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Essays

Sarah Cedeño

November 29, 2018

On the Road’s Shoulder

I’m sorry for the table scraps I give the dog when you’re not looking, how I scrape the meat sludge from your sauce plate into the dog bowl, how she laps it up because she knows it is deserved, the last of her ten years on this earth. I’m sorry for dimming the ceiling light you’ve just blazed on, for preferring the lamps my mother gave me that I nestle in the corners. I’m sorry for having turned my back to you so many nights, for having blamed the oppressive heat and tied the curtains back when you’d rather them closed.  I’m sorry for having enjoyed all the breeze that came in through the windows while you snored into the hallway. I’m sorry, too, and I’ll say again and again, that I’m sorry for the glass of wine that turns into four and into five until I’ve sunken into someone who is not me. That I will make the “just jelly” sandwich for Sammy, who’s sweaty with afternoon sun and working toward hockey practice, instead of slathering peanut butter on one side. I’m sorry not all the meals I make contain a protein. And I’m sorry for the heels of my foot, scratchy against your calf at night. I’m sorry for so often saying yes to others that I have to say no to you. I’m sorry for forgiving myself for saying what I mean even though I’m not right, for dragging what you mean out of you like the entrails of a buck on the road’s shoulder.


Sarah Cedeño’s work is forthcoming or has appeared in The Journal2 BridgesThe PinchThe Baltimore Review, New World WritingThe Rumpus, Hippocampus Magazine, Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. Sarah holds an MFA from Goddard College in Vermont. She lives in Brockport, NY, with her husband and two sons, and she teaches writing at the College at Brockport.

Essays

Caitlin McGill

November 29, 2018

Morning Glory

Emerald vines strangle my Boston porch and crawl up the deck where I stand, alone, clinging to wood. At the neck of the tendrils: a single morning glory, a blushing base. And where the flower widens, opening like an unfurling fist: a rich, deep purple—a glazed, twilight sky. Early morning, no other humans in sight. No other eyes studying my tapering limbs, my protruding collarbone, the water pills hiding inside my pocket.

My phone rings—Mom again. The sun sears my legs, intensifying with the nearing birds’ caws. I clutch the rail tighter. My hands shake. I ignore her call.

A text message: Just checking on my girl.

Is she studying photos of me again and remembering her own thin limbs? Examining my shrinking, twenty-four-year-old body and wishing I would open up? I still have not told her of the holes in my ex-boyfriend’s walls. His bloody knuckles. The hazy memory of his hands around my neck, mine around his wrists. My dented fenders, our cocaine. The way my body began to vanish after I left him last year.

I consider calling her back and then don’t. My stomach grumbles.

I peer down at my violet glories and wonder if they’ve opened more since I’ve been standing here, wonder when they will begin to shrink. By tonight—when I’m hiding in bed and opening another book—they’ll disappear. They’ll close and wilt and split from their stems, exhale petals onto dirt.

Tomorrow, new blooms will replace the old, and though I know this I still watch the eggplant petals all morning and think, Maybe today will be different, maybe they won’t disappear, maybe, maybe, maybe, we’ll change our ways.


Caitlin McGill’s work has been supported by the Bread Loaf Writers’ conference, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, The Chattahoochee Review, Consequence, Iron Horse Literary Review, Vox, War, Literature, & the Arts, and several other magazines. She is a 2016 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award winner and the 2014 winner of Crab Orchard Review’s Rafael Torch Nonfiction Literary Award. She recently completed a memoir about intergenerational trauma, inherited survival mechanisms, immigration, race, class, addiction, mental illness, war, and the cost of ignoring our histories. One essay from her book was named a Notable in The Best American Essays 2016.

 

 

Book Reviews

Cheryl Fitzgerald Reviews Kisha Lewellyn Schlegel

November 16, 2018

Fear Icons
Kisha Lewellyn Schlegel
160 pages
21st Century Essays, Mad Creek Books, $13.96

Photo by author

Fear Icons, by Kisha Lewellyn Schlegel, examines how fear is created and soothed in modern society by adopting the personal essay form to explore the lives of public and historical figures. Her approach is encapsulated by a Goethe quote she uses, “we can only portray rather than explain.” In other words, rather than a theoretical analysis of the people and things that cause fear, Schlegel employs a variety of creative portrayals including drawings, letters, and diary entries, intermixed with references and quotes from literature and feminism. As a result, we have a collection of 20 essays that move lyrically and creatively among a wide range of subject material, touching on everything from Bin Laden to Facebook, while connecting these seemingly disparate ideas into a central thesis of the role fear plays in our daily lives.

For example, her essay “Trump” is arranged as a series of diary entries beginning prior to the election and ending on election night. She struggles with her six-year-old son’s honest reaction that he “hates him” and with the inadequacy of language to describe her feelings. She states, “What can I say when I don’t believe that love will keep us safe? How can I talk about how much I hate this man without making more hate? . . . What language can disrupt the language of fear without repeating its error?” The theme of “language” continually reappears throughout this essay, as Schlegel discusses the language of oppression, the language of love, the language of the “literary mothers” who have come before her, and, when all else fails, the scream. Continue Reading