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THE WELLESLEY REVIEW Poetry | Art | Prose


MASTHEAD Editors-in-Chief Elle Friedberg ’17 Laura Maclay ’18 Rachel Pak ’18 Art Editors Julia Li ’18 Somé Louis ’17 Art Board Jacki Hom ’18 Eve Montie ’20 Poetry Editors Mahnoor Mirza ’18 Tanushree Mohan ’18 Poetry Board Claire Beyette ’19 Linda (Zixia) Liu ’19 Prose Editors Sanjana Thakur ’20 Sarah White ’19

Cover Design “Evanescent” by Sarah Zhang ’18, Photography Please send submissions to thewellesleyreview@gmail.com. All works are selected though an anonymous submission process. Submissions are open to Wellesley students and alumni. For more info, please visit www.thewellesleyreview.org

Prose Board Christine Arumainayagam ’20 Justine Duan ’20 Moira Johnston ’17 Hope Kim ’18 Mahnoor Mirza ’18 Kiana Stacy ’20 Layout Editor Noor Pirani ’19 Assistant Layout Editor Claire Cannatti ’20 Treasurer Emma Rogalewski ’18 Founding Editor Sumitra Chakraborty ’08


Contents Code of Conduct

9 10

Maja Svanberg ’18

Red Rock

12

Alison Savage ’18

The Human Experience

13

Darlene Harsono ’19

Unfettered Love

14

Mahnoor Mirza ’18

Obituary

16

Cat Yoke ’17

Balancing Act

17

Michelle Atwood ’19

Guardians

18

Remi Kobayashi ’19

Philosophy Major

19

Jenny-Marie Stryker ’17

Pancakes

20

April Poole ’19

Nomenclature

22

Jenny-Marie Stryker ’17

Reflections

24

Doris Li ’20

A Palace for the People

25

Jenny-Marie Stryker ’17

Materialism

26

Alex Boehmke DS ’17

Reincarnation

30

Lu Fang ’17

Mirror Stages

31

Camille Bond ’17

Patchwork of Shards

32

Noor Pirani ’19

Skaggs Island - Abandoned Naval Base

41

Leila-Anne Brusseau DS ’17

Touch Pool

42

Aggie Rieger ’17

Molluscs and the Sea

43

Camille Bond ’17

As the Seas Rise

44

Anya Sheldon ’20

States of Mind

45

April Poole ’19

Lost and Found

47

Linda (Zixia) Liu ’19

Productive Conversation

Cat Yoke ’17


Military to Wildlife - Owl Fledgling at an Abandoned Navy Base

51

The Gryffindor Girl

52

Paige Hauke ’19

Morning

54

Jacki Hom ’18

Ophelia

55

Sarah White ’19

Decay

59

Stacey Kim ’19

Immortal Cells

60

Aggie Rieger ’17

Machine Art

61

Aggie Rieger ’17

Exodus

62

Lu Fang ’17

Night

63

Anonymous

In Response to “You’re like not even Black”

65

Sarah Nwafor ’20

The Most Feminine Thing

67

Sarah Nwafor ’20

Upturned

69

Nadine Franklin ’18

october 25th, 2016

70

Debra Rowcroft ’19

Bug Bites in June

71

Cat Yoke ’17

Epilogue

73

Emily Prechtl ’20

Map of My Subconscious

81

Elle Friedberg ’17

Leila-Anne Brusseau DS ’17


Code of Conduct Maja Svanberg ’18 I let you in when you knocked, and watched you roam as though you had never seen anything like me before. You quizzed me about my books, you laughed at my embarrassing mementos, and together, we emptied my best bottle of wine.

I knew in a heartbeat your eyes wouldn’t adjust. So in an attempt to escape your false mirror I turned the key in its lock, leaving you out.

9 Svanberg

In the morning, your eyes got stuck on the canvas. You wanted to know the meaning behind the deep brushstrokes and fiery center.

Poetry

We said to share and keep our secrets. But I didn’t tell you, I’m a light sleeper. I tried, but couldn’t ask you to leave.


Productive Conversation Cat Yoke ’17

Poetry 10

In poetry class we talk about mountains and the men who climb them. Did she drive him to suicide? An old man in the back of the class wears a tweed sport coat and answers his own question, nodding slowly and pressing his white, cracked lips together. My professor coughs. He doesn’t think you can ever know such things. He says people leave each other every day, and what’s the point really in divvying up blame.

Yoke

We try to move on back to the mountains I think about all the blood draining from my fingertips and the heavy, wet socks peeling off my burning feet. A classmate doesn’t understand why you’d work so hard for zero displacement and the man in the back is insisting Adrienne Rich has something to do with her husband’s death. When my classmates speaks again the woman next to her says wow and the man in the back, rips at his hearing aid before placing it on his desk.


Poetry

He starts humming louder than he realizes and thinks about his sweet, late wife and the women who have driven men to mountain climbing and worse, this classroom now full of girls who gape at meaning like fish.

Yoke

11


Art 12 Savage

Red Rock Alison Savage ’17 Digital Photography


Darlene Harsono ’19 I’ve never met you But I recognize your breath Together, we sigh

Poetry

- The human experience

Harsono

13


Unfettered Love Mahnoor Mirza ’18 It had just rained over the garden, the droplets of water on grass trickled through the thin fabric of her jean blue espadrilles and stained them. She looked down at the soles, the edges muddied up from the soil, and cursed herself for having thought it made sense to sacrifice comfort for her aesthetic. As she walked into the courtyard, she was saved by the flurry of friends that came to receive her, but there were only two people she wanted to meet.

Prose 14 Mirza

It was her first time seeing them since she heard they found each other, and a part of her just wanted to prove that in being alone she was still beautiful. She promised herself that upon the encounter she would maintain a reasonable threshold for jealousy, but in the first few seconds of seeing her with him she couldn’t stop thinking of how many hours this girl must have spent trimming her thick brows and making it appear as if she had any kind of bodily curves. Sure, she was the conventional skinny pretty, with proportional facial features and the dark, thick wavy hair you would desire, but there was nothing distinctive about her. Her beady black eyes were depthless, a single colored surface that allowed no one in. The lids were heavy with mascara as if to say ‘I see you’—but she saw nothing. Yet somehow she had him, she succeeded in captivating a rare person such as him. Those coffee-colored eyes that would gently ease their gaze in greeting you and that warm chestnut hair with soft edges that contrasted his stubble-laced jawline. Compassion flowed through him and transpired to those who looked at him for even an instant. She remembered when he used to turn to her, his shoulders loosening and palms instinctively opening up, welcoming her home. And in seeing him now, he held his hands close to himself and his body was no longer hers to share. As he ambled towards her, she watched the pieces of him recede, like grains of a sandglass drawing further away, becoming hazy and less familiar. Even after all these years, residual memories of their relationship lived in the projections of her mind and she couldn’t recall a day without thinking of him with her. She pondered the thought that her


life without him had just been a series of attempts to recreate in others what she lost in him. The spaces of her life she had once carved out just for him were an empty pit with no way out.

15 Mirza

In the moment, she could feel her eyes watching them, but they weren’t the only ones. The full-sized canvas of Jamil Naqsh’s “Unfettered Love” lay on the wall behind them, pigeons held in hand, red-eyed and wary of the way they moved, the woman’s glassy white eyes staring back in wonder at the spectacle of them. Naqsh had lived his life in recluse, but he painted eyes as if he’d seen a thousand. She wondered how he would paint her eyes; would he catch her fear of becoming insignificant and the desire to be loved? His art captured the unspeakable thoughts of forbidden love and lust, the paralyzing second of longing when all you do to express want is look. And when she looked up, she had to shield her eyes with composure, for his coffee-colored eyes were darker than she imagined them in her dreams.

Prose

She felt him stop before he did, only a few inches away, conscious that this was the first time in months he breathed in the same air. He broke into a slight laugh and said, ‘Been a while.’ Leaning in, he wrapped one arm around her waist and brushed his cheek on hers. But she could only close her eyes and place her head in the crevice between his neck and shoulder, pretending the three words exchanged were something else.


Obituary Cat Yoke ’17 Fifty-four and cradling a picture of his wrinkled father, my father paces the kitchen island and thinks of all the times he failed to pick up the phone. The last time I saw my grandfather I matched clothes with my sister and belly-laughed when various shades of green and pink clay spiraled from a Play-Doh meat grinder. That couch was lilac and soaked with cigarette smoke and my siblings breathed through their mouths, crossing and uncrossing their legs, nervously shifting their weight, as grandpa shouted at the news, taking his four o’clock whiskey straight and on the rocks.

Poetry 16

I remind my father the phone works both ways, when I mean to say, we left that place for a reason, those screaming cicadas falling like leaves and the snakes, poisonous ones, in the middle of the hot, black street and, perhaps worst of all, your mother’s runny, milky alfredo, your father’s short fuse. Christ, my father gapes at me, he’s dead. Horrified and shaking his head, he means to ask me when I go, what then?

Yoke

My father, leaning on his elbows now, will not recall that house and its chronic, sloppy footsteps but will forget his father all together. He will hang that man’s face all over this apartment and drape one arm around his aging son. Together they will hover over this same, yellow picture and trace the deep ridges in pop’s cheek and, seeing their mothers, remember to hate them.


Art Atwood

17

Balancing Act Michelle Atwood ’19 Photography


Art 18 Kobayashi

Guardians Remi Kobayashi ’19 Ink pen on paper


You’re full woman, you fear nothing with you i feel full woman too, you pour with a heavy hand, and in you i sip the world.

Stryker

Sugar dissolves in you like coffee: you drink it black, daily

Poetry

You can think about the meaning of life, of love—the meaning of meaning and i can barely think about my own name for too long without feeling scared

I’m in awe.

Jenny-Marie Stryker ’17

Philosophy Major

19


Pancakes April Poole ’19 On November 1st, Julia walked into the dining hall to see Alice eating cinnamon roll pancakes with some guy she’s never seen before and knew her friendship with Alice was truly over. She stopped short in the entrance to the dining hall, people grumbling as they pushed around her. Her throat started to hurt like it does when she tries to push down tears, and she pushed back through the rush of people into the lobby.

