THE YALE HERALD SPECIAL LITERARY ISSUE VOLUME LVII, NUMBER 12
NEW HAVEN, CONN.
FRIDAY APRIL 25, 2014
April 25, 2014 _ 1
FROM THE STAFF
Somewhere in this issue, Andrew Kahn writes, “god: I haven’t been myself lately.” The Herald has not been itself lately. All year the Herald is pent up in cages outside dining halls, or splayed open on the floors of bathroom stalls, or crinkled into the recycling been of some suite in Branford. But recently, it has been lying around on the grass of this campus, feeling the breeze (at times, a chill) run through its toes. It’s fine. The Herald is fine. The Herald will make it; it is more concerned about you. Remember the wood burning stove in the cabin in Simsbury when you read that novel from cover to cover? Remember the sun and the beach at Stanta Barbara where you said you loved Rilke, that he was great, yes? The Herald remembers. You were happy then. You didn’t have a test tomorrow, and three papers in a week. The week the Herald is not itself, for you. Keep reading, and you’ll find stories to be lost in and snapshot that are poignant and happy making quick enough to fit in your trip back from the bathroom. Things like: two Dialogues with God, a tale from the town of Gilchrist, an essay going “Eastbound on the Third of July,” and much more. It’s true of most of the work being done here that a lot of people care about. This is the stuff your friends are working on. Take a break from the stuff you are working on and enjoy it! [Silence] Jake Literary Issue Editor
The Yale Herald Volume LVII, Number 11 New Haven, Conn. Friday April 25, 2014 EDITORIAL STAFF: Editor-in-chief: Micah Rodman Managing Editors: Kohler Bruno, Austin Bryniarski Senior Editors: Sophie Grais, Eli Mandel, Emily Rappaport, Emma Schindler, John Stillman Culture Editor: Katy Osborn Features Editors: Alisha Jarwala, Leyla Levi, Lara Sokoloff Opinion Editor: Alessandra Roubini Reviews Editor: Kevin Su Voices Editor: Jake Orbison Design Editors: Madeline Butler, Julia Kittle-Kamp, Zachary Schiller, Jin Ai Yap Assistant Design Editor: Kai Takahashi Photo Editor: Rebecca Wolenski BUSINESS STAFF: Publishers: Shreya Ghei, Joe Giammittorio Director of Advertising: Dustin Vesey Director of Development: Thomas Marano Director of Finance: Aleesha Melwani Executive Director of Business: Stephanie Kan Senior Business Adviser: Evan Walker-Wells ONLINE STAFF: Online Editor: Colin Groundwater Bullblog Editor-in-chief: Jack Schlossberg Bullblog Associate Editors: Carly Lovejoy, Larry Milstein, Caleb Moran, Jessica Sykes The Yale Herald is a not-for-profit, non-partisan, incorporated student publication registered with the Yale College Dean’s Office. If you wish to subscribe to the Herald, please send a check payable to The Yale Herald to the address below. Receive the Herald for one semester for 40 dollars, or for the 2013-2014 academic year for 65 dollars. Please address correspondence to: The Yale Herald P.O. Box 201653 Yale Station New Haven, CT 06520-1653 email@example.com www.yaleherald.com The Yale Herald is published by Yale College students, and Yale University is not responsible for its contents. All opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Yale Herald, Inc. or Yale University. Copyright 2014, The Yale Herald, Inc. Have a nice day. Cover by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff
2 _ The Yale Herald
THIS WEEK Incoming Ja Rule Spring Fling is going to be the best circa-2004 Bat Mitzvah party since my counsin Rachel’s.
Outgoing Chance The Rapper
In this issue
Just take an Advil, dude. – YH Staff
6 _ Poetry by Shon Arieh-Leher, ES ’14 7 _ Non-fiction by Cindy Ok, PC’16 8 _ Prose by Sophie Haigney, TC ’16 9 _ Fiction by Sally Helm, BK ’14 12 _ Photos by Andrew Wagner, TD ’15 14 _ Poetry by Andrew Kahn, MC ’14
15 _ Fiction by Devon Geyelin, TC ’16
Spring Fling, all day, Old Campus.
Sunday “Richard Wilson and the Transformation of European Landscape Painting,” 1p.m. at the Yale Center for British Art
Monday Visions of the Sacred: Puppets and Performing Arts of South and Southeast Asia, 3p.m. in WHC 108
17 _ Poetry by Tobias Kirchway, BR ’15 18 _ A Scene by Ruthie Prillaman, JE ’16 20 _ Reviews of Transcendance, Under The Skin, Orphan Black, and our weekly staff list 21 _ Criticism by Ava Kofman, TD ’14
Tuesday “The House that will not Stand,” 8PM at the Yale Repertory Theatre April 25, 2014 _ 3
CREDIT D FAIL
THE NUMBERS Index 210,00
Cr _ Chicago style Driver, roll up the partition, please. I’m talking about that line between the body of my essay and the footnotes. There’s just something so fresh and so clean about Chicago style, and I can’t quite put my finger (toe?) on it. Modern Language Association, you’ve been there for me through the tears, but I can’t help but think internal citations are doing absolutely no one a favor—in my book, page count is allllllways more important than word count. Besides, I heard a rumor in the tenth grade that internal citations were invented to save money… if I can get a book from Princeton via Borrow Direct in a literal day (only the most premium of FedEx shipments), then I don’t see how academia has a track record of keeping its accounts balanced such that it would necessitate the egregious use of parenthesis. So while I’ve never been to Chicago, this year, my profs can look forward to reading papers whose literal heft (mass of essay pages, not value of content) is boosted by what the town that gave us Kanye, the ferris wheel, and the salad bar. I remain Chi-town.
F _ This notion of the speaker What’s the big deal between the speaker and the writer? I just don’t get it. It’s like, are they the same? Are they different? Are they Siamese twins? Is that term still appropriate? What if the speaker loses his voice? What flavor cough drop does he prefer? Or, does he call it a lozenge? Seriously, though. Where does spoken word fit into this? Are they a writer, too? How would ee cummings pronounce any of the jibber-jabber he writes down? The “speaker” might be an ableist term—there are over one million Google search results for the phrase “mute poets.” Didn’t Thoreau not talk when he was a big floating eyeball? Would that make him the “looker” or the “seer”? Are those the same or different? And the adventure begins again. – YH Staff – graphics by Julia Kittle-Kamp YH Staff
Amount paid to Samuel John-
son for writing his massively influential, 1755 Dictionary of the English Language, in pounds (adjusted for inflation).
Cost of paper needed
to print the first edition of the dictionary, in pounds (adjusted for inflation).
360 No-Fear _ D Shakespeare Something is rotten in the state of Connecticut, guys. I wouldn’t say I fear Shakespeare, per se; what I fear is dependence on translation of the Bard’s words into modern easy-to-read vernacular. I mean, it’s like soooo helpful—don’t have time to, you know, read the book? Just need to know what actually happened? It’s right there, and it does actually feel less stupid than your standard SparkNote. But the thing is, I am 21 years old and should be able to do this on my own now. And whether it was Shakespeare or Francis Bacon who made it rain in that prose and poetry, it’s SparkNotes’ clear formulation that’s enhancing my understanding of the Romances and Comedies in question. It’s also blurring the lines between what Shakespeare wrote and what SparkNotes wrote and what I say. So if I accidentally drop a “Get thee to a nunnery,” I actually mean I have to go to my Brearley reunion. Please, just reason not the need. equals 40 excessively dull days for me.
Area of a single page in the first
edition, in square inches.
42,773 Words in the dictionary. 114,000 Literary citations, culled personally by Johnson, to illustrate definitions.
Definitions Johnson wrote for the
Top 5 Books For A Better, Happier, More Successful You (post finals, duh) 5 _ The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli: Crush your political opposition. Be feared, not loved. 4 _ If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff: Know a nanny state when you see one 3 _ On War by Carl von Clausewitz: Learn how to tactically annihilate your enemies on the field of battle. 2 _ Decision Points by President George W. Bush: Satire. Some water colors of dogs. 1 _ The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson: Droll antics. Adorable! – Lara Sokoloff YH Staff
4 _ The Yale Herald
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POETRY Shon Arieh-Leher Looking at Another Man on Metro North Working backwards in rowing, one needs to understand time. Paddling, to suggest a breath to the river with each dip, I should be moving towards you – but the inflexible train space keeps you ahead. A water tower passes in the evening from behind me, to behind you. “yes and no are not so far apart... what others fear we too must fear.”
