The Morningside Monocle
A bird coming in a fruitful season (calligraphy brush and ink on rice paper) Weihuan Xu
Monocle Staff Editor-in-Chief Anita Kapyur Copy Editor John Finnegan Submissions Editor Qijia Yu Poetry Editor Lydia Turnage Prose Editor Wicy Wang Art Editor Alexandra Nasar Layout Editor Connie Wang Treasurer Eddie Kim Social Chair/Event Coordinator Yixin Huang
Copyright 2020 ÂŠ by The Morningside Monocle at Columbia Law School. For more information, please visit us at www.themorningsidemonocle.com. ii
The Morningside Monocle Spring 2020
Editor’s Note As Spring Break approached earlier this year, a new and mysterious topic dominated conversations across the world: What was the coronavirus? How serious was this disease? How would it change our day-to-day lives? We had known for several months that this virus ravaged in China and Italy like no other disease in recent decades, but even then, few could predict how it would impact lives across the United States in a matter of days. I flew home to Southern California for Spring Break, expecting to be back in New York soon. Instead, within one week, New York became an epicenter of the national coronavirus outbreak, and in response Columbia Law School decided to move to virtual learning for the rest of the semester, permitted students to break their leases, and canceled the traditional graduation ceremony. It has now been almost two months since Columbia closed its doors and switched to online learning. These past two months have given us the opportunity to reflect on the shifting world around us. Throughout this Spring Issue are pieces illustrating life in New York during this pandemic and instants captured in a world practicing isolation and social distancing (p. 32 & 33). There is poetry of panic (p. 2), a familiar picture of ‘Chaos’ (p.30), and a harrowing story of violence (p. 13). Yet, as many pieces in this issue portray, this pandemic has also given many of us the opportunity to find beauty in nature, comfort in our quarantine partners, and more meaning to life. We selected a lovely piece of harvest illustrated on rice paper for our front cover, and showcased later are picturesque scenes from nature (p. 10 & 14), a stunning photograph of the Sydney Opera House (p. 20), and optimistic art with iconic Columbia architecture (p. 4). For putting this wonderful piece together: thank you to our authors, creators, and editors, with a special mention to the Monocle’s graduating 3Ls: Connie Wang (Layout Editor), John Finnegan (Copy Editor), and Alexandra Nasar (Art Editor). It has been an honor to serve as Editor-in-Chief this year and to put together two eloquent issues. We hope you enjoy reading this issue’s collection of moments depicting an extraordinary time for all of us—one of despair, solemnity, and uncertainty—but also one filled with resilience, gratitude, and hope.
Anita Kapyur, Editor-in-Chief
Table of Contents poetry 2 6 11 23 26 32
art Tell-Tale Heart -- 19 Brandon Weber Flight to Heaven Anita Kapyur Tidal Wave Reed Showalter Imperfect Rachel Rein Inspiration Joshua Samuel Social Distancing: A Haiku Michelle Bigony
Eulogy Zoe Makoul
1 4 12 22 27 28
Empty Nighthawks (after Hopper) (oil on canvas board) Patrick Lin We'll See Each Other Again Soon (iPad art, Procreate) Karen Kim Bildungsroman (acrylic and watercolor on cardboard) Anna Van Niekerk Other lives within the mind (digital art) Nani G. Liu View from the 7th Floor Through Pegasus' Wing (oil on canvas board) Patrick Lin Afternoon Light on Low Memorial Library (oil on canvas board) Patrick Lin
photography 2 7 8 9 10 10 14 19
Times Square, Alone Anika Sonnenberg Endless Alley (Boston) Wuxiao Liang Gazing Anika Sonnenberg The Essential Anika Sonnenberg Lisbon at Sunset (Lisbon, Portugal) Wuxiao Liang Late Autumn in Prague (Prague, Czech Republic) Wuxiao Liang Blossoms at Guangxiao Temple (Guangzhou, China) Wuxiao Liang Going North Anika Sonnenberg
20 21 24 30 31 32 33 34
Across the Harbour Rohan Mishra The Coldest Day of the Year Rohan Mishra The Spot Seth Glickman Chaos Shraddha Kulshreshtha Frisbee Night Anika Sonnenberg Sweet Home Wuxiao Liang social distancing Nicolรกs Quaid Galvรกn Distance to Get Close, AC NYC Jorge V. Fernรกndez
Empty Nighthawks (after Hopper) (oil on canvas board) Patrick Lin
Times Square, Alone Anika Sonnenberg
Tell-Tale Heart – 19 Brandon Weber A poem with two heartbeats per line Are you breathing heavier or is air hanging heavy in your lungs? Life is compressed, beaten into confined spaces (New York, New York city living)—is this normal, hours on end? Rest can only come in brief waves, only when it’s least expected, least convenient, most disruptive. Watch the death toll rise on cable news.
