Untitled

by Sara K. Bown

 

 

 

Sára Kasanová Bown was born in the Czech Republic in 1993. Sára works predominantly in the medium of video and photography. Her art is often based on performance and everyday observations of mundane objects and moments. Her work deals with perception of memory as well as current events. Currently Sára is a BFA candidate at Brigham Young University. She has repeatedly received juror’s awards in both the Mayhew show and the Annual Student show at BYU. In 2016 she interned with David Thorpe in Berlin, Germany. She currently lives and works in Provo, Utah. 

Evelyn’s Hands

by Heather Thomson

Evelyn considers objects with her slim infant fingers, moving her digits slowly, independent of each other—absentmindedly, automatically: she has not yet learned to control her movements. In her sleep, she moves her fingers in long elegant waves, like the legs of a spider on water, and shoots her hands up above her head when she hears a bang, bringing them down slowly—eyes still closed—with fingers spread, as though in worship. My daughter’s hands are like a spider’s web: softer and finer than you might expect, and as lightweight and translucent. They are cooler than you would expect, too, and do not possess the supposed death grip—the kind that Annie Dillard’s weasel had on the eagle’s throat—and the kind that Evelyn’s mouth has on my breast when suckling, with a tongue-tie limiting her motion, restricting her jaw. Two innate abilities: to suck and to grip. Her fingers are loose where her mouth is tight.

I suppose it is commonplace to contemplate tiny hands. Each of her fingers is its own delicate strand in an intricate web of bone and flesh and purple veins, forming hands that are, at two months old, two inches by one-and-a-half. I study her palms, between the creases where the black fluff from her little gloves has gathered.

But I study her hands as metaphor, too.

Of course, there is the time-old, clichéd question, which I’m sure every new mom has asked: what will these hands one day do? Curiously, I don’t think about this much. We read hands like the wrinkled map of one’s past, or the bright pages of one’s future. More generally, we use the hand as synecdoche: a part to stand for the whole (person). Give a hand, lend a hand, ask for a hand in marriage. (If she to me is “hand,” then I to her am “breast.”) Instead of reading her future in her hands, I try to read her present.

I have seen her carefully wrap her fingers around the cold steel arms of a pair of scissors her father was using to cut off her hospital bracelet (he stopped just in time). I have seen her reach for other objects, warmer, friendlier ones: the healing fingers of her chiropractor making miniature circles on her jaw—gently massaging the bone. I have felt her knuckle-white nails in a colic rage sink into my flesh. I have felt her fists pound on my breast in hunger. And, I have seen her stretch those same hands just barely above her head after a good snooze, shake them with anger before a cry, and wave them in delight when she offers us a smile. People say that crying is an infant’s only form of communication. Evelyn’s hands seem to suggest otherwise.

As I’ve been writing this essay, Evelyn has learned how to bring her fist to her mouth to soothe herself, similar to what she did with her fingers in the womb. She’s combining her two instincts of sucking and gripping. Eventually she will learn how to more fully use her hands. How to pick things up, for instance, developing her fine motor skills. Her communication will later more fully switch from her hands to her mouth: she will begin to speak in words, her sounds now being only cries, grunts, babbles, and gurgles, many of them still unintelligible to me. Some may say that even at her present stage, the mouth is still the predominant communicator. It may be the more obvious one. But the fingers were in motion first, before the sputtering cry in which she gasped for her first breath.

She never wanted to be swaddled, having all her limbs restrained, tucked close to the body, a position that is supposed to mimic being in the womb. Even then, she wanted her hands free: during ultrasounds, I watched the black and white images as if they were old silent films, of her sucking her fingers, clasping them together, and, once—as though with a dramatic flair—putting her hand to her forehead, palm up. She is her mother’s daughter, I thought, as I watched her on the screen. My husband and I don’t put the socks on her hands that are used to prevent scratching, nor do we cover them when she sleeps. In fact, the only time we cover her hands is to bring her outside into the Canadian winter, and even then, we leave her arms free to move, putting only her gloves on, and popping them off as soon as possible.

