The Meadow Literary and Art Journal 2011


The Meadowis the annual literary arts journal published every spring by Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada. Students interested in the literary arts, graphic design, and creative writing are encouraged to participate on the Editorial Board. Visit for information and submission guidelines. Look for notices around campus, inThe Echo student newspaper, or contact the Editor-in-Chief at or through the English department at (775) 673-7092. See our website (listed above) for information on our annual Cover Design and Literary and Art Contests. Only TMCC students are eligible for prizes. At this time, The Meadowis not interested in acquiring rights to contributors’ works. All rights revert to the author or artist upon publication, and we expectThe Meadowto be acknowledged as original publisher in any future chapbooks or books. The Meadow is indexed inThe International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses . Our address is Editor-in-Chief, The Meadow , Truckee Meadows Community College, English Department, Vista B300, 7000 Dandini Blvd., Reno, Nevada 89512. The views expressed inThe Meadoware solely reflective of the authors’ perspectives. TMCC takes no responsibility for the creative expression contained herein. Meadow Fiction Award: Tim Dickerson, 1st place. Meadow Non-Fiction Award: Angelo Perez, 1st place. Meadow Poetry Award: Jake A Martinez, 1st place; Kay Doss, 2nd place; and Meghan Bucknell, 3rd place. ISSN: 1947-7473

Editor-in-Chief Lindsay Wilson Poetry Editors Erika Bein Joe Hunt Fiction Editor Mark Maynard Non-Fiction Editor Rob Lively Editorial Board David Anderson Melissa Cosgrove Andrew Crimmins John Dodge JoAnn Hoskins Theodore Hunt Janice Huntoon Arian Katsimbras Rachel Meyer Peter Nygard Tony Olsen Drew Pearson Chris Scally Siouxsan Schleuning Danielle Schuster Hank Sosnowski Allyson Stronach Katrina Walters Neil Whitehurst Rachelanne Williams Anne Witzleben Cover Photo Harry Wilson

Table of Contents Mark Maynard Fiction Scott Tucker Jim Lamoreux Bipin Aurora Tim Dickerson Ifeanyichukwu Onyewuchi Charles Haddox D.O.A. Worrell Non-Fiction Angelo Perez Karen Levy Poetry Nathan Slinker Nathan Slinker Lindsey Neely Janann Dawkins Nicole Navarro Wendy Barry Maya Jewell Zeller Stephen Schlatter Buck Feero Jake A. Martinez Tyler Bigney Vanessa Blakeslee Maya Jewell Zeller Teresa Breeden Lacie Morgan Andrei Guruianu Robby Schlesinger Sean Prentiss Michael Dubon Nathan Graziano Caitlin Thomas Erika Robles Meghan L. Bucknell Grant Tierney Dehne R.L. Kurtz An Interview with Alyson Hagy 73 Bayard Avenue 16 Late for Work 36 The Boy 43 Flak 59 Where Have All the Parents Gone 80 Sacrifice 96 Silenced 109 Pretty Girl 10 The Stain 32 Girl in a Country Scene 6 Sand Dunes, Northern Nevada 7 Love, Alaska 8 Correspondence 9 I Float Like It’s Nothing 13 Nature Channel 14 The Insomniac Speaks in Winter 15 No Light 25 12 Oz. 26 A Jungian Archetype 27 My First Night in Izmir, Turkey 28 Moon River, December, 1961 29 Clarissa 30 A Knife in the Wash 31 Solitaire 35 Those I Used to Know Who Knew Me 41 Drive By Pianoing 42 Bangor, Pennsylvania: S0S 48 American Dating Scene: $1 Menu 49 The Teenage Couple Who Has Sex in a Slasher Flick 50 Your Kiss Usually Means Some of It 51 Spring 52 Summer, 2002 53 You See ... 54 Strawberry Heart 55

Kymmo Valenton Of Piers Kay Doss Even Her Name Suzanne Roberts As If Michael P. McManus Corpsman Jerry D. Mathes II Fuel Guard Jerry D. Mathes II Pulaski Jerry D. Mathes II On the Move David Shattuck The Hammers Andrew Crimmins AutumnDay Amy Hendrickson A Life for a Life Samantha Elliott I Always Wanted to Save a Life Meghan L. Bucknell A Private Wake Arian Katsimbras After Viewing John Maguire’s PaintingMontgomery Street in Winter Arian Katsimbras Elegy with Handgun, Soot, and Bird Arian Katsimbras More of the Day Collapses Into This Moment of Waiting for Bread Tara Mae Schultz Gathering an Appetite Joanne Lowery Weathered Jake A. Martinez Souvenir Jeff Hardin When the Finches Start Up Jeff Hardin A Day of Slow Rain Sean Evans Cut Branch Dave Malone Nature’s Gold Alan King Where They Do That At? Benjamin Evans Movement Karen A. Terrey Buckeye Hot Springs David Shattuck The Deadof Shawnee Gary Metras A Routine Procedure Kimberly Thompson A Wife’s Prayer Wendy Barry Wedding Poem Alexandra Sweeney The Darker Touch Jake A. Martinez Inharmonious Dasha Bulatov The Empty Sign Kay Doss My Sister-in-LawWas a Better Cook Suzanne Roberts Another Ending Contributor Notes SubmissionGuidelines 56 57 58 67 69 70 71 72 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 129

