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For this year's Editor’s Prize, we asked students to respond to the question: “What does it mean to heal, and when, if ever, is the process complete?” Winners were selected in the categories of prose, poetry, and visual art. 



We Picked the Daffodils

Kasie Leung '23

We play at the train tracks sometimes. Down by the beach, where the Amtrak meets the Coaster.

We pick the daffodils and draw hearts in the sand. I dare her to tape coins to the rails where the rumble of

the trains flatten the penny back into copper. Once the train passes, she’ll run and fetch it, showing off her

little treasure to the world.

I don’t know how the hell my sister is this way, how one moment, she kicks up sand when she

runs and doodles up and down her arms (future tattoos) and the next, she locks that all away for cardigans

and obedient nods and honor roll certificates and smiling. Always the smiling. She slides between two

smiles more fluidly than mercury: the tight-lipped and pristine and the wide and beautiful.




We go down to the beach to get away from it all, slamming doors and shattered plates and rising

shrieks. We invent after-school debate practices and orchestra rehearsals to slip away before we have to

return home to the house. We lie in the sand, just talking for hours. Our speech becomes slow and slurred

as the sun sets, careless murmurs rising up to where the fireflies are. Still, no matter how much I let my

guard down, I never broach the subject of Mother.




One day, we come home too late, past when any reasonable teacher would keep their students. At

first I lie to take the fall, because I am the older sister and it’s my job to protect her. “Oh, Mr. Richardson

kept me late for some paperwork. It wasn’t her fault at all, and I’m sorry we’re late.”

She clicks her tongue warningly. “Remember honey, we don’t tolerate liars in this household.” I

almost snort; for once she isn’t wrong about me lying.

“I’m sorry,” I dip my head, making a big production of it, “I stayed late to talk to some friends.

I’m so sorry and I promise it won’t happen again.” I can’t stand this, how cowed and submissive I am — I

wonder how she can.

“That’s better,” she says with a bright smile, “knees and ears.” I drop to my knees and stretch out

my ears. “I’m sorry,” I bite out. Then again. And again, until it becomes a part of my pulse. It’s a familiar

ritual by now. The “sorrys” stretch out like hills until I can’t see where they end or where they go. I’m not

sure who I’m apologizing to. It’s certainly not to Mother, but maybe it’s to us — how sorry I am that we

have to live like this, stretching and smiling and pretending — until I see her just standing there with that

careful smile pasted on her face. Lord, how I wish she would intervene, ask Mother to end my

humiliation. In her silence, she has traded me in for her own survival, and I can only resent her a little bit

for that.

After God only knows how many times, she tells me to get up. Tells me that I won’t be having

dinner tonight, and it’d do me a world of good to lose an inch or two off my waistline anyway. Tells me to

think of my sister as if thinking of her didn’t get me here in the first place. I look over and I see her

standing, silent, smiling.




The beach is our refuge, our sanctuary — or maybe mine, because she doesn’t seem to need one. I

pick a single daffodil and tuck it behind her ear. For old times sake, I dare her to put a penny on the rails.

Laughing all the way, she runs to the tracks to oblige. While we wait for a train to pass, we talk. There’s

something about the darkness that just makes it easier to share. Day’s harsh light scrutinizes every word.

Night protects. It is perhaps unfortunate that night protects a little too well, and I broach the one subject

I’ve never broached before.


“I can’t,” I say, tension hanging in the air like spray from the ocean, right before it hits the rocks.

As I utter these two words, I don’t think I quite understand the magnitude of the chain of events that I’ve


“Can’t what?” she inquires, with a mix of sympathy and wariness at the tension.

“Can’t live like this anymore! God I’m so tired of all of it, of Mother and sneaking out like this

just to live a little and the stupid goddamn cardigans —”

“Cardigans? Is that really your complaint? Mother is flawed, yes but she is doing what she thinks

is best for us —”

All of a sudden, all of the heat drops from my voice. The ice scares me more. “Do tell me, sister,”

I intone listlessly, “under what circumstances asking a child to get on their knees and beg for forgiveness

is pedagogically sound for their development.”

