You left at dawn so they mistook you for time

Emily Judkins

Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

kneel into the knell shaped out of salable 

solipsism, the mimicry bells emerging with ersatz 

emergency melted into tolls in tombs and tolls, 

tolling up the toiling sounds of telling peace 

but piercing ears, all cracked crooked cosmetology of cosmogony of

spreading all the sound that fit into the

dark sun of preeminence, of how little permanence

can permeate in this permissiveness of light, how 

permissible missed notes can be when Your body 

is the universe and You swing between untenable winds

touched by never being and holding all this Tenderness as

You let it all ring out, ringing around the roses as 

wilting waits for the embodiment of all of You to shutter out of

opuses and into the final forgiveness, the dipping moonlight,

Your graceless hand grinning as You paint over the shadows

with the Earth’s own speckled star, where all that is left to teach

is “this is how you return your legs to bend without warship.

and this is how you

return to the stars. and this is how you return home,” before pealing back into laughter back into the

universe, where 

death cannot be disgraced in church bells any longer, but instead

kneels in the tintinnabulation of Your tinny fairies, these tiny

Thanatoses carrying you off into the wind, as all the people emerge

running out dreams to rub out of their eyes as they’re gulping in

Your air without care, miming out their time, and this is how i

make my faith, how i piece my daybreak back together, how i

know You are already everywhere, not making a scene but

becoming it.

The Truant

Jane Brinkley
Smith College Northampton, MA

With a tower of seabirds that coughed in tandem, the trudging ferryboats rang in the New
Moon. Heaped up with green fish whose unlatched jaws winked in the bright air, the sailors bent
over at the waist and rested ashore. Their skin, slapped up by the heat, shone with that Saturnine
yellow stuff that bellowed off the fish piles like a heavy shroud. I watched as the torsos curled
into the earth, their loads cascading into one of seven enormous leaden troughs on those banks.
The first men, relieved of their duties, sprinted toward the white oasis tent, stripping themselves
of their shirts and masks which snapped and curled in the wind. The shore teamed with the hot
odor of work. The first rain came, and the men gave thanks to God.


When I was fifteen and an outlaw, I used to sneak past my mother’s room on curled toes to
witness this return. Far off to the South, the broad mountains braided into the sky, to the North a
beggar’s platoon approached. Were it night, a stranger might mistake the barges for a solar
system– an entire golden litter of stars tossing its constituents into the dark. Now that you
mention it, I’d be inclined to say that I spent most moons like that– prostrate on the chin of some
great water tower to hunkered down in a cold chimney, pressing the palms of my hands to my
gripping surface so that the shiny redness was easier to hide come breakfast the next morning. I
languished on those moments like a wilting grape.


How do I describe this place? It isn’t beautiful, though it is ours, you see, and in plain
terms it amounts to no more than a few spherical crofts and lean-tos snuggled in the belly of a
hill. In a standard unit, the lower hemisphere draws up water from the soil and filters it, sending
it through a great arm that obeys invisible commands and turning it into steam power. We sleep
above, and sometimes on stormy nights there are big gaseous waves that crest over the glass
bubble, and in the morning it is green and dusty. If at some point the structure kept smogs away, I
don’t really recall, being too young and so on. As it is, we’ve made a habit of wetting towels to
stitch at the place where the wall meets the floor, as well as the exit. We get fat on fish skins in
the winter and we are very grateful for what remains of our planet.


Maybe you, like I, marshaled the terror of your childhood in a paddock called stories. If it
wasn’t the new testaments with their tungsten spines it was kid’s books set in cardboard shells
about pirates and royalty. I liked to sit with my back flat against the floor, my heels meeting the
glass ceiling, and behold the images of children whose faces and bodies looked much like mine.
When the harvest season crowned my house with restive festivity I’d risk a sheepish “could we
read this” at the dinner table, barely containing my joy at the deliciousness of the little private
moments that followed, the glittering fauna and rusty ghost towns and babies with fresh bottles
to drink from. Night fell.


