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Windward Review Vol. 20 (2022): Beginnings and Endings

"Beginnings and Endings" (2022) challenged South Texas writers and beyond to narrate structures of beginnings and ends. What results is a collection of poetry, prose, hybrid writing, and photography that haunts, embraces, and consoles all the same. Similar to past WR volumes, this collection defies easy elaboration - it contains diverse tones, languages, colors, and creative spaces. Creative pieces within the text builds upon others, allowing polyvocal narratives to interlock and defy the logic of 'beginning-middle-end'. By the end of this collection, you will neither sense nor crave the finality that a typical text brings. Instead, you will be inspired to learn and create beyond a narrative linear structure. Your reading and support is sincerely appreciated.

"Beginnings and Endings" (2022) challenged South Texas writers and beyond to narrate structures of beginnings and ends. What results is a collection of poetry, prose, hybrid writing, and photography that haunts, embraces, and consoles all the same. Similar to past WR volumes, this collection defies easy elaboration - it contains diverse tones, languages, colors, and creative spaces. Creative pieces within the text builds upon others, allowing polyvocal narratives to interlock and defy the logic of 'beginning-middle-end'. By the end of this collection, you will neither sense nor crave the finality that a typical text brings. Instead, you will be inspired to learn and create beyond a narrative linear structure. Your reading and support is sincerely appreciated.

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<strong>Beginnings</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Endings</strong><br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>, <strong>20</strong>22


<strong>Beginnings</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Endings</strong><br />

X<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>, <strong>20</strong>22<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> are usually scary <strong>and</strong> endings are usually sad, but it’s<br />

everything in between that makes it all worth living. .<br />

-Bob Marley<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

2


Managing Editor<br />

Dylan Lopez<br />

Assistant Managing Editor<br />

Raven Reese<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Endings</strong><br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong>, <strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>20</strong><br />

Senior Editor/ Creative Director<br />

Zoe Elise Ramos<br />

Copyeditor<br />

Celine Ramos<br />

Associate Editors<br />

Logan Alves, Jasmine Aran, Elida Castillo, Kimberly Epps, Brooke Free, Daunte Gaiter,<br />

Jamie Grime, Alexa Mendoza, Allora Montalvo, Halli Peltier, Rol<strong>and</strong>o Villareal, Joi’<br />

White | All Students of ENGL 4385: Studies in Creative Writing: Literary Publishing,<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong>, Spring <strong>20</strong>22<br />

Social Media Manager<br />

Am<strong>and</strong>a King<br />

Event Coordinator<br />

Kindel Casey<br />

Assistant Social Media Team<br />

Dr. Chris Andrews | All Students of ENGL 43<strong>20</strong>: Writing for Social Media, Spring<br />

<strong>20</strong>22 | Elida Castillo, Kimberly Epps, Alexa Mendoza, Halli Peltier<br />

Design Team<br />

Dr. Catherine Schumann | Students of ENGL 3378: Document Design <strong>and</strong> Publishing,<br />

Spring <strong>20</strong>22<br />

Logo Design<br />

Indigo Rodriguez<br />

Faculty Advisor/ Senior Editor<br />

Dr. Robin Carstensen<br />

Assistant Faculty Advisor<br />

Dr. Lizbette Occasio-Russe<br />

Cover Artist<br />

Gibel Amador<br />

Front cover: “WHITE RABBIT” Model: Samantha Chacón<br />

Back cover: “LE MUSE” Model: Oriann Mcdermott<br />

(Follow them: IG @gibeel TW @Gibelamador)<br />

WR is a not-for-profit journal established by Robb <strong>and</strong> Vanessa<br />

Furse Jackson <strong>and</strong> managed on a voluntary basis—out of a love<br />

for the work—by students/ faculty out of the Texas A&M U.-Corpus<br />

Christi English Department <strong>and</strong> Isl<strong>and</strong>er Creative Writers. We are<br />

generously funded by the Paul <strong>and</strong> Mary Haas Foundation.<br />

Follow us:<br />

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www. tamucc.edu/liberal-arts/windward-review/<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

3 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X X


Contents<br />

Letter from the Managing Editor 6<br />

Nehemiah Flores<br />

Jukebox Heart (Illusions of War) 7<br />

Joseph Tyler Wilson<br />

The Craziness of Love 8<br />

My Story Begins on Interstate 69<br />

Near Humble 9<br />

Dezarae Martinez<br />

Metamorphosis 10<br />

Ava Coronado<br />

Sibling Harmony 11<br />

Anna Strickl<strong>and</strong><br />

Goodbyes 16<br />

Raye Bailey<br />

She Remembers 17<br />

The Last Leaf 17<br />

Nancy Spiller<br />

A Brief History of Donny 18<br />

Aliah C<strong>and</strong>ia<br />

Black Sheep 23<br />

Me, Her 24<br />

Kaitlyn Winston<br />

You’re Hungry 25<br />

Natasha Haas<br />

A Gnawing Empty 27<br />

Edward Wang<br />

Embers of Ambition 28<br />

Cianna Martinez<br />

The Tainted Painting 32<br />

Dee Allen<br />

La Bestia 33<br />

THE BLACK SHIPS 34<br />

Morning Alarm 35<br />

Swapna Sanchita<br />

Banality 36<br />

M. Alis Spencer<br />

la génesis 37<br />

Zev Edwards<br />

Here Today 39<br />

Steve Brisendine<br />

circuitous reasoning 43<br />

The Green Man in Autumn 44<br />

Nativity 45<br />

James T. Grissom<br />

The Water 46<br />

Gibel Amador<br />

Love’s immortality 47<br />

Marathon 47<br />

Fleurs Violentes 48<br />

Leonard Duncan<br />

An Epilogue 49<br />

Charity McCoy<br />

Denial: Blurry 56<br />

Anger: Complexities 57<br />

Bargaining: Stolen Moments 58<br />

Depression: Clean Breaks 59<br />

Acceptance: Slow Fade 60<br />

Jessica Grissom<br />

The Book with a Cup of Tea 61<br />

Jesus Fern<strong>and</strong>o Ochoa Arreola<br />

Me Acuerdo de Ti 63<br />

En las Ruinas del Pensamiento 64<br />

Routine Staccato 65<br />

Mi Almohada ya no Ladra 67<br />

Liz Torres Shannon<br />

A Beautiful Goodbye 68<br />

Thảo Ðinh<br />

Rebirth 71<br />

Coryna Trevino<br />

chrysalis 72<br />

ocean blue eyes full of love<br />

<strong>and</strong> promises of forever 73<br />

Elizabeth Motes<br />

The Five Stages of a Near-Death<br />

Experience 75<br />

Bitia Alanis<br />

“For the mockingbird that was<br />

shot 17 times” 81<br />

“10 things I hate about you” 82<br />

Alyssa-Rae Barrera<br />

My Last Dream 83<br />

Eva Buergler<br />

EulogyforDr.BfinalFINAL.docx 85<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

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Barrio Writers’ Project <strong>20</strong>23<br />

Letter from Raven Reese 89<br />

Athena Armijo<br />

Untitled 90<br />

Sophia Chapa<br />

Only Human 91<br />

Don’t Grow up too Fast 91<br />

Ethan Clarke<br />

Alligators 2 92<br />

Jacob A. Clauch<br />

Book of The Reader’s Life 94<br />

Janet Doe<br />

Ignorance’s thievery 95<br />

Let Them Be Heard 96<br />

Restlessness 96<br />

K. Elise<br />

Whisper I say. 97<br />

The Wild Woman... 97<br />

Raison D’etre. 98<br />

Evolvere (Derek)<br />

World of Wars 99<br />

Sophie Johnson<br />

Existential Procrastination 100<br />

Tiny Little Creature 101<br />

Jasmine Martin<br />

Finding Something Positive 102<br />

Leo Monsavais<br />

Falling 103<br />

Blind Sins 103<br />

Relationships 104<br />

Isadora Pak<br />

Sparks 105<br />

Aleena Roy<br />

Zombie carnival 107<br />

Nadi 107<br />

Alisha Roy<br />

Disgust 108<br />

Emily Hargitai<br />

Esther ‘98 109<br />

John C. Mannone<br />

una lección 115<br />

A Lesson 116<br />

Tinted Glasses 117<br />

Ariana Esquivel<br />

Diversity in Two Cents 118<br />

Corita Fern<strong>and</strong>o<br />

Mourning Loss 119<br />

Kelly Talbot<br />

Meta Merging 122<br />

Jacob Benavides<br />

Deep in the Heart 123<br />

hereafter 124<br />

To The Grounds We Trample,<br />

The Skies We Are 125<br />

Amairani Llerena<br />

And So Lived Dad 127<br />

Woe Is Me 129<br />

Tiffany Lindfield<br />

Enough: 1968 130<br />

Suzette Bishop<br />

The Manta Ray 136<br />

After Class 137<br />

Mose Graves<br />

When I Die Just Let Me Go To Texas 138<br />

Rod Carlos Rodriguez<br />

Coyote Lullaby 139<br />

Spill 140<br />

Martel Deserts 141<br />

Jesus of Three Gazes:<br />

Martel Deserts II 141<br />

Soil <strong>and</strong> Ash 142<br />

Ron Pullins<br />

Reiner 143<br />

Jean Hackett<br />

Elegy for the One Who Got Away 147<br />

I Watch too Many Movies 148<br />

Arik Mitra<br />

Arid Beast 149<br />

Let’s leave for those to come 149<br />

Peace talks with locust storms 150<br />

The rose returns to bloom 151<br />

Robin Latimer<br />

Comber 152<br />

Daniel Rodrigues-Martin<br />

A Grain of S<strong>and</strong> in an Hourglass 153<br />

Azrael Montoya<br />

Some Poem 165<br />

Dinosaurs (A Fragment) 165<br />

Egypt 166<br />

Laura Treacy Bently<br />

Still Life 167<br />

Cellar Door 168<br />

Sai Varshini Chinnasani<br />

Twas the Journey 169<br />

Jo Bowman<br />

When a poem first finds you 170<br />

Contributors’ Notes 171<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

5 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X X


Letter from the Managing Editor<br />

Dear Readers,<br />

It is my pleasure to introduce to you our latest edition of the <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong>,<br />

the much-anticipated <strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>20</strong>, <strong>Beginnings</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Endings</strong>. Our team of student editors have<br />

worked tirelessly to put together this collection of fine fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction,<br />

flash fiction, plays, works in translation, <strong>and</strong> hybrid genres of writing. We’re also<br />

fortunate to have included a number of beautiful art pieces that add to this creative<br />

conversation with inspired visual <strong>and</strong> narrative flare.<br />

The theme, <strong>Beginnings</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Endings</strong>, came about at the beginning of my tenure<br />

as the managing editor. I felt that the next theme following <strong>Vol</strong>. 19, Empathy <strong>and</strong> Entropy,<br />

should be something quite simple, yet indescribably broad—something everyone could<br />

contribute to. At this time, I was reading Amitav Ghosh’s Gun Isl<strong>and</strong> for a class on<br />

the numerous environmental crises currently taking place throughout the world. In his<br />

novel, a rare books dealer must come to terms with the power of stories <strong>and</strong> culture, the<br />

impact that words may have on the world, in shifting beliefs <strong>and</strong> enacting real change. I<br />

wanted <strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>20</strong> to explore in some way, this nigh-elemental power that storytelling has<br />

throughout our world, <strong>and</strong> in our more personal lives.<br />

It’s my belief that every story contains in some way a lesson, proportions of<br />

truth, beauty, <strong>and</strong> goodness that illuminate, <strong>and</strong> connect us together. Our stories, the<br />

secrets we share, are both indelible <strong>and</strong> unique to us, <strong>and</strong> yet not dissimilar from the<br />

experiences of those around us. The more we share—the more we write—the more<br />

other people underst<strong>and</strong>, <strong>and</strong> wish to share their own stories. <strong>Vol</strong>. <strong>20</strong> contains stories<br />

from around the world, <strong>and</strong> celebrates their courageous storytellers, who cultivate the<br />

inexplicable magic of the written word.<br />

We are thrilled to feature both new <strong>and</strong> familiar voices in this edition, including<br />

works from teens in the Barrio Writers creative writing program, <strong>and</strong> winners of the<br />

Robb Jackson Poetry Awards from the People’s Poetry Festival. It has always been a part<br />

of our mission at the <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong>, to showcase emerging, <strong>and</strong> established voices<br />

alongside one another as equals. No writer is lacking a story to tell, especially those who<br />

have been overlooked, forgotten, or shunned for daring to share their beautiful, diverse<br />

voices. In some small way, the <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> seeks to amend the countless years of<br />

literary inequality <strong>and</strong>, with the help of our contributors, publish fearless works that<br />

challenge the present state of affairs.<br />

As always, we want to thank our contributors for their trust, their beautiful<br />

words, <strong>and</strong> their dedication to their craft. We are proud of each <strong>and</strong> every piece in this<br />

long-awaited volume, <strong>and</strong> cherish our fortune in being able to showcase you in our<br />

humble, but growing journal. Thank you for being part of this burgeoning community of<br />

warm <strong>and</strong> accepting writers. Your voices are much-needed in our current times, adding<br />

to a global conversation on human experiences, <strong>and</strong> remind us of the power of stories<br />

well-told.<br />

To our readers, we hope you enjoy reading this journal as much as we enjoyed<br />

putting it together, <strong>and</strong> we hope that the work speaks to you, <strong>and</strong> inspires you to share<br />

your voice as well. People are at the heart of our work at the <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong>, <strong>and</strong> we are<br />

so grateful to our readers who help us celebrate <strong>and</strong> encourage the tremendous work<br />

these writers are doing. Thank you all for sticking with us!<br />

With love <strong>and</strong> gratitude,<br />

Dylan Lopez, Managing Editor<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong> 6<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

6


Nehemiah Flores<br />

Jukebox Heart (Illusions of War)<br />

When I see legends, I try to see myself<br />

But I’m nothing like them<br />

The musical dreamers <strong>and</strong> revolutionaries<br />

The ones who wrote the songs that tore this world apart<br />

But what have I done?<br />

I can’t write if I can’t comprehend the human heart<br />

It’s a process which I can’t seem to underst<strong>and</strong><br />

Why is it so hard to reach my Promised L<strong>and</strong>?<br />

I can’t wonder like Stevie<br />

I can’t imagine like Lennon<br />

Dance for Satisfaction like Jagger<br />

Or Take It to the Limit like the Eagles<br />

I can’t Jump like Van Halen<br />

Can’t be no Smooth Criminal like Jackson once was<br />

I don’t Let It Be like McCartney<br />

Yeah I’m Livin’ On A Prayer, but that ain’t worth much<br />

Sure I was Born in the U.S.A.<br />

But I ain’t nothing like good ol’ Springsteen<br />

I don’t Dream On like Aerosmith<br />

I’m Under Pressure, but I ain’t no Bowie<br />

No elaborate rhymes<br />

No Sign o’ the Times<br />

No Sweet Child O’ Mine<br />

Is gonna change the way I feel inside<br />

If I just keep dancing in the Purple Rain<br />

Just keep livin’ with Love On The Brain<br />

Maybe then, something will shift inside me<br />

But I deceive myself, These Times They Aren’t A-Changing<br />

I am forever to admire<br />

That which I cannot produce<br />

Like lookin’ through a Window In The Skies<br />

My heart feels terrorized<br />

I’m just Blinded By The Light<br />

Time After Time, My Foolish Heart<br />

Can only rewrite, reuse, <strong>and</strong> recall<br />

Never Make Songs Out Of Nothing At All.<br />

Robb Jackson Highschool Poetry 1st Place (<strong>20</strong>21)<br />

7 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

7 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X


Joseph Tyler Wilson<br />

The Craziness of Love<br />

My love is like a campfire burning too high on a cold dry night<br />

My love is a footpath lined with river rocks from the hill country<br />

My love is a chair with one broken leg that with weight collapses<br />

Because wood screws have worked their way out<br />

But the distance between me <strong>and</strong> my love’s lips<br />

Is easier to erase than the emptiness I feel when we separate<br />

Sometimes I shut my eyes to touch her<br />

Not just to touch skin<br />

But to simply touch her to feel her within me<br />

The not so static electricity that is like the perfect jolt<br />

I shove my favorite books off my desk<br />

To make space for my love’s framed picture<br />

Much like the afternoons I freely give up tennis<br />

So that I can meet her after class for green tea<br />

Her oldest friends may disapprove although from the rooftop<br />

Of the Omni I can see beyond the Captain Crunch bridge<br />

And beyond the shimmering green bay<br />

To the far-off isl<strong>and</strong> that holds my heart<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

8<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

8


Joseph Tyler Wilson<br />

My Story Begins on Interstate 69<br />

Near Humble<br />

I drive skittishly through Houston<br />

This morning shuttered by vertical layers<br />

Of flashing singing rain showers<br />

The vivid grey panels scream down from<br />

The vanishing sky<br />

Mute the sounds of seven<br />

Lanes of crawling cars <strong>and</strong><br />

The bestial four-wheeler lugging oil<br />

That I follow closely for seven miles<br />

Because I cannot see anything but close grey<br />

I sit in the Menil Museum right now though<br />

Safely on a solid mahogany bench<br />

Staring for a time at an Agnes Martin<br />

Seven foot by seven foot square oil painting<br />

The same greyish color as the storm<br />

But her inscribed seven lines are horizonal<br />

Subdued greys so I am at peace<br />

Resting <strong>and</strong> immersed in this room<br />

Filled with other Agnes monochromes <strong>and</strong> yellow lines<br />

On the floor marking where I cannot go<br />

Just yesterday at lunch at BK Thai on the patio in the overcast<br />

Grey my friend Mark Str<strong>and</strong> says “Pu Chou, Pu Chung Chu”<br />

Which he claims translates to<br />

“Without coincidence<br />

There is no story”<br />

9 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Dezarae Martinez<br />

Metamorphosis<br />

There is a time when the path you’re on stops <strong>and</strong> it’s time to start anew,<br />

When Barney & Friends becomes Grey’s Anatomy<br />

And your favorite color changes from pink to red.<br />

Things around you were changing constantly,<br />

You didn’t know how to wrap your head around all the things going on.<br />

From being with two parents, now to one,<br />

Always laughing with your gr<strong>and</strong>ma <strong>and</strong><br />

Late night adventures with your uncle,<br />

It’s. All. Over.<br />

You grew up, <strong>and</strong> your parents grew apart,<br />

Your gr<strong>and</strong>ma <strong>and</strong> uncle, they passed away.<br />

Now you love to wear black <strong>and</strong> write about your feelings.<br />

Instead of birthday parties at Peter Piper Pizza<br />

You lay in your room, eating a tres leches cake by yourself.<br />

You’ve watched the people you love fade away<br />

And you kept all that feeling inside.<br />

You don’t know how to tell the person who loves you the most that<br />

You are not okay.<br />

Not all of it is bad though,<br />

There are still those happy moments when the entire family gets together,<br />

We barbecue <strong>and</strong> enjoy each other’s company.<br />

You’ve grown up <strong>and</strong> you’ve learned.<br />

Even though you had to grow up fast <strong>and</strong> help raise your siblings,<br />

You’ve learned that family has your back no matter what.<br />

You know what familial love is<br />

And even though you don’t know how to love you,<br />

It’s okay.<br />

You’ll figure it out one day<br />

When the path you’re on stops <strong>and</strong> starts anew.<br />

Robb Jackson Highschool Poetry 2nd Place (<strong>20</strong>21)<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

10


Ava Coronado<br />

Sibling Harmony<br />

Summer <strong>20</strong>15<br />

When I was fifteen, Eleanor was finally home from<br />

the University of Texas, <strong>and</strong> it was a summer where we<br />

unexpectedly bonded over love <strong>and</strong> friendships…<br />

We reconnected with brothers—Noah <strong>and</strong> Dean, our<br />

friends for over ten years. It was a peculiar piece of time as<br />

Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I were filled with butterflies by these smooth<br />

dancing siblings. That summer we met up at Sonic every Sunday night, facing our friends,<br />

wondering when the brothers were going to walk in—eventually blushing at their red caps,<br />

as their tall physiques strode past the metal door, into the s<strong>and</strong> filled volleyball court.<br />

“How did you get that cut? Oh yeah, SAND,” Dean joked as he threw the volleyball<br />

at the ground, reminiscing over last week’s tragedy of the Sonic s<strong>and</strong> cutting his knee. I<br />

laughed, admiring his humorous energy.<br />

Sometimes instead of the volleyball courts, our sibling<br />

harmony motioned the waves <strong>and</strong> kindled the flares on the<br />

beach… As the bonfire crackled in front of us, Noah’s h<strong>and</strong><br />

reached for Eleanor, tangling his fingers in her curly blonde hair<br />

as her face blushed with a pink undertone… Dean looked at me<br />

excitedly, switching the two step music to The Weekend while we<br />

danced on the bed of Noah’s red truck, looking up at the bright<br />

stars, interlocking h<strong>and</strong>s as we sung our lungs out. “I can’t feel my face when I’m with YOU,<br />

but LOVE IT, but I LOVE IT.” He danced smoothly like Justin Timberlake, <strong>and</strong> my bare face<br />

flashed a smile.<br />

Fall<br />

Fast forward a couple months, I was falling in love<br />

with Dean as I watched Eleanor <strong>and</strong> Noah bond over their<br />

reoccurring movie theater dates every Thursday night--The Gr<strong>and</strong><br />

Budapest hotel, Interstellar, Boyhood… I left Eleanor a note every<br />

time she had a date with Noah, just because I wanted her to<br />

know when I went to sleep <strong>and</strong> that I hoped she had fun. I never<br />

<strong>and</strong> I mean never texted her when she was on a date with Noah, because she was so caught<br />

up in cinema talk, she did not have a chance to be on her phone. Who could blame her<br />

though? Noah was attractive, smart, funny. He was tall <strong>and</strong> made funny jokes <strong>and</strong> they<br />

both had intellectual talks only they could underst<strong>and</strong>. I mean they could talk for hours,<br />

<strong>and</strong> they did. About life, about movies, God, relationships, love, family, each other—so<br />

much.<br />

For months, Noah <strong>and</strong> Eleanor had met up at the Alamo Draft-house theater, catching<br />

late night flicks in the black leather seats, picking each other’s minds afterward, as they<br />

discussed elements of movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—that made it<br />

worth it.<br />

“Do you think we’ll ever want to erase each other from our minds?” Noah asked.<br />

“Huh. What a sad thought… I hope not,” Eleanor replied.<br />

“Ahh, relationships…”<br />

“What about them?”<br />

“It’s just sad, you never know when they’ll go up in flames,” he said.<br />

11 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


…<br />

It was my first dance, <strong>and</strong> my first date. Dean—the boy I’d had<br />

a crush on since I was nine years old, was my homecoming date…<br />

We waltzed into the venue, where strobe lights blinded our eyes,<br />

<strong>and</strong> country music rang. He interlocked with my h<strong>and</strong>, <strong>and</strong> I tried to<br />

keep up with his long strides with my small heels, as we walked to<br />

the table where his friends were at. “Sup guys, this is Dawn,” Dean<br />

said to his friends. They all perceived the same energy—outgoing,<br />

loud, sweet, fun. I dropped my purse on the table, as all of us stepped on the dance<br />

floor with the rest of the sweaty student body. Dean was tall, <strong>and</strong> many of his girlfriends<br />

seemed somewhat jealous of me. He was a varsity wrestling captain, <strong>and</strong> I felt proud that<br />

he was mine… He was very loud <strong>and</strong> excited. As we danced on the floor, he grabbed my<br />

hips <strong>and</strong> got behind me as I was nervous to grind. It was something every single student<br />

did at dances, so I didn’t make it much of a deal. It was fun—he kissed me on the cheek<br />

multiple times, as I prepared for him to kiss me, while Eleanor’s voice ran through my<br />

head.<br />

“Don’t be surprised if Dean kisses you tonight…”<br />

The music transitioned from Lil Jon to Thompson Square, <strong>and</strong> Dean’s eyes gleamed<br />

into mine, “I’m so happy you’re with me tonight,” he said.<br />

“Are you gonna kiss me or not?” Keifer’s voice rang through the speakers.<br />

And just like that, my first kiss happened with the boy I crushed on for six years—<br />

my karate kid—Dean.<br />

The excitement of first kisses overwhelmed our emotions as I told Eleanor what<br />

happened homecoming night with Dean, <strong>and</strong> she told me what happened on her <strong>and</strong><br />

Noah’s recent movie night<br />

“Ahhhhh, oh my goshhhh, I knew it was gonna happen,” she said. I blushed hard.<br />

“Just don’t go any further, please, you’re my little sister.” Her facial expression was a<br />

funny crying face as she was joking but was trying to give me solid advice. I laughed <strong>and</strong><br />

was happy to have her around again…<br />

October<br />

Another danced rolled by, <strong>and</strong> this time we waltzed to tunes in the Veterans<br />

Memorial High School cafeteria. This time he met my friends, <strong>and</strong> sometimes it felt like<br />

he knew more people from my own school than I did. We wore blue <strong>and</strong> took photos in a<br />

Photo Booth where our strips read “written in the stars.” He truly felt like my moon, <strong>and</strong><br />

I was his stars…. Once again, we had my parents take us to Whataburger, <strong>and</strong> sometimes<br />

when I visit the one on Cimarron, I still picture us sitting in the cold booth, where his<br />

h<strong>and</strong>s grasped mine, <strong>and</strong> the dazzling eyes of a fifteen-year-old boy locked into mine.<br />

Three words. “I love you.”<br />

Come Sunday night, we waltzed into the church gym, as we played music on the aux,<br />

<strong>and</strong> Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I watched our crushes play basketball, like every Sunday. Their athletic<br />

physiques sprinted across court, Noah made smooth yet funny expressions towards<br />

Eleanor, <strong>and</strong> Dean was afraid because I wasn’t sure if I loved him yet. I knew I did, but I<br />

was only fifteen—<strong>and</strong> I loved him so much. It was terrifying.<br />

Winter<br />

On December 13th, the church goers paraded across town for our<br />

annual Christmas parade <strong>and</strong> festival. Noah <strong>and</strong> Dean both waltzed along<br />

with Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I, just like they did six years before that. It was like deja<br />

vu, <strong>and</strong> I asked God why they suddenly came back into our lives, <strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

12


why everything felt so right. I loved Dean; Eleanor loved Noah. Their movie nights turned<br />

into intimate dates, <strong>and</strong> their h<strong>and</strong>s grazed, <strong>and</strong> lips touched, falling deeper into a love<br />

that set the stars on fire. Their brains were linked, <strong>and</strong> their souls were truly attached…<br />

And at the same time, Dean <strong>and</strong> I had movie dates of our own—I always called him<br />

Karate Kid because for one, his name was Dean <strong>and</strong> two, he did Jiu Jitsu… Not only<br />

did he do Jiu Jitsu, but his entire family was specialized in fighting—boxing, Jiu Jitsu,<br />

wrestling, you name it. He loved Karate Kid <strong>and</strong> always called me his Ali…<br />

We were fascinated by our connections, the five of us, including their<br />

sister, who fit in like a matching puzzle piece to our compulsive parallels.<br />

Often, people thought we were strange for dating brothers, but in depth,<br />

our friends understood our sincere interrelation as it made sense with<br />

the universe.<br />

The intertwined love of each pairing wasn’t just “strange” <strong>and</strong> intimate—it was<br />

truly harmonized. The oddity of time within our connectedness between us <strong>and</strong> these<br />

brothers pestered my mind between every l<strong>and</strong>mark the four of us made in each other’s<br />

relationships. I stared at Eleanor as an older version of me, a mirror of my descent, where<br />

I was headed, yet also there in the current time—kissing Dean, the younger version of<br />

Noah as he danced with glee.<br />

Summer <strong>20</strong>16<br />

By the next summer, after an entire year of dating brothers, the five of us became<br />

more like a family. We attended church events together, still went to sonic during the<br />

weekends, <strong>and</strong> fell more <strong>and</strong> more in love with these people we thought were meant<br />

to be in our lives. Sometimes we drove around in Noah’s white BMW. Me, Dean, <strong>and</strong><br />

their sister sitting in the backseat as Eleanor <strong>and</strong> Noah sat in the front. Drake’s new<br />

record blasted through the speakers, as we now associate the album with the summer<br />

of twenty-sixteen to this day. I held Dean’s h<strong>and</strong> as our siblings laughed in the front,<br />

making jokes with twinkles in their eyes. Once they were supposed to go on a date after<br />

church, but dragged us siblings along, making a memorable night. Everything had felt so<br />

completely right…<br />

In June, we went to Houston, <strong>and</strong> ice-skated side by side at the Galleria, listening to<br />

the word of God, while also developing contrasting opinions—mostly originated by the<br />

older siblings. Noah had his doubts, as did Dean… Eleanor believed in God, as did I. We<br />

wanted the brothers to be better, <strong>and</strong> wanted them to succeed, they had been a part of<br />

our lives <strong>and</strong> our church forever… They loved us not only as lovers, but as friends.<br />

In July, we spent our second Independence Day together, popping fireworks at 2 am,<br />

laughing as we snapped memorable polaroid’s that just sit in a dusty box underneath my<br />

bed now.<br />

Strangely, they both opened up to Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I about past relationships, their<br />

trauma, <strong>and</strong> their parents’ struggles. We prayed for their family always, encouraged<br />

them daily, <strong>and</strong> loved them to an extent we didn’t believe was possible… My sister <strong>and</strong> I<br />

genuinely thought this was our future family—everything felt so right.<br />

As an inexperienced teenager, frequently I talked<br />

to Eleanor about Dean, <strong>and</strong> strangely she went<br />

through the same things with Noah—in a different<br />

way. The brothers were similar, they both had similar<br />

emotions that changed very frequently. When they<br />

were happy, Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I felt like we were on cloud<br />

nine… But when they were emotional, everything shifted to a storm—<strong>and</strong><br />

most times it got taken out on us… I believe it stemmed from personal hurts<br />

<strong>and</strong> damaging pain from their past, <strong>and</strong> I felt sad. It still took a toll on us<br />

though, but we still believed it was meant to be. Not everybody was perfect.<br />

“He just gets so angry sometimes, I don’t underst<strong>and</strong>. And I can’t leave him Eleanor.”<br />

“Noah doesn’t want to commit to me Dawn, he says he loves me, but can’t commit<br />

to me.”<br />

13 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


By the end of summer, Eleanor, Noah, <strong>and</strong> I went to Dallas for a Coldplay concert. In<br />

twenty fifteen, Coldplay had just come out with a new album that talked about “brothers<br />

in blood, sisters who ride… if you love someone, you should let them know.” I watched Eleanor<br />

<strong>and</strong> Noah stare at each other as Chris Martin sang their favorite song… I watched them<br />

fall in love, <strong>and</strong> I hoped one day he would be my brother as it already felt like he was…<br />

When I was ten, I was a lot smaller than when I was sixteen, <strong>and</strong> I always felt a big<br />

brother connection to Noah. Every time I saw him at church, I ran up to him <strong>and</strong> he gave<br />

me a big hug <strong>and</strong> picked me up <strong>and</strong> twirled me around… I always thought he was cool,<br />

<strong>and</strong> still did when I was sixteen… The Coldplay album is still an association with our<br />

relationships with them, <strong>and</strong> Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I still think about how fun seeing them with<br />

Noah was. It was her favorite b<strong>and</strong>.<br />

Fall / Winter<br />

In November, we took a trip to Austin altogether, <strong>and</strong> they wore their red caps as we<br />

strolled down to home slice pizza, experiencing Eleanor’s past life (she went to UT). We<br />

caught a movie, as their parents <strong>and</strong> sister sat beside us. We were good for them, <strong>and</strong><br />

they were happy to be in our lives… As December creeped up on us, we celebrated yet<br />

another church parade <strong>and</strong> festival, wearing beanies <strong>and</strong> singing as the brothers stood<br />

in front of us. The five of us matched outfits as we wore red <strong>and</strong> white on Christmas Eve.<br />

“Well, this was unplanned,” Eleanor said as Noah joked<br />

about his red tie <strong>and</strong> her red dress. For some reason red was<br />

always a thing between them… He bought her a movie ticket<br />

charm that she wore on a necklace with a red bead beside<br />

it, <strong>and</strong> she always associates her past feelings with him to<br />

Taylor Swift’s song Red.<br />

Loving him was like driving a new Maserati down a dead-end<br />

street, faster than the wind, passionate as sin, ending so suddenly.<br />

Dean <strong>and</strong> I wore white, <strong>and</strong> took a picture where I was head over heels for him.<br />

Although I was sixteen, I loved him in a way I didn’t believe a sixteen-year-old could.<br />

Perhaps it’s just because he was my first love, but I never imagined him out of my life…<br />

That picture was one of my favorites, <strong>and</strong> I still have it… Eleanor still has the ticket.<br />

…<br />

Dean <strong>and</strong> I hung out a lot during the weekends, <strong>and</strong> almost every day during<br />

winter break. Most of the time we liked to stroll to the newly opened Bahama Bucks<br />

on Saratoga, eat the tasty tiger’s blood shaved ice <strong>and</strong> compete against each other in a<br />

game of Jenga.<br />

“Dean, stop you’re making me laugh,” I said as I shakily removed a block from the<br />

wobbly Jenga tower.<br />

“I want my fifty cents,” he laughed.<br />

Spring / Summer <strong>20</strong>17<br />

While Eleanor <strong>and</strong> Noah continued their weekly hangouts, sometimes on weekends<br />

happy for me when I made the cheer team. In June, we attended another trip in Houston,<br />

<strong>and</strong> had more volleyball nights than ever. I turned seventeen in July, <strong>and</strong> the brothers<br />

wished me happy birthday in our group message. We cheered with Joy as we watched<br />

Noah walk the stage during his college graduation, extremely proud of him for being the<br />

first of his family to be a college graduate.<br />

Sometimes emotions roared through the brothers’ bleeding<br />

hearts. Dean being only seventeen, sometimes became manipulative,<br />

<strong>and</strong> angry when we didn’t do things his way… which left me sad. I had a<br />

hard time trusting him—he always said words to make me happy, but<br />

sometimes his eyes were on other comets… Being the emotional boys<br />

they were, Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I would come home from dates—frustrated<br />

often, as tears filled my eyes <strong>and</strong> rage rushed through her voice.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

14


We’re all the same, yet so different—older <strong>and</strong> younger versions of<br />

each other, playing games <strong>and</strong> switching narratives from euphoric<br />

bloopers to serious cinematic scenes that leave each other bleeding.<br />

I had always thought Noah <strong>and</strong> Eleanor made sense, <strong>and</strong> that maybe one day they’d<br />

be married. But he could never say he loved her, even though he truly did.<br />

“I’m sure you know how I feel about you; I just know you want to head towards<br />

marriage soon, <strong>and</strong> I’m only twenty-one,” Noah said.<br />

“I’m not asking you to marry me Noah, I never have, I underst<strong>and</strong> the place you’re<br />

at,” Eleanor said sadly. She only wanted him to be a committed boyfriend.<br />

He never was.<br />

The stars were aligned the first couple of summers, in June <strong>and</strong> July, <strong>and</strong> various<br />

planets formed long lasting retrogrades throughout the fall <strong>and</strong> winter season, turning<br />

directions not only in the sky but in our relationships at the same time as well.<br />

Fall / Winter<br />

As another homecoming came around, Dean was a senior <strong>and</strong> I was a junior. “I want<br />

to be engaged to you by the end of the year,” he said. This was something that scared<br />

me as I was only seventeen, but it made me feel good that Dean didn’t want to leave<br />

me… I had always thought I would end up with him, as my naive self thought our history<br />

was God’s plan… Except two weeks later, he left all our memories in the past, <strong>and</strong> simply<br />

changed his mind about me, <strong>and</strong> started dating another girl—she went to my school.<br />

Dean was young—therefore he was interested in other girls, which at seventeen is<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>able, but ultimately my presence had made a difference in his life—for the<br />

better. Nobody wanted him to lose me, perhaps if he didn’t, he’d have a better life now…<br />

“I’m sorry Dawn, I want to be with other girls,” he said.<br />

Once flames smoldered the enhanced attachment between Dean <strong>and</strong> I, it wasn’t<br />

too fast before the flames caught up with Eleanor <strong>and</strong> Noah, as if our sibling harmony<br />

diminished like a pair of shooting stars… They came to an end in January, because Noah<br />

was simply a noncommittal man.<br />

“Isn’t it strange? We started dating them at the same time, now we’re trying to get<br />

over them at the same time,” I told her.<br />

“I don’t know what the point of all that was,” she said.<br />

<strong>20</strong>18<br />

After a hectic year of seeing Dean create new memories with<br />

the softball girl from my school, <strong>and</strong> another retrograde causing<br />

him to orbit around the hallways I walked, I tried my best to put<br />

our memories in the past. I flirted with new faces, <strong>and</strong> cheered in July, despite the<br />

heartbreaking news of the softball girl’s pregnancy. Dean was going to be a father, <strong>and</strong><br />

we were nothing but dust.<br />

Still, so strange, the sibling harmony—gone in a moment… As Eleanor <strong>and</strong> I face<br />

being alone <strong>and</strong> time moves quicker than ever before, soon that summer in July <strong>and</strong> the<br />

two years after are nothing but old polaroids <strong>and</strong> pictures on memory cards...<br />

“Maybe we were star crossed lovers,” Eleanor said.<br />

We reminisce on that time, st<strong>and</strong>ing together three years later, this time growing<br />

closer to new faces, that perceive the same energy, this time not related—but falling in<br />

love with us, again. It’s strange, it’s intoxicating, startling, <strong>and</strong> yet another harmony set<br />

in motion.<br />

15 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Anna Strickl<strong>and</strong><br />

Goodbyes<br />

Saying goodbye is hard.<br />

It may be a hug.<br />

A pat on the back,<br />

A grimace,<br />

A whisper in the dead of night.<br />

And sometimes it happens without you even knowing.<br />

But what makes it hard?<br />

It’s forcing yourself to move on,<br />

Making the tough decision to walk away from something,<br />

Despite how good it may have been.<br />

But sometimes goodbyes are good for you,<br />

Although everyone hates change.<br />

Sometimes the people you love<br />

Just aren’t good enough<br />

And they don’t put in the effort to love you back.<br />

You deserve to receive the same love that you give others.<br />

So, no matter how many years you’ve known each other,<br />

Leaving them is for the best.<br />

Because, if you don’t leave them soon enough,<br />

They might just leave you.<br />

And that makes it so much harder.<br />

You’re left alone thinking you were the problem,<br />

Saying “I should’ve loved them more.”<br />

You look back at photos of past good times,<br />

Wishing that they came back.<br />

But YOU DON’T NEED THEM.<br />

You never have.<br />

The ones who gave an effort,<br />

Those are the ones that matter.<br />

And even if you’ve parted ways with them,<br />

They’re the ones that stick with you still.<br />

Because they’re the ones that changed you;<br />

Whether in a small or large way;<br />

They changed you for the better.<br />

Of course, goodbyes are hard.<br />

But they can also be a peaceful release.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

16


Raye Bailey<br />

She Remembers<br />

Impressed between my pages<br />

Here lies, a moment’s memory<br />

A stolen fragile moment<br />

When you belonged to me<br />

Plucked fresh from some spring meadow<br />

That place soon lost from sight<br />

I kept a moment hidden<br />

I held it safe, nurtured, contrite<br />

Now entombed, withered in pages closed<br />

Our memory fades until forgotten<br />

And to my only growing despair<br />

Our bud never did seem to blossom<br />

The Last Leaf<br />

From her branches, the solitary leaf descends<br />

Released is the final remnant of Autumn<br />

And with a dreamy sigh of resignation <strong>and</strong> relief<br />

She weaves one last story to no one in particular<br />

A motion so graceful <strong>and</strong> honestly mundane<br />

She waves her last farewell with no sense of finality<br />

A dance so careless <strong>and</strong> silently divine<br />

Welcoming the chill, at long last,<br />

She rests<br />

17 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Nancy Spiller<br />

“As the massive star contracts, it’s gravity becomes so strong that light can no longer escape.<br />

The region from which light cannot escape is called a black hole <strong>and</strong> its boundary is called<br />

the event horizon.”- Steven Hawking<br />

A Brief History of Donny<br />

I did my best trying to get along<br />

with my son, Donny. He used to be a<br />

real mother’s helper, picking up the dry<br />

cleaning, emptying my ashtrays, the<br />

little man of the house. Saturdays were<br />

soccer days. Sure, I had to yell for him to<br />

keep his cleats off until he got to the car,<br />

but he so loved clickety-clacking down<br />

the driveway. My fondest memories are<br />

of him running the full length of that<br />

impossibly green field, the one built over<br />

a former waste dump—they’ve only had<br />

to close it twice for methane explosions<br />

from the rotting garbage below. My boy,<br />

kicking the ball, leaping in the air like a<br />

baby Billy goat, feeling the full wallop of<br />

his life force.<br />

But all that changed in the<br />

bitter morning hours the winter of his<br />

seventh-grade year. He’d snuck out of<br />

the house with a group of like-minded<br />

delinquents, his “crew,” to spray paint a<br />

freeway overpass. Tagging, they called<br />

it. I had to get out of bed, throw a coat<br />

over my nightgown <strong>and</strong> drive to the<br />

police station for the little booger. That<br />

was what he became to me that night,<br />

no better than a noisome waste product<br />

headed for a tissue <strong>and</strong> the Big Flush. He<br />

was in his crew uniform, a T-shirt, baggy<br />

jeans <strong>and</strong> a stocking cap, his bare arms<br />

scabby from self-inflicted burns. I told<br />

him I’d knock the stuffing out of him if<br />

he ever did anything like that again. Of<br />

course, you could whack a kid like him<br />

all day <strong>and</strong> he’d still manage to say or do<br />

something, or just give you a look, that<br />

made you want to keep whacking him.<br />

I’ve thought about this a lot.<br />

I’ve had the time to, now that things<br />

have quieted down. All those volcanic<br />

explosions claiming he never asked to<br />

be born, making me wish he’d come<br />

with a return mailing label. Sometimes<br />

I wonder if he just did that to make<br />

himself stronger, like they do with<br />

steel blades, heating <strong>and</strong> cooling, then<br />

heating <strong>and</strong> cooling, until it’s tougher<br />

than whatever it needs to cut through.<br />

I treasure my son, don’t get me<br />

wrong. His Spirit. God knows I wish his<br />

little sister had a tenth of his spunk.<br />

Sometimes when I’m yelling at her I<br />

worry she’ll just dry up <strong>and</strong> blow away.<br />

Even worse, I won’t notice. I’ll be paying<br />

too much attention to Donny. Only now<br />

it’s a different kind of attention.<br />

I first got the idea of how to<br />

deal with him from Steven Hawking,<br />

you know, the late twentieth century’s<br />

Einstein. Einstein invented the theory of<br />

relativity. Something about a train going<br />

a certain speed <strong>and</strong> out the window<br />

everything starts to stretch out, or<br />

maybe moosh up, like a yeast dough left<br />

too long to rise. Or something.<br />

Einstein didn’t talk until he was<br />

four years old. His mother claimed<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

