The Wellesley Review Issue 21 | Fall 2018
The Wellesley Review Poetry | Art | Prose
Editors in Chief Cheryn Shin ‘21 Sanjana Thakur ‘20 Treasurers Mehar Bhatia ‘22 Jackie Xuan ‘20 Community Chairs Esther Fan ‘22 Tiffani Ren ‘19 Layout Editors Taylor Balfour ‘21 Audrey Lin ‘22
Poetry Editors Lulu Al Saud ‘21 Sara Lucas ‘22 Art Editors Tiffany Chu ‘22 Abby Ow ‘21 Prose Editors Udita Bajaj ‘22 Tessa Rudolph ‘22
Publicity Chairs Cinji Lee ‘22 Juna Lee ‘21 Senator Alyssa Robins ‘22
Cover Design Self Portrait | Artemesia Luk ‘21 Poetry Board Efua Akonor ‘21 Gabriella Garcia ‘22 Anya Keomurjian ‘20 Katherine Paik ‘20 Alyssa Robins ‘22 Jean Li Spencer ‘21 Art Board Camille Brunetti ‘20 Stella Ho ‘22 Dominique Mickiewicz ‘22 Jean Li Spencer ‘21 Breanna White ‘22 Prose Board Tiffany Chu ‘22 Kate Habich ‘22 Lily Herold ‘22 Stella Ho ‘22 Tori Merkle ‘20 Dominique Mickiewicz ‘22 Ella Mints ‘22 Alyssa Robins ‘22 Jean Li Spencer ‘21 Sarah White ‘19
Table of Contents Still Waters
Hajira Fuad ‘21
Cerro de la Silla
William Van Beckum
I See You
Artemisia Luk ‘21
Sara Lucas ‘22
Sydney Hopper ‘19
Composition in Blue and Red
Rose Griesgraber ‘22
Megan McNally ‘20
Genevieve Fisher ‘21
The house was a green that I suppose was key lime
Rose Griesgraber ‘22
Juna Lee ‘21
Michela Gerardin ‘21
Mysteries of the Horizon
Hana Kaneko ‘22
Rose Griesgraber ‘22
The Final Bell
Alyssa Robins ‘22
Between the Lines
Anissa Kurani ‘21
Claire Cheek ‘21
Lily Herold ‘22
Deavihan Scott ‘22
Minerva Johar ‘22
Cheryn Shin ‘21
Does This Pose Make Me Look Cool
Andy Arrangoiz ‘22
And It Was True
Sarah White ‘19
When Your Mother Tells You to Stay Away from Gateway Drugs, Listen
Jennifer Boyd ‘22
Anissa Kurani ‘21
PONME MINUTOS EN EL CEL PORFA
Alicia Olivo ‘19
Camille Brunetti ‘20
Minerva Johar ‘22
Kyra Du ‘22
Lessons I Learned in the Dark
Claire Cheek ‘21
Natalie Marshall ‘21
Wellesley Girls 2.0
Anya Sheldon ‘20
Margaret Olmsted ‘21
Alyssa Robins ‘22
Samantha English ‘19
Still Waters Still waters. And then, without warning: The waves churn, bubble and boil, Crash, thrash, Recoil and expand, Each wave hurtling over the next, Spray and mist, mist and spray, Godspeed to the wretched sailor in the Bobbing boat in the midst of this, A mad, raging cacophony of screaming water— And then, silence. The waves desist. The ocean’s surface is now smooth glass, Unbroken, unstirred, But for a sailor’s cap, Riding gently along the quiet, hushed waves, the Still waters.
Cerro de la Silla | William Van Beckum
I See You | Artemisia Luk
paper life Sara Lucas
sometimes i get scared days are dying all too fast so i take paper calendars & sharpie january first, “x” to delete cross cross cross centimeter squares closer to death now am i sure, not wasting it all? time passed by, life reduced to mon. wed. sun. sat. killing off days one by one, slaughtering, days-life-breath now neatly contained. but still my bowel trembles crossing those certain squares anniversaries of when i was violated - & without dates would still transcend to now. past-present-future, but mostly past play on my brainscreen all at once & i am not really there so must firmly cross the moments with my thick black pen, say, “yes i was there.” “yes i am here.” muscle, hair, fat, sinew, bone, “i am here,” i am, survivor, hero, i am i am. i am.
existential crisis Sydney Hopper
the question when someone turns off the light and youâ€™re still in the bathroom: am I stealthy or non-existent?
Composition in Blue and Red | Rose Griesgraber
All Along Megan McNally
Have you ever had to relearn yourself? We are so distinct at different ages that I can’t help but think of myself as consisting of different, separate selves. Among them I have my favorites (sixteen charms me in her narcissism and naiveté) but that with which I perhaps most identify is simply my first self, aged three or four. There are differences, of course: she is willfully manipulative, a picky eater, and hates the outdoors. But I admire her, too, in the way she thrusts herself into life. She is bossy by nature, never afraid to take charge. She always knows what she wants to wear, what music she wants to listen to (her purple plaid skirt and Norah Jones, respectively). In these things she doesn’t take cues from anyone else, except occasionally her mother. But this is a habit the future selves will later unlearn, instead attempting over and over to fold themselves into boxes which don’t quite fit. The havoc wreaked by those foolish selves is not easy to repair.