Animals We are earnest at the zoo. My dad and I look at all the signs. They are creamy plastic with greying sketches that have been scaled up from their original size. They show you what the animal eggs look like, and the rhythm of the year for each animal—when they bury the eggs in the sand, when the infants feed on the shell and climb up through the sand, when the tide comes in. My dad and I have a game called Would-You-Ratherator. He is the Would-You-Ratherator and asks me questions about death. You might be the turtle-mom, my dad says. I don’t want eggs. And I am so different from the turtle-mom. Back home we go swimming in the public pool, I bring the rubber snake we bought. My dad wraps me in a towel, I tell him the zoo facts.
6 _ The Yale Herald
NON-FICTION Eastbound on the Third of July by Cindy Ok YH Staff I overheard you on the phone (everyone in our car did—I don’t know if you knew that). Things like: But you said, you said. Fourth of July, you said. And: Your wife and kids can light their own fucking fireworks. Then the next phone call, this time with another woman, one you used to know, I guess: But I don’t have anywhere else to go. You slapped your hand into your backpack, the one with the stitches on the side, and pulled out a bottle in a wilted brown paper bag. Isn’t it funny how you just knew to bring it, knew you would be let down? Isn’t it strange? Funny like it’s funny that I was reading Anna Karenina in a train that isn’t a motif for anything else. Well. Pretending to read. Then the pewter train stopped, and a boy in navy shorts with those thick eyebrows threw a tantrum. We all looked up at him, except for you. He was on the ground, hands in fists, when his mother yelled, gripping his arm: Stephen! Behave! *** These days I like to imagine you in white. A long, white dress—everywhere an object to stand in for growing up, isn’t it? I imagine lots of things. That you remember the first time you thought, I love my parents, only after so many years of, you love me so much it’s disgusting; in time you knew that pity comes from fear. You once lived in a bedroom with coral-colored walls, and in it you dreamed someone would spend a whole life just gathering your pieces, the ones so carefully disguised and so well scattered—the ones stored long ago but never forgotten (and still wholly imperceptible to the rest of the world). You hate being told not to cry. I like to think that the roses you talk about missing were always either infested, or had just recovered from an aphid attack, or were on the verge of another summit with the cutting bees. Every six months they were cut by the stems to prevent disease, and they took three months to grow back. Six months of the year you waited for the return of the roses, more than the roses themselves. I bet that you are thankful most of the time. You are terrible at breathing in traffic and always wish there was a second pillow to hold between your legs. You don’t understand wind energy, or the fear of heights. You held that love can’t be truly unrequited, and that it’s never just semantics. Mostly you prefer private spaces. You were not afraid of being defensive, only of being seen as so. You found yourself wishing for the power to ruin, and you wanted to marry whatever light you could. Someone once asked to paint a portrait of you nude; you blushed. You were always losing your ID, and making friends at the blood bank. You’ve caused wildfires to have a reason to build new houses, betraying even yourself. You couldn’t help smiling whenever you thought of his ankles. A lot of things made you a lucky person. It was a rainy day when you misread a song title as “I’m a foot to want you.” Later you wished your memory were twenty percent worse, because you were sure that then, you would be fifty percent happier. You always did like the idea of cities. You and an old friend once killed several hours arguing words versus images, but for the life of it, you can’t remember which side you were on. Happiness, as an image, looks horizontal to you—a bit of swinging your arms. You were barely four feet tall when a teacher looked at your drawings and joked, sweetly, that the way you sketched (with ten or fifteen insecure, broad strokes per line) was forgiving. You did your very best to hide the panic of fraudulence and pretend you simply did not know what it was she meant. I think you know that they tried to love you well, the whole
lot. You can’t remember a single birthday, but you remember the feeling of softening frozen grapes in the palm of your hand to feed them to your sister when she had the flu. You wish you were living by the water, but it was too expensive. Once you made a list of things you’d miss and not miss when you were dead, but you’ve probably lost it. You can’t remember the last time you saw a photograph of yourself that you liked. There isn’t anybody you haven’t doubted, which you have to admit you’re proud of. You’re always too tired to finish puzzles. What would the day you turned into glass be like? You said listlessly about everywhere: it was a place to visit, not a place to live. Things were not as circular as you wished you could make them. Someone once told you that your breasts were too small for his hands to cup fully, and about how foolish this made him feel. You weren’t sure how many earthquakes you slept through. What could be worse than a hangnail on a humid day? You left the lights on by accident. In small crumbling photos your grandmother seemed to you very pretty, but not at all desirable. Depth has its own height, after all. Late one night you ignored the story read to you in secret rebellion, hiding the blistered bottoms of your feet under the covers and repeating to yourself until you fell asleep, it’s so hard to be a person, it’s so hard to be a person. It’s so hard to be a person. You always found relief in parting, but hated breaking promises. You were not afraid of being ordinary, only of being seen as so. *** You smelled, but I didn’t move seats. Instead I watched the single tear drip down your face as we left the platform— so undramatic, so unperformative. I wish I could have told you that it was okay to keeping crying if you wanted, or even to weep harder. Instead I sat noticing the way your nails were bitten into triangles, your shoelaces worn into gathered threads. Your army green sweatshirt was unraveling by the top of your right hip. Then when you sighed I pretended I thought you meant Oh, well, when of course you were saying help, me. It was four summers ago now and I can still hear you say what you didn’t. Does it feel good? To be missed? What do you think it is that teaches us: if I’m the only one to see you cry, I should carry you. You were just so naked—it made me feel the feeling of terror. What you grieved wasn’t just the weekend, was it? More like beginnings in general. In any case, I need you to know that I wasn’t lazy, or careless, or unaware of your pain. I wasn’t unaware of your pain. I stared in secret because that summer I wanted to stop worrying that I would let everybody down. And because I loved the distance of those hours: I wanted you to have to behave, the way I knew I had to behave; and to have all you needed, like I wanted to have all that I needed.
April 25, 2014 _ 7
POEMS Snapshots by Sophie Haigney
Someone Else’s Dream
Jigsaws The strings of your violin are attached to my heartstrings. That is how I would begin a poem about you. I am too proud to say what I really want to say but not proud enough to give up on it. Running my finger along my collarbone, I try to believe that I have some beautiful angles. The geometry of people is complicated. The geometry of my words is also difficult. I write obtuse, heavy sentences sometimes, like these, and I still fall in love with them. Am I in love with you?
There are storks in the sky and the light is split and I watch from the window as they perch on a chain link fence. They are the color of the rice she used to cook, which is different from the rice anyone else ever cooked— so white it was almost clear. There is still gunfire, not here, though I can hear it, and also the sound of glass breaking and a distant piano. But mostly I am watching the storks and from their mouths spill newspaper headlines that disintegrate into the kaleidoscope light and the crisscross shadows of the chainlink fence. The headlines say how many people died today and then they are gone. Feathers are falling also and suddenly I am standing on top of the fence, catching them in my open palms.
Dancing It is a Vermont winter and afternoon. We are in your family’s guest cottage and for a time there was a fire but not anymore. It smells like smoke and pickles, which we ate for lunch. We are wearing socks. I stand, shaking off our blankets, to pull the chain on the light, which is flickering. It snaps and shudders through me, cold and green. I fall back on my pillow. Everything crackles but I am still alive. We are still alive. I pull the sheets tight around me and they refuse to mold again to the shape of my body, which is cold and on fire.
In Summer When death comes I think it will taste like rain evaporating, late August, steamy and sweet and always leaving you thirsty. It will be like shedding your clothes and watching yourself dry up, a puddle hissing in the heat that only you can see. Perhaps you will cry out, but it will not be you anymore because you have drained into molecules and are painting the sky August gray.
8 _ The Yale Herald
I draw a bath tonight and watch it drain. I dip my fingers in its converging rivers and think about you. I make myself tea. That’s all.
