Editorâ€™s Page Dear Reader, As we began sifting through the submissions for this years edition of If Clouds are full of Water, we noticed several recurring themes. Some pieces are reflective, looking back on the impact that a significant change or loss has made. Others look forward to the possibilities of the future and the healing that can be found there. All the pieces represent a remarkable depth of thought and creativity that we are excited to share with you. This is truly a community effort and we are very proud of the lively writing and art culture Wheaton Academy promotes. Look for these themes of change, time, and grief as you read, but most of all enjoy the work of the many talented students of Wheaton Academy. Sincerely, Katie Cerny, Lukas Eklund, Ellen Gieser, Alex Kirchner, Anna Neumayer, Ally Teagle and Matt Browning
Behind the Scenes Senior Editors: Katie Cerny, Lukas Eklund, Ellen Gieser, Alex Kirchner, Anna Neumayer, Ally Teagle Art Editor: Anna Neumayer Faculty Advisor: Matthew Browning Cover Photo: Teagan Studebaker Cover Design: Anna Neumayer
Table of Contents PLEASE, SPEAK FOR US…………...…………..……..…....7 Jenna Thiel Photograph …………………………………………………8 Teagan Studebaker PENGUINS, OR IT WOULD HAVE MADE MORE SENSE TO TITLE THIS POEM “SOMETIMES”………………………9 Lukas Eklund Abstract Composition……………………………………….11 Kristina Matson MUSINGS ABOUT COCONUTS..………………..……….12 Micah Trautwein Abstract Composition………………………………………14 Anna Neumayer STORMING CHANGE.……….…………………………...15 Laura Vento Abstract Composition………………………….…..…..……16 Fiona Morgan A DRIVE HOME FROM UPLAND INDIANA….……….17 Betsy Jones Photograph...………………………..………………………19 Jessica Bosse BEGINNINGS (Photograph)………………………………20 Sidney Vischer TENSE…………..……………………………………….…21 Caroline York CORAL-ATANG (Digital Illustration).……………………...22 Sam Wilson LIKE CLOCKWORK ..………………………………….…23 James Drury LIFE THROUGH MY EYES (Painting)……………………24 Mia Jumagulova
COFFEE, JAZZ AND ONE SPOKEN WORD POEM. ONLY ONE.……………………………………..…………25 Lukas Eklund FRAGILE (Photograph)…………………………………….35 Sydney Vischer SILVER PLATTER …………………………………..……36 Ellen Gieser RESPLENDENT BIRD (Digital Illustration)………………37 Sam Wilson PINK RIBBON .…………………………………………...38 Sara Swaitek Photograph…………………………………………………39 Teagan Studebaker GROCERY CHECKOUT ………………………………...40 Micah Trautwein PEACOCK (Digital Illustration)…………………………...41 Sam Wilson Photograph and Digital Composition……….……………...42 Hannah Cooper CRACKED.…………………………………………..……43 Alex Kirchner Photograph and Drawing Composition…………………… 47 Claire Casto IN THIS TOWN ..…………………………....……………48 Ellen Gieser MELODY (Photo Composition)…………………………...49 Nick Masterson FADE: A POEM ON THE CHANGING OF SEASONS ………………………………….…….….…….50 Amarachi Okoli Motif……………………………………………...………...51 Anna Neumayer UNTITLED…………………………….………….………52 Jessica Hdik BALLET (Photograph)…………………………………….54 Sydney Vischer 6
SONNET #4………………………………………………55 David McDonell PANDA DE LOS MUERTOS (Abstract Composition).…..56 Sam Wilson
PLEASE, SPEAK FOR US By Jenna Thiel
The sky was dark and the air was cold, like needles against their skin. They hold each other close, minimizing the space between them, and soon the air loses its power. As they push closer together the tension grows thicker. Sand paper rubbing against itself. The howling wind spoke our conversation for them as they stood in silence. Five minutes pass by and no holiness comes in the silent night. They part their ways saying only goodbye. Crystals stream down the young girls face, landing in a pile in her lap. She strings the crystals into a necklace and wears it proudly, never taking it off.
Teagan Studebaker Photograph
PENGUINS, OR, IT WOULD HAVE MADE MORE SENSE TO TITLE THIS POEM “SOMETIMES” By Lukas Eklund
Sometimes, I try to write poems about All the really difficult questions, Like, What does it mean to be human? But I can’t answer that. I could tell you about the strange feeling Of being trapped In a crowd when that crowd Is a set of gas molecules In a state of Brownian motion, Jostling and flowing Without any pattern or purpose. Sometimes, I see the scarlet lines Tying two together like Those old metal scuba suits that connect To the boat. I have the suit of armor But no lifeline. Shouldn’t I be drowning? Except that’s a big question, And I promised not to answer those. Sometimes, I stand at the edge Of one of those white cliffs 10
With lots of pockmarks That make me feel like climbing. This cliff has a sister-cliff With only emptiness between the two. On the other cliff, The whole human race, Here represented by a microwave, Three silver bullets, And a dead raccoon, Huddles together like penguins (and we all know what penguins are known for). I could jump the gap. I do practice every so often. But I donâ€™t like penguins. I do like ice, werewolves, and saving raccoons, And staring into the abyss, Or maybe climbing down into it, Down those perfectly pockmarked cliffs. Sometimes, I try to answer the difficult questions anyway. Sorry.