Short days become long nights in your room as sunlight turns to darkness. Feel your heartbeat hasten as your daily routine slows down into nothing. All gone. Just pray you can let go of your thoughts long enough to drift into sleep. What time is it? Make sure you hit snooze on alarms until too late, lest you have a moment to your self. This is life now. Transfer is available to sudden anxiety. This is an early grave-bound Y express train. The next stop is continued exasperation. Stand clear of the closing doors.
We'll See Each Other Again Soon (iPad art, Procreate) Karen Kim 4
Flight to Heaven Anita Kapyur She perches on my windowsill And quietly cleans her feathers, She gently taps the glass between us To remind me of our tethers. Her coat of black is not so ominous As poets past have lauded, Instead her darkness is a beauty A power to be exalted. Most fear her constant presence— Her gentle taps threaten reprisal, But she’s an old friend who’s visited often Only time controls her arrival. Her hazel eyes hold memories Of centuries long ago, Of queens and servants and celebrities Whose times were soon to forgo. However cunning some might cast her To me she is a friend, She’s never deceived me of my truth And waits for me ‘til days’ end. One day my window too will open And I will freely fly, She will teach me to use my wings And like friends we will dance into the sky. 6
Endless Alley (Boston) Wuxiao Liang
Lisbon at Sunset (Lisbon, Portugal) Wuxiao Liang
Tidal Wave Reed Showalter The tide is rising past the dams while we look in each other’s faces with the icy eyes of the damned. Feel the callus coat the heart as waves eat moments faster than the minds can feel their memory. And though just feet apart we stand like water everywhere, nothing to drink, each island self is lone and sad. Faces erased alone without a wink. We feel the loneliness of a loss that had Not had the chance to be a tragedy. We know the line between here and gasping-ﬁlled-lungs in a quiet box Is a top-sheet blocking winter’s hand And there is no rescue from the rest. They’re swimming with, to higher land Hoping one more nameless faceless hand catches on a dangling shoelace strand And hangs on through the angry sea To make it till a time where when we pass we can again be a memory
Late Autumn in Prague (Prague, Czech Republic) Wuxiao Liang
Bildungsroman (acrylic and watercolor on cardboard) Anna Van Niekerk
Eulogy Zoe Makoul Warning: This piece contains content related to domestic violence and sexual violence. Do you recognize this place? We met in this bar. I was only eighteen, already drunk with the excitement of coolly passing the bouncer my older sister’s driver’s license. I slid onto the velvet barstool next to you. You ignored me while I pretended to peruse the cocktail menu, my palate unsophisticated and my limits untested. I noticed you before you noticed me. Could you tell? You were big, so much bigger than most men, and when you leaned against the bar I could imagine the dark wood creaking and complaining under the din in the room and the crackling 1920s jazz. Do you remember how you were shredding that little paper napkin? I don’t know if I ever told you, but I also used to do that. I had this uncle who would stare while I tore strips off garish holiday napkins at family dinners. He told me he had nervous fingers too. I used to watch him roll his cigarettes and smoke on the back porch. Sometimes I sat on the steps below him and craned my neck up so I could see the smoke disappear into the blue sky like a ghost. We met in April. Daffodils pushed through their soil ceilings and drowned in rain. When the sky wasn’t blue, I wore my red raincoat. Sometimes, at night, I sat on my back steps like I did when I was younger and looked up at the polluted clouds. I tried to see into the nearby hospital’s windows through my third story railings, but I was too far below. I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t stay awake in the day. I wandered through bars and obediently followed men home so I could stare at their walls while they shivered on top of me. I know you remember the first time you came over because you wrote me an email the day after. You said you liked my yellow sundress and how the top of my head grazed your chest. You said you knew I was special the moment you saw me coming down the stairs towards you. I remember the dingy red carpet and the peeling paint, but you didn’t write about that. “I can’t stop thinking,” you said, “about the moments when you had your legs wrapped and clenched around me and your arms pulling me in as close as possible as I had my arms wrapped around you.” I emailed you back Alicante by Jacques Prévert. You said you didn’t speak French. I laughed because I thought I was more worldly than you. You told me my eyes smoldered when we had sex, and I believed you. I could feel the heat leaking from them, like ephemeral spring rain falling through the slats in my back steps.