If there was any question of my fitness for the moon journeys I thwarted it when I betrayed
my interest in stories to the committee. In a grey room, just a few paces long and weathered by
sand, I was told that the trip was beyond my bumbling snatches of masculine ability. The fishing
grounds lay at the foot of the Tumults, they said, where danger lies. It is not a job for those
citizens amongst us whose wills are weak. It is at this juncture that I mention the Tumults for the
first time, for because historians might herald them as the defining character of this time I have a
larger place in my heart for other parts of this particular story. Should you want to see them for
yourself, you’d need only paddle a pirogue for six or seven hours until you felt the fabric of your
clothing lift from your skin and your face felt smoother. Only at this point would your eyes begin
to pick out the shapes from the fog, and you might guess that you’re looking at a vast bed of
needles, infinite in number and staggeringly large. Your gambit would be to stay as far from the
foot of this needle-bed as possible while still encroaching on the cobalt atoll that houses the fish,
for if you were to venture too far, you’d succumb to whatever was lurking therein. Of course,
none of this was of any concern to me. I nodded and struck out home to count down the days
until thirty again.


There is something I have neglected to tell you about my home. Though I find myself
generally honest, this piece is a thorn in my side and I fear for my life to admit it. For although I
spoke of books like benign instruments of pleasure, there was one story that made in me a divine
rapture from which I’ve never quite awaken. One afternoon while everyone was sleeping, I
found a volume in a hidden station of my father’s bookshelf. Its jacket was stiff and rough to the
touch, but its pages were as thin as lamb’s skin and porous from age. It told the story of a man in
a place called Athens who entered a maze made of towering matter who, upon losing his way,
fell into a fit of hallucination and saw a horned beast. I say it here in secret, though perhaps you
have already made the inference that it has taken me all these years to come to. I know that the
island, the one written about in a 1955 almanac of ancient mythos, is the very same one that
bears us fish– I know that, many thousands of years before these Greeks, some powerful empire
snuffed out the embarrassing chemical byproduct of its labor in this massive grave, and tried to
hide it so that no student of this “labyrinth” would discover it. Many must have tried and failed,
my friend, because the men who leave the tumults stink of a foreign poison and dream of
monsters, still.

Prism People

Emma O’Neill-Dietel

Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

When did this ocean become a fishbowl?

I didn’t notice the glass around me until it started pressing in 

The bad thing about glass is that it’s breakable

I tried standing in the center, pulling in my limbs

I didn’t notice the glass around me until it started pressing in 

I pushed against it, hoping it would give way

I tried standing in the center, pulling in my limbs

The good thing about glass is that it’s breakable

I pushed against it, hoping it would give way

The pressure proved too strong, so I punched from within

The good thing about glass is that it’s breakable

As the fishbowl shattered I reached out both hands

The pressure proved too strong, so I punched from within

I found myself ankle-deep in the ocean, broken shards floating around me

As the fishbowl shattered I reached out both hands

The unbroken line of the horizon revealed I was alone

I found myself ankle-deep in the ocean, broken shards floating around me

All there was to hold onto was my own form

The unbroken line of the horizon revealed I was alone

I followed the water trickling down the lines of my body into the shallows

All there was to hold onto was my own form

The water that had covered me was slowly making me anew

I followed the water trickling down the lines of my body into the shallows

What I had assumed was broken glass wasn’t sharp at all

The water that had covered me was slowly making me anew

The shallows thrummed with life, tiny creatures growing and shifting

What I had assumed was broken glass wasn’t sharp at all

The creatures glowed in the sunlight, colors changing like prisms

The shallows thrummed with life, tiny creatures growing and shifting

Each time the movement seemed to still, a ripple sent the world into motion again

The creatures glowed in the sunlight, colors changing like prisms

I looked at my feet and witnessed my own transformation

 

Each time the movement seemed to still, a ripple sent the world into motion again

The creatures expanded around me, refracting light in every direction 

I looked at my feet and witnessed my own transformation

When I looked up from myself, I saw I was no longer alone

The creatures expanded around me, refracting light in every direction 

The shallows were full of prism-people, weaving color from light and water

When I looked up from myself, I saw I was no longer alone

I was a prism-person too

The shallows were full of prism-people, weaving color from light and water

The good thing about glass is that it’s breakable

I am a prism-person too

Love Letter to Myself

Isadora Kianovsky
Smith College, Northampton, MA

Tell me when you realized you were beautiful. 