Prose 20 Poole

Cinnamon roll pancakes in the dining hall on Sunday mornings was their tradition. They scouted the menu online every Sunday for them, and never made brunch plans with anyone else. Every year, the day after Halloween, cinnamon roll pancakes were laid out on the shiny silver trays, filled with swirls of cinnamon and a layer of sticky glaze. They watched the cooks swirl the cinnamon onto the batter on the griddle, and get them hot and sweet. Alice always joked that the dining hall was playing a joke on hungover students after the biggest drinking night of the year. The last three years, Alice had stayed sober with Julia, and they’d spent hours over cinnamon roll pancakes the next morning talking about the costumes they’d seen and which girls on their hall had thrown up. But this year Alice had gone out with her other friends, and probably met this boy. Julia spent the night studying until the announcement that the library was closing came over the loudspeaker, and then she headed back to the dorm to drink tea and go to bed. Not only was Alice cheating on their tradition, she was staring at the boy over a stack of cinnamon roll pancakes, cutting them into little pieces like she always does. He wasn’t even eating pancakes—he was eating a waffle. A waffle! Julia saw cinnamon roll pancakes on the menu days before, and waited and waited to see if Alice would text her. It was a test of their strained friendship, and Alice flunked. Maybe Alice had simply forgotten to check the menu, but here she was with a full stack of cinnamon roll pancakes in front of her, still in her Hillary Clinton costume from last night. Julia had felt Alice pulling farther and farther away, checking her phone more often while they ate, cancelling plans at the last minute and snapping at Julia over nothing. Julia has been trying to stick


a sinking ship together with duct tape and chewing gum, but now it’s broken in half like the Titanic and Julia is drowning while Alice is being loaded onto a rescue boat. Standing in the lobby, looking through the windows at Alice, Julia pondered her next move. Should she confront Alice? Should she sit in Alice’s line of vision with a plate of cinnamon roll pancakes? Or do nothing—turn around and go somewhere else for breakfast, eat a boring bagel instead?

Prose

In spite of her better judgment, self preservation warring with desperation, Julia settled on one last test: just saw there are cinnamon roll pancakes this morning- meet for brunch? J. Three dots bubbled up, showing that Alice was responding, and Julia held her breath.

Poole

21


my brother cried when he had to boil a lobster for dinner but he held down the lid turning boy into murderer, body into meat

corporeal affliction, homo sapiens suffer all types, we are scared of everything

i have a friend who can identify plants like my mother can pick out flaws ponderosa, prideful, countless others pretending she didn’t name them

i cried when i saw it, which i know is an overreaction but they raided my health it’s like they tore out a nail

bacterial blight, pseudomonas gladioli infiltrators who are scared of copper but not me

the fern leaf coiled up like a paper ashtray brown, shy, the other green ones pretending like it didn’t hurt them, too

Jenny-Marie Stryker ’17

Stryker

Nomenclature

Poetry

22


Stryker

Poetry

i watched the woman in front of me cry in church during ave maria the chorus crucified her it’s like they turned blight to plague

intra-cloud lightning, electric potential not scared of breaking

in memphis sometimes the sky lights up without a warning sunny, bright, the day turns the instant the sky ignites

23


Li

Reflections Doris Li ’20 Photography Art

24


Stryker

Poetry

You’re better versed in keeping secrets, silence between Chavannes and Sargent and spines that do not open muffled by dusty letters the unsilenced ring pens tapping stiletto clicking keyboard shh

You’ve lost verses torn from Bibles (devoted to a new purpose i suppose) and the rapt attention of an audience, a forgotten friend

Wallace killed C on top of your grates and the other day i swear i saw snow spots by the homeless man sitting there (I kept my change)

Boston Public Library 700 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

Jenny-Marie Stryker ’17

A Palace for the People

25


Materialism Alex Boehmke DS ’17

Prose 26 Boehmke

A long walk and then dinner, we say, and, holding hands and mutual quietude, as we near the river around the back of l’Altare della Patria, I let Rome slip into a veil of history. Broken, carved Cipollino marble and grey granite propylaeum between white marble Corinthian capitals used as medieval tables by the fishermen selling their haul by the river, il mercato del pesce, and shards of terracotta light falling on stone grey columns among the red brick rubble of the FORO ROMANO— we’re ignoring the Christmas holiday tourists. That whole night the god of Tiber calmed his swollen wave, ebbing or lingering in silent flow. The red glow of the low sun rises above the horizon again when we turn the corner after the cool, verdant silhouette of Mons Palatinus onto Mars’ dusty Circo Massimo, where we race the night westward. Then the black earth cools as we wind towards the yellow Tiber. I am in Rome for one day, but have read the Aeneid twice. January dew like black blood wets the shadowed grass pooling around Italy’s ruins. Black ships slid past where the stone embankment stairwell now echoes with our heels. The god of Tiber calmed his swollen wave, till like some gentle lake or sleeping pool his even waters lay, and strove no more against the oarsmen’s toil. These worn shoes I haven’t taken off for months—never home, wandering—they’re tapping the yellow cave floor in the electric light of the Vatican dome rising over the moonless city. Upon their way they speed with joyful sound; the well-oiled wood slips through the watery floor. They’re softly tapping over the darkly effulgent sound of the ceaseless flumen—the sound of the Sibylline embankment, cavern of a hundred doors all echoing: Escaped the dangers of the watery reign, Yet more and greater ills by land remain. Wars, horrid wars, I view – a field of blood, And Tiber rolling with a purple flood.i Fulfillments of prophesies dawn in my memory while I watch the waves unroll their history forward and backward. I’m seeing Rome rising and


Prose 27 Boehmke

falling in the shining black river, amongst the wondering waves, and all the virgin forests wondering. Behold the warriors in far-shining arms their painted galleys up the current drive. Now had the flaming sun attained his way to the midsphere of heaven, when they discerned walls and a citadel in distant view, with houses few and far between. The empire, which spawned the Western world, built on rivalry and holy war, took its first self-righteous steps on this riverbank. It was here, where sovereign Rome today has rivalled Heaven, Evander’s realm its slender strength displayed: swiftly they turned their prows.ii It smells like piss down here and I can feel through my thin soles the invisible crunching wine bottles. They’re shattered under the bridge, pushing like ancient spearheads never forgetting their thirst to pierce us and make us flow blood like crushed black grapes. We resurface at il Ponte Palatino. We said, a long walk—Isola Tiberina, La Trastevere, Ponte Garibaldi, Via Lundotevere de’Cenci, Via Beatrice Cenci, il Ghetto di Roma— and then dinner alla Romano i Ristorante al Pompiere. And even up the marble stairs and in the high-ceilinged neoclassical dining hall, seated against long violet velvet curtains, when we’re brought the white Italian bread and red wine, the Roman myth follows. I laugh—“Is that why Italian restaurants give you no bread plates? Because Julius and Aeneas ate them!” Alex has no idea what I’m talking about and looks at me quietly. “Look, how we eat our plates even!” cried Julius, in a jest. Such was the word which bade their burdens fall. From his boy’s lip the father caught this utterance of Fate, silent with wonder at the ways of Heaven; then swift he spoke: “Hail! O my destined shore, protecting deities of Ilium, hail! Here is our home, our country here! This day I publish the mysterious prophecy by Father Anchises given: ‘My son,’ said he, ‘When hunger in strange lands shall bid devour the plates of thy banquet gone, then hope for home, though weary, and take thought to build a dwelling and a battlement. Behold! This was our fated hunger! This last proof will end our evil days.” iii I wish I had the text with me, could sweep the breadcrumbs off the linen, crimson placemats and open the book here on the table, or that Alex already knew what it said. Swiftly turn the prows. But that is not what I wish at all, and there really is nothing to wish


Prose 28 Boehmke

for—I already have more than I dreamed of. And it’s no sacrifice to give up talking about fiction and poetry with Alex–there’s more to life than interpretation. Because of him, what I read comes alive. Beside him, I can judge pious Aeneas, “faithful to a divine task”: I’ve seen Alex “unmoved, hold his eyes by Jove’s command; nor suffer love to rise, though heaving in his heart.” But whereas Aeneas blames “a god’s command” and leaves Dido for Italy, Alex dismissed the self-protective instinct to flee and to “loath the charming land,” and, though his tongue was still mute (“What should he say? or how should he begin? What course, alas!”), he overpowered the fear that seized him. When he had revolved “in his mind the stern command” to go to his country and pursue his career, he chose instead to stay with me.iv Together we read the dilemma as false: there is no need for sacrifice; we are not choosing between Rome and Carthage. Because Alex’s U.S. student visa expired and I this past summer had already spent the three months in Denmark allotted by the Schengen Agreement, exiled from each other’s countries, we both left our own–not to share the weight of sacrifice, but because, simply, we want to live together. Now had the flaming sun attained his way to the mid-sphere of heaven, when they discerned walls and a citadel in distant view, with houses few and far between. Now morning flushed the wave, and saffron-garbed Aurora from her rose-red chariot beamed in highest heaven; the sea-winds ceased to stir; a sudden calm possessed the air, and tides of marble smoothness met the laboring oar. A few weeks ago, in another city, on a fog-white, sky-less morning, the tread of our shoes joined the muted traffic down Glyn Road towards Homerton. Along the shoulder-height, yellow brick garden wall of the two-story apartment block across from blue-doored brick and snow grey rowhouses, Alex paused under the faint shadow of a sidewalk tree for me to see the rose–rose growing in December. He found a knot of deep green in this barren place. He held my hand; we were already holding hands, but now everything was in our holding hands. I had missed him so much. For three months every single night without fail I had lain with my legs straight like a corpse, holding in my hand the stone from the chalk hills on the West Sea we visited in August, smoothing with my thumb the soft palm of the stone. Soothing, convincing myself we were really side-by-side, again and again I felt the warm seam of his hand and he, by clasping my hand and smiling, gave


