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the labcat is the online life of labrys, smith college's art/literary magazine. we collect poems, prose, flash-fiction, letters, diary entries, essays, doodles, paintings, oils, sketches, photography, animation, videos, graphics, chicken-scratches, stippling, charcoal rubbing, pastels, collages, observations, music and whatever else inspires you. send it in bulky bundles to labrys@smith.edu.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Zao Wou-ki passed away this week. We lost an incredible artist. His paintings are colorful and distinct, unbelievably breathtaking; just ask the collectors around the world who have paid millions of dollars for his masterful work. I recommend googling him to see additional images or checking out the link below.


from the labrys writing workshop

writing exercise by A. Smithie  
prompt: write about any name

            Lilly was my favorite name. I wish she hadn’t claimed it. It wasn’t her fault necessarily. I guess if we really want to blame someone, we should go back to her parents. What were they thinking?
            I know what they were thinking. It’s a pretty name. That’s what I thought until I met her. Until I met Lilly. She was in my freshman year english class, which seems strange to say now. Because I can’t believe even at fifteen years old she scared me that much.
            Would I make myself worth her while? Could I prove I was good enough to be her friend? I tried at first, which, now, feels like the worst part of it. But Lilly is such a good name. Such a sweet name. Lillipad. Lilliputians. Well, I guess the Lilliputians weren’t so nice. But still, I wasn’t willing to admit that Lilly couldn’t be good. That’s probably why for so long I put up with her evil antics.
            It was worse when spring came. And crew started. That’s also when I learned what crew was, and why it’s so significant. It’s significant because they said so, everyone who did it, the faculty who went and watched—the headmaster who gave them special jackets to wear to school events. Well, when crew started it got worse. She got to walk around campus in her special coat and sit with the seniors. In the spring when she laughed at me, there was a bigger audience. She was more important. She was in season.
            The point is I can never name my daughter Lilly. I have to pick another, and sure there are a million names. And maybe I’ll name her after a character from my favorite book—Lyra, but it doesn’t change the fact that she ruined that name. I wonder if I’ve ruined my name for anyone. It doesn’t seem likely. I think maybe if I met her again, I could fix this. Lilly will have evolved. She’ll be good, just like her name, and I can pick it out again from a baby name book without twinging guilt or caution. 
            For now, we will say Lyra and I will continue to wonder who I’ve ruined my own name for. It probably would’ve happened in sixth grade or seventh grade. I was a real bitch back then. 

story time

Excerpt from a short story called 'Midsummer' by A. Smithie

Duncan stands by his Jeep Grand Cherokee, his retro sunglasses hanging from neon croakies.  My uncle wore ones like those at the end of the nineties when he was into running topless in purple spandex shorts.  Duncan wears a Patagonia fleece and Nantucket red shorts.  I look down at his feet as we pull into the parking lot and notice he has recently switched from Reefs to Crocks.  I make sure to alert Nathalie of his recently evolved wardrobe. 
              He waves, squinting into the sun, and I hope he puts his sunglasses on, so I can take in the full effect of whatever he’s trying to pull off.
We leave the car out of politeness, and he runs to Nathalie and gives her a generous hug and then politely turns to me, reluctantly pressing his body against mine.
“Thanks so much for picking me up, guys.  My mom made us some cookies too,” he coos.
“I’m dieting,” Nathalie grimaces, “I’m only taking in alcoholic calories. Thanks anyways,” she turns away, but not before warning him, “Duncan, I’m shotgun and I don’t care what pump-up Montreal playlist you made, I already have one on and it’s better.”
“Thanks, Duncan. It’s really no problem. We’re so excited to drive up with you,” I lie.
Truthfully, I had avoided his text messages about carpooling for about a month before I finally caved and responded.  I knew he didn’t like me very much and if he did like me at all, it was because he worshipped Nathalie and Nathalie had always made it clear how important I am to her.  Duncan somehow popped up wherever she was, whether it was inviting himself to brunch in Boston, sleeping on the floor next to one of our beds in a hotel room in New York, or hitching a ride to Canada, he always appeared.  Nathalie pretended to despise him, to resent his obsession with her, but I knew she would never take him for granted.  She appreciated all of her admirers. 
He fawned over her in a way that was not overtly sexual.  I wasn’t even sure if he was sexual.  When I thought of him, it always stopped at the waist.  I never wanted to venture past that, and not just because his hair is the same color as his Nantucket red shorts. 