Most importantly, that initial, foremost self knew what she wanted to be. She liked looking at beautiful pictures, and talking about them, and she liked reading and telling stories. What could be more simple than that? And yet it is only some fifteen odd years later that I find the courage to take up those things in full again. At the end of the best love stories, there is a moment when she looks at the hero, and suddenly she knows. “Of course!” she says. “It was you all along.” What a relief to know that it has been me, all along.
Adolescent Current Genevieve Fisher
Sails with holes the wind passes through too eager, and now stuck standing still the waves thrash but the mast stays strong mending takes the weaver long the dock, a haven, and memory of before Eagerness kept the hole, impatience makes the boat stand still.
The house was a green that I suppose was key lime Rose Griesgraber The house was a green that, I suppose was key lime, and the yard was defined by too much driveway. The gate was fardown and wide swinging - chain link And at night, walking back from closing it, I would be frightened because if in the sky you could see bats as the sun set and you lay upon the trampoline, then who knew what could be creeping up behind? But the crunch of the dirt, gravel, and decaying black, chunky pavement assured you that there was no one; you would hear their footsteps when you paused, scared girl. We, my father and I, tried to make the yard a little less driveway and dirt. Around the firepit rarely used was sandy, weed scattered dirt very hard packed. And he got it into his mind to make long mounds for planting - and then I did too.
Rough hands resulted from the first day - pink and green from my own pain and that of the now absent and no longer scattered weeds. The next day - much clanking as I removed the rusted hoe, only three quarters of a handle remaining,
Palette | Juna Lee
He started the job, and had to leave (mom repelled him) - work took him away. And I wanted (needed?) something to take me away too.
from the shed that we kept these sorts of garden tools in. Red replaced the pink of weed worn hands and later, the yellow white of unopened blisters took its turn. The bats told me it was time to quit but, like them, I turned a blind eye. That summer, as our vegetables grew - yellow and summer squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin I flooded the troughs everyday, watching the milky, pine needle filled water pool abstain from consistency I was eager - for fall and a homegrown jack-o-lantern, but the pumpkins rotted where they sat on the vine.
Featured Online to that one boy i loved this summer Anonymous
“they say don’t fall for a boy like him but i fell and boy i fell hard”
Because He Loves Me. Hana Kaneko
“I’m hiding in my closet with my screams tied together with the clothes that hang messy and disorganized. The shadows are pushing against my heart as the devil’s footsteps shake my skull.”
Madeline Paoletti “She turns away from the pile of ashes, which at this point have meshed into the mud and dirt beneath. I wish that was me. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. As if reading my thoughts, I hear the mother behind me say, “Veronica, why aren’t you happy?”
Dry Regrets Madeline Paoletti
“Maybe I’m waitin’ for a different comedown that won’t come. Maybe I’m hopin’ you’ll hop out that truck door; that you’ll lie with me, pretending we’re looking at the stars and not thinking ‘bout the pain that keeps us prone.”
Thrill | Michela Gerardin
Mysteries of the Horizon
to take him home. He couldn’t wait to pick up his usual order at the diner: #13 with pickles, smushed flat. The anticipation of savory steak made his stomach growl. However, he dreaded going back to his apartment. That morning a pipe had burst in his living room ceiling, it had left him scrambling for buckets to hold the water that was dripping onto his precious hardwood floor.
Thomas Mifflin was an ordinary man. He didn’t have any special skills or hold any significant amount of money. He did think that he had a decent singing voice though, at least when the eggnog finally kicked in on Christmas, but it had been years since he returned home for the holidays. His small apartment in the East Village was hidden where the millennials couldn’t touch it. He liked his quiet, away from the roaring streets of the city and the glow of people. How he hated the glow above each person’s head. His younger self was fascinated by them, like everyone else was at one point, but when he’s tired from a long day staring at numbers, he doesn’t want to see how long someone has left to live. There was no scientific explanation for the moons that hung over everyone’s head. Every few years there would be a mutant baby who didn’t have one and people swarmed. They poked and prodded until they had nothing, left exactly where they started. The Luna appeared centuries ago as a marker for human life, apparently spreading from India (or Africa or Brazil, there were too many theories for Mr. Mifflin to remember). No one really knew anything about the Lunas except when they stopped shining, you were dead. Mr. Mifflin waited for a train at Grand Central
The train was crowded, it suffocated him. He looked at his dusty reflection, the floating orb above his head seemed smaller. He quickly dismissed it for the grime on the car window. Or the moving train. Or the distortion in the reflection. “This is 14th Street Union Square. Transfer is available to the 4, 5, 6, N, Q, R, and L trains. The next stop is Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall. Stand clear of the closing doors please.” Mr. Mifflin stumbled off of the subway, pushed forward by the mass of people. His walk to the diner was a blur. He barely noticed the people staring at him, whispering and gasping as he walked by. He must have dirt on his suit or something, he was too tired to care. He turned up his collar to the cold and walked faster. The bell rang as he opened the door to the diner. “My man! Tommy! Got your #13 ri—.” Mr. Mifflin looked up at George, the owner, with a blank expression. He was greeted with eyes filled
with terror and lines of worry.
was at the end of the block, at a dead end to add to that. He stopped talking to his family 13 years ago when Pops died. Now, when his life was coming to a close, he was all alone and reminiscing about his regrets and mistakes. He hated how human he was.