__________________ i V. A. 6.77 ii P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneid (ed. Theodore C. Williams), Book 8, line 81 iii Verg. A. 7.107 iv V. A. 4.331; 4.386; 4.279 v V. A. 7.25

Prose 29 Boehmke

me the rose, without severing its stem. It keeps blossoming there and in my memory. That is all I ever need to carry with me. Now morning flushed the wave, and saffron-garbed Aurora from her rose-red chariot beamed. Then, gazing from the deep, Aeneas saw a stretch of groves, whence Tiber’s smiling stream flows. From our lips fall no utterances of Fate and for us there is no destined shore. Unfortunately, we do not belong to the same country, so we have nowhere to go, travelling every few days for one month, in Rome for one day. We came here for no reason, have no agenda, nothing to see but each other. Fortunately, we do not belong to each other, free to stay or leave. We have no reasons, no promises, no duty to each other; only a feeling holding us together, wherever we may be. Trastevere, tra il Tevere, il Tevere; a few taps of our heels scratched the surface of the city; we slipped in and out of dining room chairs, looped from and to the H bus to Termini; read and wrote words on water. Tiber’s smiling stream, its tumbling current rich with yellow sands, burst seaward forth. Passed through, and by the next morning, twenty-five kilometers Southwest where the Tiber meets the Tyrrhenian Sea, we flew out from Fiumicino Aeroporto, directly North over the jagged Alps to København. Around it and above, shore-haunting birds of varied voice and plume flattered the sky with song and, circling far o’er river-bed and grove, took joyful wing. I have read the Aeneid twice, and I have lived my day in Rome doubly—with Alex both by my side and in my story, with Alex in Rome and as Rome, in and out of history, holding everything and nothing, seeing and remembering, as both reality and fiction. Thither to landward now his ships he steered, and sailed, high-hearted, up the shadowy stream.v


Art 30 Fang

Reincarnation Lu Fang ’17 Photography


Mirror Stages Camille Bond ’17 [(hardly a child anymore, the universe made a mirror out of glittering dust and looked.

thinking I will never know you.) (and the mirror was a sketch artist and sat cross-legged in subway cars with old ladies in tartan dresses and in third-rate cafes with the four o’ clock shadows that salt shakers cast. getting all the lines wrong.)]

31 Bond

(and the mirror was an insomniac and lay face-up in sweaty sheets: feeling the warmth of the mathematician listening to the faint rumblings of his sleeptalk watching the long line of his nose silhouetted against the window.

Poetry

but did not recognize itself.)


Patchwork of Shards Noor Pirani ’19

Prose 32 Pirani

The blue vase was the first item Romaisa unpacked when she arrived at her new house in Newton, Massachusetts, weeks after her wedding in Karachi, Pakistan. Before leaving her home in Clifton, Karachi, she had wrapped the vase in layers of Dawn, Pakistan’s most widely read paper, and placed it gently in the smaller of her two suitcases. The vase was handmade by Romaisa’s father and two brothers, who worked in the family’s glassmaking business. Romaisa’s father had given her the vase as a wedding gift and housewarming present before she moved to America. The vase was one among several other decorative items Romaisa had brought from Karachi, including a Bokhara rug woven in shades of auburn and gold, two twin onyx candle holders and a small, brass incense burner. Now, five months since she had first arrived in America, Romaisa was standing at the gas stove, frying patties. She glanced over at the vase, which she had placed on the wide kitchen windowsill. Each day, she waited for the moment to arrive when the sun aligned with the translucent blue piece, spraying the kitchen with blue. It was a small moment, insignificant in the eyes of others, but for Romaisa, it was as though the presence of her father and brothers filled the room, hugging the walls and marble countertop and tiled floors. Adeel, Romaisa’s husband, didn’t know of this ritual, and she had not yet made the effort to tell him. The vase’s coloration of the room was also an indication of Adeel’s impending return from his office at an engineering firm. Unlike Romaisa, Adeel had lived in America for seven years before he briefly went back to his native country to get an arranged marriage. Today, as the clock’s hands splayed apart, Romaisa held her breath and watched the vase expectantly. For a moment, she didn’t hear the sizzle of the patties or the churning hum of the laundry machine below. She stood still and watched as the color began to spread slowly across the kitchen, washing the off-white walls with sparkling azure. She soaked in the moment, smiling to herself. It was the bitter smell of burning that snapped Romaisa back to attention, forcing her to remember her patties, which were still frying.


Prose 33 Pirani

She reached for the spatula and dropped them onto a plate one by one. By the time she had rescued her dinner and deposited the frying pan in the sink to cool, the moment had passed and the kitchen was now ablaze in a fiery yellow, the color of the setting sun. The familiar beep of the car signaled that Adeel had arrived. She heard the bang of the porch door and then the whine of the front door as he entered the house. Turning from the rice she was heaping onto a plate, she greeted her husband. “Did you see there’s a new crafts store opening down the street?” she asked him, taking his lunch tiffin. “I was thinking earlier, I really don’t know how we’ll pay this month’s rent, Romaisa,” Adeel responded gravely in Urdu, disregarding her question. He loosened his tie and went to rinse his hands at the kitchen sink. “I was just looking at our bank balance today, and I didn’t realize it was so low.” “The savings?” she asked, expectantly. “What happened to those?” He turned from the sink to look at her. “The car,” he said, impatiently. “I knew it was out of our budget, but it was also necessary to buy.” Romaisa sighed and turned back to chopping the cilantro. She threw it in the blender, added yogurt and squeezed in lime juice. But Adeel wasn’t finished. Drying his hands on the towel, he surveyed the kitchen. “I don’t know where the money will come from. Is there anything we can sell?” When Romaisa didn’t respond, he began to pace the small kitchen. “We have only three days. And I’m not paid till the end of next week.” If only I could work in America, Romaisa thought to herself. Having received her Bachelors in Dental Surgery at Karachi Medical and Dental College, Romaisa was a certified dentist back in her home country. But to work in America, she would have to complete additional certification, which she knew would be too costly given their current situation. “Why don’t you eat and let’s think about a solution after dinner,” Romaisa suggested to her husband. She laid the kitchen table with plates, two glasses, the bowl of biryani, raita, and the plate of fried patties. Adeel partly obliged by sitting down, but he asked Romaisa again, “Is there anything we can sell?” She opened the drawer, pulled out a large plastic serving spoon, and then sat down next to him and began to pile the orange and yellow


Prose 34 Pirani

slender grains of rice onto a plate. “Like what?” Adeel sipped his water and swallowed. “You brought things from back home, didn’t you? I’m sure they would sell quickly here.” Romaisa could tell where this conversation was headed. “I don’t think I would want to sell those,” she said, flatly. Adeel clicked his tongue exasperatedly. “Look, I brought nothing from Karachi, and right now I have nothing I can sell. I can’t give away my shoes or pants—how much would that make?” “You could sell the car.” “We barely managed without it before. Do you really think we would be better off doing that again?” “I can’t give away my items!” Romaisa cried out in a voice higher and louder than she intended. Ashamed at her outburst, she turned down to the food on her plate and broke off a piece of the patty with her fingers. The kitchen was silent for a moment. Even the laundry machine below had stopped. “I know they are important to you, Romaisa,” Adeel said in a soft, low voice, as though comforting a child. “I’m sorry I have to ask you this. Really, I am. But I don’t think I have another option.” Romaisa was quiet. “Sell the rug you brought,” he continued, adding more rice to his plate. “Name the price at three hundred dollars. That will bring our bank balance up.” “But I don’t know anyone here. How would I sell it?” “I’ll put it up for sale online,” Adeel said reassuringly, as though Romaisa was the one who wanted to sell the rug. “If someone comes during the day to look at it or buy it, just let them in and allow them to see it. Don’t go any lower than two seventy-five or we’ll have to sell something else too.” For the rest of the dinner, Adeel continued to chat as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Romaisa only half listened, remembering her aunt back home who had gifted her the rug. And now, it would be draped across someone else’s floor, collecting someone else’s dust. That evening before bed, Adeel put up an advertisement on an online marketplace site. “If anyone is interested in the rug, I’ve told them to call the house,”


35 Pirani

Romaisa was scrubbing the bathtub with a rough blue sponge when the phone rang. For a moment, she wondered if she should let it ring. What if it was a buyer for her rug? What if she purposely avoided the phone and told Adeel no one wanted it? What would he do next? In the end, her conscience won and she abandoned the cleaners, hastily drying her sudsy hands on the towel and rushing to pick up the phone on its last ring. “Hello?” she said, breathlessly. “Hi, is that Adeel?” said a woman’s sharp voice. “This is his wife. Can I help you?” Romaisa asked, dreading the words the woman would say next. “Yeah! I saw this rug that your husband put up. I just want to know, if anything were to happen to the rug, how easily would stains come out of it? I’m just curious—like, what material is it made out of?” Romaisa froze. “Stains would be very hard to get out,” she replied, slowly. “It’s a very delicate material.” “Hmmm.” Romaisa waited while the caller was silent for a few moments. Romaisa could hear a barking dog in the background. “I’m interested in buying it,” the woman finally said. “Can I come by today to get it?” For a moment, Romaisa’s breath caught in her throat, and she thought she would cry. With a shaky breath she forced out her reply. “Yes, I’m here all day.” “Great, I’ll come by in an hour,” the woman replied. “What’s your address?” Romaisa told her, and they hung up. Re-entering the bathroom in a trance, Romaisa picked up the worn sponge, but she couldn’t force herself to scrub. She sank to her knees on the bath mat. At least it’s not the vase, she told herself. You will have that, and you’ll have the candlesticks and you’ll have the incense burner. But she knew there was no guarantee to this consolation. Next month, Adeel could want to sell those items, too. As she half-heartedly retrieved the sponge and began to scour the tub, all Romaisa could think of was her aunt asking her over the

Prose

he said to Romaisa as she folded the laundry. “Don’t feel sad. I’ll buy you a new rug the next time we go back.”


phone how she liked the way the rug looked on the new living room floor. And then Romaisa imagined herself cheerfully lying that the rug looked beautiful.