Duncan was in the backseat, but I wished we could have packed him away in the trunk, my inner sociopath stirring; it just was not far enough.  He recited the names of each lake as we passed, recalled his most fond childhood memories, which seemed to all have happened at one of these lakes.  If his mom hadn’t baked those cookies, I would have tossed him out of the car and I wasn’t sure what was keeping Nathalie from doing just that. Perhaps she was planning to break her alcohol only diet and was keeping him around in preparation for the inevitable gorge. 
Duncan would leave for Brazil in a month, building a school or painting a house, or whatever it is they send you down there for, while making you pay your college’s tuition in full.  He expressed his anxieties, his hands clamped on the headrest of Nathalie’s passenger seat, his fingers dancing across the leather, dangerously close to her scalp.  I couldn’t help but think of the National Geographic gorillas grooming their mate.  It was only a matter of time before—
“Nathalie, your hair smells so good. What shampoo do you use?”
“I don’t wash my hair, Duncan. It naturally smells this way.”
“I believe that, actually, I just use body wash, and no conditioner, ever. I, like, don’t even need it.”
“I was kidding, Duncan,” her eyes rolling, I’m sure, beneath her large sunglasses.
“Anyways, I’ve connected with a couple kids that are going. They sent out a list of everyone in the program, and then this girl, from Amherst, I think, well, she made a group on Facebook and started inviting everyone.  I have lots of mutual friends with, like, so many of kids. A couple from Deerfield, and they all know Jamie Moffet.”
“Well she’s a gem.”
“I know, I like her too,” Duncan responds eagerly, Nathalie’s sarcasm sneaking past him.  
“Pass me a cookie,” Nathalie demands, “And I want to pee soon.”
Duncan peels away the tin foil and pulls out a handful of cookies, clamors towards Nathalie and offers them with pride.
“They’re so good. My mom made different kinds; I wasn’t sure what you’d want. There are some with peanut butter, but wait, this one has chocolate chip.”
He handles the cookies, examining each before attempting to place his selection onto Nathalie’s lap.
“Just one!” Nathalie slaps at his hand and reclines her seat onto him.
“You can move behind me, Duncan,” I offer.
Nathalie can be funny, but she can also be cruel, and Duncan makes it easy for her to be both.  

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's Weird Outside So Here's a Cornelius Eady Poem

This is a deep, meaningful and excellent poem. Enjoy it. -Jackie 

Hardheaded Weather
These leaves which have yellowed and are aloft
Or waving like bright hands at their stems as I drive my
Small red car under this raw and whipped
November sky.
And the wag of the bare branch,
The argument between the wind
And what the wind desires to push,
The sleet, the hardheaded weather,
This landscape, curling toward sleep.
A year has passed since you died, and you died, and you.
I steer towards my house upstate.
Friends, who ever thought
That I'd own doors you won't open,
Floors never to carry your tread?
My CD player does its random shuffle,
A traditional folk song rumbles the glass,
And I think of Whitman, nursing his wounded boys
At the military hospital, his poetic romance of death
Now a kid's thready breath he can't repair, or a young hand he grips
Until all the possibility in it lays cold.
Here is my middle-aged throat, singing along as I drive,
Singing to you.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Poem of the Week


Rosemary, and
A faded sprig of holly,
Tucked to the soft curls tossed across my face.
You skipped across the wooden floor, and listening to
The crackle of fire,
You knelt.
I heard you there – 
Slow breaths, 
A muffled hint of jostling, 
Concealed beneath your sighs.

A vision of the sleet, 
Flitting across my sky,
And strewing a blind flurry that
Was written on your next blank page.

I saw your expression melt; 
It slipped into the coma of myriad pains.
Your features now unblended, 
With neat creases –
Like the folds forgotten
To be unfolded when the iron was slid across.

The only warmth we felt came from your wood-stove.
The rattling of your silver pot,
An uncertainty in its whistling, 
The last trickle of the remedy now
Mere ashes.

To think it knew better than I do
Where the road turned.
After it all,
You could only impart the simmering wisdom
To my wood-stove.

Krithika Venkataraman '15

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Monday, December 10, 2012


with jónsi in mind, support this performer / poet from providence. brendan has lived in northampton and played with parachutes who went on tour with sigur rós in 2008. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jónsi - Tornado

- Emily L.