“What?” George began to rummage under the counter and came out with a small mirror. “Your Luna…” Mr. Mifflin took the mirror in confusion. The handle was rusting and the glass was spotted with black dots. There was one long crack breaking the mirror into jagged halves. He slowly brought it to see his face. He was eclipsing.
He turned the corner and ran down the block to his home. The glow of his fading Luna lit the keyhole as he struggled to unlock his door. He looked around to see if someone followed him. Was he going to be murdered? He didn’t even know how he was going to die and he ran away. Coward. Mr. Mifflin slammed the door closed. His apartment was pitch black and he didn’t dare turn the light on. He started piling things against the door, to stop anything that could kill him. Everyone knew that once you started to eclipse, there was no preventing the inevitable. Mr. Mifflin stumbled backwards through his living room.
Without a second thought he ran out the door, still gripping the mirror tightly. He heard voices of people calling him back towards the light of the restaurant. What unnerved Mr. Mifflin the most was that the city streets were completely empty. He couldn’t see the glow of anyone’s Luna or hear the sputtering of car engines. The only things that disturbed the eerie peace was the clicking of his shoes on the pavement. He looked in the mirror again. His Luna was still eclipsing. He ran faster. He didn’t know where he was going, or what he was running from.
It happened instantly. He had completely forgotten the buckets he left that morning. Mr. Mifflin tripped. As he fell, his room fell into darkness and his Luna flickered out.
Mr. Mifflin thought it was human of him to be afraid of dying. He had become so detached from the world. His job had him locked in a cubicle. He hated his colleagues. They all seemed the same to him, boring and monotonous. His house
Nude Study | Rose Griesgraber
The Final Bell Alyssa Robins
The quad is bright and hot, a delicious shock after the classroom, air-conditioned to 65º to keep us awake. We squint in the powerful sunlight, the new concrete and buildings on every side turning everything white, white. Yasiwant and I sit at one of the green-umbrellaed tables that leave chunky fishnet patterns on our legs and elbows, and Madame comes to sit with us. We don’t talk much, because we can only speak in French so long as Madame is there, and we do not want to. Other kids spread out to the remaining tables, or congregate under the awnings of the buildings all around. They laugh and talk together, gathered in wobbly circles, their voices oddly muffled in the heat and impossible whiteness of the sun beating down. It makes them seem far away.
done. Christ, I am so ready to finally be done. This is one of the last times I will sit in this quad, though, one of the last times I will take classes here, will respond to these horrible mechanic bells, will meet my friends at Brunch, will talk to these teachers, will wake up an hour before sunrise to be here for them. It’s nostalgic, too. I’ll miss it. I’m already planning my summer, and it looks like this: Sleep. Start going on bike rides to Jamba Juice again. Read for fun. Sleep. Watch a movie for once. Sleep. But I am also planning how to honor backwards, as well as forwards. I am making painted books for five of my favorite teachers, to whom I will also send long thankyou emails. I’ve promised to come back and visit them. And this summer, I am going to France with one of them, and with some of my old classmates: The last time we will see each other.
Inside the second story windows, I imagine the juniors and underclassmen taking their finals, crouching over their desks, lost to everything except their tests and the clock, jiggling their plastic pencils between answers. Occasionally stretching back, arms over their heads and feet splayed, blowing puffs of air toward the ceilings. You would think that this kind of tension would make a noise like a beehive, but if these buildings hum, they do so silently. I can picture this clump of buildings as it must look from high above, bathed in white like little iceboxes left in the sun.
For now, Yasi and I put some music on, Stromae and Black M., and rap along softly to the sharp angular tones of my phone’s speakers, all dirty oranges, yellows and greens. I watch the kids under the awnings. One girl swings her phone, pinched between her thumb and middle finger, and talks to a boy with his arms crossed. In a knot of boys, one reaches up and wraps his arms around his friend’s shoulders, nodding along to the conversation I can’t hear. Two girls start up a clapping game, the kind we played in kindergarten. They are giving themselves therapy, I think, playing these past thirteen years from bottom to top like a keyboard, now that we are at the end. These laughing girls are in mourning.
I am so goddamn tired. Tired and ready to be
“En français, s’il vous plait!” Madame calls out
to the group, and, startling us, lets her head fall back in a silent shout of laughter, turning from teacher to person to teacher again in the space of a second. An office lady passes by, and we tense a little, automatically, wondering if she will send us back to class. Madame is our immunity. She leans back, calls out a quiet “Good afternoon.” The office lady waves in reply and walks on silently into the hazy whiteness, and the intercom at her hip is quiet too. Yasi rests his head on folded arms, and the air smells like new concrete. I watch the kids under the awnings. I was a part of their social circle once too. Not their circle in particular, but the social circle of high school, the Pool. I dove into it like a dog into the middle of a fast-flowing river. It was wonderful, and reaching the other side of the river was even more wonderful still. I can watch them now without wanting to be with them.
dirty looks!” We will hold each other’s hands and say, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” Kids will scream louder and jump higher than I will believe possible. Their faces will be full of a joy that is just beginning to dawn on them. They will be free in a way they haven’t been since they were five years old. But, for now, we sit and stand around the warm, white quad, listening to Stromae singing about where his father has gone, waiting the last fifteen minutes before the final bell.