Walking The list of things that have saved me begins with the fake candles in all the windows of a white house near the strip mall section of Exeter that is not really Exeter anymore. Nights, they cast small halos of light that are not too different from shadows, dripping fake fire through the windows which also reflect the red of the Walgreens sign. In the gas station parking lot, across the street, someone is stubbing out their cigarette and someone else is shouting into their phone. My mother would say that this is all too bad, this part of town. But this is what prayer is like, for me—standing on a noisy street outside a white house that is quiet, looking in.
by Sally Helm
When Mason heard the news, he imagined Evelyn arced in the sky like a little pink moon. It was a still frame picture. He never flashed forward to the impact. Years later, she was still so clear in his mind that he could have described the bathing suit she wore (peach with white polka dots, two-piece). Actually, though, there hadn’t been any pictures taken of the body, and he hardly knew her well enough to know anything about her bathing suits. Her parents wanted to print her senior portrait in the paper, not a photo from the scene. Poor Evelyn Burns, she shouldn’t be remembered this way, hair thick and heavy with silt, blue fingers plump with pond water, neck tied up in a knot. She had died diving — or, rather, she had died when she hit the bottom. It was early May and Gilchrist Pond smelled of green and growth and forest and mud. When her body breached the surface the water broke into shards of reflected sky. The pond soon fused together again, and no one heard the crack of bone except perhaps Evelyn herself. Three minutes expired before the stolid highschoolers on the beach staged a hopeless rescue. By then she was gone. June came. At graduation, there was a minute of silence, during which everyone stared at an empty podium and listened to the gym-fans hum. At the reception, her friends danced together in a tearful clump. People skirted around them, just as they had Evelyn’s desk, which sat empty in the third row of smelly Mr. Peterson’s class. Mason stood by the snacks and munched on a sesame cracker. He was glad to notice that the auditorium actually felt a little different now that he had graduated, it felt smaller, and he noticed the shabbiness of it with new clarity. He cut a slice of blue cheese. “Son, come now, introduce us to your teachers,” his father said. His parents looked stiff and strange in this auditorium. His mother’s dress was made of felt. Mason guessed his favorite teacher was Madame Goger, who taught French, but she was hugging Hannah Ford, who had been Evelyn’s best friend. Smelly Mr. Peterson was free. “Umm. Okay, my chemistry teacher, over there by the stage curtain,” Mason said. As his parents thanked Mr. Peterson and shook his hand (a few too many times), Mason looked over at Hannah. She had recently been pulled out of class to be interviewed for a safety video called The Dangers of Diving. It was going to be shown to all the incoming ninth graders in the Oregon public schools, starting in September, so she would be sort of a celebrity. Not that being in a safety video was anything great, compared to having a friend who was alive, he knew that. Shit, he couldn’t believe he was jealous of that. He should go up to Hannah right now and tell her how sorry he was about Evelyn. He could tell her how kind Evelyn had been that one time in eighth grade when they had been paired together on a project for the World unit in history class. They had to make a map of Asia. She sat on his living room and covered a poster board with pictures of woks. It had been such a normal day. There was that image again — still frame, sun. Mason wondered if he would look graceful in death, or if he would instead fall down a staircase, get mashed in a totaled car, or just perish boringly in his kitchen when he got too old. Like a carton of milk.
July came. Summer settled over the streets. Mason worked weekdays bagging groceries in the Greenfield Market with his best friend, Dana Clark. They spent most of their time In the fall, he’d leave for college in Forest Grove, three hours away. She’d start working at Greenfield full time. It would be fine. This year, Gilchrist seemed unusually hot and boring. The Gilchrist Timber Company had built its eponymous empire some time in the 1940s. What the owners lost in wages on Friday, they made up in liquor by Monday. The timber company had long since folded, but the town retained its closed-circuit feel. It had popped up from nothing and no one in it was going anywhere. Most of the houses were painted a uniform shade of “Gilchrist Brown.” Mason didn’t hate the town in any classic teenage way. He had no interest in moving to New York City (he didn’t like musicals). He just wondered vaguely if he might be happier somewhere else. No one in Gilchrist seemed passionately in love, or passionately anything. Evelyn’s death was pretty much the only thing that had ever happened. He was thinking about Evelyn all the time now. What would she say if she saw the plaque they had put up for her in the church basement? Did she watch her parents from on high in their lonely visits to the Greenfield Market? Mason had recently bagged some frozen steaks for Mrs. Burns. He tried to say something about it to Dana, but she wasn’t interested. Dana never talked about death. After the memorial service at school, they had skipped fifth period and snuck away. Dana wanted to lie in the weeds behind the south fence and talk about how all the girls in their class were stupid. Mason wanted to be quiet and look reverently at the sky. They both did what they wanted, and then they went back to class with matching mud stains on their nice black clothes. Everyone thought that they had been making out, but they hadn’t, they never did. Dana belonged to Gilchrist in a way that Mason couldn’t. Her grandfather had worked for the timber company in its glory days, as a sander in the factory line. He ran for mayor in 1956, but lost to one of the other sanders, who had strategically married a Gilchrist daughter. Mason’s grandfather, on the other hand, had lived and died in the tiny town of Dinkelsbül, Germany. Then Mason’s quiet blonde skinny-legged parents had moved to the United States. To Oregon, specifically, because his mother’s cousin lived in the nearby city of Chumult. When they arrived, they found that the cousin had become a mean drunk, but they also found the quiet town of Gilchrist twenty minutes up the road while looking for a post office. “Look at these flowers, I never want to leave,” his mother had said (or so the legend went). They moved there and settled in a blue house on Hillcrest Street. They had a baby, and remained quiet and blonde and skinny-legged and fearful of big cities and loud noises, and when Mason met Dana in Kindergarten, he was the shyest kid in the class and she was the loudest. They became friends when some third graders killed a rabbit by leaving it too long imprisoned in a hole they had made in the ground. Mason cried, and Dana found him, and hollered at the kids for being stupid. The two of them buried the rabbit together, far away from its dirt prison. They gave it a real rabbit funeral. Dana got shy when it came time for the eulogy, so Mason took over. He gave the most inspiring eulogy that creek bed had ever seen. When he was thirteen he went away to Edgerton Middle April 25, 2014 _ 9
School, and when he came back to Gilchrist High, Dana had a lot of friends. She invited him to everything, but he didn’t always go. He wanted to graduate with honors and he had a lot of work to do. Also, in group settings, she scared him off with her quick talking and her mastery of the room. She wore belly-baring t-shirts and drank beer. Seeing this was odd, because he remembered her covered in green paint on the floor of the garage making forest sets for a play about dragons. She was his oldest friend in the world. One time they had drunk each other’s spit. A Saturday night in August, Mason went to pick Dana up at a party. “It’s in Crescent, at Patrick Young’s house. It’s a birthday party for one of the soccer kids,” she said on the phone. She hadn’t sounded too drunk, but Mason was being cautious that summer. Everyone was. No diving into anything, water or otherwise. It was as if the whole of Gilchrist High had suddenly looked down and realized that, shit, they were made of breakable bones. He said he’d drive her home. She said, “Mason, you are too fucking good to me. Do you know that I love you?” “Yeah. Don’t get in the car with an idiot, okay?” “Okay. I promise. I do have to drive veeeeerrry quickly down this one icy road to pick up some drugs, and maybe like also pick up a gun where the trigger is supposed to be locked but I’m not totally sure the trigger’s locked but it’ll probably be fine. You know? Oh sorry, I have to go, I have to talk to some strangers here. About this new religion that they’re starting and they want me to be a part of it.” “Sure,” he said. “Knock yourself out. I’ll see you at one.” He left early for Crescent and decided to take a detour up the highway to where Crescent Creek curled through the trees. Everything in his world had a regular name (want to get your car repaired in Gilchrist? Try Gilchrist Car Repair). He brought a mix CD and a Sprite. The CD had been sent to him by his weird cousin, Amanda, who still lived in Germany. The first song on it had a chorus that sounded like “ice beer” or “ice bar,” and apparently it was about polar bears. He played it for a while until he got tired of the repetitive beeps and the wavery synth. Then he turned it off and listened to the asphalt spin away under his wheels. Most nights he spent at home, reading and re-watching TV shows. He sometimes imagined the girls he would soon meet, college girls with little shorts and looooooooong hair. They would all want to go to concerts with him. They would think it was cool that he knew about German pop. They would walk naked in his room after their showers and wear his t-shirts in bed. He had one fantasy involving a cop car and a girl named Karen. He was getting a little hard, for some reason. Sometimes that happened in moving vehicles. Lately — this was terrible — he had been having some sort of sexual dreams about Evelyn Burns. Usually she wore the peach and white polka dotted bikini, but sometimes she was naked. Once, recently, they had been together in the pond where she had died, only in the dream she had been alive, and there had been palm trees. He took off her bathing suit top in the water, pushed her into the mud, sucked on her soft nipples. Mason had never seen any girl nipples but his mothers, when he was a baby, and Helen Fontana’s, when they were at a pool party and she spilled water on her t-shirt. He couldn’t imagine settling down with a Gilchrist girl, even one who looked like Helen Fontana. All the girls here reminded him of buildings: sturdy, regular, vaguely the same shade of pinkish brown. Once (he was such a shit) he daydreamed that he had been Evelyn’s boyfriend before she died. He imagined the knock on the door, the news from a police officer. He imagined stumbling past a row of crying townspeople. He had to be the one to identify the body, because he knew her best. She was lying under a soft sheet and her faced looked ready to greet him, but she didn’t rise. He kissed her still-warm lips one last time.