I finished school in May and started my job in June. It was the hottest summer Chicago had seen in centuries. My roommate went home, and the apartment felt empty. Cicadas chirped and the noise was stuck in my ears. I couldnâ€™t keep food down, so I stopped eating. I started to find more hair in the shower drain. One day I went to open my bedroom door and my vision went dark. I slid to the floor, convulsing violently. Every day I took the Metra downtown and sat in the annex of a twentieth-floor office from eight-thirty until five. There were no windows. I had to stand awkwardly in the hallway a few times a day while an employee used the annex to pump breastmilk. I could never avoid making eye contact with her when she walked back to her desk clutching a little red cooler. You drove a European car when you picked me up from my office each afternoon. It was blue and the front dropped low. You went all the way to Germany to pick it up. I thought it was ugly, but you loved it so I did too. Your car was five years old, your wife was thirty-six years old, and your baby girl was still on the way. 14
Blossom at Guangxiao Temple (Guangzhou, China) Wuxiao Liang
I liked teaching you French. I brought my Prévert collection to work so I could read to you in the car on the way to my apartment. “Doux présent de la present,” I would say. “Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard?” Sometimes you would laugh, and I would say, “Don’t laugh at me” and you would say, “You’re just too cute.” Do you remember the day I gave up on books? You stopped listening to me in the car, you, the warmth of my life. I wanted your attention. In the sticky Chicago heat, I wrote words on my body in Sharpie. “Me touchez.” “Me caressez.” “M’embrassez.” I turned nineteen in July. You wanted me to fly home, but I couldn’t afford a plane ticket. I didn’t want to go home anyways. I wasn’t sure if nineteen was old enough to escape staring eyes and nervous fingers. We fought about it and I told you I didn’t want to see you again. On my birthday, I sat in my friend’s muggy apartment and silently tore at the napkin under my drink, the wet rings of condensation interrupting my parallel tears. I went home and laid in bed and wondered how long it would take someone to die of starvation. You came to my back door a week later—jumped the fence and walked up the back steps. I was in the kitchen filling the Brita filter with water when you knocked. The noise startled me and I let the pitcher crash into the sink. Through the screen, you motioned for me to unlock the door. Lightening bugs spun around you, lazy in the hot air. With the water still running, you picked me up and held me so tight that I felt whole. I fell in love with you in August. The heat was unbearable. We sat, sweating, and complained. We stared at the ceiling fan and willed it to go faster. You cooked for me and fed me because I wouldn’t eat on my own. I thought I was infatuated or overwhelmed with the sex. I spent hours laying on the carpet in the living room, exhausted from the heat, telling myself I couldn’t love you. But I imagined we were two terra cotta bricks, 15
fit together in sunbaked rightness, left to dry in golden sun, waiting for our rooftop. I was desperate to love you. By September, you were building a suburban house for your wife and newborn daughter, so you were filled with ideas of carpentry and construction. I wanted to see pictures, but you wouldn’t tell me where you lived and you wouldn’t show me the house. I suspected Mark was not your real name. You wanted me to move out of my apartment because it didn’t fit your standards. I liked my building. I liked the musty smell and the permanently dusty windowsills. You said it was morbid to live across the street from the hospital. I said I didn’t care. You offered to help me find a new place. I told you I didn’t want your money. You stalked through my apartment daily. The radiators were dangerous, the lack of air conditioning inhumane. You opened the door to my absent roommate’s bedroom. I told you not to go inside. You smiled, tugged me through the door, and pushed me onto my knees. You inspected my kitchen. You bent me over the counter and pressed the side of my face into the linoleum. You pulled my pants down. I felt crumbs digging into my cheek. “Hurts so good,” you said. I cried after, but you cradled me like a child and said I was brave and you were proud. School was starting again, and we changed with the weather. Your warmth became less intoxicating. My roommate moved back in. I couldn’t stand in her room. I told you I felt guilty lying to her and to my friends. You shook you head in disbelief. You called me selfish. You never had problems keeping me a secret. “You need to lead a double life,” you told me. “You will be one way with me and completely different everywhere else.” I sat in your lap and nodded. “I am bigger, stronger, and more experienced than you,” you reminded me, “and based on that I am smarter than you and you should respect that.” I sometimes didn’t listen to you because you said the same things so often. You came over on weekdays when