Over the next few weeks, we will practice every day for graduation. I will sit in the front row with the twenty other valedictorians. We will get sunburned everywhere, moan about having to be there, play on our phones. We will graduate. I will be the first to get my diploma, and they will forget to turn the microphone on as they call my name. Our class president will shock us all by saying, “We are the last generation of children who played outside.” We will throw our caps in the air, get clobbered by other people’s flung caps, go running across the fields in our high heels—wedges only; no pumps. All around me, kids will leap into one another’s arms, shouting, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’
Between the Lines | Anissa Kurani
Sonata Claire Cheek
In summertime I think of you you, vous, tĂš, the forever melody mumbled in my ear, the symphony shrieking inside my head, the cacophony of tall blossoms billowing in the wind and of verano storms rumbling in the distance, hasty bees buzzing past me as I lay my head upon the cool earth and clench the soft grass still dreaming of you my head on your shoulder (cantabile, cantata) your voice in my ear (adagio, addolorato) sing me softly to sleep (piano, pianissimo) a tear down my cheek (lacrimoso, legato) yet a reverie of hope (fantaisie, finale)
Thief Listening Lily Herold
Drunkards no longer frequent Everett Street. Wanderers no longer nap in the shade of its dumpsters. The alleyway is dingy, even by their standards, and the single streetlamp offers only a scintillating half-light. But Everett Street once bustled with a nightly cacophony: Men and women once came here, their empty hands full of brown bottles, and spoke to the graffiti-stained walls. I lived in the only apartment on Everett Street, and I always kept my window open. Even in January. Swaddled in blankets, I would listen to the drunkards’ sins, contemplate their thick accents and strange sorrows. It was the New York winters I loved best — the New York winters when I could discern every syllable of the restless murmuring in the alleyway below. Words and snowflakes fluttered onto my threadbare rug:
Tjuvlyssna, my grandfather called it. Thief listening. At first, he tried to close my window against the icy breezes: “These aren’t regrets for your ears, Madde. You’re eavesdropping on someone else’s woes.” But I did not possess my grandfather’s quiet dignity. Instead, I welcomed the words, began to recognize certain voices and stories. Other children, I knew vaguely, were lulled to sleep by the soft voice of their mother—by idealistic, carefully phrased tales of faraway kingdoms.
and buffalo, drunkards are creatures of migration
“Ah, Shit! Küss meinen Arsch!” “God, oh god, she tol’ me to, she tol’ me I swear. ” “Hey! HEY, you seena Frederick? You seen ’im?”
I was lulled to sleep by repentances orated in a drunken stupor.
But, like butterflies and buffalo, drunkards are creatures of migration. Perhaps they were dying out, perhaps the contemporary drunks preferred the glaring lights of the inner-city. Or maybe the answer lies in the broken bottles; perhaps the alleyway air was simply too choked with regret. And so the drunks migrated. Tentatively, dandelions sprouted between the rifts in the sidewalk. An otherworldliness lingered about the shimmering brown glass and the creeping foliage, a distinct nostalgia settled among the relics of long-past drunken soirées. The nights became cloaked in an eerie silence, and I rarely slept.
Meanwhile, my grandfather revelled: “Gudskelov!” he cried, “Thank God!” From beneath a floorboard he withdrew a set of paints, their plastic casings cracked and worn. Sensing my melancholy, he sought to fill the quiet the drunks had left behind: “I will paint the silence for you, Madde,” he told me, wrapping a woolen scarf around his white beard. There was something strangely alluring about the recklessness with which my mother’s father — my morfar — threw paint brush to page. Our dimly lit apartment, so lacking in luxury, was rife with harlequin canvases, and I spent many sunlit afternoons sitting on the fire escape, watching in awe as his dexterous hand gave color to a landscape dismal and desolate — so desolate, in fact, that it seemed to exist in tones of grey. But New York was unkind; no one seemed interested in the watercolors of the old Swedish man on the corner. Though he illustrated emotion with startling accuracy, his wavering lines weren’t reminiscent of reality, and this was his Achilles heel in the world of painting: he never captured objects, only abstract echoes.
months ago) were not yet sure whether to bloom or stay dormant. Everett Street seemed caught between sputtering snowfall and incipient verdure; a light frost obscured the tumbleweed, a breath of wind caressed the infant grasses. The dandelions spoke amongst themselves, their words windswept and fleeting: Curl up in the soft earth? Or survive in a world fraught with transformation? Through a kaleidoscope of chimneys and skyscrapers, I glimpsed the darkening heavens — a chink in the city’s armour. My grandfather hummed on the other side of the alleyway, never washing his paintbrush as he mixed soft azure with bright vermilion. Shivering slightly, I drew the blankets closer and pressed my ear to the delicate foliage. Tjuvlyssna, I thought. Thief listening.
