Published August 2016
In this issue you will find the body controlled, imprisoned, misunderstood, judged, failing, starved, bound, raped, disappointed, shamed, bloodied, drowning, and broken.
You duct tape seal me, you bind my torso
— “Dressformed,” Leah MacLean-Evans
You will also find the body celebrated, inviting, beautiful, electric, excreting, pleasured, admired, elastic, orgasmic, and attuned.
as the anus opens sub rosa for your entry,
I remain sub rosa for your passage
— “Sub Rosa,” Karen Mulhallen
Our contributors have written about the body as a place of turmoil, grief, and seemingly insurmountable inadequacies, but they have also depicted the body as a place of healing, resilience and incredible strength.
In the slow down magic of blood-letting,
I have spent more time cursing these accidents
than marveling at the phases of my womb.
— “Blood Grief,” Danielle Altrogge
Zoé Fortier, our featured artist, adds to the thematic presence of the body in her series of ironic yoga illustrations. Her work at once makes light of, and calls out, forms of cultural appropriation that emerge in Westernized yoga-inspired practices. Derived from her experiences as a white woman attending yoga classes in Canada, her work exposes the inconsistencies between a Western fitness trend and the spiritual practices of an ancient Asian culture.
When we read about others’ bodies and experiences within those bodies, we can imagine inhabiting them — even for the briefest of moments — and peering into those lives, investigating deeper into the limits and bounds of our physical selves. Reading about bodies that are either eerily similar to, or radically different from, our own, enables us to deeply connect and empathize with one another. We hope that this writing on the body resonates in your own.
My body keeps leaving me voicemails telling me it’s tired of feeling weak
— “Confessional,” Victoria Butler
If your body left you a voicemail, what would it say?
Nicole and Stephanie
Issue 3.1 Excerpts
Wren Wallace (from Son Bird Saint) (excerpt)
I know that Tippe was a beautiful child, that her parents were plain-looking and married young. I know that she had a sister who died in infancy, and her older sister is currently heating our bed to unbearable temperatures.
I saw a picture of the girls all together once. The child-that-would-be-dead haunts me still from a photograph I stole and (my unforgivable crime) looked at. Even as an infant she was beautiful, more beautiful than her middle sister, and certainly at that young age, possessing more beauty than the eldest would achieve in her lifetime.
I suppose there are other words to describe her: fine, goodlooking, charming, gorgeous, lovely, pleasing, pretty. But my trip to find the thesaurus, the tracing of my finger down its fragile pages under B-E-A-U has turned up nothing as adequate as beautiful: to be full of beauty. To be filled with beauty so completely that there is nothing else left. Perhaps that is why little Rose died so young. In fact, I am sure that it was not pneumonia that did her in, in the end, but that the functions of her body became prematurely exhausted having to keep up that wicked loveliness and simply quit (in this, perhaps, the pneumonia had a hand).
Cables autograph the stage: you’re trying
to layer your voice with loop pedals.
But the microphone catches the crowd, too,
so the same cough hacks through every four bars.
And a glass got in, plinking the lip
of another glass. A stiletto’s tock
shot off the floor. A distant orgasm
snuck from the bathroom. All songs have skin,
all skin has holes — the audience keeps seeping in,
shouting over words they said before.
Think of it as collaboration:
your track’s a wall of open doors.
“Hola, bonita chicas! ” he shouted, setting a pineapple on a tree stump beside him.
As we approached, a smile split his face to reveal teeth as brown as his skin. One eyebrow framed his squinted eyes and he waved at the fruit. An axe leaned against the tree stump, its lackluster surface absorbing the sunlight.
His eyes raked Lanie’s bikini-clad body when we stopped in front of him. He picked up the axe and sliced through the pineapple in one fluid motion. Clear juices dribbled down to the sand below.
“Ven aquí ,” he said to Lanie.
When she neared him he reached and touched her face, cupping his hand under her chin. He tilted her head back. Each movement was steady as he held the fruit to her lips. After a mouthful of the fresh juice Lanie stepped away with a laugh.
“Muchos gracias,” she said.
I glanced back as we strode back to our towels. The man’s gaze seared in Lanie. My skin suddenly felt sticky from the humid air, baked to a point of self-loathing. Lanie tipped her head forward so her sunglasses slipped onto her face. Sand stuck to my feet as we crossed the beach. I looked behind again, but the man had disappeared leaving only a watery stain on the tree stump.
ifi leno zebu
nd y t t t t
ourn haty haty
e e oura o u t
dtor ti o h i
at i nali n ky
o na ou r
li z e th
e th eonl
ewor yo n
ld i e wh
n su od o
f f e s
I am just shy of twenty years when you walk into the sea. But this is later. For now, you are here.
Ankle deep and I am awoken by your whimpers. I slip from my bed and feel my way through the darkness until my hands make contact with your wooden bed frame. I ease myself under the covers. We are nine years old, and this is the first time I have done this. I can feel the heat radiating from your skin, so intense that for a moment, I think you might be sick. I reach out and lightly touch your elbow.
You say nothing. My eyes track the movement of the ceiling fan, listening to the way the blades cut through the air, making an evenly timed “wub, wub” sound.
“Tell me what’s wrong,” I plead.
You turn to me. In the dim, it is almost impossible to see the minute differences to which we have become accustomed: a freckle here, a wrinkle there. In the near-darkness, we are truly identical — a halo of curly hair wrapped around each head, tendrils wet, and plastered to our foreheads: mine from sweat, yours from tears.
“I don’t know,” you say, and I believe you.
Sighing, I rest my forehead between your shoulder blades and close my eyes. At some point, your breathing calms. I know that in the morning, our father will free us from the knot of blankets that bind us together, and you will be okay.
Waist deep and we are thirteen, standing shoulder-to-shoulder under a pink umbrella, waiting for the school bus to arrive. A box turtle crosses my path and, gingerly, I inspect its shell with the toe of my rain boot. It is smaller than the length of my pinkie, and its vulnerability, with all of my classmates’ feet so close, worries me.
“What do you call a famous turtle?” you ask, moving him off the sidewalk to safety.
I blink at you. “What?”
I laugh. But later in the day (I won’t know when), you will retreat into yourself and I may or may not be able to help you.
I left the skin on my knees
on a street corner back home.
it is where I beg you to remember that you love me.
you are standing,
pretending you cannot hear me,
angry that we let it get this far again.
on this street I am always crying
and you are always
just out of reach.
Other contributors in this issue: Trevor Abes, Glen Armstrong, Wes Babcock, Ned Baeck, Maggie Burton, Kegan Doyle, Alec Emery, Chelsea Forbes, Kathleen M. Heideman, Forrest Jamie, William Kemp, Michael Lemcke, Arden Li, Jennifer MacKenzie-Hutchison, Dave Margoshes, Shannon McConnell, Sara McGuire, Adam Kelly Morton, Anjalee Nadarajan, Patrick O’Reilly, Melinda Roy, Yusuf Saadi, Cynthia Sharp, Terry Trowbridge.