Prose 36 Pirani

The caller came by four hours later than expected. After two hours, Romaisa had confidently told herself that the woman had changed her mind and would not come. But in the end, the buyer did come. When the doorbell rang at 3:30 p.m., Romaisa opened the door and saw a tall frizzy-haired woman armed with a chubby toddler. “Hello,” the woman said, curtly. “I called earlier about the rug.” “Yes, come in please.” Romaisa let the woman enter and handed her the rolled up rug. “Three hundred,” she said. “That’s the price my husband wanted.” The woman set down the toddler and unrolled the rug. “Wow, this is breathtaking!” she responded. “Beautiful work.” Romaisa wondered if she should ask for a higher price. She was debating in her head, unsure of what to say, when the woman quickly whipped out a checkbook and began to scribble. “That’s three hundred,” the woman said, giving Romaisa the check. “Billy, get back here!” Tossing the checkbook on the sofa, the woman ran after her toddler, who had tottered over to the kitchen windowsill and was staring up at the glass vase. Just as the child reached up to touch it, the woman grabbed him, narrowly saving the vase from his chubby little hands. Romaisa stood in silence, watching as the woman settled Billy in the crook of one arm, tucked her checkbook into her purse with the other hand, and then picked up the rug. “Thank you!” the woman called out and walked out the front door. Before she knew it, Romaisa was left with a slip of paper in her hand and an empty living room floor. She stood silent for a moment, still not quite believing that she would never see the rug again. She walked into the kitchen and over to the vase instead, staring at it. She reached out a finger and ran it gently along the vase’s smooth rim. Romaisa thought of her family’s fingerprints on the vase. She thought of the evening her parents had given her the gift, her last night in Karachi. She thought of her wedding, a night filled with smiles and tears and cold samosas and spicy biryani and a sewing emergency when the hem of her lehenga tore. And then she thought of herself in America, over 9000 kilometers


Prose 37 Pirani

away from her family, living in an empty house with a husband who didn’t cherish her family’s gifts as she did. And she thought of the rug that now shared a house with an energetic toddler and a dog. She told herself she wouldn’t cry, and she didn’t. Instead, she forced herself to climb the staircase, finish cleaning upstairs and start working downstairs. As she diligently vacuumed the steps that led to the first floor, all she could see in her mind was the rug in its new house, in a place where it didn’t feel as though it belonged. While she wiped down the kitchen counter with a rag, her mind wandered to her family back home who were all likely sleeping at this hour. She took out the trash, mopped the kitchen floor and wiped the windows. She climbed onto the stool to clean the large window in the kitchen through which the sun was streaming. She tried to concentrate on her cleaning, channeling her emotions into her strokes. And as she drew her hand from the window, her elbow knocked into something hard. As though in slow motion, she saw herself watch something blue topple from the sill, plummet down and shatter on the cold, hard tile. It was the vase. It took her a moment to realize what had happened. And then her breath quickened and caught in her throat. She fell to her knees beside the broken glass and her chest ached with her heaving sobs. Romaisa cried and cried, her cheeks dripping with tears and her face warm. She couldn’t believe she had broken it. She had managed to save it from her husband and the haphazard hands of the toddler, but she hadn’t been able to save it from her own hands. And so she cried harder. When she stopped crying, it was not because she felt better, but because she knew that Adeel would be home soon, and she didn’t want him to see the mess. She stood up on weak knees and took up the broom. Gingerly, she gathered the blue shards into a large pile and carefully swept them into a dustpan. But she didn’t throw them away. She retrieved a pillowcase from the linen closet in the hallway and poured the cascade of shards in. Then, as though taking extra precaution to conserve the broken bits,


Prose 38 Pirani

she placed the pillowcase into a plastic bag, tied it and left it on the windowsill. She vacuumed the kitchen floor to ensure that all the glass had been collected, and then she began to prepare dinner for her husband. When Adeel came home, he asked about the rug. “Did she come? Did she pay you?” Romaisa nodded wordlessly, handing him the slip of paper from her pocket and continuing to stir the steaming pot of vegetable curry. “Excellent!” he cried out. “We can pay our rent early this month!” Romaisa busied herself chopping cucumbers and onions, avoiding the sight of the windowsill at all costs. Adeel remained in a good mood for the rest of the evening. In such a good mood, in fact, that after dinner, he suggested they take a walk. “Let’s go to the art store you told me about yesterday,” he said cheerfully. “I know you love crafts.” He was right that she enjoyed craftwork, but Romaisa knew in her heart that she wanted nothing more than to lie down and forget this day. She rinsed the plates in the sink and deposited them in the dishwasher. Adeel stood up and came next to her. “Let’s go, Romaisa. You haven’t been out of the house in a while— it’ll freshen you up. You are so quiet today,” he insisted, as though unaware of what he had made Romaisa go through that day. At long last, Romaisa reluctantly agreed. She slipped on her shoes, Adeel locked the front door, and the two set out on the sidewalk. The sky looked like pink cotton candy, tinged with blue in some places, and Romaisa could hear the noisy stream of cars on the main road. As they walked, Adeel continued to talk, but Romaisa didn’t hear any of his words. They arrived at the store, and the cheerful bell above the doorway jingled. A short, dark-haired woman appeared and greeted them. “Welcome to Harley’s Crafts! Can I help you look for anything in particular?” “No thanks, we’re just looking,” Adeel said in a polite voice. “Thank you.” He set off to look for a new bottle of superglue, which he said he would use to try to repair some broken household items. Romaisa’s eyes wandered the aisles, flitting over rows of paint bottles, stacks of drawing pads, and bolts of fabric. She saw rolls of yarn, packs of markers, and shelves filled with wooden birdhouses. She saw


She didn’t remember the mirror until she sat down to eat her lunch the next day and saw a reflection of her face in it. When she looked in, she saw a face she didn’t believe was her own. It was weary, worried, and exhausted. Romaisa studied the face, momentarily forgetting her food. She watched herself so long that her next bite of rice was cold. After she had eaten, scraped her dish clean and deposited it in the dishwasher, she picked up the bag containing her broken vase and set it on the kitchen table. She found the bottle of superglue in a drawer in the kitchen, uncapped it and reached into the pillowcase. Gingerly, she picked up a shard, placed a drop of glue on the back and stuck it on the yellow wooden frame of the mirror. It looked alone.

Poetry 39 Pirani

coloring books, flower-shaped cookie cutters, and cloth flowers. But all she could really think of were the shards of glass. “May I interest you in our item of the day, a decorate-your-own mirror?” the saleswoman asked, approaching Romaisa who was staring fixedly at a row of plastic vases. “I’m sorry?” Romaisa looked down at the woman, who was holding out a mirror with a yellow-painted wooden frame. “If you think it’s not for you, it’s also a perfect gift for a little one,” the woman continued. “You can decorate it with markers or glue on buttons. Here, take it.” She handed the mirror to Romaisa, who hesitantly accepted the item. Adeel appeared at her elbow. “You want to get that? Here, give it to me. I’ll pay for it with the superglue.” Romaisa followed her husband to the front where he paid for the two items. They walked out of the store and retraced their path to the house. By now, the sky was more blue, approaching purple. When they entered the house, Adeel reached into the plastic bag and handed Romaisa the mirror. “What are you going to do with that?” he asked. “We can put it in the downstairs bathroom. There’s no mirror there yet.” Romaisa abandoned the mirror on the kitchen table. Robotically, she packed Adeel’s lunch for the next day, left it in the fridge, and went upstairs to bed.


Prose 40 Pirani

She continued to pick out pieces from the bag, attaching them onto the frame one by one until it was tightly covered with fragmented glass. It was a patchwork of shards. When she finished, she surveyed the frame of the mirror. It certainly wasn’t attractive. In fact, it looked like something a child would have made. But, in her heart, she felt it was beautiful. Romaisa capped the glue bottle, tied up the nearly empty pillowcase that contained only the tiniest of glass pieces and picked up the mirror with the frame. She set it on the windowsill in the same spot as the vase had been. When she deposited it on the sill, her fingers lingered for a moment, touching the sharp, broken edges that were now glued strongly together against the frame. Stronger than before. She cleaned up the table and began to make dinner, not realizing that her art project had taken her nearly three hours. Romaisa busied herself by boiling rice, chopping garlic and ginger, and peeling potatoes. Moments after the clock struck six, out of habit she looked up and over at the windowsill. Instead of seeing the walls washed with translucent blue, she saw the glittering patchwork of glass bound tightly together in the shape of a frame. And in the center of the patchwork, she saw a woman. It was herself.


Brusseau

Art

Skaggs Island - Abandoned Naval Base Leila-Anne Brusseau DS ’17 Photography 41


Touch Pool Aggie Rieger ’17 The aquarium: Sunday afternoon. Stiff, laminated Signs to save the stingrays For they are the silver, shimmering kites of the ocean; Cartilaginous fish, like gentler shark bodies, Muscular, undulating waves within muscular, undulating waves. Myliobatoidei - specifically Myliobatiforme. Extraordinary defense. Enigmatic presence. Electrical sense. Elusive, curious creatures of increasingly unwell salt waters. Respect them, protect them, accord sanctuary over harvest for they Poetry 42 Rieger

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD MOM Momomomom Mom look! You can stick your hand in gently! They they let you touch their backs, Mom, and and OH MY GOD THEY SWIM RIGHT UP AND and they they they feel just like warm satin pillows.


Molluscs and the Sea Camille Bond ’17

probing that moist fragile flesh Smiling at your reflection in the sheen of the inner shell.

43 Bond

You hold them carefully like cupped liquid. You hold them carefully like the sea

Poetry

When they stand there before you with palms out with fingers open, then they’re like the soft creatures of the sea that wash up dead in the morning— and that’s when you can pick them out of the sand and crack them open in your hands and see their pale, secret bodies resting in their slime.