Hollywood Heroines

For its third year, The New York Times Magazine has created "Hollywood portfolios" in the form of mini-movies. Every year has a different theme, and this year's is Hollywood heroines. I thought it couldn't be more apt for Smith.

If you want to learn more about the inspiration for the video, check out this behind the scenes look: http://6thfloor.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/07/hollywood-heroines-behind-the-scenes/ 
I thought it was incredible that they didn't use any special FX at all. The video is directed by Tierney Gearon. 

- Kristen '15

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Today at work

Today at work, I decided to forgo doing my homework and read Anne Carson. It was so much fun! This poem is long but amazing: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178364 -Jackie '14

Wednesday, December 5, 2012



I saw a Lucian Freud exhibit this spring at the National Portrait Gallery in Freud's native London.  I've been recognizing the faces in his visceral portraits in the pre-finals faces of Smithies around campus (which is covered in a London-esque dreary fog, is it not?)



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Depressing Russian Poem

This poem is so cool! The ending reminds me of Guy Fawkes day and T.S. Eliot's 'Hollow Men.' -Jackie '14

Afanásy Fet (1820-1892)

‘When you read these anguished lines’

When you read these anguished lines
Where from heart’s roaring blaze the flames issue,
And passion’s fatal flood swells and climbs,
Do they speak never a word to you?

How to credit it! In the steppe, that night,
When through midnight’s fog premature dawn,
Translucent, lovely, in miraculous light,
For you, out of the darkness, was born,

And beauty to unwilling eyes made plain,
Drawn to those glories that the darkness rive,
How can it be that nothing whispered then:
‘There a man was burned alive’?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

mixed media works

the lens through my cousin jared, an artist based in san francisco, views the world is romantic and old-fashioned. here are some of his mixed media paintings on canvas which incorporate photo transfers.

see: jaredleake.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Almost Thanksgiving!

It's almost Thanksgiving (Yay!) so I thought I would post a poem about food. Bon appetit! - Jackie:

The Café Filtre

Slowly and with persistence
he eats away at the big steak,
gobbles up the asparagus, its
butter & salt & root taste,
drinks at a glass of red wine, and carefully
                             taking his time, mops up
               the gravy with bread—
The top of the café filtre is
copper, passively shines back, & between
mouthfuls of steak, sips of wine,
                             he remembers
               at intervals to
with the flat of his hand
the top removed,
at the apparatus,
create the suction that
the water will
                          fall through
                          more quickly
Across the tiles of the floor, the
cat comes to the table  :  again.
“I’ve already given you one piece of steak,
what do you want from me now? Love?”
                            He strokes her head, her
rounded black pregnant head, her greedy
     front paws slip from his knee,
     the pearl of great price
     ignored  .  She’s bored, he
bangs the filtre again, its top is copper
passively shines back  .
                                                                  Food & wine nearly
He lifts the whole apparatus off the cup  .  Merciful
God, will it never be done?                      Too cold
to add cream and sugar, he offers the last
piece of steak with his fingers  .
                          She accepts it with calm
even delicacy  .  The coffee goes down at a gulp, it
is black
& lukewarm  .

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sonnet XVI, Pablo Neruda

Sonnet XVI by Pablo Neruda

I love the handful of the earth you are.
Because of its meadows, vast as a planet,
I have no other star. You are my replica
of the multiplying universe

Your wide eyes, are the only light I know
from extinguished constellations;
your skin throbs like the streak
of a meteor through rain.

Your hips were that much of the moon for me;
your deep mouth and its delights, that much sun;
your heart, fiery with its long red rays,

was that much ardent light, like honey in the shade.
So I pass across your burning form, kissing
you - compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.

- Emily, '15

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Anna Schuleit

Anna Schuleit does a lot of installation artwork; she even did a site-specific installation at abandoned Northampton State Hospital in 2000.  She's always doing tons of innovating new projects. One she's about to begin in really interesting; her website indicates a "new collaboration is now underway with neuroscientists at Columbia Medical School, that will allow Anna to explore a new drawing method based on recording the movements of the pupils with vision research tools = requiring no intermediary between seeing and drawing.  Seeing becomes drawing in that way, opening up an entirely new way of visual record-taking, mapping, and art-making. Anna will test this new drawing method via a prototype portable eye-tracking device during an expedition to the North Pole next Summer, as a fellow of the Arctic Circle program."