Was it when you spent a summer morning lying in the grass? Bees buzzed around your head, thinking you a flower from the vibrant hues of your shirt and the floral perfume you decided to roll onto your wrists that morning. Your eyes glazed over while staring into the depth of the bluest sky you’d ever seen. You nestled into the grass like you belonged there, the damp dirt cold on your skin. The breeze rustled through your clothes and turned them into wings, and you thought that you could fly, if you wanted to. 

Or was it that autumn afternoon during the first few days of school, when you sat outside with your friends during lunch? None of the teachers had assigned homework yet, so your lunch hour was just for you. Sitting in a circle, surrounded by the kind of friends you never thought you’d have, you couldn’t help but smile. You smiled so much your cheeks hurt. Everything was silly jokes and pasta out of tupperware and picking at the grass until your fingertips were stained green. You laid down for a moment, staring up at the swaying trees that stood tall on the front lawn, and wondered if you’d ever felt more grown-up. 

Maybe it was in winter. You stood out in the falling snow, feeling the flakes settle on your eyelashes and adorn your messy hair. You looked like some kind of majestic figure, you thought. Divine and graceful. The snow drifted peacefully for a while and then gained speed, swirling rapidly in all directions. The once soft flakes now whipped wildly at your skin like tiny, frozen blades. Eventually you ran inside and began stripping off your boots and jacket, leaving morsels of packed snow all over the wooden floor. The heat of the house made your fingers and toes go numb, and you felt the pink rising in your cheeks. You made your way to the kitchen, grabbing the milk and your favorite mug, already tasting the sweet hot cocoa on your tongue. 

But perhaps it was in spring, one of those golden evenings where your hair glowed auburn and the scent of sweet flowers wafted around you. The air sat atop your skin like a gentle blanket, just enough pressure to feel like a hug. As days melted into liminal stretches of time where nothing mattered, you felt your soul expand into your whole chest because the world was yours for a little while. You sipped on iced chai and admired the specks of white and yellow and violet that peppered the lawns. Everything seemed so soft, so young. Honey-colored shadows rolled along the walls of buildings, and the sunset turned the clouds pink, and you felt welcome in your body. 

To me, you have been beautiful in every moment. I just didn’t know how to tell you. 

March

Sophie Jones

Northampton, Massachusetts, USA

March, it is a final kiss,

a one-embrace goodbye, 

April finds dry dessert,

sun much too hot to cry. 

May it comes so quickly, 

it’s end a lonely sigh, 

June welcomes me 

with greenery 

against the smiling sky. 

July ale sloshes from a cup, 

I recognize the trace,

August sweat and cigarettes

from that circle-tabled place. 

September is the little dog

With ears of velvet lace,

October falls

As creatures crawl 

leaves die anew with grace. 

November cries for summer doves,

I fear they’ve long since flown,

December hungers for a flame, 

Sets it deep within my bones. 

January strums and sings

with a love I’ve never known,

February weeps

as sunlight creeps

and melts away the snow.

And once again the month of March 

Assumes its wild procession, 

for this past year 

I’ll shed a tear

when the world begins to freshen. 

Phantoms on a Forever Road

Serena Keenan

Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

She sat in the passenger’s seat of the car, feet propped on the dashboard, all sunshine orange and summer regret. Lazily shifting her head to the right, she moved her hand to brush a long strand of hair out of the other girl’s face as she drove, the wind whipping through the convertible on the freeway. “I think we should make a stop soon,” she said, drowned out partially in the chaos, which she supposed was fitting for the two of them, speeding on the open road like a teenage dream. 

“Okay,” the other girl mouthed, red lips parting and then closing, the sound eaten greedily by the wind. She tapped her head softly to the music they couldn’t hear anymore, the ghost of a rhythm still haunting through the steering wheel. 

It was summer and it was not summer, the sunshine still here but the forgiveness gone. It was liminal now, just the two of them, but in theory they were infinite, phantoms on a forever road. 