Kristina Matson Abstract Composition
MUSINGS ABOUT COCONUTS By Micah Trautwein
He drove me home on the motorcycle that fine Thursday afternoon, and I smiled, sure I would see him again soon. But life is full of surprises. I dismounted onto the dirt road with ease, thanking him once again, and proceeded over to the rusting iron gate. Pitting myself against the rocky road, I tugged, creating just enough of an opening to squeeze through. The dogs came charging, excited; I jolted it closed again just in time. Familiar sights, sounds and smells welcomed. It had been a long day working with little, precious, energetic four-year-olds. My eyes drifted as I sauntered up the tree lined drive. The mangoes, still green, would be a while, maybe by October they would be ready; we were bound to have more this year than any before. The lime tree was weighed down with fruit; I plucked a few. Tamarindos were just starting to shift from green to brown; we would have plenty to give away. The guineos and all their hijas just kept on giving fruit, sweet, yellow, and perfectly ripe, all year round. The proud coconut trees swayed soothingly in the breeze, their shadows dancing with mine; a few years back, we had found the sprouted coconuts at the Prenzaâ€™s camp in Monte Plata, brought them home and planted them ourselves. I glanced at the sun beginning to hide behind the mountains in the distance, shooting pinks, oranges, and reds into the bright blue sky. Life must continue; memories later. Ascending the tile steps, once a vibrant peach but faded with use, I found the metal cage open, and the wooden door unlocked. Someone must have been home; at least I didnâ€™t have to use my key. I headed straight to the kitchen, passing the large kitchen table that often hosted strangers or served as a gurney for people who needed stitches but was now littered with papers and medical books. Typical; she must have been helping someone today. I set the fruit beside the sink. The window allowed the last light of the day to permeate the kitchen as the sun disappeared into the mountains beyond. A lizard scurried across the cement kitchen wall; the laundry hung on the line, drying. Today had been a good day, it seemed: enough electricity to finish the wash in our funky little Japanese machine, good water supply and no rain, no mildewed clothes. I noticed the unattended dishes and started washing, an uncommon act of kindness on my part. It had been a long day, and I had miles to go before I slept. Water on. It was surprisingly quiet; I turned up the music. Scrub with soap. Now I remembered. They were still gone. Rinse in bleach. Sam, Luke and Chase 13
were gone at different camps in various places. Place on the drying rack. No wonder it was quiet. Scrub. Couldn’t wait to do slip-slide all together in the yard again. Rinse. Sit on the porch and talk late into the night, the wind blowing through the screen. Dry. She emerged, a bit tired; he followed close behind. “Hi, Micah.” They went on with her work. I guess someone must have been really sick. As I prepared to go to dinner, they approached. Those words echo still in my mind: “Sit down. We have some news.” I had heard this so many times before. It was time for them to tell me about another drastic, life-changing event: maybe the chores hadn’t been done properly the last few weeks and we were going to try a new system, we needed to work together to clean up after a week of house guests, we were using too much water, or we were going to have about 20 last minute dinner guests and there was no plan for dinner yet. I waited and listened. She went to the hospital in Santiago today to pick up the results. The 40-minute bouncy ride down the mountain just to receive a few papers and a promise of doctor’s interpretation on Monday was quite discouraging. She was not waiting; it was only Thursday- Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. She drove right back up the mountain, intent on figuring it all out herself. She was a doctor, after all. The day passed quickly, a clutter of research, reading and phone calls. They worked together; he had always been supportive. Then, they must have remembered that I was leaving soon and thought it best to tell me so I would understand all the commotion. “Sit down. We have some news.” There was no time to soften the blow. “I have cancer.” Now, it is funny to consider which memories linger and which ones fade over time. The rest of the evening was a blur until returning home and laying my head on my faded blue pillowcase, staring out at the starlit night, mind flying in a whirl of thoughts. And maybe by the time my head rests there again, our coconut trees will be visible from my window. Life will go on without me; my fouryear-old students may grow up and not remember me. Maybe I’ll be back just in time to see the mangoes ripen. But maybe only some of us will get to enjoy them. And we will stand, eating, playing, working, laughing, crying, and running around the yard, just five shadows instead of six. Or maybe we will never return; someone else will have to enjoy the fruit instead.
Anna Neumayer Abstract Composition
STORMING CHANGE By Laura Vento
A vast array of clouds enshrine the skyline. The sun is leaking through tiny expanses. The wind makes the grass shiver, cuts me like glass. My hair, draped across my right shoulder, is swept in one gust; up, left, down. A bird tiptoes on the cement, coolly searching for its next meal. The thunder shakes, I shudder. The rain waits for no one. First one drop, then two, then a thousand. The words on my paper begin to bleed, I stick the letter beneath my jacket, where itâ€™s warm. I wait for the storm to pass. The words are now gnarled rather than neat. Yet theyâ€™re raw, more real. Freely ordinary, but different, changed.
Fiona Morgan Abstract Composition
A DRIVE HOME FROM UPLAND, INDIANA By Betsy Jones
I try to look out my window, Just seeing cold glazed over glass. It is wiped away, With the sleeve of my worn sweatshirt. The outside has become bigger, More evident, more detailed Capturing my eye. Looking out where the corn used to be. Nothing to harvest. A white sky collides with white ground. Snow kissed. My eyes drag from the left, Glued to the lonely trees in the bare, blank field. Just a hazy sight. Deer claim the trees in the far off distance. They are statues to stare you down. In a second they are gone. They are just a moment of your time. Red flashes evolve into rustic barns. No one cares to clean out The hayless loft. Just worn hinges, Lockless stall doors. The farm fences jog slower and longer 18
Through trees and bare country. They run breathless Marathons. Just ground waiting for a recovery.