When referring to the procedure to alleviate tongue-tie, they use the euphemistic term “clipping”instead of “cutting,”as though it were only an ancillary fingernail, instead of a membrane of flesh (called the frenulum) holding down the tongue. A baby is clipped if the membrane prevents her from breastfeeding properly; tongue-tie can also later restrict a child when she begins to speak. When they clipped Evelyn, they had to restrain her hands so she would not grasp at the instruments.

Restraining hands is meant for suspects in metal handcuffs. Not Evelyn, who—unsuspecting—had her own hands restrained beside her body in the folds of a sterile white hospital blanket moments before the procedure. Suspects are told they have the “right”to remain silent. The right to not speak, which also implies the right to speak. Her way of speaking—with her hands—was taken from her, as it would be from a person who was handcuffed and only spoke sign-language. It was seeing the restraint of Evelyn’s hands that made me look away in pain, not the blood gurgling cry that would follow, which was like a second birth. In Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,”the heroine exchanges her voice for a pair of legs by having her tongue cut out. In Evelyn’s case, there was also an exchange, but we made that decision for her. Her tongue would be freed at the price of her hands, though they were restrained only temporarily. Thirty seconds to be exact (at least, that is what we were told), though it seemed much longer. When the clipping was finally over, she breastfed with blood streaming down us both, and she pumped her upper fist at me, as if to make sure I knew she never wanted to be silenced again.

As for my own hands, one holds her now as she feeds and subsequently sleeps; the other types, one-handed, fingers like spider-feet stretching for the keys. It’s like playing a difficult piece on the piano: let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth. People keep telling me that Evelyn has piano player hands. I smile at them, politely. I realize that most of them are merely commenting on her anatomy of long, slim fingers. But I don’t want others’ ideas imposed on her of what she should do: I want her to choose for herself. She is now only beginning to learn what her hands may do, what they can reach for, what they may grasp. In this moment, it is my own hand in hers. Sometimes, though, I catch myself wondering if—and guiltily hoping that—like me, she will eventually turn her hand to writing, that her hands may once again be the medium through which her voice is heard.

 

 

 

Heather Thomson is a recent graduate of the MFA creative writing program at BYU. She currently lives in Montreal with her husband and newborn daughter.

A Letter to Sunday

by Ellie Peek

Dearest Sunday,

I saw your RSVP on the calendar. From now until the end of the days, there you are. What a well-mannered end of weekend. You are always on time, with a full gift of hours.

You bring 24—same as your brothers and sisters. Yet, something about the way you give yourself stays with me. Seven matching offerings, given differently.

Dutiful Monday will close my hands around its small, blue container. Friday, with urgency and ribbon, appears a large, red, and mostly empty package in my arms. These must be opened and put to use. Sunday, you are that familiar rectangle. Brown paper, string, and a good weight to you. You do not demand to be unwrapped at all. Your gift is simply given, without implication or cellophane. Your gift is time—time to do nothing at all.

I often ignore your golden, early parts. I even sometimes let your middle slip away. Always, I roam aimlessly in your quiet finale. I make circles and half-circles across your surface. I read fiction, I wash myself, and I smell something cooking. I know you would never use me for obligations.

Sunday, use me for easy things. Use me to rescue firm, bright cherry tomatoes. Use me to fold blankets. Use me to pet the cat, and pick tiny black hairs off a skirt for an hour. Use me to eat more than my share and to feel uncomfortable. Use me to leave dirty dishes in porcelain stacks by the sink. Use me to free braided hair, in irreverent curls on my shoulders, and eventual knots. Use me to beg forgiveness.

Let me waste you away. I’m sorry I always waste you away.

Sunday, your obligation is simple: arrive, always. The task is thankless and crucial.

You are a promise that exists before and after me. I weep when you go, for not using you better.

Sunday, the overflowing cup. The muffled hiss of curtains across a stage.