18


he had nothing to say. Donny still<br />

doesn’t like talking, at least to adults.<br />

Unless they talk trash about his father.<br />

Then he’ll gush on for the man who<br />

ab<strong>and</strong>oned him when he was five.<br />

Who sent him home from visits with a<br />

bruised buttocks. Who moved across<br />

country for work, gifting me a second<br />

career chasing child support. Mention<br />

that bastard <strong>and</strong> Donny wins a Top Pop<br />

essay contest.<br />

But back to Steven Hawking, the<br />

black holes from collapsing stars guy.<br />

He proved black holes exist, saw how<br />

everything disappears into them except<br />

for two atoms dancing on the edge,<br />

what’s called the event horizon. That’s<br />

where you fall in <strong>and</strong> disappear. You<br />

don’t see the event horizon, you just<br />

disappear. Hawking wrote “A Brief History<br />

of Time” about this stuff. Sold a million<br />

billion copies. I waited for the movie. In<br />

it, they break a tea cup to show how the<br />

past is different from the future: the tea<br />

cup won’t ever put itself back together.<br />

Time goes forward, never back.<br />

Got it.<br />

The second thing I got from it was<br />

when he was a boy, Steven Hawking was<br />

a booger. It wasn’t until he got stuck in a<br />

wheel chair that he started figuring out<br />

the universe.<br />

At Oxford, he drank <strong>and</strong> goofed off.<br />

Then he fell drunk out of a tree. Doctors<br />

diagnosed him with a degenerative<br />

nerve disease. He’d spend the rest of his<br />

life in a wheel chair. He started paying<br />

attention, cracking the books, thinking<br />

big thoughts <strong>and</strong> inventing world class<br />

theories. He needed a synthesizer to<br />

talk. It focused his mind. Let his genius<br />

out.<br />

Donny refused to watch the movie.<br />

How was his genius ever coming out?<br />

He did say he’d watch if I sat through a<br />

skateboarding tape. Punks shooting up<br />

one ramp <strong>and</strong> down another, up, down,<br />

up, down. Hopped up music. Forget it, I<br />

said. Run off <strong>and</strong> find some trouble.<br />

He got arrested earlier than usual<br />

that night.<br />

What could I do? A backwards<br />

baseball cap covered his shaved head,<br />

flannel shorts big as a pup tent <strong>and</strong><br />

XXX-Large T-shirt making him look<br />

like a pinhead. His skinny legs wrapped<br />

in snake tattoos made with ball point<br />

ink <strong>and</strong> cigarette ash. The ex-cons at<br />

his continuation high school taught<br />

him that. At least he was learning! But<br />

his eyes were blank when he told me,<br />

looked like something biology students<br />

would have to share on dissection day.<br />

I got pregnant without even<br />

thinking. The easiest thing. I didn’t<br />

worry about raising a kid. Being a<br />

parent. Or Parenting, like everyone calls<br />

it now, making it sound so complicated,<br />

like you need to get a college degree in<br />

it. I just loved to push Donny’s carriage<br />

through the park. He’d stare up at the<br />

trees, wave his little paw, <strong>and</strong> say “Twee.<br />

Twee.” I’d coo back <strong>and</strong> we’d both smile.<br />

I’ve often thought since of that<br />

needlepoint sampler behind the juvenile<br />

court judge’s desk: “Mighty oaks from<br />

little acorns grow.” Maybe if I’d cooed<br />

that to my baby back in that park,<br />

it could have done some good. As it<br />

st<strong>and</strong>s now, he’s beyond the reach of<br />

any threadbare old saying.<br />

Or maybe it’s more like the acorn<br />

explodes to make the oak. Maybe the<br />

oak’s emotional <strong>and</strong> psychic self, like the<br />

19 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


court ordered psychiatrist said about<br />

Donny, just gets overheated, violent,<br />

exp<strong>and</strong>s too rapidly. A spontaneous,<br />

irreversible collapse. Scattering pieces<br />

about the universe, like the clothes in<br />

Donny’s room since the day he turned<br />

13.<br />

Maybe the soft-boiled boy<br />

becomes the shattered man. All I really<br />

know is I’m tired of thinking about it.<br />

Seventeen is the last year in<br />

which to save your kid. Kids know<br />

this. They know about sealed records,<br />

juvenile court, community service in lieu<br />

of incarceration. That ends at 18 when<br />

they can be tried as adults.<br />

For Donny, 17 was the year he’d<br />

use a gun.<br />

The psychiatrist said drugs were<br />

controlling his life, threatening it. Not<br />

to mention our lives. A knife to his<br />

sister’s throat? Twice. The second time<br />

he l<strong>and</strong>ed a 72-hour psychiatric hold.<br />

He told the judge he “understood” the<br />

gravity of his actions. But did he? If<br />

that sumo-sized guard hadn’t held me<br />

back, I would have throttled him. If he<br />

understood—then explain it to me! Was<br />

a couple of nights in a psych cell a rite of<br />

passage for the modern teenage boy?<br />

Anti-depressants the doctor said.<br />

Clear his mind of anger. “Buckets of<br />

anger,” the doctor said. “Buckets he’s<br />

dealing with.”<br />

“I could kill you now,” he said<br />

looking stone hard at me in that joint<br />

session, his dark brows anvil flat. My<br />

baby boy. My Donny! The stinker. Where<br />

did these buckets come from?<br />

I’d been ab<strong>and</strong>oned by my parents.<br />

Dad took off with another woman <strong>and</strong><br />

mom went to her room for a couple of<br />

decades. I never got angry enough to fill<br />

a screw cap’s worth of resentment. In my<br />

day, ab<strong>and</strong>oned children stayed sweet in<br />

hopes their fleeing folks would return.<br />

We didn’t have spray paint, or crews, or<br />

guns. We had nice. We remembered them<br />

on all the holidays with gifts <strong>and</strong> cards<br />

<strong>and</strong> cards <strong>and</strong> gifts. And we never forgot<br />

Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, even if they<br />

tried to. None of it ever made a lick of<br />

difference. They had fled the crime scene.<br />

Dear God, I said that night Donny was in<br />

the psych ward, if we can just get through<br />

this—anything, I’ll give you anything.<br />

Did Steven Hawking believe in<br />

God? He figured everything else out.<br />

“Observations of distant galaxies indicate<br />

that they are moving away from us,” he<br />

wrote. Or maybe he said it in the movie.<br />

“The universe is exp<strong>and</strong>ing. This implies<br />

that the galaxies must have been closer<br />

together in the past...” Run film of the<br />

shattering cup in slow motion <strong>and</strong> the<br />

pieces float away from where the whole<br />

cup was. The whole cup is just a memory.<br />

What went wrong with Donny? Was<br />

it too much high fructose corn syrup?<br />

Not enough spankings? Leaded house<br />

paint? The bad air from living so close to a<br />

refinery? Was it genetic? His father never<br />

talked about his own teen years. I couldn’t<br />

get him to offer any excuses for his son.<br />

It was that brief lull between Donny’s<br />

stay in the psych ward, <strong>and</strong> being picked up<br />

for armed robbery <strong>and</strong> attempted murder,<br />

that I started seriously considering the<br />

benefits of confining him to a wheel chair.<br />

That Superman actor didn’t do so bad<br />

after a horse jumping accident stuck him<br />

on the sidelines in his big wheels. Without<br />

the money for riding lessons, a motorcycle<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

<strong>20</strong>


might do. But Donny wouldn’t wear a<br />

helmet, so it might kill him, as well.<br />

Not the goal.<br />

Simple solution: a week out of<br />

the psych ward, I told him to get his<br />

piles of Nintendo, Power Ranger, <strong>and</strong><br />

Transformer knickknacks into the<br />

basement before I threw them out.<br />

While he packed boxes, I loosened a stair<br />

near the top of the flight. He accused<br />

me of trying to kill him as he lay on the<br />

basement floor. Couldn’t move a finger<br />

as we waited on the ambulance. It wasn’t<br />

true. I didn’t want him dead. I just wanted<br />

his attention.<br />

Once he was in the wheelchair,<br />

I thought we pretty much licked the<br />

problem. He’d be at least 18 by the time<br />

he ever walked again. My job was done.<br />

Got him alive, if not kicking, to the age<br />

of majority.<br />

The wheel chair did get his<br />

attention. Unfortunately, it was focused<br />

on those buckets of anger. His birthday<br />

was a few weeks off when it got really<br />

quiet. A scary quiet. No yelling from the<br />

TV room for another soda or his phone.<br />

His father had called. He’d heard from<br />

his side of the family that his son had<br />

an accident. When he got the full details<br />

from the source, he cut the conversation<br />

short. Said a birthday gift was on its way.<br />

Last Donny heard from him.<br />

No news there.<br />

As for what came after, never in a<br />

million years could I imagine his leaving<br />

his room in that condition. He couldn’t<br />

get that wheel chair out a front or back<br />

door without my hearing the snap of the<br />

screen.<br />

Wrong.<br />

He swears his punk friends<br />

cooked up the idea, an armed robbery<br />

from a wheel chair. Who would guess<br />

that poor soul rolling towards you was<br />

dangerous? Jeff, a soccer bud from his<br />

Billy goat days, filched his father’s gun.<br />

Donny held it on his lap, hidden under<br />

the afghan his gr<strong>and</strong>mother knit for<br />

his christening. When the woman they<br />

were following heard the wheel chair<br />

near, she stopped <strong>and</strong> turned.<br />

“Excuse me, Ma’am,” one of them<br />

said. “please give us your purse.”<br />

According to the court record, she<br />

saw Donny holding the gun underneath<br />

that blanket, panicked, <strong>and</strong> threw her<br />

purse at them. When she began to<br />

run, Donny shot her in the back. Laid<br />

her flat on the sidewalk wet from rain.<br />

Those idiots crossed a lawn to get away,<br />

then backtracked home. The police<br />

were at our door in no time. The wheel<br />

chair made muddy tracks straight to<br />

his bedroom. He was inside shaking<br />

<strong>and</strong> crying <strong>and</strong> smoking a cigarette.<br />

I walloped him upside the head for<br />

smoking in his room. He asked if the<br />

woman was alright, which showed some<br />

remorse. His lawyer ran with that. While<br />

he couldn’t get him a juvenile trial, he<br />

did snag a reduced sentence.<br />

Donny’s little sister, Maya, turns<br />

13 next week. Her father’s better than<br />

Donny’s dad, but not much. He’s in town<br />

but does enjoy his drink. That’s how we<br />

met. I got sober long enough to leave<br />

him. Maya will be fine. I’ve been checking<br />

her regularly since she was 12 to see if<br />

she’d pierced, poked or burned any part<br />

of her body. As best as I can recall, that’s<br />

how her brother got started. I wished I’d<br />

paid closer attention then.<br />

21 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Sitting in his wheel chair in prison,<br />

Donny did finally watch the video based<br />

on Steven Hawking’s book. And then he<br />

called. I picked up the phone to an old<br />

familiar silence. I knew it was him, his<br />

ragged breath, struggling on the other<br />

end of the line.<br />

“What is it, Donny?” I asked, trying<br />

not to sound impatient. I really do want<br />

him to call. Still, I’m always surprised by<br />

my reaction when he does. Maybe I have<br />

buckets of my own.<br />

The outside light’s bulb was dead. That<br />

was the kind of repair I used to depend<br />

on Donny to do. Now the glass door<br />

panel was like a portal, an opening onto<br />

a dark future I couldn’t imagine, let<br />

alone see. “Mother underst<strong>and</strong>s,” I said<br />

to my son.<br />

His last words to me were as soft<br />

as light from a dying planet.<br />

“Do you, mother. Do you really<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>?”<br />

“I watched Steven Hawking today,”<br />

he said, his voice taking on the old<br />

familiar sound of spilled molasses. Like<br />

he’d just been poured out of a thick<br />

crockery jug. My Boy.<br />

“It made me think,” he said. I<br />

wondered what his words would sound<br />

like filtered through a synthesizer,<br />

thinking of the hesitant, broken metal<br />

of Hawking’s voice. What a lucky woman<br />

Mrs. Hawking must have been. So proud.<br />

“What Donny, what did you think,<br />

dear?” I tried to sound sincere, even<br />

though I could smell a pot of leftover<br />

pasta burning on the stove. It was bad—a<br />

two-day soak <strong>and</strong> scrub smell. And I<br />

confess, I felt a whiff of rage coming on.<br />

His putting me through all that he did.<br />

“Mom, sometimes I feel like a<br />

tea cup on the edge of a table. Like<br />

somebody hit the pause button. Like<br />

time’s suspended, <strong>and</strong> I don’t know<br />

which way to fall.”<br />

“I underst<strong>and</strong>, Donny.” If I didn’t<br />

get to that pot, it would be a three-day<br />

project. Where was Maya when I needed<br />

her? It was pitch black in our yard as I<br />

looked through the aluminum patio slider.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

22


Aliah C<strong>and</strong>ia<br />

Black Sheep<br />

I am the black sheep<br />

The air surrounding me burns white<br />

Outcast.<br />

Leper.<br />

Outsider.<br />

A pariah. Purposefully picked <strong>and</strong> prodded.<br />

Gawked at. Questioned. Resented.<br />

Now, pitied.<br />

The look on their faces…<br />

Familiar.<br />

A child, small, eyes wide, surrounded<br />

by sinister-smiling adults.<br />

I’d run.<br />

Escape into a castle in the sky or a traveling circus act.<br />

(Later, I’d find out they were well-structured<br />

halfway houses that could never be mine.)<br />

My home in the clouds drifted away from me.<br />

I visit <strong>and</strong> knock, but no one is there.<br />

The castle is empty.<br />

The circus act remained the same, I did not.<br />

I no longer fit into my expected role. The costume<br />

cut into the soft skin of my shoulders. (It hangs in my<br />

closet, untouched but honored.)<br />

I still argue with myself if it was me who left or<br />

if it had left me a long time ago.<br />

Now, where do I run?<br />

I can attempt to use my newfound strength<br />

<strong>and</strong> independence to act untouchable.<br />

I am not.<br />

I am touched by pangs of disappointment, anger,<br />

disbelief, nostalgia, <strong>and</strong> whispers of a love I once knew.<br />

Castle in the sky…<br />

The shuffling of slippers<br />

<strong>and</strong> Telemundo news broadcasting<br />

Traveling circus act…<br />

90’s R&B waking me up in the morning<br />

Tight hugs<br />

Harmonizing laughter<br />

I have been grieving the absence of sound.<br />

Proof that they existed.<br />

Evidence of my safe havens.<br />

I am running. Lost. Aimless.<br />

Pitied. Resented. Eventually,<br />

I’ll soar.<br />

But, for now,<br />

please, let me rest.<br />

23 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Aliah C<strong>and</strong>ia<br />

Me, Her<br />

How vast my heart exp<strong>and</strong>s when<br />

I allow it. Permit it. Grant it my<br />

approval. Smiling, I know, let her<br />

bask in it… while she can…<br />

Let it illuminate her cheeks.<br />

Blushing the corners of her smile…<br />

The roundness of her face<br />

growing like the fullest of moons.<br />

Soft hairs brushing across her ears,<br />

reaching for the sky.<br />

Breathy laugh, teeth shone.<br />

Arms clutching her small frame….<br />

Hold her… She wants the love<br />

<strong>and</strong> to be loved… her heart<br />

palpitates, fighting <strong>and</strong> allowing,<br />

gentle <strong>and</strong> willing…<br />

Vicious <strong>and</strong> telling,<br />

something teases.<br />

No. Let her feel it,<br />

let her.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

24


Kaitlyn Winston<br />

You’re Hungry<br />

When you were young, you thought you were the most beautiful girl in the<br />

world.<br />

And that was because you were. You had no concept of what society’s<br />

definition of ‘pretty’ was; your mother had always told you beauty was in your<br />

heart, <strong>and</strong> that was how you understood it. You were kind, <strong>and</strong> you were smart,<br />

<strong>and</strong> you were everything that you thought was supposed to be beautiful. Your<br />

family praised you for the good things you were, <strong>and</strong> that made you beautiful,<br />

you thought.<br />

When you were in the third grade, one of your classmates called you a twin<br />

tower.<br />

You stood in line in your elementary school cafeteria, your other tall friend<br />

to your left <strong>and</strong> your short friend in between the both of you as you talked<br />

about cartoons <strong>and</strong> books. You were seven months old when September 11th<br />

happened, but you <strong>and</strong> all your classmates knew how traumatizing the event<br />

was for everyone older than you, whether they were in South Texas or halfway<br />

across the country. That’s why it hurt so much when your classmate, the known<br />

school bully, <strong>and</strong> his posse came to you <strong>and</strong> your friends, pointing <strong>and</strong> laughing<br />

at the three of you because, “Look, it’s the twin towers <strong>and</strong> the plane”. Were you<br />

a tragedy?<br />

When you were in the fourth grade, the other girls in class laughed because<br />

your boobs bounced.<br />

You were jumping rope in gym class; in the first grade, your school had a<br />

competition for jumping rope, <strong>and</strong> you were in the top three, your shoe laces<br />

proudly showing the beads that marked your accomplishment in different jump<br />

roping skills. It was something that made you proud. But on that day, when you<br />

were jumping rope, one of the girls in your class (a friend, you had thought)<br />

pointed <strong>and</strong> laughed at you because your chest moved in a way she didn’t<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>. It’s been over a decade, <strong>and</strong> you still haven’t touched a jump rope<br />

since that day. It wasn’t for you anymore, remember?<br />

As you grew up, you developed an eating disorder.<br />

No matter how much your stomach ached for food, you convinced yourself<br />

that no, you’re not hungry, you’re not hungry, you’re not hungry to a point in which<br />

it had become the truth. Your parents would joke with family <strong>and</strong> friends, telling<br />

25 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


them to be careful because you’d “eat all that food in one sitting” if they had given<br />

you food that you liked. By the time you were in middle school, you had stopped<br />

liking food all together. It had become a liability, a constant reminder of the things<br />

that made you disgusting in the eyes of everyone else around you. You became a<br />

picky eater, only eating some things because they were the only things that didn’t<br />

make you feel like the pig you thought you were. You felt trapped in an ocean,<br />

constantly wading between never eating enough <strong>and</strong> binging way too much, stuck<br />

in a dreadful loop that felt like it would last forever because food was evil <strong>and</strong><br />

disgusting <strong>and</strong> was the reason you were the way you were.<br />

No one would listen to your problems. Your inner self would claw at your<br />

insides <strong>and</strong> beg for comfort, for food, for anything at all, <strong>and</strong> no one could hear<br />

her because you swallowed her down like a hard pill <strong>and</strong> buried her six feet under<br />

the ground from which you stood.<br />

You were only met with advice when you’d finally tell someone, because that’s<br />

what you were taught to do when you needed help. Eat more (you did, when you<br />

binged). Eat less (you did, when you starved). Go on a diet (you could barely keep<br />

yourself eating regularly). Work out (you did, even though no one believed you).<br />

You were eight, nine, ten, twelve, fourteen, sixteen, eighteen; even now, at<br />

twenty, you’d be reminded of it. Even now, when you lay in bed at night in the still<br />

silence of your room, you can hear the little voice in the back of your head remind<br />

you that you’re disgusting after all these years. Even now, in the middle of class<br />

when your gut would gurgle <strong>and</strong> you’d take a sharp breath because that was your<br />

natural reaction now, your inner self would crawl from the depths of your mind<br />

<strong>and</strong> remind you no, you’re not hungry.<br />

No.<br />

You’re hungry.<br />

You’re starving, actually, <strong>and</strong> you’re not afraid to admit it anymore.<br />

You’re learning to cook good meals that your mom happily lets you know<br />

how to make because maybe then you’ll have control over the demons that keep<br />

you up at night. You don’t binge or starve yourself anymore, eating when you’re<br />

hungry <strong>and</strong> having big enough meals that are finally deemed normal. You’re no<br />

longer trapped in the ocean; instead, you’re st<strong>and</strong>ing far from the sea’s shore,<br />

watching the waves as they crash against each other with a bottle of water in one<br />

h<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> a piece of pizza that no longer makes you feel guilty for holding in the<br />

other.<br />

And, though it’s hard, you’re not hungry anymore, <strong>and</strong> that’s the hardest<br />

thing to admit.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

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Natasha Haas<br />

A Gnawing Empty<br />

Everyone has such a gnawing empty.<br />

That bottomless blank in their breadbasket,<br />

needin’ to gnaw, seekin’ a full belly.<br />

Whatta greedy little fuck though, aint it?<br />

Oh...bottomless blank in my breadbasket,<br />

blinding light, colossal cannibal rage.<br />

Shit, such a needy fucking monster, aren’t you?<br />

Come closer vittles sweetbread, I’ll explain.<br />

Whites wide blind eye, cannibal rattle cage.<br />

Vittles alone can’t sate ravenous ways!<br />

Closer still little sweetbreads, underst<strong>and</strong>?<br />

Isn’t it simple? Plain: Eye want to eat you.<br />

No vittles satisfy our vulgar ways.<br />

Give tongue, barbacoa. Such savory spice.<br />

It is simple, right? You eat my eye too.<br />

We gorge on vicious fluid, broken bone.<br />

Tear my tongue, my teeth gnaw on your cheek<br />

needin’ to grow, seekin’ a full belly.<br />

We gorge on vicious fluid, broken bones…<br />

Everyone is such a gnawing empty.<br />

27 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Edward Wang<br />

Embers of Ambition<br />

It stood perfectly upright <strong>and</strong><br />

centered in full view when she opened<br />

the door to the new place. In every<br />

respect, a monkey’s paw was a strange<br />

thing to encounter, certainly nothing<br />

that Antimony remembered ever<br />

purchasing or being gifted, <strong>and</strong> definitely<br />

something that the white-glove moving<br />

service failed to notify her of when they<br />

moved <strong>and</strong> unpacked the bulk of her<br />

items. Box in h<strong>and</strong>, she skirted around<br />

the disembodied limb to set her burden<br />

down <strong>and</strong> went back to the moving van<br />

to retrieve everything else. Then, she<br />

locked the door on her way out <strong>and</strong> drove<br />

off.<br />

The macabre thing was still<br />

present when she returned. She squatted<br />

down to almost eye-level <strong>and</strong> stared to<br />

confirm its existence. It was definitely<br />

a desiccated h<strong>and</strong> of some primate or<br />

another with bristled, dark hair around<br />

what was left of an arm, thick padding<br />

on the palm, <strong>and</strong> five fingers slightly<br />

too long to belong to a human. That<br />

Antimony couldn’t identify the species<br />

to which it could have belonged was no<br />

concern. She was more preoccupied,<br />

however ridiculous the notion, about<br />

whether the thing before her was merely<br />

a monkey’s paw or The Monkey’s Paw of<br />

literary horror. A matter to ponder later<br />

when she wasn’t still in the process of<br />

moving <strong>and</strong> settling in.<br />

Antimony strode over to the<br />

kitchen <strong>and</strong> returned armed with a pair<br />

of metal tongs. She gingerly grasped the<br />

monkey’s paw, noted it felt very much<br />

like h<strong>and</strong>ling a light length of wood, <strong>and</strong><br />

deposited it deep into a nearby alcove<br />

where it was out of the way but clearly<br />

in full view. There was no visible residue<br />

or hair on the tongs but she washed them<br />

with hot water <strong>and</strong> soap as a matter of<br />

course.<br />

She didn’t bother much with the<br />

monkey paw beyond moving it around<br />

as she cleaned <strong>and</strong> organized the rest of<br />

her possessions. Ill-fated, wish-granting<br />

item or decidedly not, she wasn’t much for<br />

touching it in general <strong>and</strong> gladly sacrificed<br />

one of her tongs to keep it at length.<br />

Nothing seemed to happen while she<br />

h<strong>and</strong>led it <strong>and</strong> it thankfully didn’t move<br />

itself from day to day. The idea of tossing<br />

it out was considered <strong>and</strong> dismissed,<br />

being more reassured in keeping it in<br />

sight <strong>and</strong> harboring the slight paranoia<br />

of it reasserting itself back into her life<br />

somehow. The novelty of its appearance<br />

soon wore thin against the more menial<br />

tasks in her life. Most of those came with<br />

moving to an entirely different place,<br />

but there was still much cleaning to do,<br />

figurative fires to put out, a new job to be<br />

bored at, <strong>and</strong> every other adult thing to<br />

deal with in daily life.<br />

Social interactions were not one<br />

of those things. Work people stayed as<br />

work people <strong>and</strong> none of her neighbors<br />

stopped by to say “hi”. To be fair, she chose<br />

a residence that was just remote enough<br />

that people had to try <strong>and</strong> she had little<br />

initiative to introduce herself. Online<br />

groups satisfied her low minimums for<br />

interactions <strong>and</strong> the only people she saw<br />

more frequently than her coworkers were<br />

the various couriers who made the long<br />

trips to her property. Antimony supposed<br />

that, were she to ever entertain visitors,<br />

the monkey paw didn’t particularly st<strong>and</strong><br />

out among her collections of books,<br />

figures, trinkets, <strong>and</strong> generally interesting<br />

clutter she failed to curate during the<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

28


move. The display of it was wanting but<br />

easily fixed with the purchase of a glass,<br />

bell-shaped dome on a wooden platform.<br />

The dedicated tongs also had received a<br />

st<strong>and</strong> of their own in the same stroke.<br />

Many months later <strong>and</strong> on her<br />

many idle days, Antimony contemplated<br />

the monkey paw. It became an exercise in<br />

pondering her unsatisfactory life. Of all<br />

the things she needed, of all the things<br />

she wanted, <strong>and</strong> of all the things she had<br />

to change. There were only five fingers<br />

<strong>and</strong> she supposed that this was why<br />

wishes often reached for broad effects—<br />

to make the most of them. Perhaps the<br />

consequences that followed were less the<br />

result of malice <strong>and</strong> more attributed to a<br />

lack of power to cleanly fulfill a wish. It<br />

was clearly not comparable to something<br />

like Djinni who often possessed the<br />

power <strong>and</strong> scope but could intentionally<br />

twist wishes towards their own desires.<br />

If it were the genuine article,<br />

Antimony figured it would have done<br />

something by now. It’s how the stories<br />

went anyhow. Her life circumstances<br />

were no worse than before, no convoluted<br />

circumstances compelled her to wish<br />

them different, <strong>and</strong> she certainly wasn’t<br />

squ<strong>and</strong>ering anything on easily fixable<br />

inconveniences when the backlash could<br />

be so disproportionately dire.<br />

The malcontent toward life <strong>and</strong><br />

its daily grind returned to the forefront<br />

of her mind. No matter how many new<br />

skills attempted, vision boards made,<br />

visualizations mediated, gratitude<br />

journals filled, social circles joined, or<br />

new experiences rendered, she felt that<br />

nothing moved forward. Not even the<br />

move to an entirely new location with a<br />

new job afforded her any significant or<br />

fulfilling change. It merely resumed as<br />

another environment with all the old<br />

trappings. Perhaps all her efforts were<br />

too halfhearted or the discipline of her<br />

endeavors too wanting, Antimony didn’t<br />

possess much of a drive to keep pace with<br />

modern life, <strong>and</strong> that she acknowledged<br />

of herself.<br />

As ridiculous as it was, she began to<br />

seriously consider the monkey paw more<br />

<strong>and</strong> more as her weariness festered over<br />

the months. Antimony felt exhausted in<br />

her efforts at self-improvement <strong>and</strong> her<br />

bank account was all the weakened for<br />

them.<br />

Wealth. That she could certainly<br />

use. Money could not outright buy<br />

happiness, but it was the great facilitator<br />

<strong>and</strong> the tremendous remover of<br />

limitations <strong>and</strong> obstacles. Antimony had<br />

no need for the excess of the super rich<br />

to sit upon <strong>and</strong> growth for the sole sake<br />

of growth. It would be worth enough<br />

to simply liberate herself from the<br />

dependence on the daily grind to provide.<br />

Sufficient wealth would give her more<br />

freedom to invest in her hobbies <strong>and</strong><br />

wants. Greater than that, it would enable<br />

her to throw money at all the artists,<br />

artisans, self-starters, independents,<br />

<strong>and</strong> general creatives she admired <strong>and</strong><br />

appreciated without any compromise to<br />

her own circumstances. After all, they<br />

had the courageous passion to pursue<br />

their own avenues <strong>and</strong> deserved to have<br />

their financial concerns alleviated in full<br />

favor of bringing more to the world as<br />

well as flourishing as individuals. Yes,<br />

wealth would certainly set her free.<br />

She stood over the monkey paw but<br />

did not remove it from its glass display<br />

until she fully <strong>and</strong> carefully considered<br />

her wish. The best approach was not<br />

to reach too far <strong>and</strong> also to localize the<br />

imagined consequences to herself. It was<br />

through a restrained selfishness that she<br />

could help herself before helping others.<br />

With an odd gravitas, she removed the<br />

monkey paw, grasped it with bare h<strong>and</strong>s,<br />

<strong>and</strong> wished in all its stipulations. None<br />

of its fingers so much as twitched, <strong>and</strong><br />

Antimony hastily set it back down before<br />

she had any errant thoughts. In the dead<br />

quiet of her home, she felt nothing but<br />

29 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


a private embarrassment in the act. She<br />

reached for the tongs <strong>and</strong> returned the<br />

monkey paw to its display before hurriedly<br />

walking to bed.<br />

There was no lottery to be won,<br />

sudden inheritance to gain, unfortunate<br />

accident to collect insurance from,<br />

obsessive patron to keep, or mysterious<br />

funds spirited into her bank account.<br />

Antimony did however receive a significant<br />

promotion at work. It was well-justified in<br />

the words of her supervisor <strong>and</strong> apparently<br />

long overdue, <strong>and</strong> it was a definite boost<br />

to her finances with the paradoxical<br />

bonus of lessening her workload. This was<br />

nothing Antimony could attribute to the<br />

monkey paw, but it was amusing to think<br />

her efforts coincidentally bore fruit after<br />

the brief madness of one night.<br />

All her debts were cleared in<br />

shorter order than they would have been<br />

otherwise. Antimony began to think less<br />

of her monthly bills <strong>and</strong> more about all<br />

the things she could better afford. Rather<br />

than a luxury car, Antimony gathered more<br />

books, figures, <strong>and</strong> trinkets along with the<br />

proper displays <strong>and</strong> storage for it all. Rather<br />

than a hi-tech mansion, she commissioned<br />

various creators for anything she was yet<br />

capable of making herself. Rather than<br />

a fully staffed yacht, she contributed to<br />

various content creators with a satisfied<br />

smile <strong>and</strong> to crowd-funded projects, with<br />

pleasant surprises when the final products<br />

made their way into her h<strong>and</strong>s.<br />

Antimony also delved with greater<br />

interest into her myriad of hobbies,<br />

everything from writing to model-making<br />

to instrument playing. And yet, in spite<br />

of it all, those pursuits still ran hollow for<br />

her. Whether it was due to her inability to<br />

focus on one craft to its utmost refinement<br />

or due to a restless curiosity that had her<br />

work on a bit of everything, Antimony<br />

saw no progress in light of increased<br />

investments.<br />

Her thoughts turned towards<br />

the monkey paw. The item was still<br />

foolishness to be sure, but—through<br />

either coincidence or a strong placebo<br />

effect—it evoked better than the daily,<br />

motivation creeds or law of attraction<br />

guidelines she once subscribed to.<br />

Antimony stood before it a second time<br />

<strong>and</strong> considered it.<br />

Simply asking for knowledge was<br />

out of the question. The worth of any skill<br />

laid in the journey moreso than the ever<br />

distant destination: a beautiful measure<br />

realized only in reflecting through<br />

the prism of personal perspective, in<br />

combination with the tempering of<br />

experience. It was meaningless to skip<br />

the journey <strong>and</strong> she was extraordinaryily<br />

hesitant in doing any tampering with her<br />

brain.<br />

Artificially giving herself better<br />

habits or purging all her hang-ups fell<br />

into the same forbidden territory. In<br />

the absence of medicine or therapists,<br />

Antimony had some decades of practice<br />

in strangling her inner demons into<br />

submission. Perhaps it wasn’t the<br />

healthiest way to deal, but she always<br />

stubbornly emerged as someone<br />

functional enough. Ample time was what<br />

she needed <strong>and</strong> there was not enough<br />

time for any comfort in a human lifetime.<br />

Immortality. The best answer<br />

without broaching something more<br />

nonsensical <strong>and</strong> troublesome like time<br />

manipulation. To be unbound by the<br />

pressures of time was a tremendous idea<br />

long pursued by humanity. She always<br />

thought lowly of the immortals she<br />

saw in media, specifically the ones who<br />

squ<strong>and</strong>ered their infinite time to wallow<br />

in self-inflicted negativity as opposed to<br />

something productive or simply living.<br />

True boredom did not occur to her. She<br />

wanted to be present for every small<br />

glory <strong>and</strong> wonder found in humanity.<br />

The passing of those around did not<br />

perturb her. She would simply be happy<br />

that those relationships <strong>and</strong> experiences<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

30


occurred as opposed to being sad that<br />

they ended. Freedom from the tyranny<br />

of time was a pleasant thought <strong>and</strong> if she<br />

didn’t leave Earth in about 7 billion years,<br />

that was really her own fault.<br />

With all in mind, Antimony removed<br />

the monkey paw from its display <strong>and</strong><br />

wished for an immortality without age.<br />

Not a finger moved but she mentally<br />

confirmed her second wish <strong>and</strong> set it back<br />

down.<br />

Though now that she was on this<br />

train of thought, there wasn’t much else<br />

that she wanted. The usual wishes of<br />

power, fame, <strong>and</strong> attractiveness held no<br />

appeal <strong>and</strong> were not as useful as wealth<br />

or immortality. Antimony figured that she<br />

may as well use the rest of her wishes now<br />

in order to give closure to this flight of<br />

fancy. She couldn’t keep using the monkey<br />

paw as a macabre stress ball for every<br />

introspective occasion. Immortality was a<br />

tricky concept anyhow <strong>and</strong> there was no<br />

harm in tailoring it further.<br />

When she picked it up a third<br />

time, she wished for at least a minor,<br />

rejuvenating aspect. Immortality would<br />

be pointless if she was still beholden to<br />

the chronic diseases, cancer especially,<br />

that came with age as well as anything<br />

lurking in her genetics. The third finger<br />

was unmoved as she counted the wish.<br />

When she picked it up the fourth<br />

time, she wished for reduced daily<br />

maintenance on her body. Antimony<br />

would abide by sleeping <strong>and</strong> eating but<br />

things like oral care she could do less of<br />

or without. It would also be nice to better<br />

keep fitness gains <strong>and</strong> have them degrade<br />

at a slower rate. The fourth wish was<br />

counted, <strong>and</strong> the fourth finger was as still<br />

as all the others.<br />

If Antimony was morbidily honest,<br />

she was very certain that an immortal<br />

life, with all of its perceived sufferings <strong>and</strong><br />

burdens, was deeply preferable to the void<br />

that was death. Of all the greatest <strong>and</strong><br />

oldest unknowns to fear, the complete<br />

cessation of awareness loomed above<br />

all else. So of all the things in life to<br />

procrastinate with, death was something<br />

to be put on hold forever.<br />

With the fifth <strong>and</strong> final wish, she<br />

thought about how immortals in media<br />

tended to switch identities or disappear<br />

ever so often, so as to not arouse<br />

suspicions or investigations into their<br />

longevity <strong>and</strong> affairs. It was something<br />

that would be increasingly difficult in the<br />

digital age or with annual tax returns.<br />

Having no desire to pose as her own,<br />

young relative ever so often or deal with<br />

that paperwork, Antimony wished that<br />

she would pass discretely from view <strong>and</strong><br />

simply not deal with it. Considering the<br />

number of forms <strong>and</strong> online accounts<br />

with her name, she had no idea how that<br />

would be fulfilled but it used up the five<br />

wishes of the monkey paw <strong>and</strong> she could<br />

finally be done with the whole affair.<br />

And then all the fingers of the<br />

Monkey’s Paw curled up at once <strong>and</strong><br />

punched her in the face.<br />

31 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Cianna Martinez<br />

The Tainted Painting<br />

There’s a gallery,<br />

Paintings on the wall.<br />

You paint this picture,<br />

But it’s not like that at all.<br />

You paint the beauty<br />

Of what you want people to see,<br />

But why does it have to look bad on me?<br />

You paint with thick strokes<br />

That hide thin strokes of pain,<br />

Just like umbrellas<br />

Keep us from the rain.<br />

The shutters cover<br />

Everything you hide,<br />

No one sees what’s<br />

Really inside.<br />

Inside these walls<br />

Are screams of<br />

Sadness,<br />

But you hang your paintings<br />

And they hide the madness.<br />

Inside the gallery<br />

Sits a painting you hide.<br />

A painting,<br />

You want no one to find.<br />

It speaks so clearly<br />

It ruins your image,<br />

The most important thing to you<br />

that gives you privilege.<br />

You get exasperated,<br />

when the paint starts to fade.<br />

I’m your masked painting,<br />

That you can’t portray<br />

Robb Jackson Highschool Poetry 3rd Place (<strong>20</strong>21)<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

32


Dee Allen<br />

The Southern poor—La Raza**<br />

Climb & ride on a rather long back<br />

Of a large lumbering beast<br />

Rolling along the iron tracks<br />

Swiftly & steadily, colossal<br />

Heavy metal serpent chugs<br />

Far away from lives in disarray,<br />

Corrupt cops, thugs running drugs<br />

La bestia*<br />

Any life’s better than that—<br />

The Beast—sure means of transport<br />

Thoughts cast on money they will make<br />

Working in cities of the North<br />

Honduras, Guatémala, Mexico<br />

Long in rear view—<br />

More people climb & ride aboard iron skin<br />

Risk mortal danger they’ll run into:<br />

Injuries, deaths, deportations<br />

Could happen anywhere<br />

Prices they pay to see a better day<br />

Craving freedom from economic despair<br />

Despite their own hardships, Patronas***<br />

By the railroad tracks help riders on their way<br />

Bags of food & bottled water hold<br />

Deprivation at bay for each stowaway<br />

May fortune go to migrants, should their feet touch<br />

The domain of dreams immense<br />

L<strong>and</strong> of star-spangled expectations<br />

Separated from the South by border fence.<br />

*SPANISH: The beast<br />

**Spanish-speaking [<strong>and</strong> by extension, Portuguese-speaking] Catholic<br />

Brown people. Literal translation: “The race.”<br />

***A group of volunteer women in Veracruz, Mexico, usually twelve,<br />

who give food <strong>and</strong> assistance to Central American & Mexican migrants<br />

travelling northbound on top of export trains leaving from Chiapas.<br />

33 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

_


Dee Allen<br />

THE BLACK SHIPS<br />

At least nine in all:<br />

Six with vast sails<br />

That captured the wind,<br />

Another three powered<br />

By coals, released from stacks<br />

As billowing trails of engine exhaust,<br />

Left America’s gr<strong>and</strong>iose<br />

Shores, touched down<br />

On the edge of Edo Bay<br />

And brought with them<br />

Iron cannon diplomacy,<br />

An end to isolation<br />

And the age of shoguns,<br />

A commencing to trade,<br />

An opening of seaside ports,<br />

An acquiescence to a supreme<br />

Naval might local leaders<br />

Secretly longed to possess,<br />

A start to the<br />

Shared thought-train of<br />

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”,<br />

An introduction to<br />

A future in<br />

Flowing gowns & bonnets,<br />

Suits & tophats,<br />

Ladies’ corsets,<br />

Gentlemens’ capes,<br />

Alongside yukata* & geta,**<br />

Silk-made cravats,<br />

Walking canes with hooped h<strong>and</strong>les,<br />

Shoes with spats,<br />

European-style<br />

Ballroom waltzes,<br />

American-style<br />

Constitution<br />

Government<br />

Capitalism,<br />

Horse & carriage,<br />

Steamboats,<br />

Engines & turbines,<br />

Railroads,<br />

Factories & refineries,<br />

Wine & beer,<br />

The telegraph,<br />

The telephone,<br />

More reliance<br />

On the gun—<br />

Slowly,<br />

The Far East<br />

Began to look<br />

Like the l<strong>and</strong><br />

Of the nanban***<br />

_<br />

*JAPANESE: “Summer robes.”<br />

**JAPANESE: “S<strong>and</strong>als.”<br />

***JAPANESE: “Westerners.”<br />

Usually Americans.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

34


Dee Allen<br />

Morning Alarm<br />

It’s morning again<br />

And the first<br />

Sound I hear<br />

Rousing me from dreamless rest<br />

Pulling me back into consciousness<br />

Comes live <strong>and</strong> direct<br />

From nature<br />

From sky<br />

From long, pointy black beak<br />

Swift as the crow will fly—<br />

Short, sharp repetitions of caws,<br />

Calling the sleeping world to awaken.<br />

Sounds from a black bird’s throat,<br />

More effective than<br />

The round, battery-powered<br />

Clock on the shelf—<br />

Morning alarm<br />

From Brother Crow<br />

Stirs my limbs into rather sluggish movements,<br />

Enables my body to rise<br />

From the mattress on the cold brick floor,<br />

Take six steps to the lavatory in half-light,<br />

Flick of the light switch <strong>and</strong> my ritual begins,<br />

From towel rack to wash cloth<br />

To soap bar to hot shower to towel<br />

To sink to mirror<br />

To can of Barbasol cream to razor—<br />

Afterwards, I look<br />

Forward to<br />

My favourite<br />

Part of this new day:<br />

Meatless breakfast.<br />

Hash brown patties,<br />

Seitan bacon strips,<br />

Bowl of applesauce,<br />

Hot cup of peppermint tea<br />

And cherry-flavoured<br />

Liquid vitamin<br />

B-12 drops on my tongue,<br />

Vegan’s best friend.<br />

Savouring it all<br />

Like a soul kiss<br />

From a fine sister.<br />

Topping off the routine:<br />

Discussing the crow’s call<br />

During the blue hour<br />

With my pen<br />

Through adding the next poem to my<br />

notebook.<br />

_<br />

In response to the poem “Young African Man” by The Unrated Poet from Kenya.<br />

35 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Swapna Sanchita<br />

Banality<br />

The constant whirr of the fan<br />

The fan that hangs from wooden beams<br />

In the glass ceiling of the conservatory<br />

Keeps me from thinking<br />

Thinking all that I should create in my mind<br />

Keeps me from feeling<br />

Feeling the sting of empty, barren evenings<br />

And so, I let the fan be…<br />

Let it hang above me, playing out the incessant whirr<br />

The whirr that brings me the banality of peace.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

36


M. Alis Spencer<br />

The painting depicts<br />

a western version<br />

of creation, but the<br />

technique jumbles<br />

the story to show<br />

an alternative or<br />

companion version,<br />

the chaos that<br />

danced <strong>and</strong> settled<br />

into our environment.<br />

The elements are<br />

separation of light<br />

of dark, firmament<br />

swirling up from<br />

the waters, <strong>and</strong> the<br />

face of man with<br />

his flawed vision of<br />

right <strong>and</strong> wrong,<br />

symbolized by the<br />

apple. The gold is<br />

both blessing <strong>and</strong><br />

greed. The texture<br />

forms pools <strong>and</strong><br />

ridges, evoking the<br />

cartography of life.<br />

Inspired in part<br />

by Carl Sagan’s<br />

“Pale Blue Dot”<br />

thoughts <strong>and</strong> the<br />

corresponding<br />

photograph of earth’s<br />

position in space, the<br />

almost-postcard size<br />

of la génesis is an<br />

intentional reminder<br />

that we are but<br />

aspeck of stardust<br />

in a vast universe, or,<br />

in the words of Mr.<br />

Sagan, “Everyone you<br />

love, everyone you<br />

know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was,<br />

lived out their lives, on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”<br />

37 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


la génesis<br />

<strong>20</strong>18, 5 x 7 Alcohol ink, modeling paste, <strong>and</strong> gold leaf on canvas board<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

38


Zev Edwards<br />

Here Today<br />

Who would’ve thought that<br />

something so small could cause such<br />

a stir? Ten years ago, T.J. wouldn’t<br />

have believed it either—he would<br />

have said nah, no way, man—but<br />

things had changed. Times were<br />

different. Social media <strong>and</strong> all. The<br />

internet. Instant information in the<br />

palm of your h<strong>and</strong>.<br />

“Ain’t that right,” T.J. said. The<br />

wind answered by whipping against<br />

the faded brick walls, kicking up<br />

stray cans, <strong>and</strong> sending empty<br />

bags blowing like leaves. There<br />

was more trash in the streets than<br />

there used to be. Nobody cleaned up<br />

after themselves anymore. Sign of<br />

the times. Back in T.J.’s day, young<br />

folk had more spit. Theirs was a<br />

generation of doing, not sitting<br />

around waiting for somebody to do<br />

something they could do themselves.<br />

Nowadays too many people let<br />

things slip.<br />

T.J. bent <strong>and</strong> gathered up<br />

the scattered pieces of trash. He<br />

stopped only when both h<strong>and</strong>s were<br />

full, emptying them in a nearby<br />

dumpster. He scanned the street.<br />

Gems of broken glass <strong>and</strong> metallic<br />

objects glimmered like stars in the<br />

night. Too many to count. It’d take<br />

the better part of an afternoon to<br />

gather them all.<br />

A thankless job, a lesson in<br />

futility, but that didn’t stop T.J.<br />

from picking up a few more. Life<br />

wasn’t about completion. Life was<br />

a process. One step in front of the<br />

other. In the end, nothing left this<br />

world complete.<br />

“Ain’t that right,” T.J. said again,<br />

stretching.<br />

39 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

His little exercise in garbage<br />

collection had awoken pings <strong>and</strong> pangs<br />

in his back. Was it his gr<strong>and</strong>father<br />

who said old age was just a metaphor<br />

for aches <strong>and</strong> pains? T.J. couldn’t<br />

remember. Memory, just another<br />

casualty of getting older.<br />

“Ain’t that right?” T.J. shook his<br />

head. “Christ, there I go sounding like<br />

a broken record again.”<br />

T.J. put on his work gloves, yellow<br />

cotton speckled in a myriad of colors,<br />

<strong>and</strong> folded up his stepladder. He took<br />

one last look at the brick wall of the<br />

ab<strong>and</strong>oned building, not a single<br />

window unbroken. Not his finest piece,<br />

he had to admit, but another day’s<br />

work done.<br />

Cradling the ladder under his arm,<br />

T.J. walked back to his truck. Along<br />

the way, he whistled an old Sam Cooke<br />

tune, “Bring It on Home to Me.”<br />

That song always brought him<br />

back to Cheryl, the first girl to let<br />

T.J. slip his h<strong>and</strong> up her shirt. From<br />

there it had been hot <strong>and</strong> heavy until<br />

the song’s conclusion <strong>and</strong> then she<br />

asked him to stop. Her eyes pleaded a<br />

different story.<br />

Why, sugar?<br />

Because if you don’t, I don’t<br />

think I can control myself.<br />

T.J. had wanted nothing more than<br />

for her to lose control. That was all<br />

being a teenager was, losing yourself.<br />

Her words only got him more worked<br />

up <strong>and</strong> T.J. would’ve pressed it too, but<br />

his mama raised him right.<br />

Boy, if a girl says stop, you stop.<br />

I don’t care what those boys you run<br />

with say. A real man treats a woman<br />

right. You ain’t no animal. I raised<br />

you a man, not a dog, <strong>and</strong> you’ll<br />

behave like one or I swear I’ll take<br />

you outta this world faster than I<br />

put you in it.<br />

His mama wasn’t kidding either.