Jessica Bosse Photograph
Beginnings Sydney Vischer Photograph
TENSE By Caroline York
Muscles tighten, twist, and tear, But no tear appears in my eye. The past and future both conspire To stab me in the back and in the front: The pain of panic. My stomach hurts, Reliving for a lifetime A moment I can never retrieve, Just out of reach, Like my reflection in a pond. My head hurts, Wasting a lifetime On moments that may never come, Just out of reach, Like visions of a mirage. Muscles loosen, knots are kneaded out. I stand here for a lifetime, A moment eternal, Erasing my old wounds Like rosemary on scars.
Coral-atang Sam Wilson Digital Illustration
LIKE CLOCKWORK By James Drury
Time only flies by, when you are not looking at it. The hands tick slower the more we stare. It is scarce when we need it most, But the next moment we have far too much of it. Time does not exist because we have clocks, Clocks exist because we have time. People get stronger with every sunrise, While others are becoming old and fragile with every setting sun. Even mother nature surrenders to father time, With every tree too old to sprout colors anymore, a new one is planted. We might wish to go back in it, do something again, But it will stop for nobody until what ever end.
Life Through My Eyes Mia Jumagulova Painting
COFFEE, JAZZ, AND ONE SPOKEN WORD POEM. ONLY ONE. By Lukas Eklund
It is the beginning of the day and she is packing. She sends me a message on my phone. When I find it, something breaks, a wet snap, somewhere inside me. I throw on sweatpants and a sweatshirt and run downstairs. I skip every other step. “Hey hon. You’re late,” my dad says. He smiles in that reassuring, strangely-bear-like way of his. I get ready quickly, usually. I cook for him and me, most days. “I have to go. I have to finish a project.” He starts to prod, to ask what the project is, to tell me how much he loves my art. I rush out the door before he can. I take the minivan. It used to be my mom’s, but she stopped going places and gave it to me. The van is an old, gray Honda and makes me sad somehow, but I keep it somewhat clean and it works well. I keep some small sculptures on the dash and a wall of bumper stickers, but other than that, the van is just another van. People drive by without noticing anything unusual. I start the van and buckle my seatbelt. I look in the rearview mirror, clearing a path with my eyes. No cars, but my eyes blur for a moment and a bat is hanging upside-down in the back. He drops to a crouch, right-side up. He eyes me with a tilted head. His face reminds me of a dog, but slyer. Less kind, more piercing. His eyes are clear and dark. His throat is patched with fur that seems to shift between grey, orange-red, and black. He shivers, his leathery wings rippling. “I don’t want to hear anything, Sirpa.” I pop the clutch and start to drive. Her house is only five minutes away. We used to be neighbors, but her family moved. It felt like a long move at the time. Cars help. She’s standing on a chair. The chair is an ancient relic and creaks when she shakes. She’s shaking more than she would like. You can feel the buildup behind the dams that are her eyes and you can feel something moving in the background and the roughness around her neck “Stop!” I scream. I slam the wheel, the car slows to a stop, and I take a moment to breathe. “Stop. Please stop. She wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t.” Sirpa stands motionless in the mirror. He never looks angry or sad or anything. He just is. His eyes are clear and bright, and I can see the moisture collected on his nose. He looks trustworthy, as if he cannot help 26
but listen to my deepest secrets and tell me how much he cares. Looking at him exhausts me. I keep driving and hope he keeps his mouth shut. He and Kamon speak in images and scents and sounds and sensations. It can be uncomfortable. He stays silent, but I feel his probing eyes trying to creep under my skin. I slide the van into her driveway. She sleeps in a sort of cabin right off the rest of the house. The cabin was supposed to be a guest room, but she picked it because it was separate from the rest of the house. Her parents seem to stay out of her life, but they know me. I walk up to the door of her room, ready to charge in and rescue her, ready to throw myself to the edge of the cliff and grab her hand. When I reach the doorknob, I feel something shift in the pit of my stomach. She is in there alone. I have never been in her room, alone with her before. The thought makes me feel uncomfortable, and I feel a blush creep towards my face. I can feel Sirpa behind me, breathing down my neck. I look the door up and down, trying to summon the courage to break in. Blood pools under the door and you can see it leak out and flow down I shake the doorknob, trying to force it open. “Mika?” I ask. I hear her move things and come to the door. “I’m so sorry, Anne.” I can hear her about to cry. She never cries. After a moment, she unlocks the door and I step inside. She wears loose blue jeans and a light jacket. They look like travelling clothes. Mika is a couple inches shorter than me, but she seems taller sometimes. She has these blue-green dreamcatcher earrings that she always wears. They fill her cheeks, a touch of cyan in a field of gold. Her eyes, brown maple leaves in fall, have a few tears crouching in them. The sight twists my stomach and I want to hold her. She keeps her room ridiculously neat, most of the time. The whirlwind of clothing and paper and bags is like a burning flag. Mika can be a little wild sometimes, but seeing the room makes it real and I start to worry. Sirpa pokes through the papers with a wing, holding an object in his slimy mouth. The violin bow becomes watery and suddenly, I’m holding a thin, thirsty knife with blood dripping from the tip and the knife becomes a bottle of pills, empty, bottle, also empty, and shifts to. Mika slinks up to me and slips her arms around my body. All the air colors with her scent, a mix of something near cinnamon and something sweeter than cardamom. My head spins, once, then focuses on absorbing as much of her as it can. I can feel her head on my chest and the slight shake as tears start to crawl their way out of her eyes. Sirpa shifts, his body becoming like mist. I close my eyes and focus on the warmth of Mika’s tight, desperate embrace. I tell her that I am here 27