“I’m sorry that happened to you, I really am.” She reaches over for a hug, and I accept it, almost

lulled into her warm embrace into dropping the subject. But then I notice and I don’t know why a

goddamn verb tense of all things pushes me over the edge, but it does and I will regret it for the rest of my

too-long life.

“Happened? Do you think this is past tense? Some tragic backstory to our lives? No!” I snap, “it’s

happening and I don’t know how you can stand there and smile because if I were in your shoes I

would’ve pushed you out of the way at any cost.”

“Oh?” she asks, “do you think you understand the cost? Let me tell you what the cost is, because I

have paid it. I wake up in the middle of the night and have panic attacks because I’m scared that if I lose a

tenth of a GPA point, I’ll end up like you and you ask me where I am at lunch and I can’t tell you that I’m

sticking two fingers up my throat in the bathroom because you think you’re so special you can dine and

dash!” Suddenly, all of the emotion drops from her voice, just as a feeling of doom sinks into my stomach

“I think it would be better if we left now,” she says frigidly.

I nod silently. She stalks off to get the penny, fuming. I hear a train coming. She’s so lost in her

own head that she doesn’t hear the warning of the train. Every rational part of me wants to warn her, but I

don’t say anything. The train approaches: thirty feet.



Twenty. In that moment, I forget that Mother is the one hurting me, not her. Would it be surprising

to say that hope was the emotion fueling me? If Mother’s heart is only big enough for one, will it open up

for me if she’s not there? If I play by her rules, can I have her love or at the very least, safety? Bad choice.

Hope turns to anger as I think about rules, and how she thinks I deserve what I get for not playing by

them. The thing that kept me sane this whole time, through simpering humiliations and brusque slaps was

this: no amount of playing by the rules would allow me to win. Addendum: not while she was still in the





Ten. I have never known how to hold my tongue. Nine. Lord, of all moments, why now? Eight.

Her frustrated hands knock the flower out of her hair. Seven. We picked the daffodils once. Six. We drew

hearts in the sand. Five. We were children once. Four. What wouldn’t I give to go back to a simpler time?

Three. If I spoke now, we could. Two. The answer: my voice (the hope of safety). One. Apparently, I lied

about paying any cost.




She’s frozen. Lord, what have I done? Zero. When the train clears, her broken body — still

smiling — lies next to a wilted flower.

You have no idea what it was like to go back to that house without you. I think I might rather be

under that train than to have to tell Mother that the child she actually loved was dead and that I was the

replacement. I tried. I tried for you, I really did. I woke up early and made coffee for her like you did (two

sugars, no cream), was the valedictorian you never got to be, learned your smile from family portraits, but

it wasn’t enough — could never be. I tried because I know you loved her and I know you loved me and

I’m so sorry that killed you. Maybe I’m our mother’s daughter, because in the end, you were the one who

could love and you loved too much and it killed you.



Love didn’t kill you — I did. God, I’m sorry. I say it like a catechism, a prayer, like I used to say

it to Mother, endlessly and uncountably — this time, I mean it.



There are daffodils blooming purple and blue across my rib cage now, up and down my arms.

They are a mixture of mine and not mine. A memorial garden is growing for you, where your doodles

used to be. Do you like how I planted them? It was the only thing I could do to quiet the loudness of your

absence. I used to sneak into your room and lie under your bed canopy or sit on your vanity stool and try

to fit into the holes that you left behind I tore open. It wasn’t enough.




I had to run. But after highschool, I lived with a boyfriend, and when the slamming doors and

shattered plates and rising shrieks came back, I didn’t. I really thought I deserved it, that this was you

coming back to haunt me. Then I hated myself more for thinking you’d wish me ill like that, so my next

hypothesis was that there was something so intrinsically wrong with me that this was the closest

approximation to love I deserved. Once is chance, twice is fate, they say.




Later, I will sit in a therapist’s office, somehow suffocated by the emptiness of white walls. She

will show me how I blamed myself for my boyfriend’s post-football-defeat wall-punching, and how I

latched onto him like a lifeboat in a storm because all I knew was that love had to be conditional and

begged for as scraps.

