Full text of "Coraddi"
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation
Magazine of the Arts at UNCG
Assistant Literary Editor
Assistant Art Editor
Dr. Charles Tisdale
Coraddi is published by the University Media Board of The University of North CaroUna at Greensboro. It is funded by
the student body and distributed free.
Special thanks to: Dr. Charles Tisdale, Margaret Shearin, The Carolinian. Janice Thompson. Felicia Bond. Stuart
Comfort, Christopher Schwarzen, Tate Street Coffee House. Mama. Daddy. Ben, Nana, Noel, Michael Parker, Stuart
Dischell, UNCG University Archives. UNCG Creative Services. Client Ser\rices, Paul Batt, Kathleen Ahern, Michael Santulll.
that guy at Wolf Camera, Pec 12, info desk folks, and the Broadcast and Cinema Department.
The following businesses graciously sponsored the art and fiction contests: Cup A Joe. Addams Bookstore. Know
Juan, Ben & Jerrys, Atticus Books, The Intimate Bookshop, Thai Garden, Southern Photo Print and Supply Company,
and the UNCG Bookstore.
Coraddi welcomes any form of creative or critical work mailed or delivered to Room 205. Box 1 1. Elliott Univer-
sity Center, UNCG, Greensboro. NC 27412.
Printed by Jostens Publishing Company, Winston-Salem, NC. Harry Thomas, Account Representative.
Cover: Ben Billingsley: Painting Without Chair
50 First Place: From Water by Marisa Taylor
27 Second Place: Herbs and Other Cures by Sarah Atkinson
6 Third Place: Deer and Hunters by Yulia Borodyanskaya
62 About the Judge: Dr. Charles Tisdale
13 Evening /Vby Stuart Dischell
14 Another Dead Twentieth Century Poetess by Kimberly Holzer
16 Cojfee by Gregg Carroll
18 Fire in the Fields by Sascha Dallas
2 1 Indiana 1 974, The Hollow by Chuck Turner
22 Kepler by David Teague
25 Upon Lx)oking at a Map of Pamlico Sound by Sean Butler
38 Once Alone by Gregg Carroll
43 There Are Monsters Within Us by Chuck Turner
48 Texas Rattle by Lenna Nichole Burnette
59 Translation by Yulia Borodyanskaya
33 First Place Sculpture: Red Dream by Lisa Chicoyne
44 First Place Drawing: Orange Monsters by Miguel Martin
44 First Place Painting: Beavers by Leanne Blake
33 Second Place Overall: Winter Fountain by Paul Batt
36 Third Place Overall: Empty Bowl by Robert LaBranche
63 About the Judge: Margaret Shearin
5 The Trees by Denman Wall
1 1 Archival Photograph taken in UNCG's Peabody Park
12 Satchmo in my Living Room by Beth Aronson
1 7 Holy Roller by Jon Smith
1 9 Oak Hill Ivy by Adele Deaton
20 Soma by Monica Rief
23 Helmet #3 by Keny Home
23 Helmet #4 by Kerry Home
24 The Reclining Man by Denman Wall
26 Fire Escape by Adele Deaton
34 Sacred Vessels 11 by Kathleen Ward
35 Sacred Vessels I by Kathleen Ward
36 I-Way by Baron Toler
37 Untitled by Karen Ingram
37 A Lesson for "S." by Ben Billingsley
39 Archival Photograph taken in UNCG's Peabody Park
40 Fertility Goddess by John Mclntyre
40 Strider by Kerry Home
41 SelJ-Portrait by Sean McDaniel
4 1 Who's There by Beth Aronson
42 First Shadow by Lisa Chicoyne
42 Shadow by Lisa Chicoyne
43 Medici Sleeping by Beth Aronson
45 Knowledge is Pow by Ruth Stone
45 Conversation and Dance by Roger Goldenberg
46 Untitled by Marian Humphrey
47 Nobody Loves Me by Paul Batt
48 Hold Please by Leanne Blake
49 Boingy Jumping by Jack Thomson
56 / Free I by Robert Carter
57 Archival Photograph taken in UNCG's Peabody Park
60 Mattock by Jon Smith
6 1 Equivalence by Jon Smith
64 Reprint from 1986 Coraddi
Illustrations in From Water by Scott Raynor
Illustrations in Herbs and Other Cures by Nichole Bower
Illustrations in Deer and Hunters by Verniesa Allen
Not all work printed in this issue was subject to jury.
Denman Wall: The Trees, charcoal on paper
Deer and Hunters
nee when I was nine, I knew
what love was. It became a shared
knowledge between me and two of my girl
friends, Nastya and Sasha. The three of us
figured it out.
That year we spent most of our time
at school, from early morning until evening,
when our parents got off work and came to
pick us up. There was a special after -school
group organized for the ones like us who
lived far away and could not walk home by
ourselves. The supervisor who stayed with
us had a plump wart above her upper lip,
and always pleaded for our attention,
saying: "Listen here!" If it was not for that
wart and her funny grammar, the woman
would be hardly noticeable. She usually left
us alone to roam the school building and
the territory around it. But first we would
race to get the homework done as fast as
possible. After standing in line to get her
approval — a big check mark in red pencil
on the margins — we would get out of the
classroom and go wherever we wished. "Only
do not go behind the fence!" the wart-woman
would instruct. And we did not. There was
too much to do within the fenced grounds.
Nastya, Sasha and 1 always fled from
the rest of the girls, who played skipping-
rope, drew cartoon characters on the asphalt
with colored chalk, and braided each other's
hair. We did not join the boys either — all they
ever did was play soccer. We made up our
When spring came, our favourites
were "The Spy," "Deer and Hunters," and
'The Three Musketeers." Outside, the red
brick of the school building blended with the
brown of last year's rotten leaves. The fence
was an old concrete grating shaped into a
lacy pattern with few holes in it, big enough
for escape. The world outside the school
grounds seemed so far away then, the school
and the yard creating a quiet niche,
securing us from the traffic and noise of St.
We knew the place better than
anyone else, except maybe the janitors.
There were chipped front steps painted red.
a soccer field with two basketball hoops, a
row of private garages which were easy to
climb, aligned along the fence. Ever\i:hing
presented itself as a generous offering to our
Playing "The Three Musketeers" was
not easy without horses, so Nastya
suggested climbing an old apple tree: she
claimed it for her horse. She even called it
"Horse." That's just how she was: she'd come
up with something new and make the best
of it. Sasha and I could never catch up.
I picked the tree next to Nastya's, a
big sturdy one with many branches spread
out comfortably for climbing. That was my
"Fork." 1 was the nice one among us, and
reserved Sasha a tree too, but she was afraid
to tear up her dress, and never climbed up.
Every time we played, Nastya would take her
fitted black wool apron off, and stay in the
itchy brown dress with pleated skirt and
white collar and cuffs. That was our
uniform, so hated and never washed often
enough. Sasha somehow managed to keep
her collar and cuffs clean, her hair in
accurate page-boy cut. She was the neat one,
and I fit right in between them: tidy at first,
1 got disheveled after a few minutes of
running around. Nastya
pulled her thick dishwater-
blond strands of hair into a
tight braid, tied it with a dark
ribbon, and let it dangle
between her shoulder blades.
Then she was ready to play.
One spring day, not
long before the school recess,
we were making a round of
our property. "Let's climb the
garages," said Nastya, and
hurried on towards them. She
knew we would not follow her,
and even though she did not
care, we always followed her,
as if Sasha and I could not
come up with a good idea.
Up on the garages, it
smelled of tar and blooming
bird cherries. The roofs were
covered with bird dung, trash,
and chalk writings: swear
words, love confessions, and
promises of revenge. "You just wait!" read
one, written in bright yellow spray paint. It
could be anjAthing, a threat or a promise,
but Nastya insisted upon suspense. "Maybe
someone is going to kill somebody, here.
tonight!" she gasped. She loved the idea, but
I just went on along the roofs, picking up
fallen cherry flowers and sucking nectar out
of the petals.
When I returned, I saw Sasha
choosing a clean spot among the writings
and sitting down. The sun shone straight
on her, warming up her wool dress and thick
cotton stockings. "Aren't you hot?" I asked
her. She said she did not mind the heat, and
started reading scribbled love notes over
again, whispering the names out loud.
"That's silly," 1 said. "If I liked someone, I
would not write about it all over the place."
"Yes, you would." Nastya leaped down
from the tree that grew right next to the
garages, where she was hidden among the
"You just want to argue
with me, Nastya!" I was
"Well, you just wait," she
The next day we got into
trouble. Not "we," but Nastya,
of course. Sasha and I just
followed her. Before doing
homework, she led us to the
cafeteria to get some black
bread for a snack. We really
were supposed to pay for it, a
kopek for a slice, but a sliced
loaf sitting out in a tray near
the doorway was tempting. So
easy to steal. Nastya waited for
the cafeteria workers to go Into
the kitchen, grabbed a stack
of thick slices, and winked at
us: "Hurry up!" I counted off
three pieces from the pile, and
shoved them behind the front
of my apron. Sasha did not take any.
