All Posts in Volume 67: Issue 2
Julia Mounsey '13
I love creaking, but I love pots and pans especially. You go to bed and CLANG! The kitchen is full of me! I have so many hands. I love my hands, but I love your feet more, your tired footsteps down the stairs, your lovely head full of my hands, full of my pots and pans. You always smile. I love creaking, and I love your sheets. I pull them off to watch you shiver. I have so many hands, but no fingerprints mind you. I’ll never leave a mark, I love you too much for that.
Cold rushes in so fast it becomes hot, down my throat like a hand and I feel hoarse, I feel hoarse, I feel hoarse. Can you see me? You can’t see me. You can’t see me because there are fifty of me! There are fifty of me and then another fifty, and if you really saw me you’d be so scared that the cold would rush in hot like a hand made of ice through your throat all the way down to your belly and you’d be DEAD! Who’s pulling your curtains? Your shoes? Are they damp? Who is it? It’s me, all of me! All fifty of me!
You’re mine, darling. You’re all mine, darling. I pull all the books off the shelf with my breath because you’re mine, darling. Look! There! My hands tickling your doorframe. Did you see them? You’re mine, darling. And I’ll break your eggs and chew up your floorboards until you know it. I’ll suck at your curtains and walk up your windows and push ever so slightly against the bottom of your mattress while you sleep, until you’re down on all fours with your heart on your tongue, laughing, saying you love me.
I lived in your chest for three years. I brought you warmth when you didn’t want it. I crawled. Climbed you from the inside. Rubbed your heart the wrong way. It was mine. I lived there. I brought you warmth, brought you to your knees when you didn’t want it. I lived on your ceiling for three years. Kept still while you fought for sleep. Kept you still while you watched me, knowing me. Kept you, because you’re mine.
I don’t mind being a nightmare, as long as I can be yours!! Do you remember me? I found you in your bed. Do you remember my fingers? The stain? The tapping? I found you in your bed, pinned you there with my fingernails. Do you remember your heart beating? Broke through your chest, unearthed like a vegetable. And the stain when you woke up. I left it for you. No, I don’t mind being your nightmare.
You are soft. You are my cushion. I take my teeth out one by one. I take my teeth out one by one and push them into you. First the shoulder. I trace a circle with the sharp end, then push and it goes in easy. You break. Like cutting thread. I make a line of teeth across your shoulders, a collar, my little bones. I break you. It’s not personal. Skin is soft and sweet. It begs me to. Down on all fours, mouth dripping, chest heaving, it begs me to.
I had a question on every finger tip. They were oily and I covered you in them, and for that I am sorry. I am sorry I took all of your answers and forgot to leave you any. And I am sorry you had to live with my prints on your skin. But I wanted you to understand that you looked beautiful under my hands. I know it hurt to have my palms there but I wanted you to know that you looked beautiful with my thumbprint on your face, and my lifeline across your throat.
All of my pain has become fruit. My blood’s turned sweet. See here? A blueberry. And here: hearts become grapefruit. Pain goes sweet, then rots, because pain never goes away. The smell stays on your clothes forever. You know that smell? Thick and full of sugar. An apple split open on the asphalt like last summer. It’s an apple split open on the asphalt boiling last summer. Almost delicious, because sweet things always rot.
Will you? Won’t you? Haven’t been looked at for so long. Never get looked at. I’ve forgotten my hands. Left them somewhere. Can’t remember where. Can you spare a glance? A sniff in my direction? A laugh, at the very least. An eyebrow, maybe two. A reach would make me soar. A reach, not a touch, there is no touch, there is no touch, but a reach would do the same. Will you? Won’t you?
Life is over. Love is over. Family is over. House is over. Home is over. Book is over. Shoe is over. Bed is over. Touch is over. Sex is over. Handshake is over. War is over. Kitchen is over. Friend is over. Train is over. Sitting is over. Running is over. Grass is over. Money is over. Food is over. Singing is over. Yours is over. Mine is over. Yours is over. Mine is over. I am not ready.
About the Author: Julia is from New York City and wants to be a playwright, probably. She really likes Patti Smith.
May 2011 - Comments Off on Violin Sonata: Movement I. Andante Tranquillo
Sara Judy '11
I would ask you to believe here is only
flat with wheat grass and canola flowers
dust bowl dry and hot in the summer
whipping cold in the winter, painful white.
You will make a liar out of me if you listen.
The sky is the only whole truth I’ve told you,
and even that, badly. If I even speak about
the valley, the river cutting tight along tree lines,
the grass as fluid as the ocean, more deceptive,
just as deep, you will know the things I’ve hidden.
Jeweled fox backs and owl eyes, abandoned
silos like petrified giants, tractors and threshers
push out the fat bellied grouse, running forward
on their feet, chests out, under fences and
across the highway. The reservation dogs,
all lean muscle and teeth, big beautiful
half coyotes specked with blood-grey ticks
in the spring, who hang heavy in the fur
until the children pull them off to pop,
or they fall to the ground and splatter softly.
Barefoot boys play basketball outside
and check each other as hard as they do
during hockey season, smelling always of ice.
Growing up with scars from the rink, scars
from broken bottles, and scabbed mosquito bites;
raised by a crush of women: mothers, aunts, kokum.
Outside the rez store kids suck on candy,
drink cokes, turn the inside of their mouths
a sweet, corpse grey, when all the colors blend.
Garter snakes push up from
along the foundation of buildings, sweet
rotten musk left on the ground behind them.
Old men drink instant coffee and exhale
cigarette smoke into the darkness, so few
windows in the restaurant; hiding from the tiring sky.
So much space you need to move through
between the clouds’ shadows, to stand in the sun.
About the Author: Sara Judy '11 studies literature, and was recently awarded an American Academy of Poets prize for her senior thesis in poetry.
Crystal Barrick '11
more than obeisance,
bent knee, swept
leg, eyes lowered
only for a second.
more than a right
hand dipped in water
remove your sandals
at the foot of
the mountain, our bed, burning
tree booming names.
reverence is a small bud
into the shape of some name
giving the last
drop of water
from your canteen
to the desert floor
in hopes of a mustard plant, exaltation.
About the Author: Crystal Barrick '11 studies literature, education, and the fine art of fixing things.