Across two lukewarm cups of Earl Grey, she will tell me what a scapegoat-golden child dynamic

is. Pure panic will alight my veins like heroin and I will not remember denying it. Later, I’ll realize that I

tried to protect the memory of Mother to protect the memory of you, because if she wasn’t the villain, you

weren’t tainted for loving her. Even later I’ll realize how silly I was for thinking loving her was in your

control, how it could ever be your fault. I will go to her office every Sunday, like clockwork, and drink

lukewarm cups of tea.




I don’t speak to Mother often now, and when I do, it’s not by her rules anymore. I do it for you

because I’m sorry I took your chance to do the same. I have my own place now; you would like it. It’s far,

far away from the beach, and I still can’t hear the rumble of a train without running over to the nearest

trash can in case I need to vomit, but I’m alright. I keep a sketchbook by my bed, and doodle things I

think you would have liked tattooed on you, and then I leave them there on the page, and not on my skin,

because that was never a very productive apology.




It’s September 22nd — the first day of fall, time for me to plant the daffodils. I’m not sure if

they’re an apology or a penance or an act of self-flagellation. Still, the wind whips in through my window

and pushes a book off my coffee table. I pick it up. It’s Richard Siken’s Crush: “Dear Forgiveness,” it

says, “I saved a plate for you. Quit milling around the yard and come inside.”


As Insomnia Dissipates, So Does Grief

Natasha Mar '23 

Between the ages of six and thirteen, my eyes would stare at the complete darkness surrounding me for hours: shades drawn, my Honeywell fan as white noise, my body close to the wall for support. 8:30. 9:30. 10:30. Every night, my mind drifted to if I should eat, practice, read, exercise, stretch, or study, but in between every thought, my eyes would attempt to yank my brain away from sending them a signal to peek at my nightstand’s alarm clock. But my eyes failed. Every glance increased my heart rate. Time wouldn’t stop; it wouldn’t slow down. It just continued to bulldoze through the present. I did everything to cure my insomnia: my parents recommended I try counting sheep, envisioning their pink-tinted fluff soaring over the neon moon, scattering a trail of glitter one by one; I read online to try focusing on breathing, the rise and fall of my chest, visualizing my body float across infinite plains, rivers, and mountains; or focusing on the weight of my body and every single part of it–arms, legs, head, eyelashes, fingertips– press against the bed with exasperation. Nothing worked. My mind still wondered. My heart still pounded. Years passed when my parents would visit my room late at night and I would squeeze my eyes shut, praying they would shut the door on my body, twisted to face the wall and away from my room’s entrance, and my blanket shielding me from any chance of disclosure. Then later, in middle school, hours of staring became half an hour after a long day at the barre, pirouetting and grand jete’ing for over three hours, and then approaching high school, staying up late to work on an English essay, Chinese project, math worksheet, or history research paper gave leeway to only a matter of minutes. My head simply touches the pillow and I pass out. The clock could read eight at night. Or eleven. Or three in the morning. No matter the time, I fell asleep almost immediately. I even set a sleep timer for my playlist, letting “No Surprises”, “Love of My Life” or “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” ring through my ears, and typically, I set it for fifteen minutes. Every time, the mellow drum beats of the songs put me to sleep before the timer runs out. 

Writing helped my insomnia. I wrote about how writing resembled the test of ability to measure up to others’ skills because you think that your classmate’s tone in English class sounds much more eloquent and you want to mirror them; or the dilemma with yourself and if you want to add an exclamation mark here because it conveys your voice better!; or if you just want to write the letting-grammar-not-get-the-best-of-you-because-the-clock-reads-past-midnight-and-you-just-want-to-sleep-but-you-have-a-personal-narrative-due-the-next-day kind of words. Spilling with no filter. 

Writing is sleeping. The struggle to sleep becomes the struggle to materialize words. Then it develops into an instinct. My head crashes and sinks into the pillow. Words overflow until time prevents me from continuing.