We ran, faster and faster, afraid of our
own footsteps echoing in the corridors. When
we reached our classroom, we burst into
laughter: what a scare it was! During the
study time, Nastya kept rolling balls out of
her bread. She kneaded soft pieces with her
fingers, until they became more and more
like clumps of grayish plaster, and sealed
the balls' roundness with saliva. I sat next
to her at the desk, pretending to be
studious. Then Nastya started popping the
bread balls into her mouth, and playing
finger soccer with the last one remaining on
the desk. Crumbs were covering her apron
and notebooks. Next thing 1 saw was our
supervisor, quietly approaching us.
"What is it that you have there?" Her
voice sounded unusually sharp. 1 looked at
Nastya with horror and saw her smile
innocently at the supervisor, while
swallowing the bread ball without chewing.
I could almost trace its shape going down
her throat, and I hugged my own bread
closer to my chest.
"You should not play with the bread
wasting it like this. Look at all this mess!
You will have to stay after you are done with
homework, and clean up," she said walking
away. "On second thought, don't go outside
at all, you should learn for the future not to
play with your bread." She turned around.
Nastya stuck her bread-covered tongue at
Of course we stayed with Nastya, out
of solidarity. Upstairs, on the third floor,
there was a big assembly hall with dusty
parquet laid out in a checkered pattern, and
a stage with an old piano next to it. That's
where we dragged ourselves: Nastya — as if
nothing had happened, and 1 with a hidden
grudge against her. I'd much rather have
been outside. Sasha stayed in the class-
room, finishing up her homework.
When we approached the glass doors,
I could hear the out-of-tune arpeggios played
on the piano and two voices singing in a
duet. "Hush!" I hissed at Nastya. "Don't
stomp so loud. Let's see what's going on
here." We squatted so that we could not be
seen above the wooden panel on the bottom
of the side door, and peeped through the
corner of the glass.
There was a couple at the piano, a
guy playing and singing with a girl, who led
the melody of the song. Her voice sounded
stronger than his, more self-assured. I
listened to the words. They blurred together,
but I could figure out the refrain:
"I will never forget you
And 1 will never see you again."
I rose up a little, and pressed my forehead
against the glass. 1 could not see their faces,
but I could tell that they were older students,
maybe even seniors, wearing navy blue
uniforms instead of our brown and black
ones. Never before had we seen anyone but
our small school group stay at school that
I picked up the tune of the refrain, and
started to sing along, quietly. Pushing the
door too hard, I made it squeak loudly. The
girl swiftly turned around, spotted the two
of us, and tugged the guy by his sleeve. My
face flushed. 1 felt embarrassed, frightened,
but most of all, disappointed, as if we had
interrupted some kind of magic by spying
on their secret. The guy got up, awkwardly
patted the girl on the shoulder, and they
walked out the opposite end of the hall. It
felt empty without them.
"1 know them. 1 know them!" Nastya
smiled at me triumphantly, as soon as they
left. 'They are my older sister's friends, they
are 'Lena-i-Alex=Love,' from the garage roof!"
"So what?" I said. "1 still think it's
silly to write such things."
We kept coming to the assembly hall
when we got tired of the outside. Then
Nastya invented a game of "Deer and
Hunters." We teamed up with two guys,
Alexy and Andrei, who were too much
trouble for the rest of our after-school group.
They became our "hunters." Hiding under
the rows of chairs and long curtains in the
hall, in ambush, they would jump out and
"shoot" at us. There weren't any guns, so
they had to chase and touch us with a hand;
only after that would we be claimed dead.
1 loved the game, but Sasha com-
plained some about her hands getting tired
from holding them up above her head for
"You bend your arms in at the elbows,
make the outsides of the wrists touch, and
spread the fingers out. Then it'll still look
like the deer's horns," instructed Nastya.
"A girl-deer doesn't have such big
horns," insisted Sasha. "I'll be a girl deer."
At the time, neither of us knew that female
deer don't have any horns.
So we played, and after many times of
being killed, 1 got really nimble, and almost
as good as Nastya, and the guy's hand hardly
touched me during a long game. Alexey was
not very fast, he did not care if he missed,
but Andrei clenched his teeth and only ran
faster when the "deer" slipped from under
his hand. And if he caught me, he wouldn't
leave me alone. Once he held me by my
apron straps and pulled my ponytail so hard
I kicked him in his stomach. Then Andrei
started following me around everywhere.
I complained to the supervisor, but
she only said, "He is just ten, guys are like
that at his age." 1 thought then that I was
not much older, but I didn't go around
following someone like a puppy. "Maybe he
likes you," added the supervisor with a
On a day when Nastya stayed at home
with a cold, and Sasha left home early, 1 went
to the garages by myself. The bird cherry
blossoms were gone, and recent rains had
washed away some of the writings. The roofs
looked bare. 1 reread all that remained, and
found a writing from Alex and Lena. 1 could
hardly figure it out, so 1 found a piece of
whitewash near the drain at the edge of the
roof, and traced the big uneven letters of
their names. I stared at the bright white
against the dark of the roof for a while, and
then, in the corner where the roof met the
wall of the neighbouring building, wrote
down mine and Andrei's initals, putting a
big plus between them.
Nastya ran up to me two days later
after class. "You wrote it!" She was puzzled.
"Why did you? Didn't you swear you
wouldn't write such silly stuff?"
"So I did," I said. "I changed my mind.
I can do whatever I want, can't I?"
"But you don't really like him, do
you?" she asked.
"Maybe 1 do," I said.
"Prove it then!" Nastya exclaimed.
"But how?" 1 felt nervous.
"You will have to kiss him. Will you?"
she asked. I knew that if I gave in that time,
I'd lose. Some little cartoon devil jumped
around in my head, setting me on. That
time 1 wanted to be the leader, even though
I did not have a clear explanation for my
spontaneous roof writing. So to Nastya's
question I answered, "Fine."
There were two cellars for the
gardening utilities on both sides of the school
building, with a few steps surrounded by
banisters, which hid the entrances to the
storage rooms in underground darkness.
Nastya said it would be a perfect place for
Andrei and me; no one could see us there. I
wanted to choose the spot myself, but Nastya
was right about the cellar. She wanted to
stay on the top of the stairs while we were
down there; she said she had to see us kiss,
just to make sure I did not lie to her. I went
along with these rules; 1 decided that 1 would
still be stronger in what 1 was going to do
than Nastya. I was going to talk Andrei into
going down to the cellar with me; it could
not be hard. I would say there was
something interesting 1 wanted to show him
there. Sasha refused to be part of the plan,
but promised to look around and let us know
in case the supervisor, or anyone else, would
be approaching the cellar.
I was waiting for the school day to be
over, with nervous excitement: for better or
for worse, I was going to take charge. After
the last class 1 came up to Andrei and told
him 1 found a rusted cartridge case from the
Second World War at the bottom of the
cellar steps. It could have been true: guys
were finding those cases all over the school
grounds, and I heard Andrei talk about the
war with others a whole lot.
Andrei followed me obediently. I was
afraid for him to start asking me questions,
but he was quiet, as always when around
me. From the corner of my eye I could see
Nastya following us, keeping a safe distance.
When we went down the stairs, I could hear
her crawl closer to the banister. After we
got used to the darkness, I noticed a big lock
hanging on the door into the cellar. We could
not go in. "Where is it?" asked Andrei. I
started feeling frightened again, but still
leaned down to the ground, pretending to
search for the promised cartridge. I
mumbled something about losing it, while
he stood next to me patiently. Then I rose
up quickly, stretched out to my full height
and even lifted my heels above the ground
(Andrei was a little taller than me) . I pecked
his cheek with my lips, shaped like a little
bow tie: I saw a girl do so on TV, in an
afternoon children's movie. She was trying
to kiss a giraffe, though.
Andrei remained standing in one spot,
and then I continued smacking my lips,
switching from one of his cheeks to the other.
I was so afraid for him to say something that
I did not stop, until I heard Nastya's voice,
counting in a whisper. I stopped and looked
up: she was leaning over the banister, and
looking at me with what I knew to be
amusement, and relief. 1 was relieved to see
her, too. Andrei laughed awkwardly.
As we were growing up, I asked Nastya
to keep this story in secret: others would
not understand my courage, I thought then.