Art 44 Sheldon

As the Seas Rise Anya Sheldon ’20 Colored Pencil


States of Mind April Poole ’19

May, Georgia Georgia is gold and orange, heat and sweaty clothes in the laundry bin. Arianna’s blonde hair and her hot skin against Lily’s. The sun rises

45 Poole

It feels like the whole world has gone dark most days. The sun rises late and sets early. Why did Lily move to this godforsaken state for a girl who would just leave her in the coldest month of the year- Anna knew she hated the cold. Anna always gave Lily her own sweaters when she saw the thin cotton sweaters Lily moved with, inadequate protection against the Maine winter. Anna was the only light when she woke up in the dark, and without her, no matter how many lights Lily turns on, the room remains in shades of gray. They say that brain matter is gray, and Lily can feel that grayness seeping into her thoughts and leaking out into her life. Outside, Lily’s bones hurt, the air stabbing her lungs. That pain is still better than the jolt in her heart every time she goes through her camera roll and sees the pictures of Anna smiling back at her, looking at diner menus and shoveling snow in the driveway. Lily builds a comfortable cushion between her and the rest of the world with four shirts, a sweater and two pairs of pants. If she wraps her scarf high enough around her face, no one will talk to her, because if the person talking isn’t Anna, she doesn’t want to hear it- and she knows it will never be Anna again. Anna already asked for her clothes back, and stopped responding to Lily’s texts. Lily was chilled by Anna’s cold shoulder in their last months together, and no matter how high she sets the thermostat, her teeth still chatter when she lies down at night. In a queen bed with only one person in it, the sheets don’t get as warm. There is no feeling but cold, and the eye strain of trying to see in the dark. The empty space in the driveway where Anna’s car once stood is a black hole, a cold, dead empty space in this bleak Maine winter. This hole swallowed Lily’s heart as well. The hole in her chest cavity freezes over, and she falls when she tries to skate over it. The fall, like Anna, leaves her bruised and cold.

Prose

January, Maine


early and sets late. More light than dark—a tie-dye t-shirt Ari gave her, swirls of pink and yellow and orange after months of black winter jackets and gray gloves. When the sun touches Lily’s skin, when Ari’s warm hand holds hers, her Maine-frozen heart starts to thaw. Georgia is the red of a sunburn when you forget how strong the sun can be. Hot anger and shouting matches and so much feeling. Pop music after months of breakup songs, car rides with the windows down after scraping ice off the windshield. Iced sweet tea replaces hot chocolate, and Lily searches online for bathing suits six months after buying a space heater. Ari, her space heater, curls up next to her at night. They sleep on top of the covers, flipping the pillow over when it gets too hot. But as sure as that Georgia sunburn, her heart gets burned. Her love of Ari is branded there with a hot iron, and she can never stop feeling the heat. January (2), Georgia Prose 46 Poole

January is new beginnings. A new start. A new state of mind. Healing, a seed planted. It is remembering that Icarus fell when he flew too close to the sun. Learning that change doesn’t mean you’ve lost yourself. And that sometimes you need to take things apart before you can rebuild them. Ari’s voice saying we need to take a break and a month of mutual pros-and-cons lists. A month of remembering what it’s like to be alone, finding the light while her sun is hidden behind a cloud. A knock on the door, and Ari on the other side. Starting to learn that relationships don’t need yelling to be successful. Learning to use their inside voices and not to go to bed angry. It is forgiveness instead of holding a grudge, talking it out instead of slamming the door on the way out. Learning that staying angry longer doesn’t help anything. Giving it another try, instead of giving up when the first sip of tea burns your tongue. Saying sorry when Ari sits down at their old kitchen table and asks why she hasn’t called. The cooling of a forest fire into the heat when you wrap your hands around a mug of tea. An end to the honeymoon period and the start of a marriage. Living in a state where winter is merely cooler and not cold, and a sweater is enough most days. Remembering that the cool of aloe can sooth a sunburn. Seeing both sides of the coin, and knowing that one doesn’t have to be right and the other doesn’t have to be wrong—they can just be. Lily can just be.


Lost and Found Linda (Zixia) Liu ’19 Where are you? You are miles and miles away From me.

Soft, sweet, gentle existence Soft, and sweet, and gentle existence! Yet only you cannot see. All you feel is your own absence from the universe – your own brokenness – when the question rises with the expanding moon: Where are you? You don’t know how to answer; don’t belong, don’t know peace, don’t know love. You neglect yourself

47 Liu

With the expanding moon and the retreating tides, the question rolls off the soft waves of your sweet tongue, and your gentle eyes quiet like a constellation, their long lashes bright like a comet’s sweeping tail bathing in the starlight and the yellow moon shine.

Poetry

Where have you been? You are miles and miles away from me, like you’ve collected all your bits and pieces, packed them up and carried them on your back, strode across the Milky Way and moved to another constellation.


and walk without a shadow alone, under a sky lit up by the full yellow moon. White bones, Red blood, Cells only visible under electronic microscopes. We are made of the same materials, yet why am I here, and why are you there? Why do I not feel you, and why can you not feel yourself? It seems to me that the white bones have gotten into the way of the blood that rushes from your soft heart to your rigid brain. Poetry 48 Liu

You’ve lost track of yourself, your pains, joys, and loves. You refuse to write, refuse to examine your feelings. You ignore your heart’s whispers, what were once so dear to you, when you, whole, with your soft, gentle eyes all as one, stood under the expanding yellow moon. You are lost in your identities. You cannot accept yourself. You are a shattered china doll that cannot piece together the accepted and unaccepted parts of your broken existence. You deny what you are feeling and neglect your emotions. This is how you’ve decided to survive between your little worlds. So you bite your tongue, clench your teeth, tilt you jaws, (wo)man-pose. Your long hair floats in the wind like many black silky snakes


You sentence your own self into exile. You pack up yourself and box all your broken pieces; once again, you seem whole – but you are still the two unbridged ponds; next to the great divide, the one on the left side is you, and the one on the right also you. But under the waning moon and the shooting stars, you bid me goodbye, and say you will be back just in time for tomorrow,

49 Liu

When the hurricane halts and the smoke from the explosion clears out, You are found under your bleeding snakes, your broken spears, your body drenched and bruised, your eyes hardened, no longer bright, sweet, or gentle – no longer bright, or sweet, or gentle, as they once were. Wars after wars, your world never knows peace again.

Poetry

swimming with a darker battle flag. You hold up your rations, blinding like silver spears, and aim their blades at the downpour of stars. Too many feelings, too many beautiful feelings under the night sky! – but brace yourself, tight, because another galaxy is about to explode – meteoroids, deafening, bright and golden, hunt for your body, shooting across the sky, vehement like fireworks’ piercing bullets.


when the sun rises again and it is a brand new day. Goodbye then, goodbye, my little china doll – I won’t see you for a while, won’t expect you anymore. As years go by you will sophisticate more, as you hitchhike between galaxies you will become, perhaps, more broken – swept by more comets’ sweeping tails; or more engulfed by the mundane bread-winning life you’ll face soon enough as you move on from your small planet hidden in the seclusion of the lake-like nebula. Poetry 50 Liu

Goodbye then, goodbye, my pretty china doll – as I watch you turn around and leave me under the moon and stars, with you hardened eyes, your bruised body and shattered existence, with all your broken pieces faked as one, I imagine an older you, no longer the doll you were, but wrinkled, simplified, merged, and whole again, walking towards me with the rising sun, whole, again, like you once were, and always have been. Goodbye then, goodbye, my dear china doll – this is the end of an era, no more protection, innocence, or certainty, but with each shattering, and each war fought, you are a step closer to your own liberation.


Brusseau

Art

Military to Wildlife - Owl Fledgling at an Abandoned Navy Base Leila-Anne Brusseau DS ’17 Photography

51


The Gryffindor Girl Paige Hauke ’19 She had hair like a Weasley— red and glowing as flushed cheeks on quidditch days; as the fire in the common room melting the students’ worries away. She had a heart like a Weasley too— the confidence of Molly; the constant curiosity of Arthur; the fierce loyalty to stand behind those she loved, to fight—if not for herself—then for others just like Ron. Poetry 52 Hauke

And like an innocent Ginny who never expected a thing, she was Riddled— Fighting hard against the invisible foe that somehow still held lethal power. Despite it all, she wrote like Bathilda Bagshot and her mind was sharp as Miss Granger’s— a talent beyond her realms; a wit at the height of its learning. The Neville Longbottom in her had its doubts, asking “Why’s it always me?” But the Dumbledore in her was old and wise and told her that death was the next great adventure. And she—being a Harry in so many ways— knew the battle that lay inside her but retained the heroic bravery to live her life how she wanted and to—when evil came knocking— face her fears head on rather than hiding from the truth.


Like Harry Potter, not once did she falter.

Poetry

Like Harry Potter, despite all odds, she continues to live.

53

Like Harry Potter, she deserves to be famous because she never drew attention to herself so we have to do so for her.

Hauke

And when the battle was worst, the tragedy was that Of Colin Creevey Of Fred Weasley Of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black Of the valiant fighter called away too early. But like James— who continued to guide the way— And Lily— who lived in her son— she guides our way and lives in us and though we may want it— we don’t need any resurrection stone to bring her back because her own impact keeps her with us.

She was the bravest, this Gryffindor girl… She’s still the fiercest, this Gryffindor girl… Emily, you will always be our Gryffindor girl.