I write until I don’t realize I still write. My hands, moving in a repetitive motion until they pain me with carpal tunnels, persevere to create stories. I write for times when my heart inflates and soars, up and away. In a balloon full of airborne tears. Tears I’ll never shed again. One tear for my Math Olympics first prize in second grade. My mother, shaking her iPhone 6 with anxiety, filmed me skipping to the stage to receive my medal and ribbon. I have never seen her more proud. Another tear for when I snuck out of the Marriott in San Bernardino to eat dinner at BJ’s with my father while my mother slept. The fettuccine, each slice of chicken with perfect burn marks; the alfredo sauce, so thick that I could detect how many calories of food sat in front of me; the monkey bread pizookie, the sticky golden brown clumps topped with dripping vanilla ice cream; and the walk back to the hotel, the chilly winter air slapping my face as my eyes filled with tears and my lips separated into the biggest smile, preparing for my mom’s scolding. I didn’t mind. 

My writing shows up tardy. Tardy to the melodies of the present. The cacophony of the present. My mind never generates a response on the spot. 

    I write to embark on a BJs expedition on a chilly 2019 evening again, to cherish my mother’s pride as she snapped a photo of me holding my blue ribbon outside the gymnasium. In those moments where I sit in my room, trying to reflect on my feelings, but nothing arises, when I cannot grasp any ounce of sunshine or rainfall, I absorb it all from my artificial resource of a journal. When I open my journal, I let it consume my consciousness: the walk back to school from the Lot after watching The Rise of Skywalker  the day before winter break in ninth grade and giggling about Kylo Ren’s sudden death, the confident strut back to my hotel in seventh grade even though I had lost my mother amid the humid city of Bangkok, the first argument I had with Sophia in fourth grade and I ran to cry in the bathroom, or when I tumbled down the stairs in fifth grade, only to wake up to a bloody face and swollen lips. I let a laugh out sometimes. I allow a tear to plop onto my pillowcase sometimes. But who knows if I truly caught those rays of sunshine. Or those chilling liquid crystals on my palm. I want to believe that when I unfold my hands, I will see them. Materialized.

I keep a dream journal. Before, I would open my eyes to the sight of a blurry ceiling, with just the slightest amount of sunlight peeking in and the feeling of an overheated body, a wet face. Sometimes with the biggest smile across my face, sometimes with the ugliest frown. But I wouldn’t know why. So in eighth grade, I decided to steal a black leather-covered journal from my mother’s office to document my dreams from then on. I dreamt about floating away on a boat crying while my mother stared at me from the dock, about leaving my grandmother in Thailand as the rest of my family boarded a plane to the U.S, about burglars capturing my father in the middle of the night, or I dreamt that I competed in the Embassy Ballroom Championship again, or that I performed at the Civic Theatre in The Nutcracker once more. I wrote. I tumbled to my nightstand, seized my journal and pen, and wrote about it all. 

In the same way that writing helped me make sense, so did remembering my dreams. These dreams, this disarray of stories, may one day form a cohesive symphony of one larger story. It served as a way for me to realize the people and things I missed, and who to give a longer hug the next morning.

But I had forgotten to give the person I loved most a longer hug, and it was too late. When my grandmother died, I had trouble sleeping again. Those nights after she passed, I refused to sleep without twirling my pen all across the page. The writing in my journal consumed all the pain of my first encounter with death in my family: clean print-but-it-looks-more-like-cursive handwriting morphed into the ancient hieroglyphs for a cat; my mother forcing me to go to bed; untouched geometry and physics test papers dispersed on the floor; unfinished sonnets and my essay on the Partition of India; my door shut from my mother’s cooking that could never replicate my grandmother’s; and my heavy stinging tears as I lift my head with discipline and numbness. My head droops.

I write out of shame. I can’t ever apologize to my grandmother about the times I hollered at her to leave me alone when I watched TV, or when I practiced piano, or when I rehearsed my embarrassing speech for eighth-grade arts rep. I can’t ever apologize for not thanking her enough for her weekly twenty-dollar presents so I could buy food at school, tailoring my pants because they would run to the floor without mending, or spending hours making my favorite meal Khao Man Gai. I will never wake up to the spice of the ginger stinging my nose from the rice cooker, or the sweetness of the chicken broth boiling in the pot anymore. A stale odor fills her room, now cluttered with boxes of old Barbies and Justice sparkly shirts and Coldwater Creek sweaters that still reeked of my grandmother’s perfume. I can’t ever skip to her room once more, begging her to French braid my hair, with no strands left behind. Now, I French braid my own hair in my bathroom. It doesn’t happen very often. Only when I feel like it. Only to sob when my sore arms crash to my sides as I stare into the mirror, layers of hair sticking out in every direction. 