She had him when she was only<br />

sixteen, worked two, sometimes three<br />

jobs to support them. His daddy split<br />

right after hearing he was about to be<br />

a father. So, yeah, his mama knew the<br />

ways of men, the thin line separating<br />

them from the beasts.<br />

It wasn’t until later—when he was<br />

a man going on twenty years—that T.J.<br />

saw the worst of mankind. War was a<br />

terrible thing, especially for a black<br />

man in the sixties. Denied basic human<br />

rights in one country, he was sent off<br />

to another a thous<strong>and</strong> miles away from<br />

home to fight for those same rights he<br />

was denied.<br />

Poor folk killing poor folk, while<br />

somebody made a profit out of it.<br />

Whole history of the world was just<br />

one big fish swallowing up a smaller<br />

one. In the army, there was always a<br />

bigger fish in the sea.<br />

“Don’t you go off being no hero,”<br />

Mama had said. “Heroes die. This<br />

here’s a white man’s war so let him go<br />

fight <strong>and</strong> die for it. You just keep your<br />

head well hid <strong>and</strong> do your time <strong>and</strong><br />

come back to me, ya hear?”<br />

T.J. told her he would, but if the<br />

stories were true, those who came back<br />

were shells of their former selves. The<br />

streets of the east side of Detroit were<br />

littered with poor souls, w<strong>and</strong>ering the<br />

streets late at night, making threats<br />

out of ghosts, <strong>and</strong> losing themselves<br />

one bottle at a time. Even if war didn’t<br />

kill you out right, it still left its mark.<br />

In the army, color didn’t matter.<br />

Everybody bled equally. You were just<br />

a number, a body to be grinded up in<br />

the machine. Yes, sir. No, sir. Get in<br />

line. Shut up. Don’t think. Just obey.<br />

Follow orders.<br />

T.J. survived the war, barely.<br />

He was injured twice. Received two<br />

purple hearts. One just a flesh wound,<br />

but a real bleeder. The other, more<br />

permanent. T.J. still had pieces of<br />

shrapnel stuck in his back. They were<br />

the only things he brought back with<br />

him from the war besides his two<br />

purple hearts. T.J. still felt them too,<br />

especially when the weather was<br />

cold <strong>and</strong> rainy.<br />

Hell, he felt them now, his back<br />

crying out to be itched or rubbed.<br />

“Almost there.” T.J. shifted the<br />

weight of the ladder, thinking for<br />

every Cheryl in life, there were two<br />

or three pieces of shrapnel.<br />

What she was up to now?<br />

Married? Kids? Hell, T.J. didn’t even<br />

know if she was still alive. Sometimes<br />

he pictured the life they would’ve<br />

had together if they hadn’t gone<br />

down separate paths. Thoughts of<br />

Cheryl were sweet <strong>and</strong> dreamy. More<br />

of a hopeful teenager’s longing than<br />

that of a tired old man looking at the<br />

back end of his life. Nobody ever saw<br />

themselves in their fifties, sixties,<br />

or seventies until they were actually<br />

there.<br />

Cheryl. Sweet Cheryl.<br />

“If you ever,” T.J. crooned, his<br />

voice a low tenor. “Change your mind<br />

. . . about leaving, leaving me behind.”<br />

They sure didn’t make songs like<br />

they used to. Where was the talent?<br />

Nowadays anybody could churn out<br />

a beat on a machine, recycle an old<br />

song, auto-tune the hell out of their<br />

voice <strong>and</strong> call it music. Where was<br />

the soul in that? Sam Cooke would<br />

be rolling in his grave.<br />

With a satisfied grunt, T.J. placed<br />

the stepladder in the back of his<br />

rust-bottomed Ford. He patted the<br />

chalk dust from his gloves, stuffed<br />

them in his back pocket, <strong>and</strong> wiped<br />

the sweat from his forehead. The day<br />

sure was a hot one, especially for late<br />

October. That was the trend lately.<br />

Longer summers, tamer winters.<br />

He had trouble remembering the<br />

last time he saw a white Christmas.<br />

When he was kid, not having a white<br />

Christmas was a rarity.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

40


Last Christmas, it rained.<br />

Shaking his head, T.J. slowly<br />

climbed into the cab of his truck.<br />

It took a few cranks for the old<br />

Ford to fire up. T.J. rolled down the<br />

window <strong>and</strong> lit a cigarette. It dangled<br />

loosely from his lips as he surveyed<br />

his work. Looks even better from<br />

a distance, he thought <strong>and</strong> then<br />

frowned, noticing in the rearview<br />

mirror streaks of red <strong>and</strong> yellow<br />

powder along his face. He wiped them<br />

clean with a h<strong>and</strong>kerchief. Satisfied,<br />

he put the truck in drive <strong>and</strong> ambled<br />

down the street.<br />

The city sure had changed during<br />

the past few years. Old, decrepit<br />

buildings torn down to make room<br />

for trendier apartment complexes.<br />

A crack house replaced by a Whole<br />

Foods. Construction barriers just as<br />

numerous as ab<strong>and</strong>oned homes. The<br />

only thing that hadn’t changed much<br />

was the condition of the roads.<br />

T.J. swerved to the left lane to<br />

avoid a deep pothole. Soon, he was<br />

swerving to the right to dodge a bad<br />

patch job. The only way to get around<br />

Detroit was to take it slow.<br />

Detroit was one of those cities<br />

where location mattered. Park your<br />

car here, safe. Park it two blocks over,<br />

broken into. Walk on this side of the<br />

sidewalk, fresh concrete <strong>and</strong> cleancut<br />

grass. Cross the street, barely<br />

walkable. Street lights worked on<br />

one crosswalk <strong>and</strong> were out the next.<br />

Signs of prosperity kitty corner to<br />

poverty.<br />

Detroit, a once thriving city in<br />

decline, but still struggling <strong>and</strong> always<br />

hustling. Writers spoke of New York<br />

like an old flame, but nobody felt such<br />

tenderness for Detroit. Like Cheryl,<br />

it was mostly thoughts of what<br />

might’ve been. Whereas New York<br />

was one big dream, Detroit was too<br />

close to reality. And nobody wanted a<br />

constant reminder of that.<br />

“Ain’t that right.”<br />

Most people got Detroit wrong.<br />

Not many people got past what they<br />

heard on the news. Crime. Bankruptcy.<br />

Poverty. Corruption. Decay. What<br />

the headlines missed were grit <strong>and</strong><br />

determination. Detroiters had lived<br />

through the hardest times <strong>and</strong> yet<br />

carried on. “Detroit v. Everybody” the<br />

t-shirts read. More like Detroit is<br />

everybody. Who hasn’t struggled or<br />

been kicked around?<br />

Only people who were born<br />

<strong>and</strong> raised in Detroit—people like<br />

T.J.—understood it. Detroit didn’t<br />

need saving. Those who thought a<br />

city needed saving had too much<br />

Superman shoved up their ass.<br />

People <strong>and</strong> places endured whether<br />

anybody paid attention to them or not.<br />

Mama said you could always tell<br />

a real Detroiter from an outsider. If in<br />

passing, they looked you in the eyes<br />

<strong>and</strong> said hello or a greeting, then they<br />

were from Detroit. If not, they were<br />

from somewhere else. Simple as that.<br />

Mama was a wise woman, <strong>and</strong> like<br />

most wise women she never got the<br />

credit she deserved. No big obituary in<br />

the paper. No statue or monument or<br />

street named after her. Good people’s<br />

deaths were much like their lives.<br />

Ordinary <strong>and</strong> overlooked. Important in<br />

the everyday, barely a footnote in the<br />

pages of history.<br />

“Ain’t that right.” T.J. stamped out<br />

his cigarette in the truck’s ashtray <strong>and</strong><br />

pulled up next to a corner store. The<br />

sun was just a distant speck above<br />

the building tops. T.J. left the window<br />

down <strong>and</strong> truck unlocked—nothing<br />

worth stealing—<strong>and</strong> made his way into<br />

the store.<br />

“Afternoon, T.J.,” Halbert, the<br />

clerk, called. “Another beautiful day.<br />

Won’t be too many left. Got to enjoy<br />

‘em while we can.”<br />

“You can say that again.”<br />

41 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


“Say, my old lady said she saw you<br />

on the evening news.”<br />

“What for? I ain’t do nothin’.”<br />

“It was for something good. Those<br />

murals you been working on. You know<br />

the chalk ones that get erased every<br />

other day.”<br />

“Right, that.” T.J. made his way to<br />

the back where the beer was kept.<br />

“I still don’t underst<strong>and</strong> why you<br />

waste your time with chalk,” Halbert<br />

called after him. “Why not paint them<br />

murals so they last longer?”<br />

“That’s the whole point, Hal!” T.J.<br />

opened the cooler <strong>and</strong> pulled out a sixpack<br />

of Stroh’s. “Nothing lasts.”<br />

“Some things last longer than<br />

others. And it ain’t every day you<br />

make the national news. You oughta<br />

be thrilled. My little niece Martha<br />

said they was even talking about it<br />

at school. I guess one of her friends<br />

posted on that Instagram.”<br />

“I don’t even know what that is.”<br />

“What? Instagram? Doncha got<br />

one of them smart phones yet?”<br />

“If a phone that flips open makes it<br />

smart, then yes, I got one.”<br />

“Oh, hell no, T.J. One of them<br />

flip phones ain’t no smart phone. It’s<br />

outdated. I tellya what ya need is one<br />

of them screen touchy things like I got.”<br />

Hattie held up a black rectangle<br />

for T.J. to see.<br />

“What’s that thing, a calculator?”<br />

“No, man, it’s a smart phone.”<br />

“That thing even fit in your<br />

pocket?” T.J. placed his beer on the<br />

counter <strong>and</strong> reached back for his wallet.<br />

“Barely. Kids got it for me. Got the<br />

biggest one too. You know how my<br />

eyes are. With this thing, I don’t have<br />

any trouble reading things like I used<br />

to. Martha thinks you’ll be trending<br />

by the end of the week.”<br />

“I don’t even know what that<br />

means.”<br />

“Means you’ll be internet<br />

famous, T.J. Just look, that news<br />

video already has over <strong>20</strong>,000 views<br />

on YouTube <strong>and</strong> the Instagram<br />

picture has 500 likes.”<br />

Halbert held up the rectangle for<br />

T.J. to see.<br />

“I still don’t underst<strong>and</strong> what the<br />

big deal is. Just doing what I been<br />

doing for the last thirty years. Ain’t<br />

nothing special about that.”<br />

“Whoa, I misspoke. 501 likes now.<br />

Here, let me show ya something—oh<br />

shit! How do I get outta this screen?”<br />

Halbert pressed his fingers<br />

to the screen. The movement was<br />

reminiscent of how secretaries in<br />

T.J.’s day used to work a typewriter.<br />

T.J. held a ten in his h<strong>and</strong>, waiting<br />

for Halbert to figure out his device.<br />

Damn thing was only as smart as its<br />

user, T.J. thought with a smile.<br />

Ain’t that right.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

42


Steve Brisendine<br />

circuitous reasoning<br />

you ask me whether<br />

silicon might be the next<br />

building block of life,<br />

<strong>and</strong> programming give way to<br />

sentience; I say call me<br />

when a machine can<br />

contemplate (not calculate)<br />

one plus one, arrive<br />

at both infinity <strong>and</strong><br />

zero, shrug <strong>and</strong> live with it.<br />

43 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Steve Brisendine<br />

The Green Man in Autumn<br />

This metaphor business<br />

starts to wear on a fellow<br />

some nights.<br />

My joints are all stiff,<br />

creaking like old-growth oak<br />

in a strong wind,<br />

<strong>and</strong> my hair has gone brittle,<br />

crackling with a sound<br />

that never fails to remind<br />

of that first kiss, soft<br />

yet ravenous, of flame<br />

against stubble.<br />

Come three in the morning,<br />

I can feel my eyelids<br />

freezing shut.<br />

There is, I must confess,<br />

a sweet familiar rhythm<br />

to the slow onset of these<br />

brown days, the first turns<br />

of chill earth.<br />

My cheeks glow, even as<br />

they draw <strong>and</strong> wither, <strong>and</strong><br />

there are those to whom<br />

I look best in red <strong>and</strong> gold.<br />

Still, it is no easy thing<br />

to turn my back – weary,<br />

wind-bent, gnarled as<br />

it might be,<br />

upon a world of ripened fields,<br />

laden vines, lovers sharing<br />

orchard-fruit...<br />

No matter. My bed of earth<br />

calls; whether I will or no,<br />

I cannot but answer <strong>and</strong><br />

draw close my coverlet of<br />

frost-tinged leaves.<br />

I will dream of cracking<br />

river-ice, a first shy opening<br />

of peony buds,<br />

the scent of bread on the final<br />

morning of my next life.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

44


Steve Brisendine<br />

Nativity<br />

Identical, Eileithya said when she delivered twin<br />

brothers out of Night’s shadowed labors—<br />

but their mother knew better, even before they<br />

first drew in unlit air <strong>and</strong> wailed it out again.<br />

Sons of Darkness <strong>and</strong> gr<strong>and</strong>sons of Chaos<br />

on both sides: These two would not flee her<br />

embrace, as Brightness <strong>and</strong> Day had done in<br />

the instants of their births. These are good boys,<br />

she thought; they will never leave me. Hypnos<br />

cried a low soft music, <strong>and</strong> a black cat in the<br />

corner blinked twice <strong>and</strong> curled into itself.<br />

Thanatos flung out a tiny h<strong>and</strong> in his hunger;<br />

a passing moth circled it, counterclockwise,<br />

then flew off on silent wings to find a c<strong>and</strong>le.<br />

45 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


James T. Grissom<br />

The Water<br />

Take a dip they said<br />

And be br<strong>and</strong> new<br />

So I dove in head first<br />

But my feet never left the deck<br />

It was just water, after all<br />

Walk along the shore she said<br />

The waves will wash you<br />

Again <strong>and</strong> again<br />

But the riptide stole me<br />

And drowned my nerve<br />

Learn to swim he said<br />

This happens to everyone<br />

Learn to not fear the sharks<br />

But they ravaged me<br />

Left me bleeding<br />

They circled me<br />

A multitude of anguish<br />

On the precipice of consumption<br />

Take a drink someone said<br />

Surrender to the salt<br />

Quench your thirst<br />

On poison so sweet<br />

I fought<br />

Somehow survived<br />

An old one offered<br />

A bottle of joy<br />

Pure from a mountain stream<br />

As fast as it filled me<br />

Refreshed me<br />

It poured from the open wounds<br />

As I gave up the will to try<br />

You said<br />

Spread this on your emptiness<br />

Inside <strong>and</strong> out<br />

I choked on the iron tang<br />

Wiped sticky maroon all over<br />

Then I died<br />

And rose again<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

46


Gibel Amador<br />

Love’s immortality<br />

I find sanctuary within water<br />

yet the flowers did not<br />

Like lifeless fish in a bowl.<br />

I look back on what this once was<br />

And imagine its beauty with violent colors.<br />

Each petal is brought alive<br />

Continuously in my mind,<br />

I create my own fountain of youth<br />

And yet the flowers still die.<br />

Reminding me of our love.<br />

Why can’t I throw away these flowers?<br />

Their purpose is over,<br />

They are no longer alive nor beautiful<br />

right?<br />

Marathon<br />

Torn ligaments scatter towards the edge<br />

No time to cleanse<br />

A marathon that came to an end<br />

Words of affirmation<br />

Poured out ahead<br />

Drowning my thoughts<br />

Because I could not comprehend<br />

How love pushed me towards the edge<br />

47 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Gibel Amador<br />

Model: Aparna Mangadu<br />

Fleurs Violentes<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

48


Leonard Duncan<br />

An Epilogue<br />

It’s a cold <strong>and</strong> rainy day. I can imagine<br />

it’s befitting of a gray, storming ocean,<br />

or a thundering night sky – like the ones<br />

you’d like to watch on TV – even if it’s just<br />

a drizzle right now. It’s been a year since<br />

your memorial, but I can’t lie to myself.<br />

The weather is really like all those funeral<br />

days we saw in the movies on your father’s<br />

old VHS tapes; positively black-umbrella<br />

worthy. And yet I sit here with no umbrella<br />

in h<strong>and</strong>. The only thing that protects me<br />

from the rain is the tattered plastic shelter<br />

of this bus stop, hundreds of miles from<br />

where you died. I forgot my umbrella at<br />

home (or did I even mean to bring it?). I<br />

forget many things, now.<br />

But not you. Never you, even though<br />

maybe it would be better for me to think<br />

less of you. That’s what mom says, anyway;<br />

did you know I stopped mentioning you<br />

to her not long after the memorial? (I<br />

suppose you wouldn’t, since it’s not like<br />

I talk to her much at all). She tolerated<br />

it, but I could see the disgust in her eyes<br />

every time you were mentioned. I think<br />

that was worse than not talking about<br />

you at all, so I started holding you closer<br />

to my chest. It was easier to keep our<br />

precious memories untainted that way - to<br />

keep them untouched by the judgment of<br />

people who wouldn’t underst<strong>and</strong>.<br />

And, I suppose, that’s part of the reason<br />

why I’m leaving. I know my doctors<br />

certainly wouldn’t recommend it this soon<br />

—I’ve still got another CT scan scheduled<br />

for Friday, after all, <strong>and</strong> then my neurology<br />

appointment on the Wednesday after,<br />

<strong>and</strong> then there’s another one after that…<br />

I can’t recall, but that doesn’t matter too<br />

much now. I won’t be here for it, anyway.<br />

Medicine doesn’t matter too much when<br />

it doesn’t truly heal. I know you’d agree<br />

with me on that point, at least. After all, no<br />

amount of painkillers could heal the damage<br />

done to you after what your father did. What<br />

happened last year shows that, but don’t<br />

worry. I’m not bitter about it. I know that if<br />

I had tried a little harder, things might have<br />

been different. Of all the people to blame for<br />

what happened, I know I’m pretty high up on<br />

that list.<br />

Well, maybe that’s a lie. Not the blame, but<br />

the bitterness. After all, I could count on one<br />

h<strong>and</strong> the number of people I had in my life<br />

who I loved, <strong>and</strong> you took them all out in<br />

one fell swoop. I have a right to be a little<br />

bitter about that, don’t I? Don’t begrudge<br />

me this. Not when you made me wake up like<br />

that. You said you’d never leave me alone,<br />

but by the time I awoke there was nothing<br />

left for me but the unfamiliarity of distant,<br />

demeaning hospital staff.<br />

I wish I could remember it better, just to<br />

hold on to the clarity of the pain. That pain<br />

was better than anything that came after.<br />

But things are fuzzy from back then... There<br />

was astringency, sure; muted impressions<br />

of white, <strong>and</strong> hospital-scrub-blue; but<br />

everything else was kept hushed <strong>and</strong> warm<br />

under a blanket of morphine, or fentanyl, or<br />

whatever opiates they decided would keep<br />

me mollified for the day.<br />

One of the first things I do remember is<br />

seeing my mother for the first time since I<br />

was nine, <strong>and</strong> for the second time in my life.<br />

I thought if I ever saw her again, you would<br />

be there with me, a barrier between me <strong>and</strong><br />

the world; but, no. (I’m sure you see the irony<br />

that you were the reason I saw her again).<br />

I didn’t even recognize her, for a while; part<br />

of that can be attributed to the sorry mess<br />

that was my brain, but she also seemed like<br />

a whole different woman than when I first<br />

met her, more in manner than in appearance.<br />

49 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Oh, but that’s not to say she didn’t look<br />

different; she did. There were crow’s<br />

feet crinkled around her eyes, day-old<br />

makeup applied hurriedly (so unlike in<br />

that single image I had of her, the one<br />

you <strong>and</strong> I furtively peeked at when my<br />

dad wasn’t around). Her h<strong>and</strong>s were<br />

clenched anxiously around her phone;<br />

white-knuckled, but long-fingered <strong>and</strong><br />

willowy, just like mine. I hadn’t recognized<br />

it when I was nine, but my h<strong>and</strong>s were<br />

one of the things I inherited from her.<br />

All the worse for me.<br />

There are many things that have cycled<br />

through the list of things I don’t like<br />

about myself over the years, but my<br />

h<strong>and</strong>s have always been a constant. When<br />

I was a kid, it was because they were too<br />

spindly to let me grab onto the bugs <strong>and</strong><br />

lizards we chased down in the woods with<br />

the same ease yours did. (Your h<strong>and</strong>s were<br />

broad, <strong>and</strong> wide, calloused <strong>and</strong> could grip<br />

a skink with the same ease that you would<br />

grip my h<strong>and</strong>s so that I could hold on to<br />

whatever you gave me; but they always<br />

slipped through my fingers.)<br />

In high school, it was because they looked<br />

too feminine; though I doubt it was my<br />

h<strong>and</strong>s alone that made me look queer<br />

to that small population of immigrant<br />

children, rich kids <strong>and</strong> trailer park<br />

descendants,... they contributed to the<br />

general everything that made me feel like I<br />

wanted to crawl out of my skin when I got<br />

an uncomfortable side-eye from a jock or<br />

a nervous titter from one of the prep girls.<br />

Now, though, I hate these h<strong>and</strong>s because<br />

I feel like they weren’t strong enough to<br />

pull you up from whatever crevasse you<br />

were sinking into that I was too dumb to<br />

see. Or maybe see isn’t the right word;<br />

even if I couldn’t see it, I should’ve felt it.<br />

We touched every day, you <strong>and</strong> I; I would<br />

nudge you with my shoulder at school, give<br />

you a joking punch on the arm, brush our<br />

legs together for a brief, poignant moment<br />

when we sat across from each other at<br />

the cafeteria tables. And, when no one<br />

was around to look, or judge, I would feel<br />

your h<strong>and</strong> over mine, like when we were<br />

kids hunting lizards in the woods. But only<br />

sometimes. The winding mountain roads<br />

didn’t straighten out often enough for me<br />

to spare one h<strong>and</strong> from the steering wheel.<br />

I should’ve known, I should have known.<br />

It’s unbearable to me that your h<strong>and</strong>s,<br />

familiar to me as they were, rested in<br />

mine nearly every day—<strong>and</strong>, through that<br />

connection we shared, my h<strong>and</strong>s deem me<br />

someone too weak to hold you up when<br />

you needed it the most. I can’t tolerate it.<br />

I couldn’t tolerate it then, either, when I<br />

was finally conscious <strong>and</strong> not just awake. I<br />

spared no time asking after you. I couldn’t<br />

remember, of course, <strong>and</strong> they all knew<br />

that. My mother seemed hesitant to tell<br />

me anything, despite the fact that she<br />

was likely the one who had the most tact<br />

for it (at least, compared to your mother,<br />

who was the one who actually ended up<br />

breaking the news to me). The day she<br />

came in to tell me what happened is one<br />

of the few times from my months in the<br />

hospital that did not fade under that<br />

narcotic haze. There are times I wish that<br />

those crystalline details had fogged away<br />

just like so many other things I heard <strong>and</strong><br />

said, just to lessen the pain of knowing. The<br />

true pain is all in the details of knowing.<br />

“Morgan.” Was the first thing she said, <strong>and</strong><br />

then she stopped, as if all she could bear to<br />

do was say my name.<br />

I stayed silent in response, which was<br />

both a pointed choice <strong>and</strong> an involuntary<br />

reaction. I still could barely speak then<br />

without substantial effort, <strong>and</strong> when I did<br />

it was aphasic, garbled with a stutter or<br />

slur. Like always, your mother didn’t seem<br />

worth anything more than a small token<br />

attempt at politeness – let alone what it<br />

would require for me to greet her clearly.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

50


But she seemed so terribly tired, with<br />

her perpetually vibrant eyes dim, dark<br />

<strong>and</strong> sunken in. Impossibly older looking,<br />

much like my mother, as if I had been<br />

asleep for an eternity instead of a month.<br />

“Morgan,” She begun again, <strong>and</strong> I<br />

remember how she drew herself up<br />

straighter, stronger, like she always did<br />

on those occasions when your dad got<br />

mad; but not mad like yelling, those<br />

few times it happened, but like those<br />

stern, unbearable, disappointed lectures<br />

that came every other day. You always<br />

took them with an irreverent grace, but<br />

your mother made like she had to make<br />

herself sturdy, to bear the weight of<br />

what was coming. It was a posture I had<br />

never seen directed at me before. “You’ve<br />

already spoken with the police, right?”<br />

I had. It had been one of the first things to<br />

happen after the nurses deemed me safe<br />

for non-familial visitors. That frustration<br />

was all the more painful when they would<br />

tell me nothing about where my dad was,<br />

or where you were. “It’d be better to have<br />

his mom break the news.” I remember<br />

one officer saying in an uncomfortably<br />

loud voice, as if I couldn’t hear them<br />

rather than couldn’t speak.<br />

So I nodded.<br />

She took a deep, shuddering breath <strong>and</strong>,<br />

as if in response, the whole rest of her<br />

body began to shake too—fine, minute<br />

tremors that I can only see in my mind’s<br />

eye in hindsight. (Crystalline memories,<br />

<strong>and</strong> I still wish them gone). She walked<br />

– too slow – <strong>and</strong> sat, carefully, on the<br />

chair next to my hospital bed, as if to<br />

draw out the experience as long as<br />

possible. She shucked her purse from her<br />

shoulder, settled it on her lap, crossed<br />

<strong>and</strong> uncrossed her legs. My eyes were on<br />

her the whole time.<br />

Finally, she spoke again. “They told<br />

me you still don’t remember anything.<br />

Your mom wanted me to tell you, since…<br />

well, we’ve known each other longer.” She<br />

said this without any of her usual hemming<br />

<strong>and</strong> hawing. And for a glimpse: at the<br />

mention of my mother, her lips pursed<br />

in a disapproving line. Her expression<br />

smoothed out again shortly after – though<br />

I think more from tiredness than a lack of<br />

disapproval.<br />

She cleared her throat, <strong>and</strong> gently<br />

attempted to tell me. And her facetious<br />

gentleness meant nothing, then, just as<br />

it means nothing to me now. She told me<br />

about how you got your father’s Glock, <strong>and</strong><br />

took it to the grocery store. She told me<br />

how you shot everyone there. My father.<br />

Your father. Monica, the single mother.<br />

And Monica’s daughter, Charlie, who could<br />

have done nothing wrong other than being<br />

there.<br />

And me. I was there.<br />

It was said so plainly, I couldn’t help but<br />

believe it. Even if the last thing I could<br />

remember before the hospital was<br />

playing some video game with you in my<br />

room back in November, right after a big<br />

Thanksgiving meal – it made sense. It<br />

made sense, even though you shooting<br />

up a grocery store was nothing I had<br />

even had a passing thought of, before.<br />

And yet your mother still sat there,<br />

watching. Waiting. Her eyes were tearful,<br />

<strong>and</strong> expectant. I still don’t know exactly<br />

what she was expecting from me, then.<br />

Denial? Anger? Hysteria? More halfformed<br />

<strong>and</strong> misspoken words? Nothing<br />

would come, <strong>and</strong> nothing could. My mind<br />

was plain <strong>and</strong> clear with the acceptance<br />

that you were gone, <strong>and</strong> that my father<br />

was gone, <strong>and</strong> that my life then may as<br />

well be gone.<br />

“Morgan? Do you underst<strong>and</strong>?” She asked.<br />

I nodded. Her words rang unholy <strong>and</strong> true,<br />

just as they do now, recalling them for you.<br />

51 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Things like tears <strong>and</strong> anger had yet to come.<br />

Ethan. You told me that one day, we’d leave<br />

together. You wanted to see the coast, <strong>and</strong><br />

I thought I wouldn’t mind seeing anything<br />

as long as it was with you. You were always<br />

the one obsessed with everything nautical.<br />

It took you from when we were young<br />

<strong>and</strong> innocent <strong>and</strong> played pirates up in the<br />

treehouse your father built for us, to just a<br />

few years ago – an eternity too long – when<br />

you searched for bus tickets to Seattle<br />

with frenetic energy (a promise from your<br />

father for your birthday, never kept). I<br />

never understood it. We were mountainborn,<br />

you <strong>and</strong> I; true-blooded, raised-bythe-woods<br />

kids that didn’t know anything<br />

beyond the forests as our backyard until<br />

we were forced to learn otherwise. All of<br />

that innocence – like it never was – slipped<br />

away with an uncomfortable ease on the<br />

day your father shattered <strong>and</strong> broke.<br />

(And I do mean broke. No one ever called<br />

it that, but in all hindsight, with distance<br />

from his death, he broke. He collapsed<br />

upon himself, like some half-drunk flask<br />

of whiskey thrown at the edge of the yard,<br />

<strong>and</strong> the pieces got buried under layers of<br />

new grass, snow,... of rain <strong>and</strong> mud <strong>and</strong><br />

newer earth, until it was just old glass in<br />

a backyard.)<br />

Of course I couldn’t underst<strong>and</strong> it then –<br />

what six-year-old could? – but I can still<br />

choose to regret the way I never pushed<br />

further, or leaned in harder, to try <strong>and</strong><br />

tease out more of the truth. I guess I was<br />

just as fooled as they were, even if we were<br />

practically raised h<strong>and</strong>-in-h<strong>and</strong>. But all<br />

I saw, like everyone else, was that when<br />

your father gave in, <strong>and</strong> left those little<br />

glass pieces everywhere, people have been<br />

cutting themselves on them ever since.<br />

Especially you. Maybe only you. I don’t<br />

know if anyone was ever hurt more by him<br />

than you were.<br />

I’m sorry. Does it hurt to be reminded? We<br />

never really talked about it, even when I saw<br />

you in the hospital right after the accident.<br />

You were wrapped up <strong>and</strong> stitched up, cold,<br />

alone, while your father a few floors up was<br />

surrounded by family, friends, parishioners<br />

<strong>and</strong> clergymen. The people who should’ve<br />

been rallying for you instead. That was<br />

the first time we ever saw life as it was<br />

outside of Featherville, <strong>and</strong> it was like being<br />

born again. Of course, it wasn’t like we<br />

had never left before. This was all before<br />

my dad ran the grocery, <strong>and</strong> you know my<br />

opa <strong>and</strong> oma were notoriously rigid about<br />

stocking “unnecessary” things (like my<br />

dad’s favorite beer) – so excursions to the<br />

dinky little Walmart in Fredericksburg were<br />

unavoidable.<br />

But they were just that – excursions. They<br />

felt like little visits to a far away world, one<br />

that was filled with a multitude of curious<br />

things like neat rows of houses <strong>and</strong> shops<br />

<strong>and</strong> neatly curated trees in parks. It was<br />

a scene fit perfectly for a snow globe. It<br />

wasn’t truly real. Not until were we forced<br />

out there by your father, but also we came<br />

to realize that the people out there were<br />

just as real <strong>and</strong> true <strong>and</strong> fallible <strong>and</strong> awful<br />

as they were in Featherville.<br />

And fallible <strong>and</strong> awful were what they truly<br />

seemed to be when I first came into that<br />

hospital room, startlingly empty. Except<br />

for you. You were b<strong>and</strong>aged <strong>and</strong> wired up<br />

with tubes, <strong>and</strong> utterly alone. I think even<br />

my father was a bit shocked, then, despite<br />

his empathy for the pastor; I know I at least<br />

thought that you shouldn’t have been the<br />

one alone after your father’s break, <strong>and</strong><br />

my father <strong>and</strong> I were of the same mind<br />

on many things. The amount of empathy<br />

people can have for someone who they<br />

shouldn’t is astounding. After all, it wasn’t<br />

like the bottle tipped itself into his mouth<br />

on its own. But I suppose money talked in<br />

Featherville, just like it does everywhere else.<br />

And with that unspoken money you were<br />

there, left mostly alone except for a few<br />

token visitors who stopped by to leave a<br />

little gift or a pat on the head, or whatever<br />

adults give to hurt kids when they’re too<br />

ashamed to admit that they were wrong.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

52


(Apologies weren’t included— I can<br />

recall that much.) And me? I was too<br />

frightened to run to your side, like I<br />

should have. And it was frightening.<br />

One day, we were normal kids, playing<br />

in those woods <strong>and</strong> pretending we were<br />

pirates in our treehouse – <strong>and</strong>, then<br />

the next – the next you <strong>and</strong> your father<br />

were gone <strong>and</strong> nobody would tell me<br />

what had happened or why the whole of<br />

Featherville was in such an uproar.<br />

I remember trotting up to your bed with<br />

a careful slowness, saying “Hi, Ethan,”<br />

with a shyness that didn’t befit our<br />

friendship. Like we hadn’t known each<br />

other since we were in diapers. I couldn’t<br />

stop staring at the b<strong>and</strong>ages wrapped<br />

around your head, your arm, your chest,<br />

<strong>and</strong> wondering what lay underneath.<br />

My father seemed to have the opposite<br />

reaction; he wouldn’t look you straight<br />

in the eye, even as he said “Hey, kiddo,”<br />

<strong>and</strong> reached out to ruffle your hair<br />

like he normally did. But then he had<br />

aborted the motion halfway through,<br />

withdrawing his h<strong>and</strong> like he was about<br />

to put it in a bear trap. I don’t think you<br />

even noticed; you were too invested in<br />

me, us in each other, to take too much of<br />

a notice of the outside world.<br />

And still you smiled back at me, then,<br />

<strong>and</strong> even if you didn’t say a word I could<br />

see the glimmer in your silver eyes, <strong>and</strong><br />

think I knew what you meant. But I ruined<br />

it (very easy for me to do, it seems). I<br />

asked, “Ethie, what did’ju do?”, with all<br />

the naked bluntness of a child. Your<br />

smile faded, <strong>and</strong> you were silent; you<br />

wouldn’t say another word for months<br />

after. Not to me, <strong>and</strong> not to anybody.<br />

I would have to be told by my family,<br />

with Oma <strong>and</strong> Opa <strong>and</strong> Dad all sat<br />

around a table (to lie <strong>and</strong> pretend<br />

like everything was going to be okay).<br />

Pastor Jackson had an accident, I<br />

remember them saying; “He had a bit<br />

too much to drink, <strong>and</strong> that made him<br />

sick,” was something like what Oma said.<br />

“He thought he heard the devil raging<br />

inside Ethan, so he tried to get it out, <strong>and</strong><br />

they both hurt each other. That’s why<br />

they’re both in the hospital right now.”<br />

There was that infallible emphasis that<br />

Pastor Jackson was a good guy; that what<br />

happened was an accident, <strong>and</strong> no one’s<br />

fault, <strong>and</strong> everyone would just be taking a<br />

bit of time to recover <strong>and</strong> then everything<br />

would be okay again. I believed them. It<br />

was an easy mistake to make, you know?<br />

A stupid mistake, <strong>and</strong> one I hate myself<br />

for, but an easy one. Six years old was<br />

too young for me to start to question the<br />

adults around me in any way that really<br />

mattered. But I still can’t forgive myself,<br />

<strong>and</strong> I don’t want to make excuses for it.<br />

I find it hard to forgive myself for a lot<br />

of things, concerning you – as if I even<br />

deserve forgiveness. I can’t forgive myself<br />

for believing the lie that your father was<br />

anything more than a devil himself, for<br />

seeing one in you. I can’t forgive myself<br />

for trying to sell the lie that you <strong>and</strong> I<br />

were anything less than what we were –<br />

whatever we were. Codependent almostadults?<br />

Almost lovers? I can’t forgive<br />

myself for not agreeing to leave with you<br />

when you wanted to, <strong>and</strong> for not listening<br />

(or maybe just not believing) when you<br />

said you’d be better off dead then stuck in<br />

some shitty little mountain town for one<br />

more year. I should’ve listened to you. I<br />

should’ve believed you.<br />

I try to stop myself from wondering if<br />

things might’ve been different if I had left<br />

with you in August, when you wanted. I<br />

try to stop myself because I know there’s<br />

no going back <strong>and</strong> changing things, but<br />

during moments like this it’s hard to<br />

keep that wall between what is <strong>and</strong> what<br />

could have been. Moments like now,<br />

when I’m alone under a bus shelter in the<br />

now-pouring rain, it’s nigh impossible<br />

to push away dreams of what might<br />

have been if we had run away together.<br />

53 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Little glimpses of memories that never<br />

will-be keep haunting me, “Ethan. Ethan!”<br />

– <strong>and</strong> I wish it would just stop!<br />

I see things like us, together, on one<br />

of those beaches you wanted to visit;<br />

sometimes on the east coast, sometimes<br />

on the west, but always somewhere you<br />

had listed on the bullet-point list tacked<br />

to the corkboard in your room. We’d<br />

be there among the s<strong>and</strong>, <strong>and</strong> rushing<br />

ocean waves <strong>and</strong> gull cries <strong>and</strong> sea<br />

grass—all those things you yearned for,<br />

but never felt—<strong>and</strong> you’d finally smile<br />

at me again, scars <strong>and</strong> all, reflecting the<br />

ones you gave me.<br />

Or maybe in some big city somewhere –<br />

far away from everything rural that you<br />

ever hated. We’d walk together, brave<br />

<strong>and</strong> free, your h<strong>and</strong> broad <strong>and</strong> calloused<br />

<strong>and</strong> warm in my spindly can’t-hold-youup<br />

h<strong>and</strong>s that ended up ending us. We’d<br />

be able to do all those things you always<br />

wanted, but were never able—visit those<br />

big maritime museums, see shipwrecks<br />

<strong>and</strong> ride on museum ships, live on the<br />

docks in a houseboat with two cats…<br />

Or – or, I’ll see us back at my dad’s grocery,<br />

back when things felt easier <strong>and</strong> freer.<br />

How we’d sit behind the counter with<br />

sodas <strong>and</strong> c<strong>and</strong>ies pilfered straight from<br />

the aisles, doing homework with sticky<br />

fingers <strong>and</strong> wide smiles on our faces.<br />

Dad always pretended not to hear us<br />

play our Gameboys beneath the counter<br />

between algebra problems for the first<br />

hour or so, but then he’d crack down on<br />

us <strong>and</strong> say “Okay, boys, it’s time to get<br />

to work,” <strong>and</strong> we’d put our games in our<br />

backpack to finish up. And he really would<br />

put us to work – especially when it got<br />

busy during hunting season, he’d almost<br />

always have one of us manning the second<br />

cash register while another stocked the<br />

shelves on the weekends. “You have to<br />

earn your keep somehow”, he’d say with<br />

a wry smile whenever we complained,<br />

but always send us off with more soda <strong>and</strong><br />

c<strong>and</strong>y to sit behind the counter if we really<br />

got too tired.<br />

I can imagine us there—finally graduated<br />

from high school, visiting from some city<br />

on the coast, maybe Seattle or Portl<strong>and</strong>—<br />

<strong>and</strong> dad would embrace us, <strong>and</strong> ask how<br />

the drive up those winding mountain<br />

roads had been –<br />

God, I hate this. I hate that you did it, I hate<br />

that we can’t have any of this, because of<br />

you, because of me— maybe, because of<br />

each other.<br />

I never told you why I’m out here tonight,<br />

did I? Just that I was leaving. Well, I finally<br />

remembered. Remembered enough, at<br />

least, to know that you really aren’t ever<br />

coming back. Neither is my dad, or your<br />

dad, or Monica or little Charlie. It never felt<br />

real until I started remembering for myself;<br />

hearing that they were gone, that you<br />

were gone felt like some story everyone<br />

made up to fool me while I was too sick to<br />

fight back. Even when I took your mom’s<br />

words at face value, there was a part of me<br />

that must have always felt the unreality<br />

of it all, especially when I heard that I was<br />

there, too.<br />

That seemed to me the most unbelievable<br />

part, but I know enough now to accept<br />

that I was there. I was there, <strong>and</strong> I couldn’t<br />

stop any of it. I couldn’t stop you.<br />

Most of it is still fuzzy, <strong>and</strong> there are bits<br />

that aren’t clear enough for me to know<br />

that they really happened how they did.<br />

It feels dreamlike, misty, to think about,<br />

especially since the fog was the reason I<br />

was there in the first place. Nobody had<br />

told me that. It was December, <strong>and</strong> in<br />

preparation for the big winter storm, dad<br />

had sent me down to Fredericksburg to pick<br />

up some provisions from Walmart before<br />

the mountain passes were snowed in.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

54


I remember that half an hour down,<br />

the storm came early, descending in<br />

alarming rapidity from the dusky sky, in<br />

a flurry of clouds <strong>and</strong> mist <strong>and</strong> white. I<br />

knew it would only get worse from there,<br />

so I decided to turn back while I could.<br />

I don’t remember the drive back, but I<br />

remember arriving back at the grocery. I<br />

remember because I heard the gunshots.<br />

I arrived at just the wrong time, didn’t I?<br />

I thought it must’ve been some rogue<br />

hunter, or burglar, or really anyone but you,<br />

so I got the shotgun out of the back of the<br />

truck <strong>and</strong> ran in with boyish, heroic intent.<br />

I think I must’ve startled you, <strong>and</strong> that’s<br />

why you shot me. I’d like to imagine there<br />

was shock <strong>and</strong> recognition on your face<br />

when you turned <strong>and</strong> the gun went off.<br />

But I think it’s more likely that that was<br />

the expression on mine. I can’t remember<br />

what your face looked like, then. Maybe<br />

it’s because I haven’t seen you in so long,<br />

but even knowing it’s you— you, wearing<br />

your old puffy coat in that memory,<br />

the blue one that made that god awful<br />

squeaking noise when you walked too<br />

fast— your expression remains a mystery.<br />

It’s like there’s nothing there. Just the<br />

blur of your face, as if covered by mist,<br />

dark with some intent I’ll never know.<br />

From there, the integrity of my memory<br />

only deteriorates. I know there was noise.<br />

There was yelling, gunshots, <strong>and</strong> then<br />

all at once, quiet. (That must’ve been<br />

when I passed out.) I remember muted<br />

impressions of color – the whiteness of<br />

the overhead lights, blurred impressions<br />

of red, you with your damned blue coat<br />

with you st<strong>and</strong>ing over me. I think I<br />

might’ve heard my name – but if it came<br />

from your mouth, I don’t know. It might’ve<br />

been my dad. I remember there were rows<br />

of Campbell’s Tomato Soup on the shelf<br />

above where I fell, just within eyesight.<br />

I remember my h<strong>and</strong> spasmed around the<br />

barrel of the shotgun that came from the<br />

back of the truck— the only part of it I<br />

could reach. Still cold.<br />

Even with these memories waning back<br />

into my broken brain, I still don’t know why<br />

you did it. Nothing <strong>and</strong> no one can tell me<br />

why you thought you needed to take your<br />

dad’s gun to the grocery <strong>and</strong> kill everyone<br />

there. (Or maybe why you wanted to –<br />

perhaps it’s too naive of me to assume it<br />

was a need.) But they tell me that even<br />

then, you were the same boy I always<br />

knew. As much as I would like it to, nothing<br />

about that night st<strong>and</strong>s out as “not-you”.<br />

I can’t imagine it was anyone else in that<br />

coat, st<strong>and</strong>ing over me.<br />

And now, in the end, all I’m left with is<br />

those dreams of the ocean. If I really want<br />

to try <strong>and</strong> discover why you did what you<br />

did, I may as well start at square one, your<br />

lifelong obsession <strong>and</strong> one true love. If I’m<br />

to imagine that you did this for any good<br />

reason at all, I want to start somewhere<br />

we’ve never been before. I don’t even know<br />

where I’m going—Atlantic, Pacific, gulf or<br />

sound—but I can’t st<strong>and</strong> it here anymore.<br />

I can’t st<strong>and</strong> the not-knowing, so I’m going<br />

anyway. I’m going to the ocean, Ethan. And<br />

if I’m lucky, what I see there will explain<br />

things well enough for the two of us.<br />

55 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Charity McCoy<br />

Denial: Blurry<br />

Blurry mornings<br />

Are one of those days<br />

That you wake up<br />

And remember,<br />

All over again,<br />

That something in your world<br />

Has collapsed - crashed -<br />

And all is not good <strong>and</strong> well.<br />

Blurry mornings, for me,<br />

Begin in tranquility;<br />

Nothing on my mind <strong>and</strong><br />

No underst<strong>and</strong>ing of where I am or what context I exist in.<br />

Just peaceful bliss <strong>and</strong> total ignorance.<br />

Bliss which, usually, is short-lived.<br />

…<br />

A sinking of the heart<br />

Or dropping of the stomach<br />

Soon follow,<br />

As either what I have done<br />

Or what has happened to me<br />

Resurface back from the oblivion<br />

And into my conscious thought.<br />

Leaving me with remnants of regret<br />

Or pieces of pain<br />

From what has happened in prior days.<br />

…<br />

This is why<br />

The blurry mornings kill,<br />

Especially today<br />

When the absence of you<br />

Is my new reality.<br />

And because of that, I’d rather be asleep<br />

So that dreams of you could comfort me<br />

While I rest in the bed of my ignorance -<br />

Tucked into my subconscious world where emotional cohesion is all that I know.<br />

Where everything is still beautiful <strong>and</strong> whole,<br />

And you are here.<br />

Because you were never gone<br />

And you never had to leave<br />

To begin.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

56


Charity McCoy<br />

“The complexity of human relationships<br />

is never simple to follow; It is like intricate<br />

lacework, but lacework made of steel.”<br />

-Mignon G. Eberhart<br />

Anger: Complexities<br />

How can I miss someone<br />

I don’t want to be with?<br />

How can I love the way he is<br />

But want him to change?<br />

You are exactly what I wanted,<br />

Yet you missed the mark,<br />

And I did the same.<br />

…<br />

Lately,<br />

I find myself<br />

Window shopping at the love of other people,<br />

Wishing it could be mine.<br />

Wishing I could finally get it right<br />

That I could be happily in love, for the first time.<br />

But here I am:<br />

Amongst the collateral<br />

Of what could have been.<br />

We met our end before we could begin,<br />

Which is why at times, I wish we didn’t.<br />

Because<br />

You showed me a beautiful love<br />

But left me feeling overlooked.<br />

I may have opened your heart to love again,<br />

But in the process, threw you into emotional loops.<br />

You were so gentle <strong>and</strong> kind with me,<br />

But in the end, left me so confused.<br />

Which is why I say:<br />

We were compatible,<br />

But we were not good.<br />

You wanted all of me<br />

And I wanted you partially;<br />

We stayed longer than we should.<br />

57 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

57 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X


Charity McCoy<br />

Bargaining: Stolen Moments<br />

Things feel okay<br />

When you’re here.<br />

Even if just<br />

For a stolen<br />

fracture of a moment,<br />

That will inevitably<br />

evaporate into isolation<br />

From your departure.<br />

…<br />

When I steal moments with you,<br />

There are collapsing buildings<br />

And emotional car collisions<br />

That reverse in time.<br />

And restoration greets me<br />

Like a long-lost friend,<br />

Even if It has found me scattered<br />

under highways of concrete rubble,<br />

Or scorched by<br />

Graceful amber flakes -<br />

Set aflame in raging house-fires<br />

That dance like your lips do on mine.<br />

Those stolen moments are all I have<br />

To calm the raging house fires.<br />

Or st<strong>and</strong> up from under the ruin<br />

Of collapsed buildings<br />

And car collisions,<br />

that I relive over<br />

<strong>and</strong> over again,<br />

Each moment I realize<br />

That you’re gone.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

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<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