Hom

Morning Jacki Hom ’18 Digital Photography

Art

54


Ophelia

55 White

Once, there was a princess named Ophelia. She had a father, Polonius, and a brother, Laertes. She didn’t have a mother, but that was fine. Mothers never really matter in stories like this. Her father and her brother kept her locked away in a tower surrounded by a moat. Princess Ophelia didn’t like the tower, but her father and brother said it was necessary to protect her from the world, or possibly from men. They weren’t very clear. It amounted to the same thing, after all. There was very little to do in the tower. She was locked away for many years, until a prince found her. He crawled across the limbs of a willow to traverse the moat. He called up to her through her tiny window, and though she did not understand much of what he said, she spoke back to him. Ophelia liked him, probably. She didn’t have much to compare him to. One day the prince climbed the side of the tower, peered into the window, and saw Princess Ophelia for the first time. Once, there was a princess named Ophelia, and when Prince Hamlet met her, he told her she had lips that looked like a blooming rose and hair that curled like sunflower petals and eyes that were the blue of cornflowers. There were no mirrors in the tower, so she believed him. She told her father and brother about him and asked if she could leave the tower to join him. They became very angry. They told her she didn’t understand the dangers of the world (or men) and it wasn’t safe for her to decide how to interact with men (or the world). “We built this tower out of the strongest stone,” they told her. “We bought a strong lock for the door and dug a deep moat. Just for you, Ophelia. You should be grateful to us. We’re protecting you.” So Princess Ophelia could only speak to Prince Hamlet through the tower’s window. He liked to compliment her. He would compare the blush in her cheeks to roses or the yellow of her hair to goldenrod. One day, she told him she had only ever seen flowers in her books. He promised her that he would bring her all the most beautiful flowers in his palace’s garden. The next day he stood at the base of the tower and threw bouquets through the window. Great swollen bunches of flowers, bursting with feverishly bright colors and ripe smells that filled her small tower room. She began stuffing her books, embroidery, paintings and other things in the backs of drawers and cabinets, just to

Prose

Sarah White ’19


Prose 56 White

make room for them all. Princess Ophelia wept from the unbearable excitement of it all and Prince Hamlet left whistling. This was what Princess Ophelia had wanted, all those years in the tower. This was the part of the story worth waiting for. She fell asleep clutching a rose, a sunflower, and a cornflower, marveling that she resembled these beautiful things. (Probably. She still had no mirror.) The next morning she woke up and found the flowers had wilted in her hands. The bouquets were curling in on themselves. The smell had turned thick and oversweet. Princess Ophelia fought with Prince Hamlet when he visited that day. “You didn’t tell me they would die,” she shouted down to him. “That’s what flowers do,” he said, not understanding. Princess Ophelia didn’t like being compared to flowers, these fragile things were cultivated for the sake of being beautiful and died a day after being plucked and displayed. She had read the books in her library. She recognized symbolism. She wasn’t stupid, whatever her family said. (They actually said anything, but she heard them anyway.) When her father and brother visited her, she tried to explain this to them. When they saw the wilting bouquets strewn everywhere, they were impressed. “He brought you all of these?” Polonius asked, and Ophelia tried to explain how she hadn’t liked it, exactly. How it had been exhilarating and novel, but also overwhelming, even intimidating. How the bouquets were just so big and vivid and there were so many of them—dozens, actually, and he had just kept throwing them and throwing them, even as she scrambled to move her own things to find space for them. How Prince Hamlet’s eyes had gleamed too brightly. “It sounds he truly does care for you,” her father said. “Maybe we were wrong to try to keep you two apart.” Princess Ophelia imagined visiting Prince Hamlet in his castle. She would be able to walk through villages, smell the ocean breeze, and even see flowers while they still lived. “So I can meet with him?” she asked hopefully. “You can,” her father said. “We’ll give him a key to the tower. He can visit you whenever he wants to.” Which wasn’t what she meant, exactly. Prince Hamlet began to visit more and more. He could come into her tower room now. It became more difficult to talk to him. His


Prose 57 White

mood shifted day by day. Sometimes he ran his fingers through her hair and told her how lovely she was. Other days he complained bitterly about women, disloyalty, and other things she didn’t understand. One day he sat in a corner and muttered to himself for an hour before exploding at her. “You were supposed be a maiden,” he cried. “A princess.” “I am a princess,” she tried to tell him, but the prince was not impressed. “If you aren’t a princess, what type of woman are you? An old hag? A evil witch? You can’t be a princess,” he said. “Princesses aren’t like you.” “Like what?” she cried. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he said, burying his head in his hands. That, at least, she agreed with. Princess Ophelia had begun to tire of Prince Hamlet’s visits. But she didn’t say anything, because she was a princess and he was a prince and this was a fairy tale, after all, and falling in love with princes was what princesses did. Then one day, her father and brother came to her and told her that Prince Hamlet had begun acting erratically. “That’s what I told—” Ophelia tried to say. “You have to stop seeing him,” her father said. Princess Ophelia didn’t know what to do. Relationships never ended in fairy tales. When she told Prince Hamlet she couldn’t see him anymore, he broke three dishes and called her a whore. When Laertes came and told her how father had died, she was hardly surprised. Princesses were supposed to love princes. Princes were supposed to be good. Fathers were supposed to live. Her life was supposed to be a fairy tale, but something at the very center of the world had cracked open, and nobody was left to tell her what to do. Princess Ophelia wept for three days. When she woke on the fourth day, she knew what she needed to do. Princess Ophelia beat the glass of her window until it broke beneath her fist. A shard of glass cut her hand and she bled from a cut for the first time. She stared at the blood, wondering. The pain was sharp, new, and insistent. She tore a strip of cloth off the bottom of her dress, leaving it ragged and loose, and used the strip to bind her hand. She hitched the dress around her waist and climbed down from the window. Ophelia had


Prose 58 White

never owned a pair of shoes. The waving grass tickled her toes. She shimmied along a long, slender willow branch to cross the moat, and marveled at the feel of the bark. Princess Ophelia had never touched anything rough before. She felt the sun’s heat on her back as she walked. She wandered through a local village. She ate an apple freshly plucked from a tree. She spoke to strangers in a tavern. She tasted alcohol for the first time and learned bawdy songs. Her feet got muddy. When her jewelry became scratched and worn, she replaced it with loops of knotted fallen flowers. She returned to her brother full of stories that he didn’t want to listen to. He said she had changed. “That’s what people do,” she tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen. Princess Ophelia was the mad one, now. Shocked and ashamed, she returned to her tower. As she inched back across the swaying willow branch, she looked down and in the surface of the river, she saw her own reflection. Once, there was a princess named Ophelia, and when she saw herself for the first time she didn’t know what she saw. She had lips that looked like budding violets and hair that curled like a winding vine and eyes that were the blue of—no, lips that looked like tulip petals and hair that curled like climbing jasmine—no, lips that looked like— like— No, she thought. No, she looked nothing like a flower. Like any flower. She leaned closer to the water. The willow bowed and shifted beneath her. All she wanted was to see herself clearly. When her hand slipped off the branch and she started to fall, her last thought was, When they find me, none of them, not one of them, will understand. Once, there was a woman named Ophelia. She had lips that looked like lips and hair that curled like hair and eyes that were the blue of the hottest part of a fire, and nobody noticed this until it was entirely too late.


Kim

Art

Decay Stacey Kim ’19 Photography

59


Immortal Cells Aggie Rieger ’17 He lived too long. He was a cancer himself. He passed the length of natural life, His cells raging on, raiding on, dividing rapidly, damaged A rusty, murky, gag-inducing sink Overflowing. He flooded the bathroom, He leaked through - seeped through. The house was saturated with his immortality. Poetry 60

He had no self-destruct. He replicated, multiplied The way only that kind of old man does, And the earth bursted with the whole of his existence.

Rieger

Breathing, moving, stress, thrill, just the sun: Our cells were meant to be damaged.


Aggie Rieger ’17

Machine Art

I would like to be a tea kettle; And be purposeful, Practical (enough) To pour neat rows of little cups of tea. (and be my own cup of tea)

Rieger

Poetry

I want to be rich in affordability And useful And so functionally designed that you want to spring up in motored necessity and, and steam up in electric, kinetic desire and -

I want to be filled And tipped And when I tip I don’t want to spill, I just want to pour.

I want to be as clean And stainless And steel As the machine art that somehow made Its way into the art museum.

61


Fang

Exodus Lu Fang ’17 Photography Art

62


Night Anonymous cw: sexual misconduct, rape

Waking from dreamless sleep, my eyes scramble to focus on something other than white WHITE walls but they can’t hold me, but better yet I want nothing holding me, no one near me. Feelings are unwanted waves of you carving me out like metal to make your mark and leaving me there stuck to watch myself scare easily scared of this mess I have become. And I’ve been meaning to ask you for some time: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Did I deserve this? Did you make this mess or did I? Did you even look at what you were doing to my body? Did you not see the blood on your hands and the sheets? Didn’t you think this would break me? Did you break me?

63 Anonymous

Seizing me from the inside out these memories of your hands where I don’t want them, your lips where I don’t want them, and you on me when I said no.

Poetry

Lying here the hours that feel like days turn to nights that never cease, and fear is not loneliness but your company when I asked you to leave and you didn’t.


Searching for answers I know I won’t find, now all that’s left is my mind molding mental images of that night, engraving them with you while my body lies there still in the bed and the room of white walls forever stained with memories of grey.

Poetry 64 Anonymous


In Response to “You’re like not even Black”

Sarah Nwafor ’20

Bitch I’m black No I mean I’m like black black I got black running through my veins type black

I’m black like The strength of my mother’s back She used to carry me on Tied me tight to her with her gele Never let me fall I’m black like The igbo idioms I use to season my speech The Naija music I dance to in the heat I mean I’m black I mean I’m so black Me and my family eat oranges straight off the tree I’m so black I had jolloff for breakfast Egusi for lunch And goat for dinner I’m so black that I know I’ll never starve

65 Nwafor

I’m black like bloodlines of sorcery and bloodlines of authority Came together to make me Black girl magic

Poetry

I’m so black I’m black like My great grandfather on my dad’s side was a witch doctor And my great grandfather on my mom’s side was a village chief


I’m black like I had soul food at my friends house Ox-tail and rice at my lover’s house And then we kicked it to “A Tribe Called Quest” I’m black like a warm welcome home After years of being away The red sand of my mother’s village I’m black like when me and my American friends hangout Our ancestors rejoice They praise and say “The stolen ones have finally found their family again!”