10 _ The Yale Herald
Dana was waiting for him by the curb in her red plaid jacket. When she got into the car she smelled like a campfire. Mason loved that smell. He did wonder, though, if it could somehow make the car seats dirty. He and Dana did not agree about cars. She didn’t care about things like leather seats. She didn’t believe in mechanics. One time she had driven for two and a half months with her “check engine” light on, and when Mason finally opened the hood to check things out, the car looked as if it had been shot in the gut. She said yup, it had been running just fine. “How was it?” he said, as she kicked off her sneakers. “So fun, Mase. Oh my god, Patrick kept trying to turn on the TV, and he got so pissed off that the remote wasn’t working, but it was because he was trying to use his cell phone. And then he got so pissed off again, when he realized what he was doing, that he threw his phone into THE SINK. It was fine, there was no water there, but the screen got super cracked.” “Hah.” “And Sam found a possum in the alley and tried to pet it.” “Weird.” He knew he was being sort of a monosyllabic asshole. He did this sometimes, when he felt jealous of Dana’s easy happiness. Now he threw a paper coffee cup at her face to make up for it. “You should come to these things,” she said, batting it away. “You don’t have homework anymore, your parents can’t still be crazy.” “Ha. Yeah, they can.” In truth, his parents wouldn’t mind if he went to a party, now that he was into college. It was more that, having spent four years avoiding these people, he wasn’t sure he knew how to not avoid them. “Whatever,” Dana said. “Everyone’s crazy. Let’s go to a gas station.” “What are we gonna do at a gas station? Eat a Hostess cake?” “They’re called Ding Dongs. Welcome to the modern age.” There were no more cups to throw. “Of course I know they’re called Ding Dongs.” “Oh, I forgot you’re a genius.” He wasn’t sure if she meant anything by it. Her tone was even, but the other day she had said, “I’m glad I’m not going to college. Too many rich assholes.” He knew that she liked the job at Greenfield, and, more importantly, she liked Gilchrist. It was Mason who couldn’t settle down here. He hoped she’d forgive him for that. Dana had a way of making Mason’s unhappiness seem like a deficiency. “Want to go climb Paradise?” he asked, in an effort to be a better friend. “Ooh. Yeah,” she said. She put her fingers together in a typical gesture of excitement. He always imagined she was using the whorls to conduct electricity. Paradise was the Paradise Homes complex, a neighborhood development project/resort that would open some time in the next five years. There would be 2000 modular homes, two golf courses, and a place to go fly-fishing. For now, there were just tall piles of dirt and a half-finished shell of the central office building. Inert cranes stood around the property like lightning-struck trees. Everyone hoped that construction would pick up again soon. Gilchrist desperately needed the jobs. After the mill closed down, the streets were emptier every year. The restaurant stayed open only on Sundays and Wednesdays and the one motel had closed. “Let’s do it,” he said. He flicked on the radio. It was playing “Born to be Wild,” and they both laughed at the serendipity. “Let’s climb the office this time,” he said. “What should we do when we get to the top?” “I don’t know. Sit there?” “Let’s make a proclamation. Let’s claim this land for our countrymen,” Mason said. “Yeah, okay. You figure out the proclamation, and I’ll just climb. I’m gonna scale the walls and tightrope walk on the tops.” The radio switched to a jazzy elevator song. There was only one station in Gilchrist, and it played a frenetic variety of tunes in the middle of the night.
“This is smooooooooooth,” Mason said. “You think so?” Dana laughed. Her laugh was always unexpectedly manly and deep. He would liken it to the low rumble of the dishwasher as it finished the rinse cycle. “Smooth song. I like it. Hear that xylophone. Mmm.” He was trying to keep her laughing now. He rippled his shoulders and threw his head towards her, raising his eyebrows in a suggestive and slightly perv-y way. She was looking straight at him. “Hey Mason,” she said. “Listen to me for a sec?” Right as she began to say this he thought he saw a deer out of the corner of his eye. He turned to check. There was no deer. Just dark roadside and an empty lane. He turned back — “what were you saying?” — and as his eyes passed over the windshield they were suddenly filled with headlights, which didn’t make any sense. The lane beside him was empty. Dana was saying something, “I’ve been wanting” — but then she screamed, and Mason felt his hands turning the wheel passionately to the left, trying to bring them the other side of the highway, because a car was driving straight towards him, it was going the wrong way, he thought, unless it was he who had been going the wrong way ever since Crescent. No time passed at all. The other car did not turn. When Mason looked back at it from the shoulder where they had come, thankfully, to rest, it was speeding away on the wrong side of the road, red tail lights shrinking as the gap widened. Dana scrambled across the clunky central divide of the car and onto his lap. He hugged her back. His whole body was burning. Now was the perfect time to go to Paradise and tightrope walk on the unbuilt walls. He could smell everything in the air: gasoline, summer trees, an evening turning cold, dirty car carpets, Dana’s laundry detergent. “What was that guy doing?” Dana said. “I can’t believe this. We could have died. We were going to die,” Mason said. “Wow.” Evelyn against the sky, a perfect curve. This time he imagined the hurtling feeling she must have felt in her gut as she went sailing through the air. “You know what I was thinking about?” Dana asked. He turned to her, grateful, because it must have been Evelyn. It was only natural to think of her after a near-death experience like that (wasn’t it?). Dana couldn’t avoid the subject forever. When she first heard the news, she’d said only, “wow, that reminds me how I can never take a morning for granted, you know?” “I thought of her too,” Mason said. He crooked his elbow awkwardly around Dana’s neck, for comfort. “I thought of — who did you think of?” “Evelyn.” “Burns?” “Yes, Burns.” “Oh.” She sat upright now, as upright as she could under the car’s low roof. She had moved back to the edge of his knee but they were still close together, hemmed in by the steering wheel. He unlooped his elbow to turn off the ignition. The world was losing its adrenalized edge. He felt embarrassed to have said anything. “Well, what did you think of, then?” “Nothing,” she said, and climbed back to the passenger seat. She pulled her coat around her shoulders and sat resting her cheek against the window. “Okay,” he said, and started the ignition. He drove waveringly back to the road. The radio came on but he turned it off. They drove in silence for a while. “What did you think of,” Mason asked, when she stayed quiet. She didn’t turn. “I thought of that story your mom told us. About her and your dad when they were dating. They saw a movie in Germany, I forget the name, but the girl dies in a car crash right as the guy is coming over to give her the ring, and when he arrives he puts it on her dead finger. Your mom said she thought the girl was going to wake up at that but she didn’t. And then on the way home, your parents were taking the metro, and the train in front of them ran off the track, so,
everything was really delayed. No one died in the crash, it turned out. But when your dad heard what happened, from someone on the platform, that was when he proposed.” “I don’t remember that story,” Mason said. He couldn’t remember ever asking his parents how they had fallen in love. “You don’t? She told it to us when she picked us up from seeing The Hackers in Eugene.” He remembered The Hackers, vaguely. It was about a man with knives instead of fingernails. “I’m glad we don’t have to get picked up from things anymore.” His voice sounded loud. “We can go wherever the fuck we want now.” “Yeah,” she said. “I was thinking I hope we don’t die before I tell you I love you.” As she said this she picked her feet up from the ground and tucked them under her and reached to roll her window down (it had a mechanical crank that stuck, so it took her a few seconds to get it dislodged) and then a soft after-rain air came sweeping through the car. Mason kept his eyes straight ahead. How long had she — why — or maybe everything was still the same? “You tell me that you love me all the time,” he said. “I know.” “No,” she said. She was crying now. “Dana?” She started singing. Born to be wii-iii-iild. He realized that, by habit, he was driving them home. “Do you still want to go to Paradise?” he asked. “No,” she said. Then, “I’m not sorry I told you. We almost died.” “Yeah,” he said. He was relieved to be talking about something else. He didn’t think he loved Dana that way. He wanted things to go back to how they had been, quickly. Things should be regular between them when he left. “All I meant about Evelyn is, I guess it can happen to anyone. I mean, of course, it will. But I never think anything like that is really going to happen to me. My life is as normal as it gets. And then, shit — some guy thinks he can drive after he’s had a couple of beers, and he gets his right and left mixed up, and BAM. Just like Evelyn.” “Stop thinking about Evelyn,” Dana said. “She isn’t here.” But Mason wasn’t sure. He had never felt so close to her. When you were dead, couldn’t you be anywhere you wanted? And maybe tonight Evelyn would want to be here, with him, in this grey sedan from which he had almost been picked off to join her in the pantheon of people gone too soon.