and that I can help and that it will be okay, all in one whispered breath. She does not hear. When I open my eyes, Kamon stands next to the bed where Sirpa was. His fur, pure and white like snow, ruffles as he shakes himself. He draws himself up to his full height, towering over me and Mika in a way that makes me feel safe instead of scared. Kamon watches me with what would be a smile, if he smiled like we do. I can feel the fear receding. “I’m here,” I say. Sounding brave is much easier with Kamon in the room. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” “You don’t have to be. It’s okay. It isn’t your fault.” “It’s always my fault, Anne.” “Never.” I throw myself into the word and let it absorb all my honesty. You and Mika, walking together in a forest. The trees on both sides release their leaves, letting the wind carry the leaves across the path, as if the trees are trading. Gentle golden light leaks through the cracks in the trees, painting the road the color of wood in a bonfire. Mika laughs and interlaces her hand with yours I glance at Kamon, trying to tell him to be quiet with my eyes. The image fades. I hate to see it go, but I need to focus. Focus. Focus. Mika lets go after what seemed like a moment, or a decade. I am tempted not to let her go, but the thought makes moths swarm in my stomach. “I can drive you to school, okay? We can get through one more day. We can go somewhere after school, if you want. Then you can take the weekend to think. Just don’t go. Not yet. Please don’t go,” I say. The words leap from my mouth one after the other. A river of words. “Okay.” She blinks and looks me in the eye. For a moment, I lose myself wandering a vast, otherworldly landscape of nebulae and stars. Stop. Stop it. I force my thoughts back. “Come on. School starts soon. Or we could skip, if you need to,” I say. I hate skipping but would skip with her in the space of a breath. “Yeah. Let’s go.” I can see her face shift. A moment ago, she looked wild, as if she might claw her way out of the room. Now, she just looks resigned. I would trade every sculpture and drawing I have made to help her. I drive her to school, and she says nothing during the ride. Kamon reclines in the back seat with a concerned expression. Bears do not compact as well as they would like, but he manages to follow me everywhere. By the time we get there, Mika looks like she has someone on her back pulling her down. “You’ll be okay, Mika? I mean, you can make it through today? One more day,” I say. I will bake her something tomorrow. I saw a new 28
recipe for oatmeal cookies somewhere. I guess I bake or cook when I get worried. “I’ll be fine. I need to go, anyways. I have some stuff to do in English.” “We don’t say fine.” “True.” “How are you, really?” “My thoughts...feel like silver metal rods. They go up, turn ninety degrees to the left, and keep going. But they’re tall and the going up is more than the going left. I don’t know what that means. I might be a bit crazy.” “No, you’re completely crazy.” And perfect, I want to add. I smile at her in a reassuring way, or a ridiculous, stupid way. I cannot tell. We leave the car and walk to school together, but she separates from me to get to physics class. My steps stutter and I pause, waiting to see if she will try to hug me. The thought makes me hands sweat. She almost stumbles away, looking dazed. I wipe my hands on my pants. For a moment, I am stuck where I am. What am I doing? The floor is the blank gray of a prison or a hospital, but it pulls at my eyes. I can feel people moving around me, through me. I want so much to help her. Do I go to class? And leave her? I step left, then right, then freeze. I look up to see Sirpa shifting from foot to foot as if imitating me. “You don’t have to say anything. Please don’t. I’m not in the mood.” He stares. His eyes probe mine, searching for a way in. His wings twitch and shift like liquid. I can almost see black drops of wing sliding off to the ground. I turn to go to class. I can hear Sirpa’s little cat feet stalking me. Sometimes his presence bothers me. He smells like cumin and tends to be rather moody. I feel mostly asleep. My eyes are open but I can feel my mind failing to process anything. I can feel Mika somewhere nearby, like a lantern in fog. I cannot focus when I know she is in pain. My mind begins to clear in Gov, just before lunch. The teacher is telling me about something important but the words run together kind of like chocolate chips melting in a pan. I can see Sirpa inspecting the teacher’s desk, looking through his things. Someone interrupts my thoughts. “I just don’t think you can go against traditional family values like that and still have a healthy family,” a senior girl says. I blink. The topic is current issues, and the class is having another debate. My brain feels like it is in another place. My body is here, though, and uncomfortable. “Says who? You can’t expect people to repress an important part of themselves. Could you?” Another senior says, his voice rising in volume. The bell rings, and I escape into cool air. I walk towards the lunchroom to find Mika. We usually eat 29