Just above is Anna Schuleit in her Harrisville, New Hampshire studio.  Check out more of her work and new project ideas at her website: http://www.anna-schuleit.com/

-Hannah '14

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.   
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me   
And nuzzled my left hand.   
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.
-Hope you enjoyed this one! - Jackie

i'm knee deep

for the week of november 12, this is my official walking song.  if you see my brooding around the corners of hillyer, fact is i'm taking a break from reading plato and i'm listening to the line, "you're the shit & i'm knee deep in it" over and over and over again.

can someone tell me what literary device is used in that lyric? it beats me, but i think it might be one of my favorite double entendres.  if only i had a list of "favorite double entendres"....


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Japanese Sandman

"Trading new days for old"

Kristen, 15'

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Winston Chmielinski

this artist is definitely worth checking out. here are just a couple that i particularly liked.

you can find a lot more on his website: http://www.wi-ch.com/

-hannah '14

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Zachary Wollard

I found this artist the other day. So cool! I'm pretty sure this last painting is of Narnia...

Monday, November 5, 2012

a short history of the apple

the crunch is the thing, a certain joy in crashing through
living tissue, a memory of Neanderthal days.
                                   -edward bunyard, the anatomy of dessert, 1929

teeth at the skin. anticipation.
then flesh. grain on the tongue.
eve's knees ground in the dirt
of paradise. newton watching
gravity happen. the history
of apples in each starry core,
every papery chamber's bright
bitter seed. woody stem
an infant tree. william tell
and his lucky arrow. orchards
of the fertile crescent. bushels.
fire blight. scab and powdery mildew.
cedar apple rust. the apple endures.
born of the wild rose, of crab ancestors.
the first pip raised in kazakhstan.
snow white with poison on her lips.
the buried blades of halloween.
budding and grafting. john chapman
in his tin pot hat. oh westward
expansion. apple pie. american
as. hard cider. winter banana.
melt-in-the-mouth made sweet
by hives of britain's honeybees:
white man's flies. o eat. o eat.

-dorianne laux, the book of men, 2011

Friday, November 2, 2012


Dear Labrys blog,

Today I saw Allison, a Labrys grad, at lunch. It was wild and amazing and made me feel like I had stepped into a magical time vortex which lead to countless weird philosophical musings, poems and reflections on science fiction television. So, I have decided to post a poem on time, and to spare you from Milton, have decided on Auden, which, while still depressing, I just like far better - it's more readable. But anyways...


Time can say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you, I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time can say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you, I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time can say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you, I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away?
Time can say nothing but I told you so.
If I could tell you, I would let you know. 
WH Auden

P.S. Allison it was great to see you! Have a lovely weekend back home. : ) 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

In honor of the first day of November, which was a very typical kind of November day: blustery, cold, and dreary.

"This is the year's despair: some wind last night
Utter'd too soon the irrevocable word,
And the leaves heard it, and the low clouds heard;
So a wan morning dawn'd of sterile light;
Flowers droop'd, or show'd a startled face and white;
The cattle cower'd, and one disconsolate bird
Chirp'd a weak note; last came this mist and blurr'd
The hills, and fed upon the fields like blight.
Ah, why so swift despair! There yet will be
Warm noons, the honey'd leavings of the year,
Hours of rich musing, ripest autumn's core,
And late-heap'd fruit, and falling hedge-berry,
Blossoms in cottage-crofts, and yet, once more,
A song, not less than June's, fervent and clear."
-  Edward Dowden, Later Autumn Song

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

tiny desk concerts

 something about their voices hit me hard in the gut.  and make me feel like i'm at home. 

also, i'm so old fashioned and can't navigate music blogs, and always find these tiny desk concerts almost as exhilarating as the real thing.  i love hearing bob boilen's voice (the host of all songs considered) in the background--he's so fly.

maybe our girl margie can reunite with these kids? she was killin it with her banjo on thursday night. thank you to everyone who made our event!

also, don't forget to share your art and poetry and writing and anything with us by october 31st (that date should ring some spooky bells).  send us your work at labrys@smith.edu


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Street Scene by Sejal Shah

I went to see the poet Sejal Shah at the Smith Poetry Center a few weeks ago and I especially enjoyed this work of her's, "Street Scene."  She is a very talented South Asian American poet and writer!