April 25, 2014 _ 11
Photographs by Andrew Wagner
12 _ The Yale Herald
see these photographs as connected not through some sort of shared subject matter, but rather through a shared way of seeing, an attitude towards viewing the world. These images begin with me simply walking around, taking photographs of things that interest me. Afterwards, I alter the images through digital manipulating sometimes erasing elements from the photographs, other
times combining various photographs together to create entirely new spaces.Â Rather than understand photography as the realm of the factual, the evidentiary, the definitive statement about how the world is, I instead embrace photography as a means through which the imagined takes form, and alternative possibilities for viewing and understanding the world are created
April 25, 2014 _ 13
POETRY Andrew Kahn
I’m going on Lexapro. What changed your mind? god: I haven’t been myself lately. me: Don’t you think you should see someone first? god: I don’t need to see anyone. me: Are you sure? god: They would just tell me what I already know. me: But you could use someone to talk to. god: I don’t have anything to say to a psychiatrist. me: That’s why you need to see one. Because you think that. god: [silence] me:
DIALOGUE 2 me:
How’s the Lexapro? Prozac. me: You said Lexapro. god: I said Prozac, but that’s OK. me: Well? god: I went off it. me: Why? god: I felt wrong. me: I thought that’s why you went on it. god mashes israel. me: Mom thinks you should be on it. god: Mom thinks a lot of things. mom: What do I think? god: Nothing. mom: That’s what I thought. god mashes israel. me: Can you stop working for a second? I want to talk about this. god: Yes. god wipes clean the face of the earth. god:
14 _ The Yale Herald
by Devon Geyelin YH Staff “Lua” says my father when Lua is on the picnic table. He picked her up and put her there and she’s barefoot on the wooden slats and he’s holding her hand in the air over her head. I’m not allowed to stand on the picnic table without shoes because I’ll get splinters. She’s browner than I get even in August even though it’s just July. It’s July 4th. She has a white dress on and it has orange drops down the front even though I heard Mela tell her to keep it clean this morning. “Lua” says my father. “Lua” says my father. “Lua, I crown thee the Orange Queen!” Lua is smiling at her feet. “Wave to your people, Lua!” She waves all around but eventually only at me. My father hoots and picks her up and swings her in a circle in the air and her skirt puffs out like the girl in the music box in the red room, and then when he puts her gently back on the grass she runs to me and sits with me on my blanket. “Did you get splinters?” I ask. Luckily she didn’t because otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to play in the fourth of July games. They happen when it’s starting to get dark but not really, like that time when the colors get colder because the air is? The colors in the sky. We played after hamburgers and I’d already gotten mine and my popsicle but then Javi knew I wanted another one and he brought me another one, hiding it behind his back when he walked over, and it was strawberry. I said “Mom want to come play with us?” but I didn’t think she’d want to because lately she hasn’t really been in the playing mood. She said “No sweetie, but thanks for inviting me.” I said you’re welcome and then Lua and I went to where my brothers were waiting for us because we had a few hours before fireworks and when it’s really dark and I’m not allowed in the grove anymore without adult supervision because there are no lights and I could get lost and then I would be stuck outside all night and cold. It was me and Stephen and John and Henry and a few of my friends from school who had come all the way for the party and then a few of the pickers’ kids which was nice because then for once Lua wasn’t the only girl, which I didn’t think mattered but then my mom said the other day that sometimes that’s hard. John wanted to play Red Rover but I didn’t want to because people always just come running at me and no one else no matter what side I’m on because I’m the youngest. We played tag instead. Those aren’t the real fourth of July games though I guess. Those are during the day when it’s hotter out. The yellow part of the day. Those are the sack race and the water balloon toss and the egg race and anyone can play who wants to. Normally it’s all the kids, all of us and Lua and the pickers’ kids who aren’t shy, and they happen by the pool. I was on the team that won the egg race this year. For those games I was in my bathing suit because I was swimming in the pool before. All the kids were in their bathing suits for most of the day. Lua didn’t put her white dress on until dinnertime even though she got it in the morning in the kitchen I think when I was there, because that’s when Mela said she had to be very careful with it, that it was a present from Mrs. Laine and very special. Lua said yes then but later she got drops on it from an orange. I’m worried that Mela is going to yell at Lua later. I hear her do that sometimes and I don’t know what she’s saying but I know that it’s not good. I want to tell her first not to because it’s not her fault, she was peeling it for me and she’s normally so good
at peeling that she doesn’t spray anywhere even when it’s a good one. I’m worse but usually I do it anyway and I should have done it this time but Lua did it for me. In the summer there is always yellow from the peel under my fingernails and it smells like middle of the day yellow. The only times it’s not there is right after I get a bath and Mela or my mom cleans them out, sometimes so hard it hurts, but then later when I get in bed my nails are empty underneath and I put them between my teeth and bite I like how they feel. I don’t think Lua does it because she says that Mela just cuts her nails short when they’re too long and doesn’t clean them but just cuts them. I don’t know why that’s not what we do with my nails but it’s not. I don’t know if my Mom does that ever because I can’t see if the tips of her fingernails are yellow since they’re always bright red and perfect like lollipops. And she doesn’t smell like oranges either, but only if you get really close, which I do less now because I’m older and don’t sit in her lap as much. But when I used to sit in her lap I remember when my nose would be close to her neck and it smelled different because of her perfume. My mom was supervising us in the pool before the games. She was in a bathing suit too but she didn’t go swimming, which she does sometimes. Sometimes when she does that I go over to where she’s standing and shake my body like I’m a dog and she gets sprayed but I have to be careful and use my judgment about when to do it because sometimes she goes “AH oh FUCK—oh, Michael!” and wraps herself into a towel caterpillar and turns over. But normally she goes “OH! Is there a dog somewhere?” and I go WOOF and go over and she scratches the top of my head. The pool is shaped like a kidney bean and really blue, bluer than the pond water or the water in the ocean. My mom was on a pool chair where the bean curves in. She had lemonade with her in a big pitcher but when I tried to pour some in my cup she said not to but Mela could get me some. Mela’s lemonade is really good and she puts mint in it, which the kids at school thought was weird but then I made them drown the leaves and wait til they had finished the whole cup and then dig out the wet leaves. They’re sweet and when you bite the leaves more lemonade squeezes out of them into your mouth and the sugar rocks crunch in your teeth. One funny thing happened when I was in the water. I was treading water and Lua was counting how many seconds I could go for with my hands in the air but I could see my mom behind Lua and my Dad was sneaking up behind her holding a water balloon over her head. He was stepping like the pink panther and he winked at me and put his fingers over his lips but I was already laughing and my mom looked up and their my Dad was, a big pink balloon covering his face like a giant bubble gum bubble but instead of popping it my Mom screamed and scrambled out of the chair and my Dad started chasing her. “NEIL!” she said, “NEIL! DON’T YOU DARE! I—NEIL! OH, FUCK, AH—NEIL!” when he dropped the balloon and it burst on the grass and sprayed up at his legs in an explosion, but didn’t hit my mom, because she was still running. He was faster though eventually and he picked her up and carried her towards the pool. We were all cheering for him to throw her in and he rocked her towards the pool three times like he was going to but in the end he just put her gently back on the grass. She punched him in the stomach two times but then she started laughing too and he kissed her on the head.