Katherine Perkins '11
Somewhere in a black and white melodrama, there is a classic scene: a woman in a dark, tight-fitting dress with a cigarette and an upper-crust Manhattan accent turns her tear-streaked face away from her young lover to say this line we know so well: You’re dead to me. The violins pick up, her shoulders convulse in rapid shudders and by the time the camera returns to where he stood, he is gone. Perhaps we see a shot of his hand on the latch and then his furrowed brow as he shuts the door behind him—forever. Or perhaps the next shot frames him from behind, standing on the street, turning up the collar on his long grey coat and raising one arm to hail a taxi in the rain. In any case, as the rain, combined with the full orchestra, deluges our senses, we are hit full force with the reality of this moment; Jimmy really has made his exit; Scarlet really is alone, and her pronouncement collects its full gravity—he is dead to her; their lives will never overlap again.
Fast-forward fifty years. In this day, in our lives, this scene could never happen. Imagine, for just a moment: the scene’s the same, but now in color; her dress might still be black, but the cigarette, for the sake of argument, is one she rolled herself. Again, she turns from him; again, you’re dead to me. Again he makes his exit. But this time, just as he reaches street level and is groping for a cigarette himself, his pocket vibrates and the source of this buzzing is an electronic note that says: “wait.” In rapid succession, the following text messages will pass between their phones:
“Didnt mean that”
“U said im dead.”
“Sry i fl bad”
“Yea wanna talk”
Or, as he is standing, waiting for his taxi in the downpour (weather, at least, can be consistent through the ages), he shoots her a text: “Gross,” and her response, though not deeply committed, is at least immediate:
“Rain,” he’ll say back. “Gross out,” and something in the eloquence of these brief words will move her tides of sympathy, and she’ll ask him meekly if he wants to come back up and talk things out (“les tok upstrs?”). Which, of course, or maybe grudgingly, he does, and their drama, for a brief time, is over.
Here is the shallow reality, the muted drama, of love as we experience it now.
Let’s call our drama now off the hypothetical stage and onto the tile-floored, fluorescent-lighted, shouting, boisterous stage of the New York City Public School. Here we find the cell phone has become the ubiquitous tool or weapon of this generation, a toy whose full impact is near impossible to gauge—imagine how 7th grade note-passing is altered when conducted through text messages. Try flirting. Try bullying. Mean whisperings behind somebody’s back. The sheer capacity to pay attention in class. And finally, imagine the excuse that has become as cliché as ‘the dog ate my homework’ of old: I’m talking to my mom.
The girl talking: Aliani, the kind of student teachers both dread and love above the rest, one eyebrow permanently locked in an arch of defiance, her upper lip mirroring the gesture and in doing so, exposing a row of teeth soon to be corralled into the metal chains of braces.
“I’m sure you are,” I said, “but now’s not the time.”
“But she doesn’t know where I am.”
And as implausible as that was, how would it look if I, the assistant afterschool music teacher, demanded the phone put away and caused some crisis of miscommun-ication, some unwarranted worry for a parent with already too many stresses.
I tried the simple, direct root.
“Aliani, put your phone away. Samantha, you too.”
“In a minute,” said Aliani.
“Just a sec, it’s important,” said Samantha.
You’re twelve years old, I wanted to say.
I tried teaching by example. Feeling my phone in the bottom of my coat pocket, I lifted it up for the class to see. “These away,” I said. But a sound of disbelief rose up from the girls sitting in front of me.
“Yo, Miss,” said Aliani. “How old is your phone?”
“Is that an antenna?” said another girl, and they fell into peals of laughter.
“An antenna, yes,” I said, and pulled it out for them to see.
“What does that even do?” asked one girl.
“Nothing,” I said, “as far as I can tell.” Another girl asked if she could touch it.
“But enough,” I tried to corral the focus back to the lesson. “We were talking about harmony.”
Aliani, for once, had turned her attention entirely to me, eyes narrowed, her voice adopting the no-nonsense tone of an interrogating cop on a show about Law and Justice, but she wasn’t interested in the subject at hand.
“How old is it really?” she asked.
“It’s my first phone,” I said. “The phone I was born with.”
“No—I bought it right before I went to college.”
“And you’re how old now?”
“And it was your first phone.”
“Yes. Okay, let’s get back. Who knows what harmony is?”
Aliani held up her phone, which looked to me like the pink, pocket-sized star of a movie about love and robots. “I’ve had a phone?” she said, “since I was seven.”
“That’s beautiful, Aliani, that’s great,” I said. “But what is harmony?”
I was trying to recall exactly the ways that dramas played out between me and my peers in my eighth grade classroom. I remembered one particular day when Jean and Paige, rural Maine’s equivalent to the Samanthas and Alianis of Brooklyn, were caught with an entire three pages of notes whose subject was a boy who, rumor told, had herpes, and who one of them, or maybe both, had allegedly—what did we call it then? “Made out with” sounds too modern for my innocent youth; “Hooked up with” sounds too citified for the coast of Maine—I suspect the phrase we used was “French Kissing,” which still, to me, late bloomer that I was, hadn’t shed the stigma of something a little bit racy and a little bit gross in that it involved tongue and also the exchange of saliva. (Our health class text book taught us that French Kissing was when one person “explored” another person’s teeth with his or her tongue—that sounded gross more than racy, but even so, I was curious; my best friend Helen taught me how to practice with my middle and my pointer finger acting like another person’s lips—“They have to go every other,” she told me—“your lip, then his, then yours, then his, like this—“ she held her own two fingers up to her mouth. “And then you kind of move them up and down, and if you really like him, you put your tongue in.”) So Jean and Paige had pages and pages of notes, which I gathered—through glimpses and whispers and the stretches of my own imagination—were about Kissing and Boys and if Kissing (Frenching!) a Boy who had Herpes might cause YOU to get Herpes… our algebra teacher, 26, his patience tested past its limit at last, snatched the pages and threatened to read them all aloud. But glancing down at that round, wide handwriting in alternating colors, blue and pink, he thought better of it. Standing over the garbage, he tore all three pages into neat, narrow shreds.
After school, in a rare and giddy moment of rebellion, Helen and I decided we would piece the fragments back together—somehow, we even conceived that our Mr. Macko would find it amusing too—that he would laud our efforts and laugh along with us. But alas! Before we could garner all the most precocious and delicious details, we were caught in the act and shamed to the point of apologies with something along the lines of I expected better of you both. But even our hot faces weren’t enough to sate the want to know another person’s secrets—or just to know what it was like. It might have been kissing and it might have been something else—sex, love, love-making? What did those girls know that we didn’t know? What had they experienced that was so grand and so dangerous and seemed so impossibly out of reach?