In remembrance of my grandmother, I told myself I would watch more Thai shows to maintain the language, go to the temple to make donations for her, and make Khao Man Gai myself. I’ve only watched one show. I created a list of memories for the bittersweet laughs about us dying each other’s hair, us bickering about how to bake my father’s birthday cake, her paying me whenever I cleaned my room (because I tend to leave my room VERY messy). I needed to smile. I needed to accept. And I could do all that with my journal and a pen. 

From my grandmother, I learned to never postpone my gratitude when people lent me money or cooked me food. I write with the motivation that she witnesses every key I press onto the keyboard, every word I write. 

I write until I hear the creak of me opening my grandmother’s door. She lies in bed facing the wall in an almost-fetal position: her sickled feet facing each other, her burgundy hair with glimpses of grey spread across the pink pillowcase, her pale face without any of her L’Ancome makeup, her wrinkles painted around her soft eyes, and piles of blankets to protect her frail body from shivering. She sniffles. I turn on the heater and wave her goodnight. Before I walk out, she asks for her goodnight kiss on my head, and she laughs, saying I need to wash my hair. After I leave her room, I crawl into my own bed, only to stare at the ceiling, shift from the left side of my bed to the right, and hug the stuffed animal she bought when I was born. But then I rotate to the sound of a squeaking walker approaching my room, and the door opens enough to allow my grandmother to hobble into my room. She always complains about my bed being too high for her, yet she props herself onto the edge of it, grabs my arm, and starts stroking it, and as I open and close my eyes several times to embrace her silhouette next to me for a little while longer, she whispers in my ear, “ไปนอนซะ”. And I sleep.


The Rabbit, Grace Sun '23


That rabbit was balding on the top of his head, and you knew that he was old because of the bleached color extending from the middle of his face as you see in older rabbits. Too big and too old for his rabbit hutch, too, having outlived the standard lionhead rabbit species age. And how old was that? 5 years? He was 12 years old—too old for a rabbit. Grace was only six years old when she began the classic rant for a pet when she visited Olivia’s house and saw that she had a bunny. Please, Please! She begged endlessly, promising that she would feed the rabbit, clean the cage, refill the water, take it out to play, take it to the vet, and whatnot. Of course, like all children, she failed to do all of that. This responsibility of an animal landed in her mother’s hands. Her mother always overfeeds it. On the days where she thinks that her daughter hasn’t fed it, she sloppily throws hay and rabbit feed in a general region around the rabbit. The light, grassy feed becomes dark and soft with moisture, taking on the consistency of mud. The moist food builds up on the bottom of the hutch, turning into actual mud. Neglect? No, not really, she hasn’t neglected the poor rabbit. Neglect seems like a word too heavy with evil intent. Something was expected to go wrong, anyway, considering the chaos of the domestic boxing ring. However, Rabbit has sustained himself in the most inhumane conditions. Wise and gray, he may even be considered a survivor.


Her own childhood rabbit—named 小灰 (Little Gray)—ended his days in the woods, an unnamed group of trees hole near her house in northern China. I hope you survive, Gray, her father had said as he slipped the rabbit out of the blanket and down on the field. She did not forget the sight of her beloved rabbit as he scampered into the patchy undergrowth and disappeared in the trees. The rest of the winter, she imagined his gray, fuzzy form—contrasting so greatly with his brown counterparts—continuously running back and forth between the trees. No wonder why they get eaten, she remembered her father adding. So stupid and afraid they can’t even run straight. Just like your mother. A week later after 小灰 got released, her father left the house with all his bags. Gone for good, her mother said. Good riddance. The girl never heard from him again. Not even after deep internet searches or reaching out to family members and friends. He just simply vanished without a word (not like he wanted one anyway), just like 小灰. 


Sometimes, when she was cleaning in the garage and stacking up boxes and organizing shoes, she would pause in the damp coolness of the garage and watch the rabbit as he curled himself up into a ball, eyes closed, like a monk. She even tried to do it herself, meditating in the midst of the loud and noisy household, among the screeches of car tires outside and the sonorous highway droning loud and clear. 