The morning was a normal morning I guess. I wake up really early almost always unless I’m sick, when the sun comes through my window or even before. My brothers say it’s because I’m little but I hope it doesn’t stop because that’s the best time. I usually go downstairs and out the back door in the kitchen because that’s the quietest hinges and I walk past the pool and press my face against Lua’s window. Through the screen I whisper Lua until she wakes up—sometimes I have to say it a lot of times and it stops sounding like her name and just sounds like sounds, Lualualualualua, Lua, Luaaaa—and when she finally hears me she gets out of bed and presses her hand against the screen where my face is like she’s high-fiving my nose. Then I sit in the wet grass until she comes out and we have an hour or two before breakfast. So usually we go to the streams and try and catch the frogs there, the little ones, or the dogs follow us and we play fetch with the oranges. That’s the other good thing about the morning when it’s early: you smell things besides the oranges, like the wet and the flower smells and mud. When it’s hot out in the middle of the day the orange smell takes over everything, like when we did tie-dye and I dunked my shirt into the purple pot and it was like blood, really purple blood, and only purple. It’s like that but with smell. Orange dye. Sometimes we make forts. The one by Stephen’s Mound is getting really big, since it’s got good base structure from when my Dad and Peter built up the stumps. Lua and I can’t carry very much but when we use the wagon for the garden we can carry more, like tarps and ropes. This morning we went to the Fairy Clear to collect more fossils. We found two this summer already and one was from Indians. This was from before breakfast when Lua got the dress, but I knew she was going to get it because my Mom had told me the night before but that it was a surprise. “You’re getting a surprise,” I said. “Really?” she said. We were combing through the grasses. “Yeah. My Mom told me.” “When?” “I don’t know.” “Do you know what it is?” “Maybe.” “What is it?” “I’m not supposed to tell you.” “Tell me!” “No.” “Yeah tell me!” “No I’m not telling you!” “Come on you can tell me!” “No! I’m not allowed!” “Please? Please?” “NO I’M NOT TELLING YOU!” She got quiet and then I said “It’s a dress.” “Why?” “I don’t know.” “Okay.” When we got back to the house my mom was on the phone in the room I don’t go in. She was in her nightgown on the couch and had the cord wrapped around her fingers like she does when she’s there for a long time. She waved when we went by the door but then she rolled onto her stomach. Dad always has breakfast with us. We all fit at the picnic table in the backyard and it’s pancakes today because it’s the fourth of July so they have strawberries and blueberries in them and there’s whipped cream because red white and blue. April 25, 2014 _ 15
There’s maple syrup too and I’m glad that Mom is inside for that part because the way I like it she says I’m drowning them but it’s just how I like it. After Mela brings everything out she sits with us too usually but she’s really busy today because even though there are other people who are going to cook for the party she has to help my Mom manage everything. I was wrong before. Mela didn’t give her the dress. My Mom did and then Mela talked to Lua about it when we were outside again. My Mom came out while we were eating pancakes and stood on the porch leaning on the doorframe in her nightgown with her arms crossed smiling. She said “Lua!” and Lua looked up. My Mom said come here with her finger and Lua wiped her mouth on her arm and got up and went up the porch steps. I got up too and went with her and then my Mom turned and we followed her up the stairs to her bedroom and she still didn’t say anything. She went over to her dresser and opened the top drawer and pulled out something in orange and white striped tissue paper and tied with a pink ribbon and gave it to Lua who wiped her hands on her shorts first because of the syrup and the whipped cream. “This is just a little fourth of July surprise,” she said and she watched while Lua opened it slowly like she was going to save the paper for something. “Just rip it!” she said and laughed and drank from the glass she had. When the tissue paper was on the floor there was a white dress for Lua. Lua held it and looked at my Mom. “I had my friends mail it here from New York for you,” said my Mom. “I thought it would be fun for us to get a little dressed up for the holiday. Do you like it, sweetie?” Lua nodded and said “Yes, Mrs. Laine. Thank you, Mrs. Laine.” My Mom smiled and leaned back on the dresser and drank again. “Good,” she said. So Lua didn’t put the dress on until after the real fourth of July games. That was when we went inside and changed because my Mom said she wanted us to look nice since it’s a holiday and we’re going to take a family picture. My mom had put out the clothes she wanted me to wear on my bed. There were white shorts and a red and white checkered shirt with buttons that she wanted to help me with but I told her I could do it since I can, I’m old enough, and she said yeah I guess you are. I guess you are. She said it two times and then my father came into my room wearing only pants and with shaving cream on half of his face still like he’s half Santa. He put his hand on my mom’s shoulder and said Hey, babe, you want to come get ready? And she said yeah I was just helping Michael. He said Michael, you got things under control? And I said Yes! During hamburgers I sat on a blanket with my mom. My father was talking to the pickers who were sitting on blankets all around us like islands, and my dad was the captain of a ship going from island to island to island and shaking their hands and clapping people on the back. My brothers were somewhere I don’t know and Mela was supervising with Javi and my mom was with me. Lua was wearing the white dress and she was helping Mela. When my father got to our island he put his hand on my mom’s shoulder and kissed her on the top of her head and said how you doing, babe? And she said “Neil—Neil, look at the light.” “The light?” he was crouching down and on his toes with his arm around my mom and he was looking out where she was looking with his head lined up next to her head. “Yes, the light—do you see it? Right now? The way the colors are bleeding and the atmosphere is bleeding? Do you know what I mean?’ “I think I do. Can you tell me more?” “It’s like—it’s like a Frankenthaler. Like in a Frankenthaler the way the green is bleeding back into the grass and the trees because the air is making things bluer? And purple and colder. Like the air is cooling down the colors and they’re 16 _ The Yale Herald
all bleeding into each other and up and out and out,” she was waving her arms, “but then other ones are coming back in—do you see it?” My father kissed her on the head and said, “I see it, baby. It’s beautiful.” After hamburgers we played tag. We played freeze tag and TV tag and normal tag and then we played capture the flag because we had enough kids. Lua and I were on the same team and we guarded our flag together because we’re not as fast. We both forgot that Lua was supposed to keep her dress clean but I didn’t think it got that dirty and even if it did get dirty Mela would wash it. Part of why we got dressed up I think is so that we could take a family picture. Lua was in the picture too in her white dress. I stood in front of my mom for it and then my brothers all stood next to my father and Lua stood next to me. We took it before hamburgers I think? After a long time it was dark out and then a little after that it was time for fireworks. Lua and I went back to our blanket island and this time my father just stayed on the island with us and my mom snuggled into him the way I used to snuggle into her and still do sometimes. I snuggled into the back of her and she turned back towards me a little and put her hand under my head and that’s how I lay there during fireworks, with Lua on the other side in her white dress. After fireworks it was even darker and the pickers started walking away from the house and through the trees carrying their blankets and their flashlights. After not a long time I couldn’t see them but I could see their lights bobbing in lines and clumps and it was like ghosts were walking through the orange trees but I knew that’s not who they were. Then after that we went and sat on the porch. On the steps. My father was sitting down and I was leaning my head on his knees because I was so tired. My mom was sitting with us too and Stephen but my other brothers were playing with firecrackers I think. Lua sat with us too and Mela and Javi were going up and down the stairs helping finish carrying things inside like the pitchers and some of the blankets. On one trip Mela said something to Lua and Lua stood up but then my mom said no, let her sit with us for a little? And Mela nodded but Lua had already gone. She was trying to help so she went to pick up a jug of orange pink punch that was on a table, to bring it inside, but it was heavy and near when she was at the stairs it spilled and some of it went on the dress but it wasn’t her fault. Before that I don’t think the dress was that dirty but then after she spilled it was orange and pink in some big spots. Mela saw it happen and she started saying things really loud and fast and then Lua dropped the whole jug on the grass and it sprayed up at her and there was even more on her dress but it was also running all over the grass in a river and was going over her feet and toes. It was an accident but Mela grabbed her arm and was pulling her up the steps to go inside and then my dad was standing up all of a sudden and saying whoa whoa whoa and my mom said it’s all right! It’s all right! But Mela kept on yelling and Lua was inside. My dad went inside after them and then I looked next to me and my mom was crying. I didn’t know what to do so I kept sitting there and then my dad came out and sat next to her and put his arm around her and said it’s okay, it’s okay, they’re all okay and my mom said it’s my fault! It’s all my fault! My dad said sweetie, you were just trying to be nice. And she said no, Neil. No. Everything. It’s my fault. And he said Michael, I think it’s time for bed. Can you go tell Mela it’s time for you to go to bed now? And my mom started crying harder and she said that’s what I mean, Neil! That’s what I mean!
POETRY Tobias Kirchway
A Pair of Gloves And then I knew what I had been waiting for was not the dance, but returning from it-gliding behind the headlights into what might have been snow tunneling home through the long summer. Strange things came back to me: a glove lost in a field, the evening I lost my glove, the field where I had searched. Bas Relief with Two Gladiators Strange things came back to me: the trees over-growing the field where I was searching, the night I lost my glove, and the other glove, trailing with it a red curtain.
Two identical gladiators try to kill each other. The winner lunges at his prone victim, but the stone is cracked at the point of his sword. It was broken years ago: a clean break that carried the loser away, shrouded in a thick mist. A later artisan replaced this lost gladiator with a blank corner: So one is always lunging at nothing, and the other is always poised to die. Which is to say, one lurches forward meeting no expected resistance, while the other reclines under a skyâ€” gray sandstoneâ€”now cut away.
April 25, 2014 _ 17
by Ruthie Prillaman
JIM has a pile of scratch off coupons on the table. He scratches away at one, scoffs, discards it. Starts on the next one. WESLEY walks in and addresses him. WESLEY remains standing.
JIM: But it’s been a rough winter. We had some bad weather around here-
WESLEY: Jim, the porch.
JIM: We had a bad case of horizontal snow.
JIM: A lovely place to drink lemonade and entertain guests. Broad as it is deep. Center of Southern society. The Civil War was lost and won on the porches.
WESLEY: What is that?
WESLEY: Oh really. Bad weather.