Girl in a Country Scene by Nathan Slinker In the iron trough—lone remnant of the sheep that once grazed here—a thin sheet of ice covers molasses, and a girl, because no one has told her of a better use for hands, breaks it. In the next gasp of light, as some sweet history dissolves on her tongue, she finds herself walking where long afternoons of barbed wire dream of letting whole herds loose, and a gang of lazy clouds hangs around the corner store of mountains, feeling at empty blue pockets. In a few hours or years, her mother will call her in to help set the table, help father with the tomato cages, help father with the rolling over, fetch the priest a cup of coffee, empty the family jar of tears. But now, she lets the scattered sunlight remove her shoes, barely trembles as she sews seconds into breached flesh: making the moment live in her. Now, frost only sweetens broken wheat; wind blows through her skin as if through a damp sheet. And this must be the bright winter of her childhood: a long time will pass before cold feels so good again. 6 theMeadow

Sand Dunes, Northern Nevada by Nathan Slinker Washing before work, I digress into cracked porcelain, begin to drain… then turn around, once, twice: see myself serving vodka and water to the only woman at the Sundown Bar. She’s riding frantic bones, hard drink a mere distraction. Half the bar’s cleaning supplies in this week’s high, a solution. We go in the back room. Unbranded animals wander off, them who brew and tweak limp out the broken tavern door. Her lips: bruised glass. I steal twenty dollars on her breath and a bottle for later. Seven major dunes surround our shivering—aberrations on a dull pane of dirt. They are remnants of water fable, left to dry and crystallize, a subsistence since replaced. Emptiness of sagebrush, miles tripping over themselves— the desert is easy to traverse when the drug is right. A dumb glow below eastern hills and one hawk, hunting. Her name is grey, almost real. We hike the beige lumps sinking with each step, as if into old skin. I am doll with shaking body. She is blown to shadow by sun. Wild horse gallops violet, an oppression of hoof and mane violent against dawn. And something in the air around it, a rider of sorts, dwarfed by numb, too distant to see. theMeadow 7

Love, Alaska by Lindsey Neely Her voice on my answering machine pushed air around my kitchen. I sat at the table, in a dark corner that goes backward with time. You would love it here. I remember her like August— Late summer heavy in our mouths, exploding like firecrackers on our skin. Our skin that clung like static in hair. We looked up on a sky partly starless, Our twin god of a moon hung in a trance. Sing our truth, she whispered, We have come so far from need. Now, it is almost winter here. A whole autumn gone and I don’t know one new thing about you. Your mail shows up like a stranger. I pass it for days, glaring— Is that really you in there? I know it will be winter there, soon. Alaska, you are still charcoal and ash. How many stars can you count in your sky? What does the moon look like without us under it? 8 theMeadow

Correspondence by Janann Dawkins Sometimes your eyebrows. Sometimes your fingers ran like buffalo along a plane of paper. Often words were there. Sometimes intelligible. Birds hunkered into verbs as though the sentence were a pad of rice and eventually your bones would bear out meaning. theMeadow 9

Pretty Girl by Angelo Perez First Place Non-Fiction Award My family moved to Buffalo, New York at the end of summer in 2006. We lived in the lower section of an old Victorian duplex that was located in South Buffalo—the Irish Catholic part of the city. Above us lived my aunt Vickie who owned two cats I couldn’t care anymore for than I would a crack on the sidewalk, but would occasionally feign ardent interest in if I needed to use the computer upstairs. Vickie had a mullet so needless to say she was from my stepdad’s side of the family. No one from my mother’s side would ever sport such a horrendous hair cut unless that one was looking to get snubbed off the will. When my hair grew too course and thick, en route to making me feel like my head would survive a Russian winter, Vickie offered to take me to get it cut, which was kind of a given because she was the only one inside the house with a car. I neglected to do my research of salons in Buffalo, but I figured Vickie would take me to a reputable place that was filled with pretty girls and their pretty clients, the air thick with Tresemme and top 40 hits. I don’t know why I had this notion. I assumed Vickie was aware that I was gay, and that when it came to aesthetic matters, I would not settle for anything that didn’t scream, “Fabulous!” or “Fresh!” One can only imagine the horror I felt when we pulled up next to a pole with a helix of red, white, and blue. “We’re here, kiddo. Let’s get your hair cut!” We walked into the shop, and my aunt greeted Lou, an elderly barber with a gray handlebar mustache, thick spectacles and a pot belly that looked to be suffocating underneath his white apron. This was not the place I imagined. Where were the pretty girls with the cute bobs and floral tattoos? In their place were old men who could’ve been the standins for the cast ofCocoon . Where were their pretty clients with their high end ensembles and Blackberrys? Instead the shop was teeming with run-of-the-mill, football enthusiast fathers with their sons. I bet if I looked into one of the drawers, I’d find a copy of a hunting magazine instead of thinning shears. And what was that awful smell that lingered in the air? After shave? Or something that was collected from a sweaty underarm mixed into a container with Listerine and passed off to customers as bacteria killing liquid for nicks and cuts? The only familiar element was the ample amount of large mirrors, which I thought was placed in the shop for the client’s discretion in the off chance that your barber might slice your throat open. Lou, the barber my aunt acknowledged, was too busy refining his client’s sideburns with a blade to notice another victim had walked in. In films and television, this procedure did not look menacing at all, but as I witnessed its manifestation in front of me, it became very unsettling especially when my hair-cutting experience has been comfortably limited to getting a refreshing spritz of water on top of my head and gossiping about 10 theMeadow