together, sometimes with a couple of friends, like Drake. We are not exactly popular because we are too interesting. Also, cliques are cliche and lead to too many quotes from The Breakfast Club. She might be at her locker, so I take the most roundabout, ineffective route to the lunchroom, hoping to see her as I pass. I used to do this a lot before we really knew each other. Finding people feels presumptuous. I mean, they might not want to talk to me. And I used to be too nervous to talk to her anyways. Mika steps out from a classroom. I can see Drake walking beside her. They pass without noticing me. I slow down to follow them. They should go to the cafe. Instead they find an abandoned classroom. I wonder why they want to eat alone. Maybe she wants to tell him about this morning. I did not think they were that close. I follow Kamon to our secret spot that Mika and I found outside the school building. The space is a tiny hollow under three intertwined birch trees. The birch trees peel in strips to reveal pale, smooth flesh underneath. The weather is beginning to realize how close summer is, and the temperature is in that balanced place between cool and too warm. I like this spot because it always smells sweet-spicy, like a mix of cayenne and cinnamon. I sit down next to Kamon. I share my salad with him. In return, he shows me images of him killing a seal, what seal tastes like. I glare at him and remind him that I do not eat meat. I tease him that I like Sirpa better because Sirpa eats only fruit. Kamon’s fur ruffles when he laughs. After a while, Kamon begins to melt and Sirpa is there instead. I tell him that eating alone allows me time to think. He sits on my lap and picks the Mandarin oranges from my salad. After a while, he falls asleep and disappears. I have no one to talk to, so I go back to class. The day melts into a dense gray fog and I feel abstract. After school, I pick Mika up and we drive to the Hilborn. Friday are Hilborn nights. The Hilborn is a tiny, musty coffee-shop-turned-club. Friday nights, they host local jazz bands and slam poets, so the the poetry club always goes. Meaning, Mika, Drake, and I. When we park outside the Hilborn, Mika turns to me. She always sits cross-legged with her left over her right and never wears the seat belt. “Anne? Can we stay here for a moment?” she says. “I mean, can we talk?” “Absolutely, and I support the idea. Or, reverse the two.” I want to tell you something, too, Mika. No, I don’t. I take that back. Or maybe I will. No. “I don’t tell you everything, Anne. I’m sorry.” “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me anything, but I’ll always listen 30
if you want to.” I can feel Kamon chiming in from the back seat, whispering a sense of concern into my ear. It sounds like a wintergreen mint tea I tasted once. “But, please...tell me about today? You almost left.” “I’m sorry about that. I didn’t want to worry you.” “It’s okay. I just...don’t like the idea of you going anywhere.” “You’d be okay.” “No. Tell me what happened? If you want?” “I do, but I can’t phrase my thoughts well.” “It’s cause you’re crazy,” I say, adding a smile to the edge of the words. Mika laughs with a hint of bitterness, like baking chocolate. “It’s my mother. God, I hate this. I’m like a personified cliché.” “I think you’re an ingenious neologism.” I try to use the teasing voice that Mika uses sometimes, but it sounds less interesting from my mouth. My tongue feels furry. “It’s my mother,” Mika says. Kamon frowns. I can see his fur start to blacken, see him start to shrink and grow wings. “What...happened?” Mika takes a long moment to think, and I can see a flood building behind a dam. She might be the most private person I know. I took two of the three years I have known her to discover her favorite color. She said jade, but not green jade; a rare “lavender-mauve” jade she saw once. I told her she was pretentious but tasteful. I think my favorite is the brown that maple leaves shift to in the fall. Maple trees also have the third best scent, after cinnamon and cardamom. “Anne?” “Oh, sorry, I got all thoughtful. Your...what happened?” I can see the dam start to break. “She’s trying to break us. You know how we don’t eat together when my dad has late stuff?” “I remember.” “When dad’s gone she tells me not to eat. That I disgust her with how much I eat. That people would like me if I was thinner. She hides food when dad isn’t here. And part of me knows that she’s sick and part of me is starting to believe her.” “That’s...horrible of her.” “And she attacks dad every time he’s at home. Every night she gives him a screaming rant about how evil Buddhism is, how he’s going to hell. I can see him folding. He goes upstairs after dinner to meditate but I think he cries and I hate seeing her do this to him. She’s colder than ice and I hate her.” “She...hasn’t hurt you, though? She hasn’t, right?” Mika blinks and I watch her consider. 31
After a long moment she puts a hand on her jacket and slowly slides it above her bellybutton. I catch myself looking away and flushing. When I look back I can see a bruise like an ink painting of a dragon twisting across her stomach. Something like a wishbone breaks somewhere in my chest. I wish I could transfer the bruises to my body. “You remember the time I burned my hand?” She says. If I was her, I would be choking and crying, but her voice is flat. She is tougher than I am. “You still have the scar.” I glance at the brown spot on her hand. “She put a hot frying pan on it. See, I told you. A stupid cliché. Now I’ll complain and then write poems about it. Transform my angst into art.” “Poetry club, always,” I say, because I do not know what to say. We started the club two years ago. It has three members, including us, but we made t-shirts. And then I feel my eyes start to cry, all on their own. Sirpa dances forward and licks the tears off my cheeks before Mika sees them. “I’m so sorry,” I say, because I cannot think of anything else. Mika grabs my hand as if to steady me. “It’s okay.” “You...don’t have to go. You can stay with me until we graduate. My parents won’t mind.” “Thank you. I just don’t want to leave dad with her.” “Your dad is the best.” “I know. Who else actually has a job in theoretical physics?” “Yeah.” “I just hate the idea of her hurting him. I’m starting to look at every girl paranoid because she might be like my mother. I hate this,” Mika says, releasing my hand as she does. My hand feels dirty when she lets go of it. “Cliché.” “Neologism,” I say. “We should go. Mike and his band are opening tonight. Sorry for unloading all this on you.” “Yeah. And thank you for telling me.” Mika is so much tougher than I am. I should tell her. We sit in the back right corner in the same chairs every time. Mika and I, that is. Drake only comes every other week. The chairs are old, worn ones that rival museums for dust collection. Taking a seat feels like entering the Victorian England. The first jazz group steps up to the stage. They have a keyboardist that introduces the first song with the sound of a deep, throaty electric organ. The drummer takes up a cautious beat, sticking to her ride cymbal and snare. After a moment, the keyboardist pulls a microphone to her lips and starts to sing. Her voice slips into the 32