In reality, she didn’t want to stop. Out here they were just Lila and her, red and orange, and out there they were anything but. Forever isn’t really forever, though, even in this stretch of road down the Midwest, because sometime they have to find the East, no matter how hard they tried not to. Maybe if they stopped somewhere first it would last longer, this honeymoon period of the suspension of disbelief.  

“I think I love you,” she said, and it’s over. 

“Yeah,” the other girl said quietly. She did not look away from the road, but her fingers on the steering wheel shook. “I don’t think I can answer you here.” 

Why not, she screamed, why can’t it be here, the only place we ever exist. Why not here, where I love you without anything, where I love you uncontrollably. Why not forever, out here, where we last until the ocean. 

“Okay,” she responded, fingering the necklace on her swollen throat, and they were quiet for a long time. 

They eventually pulled off the road where there is nothing except a diner with a name they’ll never remember. Inside, they sat down, neon lights flashing, facing each other in a worn down booth with stuffing sticking out of the vinyl. 

Lila, with her red hair and her almond eyes, faced her, looking both lost and found, alone and together. 

“Can you answer here?” She choked out, barely audible, legs wrapped around each other under the table. 

Lila closed her eyes, her beautiful big eyes, and said nothing. She inhaled slightly, holding on as if she were savoring it, as if this last breath would end her completely. “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can answer anywhere.”

In this truth, this ultimate, painful truth, she felt the break most completely. It was more real here where she was herself, where Lila was Lila, where they were meant to be forever, or until the East and its sun swallow them whole. It hurts less later, as most things do, but when has that ever mattered?

“Okay,” she said, and she ordered a milkshake. 

Lila ordered a strawberry one, and everything about her was red, red, red. Red like hearts and red like blood, like heartbreak and stop, like berries and like bricks. Red like cherries, red like love, red like everything in sight, everything that will ever matter. Red like forever. 

After a while they leave. It has been quiet, conversation not quite gone but not quite needed. Lila handed her the keys and they switched places, she propped her boots up on the airbag like a mirror image of three hours ago, hands on the steering wheel but her nails were orange. 

Lila turned up the radio a bit louder, but she couldn’t find anything except 70s music, the kind that makes the world seem a little bigger, a little less connected, and a little more free. 

In this space, the red gold desert, the plain wheat fields, there was no one for miles. Being the last person on the planet would be lonely, like blue. Blue for the ocean and blue for the end.

The heat bore down on them and Lila put her hair up before looking over at her and then softly trailing her fingers down the side of the other girl’s hand that was resting on the compartment in between their seats. 

Lila sighed, and slid her round sunglasses from her forehead to the bridge of her nose and she leaned her head back, slipping her fingers in between the other girl’s. 

They kept driving, Lila singing the words to the songs under her breath, and she remembered when they could talk through the silence. Before her and Lila were this, whatever it was, before they were infinite. Those girls might still be inside, but there is only so much you can go through with another person without it changing you. 

They still spoke, though. It’s just a little harder now, with this great beast of heartbreak in between them. 

She supposed that they were never meant to last. They were and they weren’t, their names spelled out forever in this car and on this road, but never inside a house or in a mouth. Secret, forever. A secret between two people and a car, two people and two graves. 

So soon, too soon, they were under the gray sky, still in hot desert but outside the houses. They were out of place now, somehow. Lila used both of her hands to pull her ponytail out, and left them both quietly in her lap, her form of soft shade. 

She sighed and it’s over, pulling up in front of a blue house with white trim and a white fence. She switched the car into park, the click of the transmission echoing forever and ever and ever. 

Lila turned to her, mouth pursed, hands shaking as she quickly squeezed her hand. “Goodbye,” she said like a promise.

“Goodbye, Lila,” she said softly, mouth full of cotton, and it’s all she could see. 

Lila, slightly taken aback at hearing her name, looked over her shoulder, not entirely out of the car. Opening her mouth only to close it again, she nodded before subconsciously tugging at the hem of her yellow shirt. “Yeah,” she said. “Goodbye.” 

Lila, in all of her warm glory, walked into the blue house like a funeral.