my roommate was in class or at track practice. You took special enjoyment in watching me struggle or cry. I withdrew to avoid confronting my fear of you. Instead, I told you I was afraid of how much I loved you. “I understand,” you said, “because I feel the same way.” After sex, I mostly stared out the bedroom window, feeling empty. You would sometimes fold your arms around me and rest your head on my shoulder, your toes against my heels. Your warm breath stole my exhalations. Your hands touched, caressed, embraced. I looked straight ahead or at the sunlight on the carpeted floor, which fell in the neat squares of windowpanes. When the window was open, the wistful autumn wind drifted through, and I relished the crisp air. But it always seemed lukewarm with you, the 16
warmth of my life, behind me. Sometimes I shivered and you would ask me if I was okay. My bones longed for cold, but your heat was deep inside them. In November, I failed an exam. I blamed you for it. I said I hoped you could be happy with your wife and child and leave me alone. I was afraid you would explode in volcanic rage. You silently picked up your car keys and walked out the door. A few days later, you emailed me. Subject: “Just had a dream about you.” “Strange because I don’t normally dream, but it was a good one. Have you changed your mind about talking to me yet?” I smiled when I read that, did you know? You were gentle after that. You came over and helped me eat. You bathed me and dressed me and let me do my homework in your lap. When we had sex, you kissed my neck and didn’t pin me down. I told you I thought I was anorexic. You told me about your wife. “I come from a conservative background,” you said. “I only had one girlfriend in high school, and I had to hide that from my family. That one girlfriend became my wife after college.” “I can’t eat,” I said. “Tell me more about you, though.” “I learned more about myself as time went on,” you continued. “I didn’t realize it but I always had these feelings and I suppressed them. It was taboo. I didn’t realize until it was too late, many years into the marriage.” “I’m always cold.” I burrowed into you. “Keeping my wife’s happiness in mind, divorce has never been an option, and being that we both wanted a family, we started down that path.” You stroked my hair. You spoke languidly, not to me. “But more and more,” you said, “I realized I was suppressing and hiding a huge part of me. But what could I do?” In December, we watched the snow from the bedroom window. I wore all my clothes at once in a desperate and futile attempt to stay warm. The delight of the first few snowfalls faded. The cold air startled me out of submission, which frustrated you. I became unhappy and you became volatile. You picked up your old vendetta against my apartment. One day, as we sat across from each other in the living room, the old steam radiators began to bubble and hiss. You said your new house had central heating. It was safer. It was better. I agreed with you, but, feeling bold, I laughingly extolled the steamkettle whistle of my radiator which sometimes woke me up in the night. You stared at me. I was sitting on the couch across from you. I flinched away from your gaze, suddenly afraid. You furrowed your eyebrows. Do you remember what happened next? Do you remember grabbing my hair? My notebook falling to the floor? The way you shoved my sleeves up to my shoulders? Do you remember how I screamed when you thrust my arm against the boiling radiator? 17
After, when you had shushed me and cleaned me and I had stopped sobbing, you rocked me back and forth in your lap. “You see, baby,” you said, “your safety is not a joking matter.” It smelled like burnt meat. “This is why I’m here for you, baby. This is why I’m here.” I didn’t want to see you after that, but I was afraid to show the burn to anyone else. You came over to check on me almost every day, whispering “hush, baby” as I cried in your arms. I didn’t know anything about you, and you knew everything about me. You had been in and on me everywhere. I didn’t understand you, but you owned me. I started to suspect that you were going to kill me, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. On bad days, I sat on my back steps and wondered if I should surrender. I looked up at the hospital’s lights and remembered nervous fingers and cigarette smoke. Staring eyes illuminated by the heat of a nightlight. Sometimes I took my shoes off and pressed my bare feet into the snow. The prints were as small as a child’s. You spent Christmas with your family. I spent Christmas watching Home Alone and preparing for you. I forced myself to swallow applesauce and yogurt. When I had to leave my apartment, I practiced clutching my keys between my fingers like claws. I tied my bedsheets together and knotted one end to my bedframe, ready to fling it out the window and climb down. “Self-defense,” I rehearsed. Did you know what you were doing to me? I knew you wouldn’t bring a weapon. You were big, so much bigger than most men. I was made of cold and bones. You came for me in January. You couldn’t jump the fence this