But for myself I was proud of chasing down
the hunter, it made me feel strong, as strong
as Nastya. I want the writings to remain on
the garage roofs; they are ephemeral, they
show me love and friendship 1 can find for
myself. I>ove does not have to be hunted
down, that I learned. But for a nine-year-
old, it was still only a game.
Photograph courtesy of University Archives/Jackson Library. UNCG
Beth Aronson: Satchmo in my Living Room, charcoal on paper
Walking the long blocks home after work
On my feet I am the child coming from school.
An embarrassing thought the way it means
My wife's my mother and not my daughter's.
Late autumn evening the sun quits early,
The porch lights blur, and the leaf-
Strewn sidewalks alert family dogs
To your presence along the property lines.
This is good you believe, another proof
Your existence on earth is not wholly imagined,
Like those late night talks in the common room
... if I died in the city and nobody saw me.
If I die in the city and nobody claims me,
Let four trash collectors haul away my body.
Leave me rot in the pit at the edge of the city.
Tell them I was born to be great but never born.
Stuart Dischell has been a Visiting Writer at UNCG
since 1992. He is the author of Good Hope Road, a
1991 National Poetry Series Selection, and Evenings
& Avenues, forthcoming. He will join the English
faculty at New Mexico State University this fall.
Another Dead Twentieth-Century Poetess
If only the good die
then I've got a
to make all the necessary arrangements.
Another Dead Twentieth-Century Poetess
Overestimated overanalyzed overwrought overagonized
by college professors who never loved me
or my stuff
'til I died in a silver flash —
broke my neck turning cartwheels
down the front steps of the White House
while wrapped in a burning flag
just to say that
"OH MY STARS SHE'S DEAD."
will read the headlines next day,
"Dead Cremated Poof All At The Same Time
Another Dead Twentieth-Century Poetess
Dead Gone Poof In A Flash Of Hair
Poof Went The Poetess
Bye Bye Ljoical One."
And I'll be so glad I'm dead
so 1 won't have to read all the
they obituate about me.
Portraying me as so much sweeter
than 1 really was
honoring more virtue
than I ever did
with bigger breasts
than I ever had.
"She Died In A 38-D Cup
Another Dead Twentieth- Century Poetess
Big Burning Boobs Wrapped In A Fiery Flag."
Now there's a hell of a statement.
Oh, and the wake. . .
blackballed by the Pope himself
for sex with a lady parishioner
proud of what she'd done —
1 want a guy like that to lead the procession
with the ashes in a coffee can
cause I'm in no mood to be
And won't the mourners be happy when they see the sign,
"FREE BEER IF YOU'RE WEARING BLACK.
Hundreds of drunks who never knew me
throwing licorice ropes instead of flowers
into the hole as they lower
the coffee can,
"Man, she was awesome.
Another Dead Twentieth-Century Poetess."
Lay a big chalkboard where the granite should be,
engraved for all the visitors to see,
"mm Can't Come Up Right Now, So
Leave A Message."
Give me even MORE headlines!
May Americans read at the supermarket checkout lane,
"Fiery Poetess Dies In Fireball!"
"Elvis Sighted At Poetess Burial!"
"Aliens Plunder Poetess Coffee Can;
Leave Mysterious Obscenities On Chalkboard"
Eccentric wannabes will throw themselves from
White House stairs,
"We want to die like her!"
Another silly fad, with the
Another Dead Twentieth-Century Poetess Dolls.
And I'll be so glad I'm dead.
Dust in a coffee can
Worms feasting on licorice ropes.
Another Dead Twentieth-Century Poetess
"OH MY STARS SHE'S DEAD,
but she sure made a hell of a statement."
The man drinks coffee
and reads a book on horticulture
and thinks that it is not a good
time to die in what he knows.
Steam drifts free from his coffee.
He ponders the eroticism
of kissing his sister on the lips
and the closeness of lovers
during oral sex.
Soap residue casts a rainbow
across the top of his mug.
Was it when he was ten
and he watched the motion
of his babysitters breasts
as she exercised on a stairmaster
that he first became aware,
or was it seeing his aunt
naked and wet from shower
when he was six.
It was too late to care.
He sips fully.
A friend had once told him,
"Never love somebody more
than they love you"
but relationships for him
had never seemed so spit-shined
It was always like forcing
fingers through the skin
and between the ribs.
The last sips are always the sweetest.
He curses his aunt and his babysitter,
along with his heart and his need.
He curses the fact that love
always came to him with words
that Hitler or Stalin might have used.
"There is so much comfort in flowers"
he says, "and all they need is sun and water.'
He can give that.
Jon Smith: Holy Roller, steel
Fire in the Fields
The leafy vines curled through the broken teeth of ploughs
leaning against the slanted barns like sorrow.
1 had seen those fields still and then charging forward
under the wind ever since 1 was a child,
believing that a sea- monster swam through the wheat fields
which swallowed horses and chewed on rust.
Shy tractors were awake upon command;
their mechanical hearts growling and drumming upon the earth.
Their sleek metal bodies gave them an appearance of grandeur,
as though they were knights of the fields.
1 knew the earth had made a covenant with the sky
because at noon, when the sun was highest,
I could hear the day breathing as though it could speak.
When the thunder came, the silence of the earth
was inhaled by the clouds in a gulp,
and the raindrops tapped on flattened grass.
1 knew Eden was not so far from there
because the sun set the earth on fire one hot day,
and we had to leave the fields,
but they grow inside me still.
Adele Deaton: Oak Hill Ivy, photograph
Monica Rief: Sonui. Hydrocal on styrofoam
Indiana 1974, The Hollow
It was a strange wilderness made
between the two of us in a summer kitchen,
You barely breathing and I
feeding on this silence where
gulps became a sudden charge of emotion.
It was your father's stroke
that brought you here.
I wondered what you
thought. What it must have been like.
You, who had never seen rust
or stood that close to death
dragged into lives without permission. You
who sat that day
by an empty fireplace, in a dusty chair
600 miles outside of Chicago
and thought how lives can be
instantly changed. You
who would now think daily of these fields,
compare the golden stalks to street lights
and in this unfamiliar begin
to depict your own slow dying. In time
your father's voice became louder,
how you waited, swallowed
as if first to hear your own.
She sees the letters of ancient Greece
scrawled In his thick Oxford hand, the ink
perfect and black. The egg shells of his curves
seem more natural than fruit or spiraling branches.
The names of Roman gods, Mercury, Jupiter,
Mars, the warrior, fall from his pen and record
the journey of a thousand-year-old light, guiding
ships in the rough dark seas.
His quick parabola drawn for her, as if to explain
what he cannot say, the ellipse that encircles his
face, the two blue foci twinkling and alive,
watching her enthralled. He draws curves for her
when she sneaks from her mother's circling hands.
The stars high and bright, giving sight
to the candle's waxing shadows.
Then his hands on her, his lips pressed into the
arc other neck. She is paralyzed, confused, but
he explains in numbers, sketching a perfect circle that
tightens around them. Binding and dazzling her, the giant
planets orbitting above, moons laughing and lighting his
face for her to see.
Then the circle breaks and she is sent spinning out like
a comet away from him. Her mother at the doorway, the
sun eclipsing the stars in its blue blanket behind her, and
he covers his face with his hands, repeating over and over
too soft to hear that she must never tell.
Kerry Home: Helmet #3. steel
Kerry Home: Helmet #4, steel
Denman Wall: The Reclining Man. charcoal on paper
Upon Looking at a Map of Pamlico Sound
There was never just the sound of water
without the name;
Never just the gray or blue or white of
The shallows had to lighten and blue,
as tropical shades will do,
to the sound of the "o."
The waters were not blue in
the Sound of the Mind
before the poet came with the music
The ripples did not ring silver and gold,
nor did the wave-rocked reeds
dance to the Cancito of "ico" and "pam."
The Sound is a Tune
held by the rhj^hm of ebb and neap.
And this is a dancing eddy,
a waltz of tides that nightly glides
to paint such watery pictures
as the shimmering timbrel of the moon.
Adele Deaton: Fire Escape, photograph
Herbs and Other Cures
M was sent to Lonata after the
needle took my mom. I fought it. I said I
could take care of myself just like 1 took care
of Mom, but the courts wouldn't hear it and
I was sent to live in a foster home in Ixinata,
a town with about as many people in it as
the Guthrie Theatre during a sold out
performance. Its flat wide open fields of corn
and windy gravel roads were a change from
the Minneapolis streets I was accustomed
to, but I liked it fine.
Except, 1 thought the people there
could sense my wickedness from the
beginning. Everywhere I went people stared
at me and whispered to their friends. Mrs.
Anderson said it might be the purple in my
hair that they were whispering about, or the
way 1 always dressed in black, like 1 was in
mourning. Valerie thought maybe it was the
way 1 did my makeup, that the colors I chose
weren't right for me and made my face look
long and unfriendly. But that didn't make
sense to me. It had to be something deeper.