In any case, I was brought back to all of this as a girl behind Aliani took out her phone and showed it to the girl beside her, holding it low beside her chair in what she thought—or pretended to think—was a subtle gesture. And when she would not put her phone away, I grabbed for it—an impulse there before the thought. And she, faster on her toes than I (and with a great deal more at stake) snatched it back with a glare and I was instantly too aware of myself—aware of my hand which had acted without my permission, aware of the mistake I’d made.
My supervision teacher stepped in.
“Erica, you have a choice,” he said. “You can stay here with us and learn, and put your phone away, or you can go down to the cafeteria and wait there.”
“But this is important,” she said. She wasn’t looking up—she was still texting.
“I gave you a choice,” he said.
“Okay,” she shrugged her shoulders and glanced up at his face.
“I’m not playing, Erica”
“I’m not playing either,” she said, and the other girls giggled and whistled as she picked up her things and walked out the door.
It was late August the day I bought my phone, sticky hot and the end of an era—it was my last day home before college, but more importantly, for the sake of this story, it was my last day home before leaving behind the person who I was sure, at the time, was the love of my life.
The room where I waited was in one of those highway-side, block-shaped buildings that crop up overnight across America—one day a field or a vacant lot, the next a supercenter staffed by exhausted women wearing blue vests and nametags visible to the legally blind: HELLO! I’m Kelly, Casey, Kimberly. The room itself was one of those spacious, sterile electronics zones with wall-to-wall carpeting, lit by fluorescents and whirring with subliminal noise. I was told by one of the women—Kelly, Casey or Kimberly—with a tired, pained expression, that it would be an estimated two hours before she or anyone could give me the time of day. The waiting area she directed me to was differentiated from the rest of the store only by the existence of two quasi-comfortable chairs and the proximity of the televisions—not two, but three, each positioned at such an angle that there was nowhere that the eye could rest away from them. I tried to shift my chair to face the window, but found that it was attached to the floor.
The love of my life, for lack of a better term—neither ‘boyfriend’ nor ‘lover’ ring true—was a beautiful five-foot, four-inch dancer from Zimbabwe. We taught in summer camp together and had adventures, hiking down to the rocky shoreline after our teaching day was done, lying on the only patch of flat, smooth rock and feeling the sunlight on our backs and bodies; we swam together and I turned away from him while I changed in plain view—a make-shift bathing suit made from my painting smock and skirt. I don’t remember how I put together the necessary parts for proper restaurant attire afterwards, but I remember running to my second job with dripping clothes in hand, both of us out of breath and laughing—he like a hyena, me like a creature who is learning for the first time how to laugh. I think now of a kind of inventory of our summer days, facts of our existence together: that when I walked in front of him I could feel a prickling on the back of my neck from his eyes on my body; When I asked him questions, he never gave me answers, only artful convolutions, rich with color; And sometimes we would sit quiet for hours painting silent, private landscapes, and I never understood him the way I thought I should, but he knew me—this, I told him, and my friends, and myself, repeatedly—better than I knew myself. And when I told my mother that fact, sitting in her Subaru, and that, as a result, I was no longer a virgin, she began to sob there in the parking lot of the farmer’s market and told me to go on ahead, she’d catch up, then called me back, half-panicked when I had nearly reached the fray of people milling and trucks parked, beds full of vegetables, to ask, did you know everything you needed to? Did you use—condoms, and everything?
As I sat in the US Cellular oversized office, I was already forming letters in my mind, based on my impending departure—I was missing him already while still in the same state. How ridiculous to be here, doing this, when I could be spending my last afternoon with him. But these wasted hours must, I thought, be a necessary evil; they would allow us to keep in touch; they would sustain our love. We were ill-equipped for the transition to come.
I am trying to remember now if he and I had ever spoken on the phone before that day—if we had, it was only to say the bare bones of facts and details—where we would meet and when—never real ideas, never feelings. Our conversations were always dense with circuitry and guessing, and I became accustomed to a style of response in which nothing was given; any tiny revelation of his came with work:
Do you have siblings?
There’s a start.
More or less?
No, guess again.
There—how did you know?
And where are you in the lineup?
You’re the oldest.
This is hard for you, isn’t it?
There! How did you know?
Shortly after my arrival at the cell phone store, I was joined in the waiting area by a twenty-something man named Chris or John or Steve who worked in the gravel pits near my home and was also, incidentally, in the process of breaking down and buying his first cell phone. We were mutually ambivalent about this necessary advancement in personal technology and I was ambivalent about him, but I found myself in that state of openness that sometimes sets in between strangers together in limbo. I learned that he grew up in the town next to mine and that he was in the market for a cell phone so he could have friends again.
“Yup, I graduated four years ago,” he said. “And I’ve pretty much lost touch with everybody.” Would a cell phone solve that problem? I tried not to cast any judgment in my quiet inquiry. He shrugged. “Maybe not,” he said. “But I guess it’s worth a try.”
When it came time for me to leave, my new phone (the least expensive model, the most rudimentary design) in a box in my purse, he said it was too bad I was leaving for college the next day because he would have liked to take me to a movie in Bar Harbor. And I said, yes, it was too bad, and walked out into the now-dwindling daylight.
That night, I would be up all night, packing and weeping, weeping and packing, and my mother would come down, bleary eyed and warm with sleep every hour or so to say, “You’ll stay in touch, darling. You will stay in touch with him.”
My new phone would not act as an aide in our transition apart; our conversations would continue with their circuitry and convolutions, but without the reassurance of his hands or the amusement in the glow behind his eyes.
How are you?
Keeping alive, keeping alive.
A long pause would stretch out between us.
What does that mean?
Don’t ask me, I just work here.
What have you been doing?
A little of this, a little of that.
What does that mean?
I told you, I just work here.
In one of these talks, he told me: “so I think, if it’s okay, I’ll come and visit,” and to myself, more than to anyone, I pretended excitement, I pretended joy.
When he came, I didn’t know how to bring two worlds together; I no longer recognized the space that we made when we sat in one room together.
I told him that I was no longer in love. I thought it then a simple fact.
In Brooklyn, in the winter of my senior year, I attempted a romance with a shortish, mustachioed man in a red cap and skinny jeans. It began, one could say, semi-accidentally—a friend of friends, he bought me a drink at a bar, an action, in the moment, of no great significance. Later, I followed up with a facebook message: “I’d like to get you back for that beer you bought me.” I thought I was being, if not subtle, then at least indirect. “Are you asking me out on a date?” was his reply. Was I? I didn’t know. And what was the inflection of his question—was it warm and flirtatious? Excited? Are you asking me out on a date!!? Or was there something a little aggressive about it—possibly accusatory? His status did, after all, declare him a married man. I wrote—and discarded—a few drafts in which I expounded upon my great affection for the moral pillar of monogamy; I attempted humor; I attempted clarity, but settled, in the end on something glib and potentially charming, pointing out the fact of his so-called married life. His reply was a screenshot of his information page as he changed his status from ‘married’ to ‘separated.’ Alright then, yes. Yes! I was asking him out on a date. I was dizzy with the romance.
