’t. I wish my thoughts were less tangled Or that they’d be gone those nights that I whisper into my cupped hands, kneeling, begging that I become more afraid of losing our tangled lips and quickening breaths, than of the whispers that try to convince me and my sisters that there is esperanza en esperar. Carolina de Armas

89


Carolina Gazal

90


Am I Made to Break? I remember building a 3D diagram of the spine in third grade. Twizzlers, gumdrops, M&Ms, and Sour Patch Kids lining the vertebrates of the life-sized spine. Fully complete, I take a step back, lick my sweet fingers crystalized in gritty sugar and think about my body. I wonder if I drop my project to the ground, if the gumdrops and frosting will shatter. My candy spine ripped apart. I cook Jell-O on the stove with my mom, and think about heat turning cold, or liquid turning to Jell-O. I’m eight and wonder if my body is as fragile as candy, or as soft as JellO. I wonder what I’m made of. I know I’m bone, but there must be something else inside the density. I wonder if everything real is supposed to be made to break. I remember lying in the creaky bed. January 2018. My mom to my left, coach to my right, and bouquets of red and gold flowers lining the damp hospital room. Tubes caressed the surface of my body, covering inch by inch of my medicated skin. The bandages were three inches deep on the circumference of my arm complete with plaster and a plump sling. My surgeon had just inserted a metal plate and screws into my left arm in order to repair my broken bone. I was allergic to the medicine (opioids) to manage pain after surgery, so I opted for nothing except for ibuprofen. This night was the closest I’ve felt to my body. I could feel every single hole the surgeon drilled in my bone. Six to be exact. The stinging ran deep throughout my bone, like it was trying to rid the metal plate out of my body. The eight inch gaping hole in my body was sewed up, creating no escape for the plate to leave me. The stitches burned my body, the IV digged into my skin, I threw up eight times: I have never felt more uncomfortable in my life. However, I my mind could only focus on one thing. I wonder to when I was eight years old, thinking about my fragile candy body. Sonja, your body is so much more than Twizzlers, gummy bears, and gumdrops. Now I know there’s metal inside my bones, not frosting. Sometimes I break, sometimes I fall and need help. The metal is part of my body, the part of me that falls, and the part of me that realizes not everything natural is sweet.

Sonja Goldman 91


Paralyzed

Emily Zhao

92


This is how it feels to do her laundry: fumbling through her washer, reaching down to pull at limp shapes of her, gives me the vision of being married to her for twenty years on our first weekend. Maybe it’s just the thick scent of clean cotton and her, but there must be an intimacy in being trusted with her intimates, our bras draped side by side on her towel rack. And there is something funny knowing that a man wouldn’t know what to do with them— what to do with her. And I’m enraptured clenching her favorite shirt crumpled in my left hand as if somehow I could hold her affection by it. When I finally shut the dryer door, her voice rolls downstairs from out of the shower, as if solidified from tufts of steam, and I swear it presses up against me, and assures me she could love me if I merely tried. Christin Snyder

93


Landscape of the Cataclysm / Portrait of Survivor

Kate Haverstock

94


We welcome original submissions in the forms of poetry, prose, creative nonfiction, or visual art from all Boston College students who identify as women. Correspondence can be sent to: bclaughingmedusa@gmail.com. All pieces under review remain anonymous. We look forward to hearing from you!

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You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful and she’s laughing. Hélène Cixous

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Profile for The Laughing Medusa

The Laughing Medusa 2018-2019  

The Laughing Medusa 2018-2019  

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