58


Charity McCoy<br />

Depression: Clean Breaks<br />

According to Bella Swan,<br />

A full fracture is better than<br />

A partial<br />

Because<br />

Clean breaks heal quicker when<br />

There is no bone left intact.<br />

St<strong>and</strong>ard medical practice says<br />

That the bone, then, must be held in<br />

The correct position<br />

To allow<br />

A blood clot to form <strong>and</strong> callus -<br />

Allowing bone cells to begin thread-like formations<br />

On both sides of the fracture line;<br />

Usually taking 6-8 weeks to heal.<br />

…<br />

Like bones in the body,<br />

Our partial fracture<br />

Became clean-cut<br />

Leaving nothing intact.<br />

You selflessly seceded your desires<br />

To align with mine -<br />

After days of hair-line fracturing -<br />

After days of clinging to small moments with you<br />

So the effects of withdrawal would subside.<br />

Unfortunately, there are no painkillers for heartbreak,<br />

No morphine for separation anxiety.<br />

Only,<br />

Holding myself in the correct position -<br />

Which is together -<br />

And swallowing the clot of tears back down my sore <strong>and</strong> tense throat;<br />

Waiting to be emotionally calloused<br />

So that maybe, I could feel something other than the painful empty space from your absence,<br />

From our final break.<br />

…<br />

And I pray<br />

That the Lord would be so gracious<br />

To thread my heart back together<br />

Like the gentle surgeon he is,<br />

And allow my joy to grow greater than my sorrow<br />

That my bones may fully function again.<br />

59<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

59 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X


Charity McCoy<br />

Acceptance: Slow Fade<br />

They say<br />

To those who grieve<br />

That it hurts until it doesn’t.<br />

That the agonizing thing will meet<br />

You each day until it departs.<br />

That you will feel that way<br />

Until you no longer do.<br />

And I believe what they say.<br />

I believe that it hurts until it doesn’t<br />

Because today is a better day.<br />

My stomach dropped a little lighter,<br />

My heart tightened a little less<br />

When the blurs of sleep dissipated<br />

And the realization of your absence<br />

Weighs back on my chest.<br />

Though it hurt, nonetheless,<br />

I am reminded that it lasts until it doesn’t;<br />

The pain aches until it dissolves away.<br />

I am reminded<br />

That though each morning<br />

I relive that same heartbreak,<br />

In due time, I will be okay.<br />

Because they are right:<br />

It lasts until it doesn’t,<br />

It’s there until it’s not.<br />

And one day you’re going to wake up<br />

And find that all your grief is gone.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

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<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

60


Jessica Grissom<br />

The Book with a Cup of Tea<br />

Where do you go when you feel<br />

your heart breaking? Do you stay in bed<br />

under the nice warm covers? Do you<br />

find a solitary field to gaze at nature?<br />

Do you climb a mountain <strong>and</strong> scream at<br />

the top of your lungs? Maybe you don’t<br />

do anything <strong>and</strong> go through the motions<br />

repeatedly because that sense of normal<br />

is at least routinely comforting.<br />

She was one of those introverted,<br />

extroverts. She liked being around other<br />

people if they energized her. She loved<br />

helping others, but to do that she had to<br />

have alone time. Most often that meant<br />

reading a good book <strong>and</strong> drinking a cup<br />

of hot tea.<br />

She found both things<br />

comforting in normal times, but during<br />

times of grief she further escaped into<br />

the world of reading <strong>and</strong> drinking tea<br />

lattes. Thinking she’d isolated herself<br />

long enough, she decided to leave her<br />

home <strong>and</strong> head outside. The town had a<br />

quaint little shop in the downtown area.<br />

It wasn’t ever overly crowded, so she<br />

went to browse <strong>and</strong> quickly got lost in the<br />

stacks.<br />

Her eyes filled with tears when<br />

she came to the section labeled “Grief<br />

<strong>and</strong> Recovery”. It was the last shelf at<br />

the end of the aisle. She glanced around.<br />

I don’t want anyone to see me <strong>and</strong> feel<br />

sorry for me. I didn’t want anyone to<br />

ask me awkward questions. Not seeing<br />

anyone, she descended to the floor <strong>and</strong><br />

began flipping through pages.<br />

The title “The Unborn” caught<br />

her attention. She picked it up <strong>and</strong> it was<br />

what she thought – a story of miscarriage<br />

<strong>and</strong> pregnancy loss. Again, she looked up<br />

<strong>and</strong> checked her surroundings. She felt<br />

like she was about to open a book that<br />

was scary <strong>and</strong> sacred. In doing so, she<br />

knew she would open a part of herself.<br />

Willing a deep breath, she opened the<br />

book <strong>and</strong> started reading.<br />

He moved slowly up <strong>and</strong> down<br />

the aisle reading every title. As he turned<br />

the corner, he saw her on the floor. Her<br />

head was bent over the book, but he saw<br />

her using a h<strong>and</strong>kerchief to wipe away<br />

tears. She looked up at him <strong>and</strong> jumped.<br />

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I didn’t<br />

mean to scare you.”<br />

“I was caught up in the moment.<br />

It’s fine,” she murmured with mascara<br />

running down her face.<br />

“Are you, though?” he asked<br />

tenderly.<br />

These words caused a sob to escape, <strong>and</strong><br />

she buried her face in the h<strong>and</strong>kerchief.<br />

“May I sit beside you for a while<br />

in silence?” he asked hesitantly.<br />

No one had asked her that yet.<br />

People said they were sorry. They offered<br />

comforting phrases that didn’t help. No<br />

one had asked to sit with her quietly<br />

<strong>and</strong> simply acknowledge the grief. She<br />

looked at his eyes. His expression seemed<br />

genuine. She shook her head yes <strong>and</strong> he<br />

sat down a foot away from her. He rested<br />

his head on the back of the shelf <strong>and</strong><br />

closed his eyes. She looked at him <strong>and</strong><br />

more tears flowed. This time, she didn’t<br />

feel the need to wipe them quickly away.<br />

The book lay open in her lap <strong>and</strong> she<br />

bowed her head.<br />

After several minutes, he looked<br />

at her <strong>and</strong> whispered, “Who did you say<br />

goodbye to too soon?”<br />

“My baby,” she whispered with<br />

more tears flowing.<br />

61 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


His eyes moistened <strong>and</strong> he held out his<br />

h<strong>and</strong> to her. She placed her h<strong>and</strong> in his<br />

<strong>and</strong> he held it gently.<br />

“My wife passed away from<br />

cancer. We went through this journey too.<br />

Not that any journey is ever the same. I<br />

wished I could take away her pain, but she<br />

told me she just needed me to be there<br />

<strong>and</strong> hold her.”<br />

“Can you just hold me for<br />

a minute?” she asked as she moved<br />

towards him, not waiting for an answer,<br />

but instinctively knowing it would be<br />

okay.<br />

He opened both of his arms<br />

<strong>and</strong> she placed her head on his shoulder.<br />

Gently, he brushed the top of her head<br />

with his lips <strong>and</strong> whispered. “It is okay. It<br />

wasn’t your fault.”<br />

“Wasn’t it?” she sobbed <strong>and</strong><br />

continued, “My boyfriend doesn’t want to<br />

be involved. I think we were on the verge<br />

of a breakup, <strong>and</strong> this happened. I was<br />

wishing I’d never ever gotten pregnant.<br />

Then a few days later, I started having<br />

horrible pain. No one had ever told me<br />

of the physical pain. I have friends <strong>and</strong><br />

was aware it hurt them emotionally, but<br />

I didn’t even think about the bodily agony<br />

until I was right there in the middle of<br />

everything.”<br />

Her body heaved with sobs. He<br />

was glad he hadn’t heard the bookshop<br />

doorbell ring. The owner, Carol, popped<br />

around the corner <strong>and</strong> gave a sympathetic<br />

look. She mouthed the words, “Is she ok?”<br />

He nodded his head <strong>and</strong> Carol moved to<br />

the other aisle.<br />

They sat for a while in each<br />

other’s arms, <strong>and</strong> he whispered,<br />

“Beautiful, you are loved. This will always<br />

be a part of you, but you will be able to<br />

breathe easier again.”<br />

“I’m so sorry. I don’t know why<br />

I did that. I guess I’m not only grieving<br />

the loss, but also the comfort. My<br />

boyfriend has tried, but I don’t think<br />

he underst<strong>and</strong>s. We’ve been doing the<br />

long-distance thing for a while <strong>and</strong> this<br />

has made it worse. My best friend has<br />

been acting super weird too. Maybe<br />

just avoiding the awkward moments? I<br />

don’t know. Is it weird that sometimes<br />

the people closest to you seem the<br />

farthest away during grief? Here I am<br />

on the floor crying on a stranger’s<br />

shoulder.”<br />

“I underst<strong>and</strong> that. People<br />

were hovering the week my wife<br />

passed, <strong>and</strong> then disappeared. People<br />

sometimes remembered to check<br />

during the first holidays, but then it<br />

was as if life moved on. I was still not<br />

okay.”<br />

She reached for his h<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

said, “When did your wife pass?”<br />

today.”<br />

Sighing he said, “3 years ago<br />

A look of underst<strong>and</strong>ing<br />

passed between them.<br />

He gave her a soft smile <strong>and</strong><br />

said, “Can I please buy the book for<br />

you? Also, want to get a tea? Or are<br />

you a coffee person?”<br />

She smiled <strong>and</strong> said, “Tea.<br />

Please. Yes, I’d love that.”<br />

He helped her off the floor<br />

<strong>and</strong> she held onto both of his h<strong>and</strong>s for<br />

just a minute longer.<br />

She whispered, “Thank you.”<br />

He kissed the top of her<br />

forehead <strong>and</strong> said, “Thank you, too.”<br />

She managed a heartfelt smile<br />

<strong>and</strong> looked directly into his compassionate<br />

eyes. Suddenly, she moved away from<br />

him.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

62


Jesus Fern<strong>and</strong>o Ochoa Arreola<br />

Me Acuerdo de Ti<br />

Ahora que ya no estás aquí, todas las promesas de corazón, todos los días<br />

que no veremos juntos me pesan hoy. Las horas pasan y me acuerdo de ti.<br />

Aquellos días de verano cu<strong>and</strong>o el sol solía salir y sonreír ahora no son más<br />

que un buen sueño del cual he despertado. Los días pasan y me acuerdo de ti.<br />

Hasta entonces no conocía que era el horror; como el enfermero miró su reloj,<br />

el doloroso cabeceo negativo del doctor. Las semanas pasan y me acuerdo de ti.<br />

Aún te veo en mis sueños; todavía te siento en mis brazos acurrucada fuertemente<br />

y a través de tu piel siento tus cálidos latidos. Los meses pasan y me acuerdo de ti.<br />

Al amanecer despierto y recuerdo; que no daría yo por poder mover el tiempo atrás<br />

y poder decir te amo, y besarte solo una vez más. Los años pasan y me acuerdo de ti.<br />

A veces se me olvida tu rostro. Odio recordar y admitir que ya me acostumbré a vivir<br />

sin ti; vivir con mi vida sin Alma y mi alma sin vida. El tiempo pasa y me acuerdo de ti.<br />

Alma, día a día, querida, aprecio el milagro de haberte tenido en vida. Y me alegra pensar<br />

que, con Jesús en el cielo arriba, o estés donde estés, sé que tú, también, te acuerdas de mí.<br />

63 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Jesus Fern<strong>and</strong>o Ochoa Arreola<br />

En las Ruinas del Pensamiento<br />

El otro día recordé la escasez<br />

que abundó entre las riquezas<br />

en la ignorancia de mi niñez.<br />

Y así, desde mi ingrata infancia,<br />

hasta los falsos de la adolescencia,<br />

construí los estragos de mi conciencia.<br />

No existe la inteligencia<br />

que distinga su presencia<br />

sin humilde prepotencia.<br />

El otro día miré a mi padre en el espejo;<br />

sus mismas arrugas naciendo en mi reflejo<br />

compartiendo en mi rostro su silencio añejo.<br />

La apatía de la vida en ese momento<br />

me hizo sufrir perdido en pensamiento,<br />

ahogándome con arrepentimiento.<br />

No existe la ignorancia<br />

en plena abundancia<br />

que reconozca su existencia.<br />

El otro día descubrí las riquezas<br />

que en lo cotidiano quedan disfrazadas<br />

y que en mi mente dormían ignoradas.<br />

Me quedé sentado en las ruinas del ayer,<br />

entre los escombros en los que solía creer,<br />

contempl<strong>and</strong>o hacía a donde ir o que hacer<br />

y me tomó toda mi inteligencia,<br />

y también toda mi ignorancia,<br />

para terminar con mi vida de decadencia.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

64


Jesus Fern<strong>and</strong>o Ochoa Arreola<br />

Routine Staccato<br />

I think it’s time for me<br />

to say,<br />

hello,<br />

to you,<br />

again.<br />

But, this time,<br />

I don’t want to come back there.<br />

Ring ring, ring ring,<br />

I ring the reception’s bell.<br />

Tap tap, tap tap,<br />

my fingers tap while I wait.<br />

Push, pull,<br />

the door’s open.<br />

Thump, click,<br />

the door’s closed.<br />

Nurse Mary guides me today.<br />

Tack tack, tack tack<br />

her high heels echo<br />

while we walk.<br />

Knock knock, knock knock,<br />

she knocks on the door,<br />

but there’s no one else<br />

but you<br />

in there<br />

lying on bed.<br />

Hey,<br />

I say.<br />

Won’t you<br />

forget?<br />

The laughs<br />

we shared,<br />

the tears<br />

we shed.<br />

Woosh woosh, woosh woosh,<br />

The wind outside goes wild.<br />

The silence’s so strong<br />

I can hear everything going on.<br />

Sigh...<br />

65 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


The clock goes<br />

tick-tock, tick-tock,<br />

while we’re both just stuck.<br />

Your heart goes<br />

Thump-thump, thump-thump,<br />

yet your eyes won’t open up.<br />

The screen goes<br />

Beep, beep, beep, beep,<br />

but I wait in fear<br />

for it to beep just once<br />

loud <strong>and</strong> clear.<br />

Every<br />

day I<br />

see you,<br />

hear you,<br />

but you<br />

still won’t<br />

respond.<br />

Please<br />

wake up!<br />

Wake up!<br />

It hurts—<br />

it hurts,<br />

<strong>and</strong> that’s why I—<br />

that’s why I give up.<br />

Give up on waiting<br />

for you<br />

to wake up.<br />

***<br />

I think it’s time for me<br />

to say,<br />

goodbye,<br />

to you,<br />

again.<br />

But, this time,<br />

for sure,<br />

I won’t<br />

come back<br />

to see you anymore.<br />

moonlight beams dance<br />

along the crushing tide—<br />

s<strong>and</strong> castles rot<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

66


Jesus Fern<strong>and</strong>o Ochoa Arreola<br />

Mi Almohada ya no Ladra<br />

Repos<strong>and</strong>o en mi dulce cama<br />

duermo casi al nivel del piso<br />

escuch<strong>and</strong>o en tus uñas como<br />

te acercas con cada pasito.<br />

El lento rechinar de la puerta<br />

delata tus tiernas intenciones;<br />

Brincas acurrucándote dentro<br />

del vacío entre mis brazos.<br />

Vienes con tus besitos mojados<br />

y me despiertas, pero me dejas<br />

acarici<strong>and</strong>o mi almohada<br />

con una tristeza infinita—<br />

pues por fin me he dado cuenta que<br />

solo en mis sueños sigues aquí.<br />

67 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Liz Torres Shannon<br />

A Beautiful Goodbye<br />

There is an endearing warmth in<br />

watching someone gracefully slide into<br />

their golden years, but there is nothing<br />

quite as heart-wrenching as watching<br />

a loved one gradually slip away from<br />

reality. My dad was a cheerful, charming,<br />

full-of-life person incapable of meeting<br />

a stranger. His energy was boundless,<br />

always walking at least twenty feet<br />

ahead of his children as our little kid legs<br />

struggled to keep up.<br />

My parents left Houston, their<br />

home of more than fifty years, <strong>and</strong><br />

moved over three hundred miles away<br />

to Brownsville, Texas, to live out their<br />

retirement days. My mom started noticing<br />

little things, mostly forgetfulness at first.<br />

But, the week he repeatedly locked<br />

himself out of the house <strong>and</strong> flipped<br />

his SUV on the gravel road in their<br />

neighborhood, she realized it was more<br />

than just age-related forgetfulness <strong>and</strong><br />

forced him to see a doctor—something<br />

he hated to do. After just one very telling<br />

office visit, the doctor diagnosed him<br />

with Alzheimer’s.<br />

“What day of the week is it?” the<br />

doctor asked.<br />

“Sunday,” Dad answered<br />

hesitantly. It was a Tuesday.<br />

“Who is the president of the<br />

United States?”<br />

“Ugh, um, ugh, I’m not sure.<br />

Dad pauses for a long time, then asks,<br />

Kennedy?” It was Bill Clinton. As the<br />

doctor explained what to expect in the<br />

coming days, months, <strong>and</strong> years, Dad<br />

began to withdraw, <strong>and</strong> Mom struggled<br />

to hide her panic.<br />

Dad continued to retreat deeper<br />

within himself, refusing to talk about<br />

what was happening to him. His sullen<br />

muteness drove Mom crazy. She’d never<br />

been very patient, especially when it came<br />

to Dad. It was evident that although Mom<br />

loved him, her feelings of ill will toward<br />

him were also apparent, stemming<br />

perhaps, from his past indiscretions.<br />

She had no idea how to deal with what<br />

was happening, <strong>and</strong> she began to treat<br />

him more <strong>and</strong> more like a child, <strong>and</strong> he<br />

continued to disengage.<br />

At first, hints of the disease<br />

were subtle. There was the usual<br />

forgetfulness associated with<br />

Alzheimer’s. ¿Donde esta el barco?<br />

he asked me one day, referring to the<br />

large ships he worked on as a Merchant<br />

Marine. I stopped answering after<br />

about the fortieth time that afternoon.<br />

I would often find him engrossed in<br />

another reality as he tinkered with<br />

small objects. There were small trinkets<br />

between books, small wooden boxes,<br />

pottery, family photos, <strong>and</strong> souvenirs<br />

from my travels on a large bookcase.<br />

He would fixate on an object from the<br />

bookcase <strong>and</strong> pretend it was something<br />

on the ship that needed repair. His h<strong>and</strong><br />

would turn an invisible screwdriver <strong>and</strong><br />

swing an unseen hammer for hours at<br />

a time as he reverted back to being a<br />

Merchant Marine in the middle of the<br />

ocean. As time went on, his behaviors<br />

became more unpredictable. Some<br />

days he would unbutton his pants <strong>and</strong><br />

masturbate in a room full of people as if<br />

no one else was there.<br />

It became evident that Dad<br />

could not be left alone at home to his<br />

own devices. In fact, on a hot August<br />

afternoon, it became clear that we<br />

could not leave him alone—anywhere.<br />

It was an outdoor shopping mall, <strong>and</strong><br />

by the second store, he was tired. As<br />

we entered a sporting goods store, he<br />

went straight to a chair in the shoe<br />

department <strong>and</strong> found respite on an<br />

oversized cushioned chair. I agreed<br />

to let him rest. “Do not get up from<br />

this chair,” I said in my most stern <strong>and</strong><br />

authoritative voice.<br />

“No hijita, I’ll stay right here,” he<br />

assured me. I kept coming back to check<br />

on him every few minutes as I tried to<br />

shop with the rest of the family in the<br />

small store.<br />

I felt my heart skip a beat<br />

before it began pounding in my chest.<br />

My stomach immediately produced a<br />

wave of nausea so strong that I had to<br />

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68


steady my breath. Dad was gone. I scanned<br />

the store—he was nowhere in sight. We<br />

split up into two groups <strong>and</strong> searched the<br />

store, but there was no sign of him. We<br />

moved outside <strong>and</strong> began to inspect the<br />

shopping mall. We searched the adjacent<br />

stores <strong>and</strong> parking lot, asking passersby<br />

if they had seen him. No one had. Fearing<br />

the worst, we decided to call the police.<br />

Hours passed, <strong>and</strong> when it became<br />

evident that he was not in the area, a police<br />

officer approached me <strong>and</strong> said, “Ma’am,<br />

go home <strong>and</strong> wait for a call from the police<br />

department.” I feared the worst as I walked<br />

to the car with tears streaming down my<br />

face <strong>and</strong> my double breathing teetering on<br />

the verge of hyperventilating. That’s when<br />

another police officer appeared tenderly<br />

cradling a bedraggled, elderly gentleman.<br />

It was him! Dad’s face was as red as a<br />

summer ripe tomato, <strong>and</strong> his bright white<br />

hair stood straight up on his head. He<br />

resembled a sunburned, disheveled Albert<br />

Einstein! I burst into nervous laughter.<br />

We never found out what exactly<br />

happened that afternoon. We imagined<br />

that Dad must have convinced someone<br />

that he needed a ride. Then, when it<br />

became apparent that he was not in his<br />

right mind, they returned him to the<br />

shopping mall. Or, maybe Dad just climbed<br />

into the back of a parked pickup truck, <strong>and</strong><br />

once the driver noticed him in the back,<br />

they brought him back to the shopping<br />

mall. All we know is that he rode in the<br />

back of a pickup truck for god knows how<br />

many miles, white hair flying in the hot,<br />

stagnant, sticky Houston air.<br />

Later that year, Mom <strong>and</strong> Dad<br />

came to visit during the holidays. I knew<br />

Mom wanted to stay. I knew she wanted<br />

help with him, <strong>and</strong> being a stay-at-home<br />

mom, I felt I could offer her that. I thought<br />

between us, we could manage him.<br />

However, it quickly became apparent that<br />

taking proper, round-the-clock care of him<br />

was impossible. The time I was awakened<br />

in the middle of the night to find him going<br />

from room to room as he lit matches to see<br />

in the dark because he didn’t remember<br />

that he could turn the light on with the<br />

flick of a switch was the moment that I<br />

knew we had to do something.<br />

We began to discuss professional<br />

care in a nursing home. It took months<br />

of Dad’s crazy behaviors <strong>and</strong> many family<br />

discussions to finally make the painful<br />

decision. The decision was only made<br />

worse by my sister’s reaction to the news.<br />

She berated my mom as only she could<br />

do. Mom was devastated <strong>and</strong> depressed,<br />

but ultimately she knew what she had to<br />

do, <strong>and</strong> not even my sister’s hurtful words<br />

<strong>and</strong> actions would keep her from doing the<br />

right thing for her husb<strong>and</strong> of over fifty<br />

years. And finally, after much research <strong>and</strong><br />

government bureaucracy, we settled on a<br />

beautiful new facility just minutes from<br />

home. We knew it was best for him, but our<br />

hearts hurt from the thought of leaving<br />

him in a strange place with unfamiliar<br />

people. We explained, over <strong>and</strong> over, what<br />

his new living situation would be, but he<br />

just didn’t underst<strong>and</strong>.<br />

We arrived at the nursing home<br />

with big smiles to disguise our heavy<br />

hearts. It was a beautifully decorated,<br />

serene place, <strong>and</strong> Dad loved all the<br />

attention from the female nurses. Mom<br />

<strong>and</strong> I spent the entire day getting him<br />

settled in <strong>and</strong> showing him around the<br />

grounds. Then, when it came time to leave,<br />

he resisted very little, but enough to drain<br />

us of what little we had left in us to keep it<br />

together. “¿Me vas a dejar aqui solito?”<br />

he asked us, <strong>and</strong> the question shattered<br />

my heart into a million pieces. That night,<br />

however, I slept like a baby, not having to<br />

listen for the sounds of him w<strong>and</strong>ering the<br />

house or backyard. It felt good to know he<br />

was safe <strong>and</strong> in good h<strong>and</strong>s.<br />

The nurses <strong>and</strong> staff became<br />

family, <strong>and</strong> as time passed, it became our<br />

home away from home. I could bring him<br />

home on the weekends for the first few<br />

years. Dad would enjoy home-cooked<br />

meals <strong>and</strong> outings with the family, <strong>and</strong><br />

most importantly, he would spend quality<br />

time with Mom, cuddling, watching<br />

telenovelas, <strong>and</strong> working in the garden.<br />

The time came when he could no<br />

longer manage the step into the garage<br />

from the house. I watched as my husb<strong>and</strong><br />

tenderly picked him up <strong>and</strong> carried him to<br />

the car. At that moment, I knew this would<br />

be one of his last visits to the house. After<br />

that, the visits home began to dwindle.<br />

Every weekend turned into a couple of<br />

times a month, which turned into once a<br />

month, which turned into holidays, which<br />

eventually turned into one-way visits—<br />

from us to him.<br />

Dad began to share with me that<br />

he was ready to die. “Ya mija quiero<br />

morir, estoy listo,” he would tell me. Mom,<br />

however, refused to accept this. As a result,<br />

he would be in <strong>and</strong> out of hospitals for<br />

months. Finally, on one occasion, arriving<br />

69<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


DOA. The nurse escorted us to a private<br />

room. We had no idea why. The room<br />

was small, <strong>and</strong> the lighting was terrible,<br />

but it was nice to be in our own area.<br />

Mom <strong>and</strong> I had coffee <strong>and</strong> made small<br />

talk until someone finally came in. “You<br />

can go in <strong>and</strong> see him now,” was all the<br />

nurse said to us. It wasn’t until the next<br />

day that we were told he had arrived<br />

at the hospital without a pulse the<br />

day before. The hospital had managed<br />

to revive him, <strong>and</strong> he survived. Still,<br />

Mom refused to sign a DNR order <strong>and</strong><br />

insisted that he be taken to the hospital<br />

whenever he appeared near death. So,<br />

the cycle began where he would be<br />

taken to the hospital when he became<br />

unresponsive, the hospital would pump<br />

him up with fluids, <strong>and</strong> Dad would be ok<br />

for a few days <strong>and</strong> then begin to decline<br />

again. Ultimately, we got the call that it<br />

was only a matter of time before he was<br />

gone.<br />

Mom <strong>and</strong> I arrived at his room<br />

that afternoon. He acknowledged our<br />

presence, <strong>and</strong> even on his deathbed,<br />

his face <strong>and</strong> eyes lit up when he saw<br />

Mom. He could no longer speak, but<br />

if he could, he would have said, “¡Ayyy<br />

me Negra!” referring to Mom. An<br />

endearment he, with his fair Spanish<br />

skin, would always call her because of<br />

her dark Mexican complexion. We sat<br />

with him <strong>and</strong> talked about the upcoming<br />

holiday. We watched CNN <strong>and</strong> the local<br />

news, <strong>and</strong> then I went to a nearby deli<br />

<strong>and</strong> got s<strong>and</strong>wiches.<br />

I remember being nervous about<br />

the hours to come. I had never seen<br />

anyone die before <strong>and</strong> wondered what it<br />

would be like. The nurses brought in two<br />

oversized recliners for us to sleep on. I<br />

positioned Mom’s recliner next to Dad’s<br />

bed <strong>and</strong> mine slightly further down<br />

from hers. We took turns sitting next<br />

to him <strong>and</strong> holding his h<strong>and</strong>. He could<br />

hear <strong>and</strong> underst<strong>and</strong> us, <strong>and</strong> although<br />

he could not respond verbally, his eyes<br />

said everything. The way he looked at<br />

us needed no words. With his eyes, he<br />

told us how much he loved us <strong>and</strong> how<br />

grateful he was that we could be there<br />

with him in his final hours. His eyes<br />

conveyed that he felt loved <strong>and</strong> safe. “I<br />

love you,” I whispered to him. “It’s ok to<br />

go when you’re ready. I will take care of<br />

Mom; you don’t need to worry about<br />

her,” I reassured him. The night was long.<br />

I would wake up <strong>and</strong> find him staring<br />

at me, <strong>and</strong> I would reach for his h<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

gently whisper, “I love you.”<br />

His breathing changed in the early<br />

morning, <strong>and</strong> each inhale became a loud<br />

rattling, raspy sound. It was the sound of<br />

death, a sound I will never soon forget. Yet,<br />

even as we were witnessing his journey<br />

come to an end, Mom refused to accept<br />

what was happening. Instead, she began<br />

to aggressively spoon applesauce into his<br />

mouth as if the applesauce was what would<br />

keep him alive—as if she was willing him to<br />

live.<br />

“Mom!” I screamed. “He can’t<br />

swallow; he will choke,” I tried to explain. I<br />

couldn’t st<strong>and</strong> the thought of watching him<br />

die a violent death from a choking fit because<br />

of her antics. But, she simply ignored me in<br />

her state of denial. Finally, exasperated, I<br />

called for a nurse who came in <strong>and</strong> removed<br />

the food from his mouth <strong>and</strong> explained to<br />

Mom that she shouldn’t attempt to feed<br />

him. Mom looked tired <strong>and</strong> scared, her body<br />

language expressing defeat. Within a few<br />

hours, it was clear that he was struggling<br />

to take a full breath. Then, around ten in<br />

the morning on the 4th of July, he finally<br />

took the last, loud, raspy breath, which was<br />

followed by complete silence <strong>and</strong> a look on<br />

his face of pure, infinite peace.<br />

Mom wailed over his lifeless body<br />

<strong>and</strong> into the morning.<br />

Spending those last hours with him<br />

was a limitless blessing <strong>and</strong> an extraordinary<br />

honor. It has been one of my most beautiful<br />

<strong>and</strong> profound experiences in life. I was<br />

reminded that, at any given time, we are all<br />

somewhere on the so-called circle of life, of<br />

birth, living, <strong>and</strong> death. However, that day<br />

I also understood that death could be just<br />

as beautiful an experience as birth <strong>and</strong> that<br />

everything we do in-between matters.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

70


Thảo Ðinh<br />

Butterflies are beautiful symbols of death <strong>and</strong> rebirth, from cocoons<br />

they shed their old selves to reincarnate into something breathtaking. In<br />

this acrylic painting, I tried the splashing method, something completely<br />

new to me that I was scared of trying. But I did anyway. The result was<br />

beyond my expectations. I realized that transformation can be scary <strong>and</strong><br />

overwhelming, but it will be worth it in the end.<br />

Rebirth<br />

-Thảo Ðinh<br />

71 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Coryna Trevino<br />

chrysalis<br />

eyes met from across<br />

a crowded room<br />

<strong>and</strong> time<br />

seemed to stop<br />

two hearts rejoicing in a synchronous cadence<br />

while no words were uttered<br />

their inevitability<br />

silent yet altogether too loud<br />

never had a single moment felt so<br />

earth-shattering<br />

green met blue<br />

in a cataclysmic waterfall both<br />

eroding the earth<br />

<strong>and</strong> granting oasis<br />

for those it shelters<br />

all it took was one glance<br />

as fragile as a<br />

butterfly<br />

causing a tsunami<br />

beauty <strong>and</strong> devastation<br />

filled the air<br />

in traditional love stories<br />

one glance would lead to<br />

green met blue<br />

heart met soul<br />

time froze<br />

love blossomed<br />

<strong>and</strong> then<br />

in an instant<br />

time marched away<br />

leaving that moment<br />

in a chrysalis<br />

but this was only ever<br />

one glance<br />

one momentfleeting<br />

never-ending<br />

devastating<br />

but oh so beautiful<br />

like a butterfly<br />

preserved foreverdevastatingly<br />

beautiful<br />

happily ever after<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

72


Coryna Trevino<br />

ocean blue eyes full of love<br />

<strong>and</strong> promises of forever<br />

but She promised forever<br />

jumbled words inside my<br />

grief-stricken mind<br />

never has an emptiness like this<br />

taken root in my bodya<br />

corporeal despondency ravages my fragile psyche<br />

one that reaches into my very soul<br />

<strong>and</strong> rips it apartindifferent<br />

to the inconsolable mess it will leave behind<br />

hour after hour<br />

phantoms of Her<br />

invade my system<br />

Her smile<br />

Her inability to dance<br />

Her whispered vows of love as the sun slithers slowly into our safe haven.<br />

all i can see is Her<br />

all i can feel is an earth-shattering, world-crumbling, apocalyptic ache<br />

to hold Her in my arms as She<br />

smiles up at meocean<br />

blue eyes full of love <strong>and</strong> promises of forever<br />

every fiber of my being<br />

down to the smallest, inconsequential atom<br />

yearns to hear<br />

Her voice<br />

Her laugh<br />

Her incoherent, two am, sleep-deprived mumbles<br />

73 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


ut She promised forever<br />

jumbled words inside my<br />

grief-stricken mind<br />

ocean blue eyes full of love <strong>and</strong> promises of forever<br />

incoherent, two am, sleep-deprived mumbles<br />

hour after hour<br />

fight after fight<br />

slammed doors <strong>and</strong> empty drawers<br />

a corporeal despondency engulfs my entity<br />

a little blue box protecting priceless emerald carats of forever<br />

mocks me as i replay<br />

the multitude of memories i have<br />

of Her<br />

who would have guessed forever had an expiration date<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

74


Elizabeth Motes<br />

“The Five Stages of a Near-<br />

Death Experience”<br />

One<br />

After nearly dying with her boyfriend, Rhiannon made herself promise to break up<br />

with him as soon as possible.<br />

Her second day of isolation in her bedroom gave her a lot of time to reflect, <strong>and</strong><br />

she decided breaking up with him was a form of healing. She didn’t sustain any serious<br />

injuries from the accident itself - just a sprained wrist, chest injuries, <strong>and</strong> a concussion. But<br />

her mother insisted she stay home <strong>and</strong> rest.<br />

Her mother also had her still bedridden, though she could walk perfectly fine. But<br />

every time her mother brought up her meals, she gave a stern look to her wrist, then her<br />

face, wracked with bruises. Rhiannon gave in.<br />

“What?” she asked, feeling powerless to her judgment while confined to her bed.<br />

Her mother clicked her tongue. “That boyfriend.” Her thin brows knotted together.<br />

“This is his fault.”<br />

For once, Rhiannon didn’t disagree.<br />

Two<br />

Rhiannon <strong>and</strong> Jason weren’t even supposed to be driving far that night. In fact, she<br />

hadn’t anticipated them having plans at all until he met her at her locker, a bright smile on<br />

his face, <strong>and</strong> told her they were going to dinner to celebrate their eight-month anniversary.<br />

She hadn’t been sure if they would celebrate it. When she brought up their sixth month<br />

anniversary, he gave her a grin <strong>and</strong> asked if they were going to be that kind of couple to<br />

celebrate things like that.<br />

But if he was offering dinner - she suggested the nice Italian place that was fairly<br />

close to both their homes, <strong>and</strong> he said that sounded great. She spent the next period<br />

thinking about what she was going to wear.<br />

The anniversary came <strong>and</strong> Jason picked her up. She’d settled on a black dress with<br />

spaghetti straps <strong>and</strong> a frill at the end, <strong>and</strong> he told her that she looked nice when she got in<br />

the car. He talked the whole way to the restaurant in that way he did when he was in a good<br />

mood. They arrived, <strong>and</strong> when the two walked up to the restaurant, Rhiannon felt like they<br />

were a real couple. Anyone who saw them would think so.<br />

When they entered the crowded waiting area, Rhiannon learned that Jason had<br />

not made a reservation.<br />

“It’s an hour wait,” he said to her when he returned. She was sitting next to a<br />

mother scolding her two boys for being rowdy.<br />

“An hour?” she repeated quietly. She didn’t ask why he hadn’t placed the reservation<br />

last week.<br />

75 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Jason shrugged his shoulders with a frown. “It’s never this crowded,” he said.<br />

“What do you want to do?”<br />

She looked down at her h<strong>and</strong>s. She’d gotten her nails done the day before. “I don’t<br />

want to wait for an hour.”<br />

“Right. Yeah.” He nodded, glanced back outside, then at her again. “Hey, Matthew<br />

just told me about this great Thai place that he went to the other day. We’ll check that out.”<br />

His smile returned, amused, like they were on a quirky misadventure. He was at his most<br />

h<strong>and</strong>some that way, with his blond hair making him look like a teenager in a movie.<br />

She followed him back outside to the car. After she buckled up, she slipped off<br />

her heels while Jason tapped away on his phone to get the restaurant address, his screen<br />

lighting up the dark car. A few minutes later, he put the phone in his cup holder <strong>and</strong> pulled<br />

out of the parking lot.<br />

Fifteen minutes into the drive, Rhiannon put her arm against the window <strong>and</strong> laid<br />

her head on her h<strong>and</strong>. “How far is it?”<br />

“Maybe another fifteen minutes or so,” he replied. “It’s downtown.”<br />

“We should call ahead <strong>and</strong> make sure they have a table.”<br />

“You can if you want.”<br />

She put her arm down <strong>and</strong> looked at him. Her stomach twisted with hunger; she’d<br />

skipped lunch thinking they would eat early. “Why didn’t you just call ahead at the other<br />

place?” she asked, the words slipping out without thought.<br />

He blinked rapidly. “I don’t know,” he said. “I just didn’t think to. They’re not<br />

normally that crowded.”<br />

“It’s a Saturday night, Jason, of course they’d be crowded.”<br />

“What do you want me to do?” he asked. He glanced at her with wide, guilty eyes.<br />

“I asked if you wanted to wait.”<br />

“I wanted you to make a reservation last week.” Hunger made her bold, apparently.<br />

“Why are you getting upset over this?” he asked. The light ahead turned yellow<br />

<strong>and</strong> he sped up to reach it. “It’s not a big deal. Some people have, like, actual problems to<br />

deal with, you know? And you’re picking a fight because you had to wait a little longer for<br />

dinner?” He glanced at her again, then back at the road. “I was busy this week, too. I had<br />

practice <strong>and</strong> I was up late scrambling to do homework. So no, I didn’t make the reservation.”<br />

His anger echoed through the car. Rhiannon went silent.<br />

A few seconds passed, then Jason sighed. “Rhi, I’m sorry.” He spoke in a quieter<br />

voice, as if disguising the person who just snapped at her. Nothing to see behind the<br />

curtain.<br />

“It’s fine.” The fight had gone out of her.<br />

“I screwed this up. I always screw up.”<br />

“No, you don’t,” she muttered.<br />

“You know I do, Rhi. I was just trying to make tonight special for you, <strong>and</strong> I managed<br />

to ruin it.” His h<strong>and</strong>s gripped the steering wheel as he sped through a light that changed to<br />

red.<br />

“Let’s just get to the Thai place <strong>and</strong> enjoy dinner.”<br />

He kept shaking his head. “That’s not what you wanted. God, I’m so stupid.”<br />

“Jason, it’s fine.” He pulled up to a light <strong>and</strong> put on his blinker. “It doesn’t matter.”<br />

He didn’t turn the blinker off. “We already came all this way. There’s no point in going back.”<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

76


She’d been watching Jason, his brows furrowed with a stare cutting the road, so she<br />

saw that he didn’t look to the left before rushing into the turn. She also saw the headlights of<br />

cars speeding their way. She shouted at him to stop, <strong>and</strong> then there was the impact.<br />

To anyone who asked, she told them that she passed out immediately, or didn’t<br />

remember the seconds after the hit, but that wasn’t quite true. What she remembered was<br />

silence. Not a ringing, shocked silence, but pure quiet like she’d never heard before.<br />

Three<br />

Rhiannon hadn’t spoken to Jason in the week after the accident. They’d both<br />

been taken to the hospital, but she’d been dispatched before him given that he had<br />

taken the hit directly <strong>and</strong> got the worst of it. The phrase critical condition had been<br />

repeated around when she first woke up, weighing her down like an anchor. She wasn’t<br />

going to leave the hospital until he was alright, she decided. But the next day he woke up<br />

<strong>and</strong> began his recovery. She left without visiting him.<br />

He hadn’t reached out until three days after she went home, <strong>and</strong> in the<br />

meantime, she worried that he had gotten worse while she wasn’t watching. But she<br />

finally got a text from him:<br />

Hey.<br />

She thought about not responding. She thought about calling him. She<br />

responded, Hi.<br />

Are u ok?, Jason texted her.<br />

I’m fine, she wrote. Are you out of the hospital? That was something she<br />

should have already known, even if she was planning on breaking up with him.<br />

I left this morning. All good:)<br />

She wondered if he’d still be texting smiley faces if something had happened to<br />

Rhiannon in the wreck. She pushed the thought aside. Anger wouldn’t do her any good.<br />

He asked if he could see her, <strong>and</strong> Rhiannon agreed to meet him at the park by<br />

her house the next day. Close enough that her mother would let her go.<br />

After spending too long deciding what to wear - casual clothes seemed<br />

insensitive to the break-up, but then again she was still recovering <strong>and</strong> she couldn’t<br />

bring herself to dress nicely - she got in her car <strong>and</strong> drove to the park, with dread arriving<br />

in the pit of her stomach.<br />

Jason sat on a park bench staring down at his phone with his legs stretched<br />

out in front of him. He wore jeans <strong>and</strong> a t-shirt, <strong>and</strong> it took her a moment to register it<br />

as she walked up to him, but he wasn’t wearing any casts. No sign of injuries but various<br />

fading bruises <strong>and</strong> a scar on his left arm.<br />

He noticed her approaching <strong>and</strong> gave her a smile <strong>and</strong> a wave. “Hey.”<br />

She sat beside him. The breeze lifted her hair from her face, <strong>and</strong> she pulled it<br />

behind her ears. “Hi.”<br />

“You look like a million bucks. How’re you feeling?”<br />

“I’m okay.”<br />

“I got cut up pretty badly,” he said. “But I’m alright.”<br />

No apologies. Did he owe her an apology? He’d been the one driving. He didn’t<br />

check for cars before speeding into his turn. If the car that hit them hadn’t slowed in<br />

77 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


time, it could have been fatal. But she’d been the one talking <strong>and</strong> starting the fight about<br />

the restaurant in the first place.<br />

Focus. The break-up was happening either way.<br />

“Jason,” she said, looking down at the pavement <strong>and</strong> watching their shadows.<br />

“I don’t think we should see each other anymore.” The words sounded like a suggestion,<br />

not a fact.<br />

She didn’t look at his face, but she saw his shoulders drop. “Why?”<br />

“I don’t feel like things are working between us,” she said. “And I don’t want to<br />

waste either of ours time if it isn’t.”<br />

She turned to look at him <strong>and</strong> his sad face. He held out his h<strong>and</strong>, but she shook<br />

her head. His h<strong>and</strong> fell.<br />

“Is this because of the accident?” he asked, perking up with clarity. “Because<br />

I get it. Like, it’s scary, right? Things could have ended just like that.” He snapped his<br />

fingers to signify just how quickly things could have ended. Rhiannon winced. “It makes<br />

everything seem so tentative. But it made me realize how much I need you.” He shifted<br />

toward her. “That’s all I’ve been thinking about these past few days. To help cope, you<br />

know?” He scoffed <strong>and</strong> shook his head at himself. “I even thought - I started imagining<br />

how I would propose to you. Not now, obviously, but down the line.”<br />

This was not what she wanted to be discussing in a break-up.<br />

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I can’t be that for you.”<br />

“But you already are that.”<br />

“You’re not the guy I marry down the line.” The words came out too fast. She<br />

pulled her hair back again. “I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.”<br />

“Wait -” He reached out <strong>and</strong> grabbed her wrist. She stayed sitting, not wanting<br />

him to pull her back down if she stood. “Can’t you just - give it a few day’s thought?<br />

You’re kind of rushing into this.”<br />

His fingers were cold on her wrist. “I’ve given it enough thought.”<br />

“But if you -”<br />

“Goddamnit, Jason.” She yanked her wrist free <strong>and</strong> stood, then stepped back.<br />

Confidence filled her - or rather, the fear left her, just for a few seconds, leaving a feeling<br />

of weightlessness. “I’m not - I’m not doing this anymore. It’s over. I’m sorry.”<br />

She hesitated, waiting for some sign she was doing the right thing. But there<br />

weren’t any signs. So she turned <strong>and</strong> walked back to her car.<br />

She kept on without looking back, not even when her surge of confidence left<br />

her alone with resounding doubt. She’d nearly died, her life was upturned, <strong>and</strong> now she<br />

was ab<strong>and</strong>oning one of her few constants. A constant who loved her. Maybe the accident<br />

had changed him for the better <strong>and</strong> she was being selfish in leaving him.<br />

She neared her car, but she stopped walking to try to slow her breathing. Black<br />

dots appeared in the edges of her vision, feeding on her panic. She couldn’t pass out, not<br />

in some parking lot five minutes from her house.<br />

She forced herself to her car, ignoring the black dots, then placed a h<strong>and</strong> on it<br />

to steady herself. She was okay. She would be okay. Taking Jason out of her life was her<br />

only option to keep going.<br />

She shut her eyes, drew in a breath, <strong>and</strong> opened her eyes again. There. She got<br />

in her car <strong>and</strong> drove home.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

78


Four<br />

A week passed with no word from Jason. The first day, Rhiannon nearly jumped<br />

every time her phone buzzed with a text <strong>and</strong> was relieved to find it wasn’t him. Then the<br />

worry set in. It wasn’t like him to let go of something so quickly. If he wasn’t writing her, he<br />

was doing something else.<br />

She tried not to think about it. It wasn’t worth worrying over literally nothing<br />

happening. But her absence from school bled into spring break, so she was stuck at home<br />

with little to do. Friends visited, bringing hugs <strong>and</strong> decorating her room with flowers <strong>and</strong><br />

cards. She didn’t go out, not after her dizzy spell at the park. And she figured her mother<br />

only let her leave knowing she was breaking things off with Jason.<br />

“Rhiannon!”<br />

She sat up on her bed <strong>and</strong> called back to her mother, “Yes?”<br />