Her marriage had been good, or so she thought. Her husband, being the busy manager he was, had the classic 9 to 5 job. At least he had time to take the kids out to eat on weekends or read them bedtime stories twice per week. Then his job became busier. “Busier”, she now scoffed. His days out became longer and longer, from 9 to 6, then 9 to 8:30, then 9 to past midnight. When she asked him about it, he just said his business had urgent matters with overseas partners, and he couldn’t let the opportunity go. Right, she said, your business matters. She bought into his words. Then one day he returned at 2:35 am, drunk as a bard, smelling like Gucci Flora Gorgeous, the type of perfume the ladies in the televisions would advertise with their bodies half-naked and sweating. Then she knew. She wasn’t even surprised, but she was disappointed at her own naivety.  She had given up her career for the relationship, for her family. She had given up plenty in order to stay home for Grace’s developing brain, to infuse skills of motility, critical thinking, counting. Her daughter had to be the one that rose above everyone else at the young and ripe age of 5. Was her own decision worth the betrayal she received? It didn’t matter anyway, it was too late already to give up now. Grace was now 8 and she couldn’t bear to witness her daughter decline because of lack of care. 


The rabbit had come into the house in a cardboard Chiquita banana box lined with old linen. The rabbit’s previous owners witnessed the birth of 12 baby rabbits, way too many to take care of at once. Besides, the mother rabbit was already a handful. What could they do, but to entice the neighborhood children into thinking that raising a rabbit was easy? Soon, all 12 rabbits disappeared into different families, all carried into houses in cardboard boxes. One by one, they all died. Overfeeding, escape, disease, and starvation plagued the eleven. Not the twelfth rabbit. Running circles in his own bedding mixed with feces, moist food, and loose hair, the rabbit persisted. A couple of months after the rabbit arrived in her house, he graduated from a cardboard box to a flimsy two-story hutch. His favorite pastime was running up and down the stories, a monotonous cycle repeated year after year.  She sometimes watched the rabbit running his rounds, often wondering how he could possibly run around and around in his tiny hutch without getting tired or bored. She wondered if he felt trapped. 


One evening, after observing the rabbit running his 11th round, she saw her husband right out the window, holding his phone to his ear and waving around his hand in short gestures like he was agitated. And shortly after that, the hutch began to smell. Winter came, December and January flew by like the rest of the months. The rabbit seemed to curl up deeper and deeper in his plight. No longer was he fooled by his limited mental capacity into thinking that he was running in imaginary fields. Nor was he bored by the repetitive nature of his rounds, going up and down, and up and down. Instead, he was lost in the noise of a dark void, scrambling frantically in all directions, trying to find a pinpoint of light. Sometimes the rabbit did see people pass by. No one looked at him back. Until one day, Grace, now a bubbly fifth-grader, pointed to the hutch and yelled “Mom! The rabbit!” until he seemed to be discovered once more. She ran over, peering through the dirty, dusty mesh, and stood in wonder that life was sustainable even under the most abhorrent conditions. At that moment she believed that everything could finally be right. But then she reminded herself that it was only a rabbit. Just that stupid rabbit, she thought. Here she was, so desolate and lost, trying to make sense of things in her life, to think that a rabbit could give her hope! Of course, she was probably also reminiscing that moment when 小灰 scampered through the trodden fields, a gray blur in the trees. The memory was too clear. 


She set to work scooping out the dirty bottom with an old shovel, spraying and wiping the hutch with alcohol, disbanding the second story, and cleaning it thoroughly. She was surprised that such a simplistic device, one that could be put together in a matter of minutes, could sustain life for years. She watched as the rabbit scampered happily around. His ears were long, and beautiful, and gray like 小灰。Sure, he had some matted areas, and overgrown nails characteristic of neglected animals, but otherwise, he seemed big, brutally healthy, and still trying to understand his surroundings. Later that day, when she gave the rabbit a bath, and amidst the murky water, she discovered that he was a white rabbit. 