time; it was slippery with ice and snow. I saw you loiter there, in the dark. I recognized your blue European car parked on the street below. From the kitchen, I watched you pretend to fiddle with the lock as the older woman who lived in the apartment below me walked towards you. I saw you shrug and shake your head. I saw her smile and turn the key. You started up the steps towards me, carefully navigating the frozen puddles in the center of each sagging stair. You had violence in your eyes. You reached the back door, the screen replaced with glass, and I froze there, looking at you, knowing it was the end. Through the glass, you motioned for me to unlock the door. Snow flurried around you, volatile in the winter night. I clenched a steak knife between deliberate hands and steady fingers. You yelled at me to open the door. I brandished the knife at you. You broke the lock with your hands. I screamed as loudly as I could before you pushed me against the refrigerator and knocked the air from my chest. I shoved the knife into the warm meat of your shoulder. You let go of me and took a few steps back. I slid down the refrigerator. You looked at me in confusion. “I thought you loved me,” you said. I didn’t answer. 18
“You’re fucking crazy, did you know that?” You shook your head and the knife fell to the ground. “After all I’ve done for you.” You were barely bleeding, but you still clapped your hand against your shoulder. You backed out of my kitchen, stumbling slightly in your confusion. I sat on the floor and watched you push through the unlocked door. You shivered as the snow bellowed in your ears. I thought you might slip on the way down the back steps, but I heard the door to your blue European car slam shut and the screech as you pulled out from the side of the street. Silence. I stood and put the steak knife in the sink. The back door opened and shut with each gust of wind. I leaned against the linoleum counter. I pursed my lips. I shuddered with pleasure and the shock of sudden liberation. 19
Across the Harbour Rohan Mishra it.
The cold moved in my bones, wild and angry. I breathed it in and surrendered to
I have always liked the winter. It chills my body and my emotions. It used to make it easier during Christmas at my grandparentsâ€™ house. The ugly red napkins. The nervous fingers and the cigarette smoke. The cold freezing me to my bed in nightlight darkness. Most of all, I love the snow. The snow is wily and unpredictable. I like when it thwarts plans and stalls traffic. Even staring eyes and big, big men canâ€™t control the snow. Your blue European car skidded on the icy streets three blocks north of my apartment. I heard the sirens through bellowing wind. You must have been cold when the car windows shattered and the snow ripped through you. Were you afraid? 20
The Coldest Day of the Year Rohan Mishra
It took you three hours to die in my backyard. The snow shimmied through the night, restlessly flitting between darkness and the dirty light of the city. I watched the hospital, barefoot, on my back steps. I couldn’t look away. Even when I knew it must be over, I sat huddled in the snow, cheek against the cold railing. She was beautiful, the woman who ran into the hospital. I knew who she was. She didn’t know why you were in this part of town. She never shut the door to her red car. Now she is thirty-six and you are dead. I saw your parents drive in too. They carried your daughter and handed her to your wife, who met them at the door. I still don’t know your name, and I still don’t know your motives, and I never knew you at all. Did they? Did you? Do you know now? When I leave this dusky bar, after one more drink, I’ll walk up the back steps and sit down. I’ll tear this eulogy into tiny pieces and throw it into the sky, so it can fall to the ground with the vast white snow. And I’ll lean back and look for your ghost in the fog of my exhalation. v 21
Imperfect Rachel Rein I am sideways. Upside down and in between, diagonal and wobbling, sometimes almost vertical. Cannot put things that are not straight in boxes and line them up side-by-side like red, plastic soldiers who can only salute and are not battery-powered for defection. Wind me up, who knows? I am broken. Or just a little off, enough that the doctor diagnosed me with Originality. Prognosis: unknown.
Other lives within the mind (digital art) Nani G. Liu
Seth Glickman 24
Inspiration Joshua Samuel Everything a little bit off. My brain suspended in a bubble, My lungs on the fritz, My mind on a cliff. Though sunshine Bounds voluminously through the window And pen Waits eagerly for the tip of my tongue, I have no beautiful words to show. Inspiration strikes, But I strike out. This study of law Has made me doubt: Have we any more use for words of beauty?
View from the 7th Floor Through Pegasusâ€™ Wing (oil on canvas board) Patrick Lin
Afternoon Light on Low Memorial Library (oil on canvas board) Patrick Lin 28
Social Distancing: A Haiku Michelle Bigony I just want to go outside Bored out of my mind Mandatory pass fail
Nicolรกs Quaid Galvรกn 32
Distance to Get Close, AC NYC Jorge V. Fernรกndez 34