Night begins to move, writhing and seething as the bristled backs catch the light of the dropping sun. Among the red rock lives a creature who carries night on his back and stars in his eyes.
The cicada calls to him from his place along the ravine scarred by waters now long dry.
Those who nestle in the red rock carry the history of the lost.
The Cocopah tribe, the cowboys, each driven out.
The creature among the rock, the javelina, their tribe becoming lost.
Soon the blood orange of the rock, the yucca, and the crimson of the berries in the underbrush won’t be enough.
Soon the javelina will have to engage with the streets
Will have to understand humans in his desert home.
The javelina speaks through a bristled muzzle, “I have understood the desert without them, it is sweeter than the blooms of the prickly pear. It is sweet like the rain. It is bright and calming like the red rock.”
The cicada sings his jagged song of mourning.
Every few months she finds herself by the hearth, feeding the last of their shared memories to the dwindling embers. In exchange for the pages in her leather-bound journal, the red bricks give her bare knees a fresh coat of ashen soot. Her trembling fingers graze over the russet-colored leather and break open the spine. Tentatively, she skims for joyous words and accounts of his shiny false promises. Like when he said the name reappearing on his screen every night belonged to his “friend from work.” The same “friend” who was supposedly helping him hunt for a picture-perfect engagement ring. He had answered her questions without skipping a beat. “Only women have the knack for that sort of thing and asking you would’ve ruined the surprise.” She rolled her eyes at the memory of him sealing the lie with a wink and phony grin. Chastising herself for thinking she’d see him down on one knee for her.
Shuffling through the contents of her journal, she grows more and more anxious to watch them burn. She allows the flames to strip away joy from jollier times and gives their light to the fire. One by one she watches every serendipitous moment turn to ashes and fights back a brewing downpour of hot tears. She chokes back the urge to break, focusing on the mirage of crimson swallowing up the days she yearns to forget. Like their last day at the beach together. When she’d noticed how his smile revealed two sets of dimples. Back when she’d savored every sweet word from his arrogant mouth until her stomach began to turn. As those silver linings burn, she can clearly see the purpose of those charming dimples. They were a mere distraction from the vacancy of his lifeless stare. By the end of the night, all that will be left is what she can live without. And as she steps away from the hearth, a slight grin will take shape on her lips.
Caitlin and I: An Imitation of “Borges and I” by Jorge Luis Borges
TW: Eating Disorder, Bulimia
I resent Caitlin for her name. It means pure, from the Gaelic, and she wears it like her Catholic school uniform. Tights, white collared polo, and a pleated skirt. I hate that skirt; the way Caitlin rolls it so that she doesn’t look like a prude but keeps it right above the knee so that she doesn’t look like a slut. I don’t believe in organized religion, but I find my body in a church when Caitlin decides, reciting random words until they sound like the gibberish of prayer.
I pick my cuticles until my skin rips and wear my hair in frizzy braids while Caitlin paints her nails in a French manicure and spends too much money on a haircut. She speaks to give correct answers and affirmations while my thoughts are held captive behind her lips, firmly pressed together, making them thin and pale. If I were to purge my opinions, would it feel just like the first time Caitlin tried to purge her dinner, a slight burning in the throat followed by short-lived satisfaction? See, she doesn’t always have control over my impulses. Our impulses. One day, I will slowly erode her from the inside out. There’s no reality in which purity exists, Caitlin.
The honey-colored highlights she got at seventeen have finally grown out. “Nothing gold can stay.” I read her that poem when she went to college and got a C in chemistry, no longer the honors student that Mommy likes to brag about. Her hair is darker now and some days it falls out in clumps in the shower, clogging the drain. She goes to sleep with it wet and cold on her pillow and doesn’t run a brush through it in the morning. She stops using her name.
Sarah McLaughlin ’23
On the couch, we talked about everything and nothing. A number of things I’d remember, and a number of things I already forget. The movie watched and other movies, the songs we heard and other music, the things we liked about our grandparents and the things we hated, how many of them were still alive, how many memories we had of them taking care of us in our childhoods, the earliest things we could remember, the things we tended to forget, the names and faces from our teenage years we already couldn’t place, what we thought the trajectory of the world might be, what our city might look like in five years, ten years, twenty, whether or not we’d ever want to go to space.
It amazed me how mundane conversations could be, and how easily they could become captivating. It scared me, too, how even in those mundane moments, my attention was captivated by the most unimaginative things, like the curve of her eyebrows, or the way she pronounced piano, or how the shadow above her collarbone changed shape as she shifted.
