At a Reading by Pat Rosal

Hannah Rousselot ’14
SMITH COLLEGE, NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA

I drank her iced coffee
and knew I was in trouble.

I had already promised my heart
to a man who called me everything
my father didn’t.

I had never liked the taste of coffee before.
It had always reminded me of icy days,
watching my mother and father
argue over which one of them deserves
the most blame. That pungent smell
invaded the room and made me plug up my nose.
I locked up my eyes and concentrated
on my ears so all I could hear
was the microwave beep that meant
I could get my hot chocolate
and leave.

I had never liked the taste of coffee before,
but that day I willed myself to be brave.
Besides, your cerulean eyes
turned it into something
irresistible. I closed my eyes
and drank it, hoping it would kill
the child within me, so I never
have to hear her complaints again.

The new bitter taste
over-stimulated my mouth.
The icy flavor ran down me
and soothed my burning throat.

I drank your iced coffee.
But this, too, was not allowed.

Pat Rosal began to read, and I
handed her coffee back.

A Letter to the Voices in Your Head

Robyn Green ’16
SMITH COLLEGE, NORTHAMPTON, MASSACHUSETTS, USA

You become a woman the moment you understand that
Knowing you won’t care later, doesn’t make it hurt less now
A real woman won’t tiptoe through a minefield
But stomp triumphantly,
Uprooting grenades and hearts as she marches.

And if a blonde girl asks if your hair is fake,
Smile, and don’t swear under your breath as she walks away.
If she asks if black people blush, or get hickeys, don’t look away,
Even when your cheeks are burning.

For every time you were younger and looked at her tall pale frame,
Wishing your eyes had a little green to them too,
So they could also be uniquely olive,
Don’t look down.

When he comments earnestly on your irises,
How they’re not perfectly round,
But that’s what makes them charming,
Keep eye contact.

Please know that nothing is really perfectly round anyways.

When you miss a step on the second floor stairs in front of Daniel Cusack,
Don’t turn red.
If he makes fun of you for it later and you get upset,
Stop taking yourself so seriously.
You’ve rode this ride before and know where all the loops are.
And I heard God saves the sinners too,
So pick two bluebonnets and run through that park after midnight with that boy.
Morning, and your mother will be there eventually,
Both equally disappointed in you.

There will be moments that will shake all the money out of your pockets,
Bully your brain into thinking life will always be like high school,
Do not believe them,

When you learn the five keys to happiness from your painting teacher,
Write it all, don’t look down.
He will say, I’ve got some advice you’re gunna need.
Actively seek out these five things in your life,
Chase the wild laughter of happiness as it whistles away in the trees.
Do not turn red at the prospect of being happy, not even for a second.

He will say, 1. Meaningful Employment
When you love what you do, and you can support yourself off it,
Take pride and drudge the leftover receipts in car-a-mel
To soak up the debts you will accumulate from shoes.
Do not look down when your boss yells at you,
But look her right in the eyes, answer calmly.

He’ll say 2. Good health
This means honey,
Sleep in,
Be thankful you have your two good hands and a heart that beats,
And don’t ever let Daniel Cusack break it.

3. Valuable friendships,
Occurring only when
When you invest your time in people who don’t play it cautious
When you love those who will hold laughter in higher regard
Than the price of the shirt on your back,
Give ‘em all you got.

Please 4. Don’t live beyond your means
money isn’t something to chase,
It will not soothe you,
It will not lock your uncertainties in the basement and bolt the double-doors.
They will keep pounding out tones on your structure until your house grows woozy.
Until you’re weak from all the worry.

But 5. Reciprocated love
Someone giving you their hand,
Their reassurance not of forever, but for as long as they can,

This happiness is something to chase
Not the blonde girl,
Not Daniel
When you see them,
Don’t turn red,
Do not look down.

Just swear under your breath a little and smile.

Honey, God loves the sinners too.