She drove away.  

Pomegranate Seeds/Litany for a Body

Kenzie Hampton

Hollins University, Hollins, USA

I.

the juice of the pomegranate 

stains my fingertips

like the blood of my 

mother’s womb stained

the sterile white 

hospital grade bed sheets

on a crisp november afternoon

almost twenty years ago

II. 

only six seeds and

demeter weeps for her daughter

III.

body full of vacancies of collapsed heart of broken lungs 

body full of girlhood altered and misunderstood 

body full of sweet sticky fruit juice metaphor gentle pink tongue 

on stained fingertip licking off the metaphor

body full of baby blue sidewalk chalk powdered

body full of goodbye mother

body full of chewed up swallowed soggy red rose petals 

blackening at the edges

IV.

there is sin somewhere 

inside this pomegranate

and i want to reclaim it

persephone warns me

i hear her voice in echo

do not eat from the palm

of the underworld

if you’re not prepared to stay

V.

hades is watching

i am careful not to drop

a single seed

VI.

body full of moldy pomegranate and crystallized honey

(persephone scolds me)

body full of bones splintered in an ugly stomach protruding 

body full of glass shards with edges like clouds breathe in 

breathe out inhale heaven

body full of hades and bad ideas and exactly six pomegranate seeds

body full of oak tree limbs growing into a ribcage of flowers 

forgotten to flee to the underworld

sometimes nothing but a body full of potential

VII.

persephone, hear this —

my mother, too, helped create the seasons

tell demeter we’re all coming home

Banana Bread

Lola Anaya
Smith College, Northampton, USA

mix the wet and dry ingredients separately
flour, baking soda, a pinch of salt
eggs, brown sugar, butter
bananas
let’s go bananas
mash the bananas
mash away uncertainty, find clarity
blend together the pieces of you
ingredients to make a reflection
rebel rebel goes bananas
boy or girl? no matter, just batter
fold it all together
in a big bowl
maybe add some cinnamon to taste
or walnuts for crunch
add a smile and do not pick your acne
do not
don’t
okay maybe just once
you say that every time
anyway back to your regularly scheduled baking
put it in the oven, tucked away in the heat
just wait
it will rise

Rambling

Sijia Ma

Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA

I took a self-portrait in the swimming pool where I once drowned, the place where I once dieted, and the corner where I once dreamed. My ongoing series titled Rambling, documented my childhood experience of drowning, encompassed by nightmares and fear. I hope to unravel the contemporary mental health crises, diet culture, and social media isolations by re-situating myself in various settings. From droning, dieting, scanning, and alternatively dreaming, I regard those self-portraits as a process of searching through my identities. From frame to frame, I feel empowered as I sewed pieces of my personality to every Image I make. Through the process, I was able to confront my deepest fear and justifies its value.

Ephemeroptera: Rising for a Single Day

Abigail Dustin
Smith College, Northampton, USA

9 x 12, Acrylic, 2020.
Mayflies, of the order Ephemeroptera, hatch from their nymphal form to live as flying adults for but a day. Their whimsical appearance, ecological significance, and starkly transient lives make them popular among artists and naturalists alike. To me, they serve as a reminder of the inherent significance and beauty in rising to meet each day.

From Northampton to Philly, With Love (And Yeast)

Emma O’Neill-Dietel
Smith College, Northampton, USA

i. state street

Most people don’t keep yeast packets in the ashtray of their Honda Odyssey, but on the day my dad came to bring me home there they were, wedged between his Swiss Army Knife and a pile of parking meter quarters. He had called me when he was a few minutes away to tell me that he had to stop at the store first to see if they had any yeast left.

“Are you making bread when we get home?” I asked. It seemed like the strangest thing to do at the moment, but within a few days it would seem that everyone I knew was baking bread. My dad explained that we were flat out of yeast and it was apparently nowhere to be found in the entire city of Philadelphia. So while he had come up north to take me home, his equally important mission was to secure some yeast. He grumbled at the amateur bread bakers-to-be who had pillaged BJs and Trader Joe’s of their yeast supply ahead of the impending apocalypse. But fortunately there was a bountiful yeast supply at State Street Fruit Store, thanks to the year-round population of professional bread-baking lesbians inhabiting Northampton.