“You have a visitor.”<br />

No one had told her they were coming. The thought made her anxious, but she<br />

told herself not to fear the worst. She rolled off of her bed <strong>and</strong> went downstairs, still in her<br />

pajama pants <strong>and</strong> tank top.<br />

Probably just Beatrice, she told herself. She’d asked her to bring a textbook for<br />

homework.<br />

Her steps slowed as she reached the bottom of the stairs, finding her mother<br />

gone <strong>and</strong> Jason st<strong>and</strong>ing at the front door, dressed in a white suit <strong>and</strong> br<strong>and</strong>ishing a<br />

bouquet of white roses.<br />

She froze at the last step.<br />

He met her with his usual wide smile. “Surprise,” he said. “Are you free tonight?”<br />

“I...what?”<br />

He held out the bouquet to her, though she was still too far away to take them.<br />

“We have dinner reservations. At that Italian place?” he said, like he was taking her to prom<br />

after not speaking to her for the first time since...<br />

“We broke up.” she said.<br />

His smile faltered for a second. “I know.” Disappointment seeped into his voice.<br />

“But I just thought - well, we’re still friends, aren’t we? We can go out. And I’m making up<br />

for our last dinner, since that didn’t go as planned.”<br />

“I’m not hungry.”<br />

“Come on.” He lowered the roses <strong>and</strong> stepped further into her home. “I just want<br />

to underst<strong>and</strong> what went wrong. I want to fix it.” He looked up at her with pleading light<br />

blue eyes. “Please, Rhiannon. Whatever happened, I want to make it right.”<br />

“I don’t…” Her breaths were coming in quicker, like an invisible h<strong>and</strong> was clutching<br />

her throat.<br />

“Neither of us wants to be alone,” he went on, stepping closer to her. “I’m going to<br />

make it up to you.” He reached out with his free h<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> took hers. “Come on. We’ll talk it<br />

out at the restaurant.”<br />

He turned to go, still holding her h<strong>and</strong>, <strong>and</strong> for a second, she let herself take a<br />

step with him. It wasn’t a date, he said, <strong>and</strong> she could explain to him why their relationship<br />

wasn’t working. Just to soothe things over. It slowed her breathing for a moment at the<br />

thought of it. It would be easier.<br />

79 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


She jerked her h<strong>and</strong> out of his. Jason turned around in startlement. “You need to<br />

leave.”<br />

He didn’t move. “Rhiannon–”<br />

“No.” She took a step back. “I already told you no.”<br />

Then his gaze shifted. His usual pout <strong>and</strong> sad eyes were replaced with something<br />

cold.<br />

“What do you think happens from here?” he asked, his voice startlingly calm.<br />

“You’ll find a new boyfriend, <strong>and</strong> you’ll realize he’s just like me. Maybe worse. And if you<br />

manage to leave him, there will be another to take his place because you can’t be alone.”<br />

He shook his head. “You’re not upset with me. You’re upset with the fact that you’re always<br />

going to be stuck with someone like me.”<br />

The h<strong>and</strong> around her throat gripped tighter. But she said, “You don’t know<br />

anything about me,” <strong>and</strong> then her breaths were coming in again. I’m not leaving. I’m not<br />

leaving. I’m not leaving.<br />

“I know how long you actually wanted to break up with me,” he countered. “I<br />

know you wouldn’t let yourself admit it to yourself at first, because you knew you wouldn’t<br />

do anything about it. I know that you cry after I yell at you but you still thank me for my<br />

apology the next day.” His eyes were glued to her. “If you’re going to live with a rope around<br />

your neck, why not just jump?”<br />

“I’m not. That’s not–” Rhiannon forced herself to hold his gaze even though he<br />

didn’t seem like Jason anymore <strong>and</strong> the thought terrified her. “You’re the rope. I’m cutting<br />

you off here <strong>and</strong> now.” He started to speak, but she took a breath <strong>and</strong> said, “Get out of my<br />

house.”<br />

Again, he started to speak. Rhiannon was louder. “Get out of my house. Get out<br />

of my house.”<br />

Her vision went black.<br />

Five<br />

Rhiannon loved weighted blankets ever since she was a kid. She’d bury herself<br />

in blankets <strong>and</strong> her mom would complain that she was going to get too hot, but she<br />

didn’t care. She liked that it made her feel grounded.<br />

When she came to, that was what she thought of - a weighted blanket. Her<br />

skin was warm <strong>and</strong> she felt heavy where she laid, like she’d finally settled somewhere.<br />

There wasn’t a blanket on her, just a thin sheet. But there was a h<strong>and</strong> smoothing her<br />

hair from her face.<br />

“It’s alright. I’m here. I’m here.”<br />

She blinked her eyes open at her mother’s voice. A harsh white light greeted<br />

her, <strong>and</strong> she had to shut her eyes again. Her mind was still groggy <strong>and</strong> unfocused, but<br />

she processed where she was. Hospital.<br />

Shaking, she reached for her mother’s h<strong>and</strong>, <strong>and</strong> then squeezed it.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

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Bitia Alanis<br />

“For the mockingbird that was shot seventeen times”<br />

81 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Bitia Alanis<br />

“10 things I hate<br />

about you”<br />

I hate the way you grip my wrists<br />

<strong>and</strong> make me shiver <strong>and</strong> shake.<br />

I hate the fact you control my mind<br />

<strong>and</strong> fake the fact I’m alright.<br />

I hate how you make me fear the power<br />

of my ever-racing mind.<br />

I hate how my face <strong>and</strong> fingertips<br />

tingle <strong>and</strong> pound to the rhythm of your<br />

own sound.<br />

I hate you…<br />

I hate our constant match between<br />

paralyzing fear <strong>and</strong> adrenaline that makes me soar.<br />

I hate how sore you make me feel after<br />

you’ve gone away.<br />

I hate how I distract myself with colors,<br />

shapes <strong>and</strong> sounds.<br />

I hate <strong>and</strong><br />

I hate…<br />

What am I to do with myself after you’ve gone away?<br />

Who will I be without you?<br />

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Alyssa-Rae Barrera<br />

A soft,<br />

hummed,<br />

melody<br />

My Last Dream<br />

filled my ears as I gently laid my head on the pillow.<br />

My eyes closed to hear the breeze of the wind<br />

as it spun in circles outside my window with energy of a younger me,<br />

The crickets of the night chirped<br />

as if tonight was a joyous occasion.<br />

The fresh smell of rain <strong>and</strong> dew<br />

l i n g e r e d<br />

on the grass <strong>and</strong> in the ground,<br />

along with the new h<strong>and</strong> washed sheets,<br />

filled my nostrils,<br />

making me reminisce of older <strong>and</strong> brighter days.<br />

The humming continued <strong>and</strong> grew slightly<br />

reverberating through massive wide halls,<br />

like a turn of a knob on a radio<br />

Echoing<br />

over <strong>and</strong> over,<br />

skipping like a thrown rock on an ALIVE blue wave<br />

that has dwelled on our Earth since the beginning of time<br />

A single tear rolled down my cheek.<br />

My mother came to mind<br />

She hummed the same melody<br />

so many years ago,<br />

but sadly,<br />

it is the voice of the one who cares for me now.<br />

I breathed a deep breath, <strong>and</strong><br />

E x h a l e<br />

all the worries of my lifetime.<br />

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The monitor started to beep<br />

Slower And slower<br />

Another tear.<br />

My<br />

Last<br />

Dream.<br />

Robb Jackson Highschool Poetry 2nd Place (<strong>20</strong>22)<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

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Eva Buergler<br />

EulogyforDr.BfinalFINAL.docx<br />

Draft 1: Week 2<br />

Screw this. This is stupid.<br />

Draft 2: Week 3<br />

Correction: I feel like this is stupid. Apparently, that means I can’t rule<br />

out the possibility that this may be, in fact, Not Stupid. Dr. Barret, I have nothing<br />

worth eulogizing. I know we went over some things people say in eulogies in the<br />

session, like being a loving partner or generous sibling. These categories require<br />

other people in them. I don’t want to be defined by other people. I don’t want<br />

to have value because of other people. If a tree falls in a forest <strong>and</strong> nobody is<br />

around to hear it, is it even a tree? Was it even there to begin with? I can try to<br />

be as good, <strong>and</strong> it won’t be enough for some people. I’m going to make mistakes, I<br />

already have, <strong>and</strong> those define me more than anything else. I don’t think my sister<br />

will ever look at me <strong>and</strong> not see what I did to myself. I don’t think everybody who<br />

knows will ever look at me as anything other than that dickhead who tried to kill<br />

themself <strong>and</strong> couldn’t even do it right. I don’t think my mom can even look at me<br />

anymore. What I mean to say is that I’ve messed up a lot already, <strong>and</strong> if there’s<br />

one thing people do it is mess up. I’ve gotten good at it, just give me a source of<br />

ignition <strong>and</strong> some flammable material. Here’s my eulogy: “Here lies Logan Waters,<br />

they certainly screwed up a lot, <strong>and</strong> hopefully they’re doing what they liked doing<br />

most, wherever they are: beating dead horses <strong>and</strong> asking stupid questions.”<br />

Draft 3: Week 5<br />

I feel like this is stupid. You say that means I can’t rule out the<br />

possibility that writing this is not stupid. How you feel about things is not always<br />

representative of how they are. But it sure does sting, doesn’t it? Feelings aren’t<br />

facts but we still feel them, <strong>and</strong> you can’t take that away. I tried. You didn’t like<br />

my last pass at this so I’m doing it again but this time, I’m focusing on myself, not<br />

others, <strong>and</strong> I’m not allowed to use words like “ever,” “enough,” “always,” or “never.”<br />

Nothing permanent or fatalistic. Which means half of my vocabulary is shot, I<br />

guess, though that makes me sound like some Holden Caulfieldesque asshole. I<br />

want to clarify I am not a Holden Caulfieldesque asshole. I feel like this new rule,<br />

nothing permanent, is stupid because death is something that’s permanent. Or,<br />

well, it’s supposed to be. It’s the only thing that’s permanent. I think you asked<br />

me “How would you want to be remembered when you die?” I don’t want to be<br />

remembered at all. My ideal funeral would be none. Or maybe getting my body<br />

catapulted into space for Science Purposes. Or used in some piece-of-shit art<br />

student’s avant-garde project. That’s not really a funeral though, that’s just what<br />

would happen to my body, which is fine because I don’t think my body is really<br />

mine.<br />

85<br />

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Being forgotten really isn’t all that bad, honestly, it’s preferable. The<br />

faster I’m forgotten <strong>and</strong> the sooner I die the faster everyone who has loved me is<br />

unburdened. Instead of throwing flowers my mourners will spit in my grave <strong>and</strong> leave,<br />

<strong>and</strong> everyone that mattered to me will play a game of loogie (do people play loogie<br />

anymore? I heard about it once, in some movie my mom <strong>and</strong> I watched). It’s just an<br />

idea that got stuck in my head <strong>and</strong> can’t leave. That happens to a lot of my thoughts<br />

these days. I think that’s what bothers me about it. I have all these thoughts <strong>and</strong><br />

memories with nowhere to go but down with me, where it’s safe. There’s not much a<br />

memory of a person can do on its own.<br />

But I guess there’s a lot of things that were inspired by someone dying. Like<br />

those PSAs about Whip-Its or charities against drunk-driving. I guess when I tried to<br />

kill myself I had this idea in my head that my school would have to do something like<br />

that. Something like taking kids’ feelings seriously. Maybe some kid could organize a<br />

memorial or club for mental health or whatever <strong>and</strong> have a hell of an essay. I guess<br />

that was just a way to console myself. A way to absolve the guilt. It was nice to think<br />

that I could be more useful after I was dead.<br />

I think I broke the rules here, maybe “every” applies to “everyone” too, but I<br />

think that it’s a dogshit rule anyway. If there has to be people at my funeral then I’d<br />

want them to say: “Who?” <strong>and</strong> the tombstone to say, “Here lies Logan Waters, they<br />

were worth more dead than alive, but at least they weren’t a Holden Caulfieldesque<br />

asshole.”<br />

Draft 4: Week 5<br />

I lied, I said I didn’t do it, but I did. I think you knew I was lying, Dr. B. I just<br />

couldn’t show you this yet, maybe one day I can. As it is now here’s what I got:<br />

I guess I just don’t see the point in writing a eulogy for myself. What am I<br />

supposed to learn from this? Am I supposed to see the person I want to be in the<br />

future? Am I supposed to struggle but keep going anyway? Is it just an exercise in<br />

excessive symbolism? If I eulogize myself, as I know myself at least, then it would kind<br />

of be like this version of me is dead. Like I’m committing myself to living a new life<br />

or to be better, if I can even do that. I don’t think I can. It’s scary to leave something<br />

behind, even if you have a place to leave it.<br />

I don’t remember any eulogies, though I must have heard one somewhere.<br />

The last time I went to a funeral I was seven <strong>and</strong> it was for my gr<strong>and</strong>father. I met him<br />

first in a hospital bed <strong>and</strong> then in an urn. I don’t think there was much that could be<br />

said about him. He lived a sad life, not in the way that is inspiring or pitiful, but the<br />

kind where his kids <strong>and</strong> wife left as soon as they could. The kind of sadness that reeks,<br />

the kind that isn’t tragic, just sad. He lived alone <strong>and</strong> he died alone watching westerns<br />

on his couch. I never think about him. He never thought about me. It only seems right<br />

to return the courtesy. Maybe he was trying to be forgotten too. I never understood it<br />

but Mom cried <strong>and</strong> so did her sister, at his funeral. I guess people can still be forgotten<br />

about <strong>and</strong> loved, even if you need a reminder. I have his name. Sometimes I think my<br />

mom named me after him to spite him. Like she wanted to take something lonely <strong>and</strong><br />

love it. Look where that got her.<br />

If I’m supposed to be eulogizing myself like I died tomorrow then I don’t think<br />

there’s anything I could actually say. If I’m supposed to be eulogizing myself after<br />

I’ve lived some full life then there’s things I could say but they wouldn’t mean a thing<br />

because I don’t know where my life is going to take me. The key part of that sentence<br />

is “where my life is going to take me” because I sure as hell am not leading the way.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

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<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

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In a way I’m supposed to be dead. There have been a lot of me’s that have<br />

died. The last death was just (almost) literal, <strong>and</strong> now I’m haunting. Really, I think<br />

that the me that could have gotten it right died already, or maybe never existed.<br />

I don’t know how to feel right. I don’t think I’m capable. Now that I’m not-dead I<br />

have to do therapy, I have to do the work. I know the work. I did it before. It didn’t<br />

stop me. I knew I would hurt people who loved me, <strong>and</strong> I loved them <strong>and</strong> I went<br />

ahead with it anyway.<br />

Maybe life isn’t suffering but that’s definitely a big part of it. So, it’s easy<br />

when you think about it like that, it’s easy to think killing yourself is rational <strong>and</strong><br />

once you do it it’s hard to not think of it as a solution for every kind of suffering.<br />

Even the mundane kind of suffering. I want to make a decision <strong>and</strong> stick with it, I’m<br />

tired of going back <strong>and</strong> forth. At least when I’m dead I won’t have a choice. I know,<br />

in a way, that things can get better, that I can have that life worth eulogizing. The<br />

issue is that even though I can feel happy it can still be taken away. If I come to love<br />

my life then I can lose something I love <strong>and</strong> that terrifies me. At least here I have<br />

nothing I care about to lose.<br />

People talk about self-love a lot. I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to say<br />

that I love myself, but I think that saying it doesn’t matter so much as doing it. In a<br />

world where I would love myself, I think it would look like this:<br />

I’ll break something <strong>and</strong> forgive myself. I’ll look at a mirror <strong>and</strong> just see<br />

me <strong>and</strong> a mirror <strong>and</strong> keep going. I’ll feel pain <strong>and</strong> I’ll let it sit <strong>and</strong> then I’ll move on.<br />

I’ll live my life <strong>and</strong> not just look at it. I’ll do what I need to do but don’t want to do<br />

because it’s for me. I’ll be alright with unraveling something <strong>and</strong> starting over again<br />

<strong>and</strong> again. I’ll want to stick around. I’ll be able to open my eyes in the morning <strong>and</strong><br />

see something that’s mine. This is how I would say “I love you.”<br />

In that world my eulogy would be this: “Here lies Logan Waters, they were<br />

a person <strong>and</strong> they loved themself.”<br />

Draft 5: Week 7<br />

When I was on the way to my gr<strong>and</strong>father’s funeral I was reading a book<br />

of fables for kids. I got to this one about a Persian king. He asked his wise men<br />

for something that would make him happy when he was sad <strong>and</strong> sad when he was<br />

happy. They gave him a ring inscribed with the phrase: “This too shall pass.” And<br />

when I read that I started to cry. Like bawling, snot dripping down my face <strong>and</strong><br />

everything. My mom had to pull over <strong>and</strong> she couldn’t get me to stop. Eventually<br />

my mom just let it all out too, climbed into the backseat <strong>and</strong> held me as we both<br />

just wailed <strong>and</strong> screamed. My aunt drove us the rest of the way.<br />

Everything I can think of saying sounds cliché. I say I’m sorry (I am). I<br />

explain why (you won’t underst<strong>and</strong>). I say goodbye (this is a goodbye). Every time<br />

I’ve tried to write something like this it ends a mess. I can’t do it. I know there’s<br />

something not right in me, something broken. Something that other people can<br />

have but I can’t. If I just knew what it was, if I just knew what it was then I’d be<br />

okay, because then I’d finally have an answer.<br />

This too shall pass; this too shall pass. I’m begging you to say it with me<br />

Dr. B, this too shall pass? Threat or promise?<br />

87 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

87 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X X 87


Draft 6: Week 9<br />

Well, this is awkward.<br />

Let’s try again, why don’t we?<br />

I’ll tell you one last story. Then we can get to work. One day Logan was<br />

sitting in that chair they always liked <strong>and</strong> would compare every other chair they<br />

would sit in ever again to, whether they remembered or not. let’s say they were<br />

reading a book, or playing on their phone, or waking up from a nap. The important<br />

thing is they looked up <strong>and</strong> realized for the first time in their life they were happy<br />

they were alive. This was the first of many moments like these.<br />

It wasn’t because they found love, though maybe they did. It wasn’t because<br />

they found success, though maybe they did. It wasn’t because they found out all the<br />

secrets to all their inscrutable questions, they definitely didn’t do that. It was slow,<br />

<strong>and</strong> it hurt in that same commonplace way as when you bang your knee against a<br />

table corner. Some days it looked so close, <strong>and</strong> somedays it couldn’t be further away.<br />

And they would have hated everything I’m saying now because it sounds so simple<br />

when it wasn’t. To have everything fixed in the end. I’ll let you in on a secret, it wasn’t<br />

all fixed. The table corners of the world kept existing, <strong>and</strong> they had a knee still to<br />

bang against them, <strong>and</strong> the pain was there, so what changed? They never knew what<br />

exactly, the right combination of things that changed, <strong>and</strong> it became an inscrutable<br />

question they didn’t feel the need to answer. It was enough to be. How beautiful is<br />

that?<br />

Here lies Logan Waters: friend, child, sibling. They loved what they could not<br />

underst<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> understood it anyway. They were enough.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X<br />

88<br />

88


Congratulations,<br />

Barrio Writers <strong>20</strong>21<br />

Athena Armijo• Sophia Chapa• Ethan Clarke• Jacob A. Clauch •<br />

Janet Doe• K. Elise• Evolvere (Derek)• Sophie Johnson• Jasmine<br />

Martin• Leo Monsavais• Isadora Pak• Aleena Roy• Alisha Roy<br />

Hello again!<br />

We are fortunate as editors of the <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> to feature poetry produced<br />

by the Barrio Writer’s youth workshop in our collection of work. For many writers at the<br />

camp, this is their first publication; this may even be their first time creating poetry<br />

or prose at all in a workshop setting. Throughout a whole week in summer of <strong>20</strong>22,<br />

each writer practiced an extreme form of vulnerability in writing <strong>and</strong> submitting to<br />

an established literary journal. This feat is rarely attempted by most people, yet these<br />

young voices dem<strong>and</strong>ed an audience! As an attendee <strong>and</strong> mentor at a summer writing<br />

camp, there is nothing more exciting than the ability to project a writer’s budding voice.<br />

I started writing in a similar setting to the Barrio Writers camp: the summer<br />

after I turned 14, my mom registered me for a week-long writing workshop at TAMU-CC.<br />

Writing wasn’t an activity that I ever expressed interest in before, but because I needed<br />

something to fill time, she thought it would be worth a try. This was the beginning of<br />

something. Whether it was a lifelong love for poetry or an undying need to feel heard,<br />

this beginning is lush <strong>and</strong> fruited with so many beautiful experiences. I am now preparing<br />

for a MFA in Poetry at the Creative Writing program in Texas State, leaving behind a<br />

blossoming community of writers that extends all the way to the Antonio E. Garcia Arts<br />

<strong>and</strong> Education Center. Though the journey from that first summer camp has been long<br />

<strong>and</strong> winding, I know that I’m still at the start of something, something I can face with the<br />

support from those around me.<br />

“<strong>Beginnings</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Endings</strong>” is such a provoking theme for this journal because<br />

there isn’t a clear difference between the two concepts; where an ending dries out <strong>and</strong><br />

dies, a beginning springs up in its place. We are constantly in a state of flux, where<br />

boundaries are blurred <strong>and</strong> there may not be a clear vision of the path forward.<br />

Whichever direction you chose, I hope that you see the beginning of something take<br />

place. If you can’t find that beginning, create it. Create poetry, music, code, art, research,<br />

plans, schemes, or strategies to survive. Your imagination is the most powerful tool, one<br />

that people often forget to use once we dictate ourselves towards a certain goal. One<br />

step in the right direction could be the first foot down a rabbit hole of self-discovery.<br />

Above all else, remember that you are surrounded by a community of support at every<br />

point in your journey, <strong>and</strong> we are so lucky to see you be you in your primordial form. This<br />

letter itself is not an ending, but a portal to the beginning of a beautiful body of work.<br />

Thank you again to Dr. Robin Johnson of TAMU-CC <strong>and</strong> the Barrio Writers for allowing<br />

us to publish this next collection of pieces; your workshops sparked a connection with<br />

young writers that we cherish forever.<br />

Onto more beginnings,<br />

Raven Reese, Assistant Managing Editor<br />

89 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Athena Armijo<br />

Bio: Athena Armijo really likes cats. Okay seriously,<br />

She really enjoyed barrio writers,<br />

She hopes to be back next year!<br />

Untitled<br />

Under the sun<br />

Covered in leaves,<br />

There I see what used to be me.<br />

Truly, I’m not dead,<br />

Its only in my head.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

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Sophia Chapa<br />

Sophia Chapa has been creative since the day that they can<br />

remember. They have a passion for writing poetry, which they didn’t<br />

learn about until <strong>20</strong><strong>20</strong>.<br />

Only Human<br />

Crying <strong>and</strong> having so much pain, but smile.<br />

Angry because they want me to be something I’m not, but smile.<br />

Anxious <strong>and</strong> worried that it won’t work out, but smile.<br />

Exhausted, but smile.<br />

Smile, they say.<br />

Smile, don’t show your sadness.<br />

Smile, even when you’re angry.<br />

Smile, <strong>and</strong> you won’t be anxious.<br />

Faking it, but smiling.<br />

Don’t Grow up too Fast<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, but get a job.<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, but pay for your own things.<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, because you need to live your life.<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, but I can’t buy the things you need.<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, because you should enjoy your youth.<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, because adulting sucks.<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, but you’re so mature for your age.<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, they say,<br />

but I don’t know what being a child is so,<br />

Don’t grow up too fast, but I should have my life together.<br />

91 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Ethan Clarke<br />

Ethan Clarke is a grumpy introvert who’s disillusioned with the state of<br />

mainstream storytelling. He only writes when he’s got an idea that has<br />

a lot of potential, so he won’t release content very often. However, when<br />

he does, you can be sure it’s got quality.<br />

Alligators 2<br />

“What a day,” Thomas said, in awe, to his friend, Jeffrey.<br />

“Yeah,” Jeffrey replied, “What a day.”<br />

There was so much traffic on the streets that neither of the two alligators<br />

could see more than five feet ahead of them, that traffic caused by a new seaweed<br />

st<strong>and</strong> that opened up just last week. How exactly the st<strong>and</strong> got so much publicity<br />

baffled Jeffrey, as good, fresh seaweed could be found anywhere in the ocean free<br />

of charge. He wondered just how the Alligator species had survived this long if<br />

most of them were stupid enough to purchase from that corrupt st<strong>and</strong>.<br />

“Hey, Jeffrey,” Thomas started, “Do you think we should buy some<br />

seaweed?”<br />

Jeffrey struck his friend with a glare that could freeze fire. Had he gone<br />

insane? To ever consider wasting valuable s<strong>and</strong> dollars on something that could<br />

be acquired for free was nothing but lunacy! Jeffrey already knew that Thomas’s<br />

family could be a bit delusional at times, but Thomas himself was always somewhat<br />

logical. Until now, at least…<br />

“What?” Jeffrey hissed, “If you want seaweed, we can get it off the ground!”<br />

Thomas wasn’t convinced, “I know that, Jeffrey. But there wouldn’t be so<br />

many people at the st<strong>and</strong> if it really had nothing to offer.”<br />

“No. Buying from that godforsaken st<strong>and</strong> is out of the question. You can go<br />

burn your own bridges.” Jeffrey spat.<br />

Thomas frowned while picking up a batch of seaweed from the floor, “Look,<br />

how about this. We’ll take a bit of natural seaweed <strong>and</strong> then buy some at the<br />

st<strong>and</strong>. After we’ve got both kinds, we’ll compare the two <strong>and</strong> see which one tastes<br />

better.”<br />

“Hmm…” Jeffrey said as he considered the offer.<br />

It would be a valuable opportunity to prove Thomas wrong about the<br />

seaweed st<strong>and</strong>, but if he had to purchase an item from there anyway, it would<br />

defeat the purpose or proving his friend wrong.<br />

“Fine, but you’re paying for both of us. If you’re right, I’ll give you your s<strong>and</strong><br />

dollar back.”<br />

“Deal.” Thomas agreed as the pair began to walk toward the st<strong>and</strong>.<br />

Jeffrey grabbed his piece of natural seaweed as Thomas ordered two<br />

portions of the vegetable at the st<strong>and</strong>. It saddened Jeffrey that his dear friend<br />

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would be giving good money to the greedy st<strong>and</strong>, but he realized that some<br />

people just learn quicker than others. Oh well. At least it wouldn’t be his money<br />

getting wasted.<br />

Thomas walked back to Jeffrey with two trays of purchased seaweed in<br />

h<strong>and</strong>, “Here ya go.” he said as he h<strong>and</strong>ed one of them to Jeffrey.<br />

“We’ll taste the natural ones first.” Thomas explained.<br />

“Sure thing.” Jeffrey agreed as he took a large, juicy bite out of his fresh<br />

algae, producing an extremely refreshing briny flavor. He relished the light taste,<br />

the satisfying texture, but most importantly, he relished the fact that his food<br />

was completely, 100% free! Ha. Thomas was in over his head if he thought any<br />

processed, faux seaweed would be better than this.<br />

“Now we move on to the purchased version.” Jeffrey spoke as he finished<br />

his snack.<br />

Jeffrey looked at the abomination with visible disdain. It pained him to<br />

pick it up, for he was getting one step closer to selling his pride. And for what?<br />

A piece of seaweed? No, it was worse than that. He was selling his pride, his<br />

very soul, for a slab of algae that would inevitably, invariably, taste the exact<br />

same as the one he plucked right off the floor. Jeffrey trembled as he brought<br />

the accursed object closer <strong>and</strong> closer to his mouth, finally daring to put it in<br />

between his lips. He could feel the wasted s<strong>and</strong> dollar crumble to ash inside his<br />

jaw.<br />

But before Jeffrey had time to examine the piece of sacrilege’s taste, his<br />

thoughts were rudely interrupted by an unhinged gobbling noise. Upon further<br />

inspection, Jeffrey realized that it was coming from his friend, Thomas, who was<br />

currently chomping away at the piece of seaweed he bought from the st<strong>and</strong>. His<br />

mannerisms were that of a starved gator who hadn’t eaten for 3 years.<br />

Thomas looked up at his friend <strong>and</strong> paused his devouring of the algae,<br />

“You gotta admit, Jeffrey, this is pretty good.”<br />

And by that time, Jeffrey had fully experienced the bursting flavor, <strong>and</strong><br />

the unparalleled complementary texture of the purchased seaweed. And to his<br />

shame, he had to admit. It was good. Good enough to spend a s<strong>and</strong> dollar on.<br />

“Hehe!” Thomas laughed as he observed his friend’s expression, “I told<br />

you there was a reason people went to that st<strong>and</strong>!”<br />

“Yeah, yeah,” Jeffrey groaned as he h<strong>and</strong>ed Thomas a s<strong>and</strong> dollar, “You<br />

were right.”<br />

“You gotta have a more open mind, man.” Thomas smirked.<br />

“I don’t know about that,” Jeffrey said as he raised an eyebrow, “How<br />

many MSGs do you think they put in that seaweed to make it taste the way it<br />

does?”<br />

“Oh, come on, not this again.” Thomas complained, “MSGs are harmless.”<br />

“Hah!” Jeffrey exclaimed, “You may have been right about the seaweed,<br />

but not about MSGs!”<br />

And so the two alligators walked into the sunset, talking <strong>and</strong> bickering<br />

<strong>and</strong> laughing aimlessly. Nothing was certain in Jeffrey <strong>and</strong> Thomas’s<br />

conversations. However, there was just one thing that both of the gators knew<br />

for sure in the back of their heads. They would go to that seaweed st<strong>and</strong> again.<br />

93 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Jacob A. Claunch<br />

I am a Barrio Writer <strong>and</strong> I want to be a teacher who has way too many<br />

thoughts for them all to be written down, but I am trying to get as much<br />

done as I can to inspire the future generations.<br />

Book of The Reader’s Life<br />

If you go to a library <strong>and</strong> find a book with your name on it, you<br />

will most likely open it, but what would you find? Do you hope<br />

that in it will be a list of all of your accomplishments, or of all of<br />

your failures? A memory that you have lost, or one that keeps on<br />

popping into your mind? Do you want it to be a portal that allows<br />

you to go to your past self so that you can give them advice, or to<br />

tell them about the test answers they need to pass? But this book<br />

has none of that. In fact, the book is empty, because you have yet<br />

to write your story. Once you start writing your story the book will<br />

be filled <strong>and</strong> you will feel a sense of accomplishment because you<br />

know that one day the book you have just written will make its way<br />

into the h<strong>and</strong>s of someone who needs it, <strong>and</strong> they will learn from<br />

your life to help with there own.<br />

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Janet Doe<br />

Janet Doe, an upcoming 9th grader, enjoys the abstract <strong>and</strong> creative light<br />

of writing. She also enjoys scribbling <strong>and</strong> doodling diverse characters<br />

from your average teenager to an alien from a distant planet. Doe aspires<br />

to be a planetary researcher in the near future.<br />

Ignorance’s thievery<br />

In the dark of the night, illuminated by only a lit, full moon<br />

A sly figure slips from roof to roof stealing <strong>and</strong> robbing from us all<br />

The children <strong>and</strong> descendants of culture rich nomads, <strong>and</strong> travelers, <strong>and</strong><br />

immigrants, <strong>and</strong> foreigners all left in the dark<br />

No trace or sound of a fire lit by a torch that’s been carefully passed down<br />

Its name unknown but its affects worldwide to each <strong>and</strong> every house<br />

Burning the ends of hereditary ropes once woven oh so tight<br />

Ripping the once firmest of roots all in the dead of the night<br />

You’ve all said listen well, but listen you have not<br />

You’ve let go of an anchor holding the word family’s parts<br />

You’ve lost it all to this slippery, conniving snake<br />

Cunningly taking your family’s heart up, up <strong>and</strong> away<br />

Your identity, your color, your communication is gone<br />

Due to simple negligence, ignorance, ignoring among<br />

Your dances, left by the fire, your legends, left untold<br />

You’ve watched it take it from you all, it grasps a firm hold<br />

So get up, ask. Mom, Dad, who are we, what are we, <strong>and</strong> why<br />

For no longer let this creature’s gluttonous greed thrive<br />

No longer will this slippery snake, influenced by suppressors’ power,<br />

Cunning, conniving, covetous thief’s expert thievery linger<br />

You are who your family is, <strong>and</strong> your family is who you are<br />

Learn your identity to be it, don’t lose it in the dark<br />

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Let them be heard<br />

Regardless of a voice or a passion<br />

These nimble <strong>and</strong> worn h<strong>and</strong>s continue,<br />

Regardless of the many warnings<br />

A young ins’ youth inquires inquiries,<br />

Regardless of your mother’s, father’s <strong>and</strong> aunt’s <strong>and</strong> uncle’s<br />

You ran to this foreign light,<br />

Regardless of their manufactured teachings teaching you<br />

Meaningless meanings<br />

Did you ask “why?”,<br />

Despite the urge <strong>and</strong> hesitation<br />

To think nothing more than what’s given,<br />

“Regardless of what I have, <strong>and</strong> what I’ve got”<br />

Has never occurred,<br />

Regardless is not the question that should be asked or heard,<br />

It is the question your incredible <strong>and</strong> inexperienced voice,<br />

So quick to answer <strong>and</strong> quiver in fear,<br />

So bold to respond <strong>and</strong> dare to challenge,<br />

Must yearn to answer<br />

Regarded is what you are.<br />

Restlessness<br />

I am tired<br />

But I do not know it yet<br />

I am tired<br />

My eyes an appalling color red<br />

I am tired<br />

Like a lifeless leaf in the breeze<br />

I am tired<br />

Lulling me to deep sleep<br />

I am tired<br />

Like the hush of a voice in a hall where there is no sound, no noise<br />

I am tired<br />

Though I am still awake<br />

My eyes heavy<br />

At any moment I could break<br />

And return, <strong>and</strong> retire, <strong>and</strong> sleep <strong>and</strong> give in to the cushion of a dream<br />

<strong>and</strong> the bliss of a sin<br />

I am tired<br />

I am too tired to speak<br />

I am restless for the hours I can sleep<br />

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K. Elise<br />

Homeschooled her entire life she’s had trouble fitting in with others her<br />

age, However she’s always tried her hardest. Creativity was something<br />

that really helped her out, <strong>and</strong> it still does. The wild stories she made,<br />

when she had no one to play with, were abundant.<br />

Whisper I say.<br />

Whisper at night when the moon shines bright.<br />

Speaking our worries, we cast out the light.<br />

The pond so big has filled to the brim.<br />

Whisper at night when the moon shines bright.<br />

Whisper, I say, let out those cries.<br />

The sun <strong>and</strong> smiles, can’t mock you now.<br />

Whisper, I say.<br />

You survived.<br />

The Wild Woman…<br />

Fireflies danced alongside the bright haired woman,<br />

her cold accessories laid heavily against her skin,<br />

<strong>and</strong> the fabric ever so soft spread out as she danced.<br />

Her graceful figure attracted the eyes of many,<br />

the moonlight highlighting her warm skin.<br />

Her ‘unruly’ dance, although silent, spoke many words.<br />

While cries of outrage <strong>and</strong> profanity were screamed out.<br />

Her smile only grew wider.<br />

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Raison D’etre.<br />

Prologue...<br />

The cold morning dew splashed against her bare skin. Sharply she<br />

cursed in pain as she ran, hoping she could make it in time.<br />

If only she obeyed him, maybe then her brother wouldn’t be at stake.<br />

Her body finally gave into exhaustion, falling to the ground as she<br />

screamed in pain, her vision clouded <strong>and</strong> teary.<br />

Gasping heavily, she lifted her blood-soaked arms, attempting to<br />

crawl.<br />

“Give up,” a low voice nagged, “You’re too Late~” His words were<br />

laced with honey.<br />

A scowl, though short-lived, found its way onto her face.<br />

“No. No.. No! He can’t be gone. You’re lying!..you have to be!”<br />

He held a satisfied smile on his face, one she would have loved to<br />

slap off.<br />

“Oh, Mel…” He stepped closer to her crippled form as he continued,<br />

“This is what happens-<br />

When you decide you want to Dis-o-bey Me!”<br />

“Now, look at me. I want to see that pretty face of yours.” As<br />

stubborn as ever, Mel buried her face in her arms. It was her last attempt to<br />

defy him.<br />

His smile morphed into a scowl of displeasure. “I was going to allow<br />

you a painless death.”<br />

Mel’s eyes widened in fear, she knew what he had in mind, <strong>and</strong> it<br />

wasn’t painless.<br />

“But alas,” he continued, with false sorrow, “you’ve annoyed me one<br />

too many times.”<br />

“You’re sick.” Mel croaked out, her voice nearly gone. He chuckled<br />

darkly. He truly felt no remorse.<br />

A loud mutilated howl rang aloud across the town. “I’d say that<br />

would be My cue to leave.”<br />

.<br />

.<br />

He slowly walked away, smiling as the beast tore away.<br />

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Evolvere (Derek)<br />

Evolvere is his pen name; he has interests in common activities such<br />

as playing video games <strong>and</strong> watching anime, with some uncommon<br />

interests such as martial arts, history, <strong>and</strong> self improvement.<br />

World of Wars<br />

Loud courses filled with youth, scared<br />

<strong>and</strong> brave these soldiers are made.<br />

White tents, stained in dirt, crossed in<br />

red, many will live, others may not<br />

have such luck.<br />

Trenches stamped in blood, riddled<br />

with bodies, full of crushed hopes<br />

<strong>and</strong> distraught horror.<br />

Caskets are full but the contents are<br />

empty, with them gone some may<br />

forget but others will remember <strong>and</strong><br />

they will respect them.<br />

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Sophie Johnson<br />

A lover of neutrals, classical paintings, <strong>and</strong> sometimes kids, Sophie<br />

Johnson is a 17 year old aspiring art teacher. For fun she draws <strong>and</strong><br />

daydreams, but most of the time you can catch her in her bed or<br />

helping out at the Rockport Art Center.<br />

Existential Procrastination<br />

One day, I’ll have learn how to properly use the unit circle… <strong>and</strong> sine…<br />

<strong>and</strong> cosine <strong>and</strong> all of that dumb math stuff, but today is definitely not<br />

that day.<br />

One day, I’ll actually have to learn how to tell people no, because now<br />

I’m stuck in a dumb club, but I’m scared of hurting people’s feelings, so<br />

today is definitely not that day.<br />

One day, I’ll totally have to learn that giving people more than they give<br />

me is actually hurting me, but it hurts more to think about it, so today is<br />

definitely not that day.<br />

One day, I’ll most likely have to learn that talking about it is better than<br />

writing about it in my cute little diary where only I can see, but it’s kinda<br />

fun, so today is definitely not that day.<br />

Today, I noticed I do that alot… Push aside things for future Sophie to<br />

worry <strong>and</strong> bite her nails about so<br />

One day, I’ll probably have to sit down with my therapist Am<strong>and</strong>a <strong>and</strong><br />

learn how to not do that, but today is for sure not that day.<br />

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Sophie Johnson<br />

Tiny Little Creature<br />

I want to be a tiny little creature,<br />

but I was born a 5’9 girl with big feet <strong>and</strong> long freaky fingers<br />

Tiny little creatures can hide, <strong>and</strong> be tiny without say, but I poke out<br />

like a flyaway on my blonde ponytail<br />

And I can’t be tiny because I got h<strong>and</strong>ed down what my family calls<br />

their “Rowl<strong>and</strong> thighs”<br />

But tiny little creatures get eaten <strong>and</strong> hunted <strong>and</strong> at least that’s not<br />

me<br />

I mean sometimes it kind of feels like it when it’s just a tad bit too<br />

late <strong>and</strong> I’m wearing a tad bit too tight tank top <strong>and</strong> I see an old guy<br />

looking at me in Wal-Mart<br />

But for a majority of the time I have that one up on the tiny little<br />

creatures<br />

Tiny little creatures can’t punch their brothers<br />

And tiny little creatures can’t sing while almost throwing up in front of<br />

a bunch of rich people, so maybe I’m glad I’m not a tiny little creature<br />

because those are very valuable life moments for me.<br />

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Jasmine Martin<br />

Jasmine martin has had her first experience with barrio writers this<br />

year <strong>and</strong> found a love for writing while in this program she likes to write<br />

poetry <strong>and</strong> short stories <strong>and</strong> loves to read, especially historical fiction <strong>and</strong><br />

mystery. She was born in Colorado, lived in New Mexico <strong>and</strong> then moved<br />

to Texas 2 years ago with her family of 10 (I’m not sure if that’s correct<br />

but I think its 10) she has 2 dogs <strong>and</strong> 5 birds a lizard <strong>and</strong> a frog. She has<br />

a couple hobbies, roller skating, reading, playing sports, baking, <strong>and</strong> now<br />

writing. Her dreams are to go through college <strong>and</strong> become a psychologist<br />

<strong>and</strong> a baker. She hopes to be a successful published author in the future.<br />

She also hopes to attend barrio writers next year to keep pursuing her<br />

dreams.<br />

Finding Something Positive<br />

Finding something good,<br />

In a world full of so much bad<br />

Finding something happy,<br />

In a world that’s turning sad<br />

Finding something colorful,<br />

In a world of black & white<br />

Finding something sweet,<br />

In a world that’s turning bitter<br />

Finding something positive,<br />

In a world full of negative thoughts<br />

Why am I searching for something so difficult to find?<br />

Am I waiting for someone to tell us the good news?<br />

Or am I just scared to come to the light <strong>and</strong> fight the darkness.<br />

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Leo Monsavais<br />

Leo is fifteen years old. He is an experienced sailor. He loves his dogs,<br />

Panzon <strong>and</strong> Guera. Guera is a spoiled princess <strong>and</strong> Panzon is a little<br />

goblin junior. He plays the violin, video games, art, <strong>and</strong> makes music.<br />

For his profession, he wants to do robotics <strong>and</strong> coding.<br />

Falling<br />

Falling, falling, in the air with all despair<br />

Falling, falling, into endless abyss<br />

With all that I miss.<br />

I have fallen into this deep sea that I can’t escape<br />

Falling, falling, all I wish is for all these nightmares to go away.<br />

The pain won’t go away no matter what I do, this pain is like a knife<br />

That cuts endlessly into my heart. Falling, falling, in the air<br />

We will be okay don’t you fear. We may be falling apart but we are art.<br />

Blind Sins<br />

Cool shadows blanked dead cities, falling, electric anthills, where love<br />

was murdered.<br />

Sometimes life is crazy like me, the ashes of loved ones are tethered.<br />

Is life like the sea or is it pulling the ambition to fortune.<br />

Breathe into nothingness, I lie awake on the cutting edge of time,<br />

falling endlessly like a mountain.<br />

We live in a world that someone else imagined.<br />

Sins of lust, sins of death, sins of hunger <strong>and</strong> prosperity of greed.<br />

Humanity is becoming eroded into sins.<br />

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Relationships<br />

Relationships can be friends, loved ones or actual love.<br />

Relationships can be sweet but also unsweet.<br />

Life is a bunch of unfortunate events; they can become madness or be<br />

the cause of where love was murdered.<br />

Eyes seeping into a river of nothingness.<br />

Fake friends are a stain like ink.<br />

Loved ones are a very complicated math equation, but actual love is<br />

like losing a loved one or like learning a new language.<br />

It’s very complicated when you’re older.<br />

Including adults as well.<br />

As a teen my life is complicated,<br />

Drifting pulling loose ends, tugging, on my dreams.<br />

Stitching memories of the good days, presence is a present, when its<br />

where you want to be.<br />

Relationships <strong>and</strong> confidence is a recipe to overcome what has been<br />

lost <strong>and</strong> carry on freely.<br />

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Isadora Pak<br />

Isadora Pak is a first-time barrio writer, she loves animals <strong>and</strong> cute things. Isadora<br />

spends her free time drawing <strong>and</strong> sewing. She was inspired to write a children’s<br />

book, because of her many young siblings<br />

Sparks<br />

This is Sparks.<br />

She’s a little spotted gecko, <strong>and</strong> she sleeps all day. When<br />

she gets fed, she eats crickets.<br />

Sparks lives in a terrarium, she likes her glass home, but<br />

she’s always wanted to run around <strong>and</strong> explore.<br />

So, when all the humans are asleep, she escapes!<br />

She likes jumping from high places, <strong>and</strong> always l<strong>and</strong>s on<br />

her feet.<br />

She l<strong>and</strong>s in a room with tons of cabinets <strong>and</strong> shelves, that<br />

always smells good.<br />

In a room full of delicious scents there are bound to be<br />

roaches, Spark’s favourite food.<br />

She chases it all over the room <strong>and</strong> up the walls until<br />

*chomp*<br />

Sparks ran to find more bugs, but instead found a big<br />

fluffy puppy *sneaky*<br />

Better not wake it up...<br />

Uh Oh (*it wakes up*) Run!<br />

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Sparks ducks under the couch out of reach of the scary<br />

puppy.<br />

She’s safe, but if there’s a rampaging puppy on the loose<br />

what happened to the humans? And why do they only<br />

leave at night?<br />

Sparks searches the house for her owners, she finds a<br />

room full of toys, stuffed animals, little cars <strong>and</strong> trains, <strong>and</strong><br />

lots of plastic dinosaurs.<br />

There’re no humans in here, so she leaves<br />

The next room she finds is all white with a big tub <strong>and</strong> a<br />

sink, it’s also full of bottles <strong>and</strong> fake ducks.<br />

But she doesn’t see any humans in here so she leaves<br />

She slips under the door of another room full of beds. She<br />

climbs up one of them, <strong>and</strong> finds...<br />

Her Owner! Yippie!<br />

She jumps so high that she gets launched right onto the<br />

window.<br />

*yawn* the sun is coming up <strong>and</strong> the little gecko is very<br />

tired from exploring<br />

She slowly crawls back to her home, being careful not to<br />

wake the puppy up again.<br />

And when she gets back it’s good night!<br />

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Aleena Roy<br />

Aleena Roy is a 17-year-old senior who lives in Portl<strong>and</strong>. She hates<br />

horror but writes a lot about terror. With a reignited passion for writing,<br />

she comes to you today with two poetic pieces.<br />

Zombie carnival<br />

Tunnel of love for the undead<br />

Brain chili Frito pie, the usual sacrifice<br />

Rusty merry-go-round with finger flyways<br />

Bumper cars to steal their lover’s eye<br />

The ab<strong>and</strong>oned carnival, a zombie’s perfect date night<br />

Hearts decayed but love is in the air<br />

Touching your carpal gives me butterflies<br />

Let’s have eyeball gushers, green’s my favorite<br />

We get on the Ferris wheel, I’m about to forget your name<br />

Guess I didn’t eat enough brains<br />

I swat the flies around us <strong>and</strong> look into your eye<br />

You lean in <strong>and</strong> I fall through your stomach.<br />

Maybe zombies shouldn’t date<br />

Nadi<br />

Murky drop off<br />

I see eyes in the water<br />

What souls we’ve lost<br />

Another floating body<br />

Life moves on <strong>and</strong> time beats us to it<br />

The race from the monster<br />

I wash my clothes here<br />

I drink water here<br />

People die here<br />

I still live here<br />

107 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Alisha Roy<br />

Alisha Roy is a 14-year-old freshman attending Gregory-Portl<strong>and</strong> high<br />

school, she also likes to hang out with friends <strong>and</strong> likes learning about<br />

history.<br />

Disgust<br />

They said it didn’t matter to them<br />

They always told her to find comfort in them.<br />

They always used her<br />

They always begged for forgiveness<br />

They always promised they’d get better<br />

They always said she deserves better,<br />

They always asked her to never leave for they had no one else<br />

They had an unhealthy attachment to her, struck with delusional<br />

fantasies<br />

They acted like they cared for boundaries<br />

Her heart sank further every time they came back<br />

She hated every “compliment” they gave<br />

She hated that they would only be available at night<br />

She hated how they knew about the glaring issue but said, “it’s not a<br />

big deal.”<br />

“Your just my best friend” they would say.<br />

End of Barrio Writers’ section<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