God’s only moment to sigh.

I sigh in you too, but not like a God.

Lower me with grace, into another round of seven.

1/7th yours,

a committed sinner

 

 

 

Ellie is an English major and senior at BYU. Her favorite writers come from the Harlem Renaissance and professor recommendations. She loves poetry even when it doesn’t love her back, and plans on pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing.

Checkers

by Ellie Peek

Jacobo Guitart de Virgo, my great grandfather, used to play checkers with Francisco Franco. In the heat of August they sat outside together, turning blood-red. They sat, wrapped up in royal guards and confined by the hundreds of big white windows with small black balconies in Franco’s Palacio Real de El Pardo. Small heads sometimes popped out from the glass—looking severed—to see who was winning. In Spanish checkers, the uncrowned pieces are called “men” and the crowned pieces are “kings.” My great grandfather and Franco were loyal fascists, but I imagine Jacobo chuckling when he said, “King me!” to a dictator. They had become friends in the Spanish Army. I have seen a picture of them together then, at the Infantry Academy in Toledo. In the picture they are standing close—standing like brothers.

Franco’s real brother, Ramón, was killed in an air accident during the Spanish Civil War. His body was found, bloated and salty, near the coast of Majorca. What do living soldiers talk about after a war? Do they play checkers in silence? Do they slide the black and red pieces beneath floating heads and dead friends? They must have said some things while they played. The two had so much in common: both were conservative and utterly Roman Catholic, both loved their families and named their daughters Carmen, both were mortal and died in Madrid. I wonder if Jacobo ever dared to bring up Franco’s missing testicle. It went missing when Franco was 23, dropped off at the thumping of machine gun fire. Perhaps Jacobo did bring it up, and so Franco smashed his glass of Cava on the stone patio.

The white tiles bloomed crimson.

The young guards flinched.

 

 

 

Ellie is an English major and senior at BYU. Her favorite writers come from the Harlem Renaissance and professor recommendations. She loves poetry even when it doesn’t love her back, and plans on pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing.

The Secret of My Parent’s Marriage

by Yvonne Higgins Leach

I learned late in life that my parents
stopped mapping each other’s bodies,
gave up on the luxury of making heat,
forgot how to anoint the other in breath.

I learned that after careers,
mortgages, six children and worry
they prayed to save their marriage
from collapse. And they did somehow.

Call it a replanting. A resurrection.
Call it putting the past
on the other side of a dim-lit tunnel.
Call it a secret only they knew.

They carried water together
to the end and when the music
of their hourglass lives stopped
the heavens opened and reset for them.

 

 

 

Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). Her poems have appeared in South Dakota Review, South Carolina Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Cimarron Review, and Wisconsin Review, among others. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University in 1986. She has spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. She splits her time living in Snohomish and Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit www.yvonnehigginsleach.com

Dew Claws for Everybody

by Carol Hamilton

The Fremont tribe differed
in footwear from the nearby,
more successful Anazasi.
This short-span people
formed moccasins
with the hides of larger game,
kept the dew claw
from the animal’s foot,
fitted it into the sole
to gain better purchase
for climbing the canyons
of their abrupt landscape.
In one petroglyph,
a man-like creature
holds a staff,
and the space-defying
bighorn sheep cartwheel
in a circle around him.
I used a walking stick
all over those paths
and cliffs, and even here,
on flatland, my home,
I could use a dew claw
to keep me steady.
There may be treacherous edges
to any spot on this earth.

 

 

 

Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in Paper Street Jourrnal, Cold Mountain Review, Common Ground, Gingerbread House, Main Street Rag. Sacred Cow. U.S.1 Worksheet, Pontiac Review, Louisiana Literature, Abbey, 805, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Poem, Third Wednesday, One Trick Pony, Plainsongs, and others. She has published 17 books, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from the Visual Arts Cooperative Press in Chicago. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize.