What was beginning here was an elaborate game, a kind of excruciating hokey pokey in which the emcee sings the directions in a language that none of the players have quite yet mastered. The object, you discover as you go, is to maintain dignity while trying desperately to determine which limb is supposed to be in the middle and how long you have to shake it. More often than not, you find yourself exposed and off balance, teetering with some essential part of you hanging in a void, smiling so that everyone knows you’re having fun. You put your whole heart in! You put your whole heart out! You put your whole heart in, and you shake it all about…
Aren’t we all so flippant? Aren’t we so delightfully nonchalant as we sign ourselves of as players for life in this sordid little game? And I say for life because we’re all, you know, becoming addicts to these new ways of talking, thinking, feeling. Mustache Man and I—we never even had a real date. He invited me to his studio one day, and we sat on stools at a table made from rough wood propped on saw-horses. I asked what he was feeling and he told me that sometimes he got nervous, while I sat across from him rolling pieces of masking tape into tiny little beads and lining them in perfect intervals on the table in front of me. He offered me coffee and we drank it black. This could work, I thought. This could be something sweet that moves slowly.
We never exchanged a single phone call. Text messages aplenty, touching our big toes to the water, testing, testing, testing, but never making a real dive. Once, on a beautiful snowy night, I sent him what I thought might be a lure: “Snow!” I wrote, and waited. “Fresh start!” he wrote back eventually. My heart skipped a beat. What could he mean? I discarded the draft that said, “What’s starting?” and also the one that said, “Start with a bang!” and settled for “What’s so fresh?”
“Feb tomorrow,” he wrote.
Oh. The first day of February. The conversation ended there. What he wrote was not, perhaps, a closing door, but it also wasn’t a full return; there was no desire, no momentum in his words. I turned in without a late-night, snowy city ramble, or the thing I sought beyond that: a simple bit of warmth.
The mustachioed fellow and I went our separate ways. What it came down to, in the end, was the game—my lack of game savvy. “You like the game?” I asked, and he admitted, with a smile, that he did. I could only shake my head in bewilderment. “You’re not as bad at it as you think you are,” he said. “I mean, you know you play it too.” This was, for me, the most disturbing part of the whole affair.
So: my own culpability. Let’s turn our attention there.
In the summertime, I almost loved a wiry, sun-tanned science camp teacher from Colorado. He didn’t have a cell phone. He didn’t have facebook. He did have an email address, but we didn’t exchange the necessary details. We relied instead on the landline in his apartment, notes left on or under each other’s doors and messages relayed through friends and roommates. He is the only friend I’ve made in the last four years who knows my phone number by heart. By the end of the summer, I recognized not only the sound of his voice, but also those of his three roommates. Here’s how phone-calls to his house would go:
Me: Hey! Is this Jen?
Jen: Hey, let me find Ian. (off) Ian! Katherine’s on the phone!
What unaccustomed practice for my ear! How nice to get to know somebody in the context of his family—or something close to that—again! The time was sweet, quaint. Refreshing, was the word I used when people asked. I said no to the part of myself that was frustrated when I wanted to send him text messages and couldn’t. Isn’t it good, I told myself, that I’m learning to make real plans again, that I’m learning again to say a time and a place and stick to it. Isn’t it good that this is a real, genuine connection and not a game.
Some time around late July, my phone developed some funny personality traits, turning off in the middle of conversations, shutting down at will, only working, in the end, when it was attached to a charger.
It would be overdramatic to say that the death of my phone caused the death of our relationship, but to ignore the correlation would be, I think, dishonest. With essentially two landlines between us and busy daily work schedules, communication petered to a perfunctory trickle. He left messages on my voice mail; I didn’t listen for days at a time. I left messages with his roommates; he went on a four-day trip and didn’t call back. After a series of misses like these, it is hard to motivate, hard not to think: well, so be it—this is how it’s meant to go. By the time my new battery came in, (one-week shipping from China—just two dollars!), the spark was gone.
Addictions come in many forms. You play a game for long enough, you don’t know you’re playing. It morphs away from the status of game, evolves, simply, into the way that you live. Of course, it doesn’t take a facebook account to play a mind game; nor a cell phone to set a lure or fall for one—I am told that my foremothers and fathers were well-versed in many games, including, but not limited to hide-and-seek and hard-to-get. But what happens when this luring—the baiting and the long anticipation before we bite or are bitten—becomes our only language? What happens when we forget about the loves we had before this time?
Let’s return to the original heroes of this tale. We left them last with Jimmy in the downpour, Scarlet in a torrent of her own emotion. Two months later, the sun is out, the windows are open—my god! Fresh air! Scarlet sits in a cafe. She’s alone with her computer. Let’s zoom in for a moment, first on her face, where a faint, enigmatic smile plays about her lips, then a shot of the screen—ah, facebook. She is looking at her own profile, carefully taking stock of how she is presented there. She is changing her status from ‘single’ to—the mouse hovers between options—‘in a relationship,’ or, ‘in an open relationship.’ But just as she’s about to make her decision, on the table beside her, the telltale vibration sounds. She glances at the message:
“Wanna hang out?”
She waits a moment, ponders.
The arrow hovers and makes its decision—In a relationship—it’s official.
No, on second thought, It’s complicated. Yes, that’s better. She breathes a sigh of fresh spring air. The phone buzzes again, threatening to edge itself off the table. Her eyes don’t leave her newsfeed as she reaches out a hand to set it on silent.
About the Author: Katherine Perkins was born and raised on Mount Desert Island in Maine. She studies Drama and Literature and is currently enjoying her final spring term at Bennington College.
Alana Orzol '11
a rain starts gently,
so soft only puddles know
and ripple assent.
About the Author: Alana Orzol is about to graduate after having studied Literature and Biology, and will go on to bigger and better writing adventures, or just become a crazy cat lady.
Hannah Kucharzak '13
placed on ice
for days oh years
fleshy green burst skin
crystal glue. The bed
turns on its side.
Not our nights.
for once and now
sewn pleats. Wished
ample verdict sounds.
Esteemed or red-
depending on the
activities. This was
a careless one.
About the Author: Hannah writes with her hands.