108


Emily Hargitai<br />

Esther ‘98<br />

Ticonderoga <strong>and</strong> Staples are tied at<br />

first place for best pencils to chew, <strong>and</strong><br />

the kind Anthony Abi-nanti uses that have<br />

the blue metal by the eraser—those come<br />

in second. In third place are the kind my<br />

gr<strong>and</strong>ma orders special every Christmas, the<br />

red ones with my name “Esther” on them<br />

in shiny gold letters. And in last place, way<br />

down at the bottom of the list, are the ones<br />

called Universal Economy. I would rather<br />

chew a windowsill than chew a Universal<br />

Economy pencil. My dog’s name is Oliver,<br />

like the movie about the gruel, <strong>and</strong> that’s<br />

what he put in his first place: Window-sills.<br />

Maybe we’ll chew them together when I’m<br />

home from school.<br />

My school is Tappan Zee Elementary<br />

<strong>and</strong> Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz is my teacher. She<br />

is dressed up as Violet Beauregarde from<br />

Willy Wonka for Halloween—with her red<br />

cap, navy button-up jacket <strong>and</strong> pregnant<br />

belly sticking all the way out like a blueberry.<br />

She has painted her h<strong>and</strong>s <strong>and</strong> her nose<br />

with blue paint. In her mouth is a large<br />

wad of gum so that even her lips, teeth <strong>and</strong><br />

tongue are tinged slightly blue.<br />

While I rank the chewability of pencils<br />

in my writer’s notebook, Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz<br />

takes attendance. She has just written a<br />

reminder on the whiteboard: That at 12<br />

o’clock, after we take our spelling test, we<br />

will leave for our Halloween field trip down<br />

the road to the Old Dutch Church. The<br />

Old Dutch Church is where Ichabod Crane<br />

taught Sunday School before the Headless<br />

Horse-man got him. He is buried there now.<br />

They all are, I think. Even the horse.<br />

“Julio Gonzalez?” says Mrs. Rodrigo-<br />

Díaz<br />

“Aquí.”<br />

“En ingles, por favor.”<br />

“Here.”<br />

Our class has the English people <strong>and</strong><br />

Spanish people all mixed, which means we<br />

get to have two third grade teachers, not<br />

109 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

just one. Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz is the first<br />

teacher, <strong>and</strong> if you don’t dot the “i” in her<br />

name with a slash, she takes points off.<br />

She gives homework on Fridays <strong>and</strong> grades<br />

everything in red pen.<br />

The second teacher is Miss Eloise.<br />

She has giant, shiny black hair <strong>and</strong> five<br />

little Thing One dolls on her desk which<br />

she collected from the cereal boxes, but no<br />

Thing Twos. She says she’ll give a prize, a<br />

peppermint patty, to whoever finds a Thing<br />

Two, because if she keeps eating Cocoa<br />

Crispies herself, she might pop.<br />

“Daniel Fayette?” says Mrs. Rodrigo-<br />

Díaz<br />

“Here,” says Daniel, who is seated to<br />

my left <strong>and</strong> dressed up like a girl, while<br />

Anthony Abinanti is seated on my right<br />

<strong>and</strong> dressed like Elvis. I am dressed like a<br />

famous singer, too—in my grey T-shirt, tan<br />

jacket <strong>and</strong> black dreadlock wig—but the<br />

singer I am dressed as is not as famous of a<br />

singer as Elvis. The singer I am dressed up<br />

as is named Adam Duritz. He is in a b<strong>and</strong><br />

called Counting Crows <strong>and</strong> even though<br />

he is only a little bit famous compared to<br />

Elvis, he is still my favorite <strong>and</strong> my mom’s<br />

favorite. I think it’s a good thing that Adam<br />

Duritz is only a little bit famous because if<br />

he were a lot famous, it would make him too<br />

sad. I know this because of the song called<br />

“Mr. Jones.” Because of the way he sings:<br />

When everybody loves me, I will never be<br />

lonely. He repeats the words I will never be<br />

lonely three more times <strong>and</strong> the more they<br />

get repeated the slower the music gets, <strong>and</strong><br />

the slower the music gets the lonelier the<br />

words become.<br />

As for Anthony Abinanti, he is drawing<br />

a diagram on his desk of what he saw his<br />

hamsters doing before they had Peanut,<br />

our new class pet. The diagram has labels<br />

like “whiskers” <strong>and</strong> “scent gl<strong>and</strong>’. I make<br />

a diagram in my notebook of Anthony<br />

Abinanti making a diagram. I label the<br />

parts of his Elvis costume: “Hair gel”, “white<br />

jacket”, “red tassels”. I label the diagram:<br />

“Diagram”. And I add the caption: Anthony<br />

Abinanti knows everything there is to know<br />

about hamsters, covering my notebook from<br />

him with my arm.<br />

“Esther Menyhert?” says Mrs. Rodrigo-<br />

Díaz<br />

“Hamsters. I mean—”


I drop my pencil <strong>and</strong> cover my mouth<br />

with my palms. My earlobes burn. There’s a<br />

split-second of terrible silence in which I try<br />

to explain I meant “here”, I meant “here”, I<br />

meant “here”, but before I can get the words<br />

out, the volume turns up <strong>and</strong> the laughter<br />

begins. My classmates, my teachers all<br />

laughing. Miss Eloise, too.<br />

Somewhere inside me, I know their<br />

laughter is the friendly kind. I know they’re<br />

laughing at me the same way I laugh at<br />

Oliver when he does something cute <strong>and</strong><br />

a little dumb, like walk into a screen. But<br />

ever since third grade began, I’ve had a hard<br />

time figuring out what the difference is—if<br />

there is a difference, if the difference even<br />

matters—between cute <strong>and</strong> dumb, mean<br />

<strong>and</strong> nice, laughter <strong>and</strong> laughter <strong>and</strong> laughter.<br />

All I know is that lately I feel people laughing<br />

at me all the time. I feel them on the inside,<br />

even after the real laughing stops.<br />

Chewing my pencils is the third worst<br />

habit I have. I chew them almost as badly<br />

as my little brother Theo chews his fingers.<br />

Not his fingernails, but his actual fingers—<br />

mainly the cuticle region—the place where<br />

the nail connects to the skin. Theo chews<br />

his cuticle regions so badly his fingers look<br />

grated like cheese. I help him put B<strong>and</strong>-aids<br />

on them when they bleed <strong>and</strong> they bleed all<br />

the time.<br />

My mom started painting his<br />

fingertips with a special clear nail polish<br />

that’s supposed to taste like rotten eggs.<br />

She does this each morning outside on the<br />

deck so the polish won’t stink up the house<br />

<strong>and</strong> every night she coats my pencils with<br />

same horrible stuff. But I don’t think the<br />

polish tastes rotten enough because I still<br />

chew my pencils as bad as before <strong>and</strong> the<br />

other first graders still won’t hold Theo’s<br />

h<strong>and</strong> in the line.<br />

Before I begin the spelling test, I open<br />

my manila folder <strong>and</strong> make it st<strong>and</strong> up in<br />

an L-shape on the right side of my desk.<br />

This is not a regular manila folder, this<br />

is a privacy folder, which is also called an<br />

anti-cheating device. Every person in the<br />

class has their own anti-cheating device. I<br />

invented the name “anti-cheating device”<br />

but I did not invent the device itself. The<br />

first anti-cheating device was invented by<br />

Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz back when she first quit<br />

her job as a lawyer to teach the third grade.<br />

The devices make me think of the cubicles<br />

in mom’s old office before she was laid off.<br />

This week, the words we study all have<br />

the long “a” sound. Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz<br />

reads them off one by one <strong>and</strong> we write<br />

them down on the blank lines next to the<br />

numbers. The words start off easy—Bake.<br />

Cake. Gate. Place. Angel—but they get<br />

harder <strong>and</strong> harder the farther she gets<br />

down the list. Placate. Tornado. Abomination.<br />

Alligator. Verbatim.<br />

But this part of the test, the spelling<br />

part, is not the hard part for me. Neither is<br />

it hard for me to make sentences using the<br />

long “a” words: The mean boss confiscated my<br />

mom’s job. The angel baked a cake to placate<br />

the alligator. Sometimes my brain is a tornado<br />

of abominations. I know each song in the<br />

Counting Crows CD verbatim. The sentences<br />

come easily like that. The hard part comes<br />

after I finish the test, when I have to share<br />

my answers with Anthony Abinanti so that<br />

he can get a good grade, too.<br />

Anthony says I must share everything<br />

with him—my fruit snacks, my pencils, my<br />

answers, even my own brain. Otherwise, he<br />

says, he will fire me from being his friend.<br />

Otherwise, he says, he will tell Mrs. Rodrigo-<br />

Díaz about the picture, the bad one that<br />

lives inside the chest in my basement, the<br />

one that he <strong>and</strong> I discovered by accident<br />

the time he came to my house. And if he<br />

tells Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz about the picture,<br />

he says, then she will tell her old lawyer<br />

friends <strong>and</strong> my dad will be taken away, just<br />

like his mom was taken away when he was<br />

in kindergarten. My basement contained a<br />

mistake that we found on a playdate.<br />

What Anthony doesn’t know is that<br />

my dad has depression disease. He caught<br />

it because of my gr<strong>and</strong>ma in Hungary,<br />

my nagymama, who is old <strong>and</strong> has a<br />

remembering disease, so she does not<br />

believe any more that my dad is her son. He<br />

is in Hungary right now visiting her as we<br />

speak. But he’s coming home soon, I explain<br />

in my head, to Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz’ lawyer<br />

friends, who are also in my head, when they<br />

come to break down the front door of my<br />

house in my head. Do not take him away, I<br />

tell them in my head. My habits get worse<br />

when my dad is away in my head.<br />

Those of us who finish the spelling test<br />

early are allowed to spend the remaining<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

110


time deco-rating our manila folders. I am<br />

almost always in first place for fastest<br />

spelling test finisher, which gives me plenty<br />

of time to write down all the spelling words<br />

I can remember with a crayon on my manila<br />

folder. I write using big letters so that<br />

Anthony Abinanti, who is seated in the desk<br />

to my right, can copy them down verbatim.<br />

I can only share my brain with him for the<br />

words. To make the sentences, he has to<br />

use his own brain. As soon as he is finished<br />

copying, I color over the words on my folder<br />

with big, angry strokes of my favorite<br />

colors which are also Adam Duritz’ favorite<br />

colors—blue, red, black <strong>and</strong> gray—to make<br />

them disappear before anyone can see.<br />

The bus monitor who takes us to the<br />

Old Dutch Church for our field trip has<br />

two thumbs on her right h<strong>and</strong> instead of<br />

just one. It’s not a part of her costume for<br />

Halloween. It’s been like that since she was<br />

born. Anthony Abinanti had been telling<br />

me about it since the first day of school.<br />

I didn’t believe him at first, but there’s no<br />

denying it now that her h<strong>and</strong> is right in<br />

front of me, pressed against the back of the<br />

seat for balance. I can see everything—all<br />

her bracelets <strong>and</strong> both of her thumbs. I<br />

don’t look at Anthony, who is next to me<br />

in the window seat, because I can’t. I’m too<br />

embarrassed about his rightness. But I can<br />

still feel him staring at me staring at her<br />

thumbs.<br />

The bus monitor’s name is Gloria <strong>and</strong><br />

she is the nicest one there is. She knows<br />

the best stations with all the best songs,<br />

like the song “Gasolina” which always gets<br />

stuck in my head. I feel rude staring at her<br />

thumbs <strong>and</strong> a little bit sick, so I look away.<br />

I pretend to myself I’m just staring at her<br />

bracelets, which I half-am. The first bracelet<br />

is made of wood beads <strong>and</strong> each bead has<br />

a tiny portrait on it. One of the portrait’s<br />

is of Jesus <strong>and</strong> the rest, I think, are of his<br />

friends. The second bracelet is gold <strong>and</strong><br />

has her name, Gloria, in the middle in shiny<br />

cursive. All her fingernails are long <strong>and</strong><br />

painted with little designs, except for the<br />

nail on her second thumb which is blank.<br />

The second thumb is smaller <strong>and</strong> pinker<br />

than the first, attached to first thumb with<br />

skin. The second thumb looks like it lives in<br />

the first thumb’s pocket.<br />

I am too invested in Gloria’s thumbs to<br />

realize I am pulling my eyelashes out again<br />

This is the second worst habit I have. It is a<br />

disease with a really long name that begins<br />

with a “T.” Dr. Choi wrote the name of it down<br />

on a piece of paper for me <strong>and</strong> my mom. The<br />

disease makes people pull their own hair<br />

out all the time. It makes them have to wear<br />

b<strong>and</strong>annas to school so they don’t get made<br />

fun of by Kiera Williams for having a bald<br />

spot. It also makes them pull out the lashes<br />

that keep germs away, so their eyes always<br />

sting <strong>and</strong> turn pink even when they’re not<br />

crying.<br />

I do not realize I am pulling again until<br />

I feel a tug on my neck <strong>and</strong> turn around to<br />

see Anthony Abinanti tying the fringe from<br />

the sleeve of his jacket to the chain of my<br />

necklace, which is a Counting Crows necklace<br />

that my mom ordered me for my birthday last<br />

year. It is a silver guitar pick with the words<br />

I want to be someone who believes etched<br />

into it. “What are you doing, Anthony?” I ask<br />

when he ties the knot.<br />

“I’m making a leash. Every time you pull<br />

your eyelashes I’ll tug it.”<br />

“You can’t.”<br />

“Why?”<br />

“Because leashes aren’t allowed on the<br />

bus.”<br />

His sunglasses slide down his nose a<br />

bit, but he nudges them back up with his<br />

shoulder, the shoulder of the arm that isn’t<br />

tied to my necklace. Then with the arm that’s<br />

attached to me, he pulls at the exact same<br />

moment that Gloria the bus monitor turns<br />

around. When she looks at my necklace,<br />

connected by tassel to Anthony’s fist, she<br />

shouts the word “No” so loud that the whole<br />

bus goes silent. She unties me <strong>and</strong> her<br />

fingernails tickle my neck. Her face is so close<br />

to mine while she does it that I can see the<br />

black makeup on her eyelashes. She has the<br />

longest, blackest eyelashes I’ve ever seen.<br />

“Up,” she shouts at Anthony. Anthony<br />

unbuckles his seatbelt <strong>and</strong> st<strong>and</strong>s up. Gloria<br />

looks at him the way you look at somebody<br />

you are trying really hard not to hit. Then she<br />

looks at me. I try looking down at my lap, but<br />

she lifts my chin up with her finger.<br />

“Not ever,” she says, pointing to her<br />

neck, “The neck choking. Not ever. You<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>?”<br />

I nod without looking. I flinch when<br />

111 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


she moves her h<strong>and</strong> toward my neck—the<br />

h<strong>and</strong> with two thumbs—to unfasten my<br />

necklace. “I give to your teacher,” she says.<br />

“Psychiatric Help: 5 Cents” is what<br />

the sign says that Miss Eloise has on her<br />

desk. We are lined up here at the end of the<br />

day to h<strong>and</strong> in our writer’s notebooks <strong>and</strong><br />

get back our graded spelling tests. When I<br />

put my notebook on top of the stack, Miss<br />

Eloise looks at my costume <strong>and</strong> I look at<br />

hers. She has on a blue dress with a white<br />

collar. It reminds me of Wizard of Oz. “Are<br />

you Dorothy?” I ask.<br />

“Nope.” She shakes her head, smiling.<br />

“Lucy from Charlie Brown.” She kicks both<br />

feet out from under the desk so I can she’s<br />

wearing black <strong>and</strong> white Oreo shoes, not<br />

ruby slippers. “And how about you?” she<br />

says. “A pirate?”<br />

“Nope.” I shake my head so the<br />

dreadlocks of my wig dance around. “I’m a<br />

Counting Crow.”<br />

She slides herself back in her spinning<br />

chair, slaps her desk <strong>and</strong> laughs: “Of course,<br />

of course.” But when I ask, “Can I have back<br />

my test?” her smile goes away.<br />

“Esther,” she says softly. “About your<br />

test.” She leans over her desk <strong>and</strong> opens<br />

her mouth to explain, but then she closes<br />

it again. Then she taps my h<strong>and</strong> twice,<br />

mouths the words, Hold on, <strong>and</strong> calls Mrs.<br />

Rodrigo-Díaz over.<br />

Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz turns from the<br />

whiteboard <strong>and</strong> walks toward us. My heart<br />

races. I’ve never done badly on a test before.<br />

I’ve never done badly on anything besides<br />

attendance. I can hear her boot heels<br />

clicking in my stomach. If I did badly, that<br />

means Anthony Abinanti did badly, too.<br />

She bends down to make her face level<br />

with mine. I can see her tongue stained dark<br />

blue, can smell blue raspberry bubblegum<br />

on her breath. Up close, her eyes look more<br />

brown than black, more sad than angry.<br />

“Almuerzo mañana,” she whispers.<br />

“Tomorrow we’ll talk.”<br />

When Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz’ lawyer<br />

friends visit me again in my head, I tell them<br />

more <strong>and</strong> more good things about my dad:<br />

How when my dad is not in Hungary <strong>and</strong><br />

not having depression disease he helps<br />

Theo <strong>and</strong> I both with our habits by letting<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

us chop wood with him in the backyard. He<br />

bought a small axe for us to share, whose<br />

name is Barbie Axe. He shows us the right<br />

way to lift Barbie Axe using lower body<br />

strength, to hold Barbie Axe’s h<strong>and</strong>le while<br />

her blade drops through the air, <strong>and</strong> let our<br />

own weight combined with Barbie Axe’s<br />

weight split the log in half—instead of<br />

pushing the log to split with our backs <strong>and</strong><br />

our arms. That’s how you get hurt, he explains.<br />

But we’ve never gotten hurt chopping wood<br />

with him, or helping him pack the wood into<br />

the wheelbarrow, or rolling the wheelbarrow<br />

through the mud, or piling the wood in the<br />

trestle, or building the fire. We never get hurt<br />

doing any of those things with my dad. We<br />

only get tired <strong>and</strong> hungry <strong>and</strong> sometimes the<br />

next day we feel kind of sore, but the good<br />

kind of sore. The good kind, I explain. Case<br />

dismissed. Please depart from my head.<br />

Since I can’t chop wood during school,<br />

my mom started packing pipe cleaners—<br />

the sparkly ones—in my backpack every<br />

morning. That way, when I have the urge to<br />

pull, I can pick at the tiny little pipe cleaner<br />

fibers instead of my hair. We tried silly<br />

putty, stress balls, origami, herbal tea, even<br />

medication from the doctor that my dad<br />

doesn’t know I see. Finally we tried pipe<br />

cleaners—two different kinds. We found<br />

that the colorful, fluffy fibers on regular pipe<br />

cleaners are too soft <strong>and</strong> slippery to really<br />

pull out <strong>and</strong> therefore they don’t work. On<br />

the other h<strong>and</strong>, sparkly pipe cleaners have<br />

fibers that feel stiff <strong>and</strong> detach from the wire<br />

the same way my eyelashes detach from my<br />

lids: Easily with a “pop.” Easily with a “pop.”<br />

Easily with a “pop.” This is why my mom buys<br />

them, because they feel almost the same.<br />

After school, I right click the picture of<br />

Frank Zimmer—my mom’s boss from before<br />

she got laid off—<strong>and</strong> hit copy. Then I exit<br />

LinkedIn, open up Microsoft Word, right<br />

click <strong>and</strong> hit paste. I drag the top right corner<br />

of the picture as far as it goes, until Frank<br />

Zimmer’s face is wide as the entire screen.<br />

Then I drag the top of picture down <strong>and</strong> the<br />

bottom of the picture up in order to squish<br />

Frank Zimmer. Once Frank Zimmer is nice<br />

<strong>and</strong> squished, I right click the picture again,<br />

but this time I click “set as”, <strong>and</strong> then on the<br />

menu that pops up, I hit “wallpaper”. Then I<br />

leave the room until my mom comes back to<br />

her desk with her coffee. I wait outside the<br />

door for the sound of her laugh.<br />

112


Once she’s done laughing <strong>and</strong> the house<br />

becomes quiet, I quietly close her door <strong>and</strong><br />

proceed down the hall. In right-h<strong>and</strong> corner<br />

of my basement, between the washing<br />

machine <strong>and</strong> the foosball table, there’s a<br />

shiny, wooden bench. My gr<strong>and</strong>father from<br />

Hungary built it a long time ago when he<br />

came to our house. The flowery pattern<br />

on the part where you lean up against—he<br />

carved that himself with a special knife. He<br />

built it so that when you lift up the seat, you<br />

find it is not just a bench you can sit on: It’s<br />

also a chest. It’s a place you can hide secret<br />

things beneath more secret things.<br />

I open the chest <strong>and</strong> carefully begin<br />

digging through the photographs inside it.<br />

There’s one of my mom in a white T-shirt<br />

hugging a blanket to her chest while she<br />

sleeps. Her belly is pregnant <strong>and</strong> the room<br />

is full of sun. Beneath that one, there’s a<br />

black-<strong>and</strong>-white one of my dad with the<br />

words “Red Army, ’79” written in pen across<br />

the bottom. In it, he’s lying in a cot with his<br />

arms crossed behind his head. He looks<br />

tired <strong>and</strong> sweaty but also a little bit famous.<br />

After that, there’s one of Theo <strong>and</strong> me riding<br />

our tricycles through some puddles after a<br />

storm. The Tappan Zee Bridge is behind us<br />

<strong>and</strong> lit up white.<br />

At the very bottom of the my<br />

gr<strong>and</strong>father’s chest is where I find “Esther<br />

’98”. I need it in order to do the worst habit<br />

I have. It’s the size of a post-it note. It’s little<br />

bit dusty from living inside of that chest.<br />

And the worst thing I do is I pull it out, hold<br />

it <strong>and</strong> look.<br />

“Why is my face like that, mom?” is what<br />

I asked mom when I first found the picture<br />

inside of the bench that my gr<strong>and</strong>father<br />

built that is also a chest. After we came<br />

home from dropping off Anthony Abinanti<br />

was when I asked mom. I was yelling but<br />

soon I stopped yelling <strong>and</strong> the glue on my<br />

fingers made it so little strings came across<br />

that were sticky <strong>and</strong> white like a web. I was<br />

looking at mom through the web, with her<br />

face in my trap. My mom said the truth<br />

which was my face was hit by my mistake<br />

by my dad. “Dad got mad <strong>and</strong> confused,” is<br />

what mom said. That is why he got ice <strong>and</strong><br />

then took a picture to fit in his wallet. The<br />

ice was so my lip would not swell <strong>and</strong> the<br />

picture was taken so he could not get mad<br />

<strong>and</strong> confused anymore.<br />

The thing with my mom is that she<br />

has green eyes that look like they glow in<br />

the dark if you turn off the light. I love this<br />

about mom <strong>and</strong> also that she never lies.<br />

The next day at school for lunch, while<br />

the rest of the class eats in the cafeteria,<br />

I walk with Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz <strong>and</strong> Miss<br />

Eloise to Hollywood Pizza. Hollywood Pizza<br />

is right across the street from my school<br />

<strong>and</strong> they make the best Ziti slices in Sleepy<br />

Hollow. It’s where Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz <strong>and</strong><br />

Miss Eloise take us for lunch at the end of<br />

the month if we do all our homework. It has<br />

a pool table <strong>and</strong> lemon sorbet that comes<br />

in a lemon.<br />

But today’s not the end of the month,<br />

it’s November 1st, <strong>and</strong> as soon as we sit<br />

down—me on the one side, both teachers<br />

on the other—I can tell this isn’t a party. It’s<br />

a meeting.<br />

“Esther,” says Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz, “Do<br />

you know why Miss Eloise <strong>and</strong> I brought<br />

you here today?”<br />

I wiggle a ziti with my fork <strong>and</strong> shake<br />

my head.<br />

“You have absolutely no idea,” she says.<br />

“You have no idea at all whatsoever.”<br />

I give up on the fork, lift the slice to my<br />

mouth, <strong>and</strong> take a bite. “I’m—”<br />

“Swallow your pizza first, Esther.”<br />

I swallow. “I’m sorry.”<br />

Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz blots her pepperoni<br />

with a napkin. “If you don’t know,” she says,<br />

“then how can you be sorry?”<br />

“I don’t know.”<br />

She throws her h<strong>and</strong>s in the air <strong>and</strong><br />

shakes her head in Miss Eloise’s direction.<br />

“I think I did bad on the spelling test,” I<br />

say, starting to cry. “I thought I did well but<br />

I guess I did bad.”<br />

“Poorly,” says Mrs. Rodrigo-Díaz. “You<br />

did poorly.”<br />

“I did?”<br />

“No,” she says. “The correct way to say<br />

it is ‘I did poorly.’ Not, ‘I did bad.’ That’s what<br />

I meant. You scored very well on the test.”<br />

I am too confused to be relieved by this<br />

news. I look at Miss Eloise for guidance but<br />

she is busy with her pizza. When she tries<br />

to bite it, a long, blown-out curtain of dark<br />

hair falls in the way of her mouth. When<br />

113 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


she tucks some behind her ear, it bounces<br />

back out. “Good grief,” she whispers, <strong>and</strong><br />

ties it up over her head. I asked her once<br />

if she even needed a pillow to sleep since<br />

her hair was so big. She said yes, <strong>and</strong> that<br />

her pillowcase had Snoopy on it, like mine.<br />

“We saw you sharing your answers<br />

with Anthony Abinanti,” says Mrs.<br />

Rodrigo-Díaz. “We saw you pushing your<br />

manila folder close to his desk so he could<br />

see all your answers <strong>and</strong> copy them down<br />

as his own. There’s a word for this, Esther.<br />

One word. Do you know what it is?”<br />

My eyes <strong>and</strong> throat swell up with<br />

shame. “It’s cheating,” I manage to say.<br />

“Yes,” she says. “Even if you’re the one<br />

sharing the answers, it’s cheating. It’s an<br />

automatic zero.”<br />

I cry for a very long time. She h<strong>and</strong>s<br />

me a napkin to wipe off my eyes. Then<br />

she h<strong>and</strong>s me my test. I’m scared to look,<br />

so I flip it over <strong>and</strong> focus on finishing my<br />

slice of pizza instead, chewing every bite<br />

for as long as I can. It’s not until the slice<br />

is completely gone that I flip my test back<br />

over <strong>and</strong> make myself look.<br />

The first thing I see on the top of the<br />

page is a glittery, star-shaped sticker. The<br />

next thing I see is the grade: 100%. Mrs.<br />

Rodrigo-Díaz didn’t take off a single point.<br />

“There is time for la justicia <strong>and</strong> a time<br />

for la gracia,” she says. “I have given you<br />

grace today. Do you underst<strong>and</strong>?”<br />

I look at her, then at my test. I look at<br />

Miss Eloise, then at my test. I start crying<br />

again, saying, “Yes, yes, yes, I underst<strong>and</strong>.”<br />

My mom picks up Theo <strong>and</strong> me early<br />

from Tappan Zee Elementary in the red<br />

Subaru. We drive to JFK Airport to pick<br />

up my dad—Theo <strong>and</strong> me in the backseat<br />

with Oliver in between us. Oliver lies so<br />

that I get his head <strong>and</strong> Theo gets his butt.<br />

The drive is so long that the CD plays<br />

twice. The CD is my mom’s favorite one by<br />

the b<strong>and</strong> Counting Crows. It’s my favorite,<br />

too, especially the first song, which is<br />

the one that goes: On certain Sundays in<br />

November when the weather bothers me, I<br />

empty drawers from other summers where<br />

my shadows used to be. I like it when songs<br />

say the name of the month you are in<br />

while you’re listening to them. I like when<br />

the songs say the name of the place you’re<br />

in, too.<br />

“Remember when they played this<br />

song at Jones Beach?” I ask mom.<br />

“Of course,” she says. “Remember<br />

what happened when he sang the part<br />

about Long Isl<strong>and</strong>?”<br />

“Yes,” I smile remembering. “Everyone<br />

clapped.”<br />

While we sit in the traffic, I unzip<br />

my backpack <strong>and</strong> take out my writer’s<br />

notebook, which Miss Eloise h<strong>and</strong>ed back<br />

in the afternoon, full of her comments.<br />

Miss Eloise swears she’s the only person<br />

who reads them in the world. The reason I<br />

write the things I write is because I believe<br />

her. The reason I told her about Esther ‘98<br />

is because I believe her. Dear Miss Eloise, I<br />

had written that morning. One time there<br />

was a picture of a face that was hurt. The<br />

face in the picture was my own face that<br />

was hurt. I tried to stop looking but could not<br />

stop looking. I tore up the picture in millions<br />

of pieces to stop it. I did this because of the<br />

words of the Counting Crows’ song “The price<br />

of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it<br />

brings.” These are my favorite words of my<br />

whole life.<br />

When I had run out of my own things<br />

to say about the picture, I just kept writing<br />

that one line a million times over, because<br />

as soon as I wrote it once I just couldn’t<br />

stop. The price of a memory is the memory of<br />

the sorrow it brings...The price of the memory<br />

is the memory of the sorrow it brings...The<br />

price of a memory...I wrote until the page<br />

was filled up. And Mrs. Eloise wrote back<br />

in pen, That’s my favorite part, too.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

114


John C. Mannone<br />

una lección<br />

Los niños juegan en la zona de juegos, inocentes<br />

del color de la cara o la tez<br />

de las diferencias culturales, pero son culpables<br />

de amor como lo demuestra el sonido de su risa.<br />

El muchachito se desliza hacia abajo un tubo rojo<br />

hecho del plástico,<br />

él choca contra su amiga que está de pie a la apertura.<br />

Ella cae a la tierra, su cabello rubio azot<strong>and</strong>o, separándo<br />

en todo su cara pecosa con sonrisas rapsódica.<br />

La ayuda, y mientras ella cepilla la suciedad<br />

desde su jeans de color esligero, él la besa suavemente<br />

en la mejilla (así como él había visto a su padre besar<br />

su esposa tantas veces antes).<br />

En la misma manera, ella—cara con hoyuelos—le besa.<br />

Se ríen una risa tonta.<br />

Las madres vigilantes corren a sus niños<br />

llam<strong>and</strong>o sus nombres virtualmente al unísono:<br />

“Katie! Ven aquí, ahora mismo.”<br />

“¡Juanito, sin vergüenza!”<br />

La mexicana se enfrenta a la madre americana, dice<br />

en su acento tímido y grueso, “Lo siento.”<br />

Pero la otra miró con desdén.<br />

Los niños no ven<br />

la hostilidad, ni siquiera lo entenderían<br />

... todavía.<br />

Mateo: 18: 2-3: Y llam<strong>and</strong>o Jesús á un niño, le puso en medio de<br />

ellos, Y dijo: De cierto os digo, que si no os volviereis, y fuereis como<br />

niños, no entraréis en el reino de los cielos. (La Biblia Reina-Valera)<br />

115 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


John C. Mannone<br />

A Lesson<br />

Children play in the park, innocent<br />

of skin color or complexion<br />

of cultural differences, but guilty<br />

of love as evidenced by the sound of their laughter.<br />

A little boy slides down a red tube made of plastic,<br />

bumps into his playmate st<strong>and</strong>ing at the opening.<br />

She tumbles to the ground, her blonde hair flailing,<br />

splaying all over her freckled face rhapsodic with smiles.<br />

He helps her up, <strong>and</strong> as she brushes off the dirt<br />

from her lightly color jeans, he kisses her softly<br />

on the cheek (just as he had seen his father kiss<br />

his wife so many times before).<br />

She kisses him back, dimpled-face. They giggle.<br />

The vigilant mothers rush to their children<br />

calling out their names virtually in unison:<br />

“Katie! Come here, right now.”<br />

“Juanito, sin vergüenza!” (have you no shame?)<br />

The Mexicana turns to the American mother, utters<br />

in her sheepish, thick accent, “I’m sorry.”<br />

But the other mother only glares.<br />

The children do not see<br />

hostility, they would not even underst<strong>and</strong> it<br />

… yet.<br />

Jesus called a little child to st<strong>and</strong> among them. “Truly I tell you,” He<br />

said, “unless you change <strong>and</strong> become like little children, you will never<br />

enter the kingdom of heaven.”<br />

—Matthew 18:2,3 (Berean Study Bible)<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

116


John C. Mannone<br />

Tinted Glasses<br />

December 7, <strong>20</strong>21. For Emmett<br />

Sometimes we must remove our eyeglasses to see<br />

that the purple- or rose-tinted world is colored<br />

with the a different kind of sadness, a wrong hope.<br />

Today is a day of remembrance. We think<br />

of Pearl Harbor <strong>and</strong> of bombs dropped<br />

on our ships anchored in O’ahu. Incindiary<br />

attitudes ignited by arrogance, incompetance<br />

<strong>and</strong> racial stereotyping all precursors.<br />

But on August 28, 1955, there were no military<br />

to blame, no sudden arrival of mass destruction<br />

weapons, but there was death, one of thous<strong>and</strong>s<br />

in the deep South after the Civil War. Smoke<br />

from burning crosses <strong>and</strong> Black men’s ashes,<br />

<strong>and</strong> the ungentle wind that pendulumed<br />

the bodies in hate-filled lynchings. Even boys.<br />

Emmett Louis Till, 1941-born, was abducted<br />

from his family’s safe haven, beaten, mutilated,<br />

<strong>and</strong> shot in the head as a final insult before<br />

the body was discarded into the dirty Mississippi<br />

waters of the Tallahatchie River. He was 14<br />

accused of whistling at a 21-year-old white<br />

woman in a grocery store. Nothing new<br />

was found about his torture <strong>and</strong> murder<br />

though the killers confessed years later.<br />

They could not be retried, being protected<br />

against double jeopardy <strong>and</strong> a different kind<br />

of blindness—Janus too drunk to hold up<br />

the once silver, now tarnished scales of justice.<br />

Today, they closed the Emmett Till case.<br />

Nothing’s pure black, except the color<br />

of some men’s hearts. Nothing’s pure<br />

white, except the absence of hatred.<br />

Sometimes we should simply remove<br />

our eyeglasses<br />

to see.<br />

117 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Ariana Esquivel<br />

Diversity in Two Cents<br />

Mexican or American<br />

Which one may I proudly identify as<br />

Do I flip to chose my pride<br />

is one more dull than the other<br />

Was one pressed into me before the other<br />

Was one worth more than the other<br />

Yet both have made me who I am<br />

Mexican? But I don’t speak the language<br />

Ancestors say I’ve fallen into the westernized ways.<br />

Ancestors say I don’t truly underst<strong>and</strong> what effort it took to cross to America.<br />

Ancestors say I never truly will underst<strong>and</strong> the struggles of being poor<br />

Can I still be Mexican <strong>and</strong> be proud of that identity?<br />

American? But my body had more melanin than most.<br />

They say I brought taco Tuesday but then they say we’re aliens.<br />

They say I brought workers but don’t want to recognize them as citizens.<br />

They say I brought great parties but I don’t appreciate all aspects of our culture.<br />

They say I brought beautiful dances but don’t want to learn my language.<br />

They say I have an easy language but avoid coming into contact with someone who<br />

speaks it.<br />

Can I still identify as American <strong>and</strong> be proud?<br />

I want to be American <strong>and</strong> speak My Language<br />

I also want to be Mexican <strong>and</strong> be seen as equal<br />

Am I allowed to bring parts of me<br />

BUT<br />

still have the American dream<br />

Can I have unlocked gates to both<br />

Which one do I choose to keep<br />

which one do I let slowly lose it’s hold<br />

amoug my heart.<br />

Mexican or American which do I be proud of??<br />

Robb Jackson Highschool Poetry 1st Place (<strong>20</strong>22)<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

118


Corita Fern<strong>and</strong>o<br />

Mourning Loss<br />

“I miss you on some days more than others<br />

I envision your strong comforting hugs, <strong>and</strong> I manage to make this day<br />

about my loss of you...”<br />

My mother is in denial<br />

I too am in denial as we pull up through the all too familiar driveway (as<br />

familiar as one could get through brief annual visits)<br />

I see you st<strong>and</strong>ing in your long batik house coat<br />

With your h<strong>and</strong>s on your hips<br />

Watching us drive in<br />

Full of disapproval <strong>and</strong> chiding<br />

But as we pull closer you fade away <strong>and</strong> transform into your next-door<br />

neighbor.<br />

A white-haired woman who has established herself as the MC of all<br />

mourning proceedings,<br />

She flits from one mourner to another, fabricating stories of a kinder you.<br />

I walk in feeling unwanted <strong>and</strong> sit on a cracked sofa <strong>and</strong><br />

I try<br />

to limit<br />

my breaths<br />

afraid<br />

I’d smell death—<br />

Perhaps,<br />

more afraid I’d smell the vain attempts at preserving life.<br />

A bucket, rubber gloves <strong>and</strong> a man disappear behind the closed door.<br />

I watch my mother <strong>and</strong> her brother deeply in debate over which saree you<br />

should wear;<br />

They’re disappointed with the long-sleeved jacket... it should’ve been short<br />

<strong>and</strong> puffy.<br />

Once again, I think of him<br />

My own loss—a loss too insignificant to mourn in ceremony.<br />

What if he knew? Would he hug me?<br />

I angrily shrug the hugs he would offer me had he known.<br />

The day clocks by in a daze.<br />

Grieving people come by.<br />

People talk about their lives <strong>and</strong> their achievements—<br />

My mother recites where her children work.<br />

119 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


I st<strong>and</strong> by her feeling like a shabby trophy.<br />

Everybody is surprised that I am much older than I look, “you look too skinny<br />

to be a professor”, they tell me,<br />

And often these conversations end with them entreating me to eat more.<br />

I try to busy myself washing teacups <strong>and</strong> carrying biscuit trays...<br />

but when the monsoon rains made the ground muddy,<br />

I grew bored <strong>and</strong> disgusted <strong>and</strong> withdrew to the chair by the door next to the<br />

sanitizer.<br />

Love in the time of corona.<br />

Death in the time of corona.<br />

I grow exasperated watching people mindlessly trying to pump sanitizer out<br />

of a spray bottle, <strong>and</strong> I attempt to remedy it by spraying it onto the h<strong>and</strong>s of…<br />

guests? Funeral goers? Mourners? I’m not sure what the appropriate term is.<br />

This too would have been incomplete without the drunk uncle. The neighbor.<br />

Insisting on bearing the weight of sorrow.<br />

I wonder how often we’d visit now...<br />

now that you’re gone.<br />

I realize that as long as your gut lays buried in the backyard,<br />

you’re not entirely gone.<br />

But I doubt we’d visit your gut.<br />

My father appears more insensitive than ever.<br />

I wonder if that’s his way of grieving...<br />

Or had he too grown numb after all these years of grieving.<br />

He’s afraid of germs <strong>and</strong> I feel angry. He dem<strong>and</strong>s to ride back home<br />

Before the rain<br />

Before the evening prayer service<br />

I ask him to join us from the doorway as I enter <strong>and</strong> st<strong>and</strong> beside you;<br />

violating PHI Something Health Regulations.<br />

My peripheral vision affirms my father’s luminous raincoated presence<br />

looming by the doorway growing anxious by the minute as the hymns draw in<br />

crowds like moths to a lamp.<br />

I also wonder how we’d be,<br />

My brothers <strong>and</strong> I,<br />

When we meet after long years at funerals.<br />

I realize your generation has left... taking with it some others,<br />

Like my uncle,<br />

He had been 23.<br />

Younger than me.<br />

I wonder how today would’ve been had he been there,<br />

I’ve heard wonderful stories about him<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

1<strong>20</strong>


Today I learnt that you weren’t always this way—the way I knew you,<br />

Grumbling <strong>and</strong> bitter about things <strong>and</strong> people.<br />

Something had changed in you the day your son died.<br />

I remember you talking about him.<br />

I feel childish when I wonder, if it would be a reunion for you...<br />

would you meet my uncle, your son?<br />

I know you’d be the happiest if you did.<br />

My mother tells me stories I’ve heard before.<br />

Stories I don’t grow bored hearing on repeat<br />

Her ponderings about her father.<br />

She believes he was a leader of a movement.<br />

And maybe he was in hiding.<br />

After all he had his own family before them...<br />

his first wife who, unable to bear his unfaithfulness, jumped in a well <strong>and</strong> killed<br />

herself.<br />

These are unconfirmed stories,<br />

Perhaps A Loch Ness monster,<br />

nonetheless I am fond of these stories.<br />

Once, at a very young age,<br />

you snipped my mother’s curiosity at the bud,<br />

<strong>and</strong> she grew afraid to venture into the same waters.<br />

So, the truth behind those stories will die with you.<br />

And maybe it’s a figment of my mother’s childhood imagination that grew too<br />

old with her.<br />

I look down at the time on my phone,<br />

Perhaps, for a message,<br />

Sympathy,<br />

For my loss,<br />

And also,<br />

perhaps, for an explanation<br />

for leaving me<br />

So unceremoniously.<br />

121 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Kelly Talbot<br />

Meta Merging<br />

Droplets of now<br />

splash upon my face,<br />

spark in my why,<br />

meaning to be<br />

when there is no existence,<br />

only the humming<br />

possibility<br />

of quantum potential,<br />

dancing in maybes.<br />

In the next moment<br />

the world will change<br />

without being,<br />

neurons <strong>and</strong> synapses<br />

strolling h<strong>and</strong> in h<strong>and</strong><br />

with the void<br />

in the stasis<br />

of becoming<br />

without doing,<br />

without meaning.<br />

If matter has no<br />

substance, we sing<br />

without melody,<br />

in rhythm with chaos,<br />

soundless in our<br />

vibrations,<br />

<strong>and</strong> permeating<br />

in non-reality,<br />

we coalesce<br />

in soul fusion.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

122


Jacob Benavides<br />

Deep in the Heart<br />

Winter reaches for this body<br />

<strong>and</strong> San Antonio equally.<br />

Tracing the Rio Gr<strong>and</strong>e<br />

Texas is a h<strong>and</strong><br />

the outstretched crescendo<br />

bounding through Marfa lights into<br />

the l<strong>and</strong> between you <strong>and</strong> your sweater.<br />

We’re mementos of our time,<br />

Sharing sighs with the cicadas<br />

but morning comes, I breathe alone<br />

pounding my own lungs out of stone<br />

Bruises from a cathedral hurling through the starry sky<br />

A lone star picking through the mouth of a memory<br />

Index to Oklahoma, thumb in the light blue bleed<br />

Wading through ghosts, bones <strong>and</strong> fool’s gold.<br />

I remember you instead of the Alamo. I’m told<br />

it haunts our memories like an umber underpainting,<br />

but I’m a bluebonnet painted into a highway<br />

packed into the jaw of a jackrabbit<br />

hanging from a coyote’s maw,<br />

Extracted from Texas like a rotten tooth<br />

morning dew sealing the socket<br />

in glistening sheaths <strong>and</strong> hues,<br />

Fragrant sage <strong>and</strong> bloom,<br />

Perfume dropped in cups of mud,<br />

Swirling with milky eyes of cowboys<br />

swaying in the moonlight<br />

drunken roses draped in Levi’s<br />

Both l<strong>and</strong>locked <strong>and</strong> forever.<br />

Texas is a phantom,<br />

The fingerprints between you <strong>and</strong> your skin.<br />

Winter reaches for this body<br />

<strong>and</strong> San Antonio<br />

silently.<br />

123 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Jacob Benavides<br />

hereafter<br />

What beckons me past yet another stoplight?<br />

Skimming the road like a vein<br />

strapped to the flesh of some body of mine<br />

amid waves breaking the skin of a frigid lake<br />

Back onto the dingy patio where dead nicotine<br />

dances into homespun gossamer air, taken<br />

by tongues of wind into the bloodlines<br />

of fecund mesquites.<br />

The whisp of your simmered sigh,<br />

The catastrophic heave of your chest<br />

so tell me, Will you still love me tomorrow?<br />

You, the balmy carol for every beat of my heart,<br />

You. Like summer syrup coating every wall<br />

through the windchill like singing cellophane<br />

willing you to love me wholly right now<br />

before we are nothing once again.<br />

In a childhood bedroom sunrise rips through<br />

shredding the morning into ribbons untying<br />

our bodies seeking solace from the other<br />

releasing the albatross of a shivering truth<br />

shattering in the shimmer of a late winter lake<br />

my Lazarus touch <strong>and</strong> the shadow of you.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