When my dad picked me up, I stared at the yeast as we drove out of the parking lot and past State Street. The little packet had the same color scheme and bold font as a 5-Hour Energy bottle. I would have mistaken it for medicine or chemicals if I didn’t know better. The packet screamed “FLEISCHMANN’S RAPID RISE INSTANT YEAST – FAST ACTING.” It made me uneasy. I don’t know where I thought yeast came from before that day. I think I always pictured it in an old jelly jar on a grandmother’s pantry shelf. I turned one of the packets over in my hand, trying to feel the contents through the glossy exterior. My hands were shaking, so I put it down and closed my eyes.

ii. hungry ghost

On the edge of town we stopped at a gas station and my dad tried to coax me to eat something for the first time in days. He presented me with juice, cheese, chips, pretzels, until finally he pulled out a massive paper bag from Hungry Ghost, our favorite bakery in town. I could smell the fresh bread before he opened it, and all of a sudden I was hungry again.

He launched into his customary presentation of the bag’s contents. He took pride in listing off food items, whether he had bought them or made them, whenever our family was together.

“You’ll see in there I bought some muffins, they’re cranberry and pecan, and there’s a danish too. There’s a loaf of rye, and another one, I’m not sure what that is, it might be a—” I took the bag out of his hands and unfurled the top. I tore into the first loaf I found at the top of the bag. I heard the clunk of my dad slicing a block of grocery store cheddar with his Swiss Army Knife on the center console. As fast as I could eat the bread, he was supplying me with slices of cheese to eat with it. I tore off chunks of bread with an urgency that left me covered with crumbs for the rest of the drive.

As I ate, I remembered a book I had read as a child, in which a girl uses what little money she has to buy bread for a starving woman and child on the street. As a child I imagined the famished woman eating a loaf of Wonder Bread, bleached and spongey and flavorless. I didn’t understand why the people in the story treated the bread like a decadent cake. But sitting in my dad’s Honda in the gas station parking lot, I understood that good bread, especially shared with someone you love, was nothing short of life-affirming.   

When we got home, my dad stashed his yeast packets away. We had little need for home-baked bread. Like my dad and his yeast, I squirreled away the bread he had brought back from Hungry Ghost. I ate slices of bread with cheese or jam or butter or just plain and toasted. I worried it would go stale, yet each day I made my slices thinner and thinner so it would last. There wasn’t much use in trying to slow myself down though. I ate that fleeting tie to my life before like it was air.

iii. sarcone’s

In my family, no one really reached the bread-baking stage of quarantine, despite my dad’s abundance of yeast. Spirits were so low in our house that even bread dough wouldn’t have been able to rise. My dad made frequent trips to Sarcone’s, our local bakery, just to have something to do. He knew without asking to buy me the little fist-sized dinner rolls and the pepperoni bread that I had loved since I could chew. I sat out on our deck with him, me with my bread and a podcast, and him with his bread and an adventure novel. I don’t know if my dad understands the way my stomach turns when I’m anxious, but he knows my favorite bread, and most of the time that’s enough.

Musings on Two Women’s Bodies

Mariana Middents
Cottey College, Missouri, USA


“Musings on Two Women’s Bodies” compares the bodies of a young love interest and a donated cadaver dissected in a lab. The poem highlights the similarities and differences in a dead body and a living one, and showcases the ways in which the physical form is beautiful both during and after life.

Yesterday I heard the unmistakable sound of hemostat tapping on bone – 

The spinous process of a cervical vertebra of a woman we have named Doris.

The professor’s smart rapping on the back of a dead woman’s vertebra

Telling us, yes, we had uncovered bone

Through motions of a scalpel that removed muscle in such a way that I was reminded

Of pulled pork sandwiches and the laughter of a younger time.

Yesterday you were beautiful – 

That moment you fluttered down to the bottom of the deep end and touched the textured floor,

Two graves deep.

And you were beautiful when your toes gripped the bottom and your knees bent and your thighs flexed

To propel you back to me.