Anna Gyorgy '14
In the night the magnolia leaves look like dark water
My feet are bare by April
By June they feel each raindrop
I listen to the stories of the storms and she records them
She corrects the syntax of the thunder
I help her light candles when the power goes out
She likes to work at night when you can hear the mountains sleeping
And I like to hear her dreams
Because she dreams when the sun is coming up
And the dawn throws orange shadows on our walls
The season sees me grow sweet where I fall
The golden headed wasps keep me company
In the night she assumes shapes
Turning her bones into blackbirds
I sing to her winters
I live beneath her eyelids
Lost on the map of her skin
I can hear the birdsong
About the Author: Anna Gyorgy sunburns very easily.
Kaitlin Tredway '11
Take this all of you and eat.
this is not temporary. read
every instruction with care
Do this in memory of me.
suspect satan at the Church
door. salivate and swallow
circles of rice flesh soaked in
sow’s milk and sparrow’s ash.
there may be skin sensations.
This is My Blood. I am not
Worthy to receive you, but only say
it’s the numbing of the
Curd made flesh; slowly sniff
sapinsense and fyrrh to feel
nothing in the brain. it’s never
about feeling. do this in mockery
of me. risk all that’s held true.
Lamb of God, You take away
the ability to see, hear, discern.
genital motor skills—gone. get
a room, concrete or imagined.
one entrance, no exit.
it is fixed. This is My Body,
which has been thisismybody
given up for You.
My Body. this is My
my body won’t be given up for
steps in line with the lion’s den,
or soft yet subtle hymns to Him.
victory pump in the
neck, ribbon pinned to
i’ll raze hell on
i’m taking it back,
making a newer vow: to never love You.
two years ago,
i kissed His nailed feet.
my mouth still tastes like Crucifix.
About the Author: Catholicism, the Japanese American Internment, James Joyce, and Icarus have chosen Kaitee; she will probably write about them for the rest of her life.
Kaitlin Yaeko Tredway '11
A selection from Our Hands in Our Laps, a novel in progress
Papa did not walk home from church with the rest of the family. Looking ahead, Kiku thought her brother, Riki, looked very distinguished in his Sunday jacket. One of Riki’s friends had wanted to take him for a soda down at the market after church, but he had declined politely. Kiku guessed that this had not just been a soda between friends, but that the girl Riki liked would have been there too. Nonetheless, he had said, “Not today. I have to walk my family home.” Riki strolled with Mama. Papa accompanied friends into town. Kiku shook her heard. The reversal of roles seemed odd.
She noticed that a lot of families were walking home without fathers this Sunday. Daughters chatted, their mother walking safely in their midst. Other boys, like Riki, walked with their mothers. The weight in Kiku’s hand grew heavier and heavier.
“Hana, stop dragging your feet.”
Her five-year old sister looked up, her thick, dark hair bouncing on either side of her head in pigtails. “I don’t want to walk. Riki usually carries me.”
“Riki is with Mama.”
“I don’t know.”
Hana stopped, tugging on Kiku’s hand. “My shoes are dirty.” Some mud was caked on the toes of her light shoes.
“That is why you must watch where you step.”
“Mama will be angry.”
Kiku guided her sister to the side of the road and crouched in front of her. She pulled a clean handkerchief from the cuff of her sleeve. Wetting a corner on her tongue, she lifted Hana’s foot and started to clean the shoe. “Now, let’s make a deal.” Hana, starting to lose her balance, laced her hands around the back of Kiku’s head. “You step carefully and keep your shoes clean. If you do, I’ll give you a piggy back ride from the last hill all the way home.” Hana nodded and eagerly lifted her other foot. “But you must have clean shoes, understand?” The sisters locked eyes and smiled. They were off again.
Hana walked so carefully that the walk took twice as long. But, eventually, they did reach that last hill. After Hana showed her spotless shoes, Kiku hoisted her sister onto her back. She burst into a sudden jog up the hill. Hana giggled as she was jolted up and down, letting her voice modulate with the rhythm of Kiku’s steps. Kiku paused at the top of the hill, despite Hana’s commands of, “Go! Go! Go!”
Far to the left was the Malloy farm. The hakugin family had two boys, both older than Kiku. They grew berries and leafy green vegetables. She could already see the leaves spreading wide in their fields.
A little ways up that road there was home, the Isobe farm. The farmhouse stood on the uppermost corner of the property. Its whitewash had grayed, but the walls still gleamed in the early afternoon sun. Spring flowers bloomed in her mother’s garden, which hugged the side of the house. She could see the clusters of violets and yellow daisies. The bathhouse stood a little apart from the house, the grass between the two buildings long and unmowed. To the right of the house stood the small barn and tool shed.
Lines of growing things stretched out in rows from the house to the road. It seemed as though the watermelon plants were assembled for duty, an army of green vines guarding her home. Close to the house, the thickness of the green shifted. Those were other vegetables – some beans and tomatoes in the family garden.
Abandoned at the far edge of the field stood the skeleton of a wagon. Papa would borrow the Malloy’s truck every year during harvest and hitch the wagon to the back bumper. The next morning, ha and Riki would load half the crop into the pickup, and the other half into the wagon. Then, he and Mama would to drive to market. He always entered the market with his shoulders set squarely to the road. In the off season, that cart lay forgotten, until Papa coaxed Kiku and Hana out of bed one morning with some drops of water on their faces. They would trek across the fields, while the air was still cool, to wash the cart and add a coat of paint. The year before, Papa had started to water the paint down. The wood now resembled parched bone.
Near the cart lay two halves of a barrel, each filled with chrysanthemums. Around the time of the cart washing, the flowers would be budding. Hana insisted on calling these “Kiku’s Chrysanthemums.” A late blooming plant, she kept them by the cart to add a little beauty to its resting place after long days of lugging watermelons. The barrels showed no signs of life. New stalks should be shooting up.
Hana’s repeated, “Go!” grew louder and more urgent. Kiku looked back to the road and said, “Hold on, Hana-chan!” The little arms circling her neck tightened. Kiku stretched her own arms out like wings and sped down the hill. She and Hana raced home, pursued only by the echoes of their own laughter.
Papa came home with three cardboard suitcases under his arm. “We have six days.” He said these words, resigned. He sounded exhausted. It was only one o’clock.
“Six days for what?” Hana asked cheerfully. She was playing on the kitchen floor with her stuffed sheep, Shiro. Kiku stood frozen in place at the sink, her sleeves rolled to her elbows. She had been rinsing rice for dinner. Mama, who had been snapping some early peas, paused too. Hana kept playing.