My grandfather looked small as he stood in our doorway. Tattered coat. Pants rolled at the ankles. Gently, he tucked his easel under his arm before stepping onto Everett Street. Bundled in a patchwork of rags and blankets, I followed, my footfalls light on the wooden floor. Beyond the crumbling concrete steps loomed a spring evening indecisive: the larkspurs and anemones (whose seeds I’d scattered some
AMERICAN GIRL Deavihan Scott
In Jamaica The first thing you will notice Are the skinny dogs And the tiny puppies with no home because That’s the first thing I noticed when the plane touched down The first time I screamed When someone threw rocks at this small dog with an ear that looked Like it’d been chewed off My cousins looked at me Like I was crazy I went to Jamaica Like a Spanish conquistador This was a land where the people were impoverished And needed saving They probably walked barefoot, On streets filled with broken glass My aunt’s house had air conditioning In Jamaica, my mother was in her element Her accent was thick and she was drinking hot soup from a cup She seemed so free I couldn’t imagine her in our cold home With the snowy weather
And all my cousins saw me as The American Girl Which I found strange because In America I had several titles And I wasn’t sure If I liked this one. Tammy was younger than me by two years And four months But she led me around Boldly sat next to me on the couch When the last time we’d seen each other She’d been 8 and I’d been 10 She taught me Patois She wanted to be a dentist She was me - but funnier And with better eyebrows We ate patties on a hammock And Tammy told me she wanted to explore That she wanted to go to America I thought about America I thought for a long time And I didn’t answer her Because I didn’t want to lie
Sunday Cheryn Shin
Divide | Minerva Johar
people sit huddled against the cold as the sliding glass door opens and closes opens and closes. we drink green tea and black coffee as people rush by the cafe window like blurring white snow with necks hidden under scarves and coat collars.
Does This Pose Make Me Look Cool | Andy Arrangoiz
And It Was True Sarah White
Content warnings: violence, references to sexual assault, references to suicide/abuse They called it the “Truth in Politics” law, and after it passed, politicians could only tell the truth. It did not change how politicians spoke at all. “People can pull themselves out of poverty if they work hard,” they said, and because they had said it, it became true. Single mothers juggling three jobs found checks in their mailboxes marked “for tuition” or “for formula” or “for the debt.” The checks never listed a sender and never bounced. Businesses discovered that their payroll systems had given everyone 15% raises and couldn’t figure out how to change it back. A supervisor trying to demand that an employee come in on her sick day found the words caught in his throat and heard himself offering her his own job instead. Everyone who had ever forced a laugh at a customer’s “working hard or hardly working?” joke found a neat stack of hundred-dollar bills under their pillow. “Being gay is a choice,” they said, and people could choose to be gay. Many did. “The refugees are dangerous,” they said, and the refugees were. When they marched in the streets, their voices boomed so loudly that even those who avoided seeing them could not avoid hearing them. When counter-protestors attacked, flimsy, hand-lettered pasteboard signs
formed an impenetrable shield. The refugees woke to find that notices of voter registration, uncontested and freely granted, had materialized on their doorsteps. They marched to the polls that November as a triumphing army. “If women take the proper steps, they can protect themselves from sexual assault,” they said, and women could. When they yelled “stop” and “no,” men were frozen in place like leering statues. Short skirts and halter tops gave electric shocks to anyone touching them without consent. Cardigans and jeans did too. Rape whistles stopped making shrieking noises at attempted predators and started firing tiny poisonous darts at them instead. Forcefields formed around women too intoxicated to consent, repelling all unkind hands. When women took the proper steps of not wanting to be raped, they weren’t. “Immigrants are taking our jobs,” politicians said, and immigrants did. They ran for office and took the jobs of the politicians who said it. The politicians wished they had used more precise pronouns. “Giving money to the rich will trickle down to the poor,” they said, and money did. When wealthy people swiped their credit cards, money drained from their accounts in amounts far greater than the sums of their purchases. Poor
people woke up to find extra zeros in their bank accounts. When the wealthy pulled cash from their billfolds, they found the bills slipping free between their fingers. They dropped their wallets to grab at the money and the cash started shooting from their wallets as well. Swarms of bills flitted away like colorful clouds of confetti. Blocks away, homeless people huddled around grates were surprised when invisible hands dropped hundred-dollar bills in their cups. If a rich person forgot about something—their second-favorite diamond watch, their third-favorite set of pearl earrings--a member of their domestic staff found it in the lining of their pockets. “College campuses are all about ‘safe spaces’ now,” they said, and campuses were. Staff members who harassed students saw their misdeeds appear in school newspapers beneath their employee headshots. A graduate student tried to swallow a whole bottle of pills and found they had turned to M&M’s. Hungry students who couldn’t afford meal plans found dining hall doors swinging open when they walked past. Survivors of sexual assault discovered they could push their attackers away with a glare or frightened glance. A man walked onto a college campus with a knife in his pocket and dark intentions in his heart, and the knife broke against the skin of the first student’s chest. “Free markets work best when they’re deregulated,” they said, and the markets thrived. Congress passed laws allowing bankers to do whatever they wanted: sell risky mortgages, default on people’s homes at will, lie to the government,
shoplift. Stock markets soared in response, and economists scratched their heads. A banker double-parked on Broadway and the GDP improved 2.7%. “Climate change is a myth,” they said, and science became legend. Once, humanity had such hubris that they thought they were more important than Mother Nature herself. They ripped resources from her belly, burned her blood to power their machines, released poisonous vapors that shredded the skin that protected her from the worst of the Sun’s rays. Nature tried to heal herself, but she burned with such a fever that she shed tears that began to flood the land. The myth became imprinted upon the world’s consciousness alongside the stories of Adam and Eve, Pandora and her box, Icarus and his wings of feather and wax; a cautionary tale that was both only metaphor and deeply true. Children learned these stories’ lessons in their bones. “There’s a War on Christmas,” they said, and war was declared. Mobs stormed department stores, jabbing inflatable Santas with push-pins and shredding tinsel into clouds of shiny debris. They tore branches from Christmas trees to make torches. They tied together oversized candy cane decorations to form curved, pronged pitchforks. A band of Christmas warriors in New York City chopped down the Rockefeller Christmas tree at its base. They chanted their war cry as they carried their trophy through the streets: “Happy Holidays! Happy Holidays! HAPPY HOLIDAYS!”