moms featured on the TLC network. “He’s not going to use one of those machetes on me, is he?” Vickie was too preoccupied talking to a man wearing a Buffalo Bills cap to answer my earnest question. Although I’m sure if she had heard me, she would’ve tossed her head back and laughed, her repulsive Kentucky waterfall draped between her shoulder blades. I kept thinking about how out of place I must have looked: a 16 year old Filipino boy in girl jeans and a plaid shirt set against the Americana background of a barbershop. Here he sits next to his chain smoking, overweight aunt from god-knowswhere-that’s-on-the-map, Oregon while he awaits his hair cut from a man who probably refers to any Asian as a “Jap.” I envisioned that as the narrative for a photo inside a local newspaper. I also envisioned the headlines of something more macabre: “Filipino teen dies in freak barbershop incident.” I was desperate to create any excuse I could to avoid getting my hair cut and leave. At this stage, I was willing to let my hair grow like a Chia pet and be made fun of at school. Emotional turmoil caused by inner city school thugs seemed like a better fate than what I deemed to be my last day on Earth if I sat on that barber seat. “I could pretend to have a stomach ache,” I thought. This would’ve been a good excuse, but I was afraid someone would tell me there was a bathroom inside the shop, and that I could “shit in there until I felt better.” I thought of pretending to receive an emergency phone call from my mom about the house burning down, or much to Vickie’s terror and my enjoyment, one of the cats getting hit by a car, but I didn’t have a cell phone, and it was entirely impossible to get an incoming call from the barber shop’s telephone. “Are you ready, Angelo?” This was posed to me by Vickie as I hoped the Mayan prophecy of 2012 would come six years prematurely. I couldn’t process a response to her obviously rhetorical question, and I knew there was no way out of this so I quickly hopped onto the seat with the approach that if I prolong any more negative thoughts I would only be making my fear much more formidable. “Such thick, black hair,” Lou said as he ran his fingers through my hair. I’m pretty sure his hand got stuck half way through his examining. If a certain ineffable dark wizard needed a location to hide a Horcrux, my hair circa 2006 would be his best option—or any screening of a Jennifer Lopez movie. Lou asked me a lot of standard, perfunctory questions: where am I going to school? where am I from? do I like Buffalo? how about them Sabres? I hadn’t the slightest idea who the Sabres were so I evaded the question by telling him it was my first time inside a barber shop. “Your first time?! Get outta here!” Oh believe me, I would’ve done that the minute I walked in, but I don’t think that would be very tactful of me. “Where do you get your hair cut, usually?” I answered that I usually get my hair cut at salons, and at that, Lou laughed in a condescending manner. “Salons? With the pretty girls and blow dryers? I bet you just like getting your hair done there ‘cause you like looking at the pretty girls.” I actually did enjoy looking at the girls, but Lou’s implication was that I was straight, and that was not the case. If anything, I would’ve been more theMeadow 11

interested in checking out Lou’s grandson if he had one. More questions were thrown at me about school. From what classes I was in to what subjects I enjoyed the most. I succinctly answered each of them. Only seconds before Lou brought out the blade did I realize I was not asked what kind of cut I wanted. I saw Lou’s ominous reflection in the mirror, blade poised to tear, pierce and carve my flesh. I braced myself for the end, closed my eyes, and prayed to God I had a rosary with me so I looked all the more convincing as a Catholic. A few sudden abrasions down my neck, and before I knew it, I smelled the familiar and pleasant aroma of baby powder. “All done.” He postioned my seat so that I could take a look at myself in the mirror, and I was most surprised at how well the hair cut turned out. It was clean and precise, very similar to what I look like whenever I leave a salon. I was happy with what I received and felt stupid for thinking this man didn’t know what he was doing. I gave Lou a tip of five dollars, and he told me he hoped to see me back at his shop the next time “the jungle grows on top of my head again.” Vickie and I walked back to her truck, and she lit up a cigarette and complimented how nice I looked as we drove off home. “See. You don’t need them salons. You go to Lou, or any of these barber joints and they’ll take good care of you. Salons are overpriced. And besides, who needs them pretty girls anyways?” I didn’t bother acknowledging her banter because as I glanced at my reflection in the side mirror, I myself felt like “a pretty girl.” 12 theMeadow

I Float Like It’s Nothing by Nicole Navarro I walked on clouds decades ago because a net will always save me as I fall into my daily dreams. The chop sticks waltz behind me unnoticed. Vocabulary is bundled in spindles, waiting to be unwoven. But still, crying birds cannot find a word to speak. I created a mate to stare at your empty plate. His eyeglasses rim robotic stares for he is mentally noted, not challenged. Trees are dramatic. Language is a representation of the capacity the brain lacks. theMeadow 13

Nature Channel by Wendy Barry It’s two a.m. in the hospital and the sharks are swimming in the television. Hammerheads. Their perverse silhouettes are congregated for an unknown purpose. The camera sees them from below as though it were resting on the ocean floor and the light of the sky is dim beyond them. I watch them changing space with one another Just the hush of the plastic balloons on my legs filling and expelling sharp and sweaty, tubes everywhere, the morphine button under my thumb. Silently, the sharks swim above my head. 14 theMeadow

The Insomniac Speaks in Winter by Maya Jewell Zeller Night is my balcony where the new sky drips as it will drip the rest of my life but not the way it used to pull soft from itself and wrap me like a scarf. Twenty seven years I’ve slept lighter and lighter. The nasturtiums are still brown with winter. Winter still holds the tulip bulbs and keeps the garden dirt soft and sodden, but the clod in my chest is heavier than this because last summer’s drowsy nodding was cut away with the cherry tomatoes, the yellow beans, with the last roots pulled and chopped for compost. Tomorrow my love will hold me and show me the orange glow of morning, show me the sungleam sparking the river. I think that I will want to go there and walk into those waters where trout float like bees from the darkness. theMeadow 15

