by Esther Fan

Find my love for you in the quiet,

In the calm of a comma

In the stillness of a pause

 

A love that

breathes

between the lines.

Find my love for you in my words

In the crooks of my CAPITALS

In the softness of my vowels

In the caress of my consonants

 

Love me louder than an exclamation mark!

Loop your hands around my curves in cursive

Whisper gently in small fonts

Remember me in italics

 

Find my love for you in a sentence that runs tirelessly

Running is only controlled falling

But I’ve lost all control

F

   a

         ll

              ing

  for you

 

Find my love for you in a chain of clauses

tied together by semicolons;

you are the subject, loving you will always be my verb

 

Not once, have I questioned my love for you.

For you are the question I long to spend my life answering.

 

Find my love for you

In the spaces in between

Us and the world.

 

You are all my words to me.

Advertisements

Home Going

by Tiffani S. Ren

 

Don’t be the woman who stays

stays to be with a man, giving up

the opportunity of a refreshing, terrifying blank slate,

The wild possibility of the things you could do

with that blankness, what could you fill it with–

So don’t be that silly woman who falls easily into the heterosexual trope of

choosing romance over aspirations  

Your schooling simply doesn’t permit you to

Your schooling also asserts

women married to men don’t achieve liberation

But you still want to be connected at the joint with him,

have a joint library and joint ownership

of two lovely dogs from the local rescue

named Woolf and Ulysses

So don’t be selfish don’t have other priorities and don’t

abandon him for other lives

Your desperation for love and love of him forbids you to

But say you go,

back to China like men on the street tell you to,

In some search for home,

To see if a sense of home is really passed down

the ways brown eyes and a penchant for rice are

In search of inspiration,

In search of the little determined houses again

that you once saw climbing on top of each another on their way to the mountain top

In search of tongues like the one you lost in childhood,

           a tongue to match the ear they never could take away from you

In search of dissonance

           for the moment you realize, not for the first time and not the last,

           that you are a bastard hybrid,

perhaps a bastard without home

           anywhere except among other misfits

He asks you why, why not a vacation destination

           why not the beaches of Spain?

He says he doesn’t understand why

you’re insistent on going to this place that is not home—are you trying to make it home?

will you ever come back from it?

isn’t home with him ? why would you leave home in pursuit of another?

And suddenly you don’t know either

How to explain to anyone that you’re missing body parts

           that you have gaps where there shouldn’t be gaps

           a need to find out where home is by exploring where it could be hiding

           and a yearning for dissonance, for the internal strife and wrangling,

           a yearning to hold yourself as you change under the pressure

           as if by yearning for it, by pushing forth seeking precisely that,

it will hurt you less

 

Excerpt from “I, Mental Patient”

By Tessa Rudolph

2/24/17

We skip the diary this time, start meditating right away. As soon as I’m settled on the couch, Dr. Khan pulls out her stopwatch, tells me to take a couple deep breaths before we begin. This is really not a good day for meditation: I have an English paper due tomorrow, on animalism in Othello, and this morning I had begged Mom to let me skip my appointment. “Absolutely not,” she’d said, pouring orange juice into my glass. “You’ll have time to work afterward. And anyway, why worry? Your English grade’s high enough.”

I close my eyes. Dr. Khan is doing her thing: “As you inhale,” she says, “focus on quieting your mind. And as you exhale, release your tension.” She repeats it, a mantra: “Inhale, quiet your mind; exhale, release your tension. Inhale, quiet your mind; exhale, release your tension.”

I try. I do! I sit there and I breathe and I stare at the swirly star pattern I always see when my eyes are closed. I feel my chest rise and fall, rise and fall. I search for something spiritual in my dry lips, in the slow sucking of my breath.

But my mind is escaping me, running amok like a kid after too many Hershey’s Kisses. I hear Dr. Khan say, “Inhale, quiet your mind; exhale, release your tension” again, but my brain is calculating exactly how long it will take to finish my paper if I have six pages left and there are 250 words per page and I write 500 words per hour, maybe 600 if I push myself. And by then I know I’m a goner.

I open my eyes. I open my mouth too, to tell Dr. Khan that I screwed up, that I can’t do it anymore. But before I can force the words out, I notice something: Dr. Khan is meditating too! Her lips are parted slightly, her hands resting on her thighs, her eyes squeezed shut like the women I see at synagogue. She keeps muttering, “Inhale, quiet your mind; exhale, release your tension”—more to herself, I realize now, than to me.

It takes me a moment to register the significance of this discovery. Then I feel it, an idea burgeoning, unraveling in the pit of my stomach. I try to resist. I do! But before you can say “Shakespeare,” I’m removing Othello from my backpack, flipping through the pages, perusing my annotations. I glance up; Dr. Khan is in another world, still repeating that mantra. I find a pencil on the table beside me, start to draft sentences on the inside cover.

In Othello, William Shakespeare juxtaposes humans and beasts to convey that, despite the pretenses of civilized society, humans share many fundamental traits with animals.**

“Inhale, quiet your mind; exhale, release your tension.”

From the outset, the comparison of jealousy to a “green-eyed monster” reflects a non-human component to jealousy, for by definition monsters are not human—a fact that contributes to people’s fear of them.**

“Inhale, quiet your mind; exhale, release your tension.”

Further, by comparing Othello and Desdemona’s lovemaking to the purely physical reproduction of animals, Iago implies that beneath societal customs and niceties humans share many primordial instincts with the rest of the animal kingdom.**

“Inhale, quiet your mind; exhale, release your—”

A bell goes off, high-pitched and abrupt, like the chirping of a bird. Dr. Khan’s stopwatch. I move quickly—my fingers are already struggling with the zipper on my backpack when I hear her say, voice measured, “Is that what I think it is, Joanne?”