mix as gently as a leaf falling to the ground. The sparse light illuminates her face, transforming her into an angel. I catch myself staring and tear my eyes away. I look back to Mika. The band finishes the song and starts to rotate with the next group. “I just like poetry,” Mika says, taking a sip of coffee and looking at Drake. He laughs, but his laugh is unsteady. He keeps drumming his fingers on the table without any steady beat. I wonder how I missed him sneaking up to the table. Drake is tall and has long hair. “I love how people misuse words to fit people into boxes. So charming,” he says. “Yeah. I’m not colorblind, I’m just red-challenged.” I say, interjecting myself into the conversation. They look at me like I broke a plate on the table. Mika coughs into her hand. The next group takes the stage, two guitarists and a drummer. The guitars talk to each other in shades of blue and gray. I dip into the sound and let myself drift again. “Can I talk to you for a second, Mika?” Drake says. He seems more nervous than usual. “Sorry Anne. Just a moment.” They divert themselves to a table in a dark corner. The separation feels like pulling apart a piece of meat, feeling the tendons straining, giving up, and tearing. My head weighs much less than it used to. I think it would float away if I let it. I can hear the music, I can feel Sirpa’s weight on my neck, and I can feel the pressure emanating from that dark corner. My body locks itself like a treasure chest, becoming rigid. After a long time, the music vanishes. I can feel a stone in my neck, an ache born of my tension. Tonight is not a good night. Sirpa stands beside me, coloring with white, shifting into Kamon, shifting back into himself. I look to him for help, but he never says much. “Hey Anne,” Mika says, clarifying my hazy thoughts. She sounds out of breath in a pleasant way. I look to see Drake, but he is gone. “Good news.” “Oh?” I say, plastering the walls of my face and voice with cheerfulness. “You won’t have to put up with me.” She smiles. “I’m staying with Drake until graduation.” So there it is. “That’s great,” I say. That is horrific, I think. “Your parents won’t be mad?” “My dad’ll be glad to keep me out of my mom’s reach. Drake’s parents are out of town for the week, and they don’t mind anyways. He’s trustworthy like that.” “That’s great.” “I know. It’s strange. I mean, I’ve thought for a long time that…” 33
She trails off into a smile and a blush. “That’s great,” I say. And it should be. It should be great. I try to say what I should have seen a long time ago. “You…” “Love him, yeah. A bit. Maybe since a year ago.” For a moment, she is smiling and very intensely herself, so I save that image and smile. An honest smile, this time. Mika says she has to go. She drifts away and I watch her leave, watch as Drake leads her out with a hand. A poet replaces the jazz trio. He is short but gangly and wears a clean, light-blue shirt tucked into dark jeans. He brushes his short hair with both hands every few moments. I can see his left hand shaking and his right hand clenched in a fist. “It is not for the pressure of the sea to determine how we swim,” he says, his voice carrying a mystical sense of authority. “The outside is a pressure cooker but it is not a lobotomy, a full-firing frontal assault but not your commanding officer.” He keeps speaking and his whisper bleeds into a shout. I take a sip of Mika’s coffee. She left it at the table. I suppose she did not notice it. It tastes thick, creamy, like molasses, but turns black and bitter. I take a part of myself, roll it into a ball, and feed it to Sirpa. The poem ends and I keep sitting there, sipping coffee that turns bitter towards the end.
Fragile Sydney Vischer Photograph
SILVER PLATTER By Ellen Gieser
Whispering footsteps dream of Shadows struck across a silver platter Because I am the silence after The lionâ€™s roar so deafening Struck blind by the void of My soul in an acorn that becomes An oak in a savannah dying in Smoke and fire and ashes and honor.
Resplendent Bird Sam Wilson Digital Illustrations
THE PINK RIBBON By Sara Swaitek
She lives this ordinary life Married, Three kids and a wonderful husband, Daughter to the most amazing family. Nothing is regretted. Nothing is wrong. Nothing is noticed. Why worry when life is amazing? Multiplying, Every second old ones are split And create a new species Destroying the temple they inhabit. The news came, They are multiplying at a rate Like the sun shining every day, It cannot be stopped. Soon the disease has taken over Into her bones Like the chill of the water On a hot summers day. The luscious locks On her once beautiful head Fall. Fall down from the tree Like the leaves of fall. So beautiful, So unnatural.
Teagan Studebaker Photograph
GROCERY CHECKOUT By Micah Trautwein
Lines— Ever-extending chain of bodies, waiting. Minutes seemingly turn to hours as lists run through minds. Faces— The protruding cheekbones highlighting the ash-like rims encircling eyes. Bony hands under a child’s body, holding tight Bread, milk, juice in the cart, merely the essentials. A few more days And the light may break the looming clouds. His rugged, dark coat extends, an effort to conceal and cover. Grey shoes, once white, peeling soles. Food in hand, he pays with cash. Though free from the line, he lingers, no longer headed somewhere, Just anywhere. Am I doing the same?