Bayard Avenue by Scott Tucker Michael knew the people up one side of Bayard Avenue and down the other. He knew them from stories. He knew they were good people. Some of them were in the room with him now, or crows, or the rain drumming down hard. Or Toom. The smell of strong tea and disinfectant wrapped its arms around his bed. A bone bracelet he knew rattled. “Delmaine has always wanted to sleep with you,” he warned his wife. “Don’t go near him in the pool, or walking.” “There is my life to think of, too,” she said. “And trust.” “Only speak to him outside in the yard.” Or so it might go. The lion helps the lioness on a larger kill but otherwise he isn’t much use to her. “Do your fighting in the street,” she told him. “I will call you inside when I need you.” . . What I wish for now is Peace, he said to the new stone fountain in front of the last house on Bayard Avenue. The fountain brimmed with watery optimism gurgling out of its top center dish, and over, and over, and down, to the cold round basin at the bottom. Coyote scent marked hedges and fence posts from the fountain to the ravine below, spooking small dogs out on early morning walks with their masters who held stainless steel coffee mugs, retractable leashes, and clear plastic bags for picking up dog scat. Michael suspected the coyotes drank from the fountain during the dry season. Lost Cat posters appeared in July and August at the stand of mailboxes in the middle of the block, illustrating the larger problem. It’s good, Michael thought, the fountain drawing predators farther up the hill. Something is needed to control the rat and mice population in the city if house cats won’t do the job. “Mom, I want to go around once.” “Okay.” “What about two?” “Okay.” There aren’t many children anymore in the city, Michael thought, although our daughter Emily is ten years old now and a good soccer player, but not a good reader yet. . . “How is he?” 16 theMeadow

“There is still brain activity, so there is hope.” Yes, Michael thought. There is brain activity and hope. There is the illusion of God, and of one nurse being the same as any other. . . Emily wanted a kitten quite a lot and her mother said no because of the coyotes. “An indoor cat then.” “Cats need to live outside to be happy,” she said. “I don’t understand life!” Emily yelled, and her mother laughed because it was such a big thing for a small girl to say. Emily is the sort of child, Michael thought, who will grow up and be kind to strangers and it will cause her great trouble, but the good kind of trouble. He could see her as a young woman standing beside her car with an unreliable engine and a driver’s door that jammed and she would curse at it until it opened, in such a way that it lifted the spirits of everyone around her, and this is how she would meet her husband. . . In heaven, Michael thought, I will watch the entire movie of my ancestors’ lives, from the Stone Age to the Unnamed Wars to the Slave Trade, to the survival of my own grandparents and their grandparents. Which of them came to the Chobe River first? With eternity, I will have time to learn. And then—to see how my own life has added to that long story of hunger and work and hope and lost hope. To see the movies of the other lives I have changed without realizing the good or bad I have done. This is what he hoped heaven would be. Although—he thought again, these will not be movies. I will somehow know, inside my head, what they knew inside theirs. He learned in school, early on, that the word Religion came from an older word, which meant to Re-link. He learned English from a missionary named Abner Wellington who suffered in the heat and used the Bible and a book of great quotations as his textbooks and was later killed by rebels for his faith. Sin is geographical. —Bertrand Russell. For instance. The school dried up and closed after Wellington’s death. Some years are like this, he learned, and you walk away with your own people and look elsewhere for what you need. Some years the Chobe River does not deliver its water to the Zambezi at all. Lekgoa, they called their teacher, which meant “White Foreigner” and was an insult. Wellington took away Michael’s original name, Mogami, which meant “One Who Milks,” a reference to the cows and the goats kept by villagers. A language is a dialect that has an army. theMeadow 17

—Max Weinreich. For instance. Or Abner Wellington. . . A very old and heavyset man with ruddy loose jowls came walking up Bayard Avenue each morning to collect the mail delivered to his box the day before. On colder days, he wore his painting gloves and a baseball cap with felt flaps to cover his ears. His coat had a fur collar, worn down the way a hallway rug wears down at the edges. The wallet pocket of his pants had a hole worn through it the size of a child’s thumb. With bad eyes, he bent forward to read the details of the faded Lost Cat posters, and he walked home with his mail in both gloved hands, shuffling carefully along as if he’d fallen there before, as if the dry pavement could ice over at any moment in the shade. The clouds some days don’t know which type of clouds to become, wispy, mixed together with solid, building darkly into rain but cottoning back out into blue sky again. Like the very old man, Michael thought, with the ruddy loose jowls— slight and strong at the same time. Like the polished stone of the new fountain and its gurgling water, in front of the last house on Bayard Avenue. . . “I’ve seen them,” he told his neighbors, who didn’t believe him. “How do you know they aren’t dogs off leash?” he was asked. “They keep their tails low and hunt at night. In their scat you’ll see the fur and the small bones of rodents.” Or housecats, he failed to add. Reward! She is older and longer than pictured here. Her name is Mittens. Please call! The coyote eyed him and moved off steadily when Michael approached it. Knowing the landscape and the yards of the neighborhood, it jumped a fence when it needed to and disappeared into cedars and rain. It was all for the best, Michael thought, as he didn’t want his neighbors to fund an eradication program, and they voted instead to spend their money on a new cabana for the lower playground. . . “How is he?” “There is still brain activity.” “When will Jillian return?” “She’s looking for Toom. Then we can decide.” “Who is Toom?” . . 18 theMeadow