Then the hutch fell back into its murk, got worse, stank up, and became, well, completely, brown and covered up with moist matter. The hutch got moved into the darkness of the garage. The rabbit was poetic because he had become the filth that had formed around him, and yet he was unwilling to die. He kept himself alive. Somehow the rabbit sustained by picking out pieces of hay and bits of old fruit from within the sludge on the bottom. Any other rabbit, who would only  survive on fresh-picked grass and sliced fruits, would’ve died long ago. But the rabbit stood in his hutch of filth, older than the age of the house in which he was placed in. He knew nothing about the loud smacks on the countertop, the crying of the girl upstairs, the shouts of “I can’t deal with you anymore!”, the slamming of broken doors. But one thing he understood was that the world around him gets caught up in its own wiring, its own filth, and it can’t ever get untangled. He settled into his own sludge and meditated on this. A few times the downstairs door slammed hard enough to wake him. Or there was a smashing sound from the kitchen. Or voices. “What in the world should we do?” “What about the child?” A slapping sound echoed down in the garage. The rabbit might have just died happily right in his own filth, yet, he seemed to not care about that kind of defeat. In the black center of the cave of dust, dirt, fur, and food, he awaits the final moment when the mother will rush over to the hutch and feel a wave of guilt, remembering the time she let her own rabbit go. She’ll think of the sad little pet funeral she would perform when the rabbit dies, putting the limp body into the ground and covering it with new dirt. She would paint a crude portrait of the rabbit and lay it upon the mound. But the rabbit is alive. And it still will be. It will pick scraps from the brown mud and run circles in his hutch in the determinate manner that only animals have. He is resolute, and very much alive. 


The day after the father has left with all his bags packed, they’ll hold a small party to celebrate the rabbit’s rebirth, because all that time he was “presumed dead”, or near enough death to be called dead, presumably having a lifetime of the same image of mud and sludge and extra food pass before his very eyes. After celebrating with a mini carrot cake, they’ll take the rabbit out of the old hutch and move him into a new double-decker premium cage. The mother and daughter will work together and be careful not to rustle the bedding, and present him his very own space. It’ll be the first time in 12 years, right in the middle of the living room, next to the silhouette of two people in the dusk, laughing and clapping.



Father is a name I call the businessman 

Crystal Li '23

He wears an ironed shirt 

not a soft red coat

he favors a leather suitcase 

over a velvet sack


he brings us goodies on Christmas eve.

for the mother, a ring

for the son, a winter jacket

and pink boots for me, the daughter


not from our wish lists but from his guilt. 

“where did you buy these?” 

“at the airport, of course.” 


we have learned to expect little from the businessman. 


when I pull my shell-pink shoes 

out of the packaging,  

I don’t say anything. 

“do you like them?” he smiles as

the crow’s feet deepen at the corners of his eyes 


I put them back in the box as 

I stare at my feet, I

know they are too small

maybe I could’ve fit in them 

two years ago.


crowded streets in Datang everbright city

a field of neon-washed color


in cold sweats      

Chinese new year alone

at the airport

in a coffee-stained suit. 


once more, 

I reach out across the table’s surface for a phantom hand 6588 miles away. I 

miss him, and 

the time when nothing mattered more


when he built a trampoline in the backyard just for

the laughter through our elementary teeth


when he convinced the mandarin trees to smile as 

spring wind jostled the blossoms


when he had the time to put out a picnic blanket and we watched 

the sun leave streaks of marmalade to grant light to the rest of the world.


A Photo of Gideon's Two Hands

Sancia Milton '22

voice one:

I fell from the ten-story building in July

And joined the pink girls peeling hearts and orange rinds.

I fell through mortar and Aristotle’s lines;

I left all self, all speckled calendars behind.

I learned to pick pink shirts without stains

To lace my satin slippers in the rain

To soak my muddy soles in rat-eyed drains

I fell from verse to the refrain

“Again, for you, again, again,”

I fell for you like continents fall to sand.

voice two:

I stand on my tiptoes, body bent.

It’s so much force: my heart, my mind.

I wait for the word of a dead bug in the bathroom vent.

I wait to pull your memory away from me.

I wait. I know that it will be

So much effort for a thing we’ve already left behind.

I sat on the cusp of our held hands, I hung

The document of our footfalls toward this obituary,

But I was just the ice along your tongue,

The subtle coolness of emotion,

The biting edge of young devotion,

So much dissolved into the temporary.

voice one:

We’ll dissolve, I’ve decided, into our fingers and feet,

Just fragments of people and flowers and street.