After a moment, Kiku began to rinse the rice again. Mama left the room. Papa followed. She could hear them speaking in rushed Japanese. Kiku had translated the notice for her parents before church. They had passed many notices on signposts. The bold, black letters of the sign floated behind her eyes, affixed like a label. “Instructions to All Persons of Japanese Ancestry.” That was her, and her family. She remembered the other words on the notice: evacuation, temporary residence, toilet articles, bedding and linens, sufficient knives, forks, and spoons, essential personal effects, departure. They were leaving.
Early next day, Papa went to the Civil Control Station to register the family and receive further instructions. Riki insisted on accompanying him. Kiku did not go to school that day; she was a junior in high school. As the oldest daughter, she stayed home to help Mama. Hana kept close to Kiku, scurrying to hide when it was clear that she might be made to do chores. She was just glad her older sister was home. Hana did not go to school at all. The previous fall, she had attended class for a couple of days, but always returned home in tears. Mama, Papa, and Kiku had spoken to the teacher; she told them Hana did not participate in any of the class activities. She did not speak to the other children easily. If she did, the other child usually cried.
When Kiku had translated the teacher’s words, Mama and Papa’s faces had flushed with embarrassment. “There must be a mistake,” Mama had said in Japanese. “Tell that young lady that Hana is a good girl.” Kiku did.
“Please assure your mother that I understand. I know Hana is not a bad child. I just need you all to be aware of what is happening as well. If we all work to help her, I’m sure we can solve this.”
Papa had said nothing at the school and did not speak until they were home. He stood above Mama and Kiku on the porch step. “Hana will not return to school until she can learn to behave.”
Mama took a breath, as if to argue, but then she silenced herself. Kiku, however, was not as quick to respect her father’s decision. “Papa, the teacher said she would help Hana.”
“We can help your sister here.”
“But”—She thought maybe she had communicated the teacher’s intentions poorly.
Her father’s eyes flashed as he interrupted her. “My decision is final. Do not embarrass yourself, Kiku. You do not understand.” She still didn’t. Hana remained home from school. Kiku hoped Papa would let Hana try school again this coming fall. Kiku would be entering her senior year, and she did not want to be worrying about Hana all the time.
She thought about all this as she cleaned the mirror by the front door. It was small, about the width of her hands if she placed them side-by-side, and framed by a simple bamboo trim. Her mama had brought this to America from Japan. Kiku studied her own face in it, wondering which of her ancestors she looked most like. The square-ness of her cheeks and jaw line resembled her father, the Isobe family. The skin stretching between her cheeks was pulled into a slender slope with a rather wide base – her mother’s nose. She was thankful that she did not wear glasses. The bridge of her nose was very flat. The glasses would constantly slip down her nose. She smiled, blinking rapidly. Her eyelashes were short and dark. Her upper lip got very narrow when she smiled. She hated those things about her face. But she thought she had a rather nice complexion, her skin a soft bronze from the sun. She also thought she had shapely, brown eyes. She looked at herself for a moment more. “Mama, are you going to bring your mirror?”
Her mother answered, “Just clean, Kiku. I will not leave this place a mess.”
“But the mirror, Mama?”
“We’ll decide later, when Papa and Riki return.”
Kiku didn’t press the matter. Mama would not talk about packing, only cleaning. Kiku guessed that cleaning the entire house was both a way of somehow making this right, and of beginning to say goodbye to every nook and cranny. All flat surfaces had to be dusted with a damp cloth, and then wiped with a solution of rice vinegar and water. The sweet pungeance of the vinegar permeated the air and remained until their departure.
Mama scrubbed every dish in the cabinet, even the ones that were already clean. After that, she arranged a set of dishes and utensils for each of them: knife, fork, spoon, plate, bowl, and cup. She then set aside some extras of each, just in case there was room in the suitcases. She also laid the wooden cutting board out. She would make room for that. Kiku helped Mama put all the dishes away, and then they moved into the bedroom. It was one big room with five beds. Mama and Papa slept on the bed nearest the door. Then Riki. Then Hana and Kiku. The little one did not want her own bed yet. Kiku and Mama stripped all the linens from the beds. Mama sent Kiku to get the extras from the linen closet, and to find her sister. Hana had avoided housework long enough.
Kiku didn’t have to look far for Hana. She found her hiding at the bottom of the closet. It was so narrow a space that even a girl as little as Hana had to scrunch to fit. Kiku knelt opposite her.
“You’re to help me with the laundry.” Hana crawled out and made no fuss. “Is something bothering you?” Hana shook her head. “But you hate this chore.” Hana shrugged. She started to walk away but Kiku caught her by the waist. It was unusual for her sister not to make a fuss. She didn’t question Hana again, just fixed her with a concerned look. But Hana said that she was fine, just feeling helpful. She would not say anything more.
They were still scrubbing and rinsing sheets on the porch when Papa and Riki returned. Neither looked pleased, and it seemed to Kiku that her father looked more exhausted than he had the previous afternoon. Riki carried a manila envelope. Mama dried her hands on her skirt. Papa stared at the ground, Riki at the sky. Hana made swirls in the soapy water. Kiku looked from face to face. No one spoke.
Kiku noticed a new line in her brother’s forehead. It ran above his eyebrows and, at times, seemed to come to a sharp point above his nose. He hid his anger and confusion, and the emotion just etched itself deeper in his forehead.
Papa slid his hat off, revealing his balding head. Kiku had not noticed the size of the shiny patch before. It seemed to weigh on Papa, forcing his chin and shoulders down. Papa was shrinking, but his bald spot was growing. Finally, he cleared his throat. He had everyone’s attention, but only Kiku looked at him. “I sold the farm to the Malloys. Got a good price since the crop is already planted. Looks to be a fine year for watermelon, too.” Silence fell over the family again.
Hana wailed. She sobbed and screamed and breathed at a high pitch. Then, she took off, pushing the wash bin as she went. Kiku steadied the tipping bin, watching Hana run into the house. Quicker than Kiku expected, both Mama and Papa followed her. The door closed and muffled the sounds of the pursuit and Hana’s tantrum.
Kiku turned her gaze back to her brother, who was still staring at the sky. The sun glistened off the veins that were straining in his neck. She tried to return to her chores, dunking the sheets into the soapy water. She always splashed a lot of water when she did. One of her splashes landed on Riki’s shoe.
“Cut it out,” he snapped, his silence broken. Glaring at his sister, he shook the water off his foot. “Be more careful.”