“Where I grew up,” he once told Emily, “the children moved into their own huts at seven years old, one hut for girls, one hut for boys.” These were like bedroom huts, he explained, so a family might have three huts. “We went to the bathroom outdoors in the bush, not in a single place but anywhere far from the village—much like the animals.” It returned soon enough to the soil. Mothers walked all the way to the Chobe River for water. Then the new government dug wells and built a school. Life became better. “In the old days, it wasn’t very expensive to live,” he told Emily. “We knew if we met a lion on the trail not to turn our backs but to look it in the eye and move off steadily. It’s when you turn your back, they think of you as food.” Michael was of the Tswana tribe. In their language, Bo referred to the country and Ba referred to the people of the country, and so in 1966 they named their new country Botswana , which was more or less equal to the Kalahari Desert. The nearest town to Michael’s village was Kasane, an outpost of 7,000 people plagued by troupes of baboons marauding through kitchens and yards, and by herds of ellies pushing over the acacia trees to get at the roots and milling about under baobab trees they could not push over, near the airport, as if they were waiting for their own flights to depart. “Once I walked to work and found a large bull elephant asleep under the Ba Ba Bololang sign,” he told Emily. “We had to poke at him half the morning to get him to move.” The airport was two miles out of town and very much a part of the elephants’ world. “What is the Ba Ba Bololang sign?” she asked. “It means ‘Departures,’” he said. . . Emily loved to hear the story of how her parents met in Bo-tswana. Her mother had arrived for an overnight stay at a tourist camp where Michael worked as a guide, an hour’s flight from Kasane by bush plane. She planned to leave in the morning for a month of field research concerning hyenas in the Okavango Delta during the dry season, to prove they were hunters as well as scavengers. But her team did not arrive the following day as planned. So she waited. At the morning campfire, she drank strong tea with Michael to keep the chill away. He fed the fire with one long log, moving it into the center as it burned. They had no communication equipment that reached as far as Kasane except a radio the pilots used. There were no paved roads. It was a waste of money to try to pave the Kalahari. Her team, as it turned out, was hung up at the border crossing at Kazungula, a notoriously congested and chaotic place where four countries met—Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana. “You need to stay in camp,” he told her. “No walking—even between theMeadow 19

tents—without me.” He touched the rifle on his back. “The lions are right out there, in the taller grass.” He pointed, and smiled, to be polite. She smelled strongly of Citronella, a popular insect repellent. “No Citronella,” he said. “It attracts the elephants. They like fruit, and will push the tents over to get it.” She didn’t mind learning from him, although usually she bristled at a man telling her what to do and what not to do. “What else can you tell me?” she asked. She knew she had to learn quickly. She was a young white woman from Seattle doing graduate work in a place without a fence for a thousand miles in any direction. Most importantly, without a fence around her immediate encampment, and so nothing to separate predator from prey. He was a good-looking man, after all, thin and handsome in his pale green uniform, his face and hands as dark as any skin on the planet, his smile as bright and easy as any she’d ever seen. “That is it,” he told her. “You hear it? Like an engine trying to get going. Then the full howl. That’s the hyena.” “The dogs have made a kill?” she suggested, and he looked at her for the first time as a woman who impressed him. “Yes,” he smiled widely, his real smile. “Probably impala. The wild dogs are the most efficient hunters in Africa, with a 90% kill rate.” “Do you ever see the hyenas hunting?” she asked. “Only if the pack is big enough. Here the packs are not big enough.” “Did you say your name was Michael?” she asked him, pretending she had forgotten. “Yes. Did you say your name was Jillian?” He smiled. Two days later, the wild dogs passed by camp and everyone, even the cooks and the guides, ran out to get a glimpse of them. They were a rare sight because they roamed a huge territory. With their long, loping gait, they could run and hunt all night long. Watching them, you could see— you could feel—how each dog knew its role, and what a terrifying thing it would be if they were locked in on you as their target. When her team arrived, to drive off and study hyenas, Michael helped them load their equipment into the Land Rover they had arranged to borrow. “When will you return?” he asked her. “Our plan is not to backtrack. Only the driver will return,” she said. Their eyes met. Her blond hair and bright soul. His wild, black, iron strength. She reached out and touched his arm as she started for the Land Rover. “If we don’t find large packs, I’ll come back and see you,” she said. It was a crazy thing to promise, but she did return, and she lived and worked with him for a year at the camp, and then they decided to move to Seattle together, so their child could be born in a hospital in the United States. . . 20 theMeadow

Although—Michael had lied. He hadn’t explained to Jillian, or later, to their daughter, what he had left behind to come to America. Who he had left behind. Her name was Toom, or really, Koketso, and she lived in a village of dirt and heat and acacia trees along the roadside to Kasane. She was from the village named Kagiso, meaning “Peace.” He had approached her parents, as was the custom, and asked permission to enter into a trial period. His family had paid her father three cows. A trial period lasts for several years, to see how compatible the couple is. They can have children during the trial period, but there is no marriage until all agree it will be successful. And so, while Michael worked at the tourist camp, an hour’s flight away in the bush, Toom lived in her village and they had two children together. He saw them only once or twice a year when he had time off and there was an extra seat on one of the bush planes returning to Kasane. “I must go visit my sister,” he told Jillian, whenever he went to visit Toom. “There is room today on the plane.” “It was so brave of Michael,” she loved telling her friends in Seattle, “to leave his country and his family behind, and all he knew, for me, and for Emily. What a magnificent man.” His nightmares were always of Toom. He had left a hard life behind for an easier life, without a goodbye to her or his children. Most of her village had died of AIDS over the years, he knew, so she would have to be the exception to be alive, and his children were, almost certainly, orphans of the land. . . Even a pack of African wild dogs will give up on a waterbuck, because the buck secretes a foul-smelling musk onto its own muscles under stress, and most predators cannot get beyond the scent to finish the kill. There are many reasons a couple might fail to have a second child. It usually isn’t discussed even with close friends. So often it has to do with the woman, but sometimes it has to do with the man. . . “For you, Miss Jillian.” They sat up late in the main tent with one lantern on after the tourists were in bed and they talked about work and sipped wine while the hippos chewed on the lawn outside. They could hear the animals tearing at the long green grass in the dark and snorting as they ate. It became a pleasant backdrop, like everything in Botswana, startling at first and then familiar and reassuring. “These are dangerous animals,” Michael said, “if you get between them and the safety of their watering hole. They only want the green grass—a delicacy in the dry season.” “I’ve never felt so happy,” she told him. “Do you have anything like this in Seattle?” he asked. theMeadow 21