JIM: A lovely place to feed the mosquitos. Wide as it is long. Great way to take in nature without having to get out of your easy chair.
JIM: You never seen the horizontal snow? Oh, it’s the worst kind of all. It starts coming down normal, all white and pretty and unassuming. But before you know it, some feller upstairs flips the clouds on their sides and the snow comes walloping in the front door! People freeze to death in the horizontal snow! It fills up their houses and they freeze right then and there on the spot.
WESLEY: You promised to paint it before the buyers came.
JIM: I was practicing my salesmanship just then. How did I do?
JIM: You can’t paint a porch in the horizontal snow.
WESLEY: You know what I mean.
WESLEY: I see it’s been a rough winter. WESLEY: You said you’d paint it. JIM: Are you listening to me?
JIM: I can’t say it’s been my favorite if you put ‘em all together.
WESLEY: You said you’d paint the porch!
WESLEY: I’m assuming you’ve got a new place lined up.
JIM: Who said that?
JIM: Yes, I do have a new place lined up. No, it isn’t ideal.
WESLEY: Don’t be contrary.
WESLEY: Well, we’ve all got to compromise.
JIM: I’m not being contrary.
JIM: Compromise? That’s a word I’ve never heard coming out of your mouth before! Say it again.
WESLEY: Yes you are. And obstructionist. WESLEY: Compromise. JIM: Am not. JIM: One more time, for the ages! WESLEY: We spoke on the phone a few weeks ago. Yes you have a phone, I talked to you on the phone. And I said “How about the porch?” And you said “It’s fine, it’s fine.” And I said “How about painting it?” And you said “Sure thing, sure thing.”
WESLEY: COMPROMISE! JIM: It almost sounds natural! Do it again! Do it again! WESLEY: Ok, I’ve had enough now.
JIM: Oh, yes, now it rings a bell. Rings a bell. WESLEY: But the paint is peeling in chunks.
JIM: (stands up, finally) Every once in a while I like to remind you that I am 8 years older than you, have always been and always will be.
JIM: I was going to get around to itWESLEY: Not when you’re dead. WESLEY: Huge chunks. You have to wade through the chunks just to get into the house.
18 _ The Yale Herald
JIM: That means 8 years more maturity, experience, intelligence and, as my birthright-
WESLEY: Birthright, HA!
They both sit down.
JIM: -as my birthright-
WESLEY: Primogeniture is a thing of the past.
JIM: Next to where the Taco Bell used to be.
JIM: AHEM! As my birthright, I am always entitled ‘til the day I die to beat the living daylights out of you if I see fit, which let’s recall, I haven’t don’t in coming on 35 years.
WESLEY: Oh. There? JIM: It isn’t ideal but it’s fine. WESLEY: You mean in the park?
WESLEY: That long? Time flies! JIM: No! Good Lord, no. I would never. Next to the park. JIM: That also means when you were holed up in your room reading comic books and picking your nose, I was slaving away making a living. WESLEY: Slaving away. Yeah, I recall that. Rings a bell. JIM: Yes I was. WESLEY: Uh huh. Slaving away at the pillow factory. And then slaving away at the dollar store. And then slaving away at the gas station. And then slaving away driving peoples old couches to the dumpster. And then slaving away driving the truck for Uncle Jerry’s garden supply company until you drove his truck the wrong way down a one way street.
WESLEY: (skeptical but maybe relieved?) Oh. Good. Good. JIM: Right next to the park. But not in the park. I wouldn’t be caught dead in a park. I don’t need to move to a park. Are you implying that you think I am in a situation where I would need to move to a park? WESLEY: I didn’t say that. JIM: Well, I don’t. WESLEY: Good. Good for you. JIM: I can take care of myself.
JIM: The sign was obscured!
WESLEY: Good. I believe you.
WESLEY: And if I recall correctly you continued to drive his truck until you were thankfully stopped by the front wall of Pigs-R-Us. You know there’s still a hole in the front wall of Pigs-R-Us! You can see right into the kitchen!
JIM: And I have a pop-up camper. I take the pop-up camper to music festivals. That’s what I use it for.
JIM: It isn’t called Pigs-R-Us anymore. It’s called the Checkered Pig because Toys-R-Us made them change the name. I’m surprised you haven’t heard.
JIM: I was just checking.
WESLEY: The point is I don’t remember a lot of slaving.
JIM: Geez, Wesley! It isn’t painted. It’s not going to be painted today or tomorrow or the next day or probably ever. Because I am not going to get on my hands and knees to paint a porch for some other people to walk all over. If they want it, they can paint it. You can paint it. Anybody can paint it. Make Nathan paint it. He doesn’t look busy enough.
JIM: I do remember a lot of nose-picking. WESLEY: I’ve always had a prominent nose. It has nothing to do with nose-picking. It’s a myth that it makes your nose bigger. JIM: Sure. Prominent. That’s how I’d describe it.
WESLEY: I know what a pop-up camper is.
WESLEY: So, the porch.
WESLEY: One thing to keep in mind. The less we get on this house, the less you get.
WESLEY: Where is the new place? JIM: I don’t want a single penny. JIM: Basset.
April 25, 2014 _ 19
Film: Under the Skin Under the Skin is the one film well outside your comfort zone that you should see this year. You’ll overhear your suite mate’s film major friend talking about “the amazing new Scarlett Johansson movie” and you’ll be interested, but then you’ll read the Wikipedia summary and be frightened. Don’t be. Under the Skin is well worth your time, despite an occasionally slow plot and a largely confusing premise. The confusing premise is the thing on the Wikipedia page that will scare you at first. Here’s the deal: Scarlett Johansson plays (in an amazing performance) an extraterrestrial collecting male earthlings. It’s unclear exactly why, but it seems to have something to do with their innards. She sucks her victims’ insides out through some mechanism that’s one half alien prison torture, one half surrealist hell-scape. The story revolves around Johansson’s nameless character, who disguises herself as a human femme fatale and stalks her prey in scenic northern Scotland. As the film goes on, however, she makes the mistake of developing a powerful sympathy for her prey. She begins to learn our ways and tries to understand how we interact with the world. The result is a surprisingly astute meditation on what it means to be human. Director Jonathan Glazer succeeds in showing us what our lives look like through Johansson’s alien eyes. — Colin Groundwater YH Staff
Film: Transcendence Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut with Transcendence, a large-scale sci-fi film about the future of artificial intelligence. Johnny Depp plays Dr. Will Caster, who runs an AI research lab and seeks to create a sentient computer with more intelligence than the sum of the minds of everyone who has ever lived. After being shot, Will’s days are numbered, and his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) works with a colleague to upload Will’s brain as a series of electric signals into the advanced computer. The most potent sources of tension in Transcendence are Evelyn’s fears of losing Will twice, the difference between a man and a machine, and the threats present when something that wants to better the world becomes too powerful. Wally Pfister is someone I’ve always admired as a cinematographer – he shot the Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012), Inception (2010), and Moneyball (2011) – and although he did not serve as the cinematographer for Transcendence, his visual prowess is evident. During one scene in the film, Evelyn speaks to Will’s computer image displayed on a number of screens. Pfister frames the shot such that, while Evelyn is looking off-camera at one image of Will, the image of Will shown in the frame is behind her, emphasizing the disconnect between her in the physical world and him in the computerized world. Many have said the film’s scope becomes too large to satisfyingly address all of the themes and moral questions raised over the film’s two hours, but I disagree. Notwithstanding two points of questionable logic, I thought the film was sound in both its narrative progression and its ability to provide fulfilling responses to the quandaries it presents.