This was infatuation, I realized, in the hours I spent with her there. It wasn’t seeing someone as larger-than-life, as completely flawless, as the pinnacle of human beauty. It was noticing imperfections and being obsessed with them—not to fix them, like missing punctuation in an essay, but to notice them, understand them, commit them to memory. to see them not as flaws needing correction but as small pieces of a whole, to understand that whole as greater than the sum of its parts.
It wasn’t writing love songs and drawing hearts around their name, it was counting freckles and the ums between sentences.
AJ Worsley ’22
get down on your knees
rub your face across the grass
tickle your cheek with excitement,
you feel something.
drive to the water, one hand on the wheel, your other is holding on to life.
you haven’t felt alive in a minute.
the skylines reek of hope but you never drive there, you stay in your comfort zone because it’s easier to joke about yourself than to fix the things you joke about.
but you’re never actually joking are you?
you’re genuine. you’re hurtful. you’re hateful.
you’re a bad person, if not to anyone but yourself.
so grab a cloud and put it in your pocket,
save it for a rainy day when you can ride it like a wave.
climb a mountain and accept defeat.
close that social media app, you’re far too comfortable in your loneliness to be here.
break your rear view in the process of getting that mask on your face.
you don’t know where your soul is or where it belongs but right now it isn’t where it needs to be. you need a new spot. a new playlist. a new love.
you’re aware of the things that make you happy but you don’t grant yourself access to those things because you’ve convinced yourself you don’t deserve them.
kiss the grass and bite it. love the earth you’ve been given while you’re down there, but when you come up, climb that tree and look down on a world who has put you at the bottom of the list.
don’t expect to be others’ first choice when you can’t even put yourself first.
you are small and inconvenient. make mistakes and forgive yourself for them. don’t dwell. you aren’t here long enough to dwell.
let lightning scare you, and love that fear but don’t let it last forever.
so much world you want to see but you can’t even make it out of your own head.
it’s the window that reminds you of a portal. or the staircase that takes you from one life to another. the door. the change you seek but never acquire.
listen to your elders but never let them try to control you. shave your head if you’d like. identity is whatever you want it to be.
it’s hard to share your thoughts, your words that you hate, the creative vision in a world that’s already created your idea. you are not original. you are the first to ever put those words together.
the truth is, there are no rules so there cannot be a rule book. your God wants you to love, but if your God is dead then be your own God and remind those around you that life is constructed by something greater.
we don’t know what comes next so the present is not something to reject. modernity is a beast, let’s come together and put it on a leash.
death is far more feared than that lightning, but kiss the grass that grows in spring, and find comfort in the life that awaits you when the life leaves your body.
pass me the telescope dripping with nostalgia so i can watch her dancing on the moon from my car parked by the beach.
the seasons will always change. they did before your time and they will continue to after your time here. see the world. respect your God, deny tradition.
you have the time. you have the energy. you have the love. you have the life.
you tell me you couldn’t imagine your life without me,
i urge you to try a little harder.
Following Mother’s Path
by Taylor Rogers ’24
Wind playfully sways my fragile body, jokingly pushing me towards an unseeable path.
I refuse to acknowledge this pull, but I find myself unable to turn around.
Here is the place I feel the most serene, the most calm, since I know my demons can crawl into my bed at night.
But, they cannot climb up mountains.
Here, mother nature embraces me, her servants diligently marking my fated trail.
She provides me food, the small berries my sole fuel for conquering this peak.
The birds sing around me, their soothing voices reminding me that if I fall, they will alert mother.
I am a child, exploring her uncharted territory, and she wishes for me to do this safely.
Below my feet, the rocks shift, deciding to make my path slightly easier to trek, and I thank them as the terrain changes faster than I can blink.
Rushing water lazily falls to the left of me, the calming noise reassuring me that waking up at an ungodly hour was worth it.
No map guides me, as mother assures me that this is the right path, small leaves acting as her eccentric form of bread crumbs.
A nervous sun sneaks a brief peek at me before disappearing, afraid to ruin the surprise waiting for me at the summit.
Smiling, I decide to increase my pace, not wanting to keep mother waiting.
The animals around me cheer, as the trees step aside, letting me conquer this next challenge.
My tired body begins to ache, but I ignore this pain, as I know mother won’t appreciate me stopping during my hike.
“They’re here! Finally!”
A voice excitedly yells, motivating me to climb the last hill of this uncharted territory.
My two feet find a plateau and I look up, seeing the sun hand-in-hand with the hyperactive clouds.
“Welcome home, my sweet child.”
Mother calls out to me, reaching a calloused hand out to me.
With a smile on my face, I take her hand and leap from the mountain, joining my family in their state of bliss.