124


Jacob Benavides<br />

To The Grounds We Trample,<br />

The Skies We Are<br />

I meet myself on that hill<br />

The hill rolls through you too<br />

That hill l<strong>and</strong>locked<br />

By the coffee shop.<br />

By the Ocean <strong>and</strong> a sea<br />

There was once a grass lit knoll<br />

Now, ravaged by a chemical golf course.<br />

In this industrial myth,<br />

Pollen screams, sinuses seek<br />

Reprieve from bodies we knew<br />

In deadening daffodils, reeking roses<br />

December winds through phantom snow.<br />

We know not ourselves anymore<br />

No.<br />

Red brick <strong>and</strong> rosy asphalt prunes<br />

Stamen, pulling petals<br />

Away-<br />

Yanking apart<br />

Tenuous leaves from fragile stems<br />

The manicured field is greasy,<br />

Its soil cold<br />

Waves of briny seagulls dive into, below<br />

floating amongst memory, frosty florals<br />

Burnt espresso<br />

Grass dried brittle,<br />

Rolling, a constant foil.<br />

In the tumult, running in its shadow<br />

Like a river<br />

The knoll, it dances, it shivers<br />

It remembers every skip, breath<br />

Languid liquor poured from you<br />

That December of perfect vision<br />

Remember the season,<br />

How a forecast<br />

Cut<br />

Us<br />

Down<br />

Gnashing thunder striking like you,<br />

Like me.<br />

pinning us down,<br />

Opening to scribbled out pages<br />

Pen me as a rolling wave on that parchment sea.<br />

What trickles<br />

What bleeds,<br />

Resounds in both you<br />

And in me.<br />

You remember that hill<br />

Two youthful moods<br />

Unspinning, salted <strong>and</strong> bloomed<br />

On open orchards, pockets of ole<strong>and</strong>ers,<br />

sweet syrup down winter’s chin<br />

The soil soured now<br />

In seeping liquid, vascular, vapid<br />

Milk the honeysuckle before it spoils<br />

Strip <strong>and</strong> bleed its woody meat.<br />

Its bursting boils.<br />

Lucidity floods slowly,<br />

(Open the plains)<br />

(Drink them dry)<br />

Bursting towards the silent sun<br />

Stomata upon the knoll,<br />

Each cell, each nucleus lulls-<br />

Breathe in the senses, syphoning us free<br />

We weep <strong>and</strong> wallow in both<br />

Our burgeoning adulthood<br />

Our newly bloomed identity<br />

Haphazard with young blood.<br />

125 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


However, in that gap<br />

Nature that once was<br />

Every oxygen<br />

Every breath<br />

Every tear<br />

Ever wept<br />

Is mine.<br />

In the Oso,<br />

The wind tidal flats<br />

There are no woods<br />

No prey<br />

No predators<br />

To be misunderstood<br />

Undone is our “normalcy”<br />

(Which we’ve never had the pleasure)<br />

for we are the skies<br />

upon the grounds that we trample,<br />

ramming ourselves repeatedly<br />

down, into the whirl<br />

those repeated senses.<br />

Another caffeinated stain<br />

Two smashed hibiscuses<br />

On that hill, smashed into its dirt<br />

Amidst timely slaughter<br />

We found ourselves<br />

Nobody’s sons<br />

Nobody’s daughters<br />

In us, veins, earthquakes.<br />

Wanting,<br />

Anything but to stake a claim<br />

Wanting<br />

To forego making a secret of your name<br />

Wanting<br />

Still, I felt shame<br />

For I was the ground<br />

Before melting into the sky<br />

unwinding like a ribbon<br />

a sound.<br />

That body of grass, the special knoll<br />

Now, a commercial building, a busy street<br />

The only consistency in every storm<br />

Rain spread on our heads, buried in concrete.<br />

The sunset smokes, drowns<br />

In drifting peony intoxication<br />

The Corpus, our Colossus<br />

Lowers into faded emotions,<br />

bespoke in memory<br />

Its drowning not only confined<br />

To calcified motions<br />

To stagnant history.<br />

We are a living sea<br />

Undead with gulls <strong>and</strong> stinging rays<br />

Dulling with this Sparkling City.<br />

Two blue bodies<br />

Fading.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

126


Amairani Llerena<br />

And So Lived Dad<br />

I’m at the point where<br />

I want to bash my head against the wall until my brains are smeared.<br />

I want to rip my limbs off one by one by one.<br />

I want to reach into my chest <strong>and</strong> pulverize my heart in my h<strong>and</strong>s<br />

so as to no longer hear the<br />

abnormally rapid beat.<br />

Anxiety’s become my lover<br />

Stress has become my friend<br />

Loneliness my mistress <strong>and</strong><br />

Depression my husb<strong>and</strong><br />

But you see, I’m a mother<br />

I’m trying my very best<br />

To raise a better human being than all the rest<br />

It starts from day one.<br />

The kind of person they’ll be<br />

And the last thing I want is for him to end up like me<br />

I’m the epitome of broken<br />

battered <strong>and</strong> beat<br />

My heart’s been abused while my love’s left on the street<br />

yet, I had the awful habit of giving it all away<br />

but now that I’m a mother, I can’t afford the same mistakes.<br />

“Guard your heart,” I always preached<br />

while I wore it boldly on my sleeve<br />

<strong>and</strong> expected the rest of the world to respect that about me.<br />

So touching back on motherhood, you have to be more firm.<br />

Show them how to be tough<br />

in a world that’s twisted at each turn.<br />

Yet I’ve never learned how to stop<br />

from loving even when it’s wrong<br />

How to stop from singing when they’re tired of your song<br />

How to not let the gloom wash away any joy<br />

127 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Because the moment you do, you’ll become a toy<br />

to your emotions <strong>and</strong> your thoughts,<br />

they’ll toss you out just anywhere<br />

And you’ll be left with the mess<br />

that was a hopeless dreamer’s cross to bear.<br />

Each day I wake with heavy heart, my soul more dark<br />

the sky won’t part<br />

there is no silver lining<br />

no sun among the clouds<br />

All I see is endless darkness<br />

all I hear are static sounds<br />

Until I look over at the face of innocence <strong>and</strong> remember<br />

what true love is,<br />

remember that sweet bliss.<br />

My frown becoming a smile<br />

My dark becoming day<br />

But that doesn’t mean this joy is forever going to stay<br />

Because<br />

Anxiety’s become my lover<br />

Stress has become my friend<br />

Loneliness my mistress <strong>and</strong><br />

Depression my husb<strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

128


Amairani Llerena<br />

Woe Is Me<br />

I wallowed in self pity,<br />

Ate nuts out of a can.<br />

Formulated depressing names<br />

to title my grunge b<strong>and</strong>.<br />

I stopped taking showers<br />

<strong>and</strong> wore Chanel drenched in depression;<br />

I forgot to water the flowers<br />

so they were dead by our next session.<br />

The expression<br />

that they had on their face<br />

was the same one I’d get from those<br />

who’d come visit my place. The disgrace<br />

that they feel as they walk in the door<br />

is the same one I saw in the mirror<br />

hours before.<br />

129 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Tiffany Lindfield<br />

Enough<br />

1968<br />

Peggy opened a book: The Sot-Weed Factor, sliding her finger over a r<strong>and</strong>om line<br />

from the book:<br />

“Man’s lot? He is by mindless lust engendered <strong>and</strong> by mindless wrench<br />

expelled from the Eden of the womb to the motley, mindless world. He is<br />

Chance’s fool, the toy of aimless Nature - a mayfly flitting down the winds of<br />

Chaos!”<br />

She liked the quote, but only partially understood it. She pulled the book to her<br />

face. It smelled old; how many fingers had turned the pages, how many mouths hung in<br />

awe over its words, how many tears had fallen over its pages?<br />

Ink <strong>and</strong> tears.<br />

She marveled over the time the author must’ve worked, pictured him bent over an<br />

old typewriter banging keys, a cigarette in his mouth, a bottle of bourbon on his wood<br />

desk. They all drink, don’t they? Authors, that is.<br />

She went down another aisle. Self-help books. Psychologists—or the-rapist—on<br />

the covers smiling with glasses covering their eyes. Old men. A few women, but the<br />

women were pretty, <strong>and</strong> did not have glasses on. Women had to be pretty for someone<br />

to listen; Peggy knew that.<br />

Another aisle. Books on the human body, the bodies of gazelles, sting rays, <strong>and</strong> a<br />

book about a woman who lived with deer for ten years. Peggy squinted her eyes at the<br />

woman on the cover who wore a real cowgirl hat, <strong>and</strong> boots for rugged terrain.<br />

Some kid ran down the aisle she was on with a frazzled father behind him.<br />

“Sorry, ma’am,” the man wheezed, his hair a jet black.<br />

Peggy wished he would chase her down an aisle, walk her down an aisle, or just<br />

kiss her over wine. She bit her lip, pushing her pelvis against one of the books poking off<br />

the shelf. She was that desperate. No one she wanted had wanted her. She was an old<br />

maid, thirty a week ago, unmarried, <strong>and</strong> no bastard children to chase in libraries. A virgin<br />

against her will.<br />

She walked down another aisle to get a better look at the man. He was walking<br />

away with the little boy in his arms. Embarrassed probably. She could walk fast, catch up<br />

to him <strong>and</strong> pretend to trip. Would he help her up?<br />

She didn’t try. It felt pathetic, <strong>and</strong> she figured it wouldn’t work. Maybe if she had<br />

smaller hips, <strong>and</strong> a curtsy in her smile, but neither. Besides, he was probably an idiot, she<br />

told herself. Otherwise, he could control a toddler.<br />

She went down another aisle. Cassette tapes. She marveled over them. They were<br />

all secure in shiny new cases. She picked one up.<br />

‘You are Enough.’<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

130


She said the words, whispered them, <strong>and</strong> they stuck in her throat like honey. She<br />

said them again.<br />

‘You are Enough.’<br />

She cradled the tape like an infant to the counter. At home, she fed her mom<br />

dinner, tucked her into bed, all the time, wanting to hear the words on the tape; the<br />

mystery luring her. She pulled a new cassette player from the entertainment center <strong>and</strong><br />

dusted it off. It had never been used.<br />

“Honey, I need a glass of water,” her mother feebly called.<br />

Peggy sighed but went to her mother’s side with a smile. “Yes, Mama.”<br />

She pulled a clean glass from the cupboard <strong>and</strong> filled it with water, <strong>and</strong> three icecubes<br />

just as her mother preferred. H<strong>and</strong>ing it to her mother, “now sleep, Mama.”<br />

Peggy went quietly with the cassette player in one h<strong>and</strong>, <strong>and</strong> the tape in her pocket<br />

into the yard. Her mother—before losing a lung—used to garden but now the yard was<br />

all growed up, but under a harvest moon, moonflowers elegantly bloomed. Their white<br />

faces were enchanting. Peggy put the tape inside, pressing play, dust on the button.<br />

‘You are the captain of YOUR ship! Take the wheel! Do not let anyone get in<br />

the way! You are Awesome! You are enough! No,’ the man on the tape screamed,<br />

‘YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH. You are the best!’<br />

Peggy repeated the words: I am MORE than enough. I am the Best!<br />

She listened to both sides, soaking in the words like a sponge. She went to st<strong>and</strong><br />

after sitting for two hours, finding her body stiff. She kicked one leg out, then the other<br />

to wake them up. She then rubbed the sore spot in her back with a fisted h<strong>and</strong>.<br />

She put the player up, then her body in bed. She couldn’t sleep though. Her<br />

mind was spinning. She was ready to do what the tape said. Cut sugar from your diet.<br />

Exercise every day, st<strong>and</strong> in the mirror, <strong>and</strong> tell yourself how great you are! She<br />

sat up, nearly jumping out of bed, then jogged into the kitchen <strong>and</strong> wrote out her goal<br />

plan—just as the tape had suggested.<br />

1) Get married. Have a child--5 years (guy from library?)<br />

2) Have family home--5 years<br />

3) Lose weight--1 month to 1 year<br />

4) Get a job (someone else will have to care for Mama)--1 month to 6 months<br />

****<br />

Peggy had only slept a few hours but had more bounce in her step than before. She<br />

returned tape one, picked up tape two, <strong>and</strong> used money she took from her mother’s bag<br />

to buy a smaller cassette player with headphones, <strong>and</strong> her first pack of cigarettes; ones<br />

she bought for energy. She sat outside the pharmacy. Smoked one cigarette, <strong>and</strong> then<br />

another, picking up the habit easily. She soaked up the warm air as the man on the tape<br />

rattled in her ear:<br />

You must love yourself! No one can love you better than yourself!’<br />

131 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


She then tilted her eyes to the sun. The tape had said this would increase her levels<br />

of serotonin. She imagined her brain manufacturing the little neurotransmitter, making<br />

them a dime a dozen. A smile formed on her lips. She ran back inside the pharmacy <strong>and</strong><br />

bought a tube of red lipstick. She applied it to pale, trembling lips.<br />

Then she arrived at her mother’s house, she spotted her sister’s car in the driveway.<br />

Her sister ran out of the house, “Peggy, where have you been? Mama nearly died<br />

getting out of bed trying to get food <strong>and</strong> water.”<br />

Peggy forced a smile. “I had to run some err<strong>and</strong>s. I told her when I was coming back,<br />

<strong>and</strong> she was fed <strong>and</strong> all before I left.”<br />

Her sister shook her head. “Peggy, you promised us you’d care for her. You got free<br />

room <strong>and</strong> board, <strong>and</strong> Rich <strong>and</strong> I paid for your caregiving certificate, <strong>and</strong>—”<br />

“—I am taking care of her. I just had a few things to do.”<br />

“It’s almost one-o’clock though. She said you left early this morning!”<br />

Peggy sighed, walking in the door. Her nephew <strong>and</strong> niece were bouncing around on<br />

the furniture. Her mother was in the bedroom, consoled by her brother-in-law, who halfheartedly<br />

patted the old woman’s back. He looked to the ground as Peggy walked in the<br />

room, <strong>and</strong> then he ducked out. Peggy envied his ability to slide like water over the family<br />

terrain.<br />

Peggy’s sister was behind her, then at the old woman’s side. “Mama, Peggy’s here<br />

now <strong>and</strong> she won’t do this again. Will you?”<br />

Peggy nodded, remembering the man on the tape who warned against people<br />

expecting too much. He called them time wasters. Peggy looked at her sister <strong>and</strong> mother<br />

in this new light.<br />

When they left, her mother sat in the bed, <strong>and</strong> in between puffs of oxygen, whined.<br />

She had always been a sensitive woman who cried a lot. Before ,Peggy would console her,<br />

but now that she resented her as an obstacle, as a time waster, she refused.<br />

Peggy looked at her mother apathetically, “Stop bubbling like a child! I’ll bring dinner<br />

when it’s done!”<br />

She then put the headphones over her ears. She turned the volume so high; she<br />

could hear the man screaming in her ear:<br />

‘Stop taking care of everyone BUT yourself! Learn to say NO!’!<br />

She could see her mother from the peripheral of her eye dragging her walker <strong>and</strong><br />

cord to the front room. Peggy ignored her, pulling a casserole from the oven. She smiled at<br />

her mother with a cigarette in her mouth.<br />

She then saw the old woman crawl back to her room, defeated, the cord dragging<br />

behind her.<br />

Peggy made her mother a dinner tray complete with a cookie for dessert. Peggy<br />

would have fruit. Her new slim figure was only a few apples away, she thought.<br />

Her mother took the tray. “Peggy, those cigarettes are making it hard for me to<br />

breathe. There can’t be cigarettes around my oxygen tank. Sweetie, you know that...<br />

sweetie...what is…?”<br />

Peggy couldn’t hear her mother, could only see her lips moving. She listened,<br />

instead to the man on the tape.<br />

‘What are YOUR dreams?’<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

132


That night Peggy began rummaging through the old woman’s papers until she<br />

found her mother’s insurance policy. She practiced the woman’s signature over <strong>and</strong><br />

over, <strong>and</strong> then reworked the will to read that all her mother’s inheritance—not large<br />

but big enough to give her a start—will go solely to her because she had been the<br />

caretaker.<br />

She then sat outside, smoking two cigarettes with coffee, then exercised to a<br />

Jane Fonda tape. Finally, she fell asleep with the man still in her ear.<br />

‘YOU are so wonderful. You are capable!’<br />

****<br />

Peggy opened the bay window in her mother’s room. Her mother sat up in bed.<br />

“Sweetie, what are you doing?”<br />

“We need sunlight in this house.”<br />

Peggy smiled at the sun running across her mother’s bed. It sliced her mother’s<br />

face, scrunched in a helpless scowl. “Sweetie, I called for you all night. I... think…. oh<br />

dear…” Her mother began to cry.<br />

Peggy rolled her eyes. “Mother, what is it? I have a lot of work to do today, so<br />

whatever it is, tell me!”<br />

“I wet myself.”<br />

Peggy yanked the covers off her mother. Peggy gritted her teeth. “Dammit. I’m<br />

picking up diapers <strong>and</strong> you’re wearing them. No more of this.”<br />

“Why are you treating me so badly?”<br />

Peggy rolled her mother onto the mat, <strong>and</strong> wheeled her to the washroom,<br />

spraying her with chilly water. Her mother screamed, but Peggy just covered her ears<br />

with the headphones, volume turned up.<br />

‘Are you wasting time helping others when YOU have GOALS to<br />

accomplish?’<br />

Peggy situated her mother back in the bed. “Now please stop getting in the way!”<br />

Peggy went into the garden, pulling weeds violently <strong>and</strong> picking up sticks,<br />

throwing them in the neighbor’s yard. The tape said to do something outside every<br />

day. She didn’t particularly like gardening, but it was something to do outside. She<br />

then gave her mother a slab of potted meat with stale crackers <strong>and</strong> left to get the<br />

third tape.<br />

She had more money from her mother’s cash box <strong>and</strong> would buy herself more<br />

lipstick, a dress, <strong>and</strong> perfume, too. These things would help secure goal #1, she<br />

thought, smiling.<br />

As Peggy returned home, her sister Donna <strong>and</strong> her sister’s terrible children were<br />

back at the house. Donna moved a cushion on the couch as if to look for something.<br />

“Peggy what the Sam hill is going on?”<br />

One of Donna’s kids, a four-year-old boy, poked his finger in the bird cage <strong>and</strong><br />

got pecked. “Mama!!!”<br />

Donna patted him. “Son, leave the bird alone,” then she turned to Peggy, ``What<br />

the heck is going on here? Mama called me in tears. Says you are treating her badly, <strong>and</strong><br />

133 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


twice I have come here, <strong>and</strong> you aren’t here. What is going on? Do I need to hire a nurse?”<br />

Peggy smiled, the lipstick showing on her teeth. “Nothing that I’m aware of. Was<br />

just about to get Mama her dinner when you walked in. But since you’re here, you can<br />

do it. I’m sure y’all want to spend the time together?”<br />

Donna cocked her head <strong>and</strong> squinted her eyes. “Why are you acting like this?<br />

Something’s off with you...what’s going on here?”<br />

Peggy sighed. “You are here. Do you see something going on?”<br />

Donna nearly dropped her son, her face going pale. “Peggy, you agreed to take<br />

care of Mama in exchange for help. We’ve all been helping you. Then suddenly you stop<br />

caring for her. I need to know—<strong>and</strong> now, what the hell is going on?”<br />

Peggy straightened her spine. “Would you <strong>and</strong> the children like to stay for dinner?<br />

There will be enough for everyone.”<br />

Donna stared at Peggy for a long time, as if to search her face for a clue, then<br />

disappeared into their mother’s room with the children. Peggy put her ear to the door<br />

but could only hear her mother crying <strong>and</strong> Donna’s children acting up.<br />

Peggy shrugged her shoulders, put tape three on <strong>and</strong> busied herself cooking<br />

dinner. The man screamed in her ear:<br />

‘Take the wheel of your ship! Is there something that You need to do to<br />

make YOUR dreams a reality? Do it! Do you!’<br />

Donna finally came out of the room, her children tagging behind her. “Do you have<br />

Mama’s food ready?”<br />

Peggy pulled down the earphones.<br />

Donna sighed, looking over the tray of beef tips, peas, <strong>and</strong> potatoes. Peach pie for<br />

dessert.<br />

Peggy smiled. “Is this acceptable?”<br />

Donna grabbed the tray. “You better snap out of whatever cloud you’re on or<br />

you’re gonna be out on your ass!”<br />

Peggy laughed. “A hot bath calls my name. See yourself out after you feed Mama.”<br />

On that note, Peggy turned her heel, then swiveled back around like a ballet<br />

dancer, “oh, <strong>and</strong> please have a pleasant night.”<br />

‘Take the wheel!! Stop waiting!!!’<br />

****<br />

Peggy laid in bed until the moon peeked in the sky. This was planned. The house<br />

was quiet when she crawled out of bed, slipping her feet into warm slippers.<br />

She tiptoed to her mother’s room where she could hear the old woman snoring.<br />

The room was pitch black. Peggy turned the small flashlight she held ON. She shifted a<br />

pillow under her arm.<br />

She slipped the flashlight into her skirt pocket, so it would shine on the floor. The old<br />

woman coughed, then opened her eyes. Peggy could see the white of her mother’s eyes.<br />

Time Waster.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

134


“Who goes there?” The old woman said but Peggy rushed her, holding the<br />

pillow over the woman’s face.<br />

She held the pillow snug enough to make breathing hard. The old woman<br />

kept shifting her head back <strong>and</strong> forth, so Peggy used her arms to fence in her head,<br />

holding the pillow snugger. Peggy felt an ache in her back forming, <strong>and</strong> she wondered<br />

how long she could stay bent, but she knew she couldn’t stop until the woman died,<br />

<strong>and</strong> finally, after several fits, the woman gave up.<br />

Peggy held the pillow over her mother still, wanting to make sure. Waited until<br />

the ache in her back was unbearable <strong>and</strong> then she shifted upwards with a moan,<br />

rubbing her back with a fisted h<strong>and</strong>.<br />

She picked up the pillow, left the room <strong>and</strong> sat in the living room, waiting until<br />

sunrise. She would discover the body at sunrise, she planned.<br />

“Poor Mama...well, at least she died peacefully in her sleep,” she rehearsed to<br />

the pillow.<br />

****<br />

Peggy <strong>and</strong> Donna sat across from the lawyer. Donna’s knuckles were white,<br />

rolling over each other as the lawyer once again explained that her mother’s assets<br />

would go solely to Peggy.<br />

Peggy touched her sister’s h<strong>and</strong>. “I was her caregiver.”<br />

“But we paid you. Me <strong>and</strong> Rich are still paying off—”<br />

Peggy smiled. “—I deserved it!”<br />

Donna’s mouth dropped. “Who have you become?”<br />

Peggy stood up. “I am more than enough! I’m the best!!”<br />

“You’re batshit crazy is what you are. You need a damn therapist!”<br />

“Speak for yourself,” Peggy said, exiting the lawyer’s office. She heard her sister<br />

screaming from behind her.<br />

“You are not my sister anymore. You will never see me, Rich or the kids again!”<br />

****<br />

Peggy sat at the new breakfast table. The house smelled of fresh paint, new<br />

light fixtures hung from the ceilings. Her dress was new <strong>and</strong> starched.<br />

She walked to her bedroom where a new floor length mirror stood. Peggy<br />

pointed at the image in the mirror.<br />

‘You don’t need anyone! Just you! Be you! Do you! You are more than<br />

enough! You are the best!’<br />

The words echoed as if she were in an empty cell. She sat on the bed.<br />

Everything was so quiet that she could still hear her words vibrating, bouncing off<br />

the walls, <strong>and</strong> contemporary furniture.<br />

She hung her head, mumbling the mantras from the tape to no one listening.<br />

135 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Suzette Bishop<br />

The Manta Ray<br />

My body spreads <strong>and</strong> folds like a gray silk scarf<br />

Or hovers, a h<strong>and</strong> once stroking the ocean floor.<br />

When I pass the aquarium windows people shout to me—<br />

Their words passing through the glass <strong>and</strong> water<br />

Change to slight vibrations in the current.<br />

I am a dancer’s skirt spinning, the hem like waves<br />

Rolling to shore, a soprano’s voice spiraling toward<br />

Voicelessness.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

136


Suzette Bishop<br />

After Class<br />

A floating hallway,<br />

Dropped pendants<br />

Sinking into the lake under this Titanic,<br />

Lost in deep, poisonous water.<br />

An empty parking lot,<br />

Then South Texas brush, September.<br />

Over there, in another campus building,<br />

You are teaching, too.<br />

I won’t have to explain<br />

What this is like when we get home<br />

Because you know.<br />

You lost hours of work yesterday<br />

When your online test failed,<br />

Forty minutes of another class wasted<br />

Trying to get the recording going<br />

After it crashed.<br />

This time last year we sat in a windowless<br />

Doctor’s office holding h<strong>and</strong>s<br />

As the doctor described the mass<br />

He found on your left kidney.<br />

We both taught against a riptide<br />

Of more scans, more doctor visits<br />

Until your surgery in December.<br />

This fall, a p<strong>and</strong>emic to teach through.<br />

What a year,<br />

People flooding into the hospital<br />

Right after you were released,<br />

One kidney gone,<br />

Your other kidney filtering poison<br />

Twice as hard for both.<br />

In here, there are ghosts in all of our classrooms.<br />

And failures. And crashes.<br />

Out there, quarter horses<br />

L<strong>and</strong> in a thorny brush,<br />

Their large bones drifting up from the s<strong>and</strong>y soil.<br />

During summer’s ever-so-slight turn<br />

To fall, it’s still too hot,<br />

But it breaks from the boiling sun,<br />

And rain you can smell gallops toward you,<br />

A pent-up, lashed fury.<br />

137 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Mose Graves<br />

When I Die Just Let Me Go To Texas<br />

for Janice<br />

Forty years romancing Herefords <strong>and</strong> Gerts<br />

around snakeroot <strong>and</strong> sneezeweed all over<br />

the Rio Gr<strong>and</strong>e—br<strong>and</strong>ing the calves,<br />

gelding the bulls, doling out salt licks <strong>and</strong><br />

hay bales in their season he must’ve looked<br />

to them like God, if God rode a buckskin<br />

<strong>and</strong> kept a plug of Red Man in His cheek.<br />

The first time his lasso missed its mark<br />

he chalked it up to too much Jack the night before,<br />

but then the numbness commenced to spread<br />

like resin oozing down a pine.<br />

“MS,” they said, <strong>and</strong> by <strong>and</strong> by<br />

even his pony knew better than<br />

to cut too quick at his comm<strong>and</strong>.<br />

Unhorsed, he took up saddlery,<br />

h<strong>and</strong>crafting mounts for others to ride.<br />

Slow work at best: carving the tree,<br />

stitching the gullet, shaping <strong>and</strong><br />

trimming <strong>and</strong> tooling the cantle,<br />

layer upon layer of leather to holster<br />

the loss of his old rawhide nerves.<br />

“When the Lord closes the door,<br />

He opens a window,”<br />

the old saw goes,<br />

<strong>and</strong> soon<br />

savvy wranglers from<br />

Kingsville to Sheridan<br />

tipped their brims to his skill.<br />

His chart reads “90 yrs, irrit., conf.” when you<br />

answer the call. The only chaplain on the ward,<br />

the past two hours found you shrouding a body<br />

in linen <strong>and</strong> psalms as per the ancient rite.<br />

Inured to the hospital’s icy light, tonight<br />

the flatscreen’s lacquered l<strong>and</strong>scapes <strong>and</strong><br />

cool, curated soundtrack sets your teeth on edge.<br />

“What kind of music do you like?”<br />

you ask the old man as the TV blinks to black.<br />

“Country <strong>and</strong> western,” he smiles.<br />

“Both kinds,” so you sing him his favorite<br />

cowboy song. He closes his eyes,<br />

<strong>and</strong> in the morning you are not surprised to learn<br />

he never felt the need to open them again.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

138


Carlos Rodriguez<br />

Coyote Lullaby<br />

Dawn paints his cheeks<br />

in fluid pinks <strong>and</strong> greys.<br />

H<strong>and</strong>cuffed to the rusted car’s bumper,<br />

night before last,<br />

he listens<br />

to coyote lullabies that<br />

echo amid a Texas desert’s<br />

s<strong>and</strong>y-sweet fragrance.<br />

Water bottle, still half empty,<br />

rocks as a newborn<br />

next to the sage bush <strong>and</strong> the ocotillo<br />

ten feet away from a tongue swollen,<br />

a mouth frozen in hundred degree<br />

screams. And the dinero<br />

he borrowed in Juarez for this passage,<br />

it flies past the lullabies,<br />

sails between cerveza symphonies<br />

<strong>and</strong> topless lap dances<br />

two nights before last.<br />

Even as his breath is<br />

a child’s rasp, he caresses<br />

pitted, sunburned lips.<br />

If he’s found,<br />

maybe the blanqueador<br />

of his bones will match<br />

the pale stones<br />

at his feet...<br />

he wishes for one last lullaby.<br />

139 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Carlos Rodriguez<br />

Spill<br />

There are poems in high gloss, silk satin,<br />

<strong>and</strong> mat finish—dribbled on the floor<br />

while painting the room<br />

in off-white <strong>and</strong> grey,<br />

these poems are small splats <strong>and</strong><br />

bigger dollops in baby blues, rumbling reds,<br />

quiet chocolate, <strong>and</strong> cinnamon abbreviations,<br />

turpentine cannot wash them away,<br />

scrubbing only spreads their<br />

message, inuendo, <strong>and</strong> liminal<br />

reach to all corners, <strong>and</strong> now<br />

I’ve tracked their wisteria purple<br />

<strong>and</strong> d<strong>and</strong>elion yellow to other<br />

areas of the house, on<br />

stoops outside, in cobblestones<br />

of once immaculate streets,<br />

foxfire-red-verses invade police stations,<br />

cerulean-sky-blue-rhymes pepper<br />

town halls <strong>and</strong> once grey-neutral<br />

federal buildings. My haiku h<strong>and</strong>prints<br />

celebrate on flag poles in sunset orange <strong>and</strong> hunter<br />

green. These poems stain sidewalks with<br />

lazy pinks, fuzzy-maroon-pantoums drizzle<br />

on Covid-empty arenas <strong>and</strong><br />

cast a pall over silver sparkling highways,<br />

rainbow-plaid-rivers rush through<br />

valleys glowing in gold <strong>and</strong> copper sonnets,<br />

pour into luminescent lakes rippling<br />

over my iridescent living<br />

<strong>and</strong> breathing room<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

140


Carlos Rodriguez<br />

Martel Deserts<br />

A broken Martel station<br />

by the tracks<br />

grips the desert s<strong>and</strong>,<br />

dark tattoos on its face<br />

smile at the camera,<br />

black birds flood a white cross<br />

as a woman throws bread<br />

next to empty wine bottles too many<br />

miles from Paris,<br />

too many lies<br />

from the suited businessman<br />

on a New York street corner<br />

while above them,<br />

in the high rise,<br />

another woman sits<br />

in an apartment she can’t afford,<br />

but the fruit drips on the carpet<br />

as she exposes herself<br />

to the tree of life.<br />

The floods warp the houses,<br />

the sky in Dali-esque colors<br />

as they carry her lifeless<br />

through the desert of roses,<br />

hills in the distance<br />

made of sleeping faces<br />

as she rests<br />

her legs across the<br />

lion grass,<br />

the air made of birds.<br />

Jesus of Three Gazes<br />

Martel Deserts II<br />

Jesus of Three gazes<br />

at their backs <strong>and</strong><br />

freezes as Sabina’s<br />

puppy of cotton<br />

stares, surprised<br />

by the Man of Spiders<br />

taking his lunch break<br />

outside the prison.<br />

A paper-thin sports athlete,<br />

Jose glowers at<br />

old men walking<br />

toward gourmet hot dogs,<br />

but Maria keeps throwing<br />

bread at the birds<br />

in her cell,<br />

frantic to get<br />

out of the way.<br />

She cries at the injustice<br />

of Martel diners<br />

lost to age <strong>and</strong> deserts,<br />

<strong>and</strong> clouds hiding<br />

dancing children<br />

in flower print dresses.<br />

Who decides when<br />

borders are no longer<br />

cages for a Maria, a Jose,<br />

a Sabina…a Jesus of three gazes?<br />

141 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Carlos Rodriguez<br />

Soil <strong>and</strong> Ashes<br />

Gets in the bones, icy tendrils deep in the marrow even before<br />

the machine has stopped. Even before prayers <strong>and</strong> nonsensical<br />

“lived a good life” or “loved by so many” or “hated like no other.”<br />

Then the soil, it makes a soul-deep thump, gathers <strong>and</strong> accumulates<br />

by degrees, granules assuming a deep frost en masse, black muffles<br />

“in o-r hea-ts a-d minds” or “Go- w-ll prov-de” or “a l-sson to -s all,”<br />

of gathering dirt punctuating the growing, chill stillness. Voices,<br />

distant, faint, understood more for their receding presence,<br />

than for any clear notions. Muscles begin to break down, mold<br />

takes root, blossoms in the mouth, the eyes, the heart. The arms<br />

that held: sons <strong>and</strong> a daughter, a belt to beat them, grudges against<br />

the children’s absence, these arms melt into cold fabric of the casket.<br />

Legs, which carried the body to one bar after another, one drink<br />

to the next, bow <strong>and</strong> darken, eaten from without by worms <strong>and</strong><br />

bacteria. The brain: last to ashes, last to love, last to bring: surcease<br />

to childish scrapes or fights over why “you never deserved us!” or<br />

a mother’s accusing “Why didn’t you see him at the hospice?”<br />

It remains in these glacial, soundless frames of our regret.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

142


Ron Pullins<br />

Reiner<br />

Reiner’s father was a Nazi.<br />

They were all Nazis. You had to be a<br />

Nazi to work on Third Reich missiles<br />

— <strong>and</strong> he worked on their gyroscopes,<br />

their timers, their directionals, the radio,<br />

the signals.<br />

In the end our side rounded<br />

up their scientists <strong>and</strong> brought them to<br />

New Mexico to work on our missiles, our<br />

gyroscopes, our timers, our radios, our<br />

signals. We brought their families, too.<br />

Then begat, begat.... And in such a way<br />

Reiner came to be.<br />

She cheats on me. I know it.<br />

I’m pretty sure anyway. It feels like it.<br />

All signs point that direction. The time<br />

she spends away from me. The time<br />

she spends alone. The silences that<br />

punctuate the time we spend together.<br />

But who knows anything,<br />

really? Really knows? Unless a person<br />

sees a thing itself, witnesses a thing<br />

itself, an act, a cold, hard fact, how<br />

certain can one be they know it? A<br />

thing that one suspects is merely words,<br />

opinions. Mere supposition. And once<br />

you start supposing, there is no end to<br />

doubt.<br />

I will come home unexpected<br />

on a weekday, for instance — surprise,<br />

surprise — a change in my routine, to<br />

glimpse a bit of truth, but I have yet to<br />

find anything out of place, or suspicious.<br />

She’s either not at home. Where is she?<br />

Or she’s asleep. Why’s she so tired? Or<br />

she’s at work, waiting cocktails. What kind<br />

of job is that? Why must she commute to<br />

work in another city? Is that where, as she<br />

says, the money is? Or does that distance<br />

give her freedom? Safety? Which is why<br />

she’s away so many nights, she says.<br />

Which is why some nights she comes<br />

home so late, she says. Which is why she<br />

sleeps all day, she says. So, she can say<br />

that nothing’s happened, there’s nothing<br />

for her to tell, there’s nothing to confess,<br />

nothing to explain. She says. Etc. Etc.<br />

Why, dear, you’re home early. I<br />

was just leaving, she says. Goodbye.<br />

We live on a hillside in<br />

Morgantown, West Virginia, above<br />

the river which runs sometimes red,<br />

sometimes green, depending on the<br />

recent rains or snow melt which drains<br />

acid from the ab<strong>and</strong>oned mines.<br />

It has come to this: I sit outside<br />

in the overgrown grass <strong>and</strong> shrubs on up<br />

that hillside above our house, in a place<br />

across the street concealed <strong>and</strong> level with<br />

our second floor, where I can look straight<br />

into our bedroom window, waiting,<br />

watching, to see if she’s inside, to catch a<br />

glimpse of anyone else. I sit there in my<br />

blazer <strong>and</strong> my khakis <strong>and</strong> my hat, up to<br />

my waist in weeds <strong>and</strong> shrubs, looking in,<br />

looking on, seeing nothing untoward, no<br />

clue of unfaithfulness, not yet.<br />

It’s dark inside the room.<br />

In the weeds up to my chin, I<br />

contemplate the nature of love, what it is,<br />

<strong>and</strong> does it last, <strong>and</strong> how do we measure<br />

the price that love exacts. I sit there in the<br />

weeds. I don’t mind the weeds. I spend<br />

the time imagining all the possibilities.<br />

Morgantown sits in the<br />

Appalachian Mountains, a college town<br />

where I teach. Darkness here creeps<br />

143 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


early across the valleys. The river cuts<br />

through moving slow. Long barges<br />

slide up <strong>and</strong> down the Monongahela<br />

River, fetching coal for Pittsburgh, then<br />

plowing back upstream to be refilled.<br />

It is autumn. The air is heavy, cold, <strong>and</strong><br />

the leaves are darkening. Sitting in the<br />

brush on the hillside, I see a few corners<br />

of houses above the foliage, a widowwalk<br />

or two that seems to float across<br />

the treetops, the dark chimneys of the<br />

factories, the roofs of the buildings on<br />

the older campus. I live next door to<br />

Reiner who is always home.<br />

It is late afternoon when I<br />

climb the back steps to Reiner’s house.<br />

The back door opens to my touch.<br />

Reiner never locks his doors. Nothing<br />

inside is underst<strong>and</strong>able enough to<br />

steal. An old television set drones in<br />

black <strong>and</strong> white the monotony of late<br />

season baseball. Piles of clothes <strong>and</strong><br />

magazines. Technical journals. Financial<br />

strategies. A copy of today’s Wall Street<br />

Journal. A gallon jar of dark jalapeños<br />

floating in gray brine.<br />

A high-intensity lamp makes<br />

a small circle over Reiner’s dining room<br />

table. Smoke rises from a ciagarette<br />

which Reiner has lit but isn’t smoking.<br />

His thin pale fingers twist wires <strong>and</strong><br />

solders them to boards. He smoothes<br />

the solder with his finger without<br />

flinching. Then he butts his nose into<br />

the cone of light, a gray pale nose<br />

between an ungracious <strong>and</strong> unshaven<br />

moustache <strong>and</strong> tired red eyes. He nods<br />

— to himself — approving his work <strong>and</strong><br />

sniffs, then approves with another nod,<br />

<strong>and</strong> takes a drag from the cigarette.<br />

Reiner is always working on<br />

something. There are no empty spaces<br />

on his table, nor on his countertops or other<br />

surfaces in his dark rooms. Transistors,<br />

boards, clamps, resistors, diodes, dials,<br />

clamps, chips, boards, wires, nuts, bolts,<br />

the carcasses of dead <strong>and</strong> degutted<br />

instruments, computers; finished rough,<br />

clumsy things, some of which work, others<br />

not. Then, too, there is a pistol on the<br />

tabletop, bullets within reach, a rifle on<br />

the wall, guns parts, <strong>and</strong> powder, shells to<br />

be filled, a machine used to fill them, <strong>and</strong><br />

shells filled <strong>and</strong> arranged in boxes. Scopes<br />

<strong>and</strong> lenses, tubes, pedestals, tripods, <strong>and</strong><br />

telescopes with which Reiner surveys the<br />

night. Open boxes overflowing with tools<br />

<strong>and</strong> screws <strong>and</strong> parts of everything. Kitchen<br />

things. Things for cars. A Geiger counter.<br />

A machine for finding metal buried in the<br />

earth. Reiner is working on a radio. The<br />

room smells of burnt solder. Nearby are<br />

television tubes, cameras, a scattering of<br />

books, catalogues <strong>and</strong> manuals, <strong>and</strong> the<br />

jalapeñoes floating in a brine. From time to<br />

time, he grabs a jalapeño <strong>and</strong> chomps it off<br />

at its stem.<br />

“What are you making now, my<br />

friend?” I ask Reiner who shows no surprise.<br />

“Low power broadcasting.” Reiner<br />

sighs. “I’m setting my own station,” Reiner<br />

says. Reiner returns to his soldering. “I will<br />

be a voice in the wilderness. I will use it to<br />

communicate.”<br />

Reiner volunteers for the local Civil<br />

Defense. The walls of his living room <strong>and</strong><br />

kitchen are papered with maps: of prevailing<br />

winds <strong>and</strong> anticipated nuclear strike zones,<br />

<strong>and</strong> where fallout from the bombs will fall;<br />

airways, river ways, highways, evacuation<br />

routes, flight patterns, stars; <strong>and</strong> all the<br />

known geological resources of West<br />

Virginia. They give him tools <strong>and</strong> internet,<br />

access to army surplus, pass codes.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