“Guns don’t kill people,” they said, and guns didn’t. A would-be mass shooter was stunned when his assault rifles sprayed middle schoolers with bubbles instead of bullets. Soldiers pulled triggers and watched balloons swell from the tips of their rifles, swaying and floating free like brightly colored birds. The gun of an abusive partner, rarely seen but frequently referenced, turned into lavender-scented soap in his nightstand drawer. A suicidal boy tucked his parent’s rifle under his jaw, pulled the trigger, and felt a stream of small white pills pelt his chin in the place of bullets. The law was repealed in a month.
When Your Mother Tells You to Stay Away from Gateway Drugs, Listen Jennifer Boyd
Itâ€™s 2 PM and we are sharing a cigarette in his backseat. I ask him why
his thumb on the lighter looks like a prayer. A sight to make an atheist
itâ€™s so early and we are smoking. He takes me to an empty temple, hands me
pious. In an empty temple, bourbon is gold and venom tastes like rosewater.
a needle and the map of a wound. I was taught to stay away from gateway
How could rage enter a room so silently and become a baptismal? The boy found
drugs and boys with mouths that could light a house on fire. When he shoulders
absolution in ash and gaslight, emptiness wrote an autobiography in his sideburns.
the inhale I think maybe there is healing in the sulfur, honey in the tar.
He wants to heal something, he wants to heal.
I am the wound and I want to heal something. He is wearing white and
Urban Blooms | Anissa Kurani
PONME MINUTOS EN EL CEL PORFA Alicia Olivo 2017 My grandparents look at me from the other side of the phone screen. They tell me they love me. I love them too, but how do I say, “How can you love me if you don’t even know me,” without breaking their hearts? I smile and wave. 2005 A battered white play telephone sits in the toy trunk in my younger sister’s bedroom. It was mine, but the majority of our toys were kept in that clear plastic bin with a broken lid. The very much real phone my family bought at the Big Lots! rests heavy in my right hand as I lay down on the floor. I hold up the piece of paper my friend from down the road had scrawled her number on. We were finally on summer break, and I didn’t think I would be able to visit her. She writes down her number after I tell her that I’m not sure if I can give out my family’s, and asks me to call her. I sigh and type in the number for the seventh time. Exasperated, the person on the line tells me for the seventh time that no one by my friend’s name lives there. They hang up. I stare at the numbers some more. I start dialing the same number again, unable to do much other than
what I’ve been told. Perhaps if I believed hard enough, the numbers would be right this time. 2007 The phone call she’s on abruptly ends, and my mother curses out loud. She asks him to purchase a calling card at the corner store that isn’t really a corner store since it’s midway down the street, nestled in-between apartment complexes across from a small cluster of houses. I was envious for my classmates who lived in those homes by green lawns, up until I learned that I was never going to have that. My father puts on his jacket and says he’ll be back soon. I dread having to talk to my family on the other side of the phone, the other side of the border. 2010 My parents take an hour and a half to pick me up from school. They don’t know where I am, much less know the language required to ask for me. Luckily, you can spend a whole day in my hometown without speaking English. They berate me when they find me sitting on a bench on the side of my intermediate school, where students’ parents’ cars ride to pick us up. I get a phone that slides open right after. It’s red. The first thing I do when I get home isn’t to transfer the contacts from my father’s phone,
to make sure I know my parents’ numbers, nor those of my friends who have long had their own flip phones, only to get them often confiscated in class. No. I stand by the television in the room that I share with my sister, wait for the perfect Disney Channel music video to come on, and record.
social media notifications from celebrities who will never care for people like my family. My right ear itches, and I scratch it. I stare. I pick up the phone.