I sensed from a very young age that I
was different. When I was five or ten, 1 can't
remember when exactly, I used to sit high
up in trees without leaves and imagine
myself, shadowy and veiled, a keeper of dark
secrets. Mom said it was because 1 was a
bastard that 1 felt different, that she was
sorry for bringing me into this world and if
she could change things she would, but it
was too late for that and all she could do
now was learn to control things. That's why
she needed the needle, she said, because
sometimes things got so out of control
something was needed to keep them from
1 knew what she was talking about.
Once I cut an isosceles triangle in my arm
with a sharp pencil during geometry class
to keep my concentration from falling apart.
But Mr. Sharmer broke it anyway when he
grabbed my pencil, then my arm, and pulled
me, screaming and kicking, down to the
principal's office where I was disciplined,
was required to sit alone in an empty class-
room with the instructions to think about
what 1 had done. They called Mom and she
came in all dressed in green and smelling of
spearmint gum. She grabbed my hand,
squeezed it hard and said, "I love you,
Maggie, my daughter, my beautiful
daughter, I love you so much. I'm so sorry."
I told her not to be sorry, that it was
me who should be sorry, that I didn't have
control over my wickedness and now it had
turned inward. She cried and hugged me
and rocked me back and forth in her skinny
arms. I told her not to worry, that I would
learn to discipline myself so 1 wouldn't make
her cry anymore.
This is when I developed an interest
in science. Science worked to solve the
mysteries of life and present information in
concrete, logical terms that could be tested
and proven and controlled in laboratory
situations. This appealed to
me. The way I understood it
then was that personality was
nothing more than an
assortment of genes, and
emotions merely chemical
formulas, something medicine
could control. I went to the
school nurse and asked for
some medicine that could
alter my genes or at least
change my moods, but she said there was
no such thing and what 1 needed wasn't
medicine, but a mother. I told her she was
wrong, it was a father 1 didn't have and how
did she know what 1 needed anyway. She
said she was sorry and she shouldn't have
said that, but it gets so hard to treat people's
1 didn't understand what she meant
then, but 1 do now. The last time 1 saw Momi
she was in terrible pain; she was blue and
swollen and swinging her arm against the
couch trying to knock the needle out. When
I came home and saw it I started kicking
the wall over and over and over again. It
didn't hurt, but Mom's crying did. And 1
couldn't make it stop. The paramedics came
and took us both away. I healed, but Mom
After I could put weight on my foot
again, 1 was moved to the fifth floor of the
hospital where I had weekly meetings with
a psychologist. He asked me what I thought
1 needed and 1 told him I needed to be left
alone, that 1 was wicked and there was
nothing that could make me different,
except medicine maybe. I told him it would
be best to keep me away from the others so
I wouldn't cause them harm and that it
would be in his best interest to stay away
But he didn't listen and involved me
in group activities such as communicating
my emotions through hitting balloons and
explaining what animal I felt like today and
why. 1 swung at a balloon and
accidentally hit another group
member in the head so hard
he fell over. I said 1 felt like a
cockroach because they were
always crawling around where
nobody wanted them. The
group said that a cockroach
wasn't an animal, it was an
Insect, and couldn't I think of
anything better to be. After
that, I refused any further participation. I
told Dr. Rosenberg that I was born wicked
and I needed some medicine to change the
chemical formulas in my brain, that
swatting at balloons and pretending 1 was
an animal wasn't going to change the way I
was. He said I was being belligerent and he
couldn't help me until I was ready to be
helped. 1 was then released to the custody
of the Anderson family in Lonata,
The Andersons lived in a farm house
about five miles out of town on County Road
1 1, a gravel road. They were a nice family,
a husband and a wife who opened their
doors to a young stranger. 1 had my own
room on the second floor with blue lacy
curtains and a bedspread and pillow cases
that matched. It was real different from the
downtown apartment 1 shared with Mom,
but I liked it fine.
Mr. Anderson sold insurance and had
an office downtown. Mrs. Anderson worked
part-time arranging flowers at Greenbriar
Florist. They raised a few chickens and grew
giant green peas, beans and cucumbers in
the backyard garden. Every night we sat
down to a well balanced meal including
chicken, potatoes, a vegetable from the
garden and milk. Chicken was the only meat
they ever ate; outside of that they were
1 had to ride the bus to school so I
had to be ready and waiting at the end of
the driveway by 7:30 a.m. Valerie's house
was the next stop after mine and we sat
together most days because it felt right.
Valerie told me that she was born in Lonata,
but she always felt like she was supposed
to have been born somewhere else,
someplace with tall buildings and neon
lights. 1 told her that she was probably born
with a city gene and there wasn't much she
could do but wait it out until graduation then
go and find a place where her genes could
be exposed to the stimuli they needed to
properly express themselves. Like
Minneapolis, or someplace bigger even, like
Chicago. She liked this idea and started
asking me a lot of questions I couldn't
My first day at school is when I met
Eddie. His locker was next to mine. 1 tried
hard to avoid making eye contact with
anyone because 1 was through causing
hsirm, but Eddie spoke first.
"You from the cities?" he asked.
"Just wondering, you look different is
He was right. My skin was at least a
shade darker than anybody else's and my
hair black as coffee, except for the purple
streaks. 1 was tall and skinny and unhealthy
looking compared to most other girls in
Lx)nata. But 1 already knew 1 was different
so 1 didn't let it bother me. 1 kept to myself
mostly. I figured I'd do my time in Lxjnata
and when 1 graduated I'd move back to
Minneapolis and get a job as a dancer at a
Hennepin Avenue club. Meanwhile I'd do
the best 1 could.
1 took an interest in Eddie. I started
watching him every chance I had. He was
always touching people; hugging them,
patting their backs or grabbing their hands
and waltzing them down the hall. 1
wondered what made him the way he was
and decided to research his behavior. I
bought a new notebook so I could chart
Eddie's behavior. I recorded every move-
ment: every sound he made, every look he
gave and the precise times at which they
occurred. I watched him in the mornings
before school and in the afternoons during
lunch hour. During the first week Eddie
averaged about twenty-three social interac-
tions per half hour between 8:00 a.m. and
8:30 a.m. and forty-one social interactions
per hour during lunch. This included ver-
bal greetings, smiles, handshakes, hugs, etc.
1 averaged one, which was usually with
Eddie. Without graphing the results, 1 con-
cluded that people liked Eddie and they
didn't like me and 1 wanted to know why.
About halfway through the second
week of my research project I approached
Eddie at lunchtime.
"You take any medicine?" I asked him.
He smiled and motioned for me to sit down.
"Herbs," he said and pointed to his
Eddie was tall and had big, muscular
shoulders. He dressed in jeans and T-shirts
and something about him sipping tea didn't
seem right until you got close enough to see
the softness of his curly browTi hair and how
it matched his smile.
"Where do you get the herbs?" I asked.
"My mom's an herbologist. She says
sanicle leaves work to keep poison out of
I leaned in close to Eddie's face. "You
have poison in your body too?" I said.
"Sure. Everybody has poison in their
body, most people just ignore it is all."
1 told him about my poison, about how
I was wicked and kept away from people so
I couldn't harm them. I told him I thought
it was a gene, but I was willing to try herbs.
He recommended that I get some wild yam
root and drink it as a tea twice a day; once
in the morning and once in the late
When I got off the bus that afternoon
I ran in the house and told Mrs. Anderson
to put wild yam root on her food shopping
list. She said, "No, 1 will not have herbs in
this house, young lady." She said Eddie's
family was weird and everyone in Lonata
knew it. And furthermore, I should stay
away from Eddie and try to make some nice
1 told Valerie about wild yam root on
the bus the next afternoon and she said she
might know where to find some and to meet
her in the ditch where County Road 1 1
intersects with Highway 5 at 7:30 that night.
At 7:30 Valerie showed up on her dirt
bike, I hopped on and we rode twenty
minutes to the next town where we stopped
at Maka's Mystic Herb and Rock Shop. The
sign was carved in wood and hung from vines
over a narrow alleyway entrance. Inside was
Maka, mystic herbs and rocks. Maka was a
tiny woman with long white hair. She wore
leather sandals and was dressed in soft,
white cotton. She smelled spicy, like freshly
shredded ginger root.
"Welcome," she said and took my
hands in hers. Her voice was soft like
"I'm looking for wild yam root," I said.
"Of course," she said, "something to
relax your mind."
"And get rid of the poison," I said.
She took my chin in her tiny hands
and looked me straight in the eye. "You have
such a sad looking face, my pretty Little lady."
"It's the poison," 1 told her, "it makes
"Ahh. You need herbs for the poison."
"Exactly," I said.
