By Alex Colon, VI Form
“I Simply Speak Best in Metaphors”–Creative Writing at SM
Editor’s Note: The Rise of the Short Story and News That Stays News are VI Form elective courses that constitute a key part of St. Mark’s creative writing program. In the fall, students examine the integral parts of a successful short story in order to craft their own. In the spring, students explore poetry, both originally in English and in translation. In News That Stays News, students attempt to define poetry, experiment with form, and establish a personal voice.
Alex Colon’s short story, “Completely Undone,” was composed while using the second person pronoun (you) perspective as the driving force of the story. This is a particularly difficult task, as one risks alienating the reader. For Alex’s second piece here, a poem entitled “The Morning Inconspicuous,” the assignment was simply one of form: write a sestina. However, a sestina is a very complex form of obsession, where the six words at the ends of the lines in the first stanza are repeatedly woven, in a given order, throughout the poem.
Your heart beats slow- abnormally slow. You are healthy and lean, but your heart is beating along like you are on your deathbed. You must have been in love at some point because there is no other reason why your heart should beat so slow. Your feet struggle to pick themselves up. With every step you are putting yourself in danger.
You have had too much time to think. It is only detrimental at this point and interferes with your body’s involuntary movements. Pick up your pace. You must get home before dark.
As the snow crunches under your feet, you think to yourself, how strange is it that there are two parts to your brain. Your lungs expand, and your heart pumps, regardless of how you feel on that day. Your mind can think it can fly but your chest tightens before you jump. You did not will this to happen and yet this is what it means to be alive. To have a consciousness outside of what you have been told as a young mesh of flesh is what keeps you from walking into traffic and continue your wretched existence.
Another part of you, a third part that you have not considered, abruptly decided to toy with your already weak feet. It sounds like a child- an angry vindictive child. “Let’s go play in traffic.”
You think it is a ridiculous proposition and yet, you no longer hear the crunch of snow under your feet. The paved path is a relief on your back; you had not realized how taxing it is to walk in snow. The road is empty for long stretches of time, and no cars have yet to pass on your side. Briefly every now and then, after every fifth step or so, you think of Amelia Bober who went missing while walking around here. Well, she did not go missing – someone took her.
You heart is beating faster now.
You continue to walk the path that precedes you. A few more cars pass by including a blue sedan. Your weaker thought process tells you that this car reminds you of her and your chest begins to contradict itself. You clutch at your chest and warm tears drag like nails across your face. You go into a fit of sobs.
All at once, you decide that life is too hard to live, and you collapse onto the very road which gave you relief not too long ago. There is a small echo inside of you, warning you of the dangers that lurk beyond the treeline, but your heart is broken. Your heart is broken and how can you live with the knowledge that she will never love you back. You lie face down on the wet cold road and cry pathetically about how pathetic you are.
A broken heart is most commonly likened to withdrawal like that of opiate abuse. It may lead to pain all over, hallucinations, depression, loss of appetite, lack of a will to live, nausea, feeling detached from self and watery eyes just to name a few. People in relationships are really no better than those that hang behind the old library shooting up. Maybe their hearts were broken too.
You turn over and immediately see the grin of a man above you. He is crouching awfully close to you face with his dark teeth, rotting from the inside out. His smile is not a friendly one, and he looks like he wants to eat you. Your skin is crawling as the worst case scenario manifests before your eyes.
Faintly, you think, “So that’s why they couldn’t find Amelia.”
Suddenly, a fit of nausea rushes over you, heaving into a sitting position. You almost throw up on the man. Whether or not the man notes your ill state is unknown as his grin stays exactly where it is. The man reaches out to touch your cheek, but you move your face away. You stand quickly, not wanting him to be above you any longer.
“Why so late?” the man says, “Why so alone?” You nearly groan out loud for his voice is impossibly terrifying. It’s much too raspy and soft for a person of his demeanor. “Hehe,” oh, god, his chuckle is even worse, “Did you mean to surprise me?” He reaches for your neck and you have never wanted to die more in your life. You close your eyes, hoping he will be humane, and then you feel a push on your chest. Your arms flail around as you fall backwards into a bank of snow. It was only then that you heard the car speed by. You look around quickly for the man, but he is nowhere to be found. There is not a single trace of him. The only footsteps in a mile long radius are your own. Your heart drops to your feet and your body runs cold. The car comes back, and you start screaming. You know that you will not outrun a car but here you are, running away like an idiot.
The car easily catches up to you and parks itself in front of you. You hear the car door open and slam and your mother’s voice calls out your name. “It is 3 am! I have half a mind to leave you out here. You get in this car this instant. What were you doing in the middle of the road? I nearly ran you over. How dare you worry me like that.” She rambles on and grabs you by the ear like she used to do when you were a kid.
Now in the warmth of the car, you begin to cry again. Your mother, of course, does not care and continues to rant, but it is endearing to know that you are alive. Before she pulls away, the man appears by the window, this time his eyes much kinder. He looks cleaner, and his rags have been replaced with clean jeans and a t-shirt. He waves you off and turns away.
You blink and then he is gone.
The Morning Inconspicuous
My cup breathes, expands its shell copper.
The morning sun yawns with potential luck.
The night ends with the moon’s decrease.
The birds awake, alarmed yet not warning.
My cream colored coffee is reminiscent of something galactic.
This is Tuesday habitual.
This is ritual, this is repeated, this is habitual.
My hands slip over the handle of the door made of copper.
My cat paws at an album by Galactic
I step outside where the dew wishes my feet good luck.
The breeze is more than a chill and less of a warning.
The clouds have begun to decrease
The subtle pain in my bones signals a decrease,
The minor inconvenience now inhabitual.
My knees quake in warning
But my lips no longer taste like copper
The morning inconspicuous leaves my heart luck
where trees themselves resemble something galactic
Were my eyes born of stars, of origin galactic?
Or do stars swell or do stars decrease?
It is a miracle, a mighty chance of luck
Star dust has sprinkled over the grass I see as habitual
From iron to gold to steel and earthy copper,
The earth is vibrating a warning
Do I heed the warning?
Seek to return to my origin, my home galactic?
Do I bring my tinkering heart made of copper?
Will the stars become my normal, my habitual?
Will wonder rise or be bored and decrease?
As I pass Andromeda, wish me luck
Or perhaps I will have more luck,
Here on the ground with foggy yellow warnings
I strive to leave my habitual,
Seek something galactic
But where I find amazement, my comforts decrease.
My lips again taste copper .
I sometimes grow ill of habitual, my unsettled stomach warning.
With luck, I will still find the cream in my coffee galactic
A decrease of wonder and so sounds the familiar tink of copper
Alex Colon is a VI Form boarding student from Devens, Massachusetts. She enjoys writing prose, writing music, and playing softball, as well as sneaking the occasional chocolate covered strawberry.