She laughed. “We have coyotes in the neighborhood where I grew up. No one has seen them, but we suspect. And crows. Crows everywhere.” Their eyes met. “Tell me about all of it,” he said. . . One sound Michael had never heard in Botswana was the rhythm and the low squeal of the heavy freight trains pulling slowly north and south along the coast of Puget Sound in the morning, far down the hill from Bayard Avenue. And the crows. Cawing and calling and harassing even the bald eagles out of the sky. “There are quail in this neighborhood,” he reported to Jillian one morning. “You’re kidding me.” “I’ve seen them two mornings now, halfway down the hill on Blue Ridge Drive.” There was no place on earth, however, like the Okavango Delta, where a large inland river formed each year, flowing south from Angola during the rainy season, and months later disgorging its water into the desert and the bush in search of the ancient lake that was once there to receive it. The land came to life and predators went hungry because the grazers could find water anywhere, instead of needing to risk the trip to one or two watering holes that had survived the dry season. When the water came, the tourist guides conducted safaris by boat. “Where could quail live in our neighborhood?” Jillian asked. “There is still enough underbrush, and seed, in some of the wilder yards where everything is not level lawn and sprinklers. They won’t last for many more years, however.” Just when Michael believed he had seen everything, it snowed. . . The idea for the trip was Jillian’s. To introduce Emily to her father’s homeland. To return to Kasane and the bush. To further her research and writing. They would stay a month, as she had planned to do the first time. The journey seemed much longer this time, traveling with Michael and a 10-year-old daughter in tow—the 9-hour flight to London; the eight hours of waiting at Heathrow; a 12-hour flight to Johannesburg, South Africa and then backtracking by airplane north to Livingstone in Zambia near Victoria Falls, that great gash in the earth; then by van through Zambia to the Kazungula border station; by ferry across the Zambezi River, stepping through trays of disinfectant on the opposite shore to prevent the spread of hoof and mouth disease among the livestock; then by small truck four miles into Kasane and finally, walking the last two miles through the bush, to his home village, which had no name except to those who lived there. 22 theMeadow

“Are you okay?” “Yes.” Michael had been quiet, from Heathrow on. “I’m tired,” he said. Emily, however, was ablaze with excitement, inhaling Africa. She wanted to see yellow-bellied whip snakes and cape buffalo and vultures, and above all, to meet the girls her age who slept in their own huts, while lions hunted overnight on the same walking paths the children took to school in the morning. “Baboons! Look!” she said. A troupe of them glided past in the bush 20 yards off. A small one stopped to regard them until its mother hurried it along. “Keep walking, dear,” Jillian told Emily. Michael pointed to the grass roofs of his village. “There it is.” . . He could have lied. His grandparents and parents were dead by then. His brothers were gone, working in the diamond mines or living in Gaborone—no one knew for sure what had become of them. Gaborone was the capital city, on the other side of the Kalahari, where 70% of the population was HIV positive. There were those in the village who remembered him, of course, and knew his trial period had not ended in marriage, but that was not unusual, and ten years was a lifetime here. “There’s another village we need to visit,” he told Jillian. “After this one.” He was speaking in a voice she hadn’t heard before. His eyes were crow’s eyes. “I have relatives there,” he said. “Which relatives?” He pointed. “We can walk along the same road where we came.” . . Emily saw her vultures the next morning, whitebacked with downy, bald heads, waiting in trees pushed over by the elephants. Black beaks like polished stone. Some of them were still working on a carcass in the grass, eating it down to the skeleton. “Impala,” Michael identified the bones for her. “How did it die?” she asked. “A leopard would have hauled it up into a tree.” He looked around, shading his eyes to the east. “Hyenas eat everything, bone and all.” He pointed to higher ground. “There.” Three cheetahs, still looking hungry, sat like living room statues in the grass in the shade of an acacia tree, black teardrop markings beneath their alert eyes. “Cheetahs give up their kills easily, even to vultures,” he said. This was how the nightmare went. At the second village, Kagiso, he spoke in Setswana to the people he could find. Many of the huts were empty. Young women lay in the shade, suffering. Their children couldn’t walk. Anyone with strength pounded grain into meal. Michael looked out theMeadow 23

finally on the land and cried. They told him Toom sold her body to feed her children, sleeping with drivers at the ferry landing as they waited in their trucks to cross north to Kazungula. Sometimes they waited for days. They had time to visit with local women. She contracted AIDS quickly and died slowly. Her children lived in the village until it couldn’t support them any longer, and then they lived along the roadside. They starved there, or were eaten by the wild dogs, the lion, the leopard, any of the larger predators. They would have run to the river, and tried to protect each other there. They might have drowned in the strong current. “Toom is dead,” he told Jillian. “All of them are dead. I have dreamed it so many times it must be true.” “Who is Toom?” He stood alone the next morning under the African sun. Hot thermals lifted the vultures from their broken perch. “Heaven will be a sad place for me,” he said to himself. God heard him say this, along the roadside, and agreed. . . After the snowfall on Bayard Avenue, the night sky cleared again and Michael followed the coyote tracks to the ravine and saw small disturbances along the fence tops where the crows had landed to complain. The imprint of coyote paws in the snow reminded him of the fresh tracks he once showed Jillian at the tourist camp, clear and clean, in the mud leading up to the watering hole. “Jackal,” he told her. “They follow the lions and wait their turn.” The next morning, he took her out and they found a lion with its dead-calm yellow eyes looking back at them, eating a large kudu male it had taken down overnight, and she took pictures of the jackals sitting nearby like family dogs waiting for scraps at the barbeque. “I love this place,” she told him, and, turning, she kissed him on the cheek. “I’m afraid I might love you as well,” she said. Their eyes met, as past and future meet on every day’s horizon. “I love this place, too,” he told her, “but you must work very, very hard to stay alive here.” Then he willed himself awake. . . “Michael! Oh my God, you’re back!” “Jillian.” She took his hand. “You were hit, walking on the road, do you remember?” A side-mirror on a truck. A blow to the back of the head. “Yes.” “Michael.” Her hand holding his. “Toom is here.” Or so it might go. 24 theMeadow