My ringtones since then have only gotten more obnoxious. 2014 My father stops me before I can go into my room and holds out his cell phone. “Tu abuelo quiere hablar contigo,” he says. I shakily breathe and I take the phone. I can only stutter out cardboard answers (“Dios te bendiga, mija.” “Gracias, a ti también.”) when all my mind can think is, who are you, why are you so far, why can’t I reach you? 2016 Several friendships are ended through a single text. I’m not sure what to feel, other than the pure static that has been stuck in my brain since I started college. Unable to do anything more with genuine emotion, I went through the motions of my day. Showered, ate, did homework, smiled, and cracked a joke in class. After all, I’d been told that I would be the first in my family to graduate high school, and first to graduate from college. It’s what I had to do. 2018 I look at my phone. Just more emails. More
Theism Camille Brunetti
God is almighty i’ve seen it with my own eyes felt it with my own spun heart God cracked us open and apart it took no miracles or booming declarations just that constant, gentle decay because i am not sightless but i never looked up like you did because every word you said to me was rescinded in prayer because every time i felt your fingertips you were reaching for repentance somehow milk and honey always taste like dust and ash with you do you remember when you called me an angel? you said you thought i was an angel sent to you by God to test you to seduce you what are women but challenges? what was i if not to be overcome? i think you think too much of how much God thinks of you i still remember how you said “If I was twenty-five And felt this way about you I’d propose” i am so glad we were only fifteen may we never drink of the same cup or partake of the same body may your sickness be yours alone let my richer or poorer be mine let God never lay his eyes on me again.
Tunnel Vision| Minerva Johar
The Harbinger Kyra Du
Content warnings: gun violence, blood, death [三] Looking back into the dusty fog of my boyhood, The Harbinger stood out as my only constant companion, with the exception of my dead brother. It sat atop the cover mantelpiece of my mother’s garage-sale-purchased piano, erect and burgeoning. The belly spilled out magnanimously like a porcelain waterfall curved outwards, or rather, like the plump body of a smiling, slanteyed monk with a necklace of spherical beads, a figure whose variations now, at least, only really exist on the countertops of some smoky Oriental restaurant in a thick San Francisco-esque din, gilded over with cheap gold paint.The red varnish which coated its sides and the intricate, frozen patterns of tangled vines and blooming orchids that enshrined its swooping bulge was interrupted by slim cracks swimming under the plaster, like thin strings of wet hair smeared upon its milky surface. Nevertheless, while I was practicing, The Harbinger was the most beautiful thing in the world. The Harbinger was my benevolent guardian. Coated in red, it looked down from the tops of the piano and watched over me, situated in the space between my scrawny body sticky with sweat on the peeled leather piano bench and my mother, sitting on the uneven dining chair beside
me. The watchman. Whenever my fingers would betray me and play a B instead of a B flat over keys slick with my sweat, or some other demonic variation, The Harbinger would warn me of the incoming storm. It’s coming, Shelby, it would whisper, she’s going to go off again. “Ai — wrong, that was wrong,” my mother would spit out, her tongue sharpening the hot, obsidian surface of Mandarin into a black scythe. If my playing skills were particularly inadequate, she would then hack at me again, adding, in English this time, “Why you can’t focus, eh? Why you can’t — you can’t be like —” I would play again. While I was playing, it probably seemed as though I was staring at the music sheet when in reality, I would be searching for answers in The Harbinger’s passive, avuncular expression. My fingers went awry; my mother exploded again. Behind me, the framed photo of nine-year-old Jesse performing at Cambridge University simmered. “I’m sorry, son,” I remember The Harbinger saying once. “She’s only got him on her mind.” [二] The news of my brother’s death came to my mother two weeks before she was scheduled to give birth to me. I was born just four days shy of his would-be eighteenth birthday. Official documentation states that I was born around 4:56
AM, surrounded by the local doctors and my mother, although this is not entirely true. When I was born, Jesse was there, too. He was there, standing over my mother reclining in the hospital bed, his body still riddled with the bullet holes: one in his chest, one in his stomach, the third through his brain. Jesse stood over me and my mother and his eyes were apathetic while blood leaked in rivulets from the holes in his body — onto the marble floor, into the cotton sheets of my baby blanket still wrapped tight around me, dripping against my mother’s front lobe so the red streaked down her face until it curved around her cheekbone and towards her chin, like tears. It was the first time, but not the last, that Jesse’s ghost had reached a cold, blazing claw into the arteries of my heart and pulled. [一] I asked my mother about the origin of The Harbinger on the summer before I turned ten. It was the hot, sticky first of July and the anniversary of Jesse’s death. And since it was a Sunday, that also meant it was mandatory reading day. My mother and I were settled on the sofa cocooned in plastic wrapping. “We went to China sometimes,” my mother answered, after a pregnant silence. “To visit grandparents. And to let XiaoLing practice his Chinese, although he did not need to. Unlike you.” My mother sniffed and spoke again, this
time in English, “You Chinese sucks.” She proceeded to then turn a page of a grainy and quasi-soggy Chinese newspaper which had made its debut into my life through the overly air-conditioned entrances of the local Asian food market, where the scent of peeled leeks and ripe honey-melon still clung to its drooping corners. And since my ten-year-old self was already well versed in the labyrinthine nature of my mother’s conversations, I avoided a landmine by not indulging her. Instead, I settled deeper into the squeaky, plastic-coated body of our family couch. I clutched my battered copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn even though, when I was sure she wasn’t looking, my hand would try and sneak between the sofa cushions to reach the glossy surface of Batman: No Man’s Land. “Mama, what time is it?” “You ask me again and your one hour reading time will start over.” My mother was positioned on one end with her Chinese newspaper written in hieroglyphics, me on the opposite. In between us sat Jesse, bleeding all over the upholstery, his body a trifecta. “What are you looking at,” my mother spoke, not even glancing up from her newspaper. “Focus on your reading.” “I wasn’t looking at anything, Mama.”