She pulled a small, cotton drawstring
pouch out of a wooden drawer, filled it with
sweet smelling herbs and pressed it in my
hands. "Sometimes, if the poison has been
inside your body for a long time, the herb
isn't enough." She pressed harder when she
"What else?" I asked.
She put both her tiny wrinkled hands
on my face and smiled, her soft summer
breath warm on my face. She kissed my
forehead strong and with purpose.
I thanked her for the herbs and waved
from the dirt bike as Valerie pulled out of
the alleyway. 1 held on tight and leaned into
Valerie. I let my head rest on her cushioned
back. Something about Valerie was so
comfortable. At first I thought maybe it was
her uniform plumpness or her cheery
laughter, or the was she always dressed in
shades of pink to match her baby cheeks.
But that night on the motorcycle I thought
of things like how she never looked away
when I was talking, how she understood
what I was saying. And even if she didn't,
she listened anyway.
When Valerie dropped me off at the
ditch she instructed me to keep this quiet
because folks in Lonata thought bad things
about herbs and if they found out I had
them, they'd think bad things about me too.
Since I was sure nobody thought good things
about me, this didn't concern me much.
I told Eddie what Maka said about the
herbs maybe not being enough to get real
deep poison out of the body and he just
smiled his soft smile. After I started taking
the herb, Eddie really took to me. We started
to eat lunch together almost every day.
Sometimes in the morning before school he
would ask if he could brush my hair and I'd
let him. He brought me things like
peppermints and snap dragons. We started
to hold hands a lot, but when he tried to
kiss me I had to stop and remind him about
what Maka said. I told him that we
probably shouldn't touch for a while. Eddie
said maybe we didn't need to touch, maybe
we could just stand close enough to feel the
warmth that floats above the skin. I felt fire
in my thighs when Eddie said this, but I had
to say no.
After three days like this, I started
having moods. I found myself wanting to be
near Eddie, wanting to
touch his hair and trace
the shape of his hand with
my own. I bought him
bubble gum and tiny
balloons with messages
like "Thinking of You" and
"I miss you" on them that I
left in his locker before
school. I recorded music
for him to listen to that
might help him
understand how I thought
about him all the time, but
until I was sure the herb
was working. I had to stay away.
Valerie said that was good. That's
what Seventeen magazine said to do. Be
mysterious, it'll make him crazy for you. I
told her that was a bunch of trash and if
weren't for this poison I'd be giving Eddie a
lot more than bubble gum. She said that
according to Mademoiselle bad girls were out
and I should probably refuse sex until at
least six months into the relationship. I told
her that's not what I meant and it didn't
make sense to me to keep yourself away from
somebody you wanted to be near. "Why you
staying away from Eddie then?" she said.
The only thing I could think to say was
"Because." Then I added that those
magazines are stupid and if she didn't stop
reading them she was going to get stupid
too. And anyway, maybe it was her 1 needed
to stay away from.
I knew right when 1 said it that I didn't
mean it, but it was too late. Valerie was
shaking in the seat next to me. I wiped her
tears with my sleeve then held both my
hands up as close to her face as I could
without touching her.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Feeling the warmth of your skin."
"You can feel without touching?"
She closed her eyes and sat still as a
"So can 1."
We made peace and she
gave me more advice about
Eddie. She said maybe
what 1 needed was some
new underwear or a lacy
bra maybe. She had read
in Cosmo about how
wearing sexy underclothes
could make you feel
different — sensuous,
desirable; but I knew I
needed more than fancy
panties to change the way
That night when I was alone in my
blue room, 1 tried on the purple flannel shirt
that Mrs. Anderson had bought for me
because she liked the way it matched my
hair. She was trjang. It looked nice, but 1
didn't feel right wearing it. The Andersons
were nice people but I didn't feel right being
there. I took off the shirt, threw it in the
closet and paced around the room with just
my jeans on. 1 pulled the bedspread off the
bed and tore the curtains down. I wrapped
myself in the lacy blue and spun circles in
front of the mirror as I opened my arms and
closed my arms and opened my arms and
closed my arms. I couldn't stop the moods
from coming. I whirled across the room,
picked up the phone and called Valerie.
"I'm having moods," 1 told her.
"What kind of moods?"
"You know, moods."
"What are you feeling?"
"In what ways?"
"Can you describe the moods?"
"Moods there's no music for, moods
herbs can't cure, moods you can't change
like your underwear; moods Val, moods."
"O.K. Maggie, O.K. I read in Self that
sometimes it's good to pretend you're
boxing when this happens, but don't hit
I hung up the phone and started
boxing around the room. Peek-a-boo jab jab,
right hook, left hook, combination, keep
dancln'. Bam. I was down for the count. I
reached over to the round table skirted in
blue lace, picked up the phone and hit
"I have to leave," I told Valerie.
"1 understand," she said without
questioning, and asked to help. We planned
to meet at the ditch at 2:00 a.m. She said if
I had to wait longer than an hour I should
go back home and we could try again the
next day. Sometimes her mom was up all
night pacing and that would make it hard
to sneak out, she explained.
That night after 1 was sure the
Andersons had gone to sleep, I quietly
packed my things then left for the ditch to
meet Valerie. I laid in the ditch with my
head resting on the colorful duffel Mrs.
Anderson bought for me to use as a book
bag. The wind was blowing gentle and warm.
I imagined myself a scarecrow dancing in
the cornfield, skipping from stalk to stalk,
touching the tips, making the cobs grow big
and golden as the sun. I felt at peace in
Valerie showed up on her Kawasaki
at twenty-five minutes past 2:00 a.m.
apologizing for being late. She explained that
her mom couldn't sleep until her dad got
home. He didn't get home until 1:30 a.m.
and smelled of the bottle. Proper sleeping
arrangements had to be made. This
interfered with her schedule. It was hard to
dream in her house with her sleep always
getting interrupted, she said as she strapped
my duffel bag down on the dirt bike.
We drove to the old motel downtown.
I bought a Greyhound bus ticket to
Minneapolis. Valerie pulled money out of her
purse and asked for the same.
"What are you doing?" I asked her.
"I'm going too."
"But you can't."
"What about your family?"
"What about yours?"
'They're not my family. 1 don't feel
"Well I don't feel right at my house
either. 1 want to go where I can feel at home."
I grabbed her by the hand and pulled
her outside. We stood on the street corner,
arguing under the dim red glow of the Motel
de la Luna vacancy sign. After about five
minutes, we returned to the front desk and
exchanged our bus tickets for a room. We
both took a key.
The room was small and decorated in
solid patterns of blue and green. There was
a double bed, a desk and chair with a
notepad and a glitzy Motel de la Luna pen,
an unfinished dresser with four drawers, an
empty nightstand, and a lamp with a
moth-eaten shade. Me and Val sat
cross-legged on the bed in the middle of the
quiet, still room. The vacancy sign blinked
on and off outside the window. The red glow
gave Val's face a glamorous look. I
imagined her on the cover of Vogue, a place
she would've Uked to have been. This caused
a big grin to break out on my face. Valerie
laughed her laugh.
'This bed's comfortable," she said and
bounced lightly on the mattress.
"Yeah," 1 agreed.
"Let's stay here forever."
"Forever," I said. And we planned to
stay forever in that room.
Lisa Chicoyne: Red Dream, mixed media: plaster, wax, fabric
Paul Batt^ Winter Fountain, color photograph
Kathleen Ward: Sacred Vessels II, charcoal on paper
Kathleen Ward: Sacred Vessels I. charcoal on paper
Baron Toler: I-way, computer generated image
Robert LaBranche: Empty Bowl, acrylic on canvas
Karen Ingram: Untitled, oil on canvas
Ben Billingsley: A Lesson for "S," oil on canvas
In the sickly light of institution
he lay in the bed once filled by her
and now reflected on how
a meaningless moment for one
could stand out in another's mind
like a volunteer for execution.
The comfort of touch fulfilled
like the thick cloud inhaled
by the lungs of a smoker
and he had clung to her sleep
and inadvertent attention.
Holding her, unconscious,
the obliviously accepting hand
on his arm reminded him of someone
who had cared for him, more
than he had cared for being alone.
It had made all the difference.
In five hours of breathing and rolling,
she had made him as empty
as a friend can make another friend,
who has nothing, just by smiling.
He wanted her and feared the vastness
of his single bed and wished
for a grave with two corpses
who lay like spoons, warm
with no need for light or faces.