Peacock Sam Wilson Digital Illustration
Hannah Cooper Photograph and Digital Composition
CRACKED By Alex Kirchner
The shutters of the house were closed, blocking off the sunlight of a bright spring day. The kitchen was dark and the sink was piled high with dishes, their colors dimmed by the low light of the room and the murky water flecked with bubbles of soap. A fly buzzed inside the light fixture. It flew in frenzied circles, bouncing between the light bulb and the thick textured glass. The wallpaper was covered in water stains, and some of it had begun to peel in delicate, curling strips. A large orange tabby cat sat on the countertop, lounging on top of a magazine, which was open to an advertisement: “A Safe and Restful Place Where Troubled Minds Find Peace”. The cat lazily opened its yellow eyes as the kitchen door swung open and a woman with frizzy blonde hair entered the room. “William!” she scolded, her voice high, sharp, and entirely unwelcome in the eerie quiet that had preceded her entrance. “Are you just going to lay around all day? Those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves!” The cat jumped off the countertop with an offended expression, knocking the magazine to the floor and running between her legs into the living room. “You come back here,” she screeched. “Don’t leave when I’m talking to you!” She pulled off one of her slippers and threw it after the retreating feline. Sighing heavily, she turned back toward the kitchen. Shuffling over to the fallen magazine, she picked it up and tossed it carelessly into the overflowing trash can. Heavy footsteps made the stairs creak as a man in a white bathrobe came down the stairs. His muscles, which were once prominent, were softened with age, and his hairline was receding. What hair remained was still wet from a shower, but it had been neatly combed away from his face. A spot of shaving cream lingered on his chin from where he had recently shaved. “Donna? Is everything okay?” he inquired calmly as he entered the kitchen. His eyes wearily took in the cluttered kitchen. A fine layer of decay seemed to hang over everything. His wife looked up from where she had been alphabetizing their spice cabinet. “You need to talk to that boy, Richard. He is completely out of control. It’s like he doesn’t even understand when I’m talking to him,” she huffed, balling her hands into fists like a small child. Richard looked pained. His eyes flickered to a framed picture on the wall, then back to her sallow face. “Of course, I’ll - yes, I’ll talk to him.” 43
“Good. My mother always said that there’s nothing worse than a spoiled child. They need discipline now and then.” She slammed the cabinet door shut to add emphasis to her words. “Quite so,” said Richard, wincing slightly. “Would you like some breakfast? I was going to make us omelettes. William can have a bowl of cereal—I’m not cooking for him with the way he has been behaving.” Richard swallowed hard. “An omelette sounds great, dear.” “All right. I’ll get them started.” Donna pulled a pan out of the sink without bothering to rinse off the grime and soap suds that coated its surface. Taking two eggs out of a carton in the refrigerator, she placed them in the pan, shell and all, and turned on the stove. She neglected to light the flame, and the room soon filled with the smell of natural gas. When she turned away to select spices from the cabinet, Richard surreptitiously turned it off. “Don’t forget that parent-teacher conferences are today,” Richard casually remarked, “I took the day off work so we could both go.” “How sweet of you! I’m sure William will be thrilled. He loves it when you come along.” Her face fell slightly, and her eyes dropped to the spatula she was wiping with a musty dish cloth. “He always loved you more than me. He listens to you.” "He loves you too, honey." His eyes shifted back to the picture frame, then at the stained ceiling before focusing once more on her watery blue eyes. “Yes. Yes I know.” She turned back to the stove, blinking quickly. “Your omelette is ready. You eat while I go get dressed.” She put the two whole eggs, lightly covered with a layer of salt, on a plate and set it down on the table. One of the eggs cracked. Thick liquid, tinted slightly white, oozed across the plate. As soon as she left the room Richard put his head in his hands, pressing his fingers against his eyes until he saw stars. The picture on the wall tilted as a door slammed upstairs, sending a tremor through the walls. *
Richard’s hands slipped on the steering wheel. He was sweating profusely, and frequently tugged at the collar of his starched shirt. Donna sat calmly next to him, occasionally turning to make a comment to the cat in the backseat, who glared silently or hissed in response. “I hope your teachers have good things to say about you. Your grades have certainly been up to par so we don’t have to worry about that, 44
at least. Oh, Will, you were always such a smart boy.” She stroked the cat, smiling. One of Richard’s hands left the wheel to finger his wallet, which was resting in the cup holder. A photograph was prominently displayed in the clear plastic sleeve affixed to the black leather. “Are we almost there, dear? I don’t seem to remember it taking this long..” “Can’t help the traffic. We’ll be there in a moment.” As they halted for a red light, he twisted the wedding band on his finger and glanced nervously at his wife. The light turned green and he pulled ahead, turning into a long driveway that led to a tall, stately mansion. The lawns were carefully manicured and dotted with small tables. Several people were sitting at these or strolling about the grounds, stopping to admire ancient oaks and colorful gardens. The walls of the mansion were red brick and full of windows that glowed in the morning sunshine. “Richard?” asked Donna slowly, “This isn’t the school. Where are we? What are we doing here? Richard!” Her voice conveyed her increasing hysteria. She grasped the seat belt, twisting it between her hands. “There are some... people here that I would like you to meet. We can take William along; in fact I think that they would particularly