“Don’t tell me what to do.” Her comeback was weak. Even though she was seventeen, her brother could still make her feel so small. She resumed the washing again, mindful of how much she splashed. She strained to hear murmurs of the conversation inside. Hana had stopped wailing, at least.
Riki sank onto the porch step with an exhaustion reminiscent of Papa. He laced his fingers behind his tanned neck, and let the weight of his arms drag his head closer and closer to his knees. The rhythm of Kiku’s washing slowed until, eventually, she stopped. Her hands were soapy and wet. She approached her brother, sat beside him, and dried her hands on the bottom of his shirt. She heard him snort as he shook his head a little. It was easy to picture his smirking face. Still, he did not sit up.
“It’s that bad?” she asked, staring out across the field.
“We knew it would be,” he answered. “Since Pearl Harbor, we knew.”
“Why are they moving us?”
He looked at her as though she was stupid. “We’re the enemy, Kiku.”
“No, we’re not.”
He laughed derisively. “We’re at war.” His laughter stopped and he staed out over the farm. “I thought this would someday be my farm.” With that, Riki stood and went into the fields. He walked up and down the rows of watermelon plants with no particular destination. He walked that way for the rest of the afternoon.
As Kiku finished the laundry, she thought about Riki and the farm. When he was sixteen, he had dropped out of high school to work with Papa on the farm full time. The family could not afford to pay more workers. As the oldest, Riki knew it was his job to help support the family. He had taken on the responsibility willingly. That had been six years ago.
By the time she hung the last sheet on the line, she was exhausted. At a certain point she had become too tired to think anymore. If she had the energy to, she might have thought about what Riki had said about being at war, and not the farm. Perhaps, she thought, it was better not to think about any of it, but to do as she was told, help all she could, and be strong for her family.
When she went inside, it seemed that Mama and Papa were still talking in the bedroom. They had not emerged all afternoon. With them in there, Riki outside, and Hana somewhere, it seemed that it was up to Kiku to make dinner. She sighed and swatted her cheeks a few times to wake herself up.
She set the rice cooking and found some fish in the icebox. She fried the fish in the cast iron skillet and made a salad with some early bitter greens and strawberries from the Malloys. She only called for dinner when the table was entirely set, when the food was steaming, and when she could not wait any longer to eat. One by one, her family entered the kitchen, surprised both by the aromas, and a smiling Kiku. Mama and Papa took their places at the table, and Hana waited until Kiku fetched the crate she used as a booster. Then, she scrambled into her seat. When Riki came in and saw them all around the table, he scoffed.
Before anyone could speak, Kiku reprimanded him. “This is still our home. We are still a family. We can still all enjoy dinner, so wash your hands and sit down.” He looked ready to give Kiku a piece of his mind but Papa chimed in.
“She’s right. Go wash your hands.” Riki could not argue with his father.
The next few days passed in a parade of different chores and tasks, interrupted only by the requisite medical examination. At dawn each day, Riki and Papa rose as usual. They spent the morning tending to the watermelons, repairing a weak spot in the fence, grooming the horses, and all other sorts of tasks. Work on the farm did not stop, even if life was changing.
Room by room, the house was cleaned to Mama’s satisfaction. Clothes were washed, and mended, if need be. The moth holes in the wool sweaters were patched. Little by little, the suitcases filled up. The clothing and the sheets were packed in tight. Small, breakable objects and utensils were tucked in those folds for safekeeping. Mama kept saying: “All of us go together, not all of this.” Bring the whole family, not the whole house. Still, the mirror by the front door made it into Mama’s bag.
As she was packing, Kiku could trick herself into believing this was just a vacation. Her family had never been on a vacation, so she had always imagined packing a bag for some adventure. She would describe it like this whenever Hana started to get upset. Her sister’s face would brighten as Kiku talked about breaks from school, no chores, and games all day.
Papa’s face never brightened. Kiku kept trying to make him smile, but her hugs or jokes only elicited a barely audible grunt.
It was their last night in the house. Tomorrow, they would walk to the Civil Control Station to await transportation. Everyone was somber, even Kiku. Two of the three suitcases sat waiting by the front door. Kiku and Hana’s lay open on their bed. Mama was still packing her own leather bag with all the extras. Riki refused to bring anything but clothes.
As the sun started to set, Kiku realized that she hadn’t seen Papa since lunchtime. Hana was helping Mama with dinner, so she was free to search. Riki, who was on the front porch again, hadn’t seen him. He wasn’t in the house, or the empty barn. The Malloys had moved the horses over to their own barn the day before. The only two places left to look were the bathhouse or the tool shed. Kiku opted for the latter.
Papa stood in the fading light, hands clenched behind his back, staring at his tool bench in absolute stillness. She wondered if he had been standing there all afternoon. It wouldn’t surprise her if he had. She waited a few moments before walking in and touching him lightly on the shoulder. He jumped, clearly startled, and she couldn’t help but laugh a little. He looked so surprised.
Resting a hand on his heart, he said, “What is it, Kiku-chan?”
“Dinner will be ready soon.
He nodded and looked back at his tool bench. ‘There is no knowing if I will need those.” A whole assortment of tools lay out. Pliers, wire cutters, saws, trowels, hammers, screwdrivers — on that bench, Papa had all he needed to fix anything that was broken. Different kinds of nails and tacks were sorted into glass jars. Kiku looked from the tools to Papa’s face. She suddenly understood what leaving here would mean for him.
He had built the bathhouse with those tools, had used them to fix a broken plow. Most of her memories included Papa and his tools. She realized that, somehow, these instruments made him a farmer, made him Papa. What would he be without these? How would he fix what was broken?
After surveying the tools, Kiku selected the hammer and a hand trowel. She also grabbed one of the jars with nails, and added a couple different sizes. “Leave those alone.”
Kiku turned back to her father. “There’s some room in my suitcase.” She smiled at him, and he did not argue. He considered her with a tenderness that she had not seen recently.
“Come, let’s go in for dinner.” As they left the tool shed, he put one arm around her and hugged her tight. He kept a tight hold on her as they walked to the house. She leaned her head on his shoulder, the tools and nails safe in her arms.
It was morning. Kiku stood in the center of the bedroom, just breathing. If she drew this place into herself, remembered it in her bones, then she could recreate it, wherever life happened to take her family. The coils of the mattress squealed as she laid herself upon it. This would be the last time the bed cradled her, the last time she would rest blanketed by the scent of hay and thistle. She started singing, “I walk with my shadow and talk with my echo, but where is the one I love?” As she sang to herself, she began a silent prayer. Jesus, please keep my family safe and together. Please grant me peace as I leave this place.