Photograph courtesy of University Archives /Jackson Library. UNCG
John H. Mclntyre: Fertility Goddess, conte and
pastel on newsprint
Kerry Home: Slridcr. iiiixed media on paper
Sean McDaniel: SelJ- Portrait, oil on canvas
Beth Aronson: Who's There?, mixed media on paper
Lisa Chicoyne: First Shadow, wood, newspaper, wax, fabric
Lisa Chicoyne: Shadow, plaster, wax, fabric
There Are Monsters Within Us
Fighting with sticks
when brothers together, feet apart
take swings, climb to treetops
and ward off not too distant
enemies, then turn on each other.
One, the old victor, with longer branch
now holding your sword, laughing
these times will be forgotten
by dinner a new mission, by nine
completed. And the new day begins
much like the one before
with newfound weapons — tree housed
safe in your hand
fit only for its breaking.
Beth Aronson: Medici Sleeping, charcoal on paper
Miguel Martin: Orange Monster, oil pastel on acetate
'/^- ''^''/'^ /^M
Leanne Bleike: Beavers, charcoal and housepaint on wood panel
Roger Goldenberg: Conversation and Dance, oil on canvas
Ruth Stone: Knowledge is Pow. painted Hydrocal on wood
Marian Humphrey: Untitled, wood
Paul Batt: Nobody Lx)ves Me, photograph
Lenna Nicole Burnette
Blitz rod strives
for northern gutters.
while southern shutters
crack the back of evening.
Cheeks packed full
with night chilled soil
as cactus blossoms
coax a sneeze.
Blows dust 'round corners
to sleep on baby's bones.
Leanne Blake: Hold Please.
oil on wood panel
Jack Thomson: Boingy Jumping, photograph
A was born under a bad omen. The
lunar eclipse made everyone in town crazy.
Mothers fed their children raw eggs to keep them
safe, and the school, bank and grocery store shut
down leaving yellow chalk crosses on their doors.
They told Mom not to have me. They said to put
paper bags over her watermelon-sized tummy
to keep me from coming out. The ladies in town
strung rosaries over Mom's door praying I
wouldn't come out on the day when newborn
babies resembled two-headed monsters, but 1
wanted out. Mother was so embarrassed that 1
was already disobeying her and the town that
she didn't send for Dad at work. She just
squatted over the toilet. If it hadn't been for Miss
Inez Castillo who happened to need an extra egg
for her youngest child, and came in and saw my
feet dangling out of Mom's uterus, we probably
both would have died. I remained half in and
half out of Mom for an hour until we got to the
hospital in the closest city.
Once there. Mother said I slipped right out
of her womb. That it was even a comfort the
way my lubricated body oozed out. She said it
was like swiniming at midnight when water feels
like satin sheets. 1 came into the world with the
breath of salt and memory of waves. The
moment they poured me in her arms she slid me
back and forth and knew 1 came fresh from the
ocean of God. My birth certificate said Floriza
Maurizia Menchoa, but everyone called me Flo.
The whole town came to visit. First to see
if I had been born double-headed as the rumor
had said. Then they came to see my eyes. No
one in our small border town had ever seen eyes
my color. 1 remember all of them touching my
eyes as I blinked so they only felt the softness of
my lids. Never before had they seen eyes with
blue and green and yellow flecks shaped exactly
like a half moon. Miss Inez Castillo, who felt it
was her duty to stay until my mother completely
recovered, commented how even if the rest of
my face was ugly, I'd at least have brilliant eyes.
Mom was too worn out to really notice.
After my birth Mother swore God had
touched her life, and the Pentecostal woman
sharing the sterile pastel yellow room made no
hesitation in converting Mom once the visitors
all left. Mom ate up that lady's every spoken
tongue. She abandoned her traditional
Catholicism with the speed of the Pope's divine
intervention. Everything changed. She put away
her rosaries, postcards of Saint Jude and Blessed
Virgin de Guadaloupe candles. Mom stopped
cooking with jalapehos because something that
hot had to come from hell. Her Pentecostal
insanity knew no bounds. While my brothers,
already on the brink of adolescence, tamied and
grew strong on sandwiches that tasted like the
salt of their skin. Mother melted into a shapeless
glob of putty in the hands of her new rehgion. I
sucked on a tit, excited and heaving over the evil
sins of life. It was too late for the strapping boys,
but not for a lucid little girl. That was when she
banned niusic and dancing from my life.
Dad worked too hard to notice. The meals
on the table when he got home and his ability to
provide food for six kids and a wife, fed into his
macho image of life. He loved me, but his
concerns for my development slipped through
his fingers like the bits of sawdust he worked
with. Only on Sundays when the town came out
and sat sucking on lemon slices sprinkled with
salt, talking about the impromptu pachanga they
had in Jose Carlos' yard, did he regret my stern
upbringing, but it was too late. I turned into a
teenager in pale yellow dresses under Mother's
grooming. Everything I did satisfied God and
Mom. 1 didn't think anything of it. I accepted
my life as God's plan. The way Mother described
Mother was so sure of my being there that
she would pray in a passionate fury and fall
straight back from the miracle of God, knowing
I'd catch her before her head hit the floor and
cracked like a nut. In school, I was normal
everyday Flo. A little quiet, but normal. I had
girls to walk to school with and eat lunch with,
but nothing further. Mother scolded me if I
brought anyone home. She told me those girls
grew from the lizards that crawled on our screens
and I was the moth they were looking for with
long dry tongues. I didn't argue. Instead, I
learned silence. I learned to camouflage myself
against the steam of my cooking. I glided in and
out of rooms with the quiet sensation of a
butterfly's scream, sometimes going unnoticed
until one of my brothers gasped, startled to see
their sister's eyes shining in the shadows of the
room. When they complained or commented on
my ghostly presence. Mom just smiled. She
believed I saw visions. My silence and graceful
steps were the result of angels carrying me
through the house to watch over her saved soul.
My brothers avoided me, but somehow I always
seemed to appear silent and soft, moving in and
out of the house searching for an answer to a
question I had not yet formed.
It is said that the moon tilted in a funny
ptwition the day Zolita asked me to sneak into El
Matador in the city with the other girls from the
barrio. They say that the fishermen were
turning over from vicious waves and whales
were jumping out of the violence in scared
magnificence. Maybe that accounts for the
reason I said yes. Then again, maybe not.
I didn't have the slightest idea what to
wear to a club. I knew I had to pass for twenty-
one. The covers of magazines I saw in grocery
store lines showed women with long blonde hair
and too-small dresses. My brothers hid posters
of women in little leather skirts and spiked tops.
All of these women spilled out of themselves like
dough rising over the pan's rim. None of it
belonged to me and my world. For a moment I
doubted my decision, but we didn't have a phone
to tell Zolita otherwise so I bit my lip and looked
in my closet once more.
I decided on a hand-me-down sundress
that Mom deemed too risque. The little orange
straps looked like flames against my brown skin.
In a split second of rash madness, I cut the
cotton skirt of my dress. The scissors ripped into
the dress with sharp "z" sounds as I heard Mom
praying and Dad snoring in the room next door.
I turned myself into my own fairy godmother.
My dress took on a mystical life of its own. The
brilliant blaze of orange kicked way above the
knee and nestled into my waist. It was the
witch's creation I always wanted to wear.
Sneaking out was easy. The only girl in
the house got the only bedroom. I remember not
even being scared. The screen squeaked weakly,
and a gap in the window let me hop into the
darkness of the night. Zolita and the girls met
me under the only street light in our complex.
We looked over fake ID's deciding who looked
like who, giggling over all of it. Monica had her
older sister's car, and off we flew. The muffler
spit out smoke each time she hit the gas. An older
man turned and stared at us at a red light. A
lady drove too slow. We passed a blue Mercedes.
We were there.
The guy at the door inspected our ID's
closely. He even smelled the ink. He looked at
all of us. I was the last one. I tried not to catch
his eye, but I did. He held it for five seconds
while I counted. Then he stepped away from
the door, and we bounced in giving each other
knowing little smiles.
Everything was so different and so like I
imagined. The darkness, the smoke, the men
draped over the bar, the women staking their
domains with straight backs slightly curved from
the extremity of their heels and the music. What
was I doing here? It was how Mom described
hell. The other girls marched in the formation of
ducks to the bar, ready to exhaust their twenty-
one-year-old year old status. I wasn't going to
go that far so I took a seat. Everyone looked like
they knew what they were doing. A woman in
the corner pulled a misplaced thread off a man's
lapel. The confidence. Groups of men and
women stood around gawking at each other and
groping with their eyes. A man at my right held
his drink too low and the straw caught in a loop
of his sweater vest. It hung there on his tummy
while he gyrated with the music. The
foolishness. A man dressed in dark clothes with
painfully large pupils took the empty seat to my
right. He looked like the devil seated next to me,
scaled and decorated with lust.
"Do you want to dance?"