I am the telescope, coming close, catching you in disbelief.

I am hardly known and sucked up close to the orbit of your teeth.

If you dig through the clutter of my two eyes,

You will find your collared shirts, your bucket hat, your coat and tie—

And if you forget, for a moment, what kind of perfect you look like,

Then flip open my heart, and look inside.

voice two:

Inside, I am captured in the slimmest of headshots,

Cropped to the bone. Only you would recognize

This person made of orange rinds and afterthoughts.

Only you saw the tears in the roof of my mouth,

Only you heard the flood-sound coming out,

Only you were there when we forgot how to apologize.

I wonder if at last my knitted heart resigned

As you became this final yarn, spun to oblivion.


I wonder if I was always Martian-made and long declined

The cotton limbs sewn onto better men,

The sunken stitch of loving you again,

The strength of Satan, God, and Gideon.

voice one:

To keep us strong, let’s take a photo, hip-to-hip,

You take my waist, our noses touching tip-to-tip,

And when the color drains from off our lips,

And when the contours of our bodies start to slip,

We’ll remember how it felt: dressed in white. Outside. That kiss.

We’ll tell our daughter how we were sunny-skinned and blissful.

We’ll break down in the fissure, teach her how to miss—

voice two:

Us both. It’s easy to call things a mistake

When you are just a scrap of light and bone,

Hiding in the rubble of a ten-story earthquake.

It’s easy to blame the stitching of your horoscope

The glass lenses in your telescope

Some emblematic error for why your daughter doesn’t have—

voice one:

A home

Is quiet. It waits for the word of a washed-out girl

On string lights. It waits for the arms of a Martian boy who’s stronger than

He’d like to believe. It falls in love with small people, too young to know

The value of their temporarily held—

voice two:


Broke the buttons on our coats, broke

The frames on our photos, broke

Gideon the prophet’s toe, but I will heal.

To live is to mend wounds, to smile at orange peels.

Watch us go up on tip toes and try our best to stand—

voice one:

Watch us trip on our tongues and misunderstand—

voice two:

Watch us retell this eulogy of two tangled hands and—


Watch how we fell

Like the continents fall to sand.


The Wanderer 

James Stutts '23


every time i think of my father i am left with only a vague impression of the man. that's not to say he died before it was his turn to go, but i have lived a very long time and have met many people. in the end, he is only one of thousands.


my brother, on the other hand, still preys on my mind. he follows me. even after all my travels through the faults and the cracks of the world and even after i have made that final leap down into the pit of tartarus, he’s still there. mocking me.


i do not deny that i hurt him. i did and it was wrong and i deserve everything i have received in return but


he was scum. he hated me and all my dreams and all my works. he looked down on me like i was an idiot. like there was something wrong with me. oh but he was always the perfect child, wasn’t he? i remember once when we were children playing in the field we took turns throwing stones at each other for game. we were young enough that we did not realise the way a stone could hurt if thrown with enough force or intention.


it was an accident. it was an accident. it was an accident. no matter how many times i told him, he kept crying. he wouldn’t even look at me. he ran to our father and mother, blood dripping down his forehead and all i could say was it was an accident.


when we were both much older we went out into the field again and this time it wasn’t an accident.


i can remember the way he used to laugh when he’d tell a joke and how he had to push back his hair to see when it got too long and how his blood looked on that rock in my hand.


i love him. i hate him.


now i wish i could just talk to him and ask him to look at me. why won’t he look at me? i keep replaying what i’ve done in my mind. over and over and over and over and i don't understand. the pain never stops. it never goes away. i pray every night for absolution, but he won’t listen to me. he left and went away and i don’t know how to find him again.


all you hypocrites and liars have no right to judge me. i have sinned but so have you. the only difference between you and me is that you can sleep at night. you can laugh it off and pretend like everything is fine but it isn’t.


nothing is fine. i am alone and my brother is gone and i don’t know how to find him again.


without him i’m nothing. he made me this way. the bastard.


sometimes i wish i could kill him again.




Grace Sun '23



Belen Suros '22


Ellie Hodges '22

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