Television: Orphan Black In the past month, I have, to my own detriment, binge watched two shows: True Detective and Orphan Black. The two were surprisingly similar; they hop between plot-driven drama and character-driven dramas at the blink of an eye, feature unlikely duos working together to solve the mysteries surrounding a curious death, and save themselves from the many genre tropes that they draw upon through smart writing, strong direction, and, most importantly, staggering lead performances. But while True Detective plods along with deeply meditative scenes that make its thrills all the more jarring (see the drug raid scene at the end of episode four), Orphan Black scoffs at the idea of buildup, throwing shock after shock to keep the watcher always at the edge of his seat, and is way more fun to watch as a result. For the uninitiated, Orphan Black is a sci-fi thriller that follows the story of Sarah Manning, a British con-artist who discovers that she is one of at least ten and probably more clones, each fleshed out as distinct characters through the incredible performance of Tatiana Maslany. Caught between two forces who treat her and her “sisters” as objects rather than people, Sarah struggles to find a way to ensure safety for herself, her foster brother Felix, her clones, and most importantly, her daughter Kira. The second season premiere shows no signs of letting up with the pace established in the first: the first scenes involve a tense shootout at a diner and an ingenious escape, followed by Sarah’s visit to Felix at a gay club, pulling him, reluctant and high, from the “five-some” he is about to partake in to get his help in finding her missing daughter. This is the sort of tonal shift that one learns to expect from Orphan Black, and one that it handles expertly. It is a promising start to an even more promising episode, the sort of episode that makes Orphan Black the one running show that I can recommend without reservation. . — Kevin Su YH Staff
When it comes to Transcendence, don’t believe what you hear. See it. Pfister has achieved something original and memorable. And if you don’t like it, that’s okay. You have a right to your own opinion. That’s what being human is all about. — Josh Jacobs YH Staff
Staff list: what we’ve been up to What we’ve been throwing to the wind: caution. What we’re not putting in our basket: all of our eggs. What we’re jumping: the gun. What we’re not looking in the mouth: the gift horse. What we’ve got coming: another thing. What we’re not counting before they hatch: our chickens. What’s worth two in the bush: a bird in the hand. What we’re not going to cry over: spilt milk. What we’re judging the book by: its cover. — YH Staff
20 _ The Yale Herald
CRITICISM The Other Secret Of Evil by Ava Kofman
Jorge Luis Borges writes about ideas. And the idea of books and ideas for books. Roberto Bolaño writes about writing. And the impossibility of writing. Borges once called heaven a library full of books. Literature, for Bolaño, is always about literature. Literature for Bolaño is about women, dead women, books. To read Bolaño is to watch the scene in Bergman’s Persona where nurse Alma tells a story about having sex on a beach with two teenage boys. But we don’t see the sex, the heat of the sun (surely the same punishing sun as in The Stranger), the beach, so we must imagine for ourselves the scene, as we imagine that there are bodies under winter coats. All we are shown is the pale Swedish face of nurse and the face of the actress speaking and reacting on screen. There is no heat, no sand, no sex. Certainly there was never any sex to begin with. Bolaño wanted to be political prisoner. Badly. This was the role of his lifetime but he failed to get the part. In this failure, he failed himself, his dream, his fellow countrymen, Chile, his exile, his nostalgia, many inexpensive photographs, the figure of the sleepwalker, Alfonso Reyes. Because he could not be a political prisoner, he had to become a writer. Because his body could not be imprisoned, his mind had to take drugs. He is a drug addict because he is addicted to literature. He is addicted to literature because he is addicted to drugs. His characters are men (himself) who are deathly afraid of absolute evil (World War II) and prone to risking their lives so as to determine whether and where this evil exists. What if evil is located outside of the skull, to the left of the temporal bone? What if he didn’t know of it––or of death? His sentences are about the feeling of being off-balance, lacking in parallelisms. His prose hypothesizes meanings as a spliff of hash might: loudly in a daze, as though drilled at the dentist. Always a half-dream. Never a dream, though something like the laughter of a dream. Or a dream in the subjunctive. “Or” is his favorite tool to use on words. Because everything in life (or death) is always subject to modification, his stories are about the power language has on politics, or pretends to have. Bolaño is a poet, not a mathematician or metaphysician. Bolaño writes as a visceral realist, which is to say, as a hypocritical idealist. Like the best of the blind poets Bolaño is deadly skeptical of all things. Borges was the best of the blind poets. But if Borges’ idealism is totalitarian then Bolaño’s idealism is mitigated by a love of the hypothetical tradition: an appreciation, possibly, for the plausible tunes of the Troubadours, the likely colors suppressed by black
and white neorealist film, the probable conviviality of Hume. Yet as a hypothetical empiricist, terrible gambler, and poor statistician, the relationship of his prose to the world of things is speculative, if not imaginary. If Bolaño’s speculative prose makes anything clear, it is that he does not believe in the first law of thermodynamics. When Bolaño accidentally finds himself transforming a billiard bill into a taxidermist’s peacock, he goes completely silent for days on end. After some weeks like this (smoking or sulking), he picks up his pen to take revenge on his imagined taxidermist, stuffing him with feathers. These grotesque deaths are as unreal as unreality is unreal. If Bolaño is to be found in the Quixote, he must be Sancho Panza’s understudy donkey Dapple––that double, that hypocrite–––the first and greatest continuity error in the history of literature. If Bolaño had had a brother growing up, he might have played chess with him more often. As a twenty-two year old ass, Bolaño might have taken a sip, if the volcano in Teotihuacan were filled with whisky. Bolaño’s paranoia is shot through with wonder and amazement at the fact that things exist at all. Not things in their regularity but in their persistence. He is painfully aware that these things themselves are always being distended, unearthed, partially destroyed, like vast and trunkless legs of stone in the rainforest. But the basic existence of things––of a lifetime of odd jobs, a shipment of frozen chicken, Apocalypse Now, a bronze statue of a military general in the old capital of Panama, gold and silver francs, that brothel, these folds of my stomach, a used copy of Pynchon, a table that is also a cage, drowning in sarcasm––of basic things that exist from one day onto the next is just as extraordinary and shocking to Bolaño as an impossible coincidence (a game of soccer without feet, the return of his Nazis or true neo-Stalinists, the glory of a Second Coming) would be. Every moment described by Bolaño is an intense immersion in lived experience, like the man who eternally looks out his window at rain. He montages visual impressions––the azure blue of the Mediterranean, police snapshots of a bloodied jaw, the slow moving death of a tiger in Brussels––so as to turn any moment into an extended mood. These moods––uneasy perceptions (the sense that something is not quite right with this pay-phone)––give his prose the heavy quality of heavy drugs, or the alliterative quality of verse, but without the use of verse or alliteration or sedatives. He has learned well from Philip K. Dick that objects have desires and desire a mind of its own. His descriptions, endless, prolong his sentences like pennies or baseballs tossed into a fountain. Tossed like pennies into a fountain at a Stereotype Mall by a ten-year
old boy wishing to fill space and time and infinity with his dreams and infinite longing. Plunk. All of Bolaño’s moods are defined by the amount of time that they take to cut into space. The more time they cut, the more suspense. Plunk. His pacing slows, plunk, and slows, plunk, and slows––and slows and melts until it is an opiated glacier crowded with contradictions, and then, a rough game with its own exceptions––…until the slowness of his suspense begins to steam, like water near boiling. Plunk… Plunk… Plunk. The more suspense there is, plunk, the closer the near-comatose Bolaño comes to revealing the evil secret of his story. But he always runs out of his own steam. His suspense is so heavy it becomes lazy. At the end of his extended moods all we’re left with is the ordinary world, but even sleepier. A deep and lazy sleep. Maybe the memory of a knotted muscle. We wake up again surrounded by the ordinary sand, the normal sun, his tiny rental paddleboats. Of course the secret of his story is that there is never any secret. Plunk. This is the nature of Bolaño’s paranoia. He thinks himself to still be alive. He constantly surprises himself, being dead. Bolaño died of poverty, politics, and failure of the liver. He said, after he died, that he died abusing heroin. This is a lie. On a Danish isle that lies off the coast of Norway, Bolaño is a teenager who takes turns making love to two older women. The women come frequently but at separate times, and while they give him equal amounts of verbal encouragement, they do so in different languages than one another, and it is unclear to the teenager, given his poor fluency in either tongue, if he is being faithful to them (or unfaithful to one, but not to the other, or whichever) or if, in his misinterpretations, he is adding something special to the value of this moment (or making it somehow his own), or if they would be better served should some older wiser author, ripping a page off a page at random from Sir Thomas Browne, attempt his own translation of this scene. The teenager is painfully aware, whether anyone is watching or not, of the absurdity of his questions, of the movements he authors within this three-headed critical apparatus, of its clumsiness, all of their half-sad expressions, indecipherable words at the margins of their mouths. But no one sees them. The isle is empty this time of year; there is far too much ice too close to the coastline. No one is watching. And none of them will ever speak a word of this to anyone again, not even the teenager, who dies of pneumonia next winter and his heaven is a prison full of libraries.
April 25, 2014 _ 21
Hey, it’s Tuesday and I’m trying to watch Conan. Can you guys please turn it down, bro!
For making us pay a dollar for 12 cups, bro
The Yale Record Being confused for a pre-frosh This has happened to Features editor Alisha Jarwala, PC ’15, three years in a row, and it’s enough is enough, bro!
Chance the Rapper
Passing out in your own shit
Chancelor Bennett… ? More like CANCELer Bennett brooooo!
Bulldog days isn’t the time to start lifting, bro
Prefrosh in the gym
It’s not even your own bathroom, bro
I’m not going to be part of that. Not today, bro
April 25, 2014 _ 23