like to meet him.” “But, that sign... Richard it says this place is for crazy people. I’m not crazy!” She was wild-eyed now and shaking violently. “You just need some rest Donna. It will be fine... we will be fine.” He tried to take Donna’s hand, but she pulled away and began to scream. “You can’t take me away from William! A mother has rights! You can’t, you can’t, I’ll sue, I’ll-” she broke off as a white-coated figure knocked on the driver’s side window. Richard rolled it down obligingly. “Mr. Whitman? This must be your wife. How very nice to meet you, my name is Leah.” She smiled pleasantly at Donna. “You’re a doctor aren’t you. I don’t need a doctor,” she said, hugging her arms close to her body. “We just want to help you... process through what happened to your son. Trust me, you’ll be out of here in no time.” She smiled again, her blue eyes friendly but serious behind her square-rimmed glasses. “My son is right here,” she said, pointing to the back seat. The cat was now flopped across the bench, sleeping contentedly despite the voices around him. “Right. Of course. He can come with you! It will be lovely,” she said reassuringly. “Come on, dear. Let’s show him the gardens.” Richard unbuckled 45
his seatbelt and climbed out of the driver’s seat. Donna reluctantly followed him as walked around to the side of the car and let the tabby cat out. It raced off into the bushes without a backwards glance. “Will! William George Whitman you come back here!” She ran off after the cat. “We’ll call... give you updates on her progress, etc.,” said Leah, watching as two orderlies gently restrained Donna and walked her into the house. “Yes. Of course. Thank you,” Richard said softly. “Anything we can do, just let us know.” “I will. Thank you, again. The first check will be in the mail by tomorrow.” The doctor smiled and waved pleasantly as Richard got in the car and backed slowly down the driveway. The last thing he saw was the cat, sunning itself on a rock as it cleaned its paws.
Claire Casto Drawing and Digital Composition
IN THIS TOWN By Ellen Gieser
Bruised blue alleyways sear the vision like the Space between stars glittering like velvet, Soft as the splintered glass shining on and on Steamed lights glower over the Kettle sweating silver bullets as Mellow-minded rats skitter under Gravid garbage lids limp as iron skillets Acid and smoke in the lungs with Heartburn in the mind splurged smoothly, rudely Splits the flaccid hammer of a headache The lid of our lazy hazy sun Blinks languidly under a foggy smoggy Smear that embraces the hooded lid Night stretches the wrinkles hidden by Paint that stings and springs the eye, Stumbling buildings on blocks smiling up at the Sky blushing faded bruises Lines scored in the shallow pavement Weep forlorn footsteps, Singing away the nightmares behind Mirrors and windowsâ€™ dew tears of widows Swallowed up by the flush yellow grass.
Melody Nick Masterson Photo Composition
FADE: A POEM ON THE CHANGING OF SEASONS By Amarachi Okoli
The snare drum of fireâ€” O, Sun, will you not relent? The nimbus appeals to the snare, As summer fades and autumn falls. Leaves that endured soon shrivel and pass, Trees stand ever stronger. Old man winter awakes in due time, Stripping the trees of their dignity and pride. Long and cold, winter oppressed, Some submitting, some relenting. A Light in the darkness shone in the distance, The first icicle falling to its end. The Light had returned to come and mend, And Old Man Winter was cast away. Spring was in rule from month to month; The cumulus reigned and once again Began to fade.
Anna Neumayer Motif
UNTITLED By Jessica Hadik
As I walk over the grass that blows in the timeless breeze, I am reminded that every piece will soon be as stiff as a nail, Frozen in the morning dew. Few leaves have fallen. None have browned, But rather shriveled into the branches as if hiding from what is just around the corner. Summer is still holding on, If only clinging by its pinky finger. As much as the routine continues on and gives fair warning, There is always a feeling of surprise when the seasons change so suddenly. Clouds, like a blanket, cover the sun. Soon, the sky will not be the only thing disguised by a blameless white mask, But the hills, The rooftops, The streets. Trees that have stood their ground on this campus long before 1853 know what is coming. They have gone through countless phases; having died and lived And died again and lived again More times than I could wish upon my worst enemy. I wonder what they think about at a time like this. 52
Can they recall the pleasant memories of the past year, when the girls chattered away contentedly under the Shadow theyâ€™ve provided; Where the boys climbed their limbs, looking for adventure amidst the bright green leaves? Can they feel the palms of Jack Frostâ€™s hands hugging their trunks And greet him with a friendly smile? Let him gently pluck the leaves off their branches because They are fully aware a day will come where they can enjoy the amenity of the peaceful air Once again. Or will they forget the good times And focus all their attention on the temporary hardships to come, Even though they are fully aware they cannot avoid them? Will they try to fight Jack off? As they grow weaker and weaker, As he claws at their bark and mercilessly rips out every leaf one by one, Is their vision so obscured by the pain that they will Ignore the fact that Spring, too, is just around the corner?
Ballet Sydney Vischer Photograph 54
SONNET #4 By David McDonell
To start a poem some call on the muse, But I myself doth call upon the Beard. The inspiration from this thing I use. When gazed upon one knows it is revered, Matt Browning has a gift that few enjoy. His beard shalt be eternally unfurled Oh luscious locks that show he’s not a boy, His beard is envied all thro’out the world. All ye who lack the will to read and write, Come listen to a Beard conveying truth. Be careful ‘cause the redness may ignite Your fi’re to learn once found within your youth. That ginger Beard of precious goodness rests Upon the face of one who’s made us blessed.
Panda De Los Muertos Sam Wilson Abstract Composition