144


From time-to-time Reiner showers them<br />

with proposals which they never act on.<br />

Not that he seeks approval to start any<br />

project. They are too complicated <strong>and</strong><br />

gloomy for the local self-defense. He<br />

does what he wants, does what he thinks<br />

needs to be done. Twice a year, the Civil<br />

Defense lets him test the sirens over<br />

Morgantown. This mournful exercise<br />

echoes far into the mountains.<br />

I think of her <strong>and</strong> imagine this:<br />

I will touch her lightly on the arm <strong>and</strong><br />

say, “It’s all okay, my dear. That’s behind<br />

us now. Let’s forget the past <strong>and</strong> go on<br />

from here.” I imagine I will hold her then<br />

<strong>and</strong> she will cry, <strong>and</strong> afterwards we will<br />

go together, stronger for all the pain.<br />

A large black water bug races<br />

across a map of fallout spread across the<br />

counter. Reiner picks up the pistol <strong>and</strong><br />

shoots. The bug no longer is.<br />

As the West Virginia fall turns<br />

cold, black waterbugs retreat up from<br />

the river. The end of their migration is<br />

houses. Mine. Reiner’s. At night from<br />

time to time Reiner will turn off his<br />

lights, then flip them on again <strong>and</strong> fire at<br />

the waterbugs who have crawled out of<br />

hiding. I can hear the gunfire next door. I<br />

think he prepares himself for the worst.<br />

What else can one do?<br />

Reiner reaches in the jar <strong>and</strong><br />

grabs a jalapeño. It is little known that<br />

New Mexico jalapeños are the hottest on<br />

the planet. Reiner doesn’t flinch. Perhaps<br />

our man sees his eyes begin to water, as<br />

if Reiner’s eyes are in a universe distant<br />

from his tongue.<br />

I imagine what my first line will<br />

be to her. I will start with explanations;<br />

why I’ve spied on her, an apology of<br />

sorts, what it was — really was — I was<br />

doing in the weeds across the street.<br />

Then, second, I will say a line — some<br />

line — filled with my pain, said with such<br />

heart that she will know all I feel without<br />

me needing words of explanation. She<br />

will be overwhelmed with all my grief. Oh,<br />

perhaps I’ll have made her cry. Okay. But I<br />

will remain above such pettiness. Ready to<br />

forgive. Ready to move on. Then, third, I will<br />

give the coup de grace, in which I will give<br />

shape to equal bits of grace <strong>and</strong> wit, a line<br />

that will unravel all her lies, her defenses,<br />

<strong>and</strong> bring them tumbling down, ending in<br />

confession, her shame will be exposed, so<br />

the healing can begin, <strong>and</strong> love will arise<br />

forever more.<br />

A calmness has crept in like<br />

night from off the river. Shadows sink the<br />

mountains as day subsides. It’s evening<br />

now, <strong>and</strong> we grow old.<br />

Reiner has taken a break. He likes<br />

me, <strong>and</strong> even in Reiner’s solitudinarian<br />

heart, he needs a break from time to<br />

time <strong>and</strong> he has me, <strong>and</strong> only me, I think,<br />

to whom he can talk. He needs to touch<br />

another from time to time, as don’t we all,<br />

to remind himself that he is not alone.<br />

We st<strong>and</strong> on Reiner’s back porch<br />

which sits in the very center of the dome<br />

of night, for a moment letting the silence<br />

overwhelm us.<br />

“What should I do?” I ask. Reiner<br />

knows my secrets.<br />

Silence.<br />

“The way things are,” I say, “if they<br />

stay the way things are, they will just go on<br />

<strong>and</strong> on.”<br />

Silence.<br />

“Yet I’m also afraid of how things<br />

might change,” I say. There. I’ve said it. The<br />

reason for this stasis, for tolerating the<br />

moment.<br />

Reiner leans against the railings,<br />

145 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


his elbows resting on the railings, his<br />

head resting on his elbows. His cigarette<br />

is lit <strong>and</strong> glowing from its red tip, which<br />

glows brighter as Reiner draws on it, then<br />

lets smoke linger from the corners of his<br />

mouth. The smoke is sweet <strong>and</strong> comforts<br />

us as if the night should linger on.<br />

I man yearns for a response,<br />

<strong>and</strong> that’s not the way the two of us<br />

are normally, stepping into the other’s<br />

shadow.<br />

“You, of course,” I say. “You live<br />

with the enormity of how things might<br />

change. Watching, waiting for those<br />

missiles. Looking for the streaks as they<br />

decend. The thought of how it might end.<br />

You’d know. You’d be alone in knowing<br />

that it was ending. You’d have just time<br />

enough to get your hat <strong>and</strong> push the<br />

switch that turns on your darling sirens.”<br />

Next door a light comes on in<br />

my house. It’s the second floor. She must<br />

be home. She always comes back. It’s just<br />

how long I’ll have to wait. A silhouette<br />

moves against the orange curtain which is<br />

closed. Hers, I suppose.<br />

“There will be no time, then,<br />

for regrets,” I say. “No time then for<br />

apologies.”<br />

His voice softened by the rustle<br />

of the trees, the sounds of the night,<br />

the hum from the cars along the streets<br />

below, a man <strong>and</strong> woman in the house<br />

below them on the mountain arguing, a<br />

long train passing somewhere along the<br />

River.<br />

Reiner so gently, thoughtfully,<br />

expels smoke from his cigarette that<br />

sweetens the night air.<br />

“No,” Reiner says. “What I fear is<br />

that they’ll never come. Nothing will ever<br />

happen. That I’ll st<strong>and</strong> here night after<br />

night <strong>and</strong> wait.”<br />

Our man is silent.<br />

“But things will just go on <strong>and</strong><br />

on. No sirens, for me. No final broadcast.<br />

‘I told you so.’ Just me out here waiting,<br />

night after night while things go on<br />

<strong>and</strong> on. Tomorrow will be the same as<br />

yesterday.”<br />

As usual I go home later that<br />

evening. I always do. She’s undressing<br />

from her waitress job somewhere some<br />

miles away. I remove my hat <strong>and</strong> sit <strong>and</strong><br />

fluff the evening paper.<br />

“How was your day?” one of us<br />

finally says.<br />

“Fine,” the other says. “And<br />

yours?”<br />

“Fine.”<br />

Nothing changes as we go on,<br />

<strong>and</strong> we never know.<br />

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Jean Hackett<br />

Elegy For the One that Got Away<br />

Jars of nails, burned-out radio tubes, <strong>and</strong> crumbling manuals<br />

concealed a carelessly placed confession,<br />

orphaned atop a dusty shelf in Gr<strong>and</strong> pa’s workshop:<br />

The Story of My Life, <strong>20</strong>02.<br />

Thirty-two pages of sadness sweetened by memory<br />

recounted by Gr<strong>and</strong>pa the weekend Lily died,<br />

<strong>and</strong> Gr<strong>and</strong>ma was out of town.<br />

In 1954 Gr<strong>and</strong>pa got his chance,<br />

met Lily at a marry-go-round picnic<br />

courtesy of First Baptist.<br />

Bravely dared to ask out the tall girl<br />

who always walked her smile to Sunday services.<br />

On restrained date nights,<br />

without h<strong>and</strong>s held in public or questions<br />

about why she left her husb<strong>and</strong>,<br />

their eyes <strong>and</strong> minds met across cheap burger joint tables<br />

to play what-if games of happily-ever-after.<br />

The well-paid bookkeeper,<br />

promising she could give up job <strong>and</strong> status<br />

for life with a World War II vet <strong>and</strong> his mother<br />

in a tumble-down duplex on one meager salary.<br />

A year later, she turned commitment-shy,<br />

cutting things off without explanation,<br />

leaving Gr<strong>and</strong>pa heartbroken,<br />

then married to Gr<strong>and</strong>ma five months later.<br />

Leaving Gr<strong>and</strong>ma sitting unwittingly<br />

next to Lily in Sunday school for fifty years,<br />

never once entering Gr<strong>and</strong>pa’s workshop.<br />

147 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Jean Hackett<br />

I Watch Too Many Movies<br />

For a moment I believed<br />

I was viewing an outtake<br />

from a ‘70’s disaster movie,<br />

the soaring soundtrack would kick in<br />

as a plane hit the building,<br />

<strong>and</strong> the hero swung survivors to safety.<br />

For a moment I believed<br />

aliens swooped down from space’s outer reaches,<br />

hid the Challenger Shuttle behind an Oort Cloud,<br />

absconded with it to a galaxy far, far away.<br />

For a moment I believed<br />

Southside girls rushed up to hug each other<br />

because Selena survived,<br />

that no one would shoot a child<br />

armed with a toy gun,<br />

or lock babies in cages.<br />

For a moment I believed<br />

sunlight rays would rouse us every morning,<br />

yellowing blinds <strong>and</strong> wallpaper,<br />

as we woke wrapped around each other<br />

for the next 50 years.<br />

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Arik Mitra<br />

Arid Breast<br />

No great secret,<br />

No lost trench,<br />

Holding undecayed bodies still,<br />

To be found midst my memories....<br />

Buried plutonium<br />

sends up its rays to stir my<br />

sleeplessness....<br />

A war; another war,<br />

So many, so many wars,<br />

Sinks down the bloodshed,<br />

The crying faces, <strong>and</strong> I yearn<br />

for just another image....<br />

More images, not war,<br />

Not perhaps even Man;<br />

Just leaves,<br />

That from my tears had dropped,<br />

That had found seeds<br />

Upon my arid breast....<br />

Let’s leave for<br />

those to come<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

a fresher air to breathe<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

a richer soil to reap<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

a home where nobody starves<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

no profit-machines making war<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

no religious conflicting streets<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

no racial divinely feats<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

a space to build serene minds<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

lush green, nature’s intended wine<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

an education for human pains<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

to think beyond the quickest gains<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

as we do, to make for after their time<br />

Let’s leave for those to come<br />

better than we received, a better rhyme<br />

149 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Arik Mitra<br />

Peace talks with locust swarms<br />

Transversal,<br />

St<strong>and</strong>s the living code to be breached<br />

far across a terrain of s<strong>and</strong>s.<br />

Barren — a lifeless struggle to live.<br />

Comes this infiltration like a killing storm,<br />

Dunes, to be made of massacre from brutal force.<br />

Takes Nerkh,<br />

the first doubtful wave.<br />

Zarang’s children will be born on roads.<br />

Their mewlings<br />

will feel the searing heat of escape<br />

their nostrils<br />

will feel refuge’s dust.<br />

Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif shan’t give to more pleasing fate,<br />

Pul-e-Alam, Jalalabad,<br />

The silence of the frothing fangs take the day-night space.<br />

Kabul,<br />

the shivers are felt — the convulse,<br />

Maniacal heavy engines grunt.<br />

Screams; baffled cries;<br />

The muffled cries, that sit upon those raped faces<br />

with noseless tremors.<br />

Marriage, peace,<br />

Funny terms laughed at over a campfire song;<br />

where roasted flesh <strong>and</strong> heavy rifles<br />

join the merry warmth.<br />

Merry<br />

for the silent torn moon dares not shed its tears.<br />

Gunshots;<br />

Gunshots echo into the endless s<strong>and</strong>-seams<br />

between the dunes. Respite<br />

as would an oasis tempt,<br />

merely a mirage in midst of the scorching stench<br />

Of blood <strong>and</strong> shock;<br />

Tongues have ripped out their words<br />

Now rustling screams, screech<br />

over the leafless realm.<br />

Escape, escape,<br />

the world again sees a deluge of running bloody feet <strong>and</strong> tears.<br />

Burning help-cries run in the shaking veins,<br />

A boiling thrash;<br />

Rises, embers of mortally wounded ink<br />

in anger by rebellion’s blood.<br />

Smiles,<br />

At peace-talks with the locust swarms.<br />

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Arik Mitra<br />

The rose returns to bloom<br />

It was a day<br />

Yet to be, summer sworn<br />

The morning chill<br />

surfaced on my waking eyes<br />

My diary<br />

holds still the withered rose<br />

That kept your semblance<br />

under quiet trees<br />

Whereupon a grave<br />

I had seen your name<br />

Mine beside it<br />

in just a decade’s time<br />

A decade,<br />

a decade between our breaths<br />

For ten years<br />

I tread the path<br />

Till our union<br />

on the 13th night<br />

Centuries now,<br />

comes the auspicious date<br />

Old times again,<br />

the rose returns to bloom.<br />

151 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong>


Robin Latimer<br />

Comber<br />

Of nowhere, the shore is meager map- the gulls,<br />

the piper, the ray, where to run is<br />

to come to a walk, sounds out of shot,<br />

<strong>and</strong> the places groomed by wind <strong>and</strong> grit.<br />

Here, we pick up pieces of jaws,<br />

bone, pretty shells, <strong>and</strong> nothing<br />

we are looking for ends up in<br />

our sack, sliding against a<br />

broken s<strong>and</strong> dollar.<br />

But, oh that golden girl who<br />

said this sadness fell from<br />

your eye <strong>and</strong> h<strong>and</strong>ed me a<br />

pearl. –RML<br />

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Daniel Rodrigues-Martin<br />

A GRAIN OF SAND IN AN<br />

HOURGLASS<br />

I don’t know when I first loved NB. I’d never met her in person before I PM’d<br />

her online in <strong>20</strong>11, having seen a thread of hilarious comments she posted on my old<br />

roommate’s—her cousin’s—Facebook page that left me guffawing. She made me laugh<br />

before I ever knew her.<br />

I don’t know that I expected us to get along so well, or that she would have<br />

even bothered talking to me, but we did, <strong>and</strong> she did. That first PM turned into years of<br />

daily messages between us, each laced with clever words meant to make the other smile.<br />

Through all our late-night chats, our conversations on the phone, watching Miyazaki<br />

movies together on Skype, I loved her. From Chicago to Atlanta I loved her.<br />

I never told her that I loved her almost from the start, that I loved her despite<br />

the eleven-hour car ride dividing us, despite the skepticism of those who deeply cared<br />

for me. Nothing else mattered—where I lived, what I did for money—none of it mattered<br />

when I thought my life with hers.<br />

Everyone close to me knew NB. They’d seen our exchanges online. They’d seen the<br />

screenshots of us, red-faced, belly laughing at each other about some inside joke clothed in<br />

layers of nuance. They’d seen the photos of us with flat rate USPS boxes full of gifts we’d<br />

mailed each other across state lines <strong>and</strong> time zones.<br />

So when NB accepted my invite to Chicago in <strong>20</strong>14, my friends practically went<br />

into a collective Star Trek yellow alert.<br />

Penny, one of my oldest Chicago friends, looked at me like I was a dog with a<br />

wounded paw when I told her NB was coming.<br />

“Didn’t you go see her in <strong>20</strong>12?” she’d asked in her native Illinoisan accent, hardly<br />

masking her concern. “I remember you complaining about the heat.”<br />

True on both counts.<br />

“Why didn’t you guys get together back then?”<br />

I never told NB how I felt when I’d spent a long weekend with her back in <strong>20</strong>12.<br />

We’d each been halfway through our graduate programs at the time, <strong>and</strong> I feared that if<br />

I tried to force the matter at the wrong moment, I’d lose her altogether. It’s possible to<br />

meet the right person at the wrong time, <strong>and</strong> I assumed that’s why our romance had been<br />

so long in limbo.<br />

I started writing at eighteen—mostly poetry, mostly about unrequited love for<br />

a dark-haired girl who danced ballet <strong>and</strong> never did properly break my heart (sorry for<br />

the cliché; it’s just the truth). My mother left me when I was a boy, which has plenty to<br />

do with unrequited love <strong>and</strong> unresolved emotions finding their way onto paper. Feeling<br />

unloved <strong>and</strong> misunderstood are recurring themes for me because they’ve been my life. It’s<br />

why I often dove headfirst into romances <strong>and</strong> had spent so much time in the deep ends of<br />

pools I had no business swimming in. Penny once told me I reminded her of some verses<br />

from the American poet Sara Teasdale:<br />

When I am dying, let me know<br />

That I loved all lovely things<br />

And tried to take their stings<br />

That I loved with all my strength,<br />

To my soul’s full depth <strong>and</strong> length,<br />

Careless if my heart must break.<br />

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Penny had seen what it took me years to see in myself: relentless, selfdestructive<br />

hope placed where it did not belong.<br />

“I’m just giving her some breathing room,” I’d lied to Penny, careless if my heart<br />

might break.<br />

#<br />

In May <strong>20</strong>14, NB emerged from terminal two at O’Hare, brown hair tucked<br />

up in a messy bun, mischief dwelling in her hazel eyes as she wore a sweatshirt that<br />

read, “No one calls it Hotlanta!” She reminded me of Jessica Day from New Girl not just<br />

for her looks, but for her genuineness <strong>and</strong> little peculiarities. I, on the other h<strong>and</strong>, was<br />

often compared to the tailor in Fiddler on the Roof not just for my looks, but for my<br />

kvetching <strong>and</strong> big peculiarities.<br />

She spotted me waving beside my Chevy <strong>and</strong> waved back. “What’s this come up<br />

from down South?” I said. Always a bit of spice <strong>and</strong> drama between us.<br />

NB came up to me, roller bag trailing her. “Danny!” she replied, cheeks flush<br />

with the smile she hid. She motioned at her feet. She wore the shark socks I’d mailed<br />

her a couple years back. “Don’t I look socksy?” she asked in her Atlantan accent,<br />

snorting at her own pun.<br />

“Oh.” I winced. “I’m gonna need you to turn around fly <strong>and</strong> back home with<br />

that mess.”<br />

“Haha! Shut it!” She slugged me in the shoulder <strong>and</strong> grinned. “It’s so good to<br />

see you!”<br />

The walls came down <strong>and</strong> we threw our arms around each other with nothing<br />

wrong between us. It was only the second time we’d met in person.<br />

We got onto I-90 <strong>and</strong> headed home.<br />

“Do y’all have a cat at Parsonage House?” she asked, referring to the<br />

remodeled church parsonage I shared with five other grad students.<br />

I side-eyed her.<br />

“Ugh! Why did I ask? You won’t change my mind.” She sipped from an airport<br />

Aquafina.<br />

“Look,” I said, “if you want a fuzzy animal that struts on all fours across your<br />

keyboard while you’re trying to work on your computer...I’ll move to Atlanta.”<br />

NB spit her water all over my dashboard. She silent laughed, h<strong>and</strong> to her chest,<br />

face beat red. It had been a gift to see her so comfortable in my passenger seat, sitting<br />

beside me in real time, no screens or speakers needed. She did some Lamaze breathing<br />

techniques <strong>and</strong> eventually stopped gasping.<br />

“Since there are no pets, what have you planned for my entertainment?” she<br />

asked, trying to sound like she came from money.<br />

“We’ll go to the house from Home Alone,” I said, mouth open with glee.<br />

NB clapped her h<strong>and</strong>s to her cheeks. I snickered.<br />

“Obligatory Chicago deep dish,” I added.<br />

“Nom nom nom!” she mouthed, impersonating a hungry hungry hippo.<br />

The rest of it went like so. We chatted about work <strong>and</strong> school <strong>and</strong> poked fun at<br />

her cousin—a favorite pastime of ours.<br />

In the driveway at Parsonage House, NB sighed, <strong>and</strong> her h<strong>and</strong> drifted behind<br />

my headrest.<br />

My heart thumped as my gaze drifted to hers.<br />

I thought she looked at me like she wanted to kiss me. Something came over<br />

her <strong>and</strong> she snapped out of it. She took back her h<strong>and</strong>, her eyes avoiding mine like she’d<br />

crossed an invisible boundary.<br />

I showed a restrained smile. “Ready to go in? Everybody’s dying to meet you.”<br />

“Yeah,” she said, taking the moment in stride.<br />

It was always like that between us. Levity punctuated with ellipses <strong>and</strong><br />

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154


question marks wondering what our relationship really was.<br />

NB stayed for four days. We had a barbeque with my friends <strong>and</strong> she baked<br />

pies with Ginger, my housemate Doug’s girlfriend. NB fit with my friends without<br />

missing a step. They thought she was funny <strong>and</strong> smart <strong>and</strong> appropriately weird. My<br />

housemates clapped me on the shoulder <strong>and</strong> said I’d found a keeper. Even Penny<br />

finally understood why I’d been smitten for three years. There was something to all my<br />

relentless, hopeful uncertainty, after all.<br />

On the second day we rode the Metra to the Loop <strong>and</strong> took selfies by the<br />

Bean. I gave her my seat on the packed train <strong>and</strong> sat on the floor opposite her. A lady<br />

beside her watched us talking across the corridor as we traded glances <strong>and</strong> clever<br />

words meant to make the other laugh—that game we’d been playing since our first<br />

conversation. The lady tipped her chin at me, a discerning tenderness painted on her<br />

face. I’ll never forget how that perfect stranger looked at me.<br />

“Would you like my seat?” She gestured at her own seat beside NB, nodding,<br />

ready to offer it because had witnessed love. She saw my heart was locked in NB’s chest<br />

<strong>and</strong> wanted me to find the key.<br />

#<br />

The day before NB left Chicago, we stumbled through some awkward excuse<br />

of a DTR while we drove. I asked her if she thought she’d like to give us a chance<br />

without bother to tell her she’d owned my heart since <strong>20</strong>11.<br />

NB was silent for a while <strong>and</strong> gave that same restrained look we’d shared in my<br />

driveway.<br />

“I’ve been thinking about it… I just don’t feel the same way.”<br />

Three years of talking every day, two trips across the country, <strong>and</strong> it was all we<br />

could say to each other.<br />

We went to an empty house, watched Firefly, <strong>and</strong> ate Chicago deep dish. We<br />

sat inches apart <strong>and</strong> never touched.<br />

I should have taken the lady’s seat on the train.<br />

#<br />

On the fourth day I drove NB to O’Hare. It was late spring, the tail end of May,<br />

but gray outside. It was always gray outside in Chicago.<br />

“I know I can’t make you like me,” I said.<br />

“Love me,” I should have said, but I couldn’t bring the words to bear.<br />

I know I can’t make you love me the way I love you. The way I love you with<br />

your sideways glances when things get too serious. With your laugh lines that the<br />

magazines would airbrush away—but I love that you have laugh lines.<br />

“It’s just...hard,” she said, frowning, watching her sneakers with her hazel eyes.<br />

A silence tense with unsaid truths settled over us while road-raging<br />

Chicagoans flew past.<br />

My car idled in the drop-off lane while a traffic lady in a yellow vest eyed our<br />

goodbye.<br />

I embraced NB, my throat tight. Her brown hair was pulled back <strong>and</strong> she wore<br />

no makeup. She smelled like the best dream I ever had.<br />

“Come back any time,” I said, squeezing her shoulders.<br />

Sadness dwelt in her eyes <strong>and</strong> at the corners of her mouth as she forced a<br />

smile. “I had a great time.”<br />

Engine exhaust overtook her scent as vans <strong>and</strong> buses rumbled past, honking<br />

indiscriminately at one another.<br />

NB waved over her shoulder at me as she disappeared into terminal two. The<br />

traffic lady rolled her h<strong>and</strong> at me, saying with the gesture: “Hurry up. Move along.”<br />

155<br />

<strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

155 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X


I drove home alone. It was gray outside. It was always gray outside in Chicago.<br />

#<br />

A year passed as I ran in concentric circles to nowhere. I lived Parsonage<br />

House, worked the same part-time job, slogged away at a second master’s degree. I<br />

went on a few dates that never flew. Still called NB on holidays. Still laughed at her<br />

newsfeed. Still saw that “single” listing on her profile.<br />

It was dark at Parsonage House as I swiped around on my tablet because we’re<br />

all social media addicts. My housemate, Tom, sat on the couch eating leftovers while he<br />

watched talking heads argue about football. They sounded, to me, like how the teacher<br />

talks in Charlie Brown.<br />

A message appeared in my chat window. I laughed <strong>and</strong> smiled.<br />

“Wow,” Tom said, looking up from his dinner <strong>and</strong> the TV.<br />

“Huh?” I asked, typing a reply.<br />

“I’ve never seen you smile like that.”<br />

“Huh?” I realized that my face hurt from smiling so wide.<br />

“What are you smiling at?”<br />

I looked at my tablet. I was chatting with NB.<br />

#<br />

It’s past one in the morning when my friend Heather r<strong>and</strong>omly PMs me. She’s<br />

in a long-distance relationship <strong>and</strong> we haven’t talked in a while, so we hop onto a video<br />

chat to catch up.<br />

Eventually, the conversation me<strong>and</strong>ers to the only thing post collegiate<br />

twentysomethings want to discuss:<br />

“How’s your dating life?” Heather asks. She has big, brown eyes like a chibi<br />

character.<br />

“I met my buddy’s sister at his wedding, but it ended quickly.”<br />

I think back to myself smiling so wide that it hurt.<br />

“I may still be dealing with someone from my past.”<br />

“Yeah?”<br />

“I wonder if you thought that when we went out?” I ask.<br />

Heather was from one of the first dates this past year that never flew. We met<br />

online.<br />

She seems to peer back in time. “You really want to go down this road?”<br />

I’m not sure I do, but I nod.<br />

“Okay. I felt that something had hurt you. I wanted to help, but I realized I have<br />

this self-destructive habit of seeking people who are hurting. You helped me realize that<br />

I needed someone who could be present with me; someone who knew himself. That guy<br />

is Paul.”<br />

“I’m glad you found him.” I am. He’s a nerd <strong>and</strong> thinks I’m hilarious. “So, what<br />

gave you that sense about me?”<br />

“Well. When we met, I did a lot of listening <strong>and</strong> observing. There were things<br />

that made me feel like an intruder, like you were protecting something from me.”<br />

My fingers drum across my desktop.<br />

“What?” Heather asks.<br />

I think of Tom calling me out earlier this evening. I think of Penny looking at<br />

me as if at the locus of her pity. I think of NB’s evasive gazes, of all my first dates that<br />

went nowhere, of Heather’s assessment: “I needed someone who could be present with<br />

me; someone who knew himself.”<br />

It seems everyone knows something I don’t.<br />

“I fell in love with my old roommate’s cousin after I met her on Facebook,” I say.<br />

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156


“She’s from Atlanta. I met her in person in <strong>20</strong>12 <strong>and</strong> she came here last May. She’s the<br />

only person I ever would have married.”<br />

The gears turn behind Heather’s eyes. “That’s the girl you took a selfie with at<br />

the Bean. Natalie, right?”<br />

I squint. “You’re stalking me.”<br />

“Stalked,” she says, pointing at her webcam. “I was thinking of dating you.<br />

Research is a given. I accepted you were weird, but I needed to know you weren’t<br />

dangerous.”<br />

Others have described me as “Weird, but not dangerous.”<br />

“Anyway, that explains a lot,” she says.<br />

“Natalie Belle—I call her ‘NB’—didn’t feel the same way when we she came<br />

last May, though she never explained why. But I didn’t put it as clearly as I just did<br />

with you; the ‘M Word.’ I always feared being too forward with her <strong>and</strong> wrecking our<br />

relationship. On the other h<strong>and</strong>, I want to respect what she said. I don’t have much<br />

reason to believe she saw in me what I saw in her.”<br />

“Other than seeing it in her, hoping she felt the same.”<br />

Which is often all we have: blind hope, dreams we hold close for years. When<br />

it comes to love, so many of us are children thrashing in the deep end, <strong>and</strong> nobody ever<br />

taught us how to swim.<br />

I peer into my webcam, suddenly aware of the strangeness of some plastic<br />

<strong>and</strong> metal firing a digital image to my friend’s laptop. We are so easily bent by the<br />

movement of energy, the stroke of a pen, a glance too long or short. We are profoundly<br />

affected beings. So much of my love for NB was forged through electrical signals <strong>and</strong><br />

ones <strong>and</strong> zeroes. I feared for so long telling NB that what I really wanted was to hold<br />

her face in my h<strong>and</strong>s while she smiled, to see the diamonds in her eyes without a screen<br />

dividing us, to hear her voice without earbuds <strong>and</strong> a volume knob.<br />

“I would have moved to Atlanta for her,” I say. “I never told her how I really<br />

felt.”<br />

“Wow,” Heather says.<br />

“Her trip last year was vindication. My friends thought I was crazy for loving<br />

someone I’d only met once before in person. By the time she left, they understood. If<br />

they could see it, why couldn’t NB?”<br />

Heather thinks it over. “Even with all the uncertainties, do you feel certain<br />

enough about her to move to Atlanta?”<br />

“Only money would stop me, <strong>and</strong> I’d figure it out.” I stop myself. “I didn’t even<br />

have to think about that, did I?”<br />

Heather nods. “Exactly. Let me be honest: I think you should tell her<br />

everything. It isn’t just a crush. Tell her all the reasons you see you two working. And<br />

then tell her you can’t just give up on it with no real explanation from her.”<br />

“I don’t want to wreck my friendship with her.”<br />

“She has to feel something for you, otherwise she wouldn’t have come to<br />

Chicago.”<br />

“That is what people said at the time.” I show a true smile. “Thanks for staying<br />

friends with me. I’m sorry I dragged you into my mess.”<br />

“I wouldn’t have found Paul otherwise. I’m rooting for you. I’m a hopeless<br />

romantic at heart.”<br />

“Penny, I’ve got a problem,” I say, pacing behind Parsonage House, my phone<br />

pressed to my ear.<br />

“Okay,” her voice crackles through the phone.<br />

“Where are you, anyway?” I ask.<br />

“Danny, we’ve been over this. I moved to New Jersey in January for work.”<br />

“Oh, right. It sucks not having you around!”<br />

157 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

#


“What’s your problem?” she asks.<br />

I throw my back against the red brick behind the house. “The problem is NB. I<br />

think I’m still in love with her <strong>and</strong> it’s paralyzing my life.”<br />

Silence.<br />

“Did you hear me?”<br />

Five seconds of cackling.<br />

“Are you cackling at me?”<br />

Penny’s cackling tapers off. “You aren’t telling me anything I didn’t already<br />

know.”<br />

“What?!”<br />

“Your friends love you. And we knew there was nothing any of us could say<br />

to help you get over Natalie. However long it would take, it was something you had to<br />

realize yourself.”<br />

I grumble because everyone who apparently loves me also thinks I’m too hardheaded<br />

to listen to their advice.<br />

They may be right.<br />

“So out of curiosity, what made you finally realize this?” Penny asks.<br />

“Tom <strong>and</strong> a girl named Heather who I briefly dated.”<br />

“Um...okay?”<br />

“I was downstairs messing around on my tablet, <strong>and</strong> Tom looked up at me<br />

because I was smiling, <strong>and</strong> he told me he’s never seen me smile so much. I was smiling<br />

because I was chatting with NB online. I hadn’t realized it.<br />

“I couldn’t get what Tom said out of my head. Heather r<strong>and</strong>omly messaged me<br />

later, <strong>and</strong> we started talking about it. I told her about how I almost moved to Atlanta to<br />

be with NB, <strong>and</strong> she asked me straight out if I would still go if NB gave me some hint<br />

that she wanted it. I said ‘yes’ without even thinking.”<br />

“That’s a big deal,” Penny says.<br />

“And she said I can’t keep living in the limbo of it. I have to tell NB the whole<br />

truth <strong>and</strong> hopefully get something of it from her.”<br />

“Heather’s right. When will you talk to Natalie?”<br />

“Pretty soon. I wanted to consult with the people who think I don’t listen to<br />

them to make sure I’m not doing something stupid.”<br />

“You’re not,” Penny says. “And no matter what happens, I want you to know<br />

how proud I am that you’ve realized this about yourself. I know you don’t always feel it,<br />

but you’ve grown up so much these past few years.”<br />

“Thanks, Penny. So wait, when did you move to New Jersey?”<br />

“Goodbye, Danny.”<br />

#<br />

“Tom, I love NB. I want to marry her.”<br />

Lunchtime the next day. Tom’s eating a s<strong>and</strong>wich at his desk. He looks up.<br />

“You mean Natalie?”<br />

“Yup.”<br />

“Really? When did you decide this?”<br />

“After midnight with the help of someone I once dated.”<br />

Tom nods. “Okay… Full disclosure, I can’t say I’m surprised. You guys had<br />

some real chemistry. Natural interactions, a lot of laughter. It’s rare to find that kind of<br />

connection with someone.”<br />

“Yes. People said that after she left. I felt vindicated as hell.” I punch the<br />

doorframe. “Ow,” I mutter, rubbing my knuckles.<br />

Tom eats more s<strong>and</strong>wich. “What are you gonna do?”<br />

“I’m gonna tell her in the clearest way I can that I’ve loved her for years <strong>and</strong> I’d<br />

marry her tomorrow if she wanted to.”<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

158


“Whoa.” He nods enthusiastically. “You’re gonna call her, then?”<br />

I narrow my eyes. “Call on her, perhaps.” I slowly back away.<br />

“Are you… You’re just gonna creepily back away without saying anything else?<br />

Do you really not have a game plan for this?”<br />

159 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume <strong>20</strong><br />

#<br />

Traffic in Chicago sucks unless your game plan is to hit the road an hour<br />

before midnight.<br />

I take I-90 southeast toward Indiana. My windshield wipers push aside midspring<br />

rain as I pass beneath glowing, red text reading, “CHICAGO SKYWAY TOLL<br />

BRIDGE.” The Windy City is behind me in an hour.<br />

Construction in Indiana slows me to a crawl not long after I hit I-65. I last<br />

drove this road on my way back home from Florida, just before my Papa died from lung<br />

cancer a few months after NB visited Chicago. Ever since I moved to Chicago, I haven’t<br />

felt “home.” Is it Chicago? Is it me? The constant these past few years has been NB. If I<br />

had my laptop with me, I could talk to her. Everywhere was home if I could talk to her.<br />

At half-past two Indianapolis disappears in my rearview. The corn fields<br />

tumble into hills <strong>and</strong> forests as I descend into the Ohio River Valley. It’s close to four<br />

when I cross into Kentucky. Bars of neon waver in the Ohio River, reflecting downtown<br />

Louisville’s light.<br />

The sun peeks up over the Appalachian foothills somewhere between Bowling<br />

Green <strong>and</strong> Nashville. I pull over. Commuters fly past as I lean against my Chevy, sipping<br />

lukewarm coffee from a paper cup with red hearts on it, watching the sunrise.<br />

I-24, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, I-75. The Tennessee Valley comes <strong>and</strong><br />

goes. This part of the country is one of my favorites. I feel strangely rooted, strangely<br />

careless, in the South.<br />

Chicago has thickened my blood so I lower the windows <strong>and</strong> let my hair blow<br />

back in the morning chill. Nothing changes when you’re a grain of s<strong>and</strong> in an hourglass,<br />

<strong>and</strong> time won’t move on until I let myself fall.<br />

#<br />

Atlanta.<br />

The receptionist doesn’t acknowledge me for a while. She finally looks up.<br />

“Before you can see any of our counselors, I’ll need you to fill out a few forms.”<br />

“Oh, I’m not a patient. I’m looking for NB.”<br />

She stares, suspicious. In fairness to her, I’m disheveled <strong>and</strong> am currently<br />

fueled by nothing but caffeine <strong>and</strong> an existential crisis.<br />

I shake my head. “Sorry—Natalie? She plays the djembe but hates it?”<br />

“You look familiar. Have I seen you before?”<br />

“I’m her friend.”<br />

“Danny,” she says, realizing who I am. “Half of Natalie’s posts are somehow<br />

connected to you.”<br />

I take a bow.<br />

“Aren’t you from Chicago?” She squints at my untidy clothes, hair, face...<br />

personality. “Should I be worried you’re here?”<br />

“I know I look messy. I’ve just been driving all night.” I lift my shirt to prove I’m<br />

unarmed. “No weapons. I’m just eccentric!” My shirt is still up.<br />

“God, there are two of you,” she says, shielding her eyes.<br />

I lower my shirt. “That’s really sweet of you to say.”<br />

“Around the corner, second door on your left.” The receptionist h<strong>and</strong>s me a<br />

stick-on guest pass. “Natalie’s on her lunch—<strong>and</strong> keep your clothes on.”<br />

“Thanks,” I say. I turn the corner, sticking the label to my shirt. I go up to the


second door <strong>and</strong> peek through the glass window in it.<br />

NB’s office is colorful <strong>and</strong> cozy. There’s an easy chair <strong>and</strong> a patterned throw<br />

rug. Pictures of family <strong>and</strong> friends cover the walls. A cot is unfolded in the corner<br />

because she is a serious napper.<br />

Isn’t it strange how some people take your breath away even when they’re<br />

tired at work, <strong>and</strong> their makeup doesn’t look all that great today <strong>and</strong> they’re…eating<br />

cake for lunch? Come on, NB.<br />

Anyway, she’s at her computer watching a cat video. I stare for an<br />

uncomfortable amount of time. I can’t help it. She’s always been beautiful to me, plus I<br />

like messing with people.<br />

As with most of my victims, NB finally gets the uneasy feeling she’s being<br />

watched. She turns to her door <strong>and</strong> sees me through the glass.<br />

NB yelps then falls onto her desk laughing. Her face turns completely red.<br />

I slowly push the door open. I want to smile, but I can’t break character.<br />

“Danny?!” she shouts, laughing. “What are you doing here?”<br />

“Revenge,” I say seriously.<br />

She throws her head back <strong>and</strong> rolls her eyes. “Shut up.”<br />

With NB properly exasperated, I drop my façade <strong>and</strong> laugh <strong>and</strong> smile.<br />

She comes out from behind her desk. Her blue jeans are tucked into cowboy<br />

boots, <strong>and</strong> she is not being ironic about it.<br />

We hug. I hold her a little more tightly than I should. She takes it in stride.<br />

“You look like crap,” she says in her Atlantan twang.<br />

“Do I smell like it?” I edge closer to give her a big whiff.<br />

“I’m not smelling you.” Laughter dances in her eyes, but she keeps a straight<br />

face. Even now, it’s still our game.<br />

“Did you for real drive here?” she says. “You look like you drove.”<br />

“Yes. I haven’t slept,” I say, staring into the middle distance.<br />

NB grabs her purse. “I know what you need.”<br />

#<br />

We pull up to the Chipped Mug. I absolutely hate this coffee shop <strong>and</strong> NB<br />

knows it.<br />

“I absolutely hate this coffee shop <strong>and</strong> you know it,” I say.<br />

“You’re gonna drink the coffee whether you like it or not.”<br />

“Does the service still suck?” I say, shutting the passenger-side door. “Is the<br />

coffee still burnt <strong>and</strong> served in doctor’s office pee cups with dollar refills?”<br />

She slugs me in the shoulder. “They’re not ‘pee’ cups.” Silence. “And yes.”<br />

“You know why this coffee shop survives? Because it’s right off the campus of<br />

Southern University with Nationally Ranked Football Team.”<br />

“Quiet, Yankee!” she says.<br />

NB leads me through the front door. A bunch of undergrads are hanging out<br />

<strong>and</strong> being way too loud. Old bike parts are nailed to the walls as if they’re art. Crappy<br />

papier-mâché masks, crumbling from age, are scattered about. The floor needs to be<br />

mopped, the lights are too yellow, the music sucks, <strong>and</strong> the barista looks like a meanie.<br />

“Are you complaining through internal monologue?” NB asks, eyebrow<br />

knowingly arched.<br />

I scoff. “What? Ha! …How could you tell?”<br />

“You mumbled something about it being too yellow in here <strong>and</strong> it sounded<br />

more theatrical than your norm.” She looks at me over her shoulder <strong>and</strong> my heart<br />

races. “You’re thinking of all the reasons your fav shop is better.”<br />

“My barista’s not a meanie,” I grumble.<br />

We reach the counter. “Get whatever you want, it’s on me,” she says.<br />

“Small dark roast,” I say to the barista. He stares. He looks like a stick bug. His<br />

beard is probably the heaviest part of him.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

160


“Same,” she says.<br />

The other barista—a mousy-looking young woman who I’d bet weighs less<br />

than Stick Bug’s beard—reads off the damage. “Four-fifty.”<br />

“Four-fifty?!” I hiss through my teeth at NB. “They’re like six ounces here!<br />

They’re served in thimbles.”<br />

Stick Bug stares at me with soulless, hipster eyes.<br />

“I like this coffee shop so deal with it,” NB says, paying cash then slipping her<br />

sunglasses on <strong>and</strong> off right quick because she is a meme.<br />

Stick Bug sets down two small, foam cups of coffee. I decide not to lay it on<br />

too thick <strong>and</strong> stop complaining.<br />

We grab a booth by a big window. The trees have barely sprouted spring buds<br />

<strong>and</strong> the sky is gray.<br />

“So,” NB begins.<br />

I sip my coffee. Blech!<br />

“What have you been up to?” she continues, choosing not to debate me about<br />

the coffee.<br />

“Writing. Working part-time. Finishing my second master’s.” I sip. “How have<br />

you been?”<br />

She sighs, sits back, stares out the window. “Busy.”<br />

“Yeah?” I ask, hoping she’ll say more.<br />

“Yeah.”<br />

“Do you like your job?” I don’t know why I always need to ask people this<br />

question. I want people to have some source of meaning in their lives, <strong>and</strong> since work<br />

takes up a lot of time <strong>and</strong> focus, it’s often a good touch point.<br />

“I do,” she answers. “I got into it to help people, but it’s a lot of paperwork.<br />

Thinking of moving on to something else.”<br />

I knot my fingers. “Like what?”<br />

“Don’t know. Something in my field, just different.” She shrugs one shoulder.<br />

NB can be so coy sometimes. She presses her lips together <strong>and</strong> looks me in<br />

the eyes. I look back.<br />

“Are you visiting your aunt <strong>and</strong> uncle in Marietta?” she asks.<br />

I shake my head.<br />

“Your friends in Decatur?”<br />

“No.”<br />

“Passing through to see the fam in Tampa?”<br />

“Nope.”<br />

Silence fills the space between us. It feels like we’re on the way to O’Hare<br />

again, like despite it all, there’s always been more unsaid than said between us.<br />

“Well, Danny. What brings you to my neck of the woods?” Something deep in<br />

the pools of her eyes tells me she already knows.<br />

“The coffee.”<br />

She snorts, fighting a smile. “You’re the worst.”<br />

“You love it.” Even now I hope she’ll tell me she does, <strong>and</strong> that she loves me,<br />

too. But she is silent. She is always silent.<br />

I find myself tapping the tabletop <strong>and</strong> force myself to stop. Despite the<br />

easygoingness of our relationship, this is only the third time we’ve met in person. “I um.”<br />

I bite my lip. “Sorry. I came here because I need to say something to you.”<br />

NB’s gaze stays on mine.<br />

“When you came. To Chicago. We talked about…us. I don’t want to act like I<br />

wasn’t listening because I was. It’s just…I didn’t truly tell you how I felt. I thought I did,<br />

but I didn’t.”<br />

Her brow knits.<br />

“I had to ask myself why I’ve been running circles for four years, why I’ve felt so<br />

lonely, <strong>and</strong> why I’ve had a dozen first dates that have gone nowhere. The reason is you.”<br />

Her lips twist into a frown.<br />

161<br />

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161 <strong>Windward</strong> <strong>Review</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>ume X


“I’m frustrated at myself,” I say, looking at the table. “I haven’t been able to be<br />

with anybody. Every date I go on is a waste when you’re in my life. I asked you if you<br />

wanted to give us a chance when you came, but it wasn’t enough. Twice we crossed the<br />

country to see each other <strong>and</strong> I never told you the truth.”<br />

She looks down at the table <strong>and</strong> we each hold our coffee cups with both<br />

h<strong>and</strong>s. A few customers pass us on their way out. The cash register rings.<br />

Our eyes meet.<br />

“What is the truth?” she asks.<br />

“Natalie Belle, I’ve loved you for years. I wanted to marry you before we ever<br />

met in person. Tell me there’s a chance for us,” I say, believing she won’t, “<strong>and</strong> I’ll leave<br />

my life behind to be with you. I will smile with you. I will laugh at stupid cat videos with<br />

you. And I will love you until I die.”<br />

For one brief moment she looks at me with deep, deep compassion, <strong>and</strong> I<br />

trick myself into thinking that she might tell me she’s always loved me, too. It had been<br />

the timing. It had been the distance. It had been anything other than the fact that she<br />

didn’t love me like I loved her.<br />

Of course that’s not what happens. Of course the moment is fleeting. Of<br />

course she looks back to the table.<br />

“I’m sorry I didn’t have the guts tell you this when I came here or when you<br />

came to Chicago. I was afraid I’d lose you.” I swallow. I’ve always known, deep down,<br />

how this has to end, <strong>and</strong> I’ve avoided it too long. We’ve never been driving toward a<br />

wedding, only ever toward a funeral.<br />

NB smiles but cannot hide her sadness.<br />

“I know this won’t change anything,” I say. “I just knew I couldn’t move on with<br />

my life until I said that to you as truly as I can, <strong>and</strong> I care enough about you that I knew<br />

I needed to say it if there will ever be a chance of us coming out of this as friends. This<br />

probably wasn’t what you expected your Tuesday to be like, so I’m sorry. For making<br />

you deal with this again. For everything.”<br />

“Don’t.” She shakes her head, wiping away a tear. “Don’t apologize for that.”<br />

She looks at me squarely, <strong>and</strong> her eyes are red around their rims.<br />

“Do you underst<strong>and</strong> what I’m saying?” I ask after a while.<br />

She nods, frowning. “What do you need me to say?” she asks, her voice<br />

shuddering.<br />

I take a long breath. “I need you to tell me that you <strong>and</strong> I will never happen.<br />

And it’s not because of timing, or distance, or anything else. We’ll never happen<br />

because you’re not in love with me <strong>and</strong> you’re never going to be in love with me. I need<br />

you to say it in those words. I need you to mean it.”<br />

The house music changes, more coffee is served, customers come <strong>and</strong> go.<br />

But at this booth in the Chipped Mug where NB <strong>and</strong> I sit, time st<strong>and</strong>s still, there is no<br />

falling s<strong>and</strong>.<br />

“Okay,” NB says, pushing away another tear.<br />

I listen. I am strong.<br />

NB blinks her beautiful, red-rimmed, hazel eyes at me.<br />

“I’m not in love with you, Danny. It’s not because we live far from each other,<br />

or because the timing hasn’t been right. I will never be with you. I will never marry you.<br />

I don’t love you the way you love me. Please stop waiting for that to change. It won’t.<br />

Please move on with your life.”<br />

Her voice quakes <strong>and</strong> her words are swallowed up in a gasp.<br />

“I’m sorry.”<br />

I was calm explaining what she needed to say to me. I’ve been calm this whole<br />

time. But the moment she speaks those words, I am no longer in control. I am a child<br />

thrashing in the deep end, <strong>and</strong> no one ever taught me how to swim.<br />

And in that moment when it seems I will crumble in front of NB <strong>and</strong> all these<br />

strangers, a text message chimes from my phone.<br />

NB looks at my phone, then at me. I can’t answer it.<br />

<strong>Beginnings</strong> X <strong>Endings</strong><br />

162


It’s facing her <strong>and</strong> she reads it. “…It’s from Tom. He says he’s about to call <strong>and</strong><br />

you need to answer.”<br />

The phone buzzes.<br />

“Sounds important.”<br />

“I don’t wanna talk to him. I’ll bet he lost his car keys again <strong>and</strong> hopes I’ll know<br />

where to look. Why is our generation in arrested development?”<br />

She answers the phone, wiping her eye. “Danny’s phone.”<br />

“NB!” I hiss.<br />

Tom’s voice pours through the earpiece. “Is that Natalie?”<br />

“Howdy, Tom,” she says.<br />

“Well hey there, darlin’. I won’t ask what you’re doing with Danny’s phone,<br />

though it’s a pleasant surprise to hear from you. Is he around?”<br />

“Darlin’? Stop makin’ fun o’ mah accent, TOM,” she says, really leaning into the<br />

twang. “Kidding! Here he is.” She presses the phone to my ear.<br />

I sigh. “Yes?”<br />

“Danny?” Tom says.<br />

NB is still holding the phone to my ear. She gives me a look <strong>and</strong> I take it from<br />

her.<br />

“Yeah. Who’d you think she gave the phone to?”<br />

“You drove all the way to Atlanta to talk to Nat in person? Bold.”<br />

“What do you want?” I say, looking at NB, who chuckles a little as she sips<br />

coffee.<br />

“Right, right. Doug wanted me to call you. It’s an important message.”<br />

NB <strong>and</strong> I hear Doug barking in the background.<br />

“What’s that? O—okay. Yeah, Doug wants me to tell you that you are a…I’m<br />

quoting here: ‘Italian rat bastard but he looks like the tailor from Fiddler on the Roof.’ ”<br />

We share a glance. I mean, I am Italian <strong>and</strong> “rat bastard” isn’t close to the worst<br />

thing I’ve been called, but… “What?” I reply, eyes locked to NB’s.<br />

“Yeah,” Tom says. “I don’t know why it’s so important to tell you that. Doug had<br />

this feeling we needed to call you <strong>and</strong> give you a hard time, like you needed a good laugh<br />

right now. And he couldn’t find his phone, so I called. Weird, huh?”<br />

“Love you, Danny!” Doug shouts. Ginger—now Doug’s fiancé—chimes in.<br />

“Bring me peaches!” she proclaims. “I must bake a pie! Hi Natalie!” Ginger’s contact<br />

photo on my phone is her giving me the finger with NB in the background laughing from<br />

when they baked pies at our barbeque.<br />

“Why is my life a sitcom?!” I say, hanging up on the three stooges. I look at the<br />

phone, then at NB.<br />

“How do things like this always happen to you?” NB asks, baffled. “God won’t<br />

let old Danny have a serious moment!”<br />

We burst into laughter. We laugh until we cry.<br />

“This is the worst thing that’s happened to me this week,” NB says. “Happy,<br />

Danny?”<br />

“I am so happy,” I say. “And to you? Shut up.”<br />

NB sighs <strong>and</strong> comes around to my side of the booth. I remember the<br />

tenderness in her gaze from that moment in my car, her h<strong>and</strong> slipped behind my head.<br />

She looks the same now as she did then, <