You were beautiful when you broke the surface with one arm outstretched

And gasped in a lungful of air and panted as you pulled your goggles off your face.

Everything about you is beautiful,

Even the alien rings your goggles left behind,

And even your tangled mess of hair when you wrestle the swim cap off to let the pink dye breathe,

And even your crisscrossed lines of pale skin on tan feet because you wear sandals into December.

And you. 

You are beautiful, 

Even when you dive to the bottom and I watch you from under the chlorine surface,

But I can’t bring myself to join you there.

The human form was something I appreciated from afar –

Something I pondered in museums

And chased alone in my bed at night.

But the bodies of women were something I never had the freedom to explore

Until I spent three hours each Thursday in a tiny lab,

Crowded around a woman who wasn’t named Doris in life.

Skin of the shoulder is thick, but skin of the upper back is thin.

I haven’t felt it warm,

But the papery skin of ankles and feet slips from its attachments

To adipose and to vessels that criss-cross her foot

Like the straps of sandals she doesn’t wear anymore.

Her thighs have softened in old age, 

And I have seen the evidence of this,

Removed layers of fat from her and placed it in labeled bags

Like gifts to be kept safe in a padlocked freezer.

I have seen the nerves that wind from the cervical vertebrae into the brain,

And all I can think about is touching you there – 

On the back of your neck, 

Sending shivers that echo into your toes.

I have felt the skin wrinkle, tug, thicken,

And all I can imagine is discovering the skin on your body – 

Perhaps you would be laid out as she is,

While I touched you.

I have seen the inside of the second middle phalange after an electric bone saw’s slice,

And all I can picture is your hands – 

Reaching towards the surface of the water,

Reaching towards me as I mirror you,

But never touching.

Where I’m From

By: Andreea-Bianca Morecut

Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, United States

 

i am from sea and mountains and plains

and hills

i am from the weeping willow with its swinging tears from the warm, honeyed tea

and the ginger-mint lemonade

i am from beautiful landscapes

and cozy interiors

with fireplaces, porch swings

and soft classic rock notes sinking in the background

from the cautious sounds

of fingers flying across a keyboard

or the turn of the page, in which my whole universe lied

i am from the wind in the trees

and a full view of the milky way in the night sky

from day hikes and night camps

and picking mushrooms in the forests

i am from the fresh, cold smell of nature

and of the freshly baked bread

i am from the city, the hustle and bustle

of crowded trains and early school mornings

from cozy cafes

and silent libraries

i am from an ever busy city center

and a driven friend group

from weekly musings on philosophy, politics, and principles and heated debates about TV shows

from the silent nights in my room, alone

to outings with friends or game nights with my baby brother i am from rushed outings for bubble tea and sushi

and always sprinting home because of my curfew

from hurried writing sessions

and late-night reading ones

i am from the feeling of the book in my hand

and the wandering hands across the spines in my bookshelf the gentle, warm feeling of belonging 

 

I Miss the Stars

By: Andreea-Bianca Morecut

Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, United States

 

i miss the stars

the night sky, riddled with glittering jewels

the wishes of children

and prayers of elders

i miss looking up, just two hours out of town

and not being able to see one truly dark spot in the sky

i miss the carelessly drawn swipe of watercolour

dashing across the sky

and using some no-name app on my dad’s phone

to find the names of constellations

at the side of my lil brother

“uite acolo! nu, acolo! cum de nu vezi?”

were nights spent out camping

in the fields

with spring water and running skies

i miss being able to see the sky moving

together with the earth

in a menacing swirl of no pollution and cutting, cold night air

feeling small and, at the same time, meaningful

i would sacrifice hot showers for the trip

all over again

who needs running water when you have 5-litre water bottles?

vorbind de dusuri

imi e dor de dusurile de stele cazatoare

si simplul act de uitat in sus si vazut un univers… mai multe? n-as putea zice i miss making up new constellations

and ‘that’s a shopping cart, not a bear’

and wondering what the night sky looks like someplace else

imi este dor de cerul de acasa

and it’s the first thing i’ll get a glimpse at

once i’m back 

 

Pistachio

By: Eliza Siegel

Barnard College, New York City, United States

 

in my empty summer bedroom

 

dreaming in blue

 

I cradle my stomach,  a hollow cavern

from which I cannot see the sky

 

seeking pleasure, or something stronger

than pleasure, I switch the fan on,

 

am hit not

with air but

                dust

 

tonight the house is damp with a desire affixed

 

to nothing.

