Washington College's Student Literary and Arts Journal

Issue: February 2013

Comic: Too Soon

Comic: Too Soon

About the wedding…

A Cold February Night

…Laughing as we rounded a bend in the river, we came upon a street performer playing the guitar. As we passed, I dug into my pocket, took out a dollar and tossed it in the case…

Locked Inside

by Sara Perkins ’16

Save me, for I am locked inside
My soul tightly clenched in love’s worn fist.
Please, just let these thoughts shatter when they collide.

I taste your teeth and tongue, for which I must abide.
My cheeks are sweltering from your lips firm kiss.
Save me, for I am locked inside.

Though your flickering nimble fingers are kind,
the rusty bars of love’s prison I have not missed.
Please, just let these thoughts shatter when they collide.

Your scent wavers on my skin, wrapping around me like a bind,
The press of your muscled torso against mine seems to persist.
Save me, for I am locked inside.

The sound of your softly beating heart is slowly taking over my
My body and soul quiver, for it is me you lust to enlist.
Please just let these thoughts shatter when they collide.

I cannot resist your sultry skin this time,
and I look forward to your hard, intoxicating kiss.
Save me, for I am locked inside.
Please, just let these thoughts shatter when they collide.

Written on all their foreheads

There’s a girl sitting in the back of the coffee shop
pretending she isn’t alone…

Tend Your Fire

…you’re letting it dwindle.
You’re letting me fall…

Love, M

by Joanne Hall ’16

The alarm sounds at 5:40 every morning. First the buzzer, then five minutes later the radio, set to the station with the least amount of static. I don’t snooze past the second alarm. I get up, turn on the coffee pot, and place a pot of water on the stove for oatmeal, enough for two. Five minutes after I’ve dropped a cup of oats into boiling water, I ladle one and half scoops for myself. I carry my breakfast into the den; the lights dimmed low, and watch fifteen minutes of news, weather and traffic. I’ll arrive at campus at 8:05 and park in a commuter space, my first class not until 8:30. Many days as I walk the brick path, I think of my mother. Her morning ritual will not begin until after noon, long after my day of classes has ended.

Tuesdays are the exception. She wakes early to volunteer with her sister-in-law to deliver meals to homebound senior citizens. “We don’t rush,” my mother tells me. Beaming with pride, she pulls the black folder from the closet. One award from the Maryland General Assembly commends her for “volunteer service and continued involvement with improving the quality of life within your local communities”. The President’s Volunteer Service Award thanks her for “helping to address the most pressing needs in your community and country.” Though she does not understand the meaning of the word, I want her to know, she is—leaving a legacy.

School meetings always make my mother nervous. The terminology or the words the teachers use are beyond her comprehension. It always began with the IEP, the Individual Educational Plan, followed by discussions about assessments, or present level of functioning, or annual goals and objectives, or accommodations or a transition plan. We always arrive a few minutes early and check in at the school’s front office. The school secretary escorts us to a nearby conference room. As scheduled, four teachers enter the room; each carrying a stack of neatly organized manila files, each placing her stack on the conference table. One teacher begins to speak, and as soon as she opens my sister’s file, I see my mother’s lips begin to quiver. I reach to gently touch her hand, the lower rim of her eyes fill. It’s complicated, but it always was.

“Your daddy doesn’t want you to be like me.”

By 1955, she had repeated the 7th grade three times. During those years, her school days were spent in one classroom, while other students moved from one class to another. She and her classmates worked on arithmetic and spelling; simple words like cat, dog and house. They read first and second grade level books, and were encouraged to move to higher level reading material when ready. Eventually, her teacher recommended she attend a vocational school which could better prepare her for a job, making it easier to transition from school to the workplace. Instead, my mother’s parents chose to move to a home over forty miles away. The new school district didn’t offer special classes to accommodate special needs. My mother’s parents thought, in her words, she was “too stupid to learn.” All goals for her future—erased.

We sit at her kitchen table, while Buddy the cat sits in the kitchen sink. Buddy was good company for her. He complained about little and my mother allowed him to have his water fetish. She is prepared for what we are to talk about today. I arrive with my purple notebook and black and white compositions. As I place my stack on the table, and open a composition—I see it coming, I see the swell.

I could imagine the answers to the questions. But for this, I want her voice. My mother’s words tell her story best.

I begin by asking her about daily life, she tells me, “Not being able to make conversation with people. I have to ask them to break it down so I can understand. I never kept it a secret from the teachers. I wanted them to know, I couldn’t help with homework. I wanted them to know if a paper didn’t get signed right away, it would get done. I worry about taking medications. The forms at the doctor’s office are uncomfortable. I know my date of birth, but it’s not easy to figure out where to put it on the form. I can answer the doctor’s questions if asked, but cannot answer them from a form. Arithmetic, I’m fairly good at arithmetic if I can write the numbers on paper. Nobody knows what I go through.”

When she explains, nobody knows what I go through, I share with her my struggle with math in physics class, the embarrassment, the inability to hide. She asks, “What is physics?” I tell her I can imagine her struggle. But, the true weight of her experience, I cannot feel.

With no particular order to our conversation, I then ask what is most difficult and she asks, “What do you mean ‘difficult’?”

“What’s the hardest thing, what’s the worst feeling?”

“Lost.” She pauses for a long moment. “I feel lost. How do I fit in? When everyone is playing a game, and I don’t know how to play, I ask ‘Do I belong here?’ At bridal showers or baby showers, it’s embarrassing, a bunch of strangers around me. They hand out a piece of paper and some pens. I want to go hide, but I can’t. Recipes, it’s hard for me to cook sometimes. I can’t read how to put everything together. So, how do you cook something new?”

“Mom, why don’t you pick up with a reading tutor again?”

An answer I want to change, but cannot: “It’s too late to go back.”

The National Center for Education Statistics defines the category ‘Below Basic’ as the lowest of their four literacy performance categories. A sample task one demonstrates at this level is the ability to sign a form. My mother would identify herself as belonging in this lowest level, much like the place where her sense of confidence and self-esteem lived often through the years, somewhere down low.

“Do you know what my father said to Bill the night before we got married?”

“No, what Mom?”

“Are you sure you want to marry a girl like this?”

Somewhere in the middle of our conversation, my mother asks, “Is this helpful to you?”

I feel a knot gather in my throat. She then tells me, “I would love to be able to read what you will write.”

To My Narcissus

To My Narcissus

You must be mine, dearest god among men-
and will be mine, for even as your bones
whiten with my saturnine tears
my image of your youth never fades…

The Broken

…Our pale bruised hearts beat out of time,

clocks hurtled down flights of stairs…

Love of You

Love of You

Featured photograph by Emily Klein ’16.


Love of Nature

By Rebecca Cozza ’14




Love of Art

By Michael Canavan ’15




Love of Winter

By Michael Deck ’15


We’re only two girls and one blanket
in the sand for a day…