“Kiku, are you ready?” Riki’s voice cut through her meditative good-bye. “Is Hana with you? I can’t find her.”
“Goodbye, bed,” she whispered, patting the bare mattress. “Goodbye, room.” She tried not to look over her shoulder as she left. “I’ll find her.”
She set her suitcase beside the others. All three cardboard suitcases stood, full, in a row. “Hana... I have Shiro. He’s lonely. He wants to find you.” Hana had named her sheep when she was very small. Shiro means “white.” Kiku held the stuffed sheep out in front of her, stepping quietly down the hallway. She guessed Hana was hiding in the linen closet again.
Kiku edged Shiro’s nose into the closet and pushed the door open. It was empty. “Hana! Hana... Shiro’s crying.” She began to baaa tentatively, poking her head into some of Hana’s other known hiding places. She could not be found.
Kiku asked her brother, “Have you checked the bathhouse yet?”
“Yes, it’s empty.” She nodded and, Shiro still in hand, headed towards the front door. “Where are you going?”
Hana had never hidden in the barn before. But, the family had also never moved before. Kiku remembered that, once, Hana had said that the barn felt the most like home because home smelled like hay, and so did the barn. The barn door creaked more than her mattress had. “Hana? Hana, if you’re here, answer me.” There was silence.
“Is that Shiro?” The voice came from one of the stalls.
Kiku smiled, spying her sister’s silouhette through the wooden slats. “Of course it is. Come out here.”
Sighing, she entered the stall and handed the sheep to Hana. “Come now. We have to go.”
“I’m not leaving.” She buried her face in Shiro’s cotton back. “You won’t leave without me, so I’m not going. Then we can all stay.”
“Hana... we must leave.” Kiku held her sister’s head to her chest. “If you stay here, I would be very lonely. What should I do without you, hm?”
“Stay with me.” The words were a little muffled by the sheep and the shirt. “They can’t leave if we both stay.”
“Mama would be very sad to not have you. Who would help her with the dishes?”
“I have other chores, Hana-chan. You must help Mama with the dishes. Who will Papa read to at night if you stay here?”
“Riki has read by himself for a long time now. He would have no one to throw in the air. If you stay here, who would make me laugh if I wake up a little sad?” Hana couldn’t answer. Kiku let her little sister sit quietly for a few more moments, before standing and offering her hands. “Up, up, up. We need to go.” She smiled upon feeling the small hands in hers. She swung Hana’s hand a little as they left their barn. “I’m glad you decided to come.”
Hana looked up at her with wide eyes. “Where will home be now?”
Forcing a smile, Kiku echoed her mother. “You know what Mama says: home is where your family is.”
Everyone was dressed in his or her Sunday best for the evacuation. Kiku had heard some people refer to it as “Evacuation Day.” She thought this made the whole event sound like a holiday.
They were only walking to the church in the next town over, a half hour stroll at other times, but each step felt long. The Isobes walked in a row of five, Hana in the very middle. She held Kiku and her Mama’s hands. Everyone, except Hana, carried a suitcase. Each of them wore a tag pinned to their shirt—even Hana. It was the family number assigned to the Isobes by the War Relocation Authority. It appeared on all their paper work. All of their bags were labeled with it.
At the Civil Control Station, they were identified by this number, not their name. They left their baggage with a receptionist. Then, an Army man directed them to a bus. Riki translated the instructions into Japanese for Mama and Papa. When the soldier heard how quickly Riki translated, he asked Riki to stay with him on the platform. “I’m hving a hard time communicating with some of the older folk. I could use someone like you.”
“I won’t leave my family,” Riki retorted. “And why would I want to make your job any easier?”
Even though Papa could not understand Riki’s conversation, he could hear the tone of disrespect in his son’s voice. He demanded that Riki explain what the officer wanted. Riki did, after a stubborn pause. When he had finished, Papa bowed to the officer and said in hesitant, broken English, “My son help you now. I sorry for him behavior. Go.”
Riki froze, staring furiously at his father. They did not say anything else. After a while, Papa nodded almost imperceptibly, and Riki turned and followed to soldier. Mama protested, but Papa soothed her. Riki would be fine.
Kiku saw very few smiles that day. She knew that the sight of all these Japanese Americans in their Sunday best with sad and grey faces would never leave her memory. This day marked the death of their former lives. She wanted to cry.
Kiku let Hana sit in her lap so that she could look out the window. “I’ve never been on a bus before,” she whispered, awe in her voice, as they pulled away from the curb.
“See? What did I tell you? This will be an adventure,” Kiku responded, trying to convince herself of just that. But, she didn’t know where they were going. She didn’t know how long she would be there. No one knew. With Hana perched happily on her lap, face pressed to the window, Kiku felt hidden enough to let a few tears fall. She did not want anyone to see. Mama and Papa sat across the aisle, stone-faced. Some of the other women were crying, but, of the Isobes, only Kiku openly mourned the loss of home.
About the Author: Catholicism, the Japanese American Internment, James Joyce, and Icarus have chosen Kaitee; she will probably write about them for the rest of her life.
Crystal Barrick '11
a gloss after Elizabeth Gilbert
Not all my prayers beseech you—
on the widest nights I’ve tied
a wire to a tin can, swung for the neck
of the nearest shining idol and howled
so proud. I needed answers right then
and no, not you nor the moon have ever
spoken down; not to me.
I am not ashamed
of a man’s teeth on my ear, his cold,
slick arms as he uncarefully
removes all doubt. I pull his brass hand
onto my thigh, and I
let it stay there, because I asked
him a question and he answered
it quickly. If devotion is diligence
without assurance, no—
I can never wholly worship you.
About the Author: Crystal Barrick '11 studies literature, education, and the fine art of fixing things.
May 2011 - Comments Off on A Bit of Dried Grass, Broken Off Onto Live Coals
Sara Judy '11
Laughter in the buffet line.
Someone behind me made
a joke about three-legged horses.
I grin as quietly as possible
at the baby in front of me
making a fortress out of her
mother’s? cousin’s? sister’s?
shoulder. I worry about being creepy.
I worry about being
overdressed. I try to be easy
in my stance, in the way I scoop
potatoes onto my plate
and use up all the aerosol
in the whip cream can. Later,
at his funeral, someone
passes me a bowl
of loose cigarettes.
They look like the beams
that are left stacked
next to train tracks,
half buried in snow,
waiting to be used in repair.
We all light up together, and
kill ourselves a little, in memory of.
About the Author: Sara Judy '11 studies literature, and was recently awarded an American Academy of Poets prize for her senior thesis in poetry.