I converse with the silence,

 

scratch my skin as if

to wriggle out,

 

I long to escape the butter-lamplight that

casts my freckles as frenzied ants

 

and mottles the bruises

madly dancing

down my calf

 

coalescing in a peninsular shadow

before scattering again, undone

 

how can I cry out when my mouth is full of moths?

 

stifled, giving in to the ecstasy of gnats

cresting my head

 

I forget I am alone,

cradled by a swarm of ghosts

 

quiet is unhooking each vertebra from the next

before sinking into bed. 

 

Where I Am From

By Peris Mwangi

Smith College

I am from the brick and tin-roofed house 

From the thickly carpeted living room floor

I am from the cold, red concrete floor of my bedroom 

From the soapy water and scented cleaning detergent

I am from the ancient creaky oakwood bed

From the possession of a duvet I’ve adored for years

I am from the tiny framed portraits hanging from my wall

From the 14-year-old picture album of my family on my dresser

I am from the pictures of daddy’s well-combed afro 

From mummy’s loosely fitting bell-bottoms

I am from the childhood memories of weekends spent at public parks 

From the lakeside camps and bonfires and road trips

I am from the evening painting lessons with mama 

From the sum solving sessions with daddy

I am from the pillow fights and real fights with my sisters 

From the nights we fell asleep in each other’s arms

I am from the dim lights at the fireplace 

From the bright light at my study table

I am from the big bowls of soup and potatoes at dinner 

From the house where candy and cookies are forbidden

 

But now I’m here. 

 

Home

By: Malaika Kironde

Smith College, Northampton, MA, United States

 

I am from cement floors,

From vast spaces of farmland

And packed, stuffy traffic.

 

I am from goats and cows that roam where their ropes allow them to go,

And chickens that roam freely.

 

I am from kungu FM,

The station that is the primary source of news, gospel and local hits.

 

I am from meat that boils from dawn to noon,

And smells up the whole house.

How else would we make it soft?

 

I am from jiko’s and sigiri’s,

From food flavoured in banana leaves:

matooke nne ebigendareko.

I am from a dining table that is never big enough.

 

I am from gomesi’s, muchanana’s and kanzu’s.

 

I am from the heat.

I was born there and would like to die there.

 

I am from distant relatives, who I seldom know,

And functions that I always go.

 

I am from feeding the goats,

Putting down the mosquito nets,

And boiling water to bathe.

 

From the fresh air, but also the polluted air,

From the view of the lake that provides us with fresh fish.

 

I am from fighting over who eats the eye,

And buying nsenene by the road side.

 

I am from family and love.

Factory on Grove Street

By: Gabriella Tucciarone
Smith College, Northampton MA, USA

A red, bumpy, peeling-paint kind of factory.
The windows at night peek on the empty streets.
The light from the furnace in the factory flows into the road
Reaching the end by the bridge, where the light eagerly tries to climb.
On cold nights, the light shivers in the wind and hops within itself for a little warmth.

One particularly cold night, the old and stern furnace was mad with craving, and it began to eat itself.
As I was en route for home, I saw this old and nervous building begin to taste itself.
The flames licked the inside walls.
The windows clouded with smoke; they no longer peeked for empty night-time walkers.
Slowly, the flames ate the ivy that clung like veins.
The leaves on the ivy exploded like capillaries,
Into small bombs of ember that left small stains of ash on the sidewalk.
The furnace belched a giant puff of smoke as the roof was catapulted into the sky.

I noticed that the entire building was winking as it collapsed onto itself.
The wooden frames were shaking as its knee started to give.
The building had started bowing, and dipped down to bid me farewell.
As I put my hat on and walked away, I looked back at the trembling turmoil of a once great building and dear friend.