Street Scene by Sejal Shah

Parisians call this neighborhood mixed. Mixed is code; it means immigrants. Think Brooklyn, Caitlin says. We are in the 20th Arrondissement, near Père Lachaise. I am here to see the Louvre and the Turkish Baths; I am here to visit my friend, Caitlin. I have a map and some time for wandering. To travel by yourself and enjoy it is a skill; I don’t practice enough.
The 20th Arrondissement. Storefronts with fuchsia and blue signs; Senegalese behind tables of patterned scarves, watch caps, and leather bags; music, a low flare around which we warm ourselves at the park, at pool tables, at long wooden bars. LeeAnne isn’t here to tell me where she stayed in Paris. When I think of her, I see us talking in my backyard, splashing in the pool, upstate New York summers. It surprises me. She was never there, but I can see it: the blue pool, our hideaway; beach towels; instant iced tea. I imagine we lay ourselves out on the uneven flagstones, waiting to be hot enough to peel ourselves off and fling ourselves into the water. If I close my eyes hard enough, if I squint, I can almost see it, this scene—that we grew up together. She was that kind of friend. As I walk through Paris, I keep expecting to catch a glimpse of her, vanishing into some narrow street.
Paris is a walking city; even my softest black shoes will produce blisters. We are on the Champs Élysées, on the way to a make-up store to have our eyes made up. Caitlin and her roommate are going to a birthday party tonight. I am back to seventh grade conjugating verbs, acting out a skit in which we say:Where is the party? I’ll meet you there. We will see you there. I will see you there. See you there?
Caitlin and I were neighbors toward the end of our twenties. I am staying with her in Paris for a week. We are neighbor-friends—neighbors who became friends—friends who once lived close by. She moved into our apartment complex, two doors away from me. She wore pencil skirts, perfectly tailored, unusual to see in a graduate student in our hippie college town. I admired her. Then her new boyfriend showed up, playing guitar, sitting out on the back porch, and I felt shy. And I was embarrassed. He was someone I had known from the university years before. We had once, twice had two beers too many and had kissed awkwardly in the apartment he shared with two other musicians. The years passed; he and Caitlin broke up. Now neither of us are in touch with him and I fly across an ocean to visit her.
The word for neighbor is la voisine. The word for sister is ma soeur. Friends are les amies.
Each day, I walk across the street to the Internet café. There is something comforting in something you do everyday. Repetition, even across one week, is key. This is what I say to the African who works there: Un café au lait et au pain chocolat, s’il vous plait. He answers in French rather than in the English we both know he knows. I take this as a kindness.
I take the Métro to the Musée d’Orsay. I look at paintings everyone recognizes. I dig my camera out from between pens and street map and take pictures: a long-faced woman; a flock of ballerinas in blue tulle and chiffon; a rooster; a bride and groom, suspended.
We sang songs in seventh grade. Alouette, gentille alouette. Skylark, nice skylark, I will pluck the feathers off of you. I will pluck the feathers off your head, off your back; I will break your beak. I will remove your heart. I am going to dismember you. This is what runs through my head: French class. Even though I am in France.
I came to Paris to make up for seven years of French in grade school. What do you do with a language you never use? I didn’t know when I booked my flight, what I was looking for. I had a friend in France. I thought, why not?
We had a concrete pool in the backyard of my parents’ house, but it no longer exists. They filled it in five years ago. My parents hired someone to break down the raised rim; they must have rented a crane to fill the hole with earth. We saw pictures, but we—my brother and I—were not there to see the pool in which we spent our summers lifted away and filled. We were not there to see the yellow bulldozers or the torn wooden fence. We did not see the truck full of earth brought to reclaim the kidney bean shape: curved, fetal. We saw the earth there, without grass, sinking. More dirt needed to be brought to cover the indentation of what was gone, what had left.
Once, LeeAnne spent two weeks by herself in Paris at museums. I could barely do two days. We met when I was twenty-four, close to too late for meeting a friend you could love as if you were young. I rushed in, late to an orientation for a new job; she put her hand on the chair next to her. Here, she said. I sat down, embarrassed, out of breath. She leaned over and whispered: You didn’t miss anything. You’re fine! Her face opened up whenever she saw me, as though I were the most precious and wonderful present in her life—a rare flower, a perfect day. She was like that with all of her friends. She made you feel—by the quality of her attention, her warm hazel eyes, her rapt, joyful smile—loved.