No Light by Stephen Schlatter The darkness plays with my eyes, then the light. Colors strobe through the lens, flashing and pulsing with the music. Sweat pummels the floor, alongside bright yellow shoes and bare feet. Neon shirts, blue dyed hair, and glow sticks bounce up and down in rhythm. “We have one more pill,” you tell me. “I don’t have money to get more, we have to split it, lets go to the bathroom.” The door locked, the razor blade slices through the center of the purple powder disc. You snort your half, I swallow mine and return to the floor. After an hour the high starts to fade. I head over to you, “What can we get?” I remind, “We ain’t got shit. Get some, I’ll front.” You take the bill and a half hour later pull me back, pry the bag out of your pocket, and throw me a smirk. “Check this shit.” The white powder spread across the counter is “the best,” I am told. “This is your chance to try the good shit.” A lump in my throat, I look away, and decline. “The only difference between this shit and the other shit is in your mind,” you say. “Don’t get high and mighty on me now.” You hand me the straw. Sin never tasted so sweet in the back of my throat. The darkness plays with my eyes, then the night. There is no light. theMeadow 25

12 Oz. by Buck Feero Without Krylon to clean from under my fingernails I find it hard to breath. I always held my ground, never letting my pieced together world fall, Snatching what was mine from those who struggled to take me keep. I walked the miles, claiming the cities wall space With every sneakered step, cherishing the beauty Of the white washed concrete canvas. I covered any flaws the alley accumulated With vivid colors and intricate words. Spray can king was never the goal, Getting up was my only passion. I existed to caress my city with silver blue bombs, Spread from window sills to foundations On the last train I decorated I took an entire car— The sight of those twelve foot letters Outlined and accented still brings ice to my nerves. Those days are gone, and with them the thrill they carried. The thought of Aerosol Burns Constant; I put myself into pain. 26 theMeadow

A Jungian Archetype by Jake A. Martinez There is no safety zone to warn that you’re backpedaling deeper into a dream There is only the twitching of toes kicking inside a hallucination that looks like your body Thoughts flow down the mental storm drain that empties into the polluted river of consciousness Lying tangled in that glow is like waking up with the naked gray man Pasty, hairless with beady, silver eyes and sagging skin, and you wonder if this is just the dream uninterrupted He twinkles inside thatblue light special glow with a mean furrow on his bulbous head, staring deep into you with rapacious eyes Cooking up nausea in your gut because you suspect he’s touched you repeatedly, with those slender fingers But your body doesn’t belong to you You don’t even belong to yourself The things you feel are a carved out niche in the corner of your mind Where vermin trail their urine and bits of crumb never get swept clean Even when your alarm clock chimes in the morning Feeding your ears delusions of I’m awake, I’m alive, I am something real! A narcoleptic understands the secret You are only that darkness floating in front of closed eyelids never anything more Only a fleeting dream, loosely woven in another’s haunting gaze theMeadow 27

My First Night in Izmir, Turkey by Tyler Bigney I lived in a little room tucked neatly away on some corner in Izmir, Turkey. I spent most of that first night on the balcony eyeing the streets and listening to a woman moan in the room above mine. I could hear a piano but wasn’t sure from which direction it was coming. There was a baby next door, and I listened as it cried. I smoked Marlboro’s and sat with my legs crossed, reading the new Sedaris, thinking about my parent’s back home, now immersed in the tidal ebb and flow of dreams, no doubt. The sun was beginning to peek up. The piano had stopped, and music poured out blanketing the city in its song. I didn’t move. I sat with the book on my lap listening to that song, ( what I later learned was prayer ) listening to that baby, still crying so close, that for a moment, I thought it might have been me. 28 theMeadow

Moon River, December, 1961 by Vanessa Blakeslee My aunt Sharon has decided who she wants to be: Audrey Hepburn inBreakfast at Tiffany’s . The black-and-white picture skips through the year’s highlights. She had seen the movie with her aunt and my grandmother two months before, a girls’ day out with hats and gloves, but tonight she prefers her incarnation of Holly Golightly— dark hair turbaned in a white towel, skinny legs rocking back and forth in black Capri pants and scuffed flats as she swings her brother’s guitar on her hips, and even though she can’t play, sings, “Moon River, wider than a mile,” even though she is only eleven, the song and George Peppard gazing down from his apartment window have thrilled, captured her. She doesn’t know yet what is opening up: the watershed of human yearning, always the hope for glory. For love. On the television, Mike Wallace narrates a clip from back in May of President Kennedy proclaiming the United States will be the first to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. My aunt stops singing, edges closer to the window, still being Audrey. The towel loosens around her elfin face. She gazes at the full-bright moon, wonders if rivers might run across its glowing, broken surface. theMeadow 29