"What?" 1 stammered. "Well, I don't
know how. "
He shrugged his shoulders at my
response, and his large tapered fingers lifted me
from my seat and led my to the floor. The music
got quicker and louder the closer I got. It
pounded, and I felt wrong inside the crowded
square of soaked shirts and dampened hair. I
wasn't sure. I never did this before. I was
shielded from this. The devil partner shook. He
weaved in and out of air. Suddenly, I heard an
explosion and I felt the tremors of music. An
earthquake cracked through me. First my feet.
They moved. One, two, three. One, two, three.
Then my hips. They rocked. Back and forth.
Finally my chest. It responded. In and out. In
and out. I swayed.
The beats hit rough, but my body caught
them smoothly. They became more vicious only
to feel the reprimand and taming of my body.
My skirt swung like it was still hanging on the
line and the material brushed my thighs. I felt
like the beginning of a storm.
"1 thought you said you couldn't dance,"
the devil said with his pupils getting larger.
"I never have before."
"Ay mama, you look like you came
straight into this world dancing. Like a possessed
It was then that I knew I was beautiful.
Not because of the way the devil looked me deep
in the eyes or because anyone told me so, but
because I thought I was. I allowed the music to
whisper, chuckle and scream in my ears. My life
of accepting obedience flooded out of me.
Under the canopy of smoke and carnal musk of
colognes and perfumes, I was no longer trapped
like a caged circus lion. I moved. My heart beat
to the rhythm of each song, and to stop dancing
would be to stop living. Pretty soon, a crowd of
people gathered around me, watching and
clapping. I saw them through the smoky film of
my fallen hair. My devil partner disappeared into
the crowd, and only my tireless body and
smiling glow kept them standing there cheering
"She's mesmerizing. Isn't she?" I heard
one man say.
"She moves like a hurricane I once saw in
Florida," another woman said.
A man with round glasses and a blue satin
shirt already wet with sweat under the armpits
began dancing with me. He twisted his waist
and waved his arms up and down like he would
have had he been pounding nails. Some people
pointed and most of the crowed left, but he didn't
last. I wore hint out. He took off wheezing, and
another man took his place. The new nian's
moustache barely showed up above the
thickness of his lips. The blackiiess in his eves
looked like they said I'm going to outdance vou,
woman, but he didn't. He left, and a man with
snakeskin cowboy boots followed. There was a
line of men and bets placed at the bar. They took
out bills, waved them excitedly at this funny
scene, sized up and decided which man had
stamina to outlast the madwoman in the middle
of the floor, hefty men, athletes, regulars,
weightlifters, ranchers and thieves all tried to
outdance me, but each song sizzled in me like
butter on a hot skillet. Nobody stopped me. My
orange dress drenched with the sweat of my
continually moving body looked like a campfire
put out. I still smiled, hi all my life, 1 never felt
the exhilaration of noise and the control of my
body. I alniost scared
It went on like that
all night until the lights
went on and the music
stopped. I almost fainted
from the shock and abrupt
ending, but my first
partner took me by the
small of my back.
"I knew you could
dance. All I had to do was
look in your eyes. They're
He handed me
tickets to another club
called Boccacio's. He
promised I'd be a hit and
that if I went tomorrow
night there would be a
Either out of jealousy or as a result of too
much liquor, the girls said nothing about my
crazed dancing. It was as if they hadn't seen me.
In fact, I seemed to slip back into being invisible
inside the car. They talked about their ears
ringing from the loudness of the club and the
woman with a skirt short enough to see her
panties. "Didn't you see? They were leopard
skin panties. Silky. Even looked dirty." Monica
cursed the lateness, and how her sister would
beat her with a brush if the car wasn't back in
ten minutes, the time her sister's boyfriend got
off work. Zolita talked about the only cute man
being the bartender, and he was too busy to look
her way. None of them mentioned my dancing,
the line of men waiting to wear me out , the
placing of bets or the odd scent of fire and smoke
ascending from my pores.
We all got off at the street lamp, and
walked to our homes. The early morning sun
began to crack and the gap in my window let me
hop into the new light of my room. The June
bugs already started to calm down, preparing
themselves for the heat of the day and
protecting themselves from the wakening birds.
their stillness signaled
morning just as sure as the
sun. I knew in an hour
Mom would be up praying
with pillow-flattened hair
and the bathrobe I gave
her last year to replace the
one she wore every
morning since my birth. It
would be time for me to
begin preparing breakfast
for the guys so I had
enough time to dress for
school. I closed my eyes
and thought about the
night. The hfe I felt. The
way my blood ran fast
inside me. I thought about
it with a smile 1 never felt
on my face before.
The niorning passed
like any other except that I couldn't hold my feet
steady. Even Dad noticed that I looked a little
uneasy. It made him uncomfortable, and he left
the table without finishing the breakfast I
prepared. My brothers eyed me suspiciously. 1
was sure they knew, but no one said anything. It
was mother who made the comment, "Que
paso?" She got so close 1 could feel her breath
mixing with mine. "Are you sick?"
"No, Mama. I'm fine. I'm going to be late
I did feel a little bit guilty about
disobeying Mom. Mom had lived through me,
sure that I was the chosen one. I was the one
that saved her soul. When someone came over
to sip juice and talk about politics, as they often
did in our small town. Mom threw up her hands
and said she didn't know anything, but Flo
knows all about everything. Everyone knew to
speak to Mom they had to speak to me or vice
versa. I deciphered Moin's foreign tongues as
wanting a bag of grain to niake bread or as
ordering a cake for my brother's wedding or
offering condolences when Carmen Lucero's
husband died. People in town accepted her crazy
unknown ways in the same way they accepted
the superstition that coniets make hair stay black
for one more day.
At home I felt
guilty, but at school I
The thought of dancing
consumed me. I kept
asking to go to the
bathroom so 1 could close
the door and watch
myself dance in the
mirror. I saw my devil
partner's eyes in mine.
They were a little darker,
a little larger with the
pupil attracting all of the
attention. The large
pupil looked like a black
heart torn out of a puma
dying in the jungle. Each
time 1 looked in them I
hated them, but 1 wanted to see them encourag-
ing me to dance, to lose myself in my bliss.
The teachers watched me twitching in my
seat while my shoulders rolled to the music in
my head. If 1 closed my eyes I saw my body
moving. I could smell the warm liquor of the
bar and the smoke of the endless cigarettes in
the men's mouths. If I opened my eyes
everything became the blur of disco lights. By
the end of the day, I couldn't even hold my
pencil. 1 used it as an urgent tool to keep the
beat. 1 took out the ticket to Boccacio's. I waved
it in the air trying to see if it spoke to me.
Rain poured wildly when the school bell
rang. 1 waited at the window to see if it might
let up, but it gushed like it would never stop. I
resigned myself to soaking and dashing home
alone, when 1 spotted Zolita. I always recognized
her by the big bows she wore in her hair. Her
mother sold those bows, always with loops and
extra ribbons hanging off them, in the city on
Saturday afternoons at the big flea market.
"Zolita, I'm going to Boccacio's tonight.
Do you want to come?" 1 hadn't planned on
asking anyone, but since she invited me dancing
last night I went ahead asked her to come tonight.
"Ho, you're as crazy as your mom." She
said with her cow eyes
rolling around her very
brown heart-shaped head.
"First off, Flo, we don't
have a car. Second, and I
hate to break it to you, but
Jose Carlos' youngest son
told Miss Castillo he
danced with you last night,
and weren't you too young
to dance in a club like that
even if your mom allo\ved
it. You better get home
quick. Hot Pants."
1 realized that there
was no way this news
escaped Mother. Miss Inez
Castillo would walk over
to the post office and
casually tell Berto the news, and add that wasn't
it funny that Flo of all people would be in one of
those sleazy clubs on the outskirts of the red light
district. Berto, in the middle of his route, \vould
stop to drink a margarita with the ma\x^r like he
has done since thev were barelv getting hair on
their face. He'd tell the mayor how Flo ran off
with Jose Carlos' son to the red light district. The
mayor would get upset and tell the store clerk
how children in this town have ^one to the de\dl.
The clerk would ask why, and the mayor would
lean over and say real quietly, like they were
planning a revolt, that 1 was spotted doing
favors for men in the back of a club in the red
light district. Mom would march in, moving her
knees up real high and buy milk like she did
every Thursday. The clerk, wiping the sweat off
his wrinkled forehead, would tell her how he
feels it is his duty to inform an honorable woman
and pillar of the community that her daughter
has taken to prostitution, and if they need the
cash maybe the town could help out. Before long,
the whole town would be out shucking corn and
speculating about my wild doings.