Poetry 66

I’m black like the night sky Carrying all this beauty in the fabric of its darkness I’m black like the ocean It’s depth goes on and on And white people are always going to wanna see how far they can dive But they’ll never get to the bottom of my black

Nwafor

I’m black and I’m always gonna be black I’m still black when I watch k-dramas I’m still black when I go to an Ivy League institution I’m still black when I decide to go to therapy I’m still black when I kiss my girlfriend And you may call that white people shit But when I do it, it becomes black people shit Because you can’t separate me from my blackness You can’t put our blackness into a box You don’t get to decide what you think blackness is Everything I do is black Because I’m just so black like that


The Most Feminine Thing Sarah Nwafor ’20 I’ll never understand why they say girls are weak When pain and blood are the most feminine things

I shook silently with pain for several months before anyone found out Before anyone taught me “How exciting this is! You’re finally a woman!” I’ll never understand why they say girls are weak When pain and blood are the most feminine things Each girl carrying war on her body When my sister showed me war on her body Painful bloodied lip I wondered Is this how it looks like to love a woman? She put on makeup to muffle the loudness of the bruises And smiled next to him Just like our mother before her Because what else was she to do? I’ll never understand why they say girls are weak When pain and blood are the most feminine things Each girl living through wars waged on her body

67 Nwafor

I knew I had to keep it a secret… I didn’t know why yet, but it was instinctive to me

Poetry

Pain and blood When I got my first period I didn’t know I just knew that my body was trying to kill me Pain wracking my body Blood coming in waves


So when my close friend told me how he waged war on her body How he pierced her and left her like an open wound Said she felt empty and hollow inside From body temple to mausoleum From sacred space to ruins She bled in silence for years Because what else was she to do? “These things just happen when you’re a woman...it’s the price we pay” ….The cost of war?

Poetry 68

I’ll never understand why they say girls are weak It would make more sense to say that girls are silent When pain and blood and war are apart of the way we live Yet still muzzling the pain in front of company and still smiling on top of it all; always the perfect hostess… It is truly the most feminine thing.

Nwafor


Art Franklin

69

Upturned Nadine Franklin ’18 Gouache


october 25th, 2016 Debra Rowcroft ’19 “i spell fluorescents different every time” “yeah, i have words like that too”

Poetry 70 Rowcroft


Bug Bites in June

“OK listen” your father says to no one in particular, you rip at the six or seven mosquito bites on the doughy flesh of your thigh, the bend of your knees, your throat. Still there you’ll be long after the rain’s gone, cross-legged and clawing at yourself, wheezes echoing off your blue walls, your cold hand halfway up your shirt. Stop breathing funny, You might tell yourself,

71 Yoke

Your father sucks on a cigarette and lets the white smoke pour from his tired, lazy lips. You are halfway through your homework and the tip of your pencil gives out for the third time. A sigh, someone sinking deeper into their fatigue and the rain smacking a crudely made skylight, the night swallowing your backyard whole.

Poetry

Cat Yoke ’17


when your father’s heavy footsteps are on the basement stairs and your mother’s whispers are in the doorway. “You’re making it worse” she promises, “You’re making it bleed.”

Poetry 72 Yoke

Night drains into light the same way summer dissolves like most days do, all of a sudden and with the clatter of ice, the last cold sip of a rum and coke. If it’s any consolation, the days get shorter from here on out. If there’s a silver lining it could be anywhere between this bruised evening sky and the orange glow smothered beneath your father’s white, worn out sneakers.


Epilogue

73 Prechtl

5:30 a.m. A young man stumbles downstairs into the dark interior of Ludwig’s Basement, swearing into the sacred morning silence as his hands fumble for the switch. The light is cast across walls lined with chisels, scrapers, files, and purfling picks; long tables are stacked with hotplates, jars, and neatly organized outlines of various stringed instruments. As the man shuffles through the shop to nudge space heaters and start the coffeemaker and fill the humidifiers, he is followed closely by a brown tabby. The building itself is a wizened old thing, and the floorboards creak under the weight of its occupants. The fragrant wood in the walls and countertops still retain the smell of generations of varnish and resin and French shellac polish. The luthier lets the slightly spicy, slightly nutty scent of the shop pull him gradually from the dregs of sleep. Standing in the center of the small room, he watches his own breath swirl up to the high ceiling, at least until the heaters kick in. He likes to pretend it’s cigarette smoke, even though he’s never so much as held a stick between his fingers. As he goes to open the blinds, the cat leaps up onto the windowsill and meows dourly at the sight of the gray clouds that blanket the sky and blot out the stars. Her paw bats at the cinnamon whisk that hangs from the latch. “Another day of bad weather, Nazanin,” the man says quietly, running his hand between the cat’s shoulder blades. “If no one shows, maybe I won’t even put on pants.” The cat is silent. Both of them shiver. Pulling the blanket tighter around his shoulders, the man saunters over to a legal pad nailed to the wall behind the counter and runs his finger down a checklist of routine tasks, peppered with inspections of new repairs to be made. Soon after, music plays from a speaker plugged into his laptop as he scrapes watery eggs onto two pieces of toasted challah from across the street. He takes two bites of his breakfast and forgets about it almost immediately, leaving it to grow cold. He stores it in the microwave so he can reheat it for lunch later, then turns back to his work: His knuckle knocks gently on a block of fresh wood, and he imagines

Prose

Emily Prechtl ’20


Prose 74 Prechtl

the sound and timbre of the finished product; Nazanin dances in a pile of curled wood shavings that gather around the man’s feet as he shaves down a large block of spruce, his soft grunts the only sound in the shop as he guides the gouge through the wood; He balances a jar of hot glue in one hand and a cup of hot coffee in the other, almost taking a sip from the wrong one at least twice. . . The rest of the morning glides by as the luthier of Ludwig’s Basement contemplates how he is both the perioperative nurse and the surgeon of the instruments left in his care—he can check the joints of an old oboe, reassemble a trumpet valve stem, and sand down the cracked chinrest on a viola that was brought in two days ago. But there’s also a morgue, in a small room in the back of the shop, where broken and forgotten instruments are scrapped, so their working parts—lip plates, scattered valves, even the occasional harp string—can be sold or incorporated into new creations. He wouldn’t stretch as far as to compare himself to Doctor Frankenstein, but there was always an aspect of these procedures that was borderline macabre. It is work that is meant only for a lonely man, so it is work that only this luthier can enjoy. Ludwig’s Basement is family-owned and run, for the most part; since the passing of the luthier’s grandfather, his grandmother spends as little time in the shop as possible. The old couple used to travel the world to play in distinguished orchestras. Now, if the luthier strains an ear on a slow day, he might be able to catch a few mournful notes of her viola bleed through from her room above. It’s all she can do. He’s been the sole employee of the Basement for a month and a half now, and it’s already beginning to show, in little ways. He keeps post-it notes in strange places to remind himself of tasks to complete or resources to replenish. There is never silence during business hours, but it is always quiet. He keeps up imaginary conversations with Nazanin, though, and sometimes even believes that they are more than one-sided. But, today, a relentless snowstorm and a napping cat keeps the luthier’s business strictly to his phone and to his workbench until well past noon. He doesn’t look up as the bell chimes, but he hastily pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose and continues gluing the last maple rib to his Guarneri mold, ignoring the sinking feeling of impending human interaction. He hears Nazanin greet the customer with a cor-


Prose 75 Prechtl

dial chirp. Cool, let’s have the cat handle customer service from now on. “Hello? You’re still open, right?” He sighs and sets his work on the table before wiping the sawdust from his fingers onto his apron. He meets the customer at the counter, splaying his calloused palms against its polished surface. “Yeah, last time I checked. What can I help you with?” A breathless woman, one arm in a pale blue sling, shakes the snow off her shoulders as she sets a beaten-up violin case at her feet. She complains quietly about the cold, and her red nose sniffs in agreement. The luthier’s eyes are drawn to a bruise on the inside of her elbow, the shape and color of an overripe blueberry—she must’ve had her blood drawn recently. Her angular eyes widen as she examines the shop around her, and the tiniest of smiles begins at the corner of her mouth. “Well, if you’re not too busy, my violin is in dire need of some professional care.” Her bright demeanor and direct eye contact indicate that she’s a talker, which means he’d have to be a talker too—to build rapport, you understand—which he hates, because talking keeps him from working. The luthier had learned the hard way, over a period of years, how to read a stranger like skimming through a pamphlet thrust suddenly into his hands: How much money they’d be willing to pay, if they have experience with taking care of an instrument, if the instrument in question would be theirs or their daughter’s . . . After a quick glance down to make sure that his shirt is buttoned properly, he leans over the counter to look out the window, which shows nothing but white, and raises his eyebrows. “Clearly, otherwise you wouldn’t have trudged through . . . by now, must be around three feet of snow.” Dedication. She’ll likely be stubborn, so he must be obliging. Or pretend to be. The luthier knows better than most that the musically-inclined are susceptible to bursts of eccentricity and irrationality, especially when it comes to their beloved instruments, but today’s customer nearly takes the cake. Nearly. “Well, I have little else to do, seeing as I’ve been forced into medical leave,” the woman says dryly, indicating the sling. “It’s been three days, can you believe it? The first day, I sat around and caught up on paperwork . . . even tried my hand at baking. First and last time, as far as I’m concerned, at least with anything involving yeast. I spent the second day completely reorganizing my apartment, top to bottom. I even segregated my spoons by their different sizes. Why are there