Corbin’s Birthday

by Carol Hamilton

It is a few days yet,
and he still says he’s three.
But he holds himself taller,
and his blue eyes show
the serious importance
of being the center of attention
without crying. His older brother
is the unnoticed one this day.
Corbin shared his cake
with his great-uncle, 46 to his 4
but without that many candles.
Together they extinguished fire
and forgot to make wishes.
Corbin left here a more serious person.
He got to eat only the strawberries
off the cake, to drink Dr. Pepper
from a can, caffeine forgiven
for once. Each year I forgive
myself more and more,
and by now I am practically pure.
I pass the baton of guilt gladly,
celebrate by baking his cake.

 

 

 

Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in Paper Street Jourrnal, Cold Mountain Review, Common Ground, Gingerbread House, Main Street Rag. Sacred Cow. U.S.1 Worksheet, Pontiac Review, Louisiana Literature, Abbey, 805, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Poem, Third Wednesday, One Trick Pony, Plainsongs, and others. She has published 17 books, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from the Visual Arts Cooperative Press in Chicago. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated seven times for a Pushcart Prize.

Procession on Cochran Road

by Gaby Bedetti

60 days after Easter, Christ the King Cathedral
celebrated a nearly 800-year-old tradition–
the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
A half-mile procession wound around the church grounds,
a public witness of veneration of the Blessed Eucharist
displayed in a monstrance carried by the bishop.

No little girls cast flowers, no passerby genuflected
as the procession passed, though a few police cars
did block the intersections. Roofers working
along Cochran continued hammering
while pockets of people sang “Sing, My Tongue, the Savior’s Glory.”
The procession moved at a slow and not always reverent pace.
Some checked iPhones, others chatted. A deacon peeled off
and skipped the return to the cathedral,
the bishop’s benediction.

In the 13th century, when the faith of the world was growing cold,
a 16-year-old Belgian nun, Juliana, had visions of the moon
crossed by a dark stripe. She came to understand
that the moon symbolized the Church on earth,
the opaque line represented the absence of a feast in honor of Christ.
After Juliana shared her vision, her bishop
established the feast in 1246
and Pope Urban extended it to the entire Church in 1264.

And so we still move together following the monstrance,
most of us not singing, but all of us walking, sweating
a bit in our good clothes, the procession ancient and sunlit.

 

 

 

 

Gaby Bedetti likes to hike, take photos, plant trees, and sing. Born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, she received her PhD in comparative literature from the University of Iowa. A long-time professor at Eastern Kentucky University, she co-teaches Page-to-Stage: Imagining the Military Experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. To her readers, she would like to sing, “Happy trails to you, until we meet again. Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then. . . .” Her poem “Singing in the Pool” is forthcoming in The Voices Project.

Dinner Time

by M. Anthony C.

Like the glaciers that slug
rock slow down steep
mountain slopes, digging the trenches
like veins as they go, I am going through
an extended mental breakdown
remarkably well.
My broken-plate memory’s
a mosaic. I scoot up to it.
I don’t mind eating off the floor.

 

 

 

M. Anthony C. is an alumni of Salt Lake Community College and is majoring in English with a minor in creative writing at BYU. He has had several pieces (poems and essays) published in Folio (SLCC’s literary magazine), Haiku Universe, paintedcave.net, Sucarnochee Review and more.

Quodam

by Sarah Farrar

Back in my day,
the sun ran backwards,
west to east, searching the Orient
at night for the secret to life.

Time didn’t splatter, covering all
in should-haves and going-tos.
It flowed, ice through a valley
It was different then,

one could look in the mirror
and see nothing but pure darkness.

 

 

 

After two years of studying Engineering, Sarah Farrar saw the light and switched to English, with a minor in creative writing. In her spare time, she writes and reads and occasionally binge watches shows like SVU and Parks and Rec. She lives with her husband, Kraig Farrar, who happens to be an excellent writing companion, and her dog, Toby, who is a fantastic writing distraction. She was published in the Fall 2016 edition of Inscape.