“Then why you not reading?” It was English this time, and I ducked my head over Huckleberry Finn. After reading time was over, I tried to wipe the blood from the cushions. It wasn’t too hard since the fabric was protected by a layer of plastic wrapping; the blood came off easily in spools of expanding pinkish circles. My mother walked in just is I was kneeling on the carpet to wipe away the stains that had escaped from the cushion and dripped onto the floor. “What are you doing, HongHong? Is that my new kitchen towel?” I hastily stood up and hid the cloth behind my back, even though I knew my mother couldn’t see the red blooming through the white. “You idiot boy,” my mother chided, her straight back and strong, wide shoulders shifting as she shuffled over to pry the bloody towel from my hands. “Look, it’s all filthy with dust now.” My mother held the thing by its two corners and then flicked her wrists in and out, twice in succession, quick and fleeting as the bony legs of a flighty grasshopper. I watched as a few droplets hit the soft indented midsection of the sofa, the middle cushion where Jesse had been only moments ago, and wondered, briefly, if I were allowed to follow to the place where my dead brother had vanished.
亲爱的, 你知道什么是砚吗? It comes to existence first from the earth, whose blackened lips reach up to kiss the salty water of the sea. 黑土.你知道吗? It comes away with 墨水, like the dark saliva which coats two smoking sticks of incense, balancing so dangerously that the monkey king in the clouds morphs into manhood so he can listen. The brush falls next. 毛笔. A magic stick weaves through sweet fire and scented oils and carves gorges along the black body: a glue cake. The spit of a boy loosens its strings so that the sugar inside the ink bleeds into the pink lining down his throat to become. Finally, the porcelain bowl. 瓷器.白白的脸, 像月亮一 样. The aged face makes it seem so kind; it stands inside a dusty shop in some obscure city and some obscure time until the boy comes in again with a white smile brilliant against the milky, colorless surface.可是这是假的. But that is an abstraction. It is only until the brother comes, clear water leaking from his eyes, that we see the true hues: 红. Red, like the rising sun. 亲爱的弟弟*, oh how I love you so. [四] I still dream of Jesse. His spirit floats inside of my body, my conscience his barrack and feeding ground. In my dream, where it is neither night nor day, only a bright whiteness like the full moon, he crouches above me and watches as I struggle to stay clinging to the gaping maw of a black well expanding beneath air. His wounds
are open and dripping red onto the sunflower petals by his feet and down onto my skin. Jesse speaks, too. He chants and repeats the same phrase in Chinese every single time and even though I can understand Chinese decently well from the mouth of my mother and the living, I can never understand the Chinese of the dead. The only way I know that Jesse is speaking to me in the mother tongue is because of the way the sounds from his throat vibrate inside my hot, suffocating body and then straight up through to my own lips, where the same language would threaten to spill out like cracked, misshapen stones; like the only way I could ever speak the language Jesse speaks is if the words tore themselves directly out from my esophagus simply on the account of my mouth being too weak of a vessel to hold such pain and such incomprehensible power. “Wait,” I gasp, still dreaming. “Wait for me.” Jesse only grins, the hole in his head snaking red ink down into his face, across his eye and then over his top lip so that it taints a crack between two gleaming white teeth. I feel myself slipping from my grasp now swallowed with blood. The skin turns red, red, red. “Please.” My brother leans in close and whispers to me the language of rocks as I fall. *Dear little brother.
Lessons I Learned in the Dark Claire Cheek
I. Thereâ€™s always more to know: Wedged underneath the stale sheets Lies a sacrifice They do not tell you The tales of stillness, The feeling of nothing. II. To be still is a gift, One I have yet to uncover But one I still yearn for. The rupture of skin, The absence of being, Senseless noise Fading into the hush of air. III. All too soon for sound, You will awake At the strangest of hours To invisible whispers, Garbles of innocence. You try to hold on And remember What it felt to be nothing.
Reassurance | Natalie Marshall
43 Wellesley Girls 2.0 | Anya Sheldon
radiator Margaret Olmsted
they’ll say that loneliness was a part of her character she wanted to keep intact because she only really feels like herself when she can walk off into frozen blue nights without being pursued without being questioned or discussed in her absence. no one could ever really belong to her because her hands were not sculpted to hold anybody for long— to hold anybody at all— and it’s hard to love her. it’s hard. she’ll throw off your affection like a blanket strangling her in her sleep; she’ll sit up fast, turn off the radiator and stare out the window, like she never wanted you— like she could dismiss the whole affair in a moment— and she’ll press her palm to the icy window as if to stay, as if to sleep in your warmth would burn.
They Say Alyssa Robins
Mother Married | Samantha English
If you are willing to step down from your podium To teach me what you know and to Learn from me Learn From books, diagrams, dirt, dust in noses, the Way stars bunch together like birds, your Weight by the dent you leave In the bed fifty years later, the Beauty of a blue French door, the Way light always changes, then Come Sit with me in a night-lit diner Let us write with Ephemeral fingertips the Plans of our lives On those white Formica tables
With special thanks to Wellesley College Printing Services the Wellesley College English Department & El Table
Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All works are selected through an anonymous submissions process. Submissions are open to Wellesley students, faculty, and alumni. For more information, please visit www.thewellesleyreview.org.