Prose 76 Prechtl

different sizes? And this morning, on the third day, I found this violin case underneath a bunch of coats. I’ve got nothing else to do, so, hey, might as well get this damn thing working again.” The luthier raises an eyebrow of suspicion, making sure it doesn’t cross the line into disdain. Her story feels like the beginning of a riddle, and he’s not sure if he cares enough to see it through to its end. That Guarneri mold is calling his name. But he’s had a good day, so far, so he humors her. “If you spent the second day reorganizing everything, why did it take you until the third day to find the case?” She shrugs, as if the answer is obvious. “I have a lot of coats. Usually when I move to a new place, I buy a new one. I have to find the right coat to fit the right climate, you know? It has to be perfect, down to the shape of the lapel and height of the collar how many buttons it has. I worked hard to collect them, my coats, so I just figured I’d leave them nice and cozy in their neat little piles. Didn’t know there was anything underneath them until I went fishing for an extra blanket at half-past-whatever this morning when I couldn’t sleep. Too dark.” The man smiles as he shakes his head. My God, she’s a lunatic. In his experience, it was best to just shut up and play along. “You could have just called, you know. Number’s on the website.” She reaches into the front pocket of her coat and pulls out a cigarette, then suddenly remembers she’s inside and tucks it behind her ear with a sigh. “Well, yes, obviously. But can you imagine me spending another day in that apartment? I needed to get out, damn the weather. And I’m glad I did. It’s nicer in here. Smells like cinnamon, almost. Well, shit,” she exclaims abruptly, kneeling out of sight to retrieve the case. She sets it on the countertop with a bang, narrowly missing the luthier’s precious fingers. “Sorry for talking your ear off. It’s the medication. Now, to business.” At least she can tell a story. Despite his better judgement, the luthier has taken a liking to the frazzled violinist; she has effectively captured his attention. Apparently, Nazanin, who leaps down from the counter to rub up against the hem of her coat, is eager to listen to what she has to say as well. The cat glares at him. Be hospitable, dumbass. “You should have something to drink first,” he said. “You look frozen.” She closes her eyes, letting relief relax the muscles in her face. She has a nice smile, but she doesn’t let her bottom teeth show. It’s calculated, polite. “That would be wonderful, thank you.”


Prose 77 Prechtl

“Tea or coffee?” “For the love of God, coffee, please.” He nods and smiles, ducking briefly into the kitchenette to pour what’s left from this morning’s pot into a bright yellow mug. He sets it carefully into her ungloved hand, along with a small pitcher of cream from the fridge and a bowl of sugar cubes. He tosses one of the sparkling cubes into his mouth, and she does the same. Naz is back on top of the counter, tail flicking quietly, eyeing the cream. The woman instantly finds the sweet spot between Naz’s shoulder blades. “Time doesn’t exist in this place, does it?” she asks the cat, her voice barely above a whisper. “I wish I could stay here, but I know I can’t, because time exists everywhere else.” He stares at her for a long moment, locking it in time. Something about the image of the woman standing before him—clean coat, shining hair, bottomless eyes—feels familiar. Not in the reaching, desperate way, like at times when he had to recall if a customer had visited the Basement before. It’s unsettling, in a way he cannot name, which makes it even more unsettling. Like he’s forgotten something. It must be the reason why she doesn’t irk him nearly as much as he had predicted upon her arrival. She lets the mug rest against her cheek for a moment after taking a long sip. “Sorry, should’ve told you I take it black,” she says, popping another clump of sugar. “Anyway, my friend Marita told me you’re the best luthier for miles. You fixed up her husband’s guitar so he could play it at their wedding.” “I do remember her. Re-fretting and wiring customization.” Yes, that customer is surprisingly easy to recall, particularly because the incident still brings a prickle of anxiety and shame to his gut: He had watched the bride-to-be’s pale eyes dart from instrument to instrument, not letting her head tip back childishly when the walls kept going up and up. She’d analyzed what hung on them without truly understanding their meaning or purpose. Which meant that she knew little about the true value of such a simple guitar repair. Which meant that he might have squeezed a few more dollars out of her than he rightfully should have. Indeed, Marita had shelled out far more than what was due, even insisted on tipping him, for God’s sake, and the luthier had done nothing but hold out his hands, easing his conscience with the measly excuse of a slow week.


Prose 78 Prechtl

But the customer standing before him now, the lunatic who smiles as her head tips back, who walked through a blizzard to get here, must be proof enough that the universe has forgiven him for this transgression. “But I think what pleased her the most was how quickly I got it back to her.” The woman runs her tongue over her chapped lips and laughs. “Yes, she’s a stickler for time. For everything, really.” Her eyebrows hike up an extra inch, hinting at more incidents involving Marita and her schedule. The young man eyes the sling again, then her glossy black hair, which has been thrown up into a haphazard bun. Admittedly, an impressive feat for anyone with only one useable arm. “How’d you do that?” “Do what?” “Get your hair up like that with only one hand.” She chuckles softly, neither miffed nor particularly pleased. “Looks that terrible, huh?” “No. It’s beautiful, in a kind of messed-up way.” Ah, subtle. The woman blinks at him for a moment, apparently thrown off as well. “Can’t say that’s the first time I’ve gotten that compliment. But thank you, I suppose, Mr . . . ?” “Attar. Walter Attar.” Can’t hide behind the mask of the anonymous employee anymore. Something about giving his name makes the encounter real, and painfully so. The tips of his ears redden, and he prays that his curling hair hides it well enough. He starts fiddling with his own mug to distract himself. “So, how does a talented woman like you end up in a sling? Too much Tchaikovsky?” She shrugs the good shoulder. “Nah, I just got shot. Like with a gun.” Walter can’t help but gape, waiting for the punchline, but it becomes increasingly clear that there isn’t one. He begins plotting ways to backtrack or change the subject. “Um. That is . . . unfortunate.” The violinist half-shrugs again. “Yeah, so my doctor thought it’d be good to start playing again, once I’m out of this damned sling. To, uh, retrain the muscle and to take my mind off of other things. I haven’t actually picked up the violin in years.” She sets the mug down and reaches for another sugar cube, but stops herself, curling her fingers back into her palm. “There’s a reason why it was underneath all those coats.”


Prose 79 Prechtl

Walter’s mouth is drier than it’s ever been. “I . . . see.” “Yeah, my glamorous new life as a cripple is my favorite conversation piece.” She says insipidly, her blasé cadence resuming as she flicks open the metal clasps to the violin case with her free thumb. He clears his throat. “My apologies, Ma’am. May I, er, see the bow?” She nods and opens the case all the way, masking any embarrassment with bravado as she deposits it into his hands. Walter himself can’t help but wince inwardly at the damage: the wood is snapped cleanly in half, frog cracked and screw gone. Only the ghostly pale horsehair holds the pieces together. The violinist winces too; she doesn’t appear to have noticed how bad it was until it was out of the case. “Hey, it’s not that bad,” he says, biting back a grin. His ears are getting redder. “Quick fix, I’d think.” She tilts her head to one side and frowns, eyes still on the dead bow. Whatever idiosyncrasies she had entered the Basement with quickly fade. “I don’t like being lied to, Mr. Attar.” “Okay, it’s pretty bad. I could glue it or reattach it with splines, but it would significantly disrupt the weight distribution. I’ve been messing around with these little carbon fiber rods for broken shafts such as these, but then I’d have to rehair it as well. No resale value.” And the lunatic snaps back as another sugar cube flies into her mouth. “Well, we wouldn’t want that.” Another sip of coffee, coupled with a frightening grin that starts a creeping warmth under Walter’s shirt collar. He’s not sure if he’s scared or aroused. “Preferably not.” He tries to convince himself that his complexion isn’t approaching scarlet. He coughs again and removes his glasses to get a better look at the bow. The wood was snapped clean in the middle, as if it had been broken over the knee. Was it intentional? Does she want it to be unfixable? “I could always make you a new one from scratch, though. If you want.” The woman cocks an eyebrow, considering. “What’s the cost difference?” “I’m a flexible man—a full repair of this old thing would be anywhere from three hundred to five-fifty, including the screw and frog replacement. But it’s still insured, yes? You could collect the money and put it towards a new one. Clean slate.” It’s a reasonable price; no deception here, not like with Marita. But he’s always game for a mutually beneficial proposition. “I’ll also give you a killer discount if you were to—and this is just a suggestion, entirely optional—meet me for


Poetry 80 Prechtl

a coffee sometime.” Her smile is wide and pleasantly surprised. It’s real—bottom teeth —but she doesn’t miss a beat: “You don’t even know my name, Mr. Attar. And aren’t we already having coffee? You’ll have to be more creative than that.” He doesn’t know why he’s asking this of a stranger, and he doesn’t know how he came off as suave as he did while doing it. But he has to see this woman again, to shave away at the many layers she wears as easily as her coats. Walter reaches behind him for a piece of paper off the top of a large stack. “Well, if you’re willing to accept my services – as a luthier, that is —you’re going to need to fill out this service ticket. You’ll notice there’s a space for name and phone number.” He slides the paper across the counter. His finger lingers on hers for only a fraction of a second when he passes her his pen, and an electric jolt from the contact nearly steals his words away. His palms are sweaty. This is ridiculous. “I’ll, uh, be in back. Put the patient back in your case and leave it on that shelf over there when you’re done. I’ll call you with an estimate within the next day or two. As for the other proposal, I’ll . . . think of something.” He retreats into the back of the shop and waits until the door chimes again, until Naz announces the mysterious customer’s departure. But still, Walter waits. He’s afraid to read the woman’s form, afraid to make her real-real. He hunches over the Guarneri mold for another hour still before his curiosity eats through his resolve like acid. The luthier finally abandons his work and races over to the counter, nearly tripping over the cat as he does. The service ticket is tucked underneath the half-empty yellow mug. He unfolds it. A nasty stain from the coffee has blotted out the woman’s last name; whether or not this was intentional, he would never know. But her phone number and first name are still perfectly legible. He can’t keep a smile off his lips as they form her name for the first time. “Thamyris.”


Friedberg

Art

Map of My Subconscious Elle Friedberg ’17 Printmaking

81


Acknowledgements With special thanks to Crimson Press Wellesley College English Department & El Table

Profile for The Wellesley Review

Wellesley Review, Issue 18, Spring 2017  

Wellesley Review, Issue 18, Spring 2017  

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