Clarissa by Maya Jewell Zeller Mean boys teased Clarissa for her smell. At Clarissa’s the potbellied pigs were pets, cradled or ridden by toddlers. A chicken strolled across the counter. Their house hung over the slough, porch mossy as a tree, until you couldn’t tell that tanned planked deck from the slow swell of alder-strewn brown water. When floods came, they packed their stuff upstairs and watched old furniture float past. Clarissa told me she once saw the sofa she’d been born on, trapped between pilings a few feet out, pink begonia print bleeding in the current. A raccoon was sort of stuck on it , she said. It was the strangest thing I ever saw . 30 theMeadow

A Knife in the Wash by Teresa Breeden Who can say how it came to pass That the 10” Henckel slipped Past the glass? How no one heard it Thumping about? Who can say If it tried to get out before Slips and bras bemused it so? When first it slid its shaft into silk Which was the more surprised? And when it parted the calf to the knee— And when it cleaved the breast from its bone— Who can know if it felt misused, Or simply felt relieved. theMeadow 31

The Stain by Karen Levy Israel 1979 My mother is in her element. I have turned twelve, and my bat mitzvah party is just a few hours away, caterers like frenzied ants carrying trays of food, crisp linen tablecloths, sparkling wine glasses, steaming pots. Small round tables have appeared under the trees in our garden, like mushrooms after a rain, while from branch to branch hang wires bearing colorful lanterns which will soon bathe the greenery in magical light. My father has disappeared altogether, his distaste for elaborate celebrations ignored by my mother’s need for the dramatic. He suffers quietly through every birthday his own included, while my mother begins the festivities at the first light of dawn. I still recall waking up to the shadowy outlines of gifts in my room, and my mother’s eager face bent over mine, bursting into the birthday song, her eyes reprimanding anyone who wasn’t showing enough enthusiasm. It never stopped there. Birthday breakfast was followed by cake. Birthday lunch, and cake. Birthday dinner, more cake. And a constant need to ensure that we were enjoying ourselves, that the gifts were appreciated, that the day was special enough, not just another ordinary day. Today she has outdone herself and soon will come her confirmation in the shape of dozens of guests who will attest to her entertaining prowess. All I need to do is put on the dress purchased for the occasion, thank one and all for my gifts, and keep my hands out of her sight until the stains are successfully removed. The now fading purple splotches that covered my hands like a pair of berry colored gloves were the result of a science experiment gone wrong the day before. The biology teacher had most likely explained the effects of Kali Permanganate on skin, but her warnings had faded into the distance as I dropped the dark crystals in the liquid before me, watching the slow curl of violet tails swirl towards the bottom of the glass container. I wanted to feel those smoky ribbons, their regal color, my hands dipping into the water and fishing out the nearly dissolved crystals so I could drop them in again, make them repeat their watery dance before their magic wore off. By the time the teacher caught me in her sights the damage had been done. My hands were slowly darkening, my classmates awed into unusual silence. My mother had not been pleased. Why now? Why today? She questioned when I arrived from school, shaking her head in disbelief at my bad timing, her lips a thin disapproving line. I didn’t know how to explain how my heart had leapt at the unexpected secret contained in those deceivingly mediocre specks on my desk. How they flowered before my eyes and asked to be touched. I had spent the rest of the afternoon scrubbing until my hands felt raw, the stubborn dye slowly fading under the persis32 theMeadow

tence of water, soap and my mother’s determination. There was a moment when she suggested I wear gloves to the party, to hide the embarrassment of such hands. But the royal smudges gave way, and now the only reminder was their dark outline soaked in around each of my nails, and a strange sadness I felt at the return of my skin to its regular unimpressive color. Dusk is settling between the apartment buildings surrounding our garden, softening their gray cinder walls until they disappear into the background. Classical music is spilling from the balcony above, and our first guests are arriving. Festivities rarely begin early on this side of the world, partygoers waiting for the heat of the day to dissolve before venturing out. Among the invited is family having traveled from Tel Aviv, a negligible distance in American terms, while an entire day’s outing for the aunts, uncles and cousins now unfolding out of their cars, stretching and rubbing their muscles. My mother greets one and all, excusing herself to answer the jangling of our telephone, demanding to be answered despite the stream of people making their way into our courtyard. I am left with my father’s colleague, a short round-faced man everyone refers to as Perlberg, who offers me a small gift-wrapped box and waits expectantly for me to open it before him. Unlike the growing pile of books and sheet music I have already graciously accepted from guests clearly concerned with my educational well being, this present promises something different, and I am eager to learn its contents. So is its presenter, who helps me with the wrapping I am trying not to tear, then steps back to take in my reaction. The simple white box contains soft cotton in which is nestled the most beautiful necklace I had ever received. At the end of a delicate silver chain hangs a cylindrical piece of polished sea glass, its pale, green blue shades trapping waves and drawing my finger to feel its smooth flanks. I look up to thank Perlberg, the delight in his eyes at the offering’s effect matching my own at receiving it. It’s thousands of years old, he tells me as he offers to clasp it around my neck. It was found at an archeological dig, he continues, as I turn back to face him now wearing this piece of history. Thank you, I whisper, my shyness taking over as I leave his side and run into the house to show my mother who has not returned since going in to answer the call. The phone is missing from its stand on the second floor landing, and my eyes follow its curly cord as it wraps around the wall and into the narrow guest bathroom where it disappears behind the door left slightly ajar. I can hear my mother’s muffled voice from within, the few words of Polish I have picked up from years of listening to my mother and grandmother not enough to let me understand. I stand rooted to the floor, trying to figure out who could be on the other side of the line, since everyone we know has been invited and is now seated in the garden below. While I am still lost in thought my mother emerges, the phone clasped to her chest, a strained look on her face, which she quickly attempts to erase when she finds me standing there. Who called? I ask, watching her features intently, the hint of tears in her eyes making me suspicious. I had seen this look before, a rapid adjustment to protect me from a frightening truth. theMeadow 33