I was looking at a painting. I stood shaking in front of flowers: dull flowers, heads bent. I knew she had been happy. I knew nothing. She is gone. What do we really know about anyone else? Or their sorrow? The flowers were alive and painful to gaze at: brown, fading; green and purple, thick paint, too thick, streaks nearly grotesque, almost lovely, nearly gorgeous. I cried in front of the other tourists. I wanted to find her. She was gone. I closed my eyes. I wanted to see her once more. I want to see her again.
There is no one on the street in this street scene. The scene is the angle at which the road curves and so it seems to open up, to hold some possibility. The paintings are the signs for l’hotel and pâtisserie. The color is the color of fall leaves. The only figure is a church steeple, slate gray. I remember walking alone though I was in a city, a much-walked city, and I must never have seen a corner that empty. In Paris, I felt as if I were walking, again and again, across a stage set. The entire city stood still, posed, as if a museum or a photograph.
We could see the cemetery from Caitlin’s apartment. Important people were buried there, I’d been told. I pressed myself against Caitlin’s window and took pictures of the gravestones. Who was there? Van Gogh, Degas, Giacometti, Modigliani? LeeAnne would have chosen more time with the art, not bothering with the cemetery. I thought of the flower heads bowing at the museum, irises unfurling. I thought of the mint tea from the hammam, the sharp-scented blue soap, the hands of women I didn’t know on my back. I thought of LeeAnne gazing up at the Chagall; she would have been transfixed by the violet sky, clasped arms, bound by the colors, turning to someone in delight. She would have been breathless. Nine years later, one fall day, she was no longer picking up the phone. I called that morning, was it near noon? I hope she heard my voice on the machine before she left the house. (She was in Kentucky, I was in Massachusetts; two months had passed since we last talked.) I’ll be driving all afternoon. Call me anytime.
I want to believe she paused, that she brightened, just one moment. But how could she have brightened when she was no longer picking up the phone, when she had written out a note, when she had tucked a bottle of pills into her pocket? She didn’t change her mind. She took their dog for a walk to a wooded area. She didn’t want her husband to have to find her. She wrote our names in black ballpoint on Post-its to affix to cardboard boxes she left for all of us: in mine, books; a key chain; a clutch of pomegranate-colored beads strung together like flowers; a clay plaque, which says create in raised letters. Her husband handed me my box after the service. I keep the Post-it near me; I keep the plaque on a wall in my apartment—in every apartment I have lived in for the past nine years; I misplace the beaded flowers and find them again every few months. I called on a Friday morning. Her husband called me on Sunday. It had taken a day to find her.
I want to believe she heard my voice before she left the house. It is selfish, but I want to believe she knew I was thinking of her. Still, I will never know what she thought or if she heard or what she felt, at the end.
Once, crossing the street, we saw children. They crossed the street with their teacher. They were a line of ducks in the rain. In my head, I was taking notes: I passed children, walking like ducklings. They wore blue slickers and yellow boots. Notes to myself, notes to LeeAnne. It has been nearly ten years now. My French dictionary is no help. I would like to find a word for this besides suicide, but in French the word is the same. I would like to find a word for a friend who was better than a friend, who was as close as a sister, but I do not have a sister (une sœur) and something in these words won’t translate: to be like something is not the same as to be something. I would like a better word. Something to stay past this passing of time, something that will last.
Paris is for writers—for everyone who wants something from their wanting. What do you do in a city? You walk. I walked. Repetition is key. In my head, I sang. Je te plumerai la tête. I walked around the city for one week. (In my head, I spoke French.) I looked at the river. It rained. I must have looked at the river.Alouette. I walked and I walked. I took pictures. Skylark, lovely skylark. I thought of a pool, which once existed—rough concrete, paint chipping, the sharp comfort of chlorine. I thought of LeeAnne. We were markers, marking what? There was earth and it was sinking. Et la tête. Of how she just wanted to rest. Et la tête. Of what use is the head. There is ringing. Of what use is a ghost blue pool. I was in my head. Din din don. And then ringing. Din din don. There is the outline of what was once a pool—now an indentation, now an impression, now fresh, now earth.
We should have been two girls, swimming. (I cannot say it in French.) We should have been two girls lying on the flagstones in the sun, talking, and lemon juice in our hair and iced tea in tall flowered glasses by a light blue pool; we would have had time. So this is the Seine. I know I should let her go. So this is time. I’m not ready yet. We are flowers alive by the side of the pool, bowing and bowing toward each other, heads bent, as girls always do.
Source: http://www.kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2011-fall/selections/sejal-shah/