Who is Following Me?
by Mariela Flores ’23
There is someone following me.
I can hear their footsteps and the way that they mimic my own. Their smell is familiar and strong, and it makes me sick to my stomach. They follow me as I go left and right, they follow me as I step onto the bus and step off, and they follow me as I sit down.
I can hear my heartbeat and how it threatens to leap out of my chest. I stare at my nails, chipping away the polish. I want to look distracted and unaware
that there is someone following me.
I step off the bus and I can feel them smiling. Their presence envelops me, and my palms begin to sweat. I want to turn around, I want to scream and shout, but my words get stuck in the promise of asking for help.
My feet begin to tire as I walk as fast as I can; I want to run and move away, find somewhere safe to stay, but they will not leave me, no, they will not leave me.
Someone is following me as I enter my home.
They try so hard not to make it known, but my tears are welling up in my eyes and I begin to shake. As I walk into the bathroom, I fear I made a mistake.
Someone is following me as I step into the shower and I can hear them just beyond the curtain. They begin to laugh, and I begin to cry. There is nothing left to do but to face them and look them in the eyes.
I step out now, afraid of what I’ll see.
But I look into the mirror, and all I see is me.
by Connor Zimmerman ’20
Is it bad that I can feel the echoes of your sorrow coming off of you, as I glide over the scars on your arm? Is it bad that I can touch your distress as my fingers run through your hair? Is it bad that I can sense your anguish pulsing through your heart as our bodies become closer? Is it bad that I taste your regret as our lips slowly meet?
You are beautiful not in spite of all this…but
You have been cut, broken, and hurt…just like I have. You have a past that makes you want to scream and run…just like I want to do. You wear your feelings, the good, bad, and everything in between…just like I do. Your edges are jagged and rough…just like mine are.
You are beautiful not in spite of all this…but because
One of your exes fell in love with another girl, and even though he was honest he split your heart into two. Another once made you feel like you were less than you truly are, and while it eventually ended, your heart broke into four pieces. The next one said that you didn’t have any love left to give, and his words smashed the pieces of your heart into eight fragments.
You are beautiful not in spite of all this…but because of
Even with everything that you have been through, you still see past my flaws. You have taught me to feel again when I did not know if that was possible. You make me smile and laugh even when I believe the world is going to end. You listen to the songs, watch the movies, and read the books I like because you want to know more about me. You still have love to give, more than anyone I know.
You are beautiful not in spite of all this but because of it.
Christmas on 30 Laurie Lane
by Elizabeth McGinn ’21
Snow-roofed colonial revivals, nearly identical except for the colors; candles aglow in each window, welcoming wreaths on the door, twinkling lights hidden in the shrubbery. Walk inside any and there’s a familiar scene; a family gathered around the tree, plaid or snowman pajamas and fuzzy socks, hot chocolate—Peppermint Schnapps for the parents. Classic suburban New England Christmas.
But inside 30 is mine; brother, mother, and father. Only Mother knows what treasures lay underneath the tree. She smiles knowingly. For her, the joy is witnessing the unwrapping, seeing the excited expressions; she listened and found the perfect presents. Brother, older but none the wiser, aches to reach under the tree first; he rips apart the painstakingly wrapped paper while we watch. Grinning to his ears, he unveils exactly what he wanted. Father sips unsweetened coffee on the old cedar chair that does not match the sofa. Though the gifts surprise him too, he takes pride in how hard he works for his family, making this all possible. And me—I wait my turn, warmed by the fireplace and the kind of love that radiates on Christmas Day.
by Sarah Klema ’23 – Creative Writing Contest Winner
Exposure to the elements has worn it thin. Now fragmented, forgotten, it fights to be rediscovered.
Sulking at the bottom of the glassy rolling stream,
a treasure lies in patient wait.
Tarnished, wooden drawer knob of sorts, separated from its hollow body ages beyond telling––
antiquated. Curious thimble to behold, a shard of something unremarkable. Yet to my eye, it is as dear
as deep-sea pearl or silver doubloon.
Emanating an air of sad abandon, the knob’s story is untold. A pondering pity stirs in me. Whose hands,
long gone, once fumbled the knob? How came it off the drawer?
Now sheltered from the weather, it rests upon my bedroom shelf exuding a boastful sheen. Amongst my sea
of knickknacks, it counts itself most fair. Yet, nonetheless preserving that unadulterated charm
which first entranced my eyes.
What mysteries, deep, unspoken, lie beneath the knob’s dim surface, concealed by Time’s passing? Shall
I one day come to understand what makes it gleam so brightly, though all the polish is gone?