Gossip spreads faster in this town than the
juice that slips down your hand while peeling
an orange. My body felt heavy. The water caught
in my hair pvilled niy hair back. The weight of
what 1 did sunk in. The way I snuck out in a
short dress. The many men I danced with. The
way I was ready to do it again. My skin still
smelled like fire. It only took me a second to
realize that when the rain hit iny skin it turned
to steam. It scalded. The rain fell. Never before
in the history of the town had there been rain so
angry that it turned a girl's skin to steam. I
opened my arms to try and catch the wind like a
sail, but whistling steam poured and hissed from
the inside of my arms.
I stood there for a long time steaniing. The
young flesh of my skin turned soggy with open
pores like a toad on the bottom of a
formaldehyde barrel. Hot moisture singed my
body until I glowed the red of a coal in a
barbecue pit. Mr. Hernandez saw me first.
Maybe he smelled the burned hair and charred
skin, or maybe the incredibly warm rain
erupting from an unexpectedly open sky caused
him to venture out during his nap time.
Whatever it was, he came, and just after he came,
the rest of the town opened their moth-eaten
screen doors and found me jumping up and
down. The town, at first mute from shock, did
nothing. A few women dropped to their knees
crossing themselves — En el nombre del Padre, del
hijo y del Espiritu Santo. But no one knew what to
do about a girl incinerating from rain.
Mother came out . Rollers in her hair. She
carried a large blanket and draped it over me. 1
dropped and rolled. Steam was still escaping
from the blanket. I stopped. Suddenly,
everyone noticed the smell in the air. It grew
like the hibiscus that sprouted between some of
the vegetable fields. The rain stopped quietly,
leaving puddles with little worms swimming
inside and clouds of mosquitoes circling around
the papaya trees. Everyone wanted to say
something. They all opened their mouths, ready
to discuss the strange events, but words didn't
come out. For a long time they just stood there
staring, opening and closing their mouths,
trying to talk. They did this for about an hour.
Then the women realized dinner needed to get
cooked, and the men went in to listen to the news.
Mother took me inside. She forced
tangerines and mangoes down me. She gave me
cool sugar water and iced niy back. If I thought
about dancing I'd start to get warm, and Mom
would rub salt all over me. We did this all night,
and by morning there wasn't a pore in my body
not filled with salt grains.
"I'ni sorry Mother," I said.
"Shh! Always a strange girl. Always a
Life went on as normal, except Mom
enrolled me in dance lessons in the city. Every
Saturday she'd take me over to the city and watch
through a glass window. I lost myself just the
same. Once in a while between leaps and
stretches, I'd glance through to see Mom staring
at me with a Bible on her lap opened up to the
passage that she interpreted to say dancing is a
form of a prayer.
Robert Carter: / FYee I, maibk
Photograph courtesy of University Archives/Jackson Library, UNCG
H HayMHJiacb npocro, Myapo «HTb,
CMOTpexb Ha He6o h mojihtlch Bory,
H flojiro nepen BenepOM SponHXb,
Mto6 yroMHTb HenyacHyK) xpeBory.
Korna uiypmaT b oepare jionyxH
H HHKHCT rpoajjb pH6HHbI XeJITO-KpaCHOH,
Cjiaraio a Becejibie cthxh
O JKH3HH TJieHHOH, TJICHHOH H npCKpaCHOH.
H BosBpamaiocb. JIhjkct mhc JianoHb
nyUIHCTblH KOT, MypJIblKaeX yMHJIbHCH,
H apKHH aaropacTCH oroHb
Ha SamcHKe oaepnoH jieconHJibHH.
JlHuib H3penKa npopeBbmaer THuib
KpHK aHCTa, cjieTCBmero na Kpbimy.
H eCJIH B flBCpb MOK) TbI nOCTyHHUIb,
Mhc KajKCTCH, h naxe He ycjibimy.
Translation from the original poem by Anna Akhmatova
I learned to live a wise and simple life.
Look at the sky and say my prayers.
And wander for long hours at night
To wear out useless grief and worries.
When burdocks rustle in a deep ravine
Admiring a bunch of rowan berries,
I'm writing happily about earthly life
And its mortality-inspired beauties.
I'm coming back. A furry, lazy cat
Sits on my lap, and purrs its soft affection.
And fire, bright and restless, burns on top
Of the sawmill tower, lights a deep backwater.
A stork flies down to my roof.
It breaks the quietness with lively screams of care.
And if you once came knocking, where is the proof
That 1 would hear you?
Jon Smith: Mattock, steel and wood
Jon Smith: Equivalence, steel and wood
About the Judge: Fiction
Dr. Charles Tisdale
Charles Tisdale has been a member of the faculty of the
English Department at UNCG since 1967. He studied as an
undergraduate at Sewanee, and completed his doctoral work at
Princeton with a concentration in medieval language and litera-
ture, especially Chaucer. However, Dr. Tisdale has never
thought of himself as a specialist, but has consistently branched
out into the major European literatures of all periods. He loves
to teach undergraduates, particularly the 200 level surveys.
Chaucer, and medieval writers in translation.
Dr. Tisdale has involved himself in many areas of campus
life during his twenty-eight years of teaching at UNCG. He was
a member of the faculty committee which established the Resi-
dential College, and his contributions over fifteen years are
memorialized there by the naming of a basement room after
him. From 1985-1988 he survived a three year stint in
Mossman Building as Dean of Academic Advising, the last
holder of the office to be honored by that title. Dr. Tisdale is
currently running a vigorous campaign for Chair of the Faculty
Senate which, if successful, should install him in that sinecure
in the thirtieth year of his tenure in the institution which he has
so attentively served. His name is associated with two faculty
initiatives, the 'Tisdale Amendment" in 1971 which espoused
teaching as the primary role of a faculty member at UNCG, and
the 'Tisdale Memorandum" in 1994 which he has high hopes
Avill eventually revitalize morale and the quality of life among
students, faculty, and administration. It has been said Dr.
Tisdale's demeanor is "calm and quiescent," but that he is apt to
"erupt like a volcano" every quarter of a century or so.
Our judge's credentials for the fiction contest are notewor-
thy. He began his writing career as a poet at the age of eight
when, in the second grade at Ellis Avenue Elementary in
Orangeburg. SC, he produced an award winning poem entitled
"Old King Gotten." Dr. Tisdale chose heroic couplets for his first
sally into the muse's domain: "That old King Gotten, coming
round the bend, /Loaded on the truck, headed for the gin," reads
the first two lines. His next effort was as a junior at Sewanee
when he amazed his Horace professor by composing a bucolic
effusion of mowing grass in pherecratic meter with a trochaic
substitution in the second foot. His most vaunted achievement
here was the creation of an anachronistic circumlocution.
machina quae mandet gramen, for the subject of the poem,
which is translated "a machine which chews grass."
After this metorious achievement. Dr. Tisdale did not write
anything, except term papers, for the next eight years, and, of
course, one dissertation. At age twenty-nine he again tried his
hand at poetry, and after a five year apprenticeship finally wrote
a "real" poem. He has the distinct honor of having his first
poem accepted by the Texas Quarterly, only to remain unpub-
lished because of the discontinuing of the journal by the Texas
Legislature during the oil crisis of the early seventies.
However, Dr. Tisdale was able to include this success as
an acceptance in his cover letters to other magazines, and even-
tually editors began to print his work in such publications as
the Antioch Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, The
Queen's Quarterly, The Chicago Review, and one was even
posted on the buses of the Mount Holyoke Transit Authority in
Boston for a summer.
Dr. Tisdale began writing fiction because he became dis-
couraged with the loss of a poetic readership in out culture and
also when, in the aftermath of a trip to Nicaragua in 1983, the
idea for a novel wafted through the curtains of his bedroom one
May evening like a seamless lover. However, because this first
attempt at a full-length fiction was so autobiographical, involv-
ing international espionage, AK-47's, the CIA, and an English
Professor, he was unsuccessful in finding a publisher.
Never one to give up, however. Dr. Tisdale decided to
return to the Middle Ages for his next attempt. That work has
proved more fertile, as the initial novel in a trilogy set in Anglo-
Saxon England was published in early 1994. The title is Month
of Swallows and it can be found in the UNCG library or pur-
chased at the Bookstore. Dr. Tisdale sent the sequel, Holy Isle,
off to his British publisher a month ago, and is now busily
revising the final volume. Book of Glass. He wonders what the
title for the entire trilogy should be, but thinks he might just
settle on a simple one: NORTHUMBRIA. Any suggestions?
About the Judge: Art
Margaret Shearin graduated with a BA from Wake Forest
University in 1981, and got her MFA from East Carolina Univer-
sity School of Arts in 1988. She has written for the once-exis-
tent magazine ArtVu, and Art Papers. Her reviews have ap-
peared in Sculpture magazine. Currently, she is an artist and
writer living in Winston-Salem, NC where she writes a weekly
column for TRlADStyle.
'— ' -^m
Reprint from 1986 Coraddi