Monster Under the Bed

Momma, the walls breathe at night and you don’t believe me. You and dad check every corner of my enormous room. You open the closet and see darkness. You look under the bed as it clings to my mattress like moss in a bad, wet cave. You look in all the wrong places. And while you do that you don’t even see the stars you painted on my walls turn into eyes slowly as night fills up the world. Your dragon will protect you, you say. His name is Drelion, I tell you as you wrap him around my neck like a scarf. And then you leave and shut off my light. That’s when the monster comes out. It drops down from the bottom of my mattress. It crawls out from underneath. When it hits the floor it’s like my room has a heartbeat. Then it stands at the edge of my bed. I don’t look. I keep my eyes closed, to make sure they don’t fly out of my skull.

. . .

The monster is quiet. I don’t hear it move but it always ends up right in front of my face, so close that if I opened my eyes they would dry out from his stinking breath. The monster is quiet. I listen to its breath and hear its soft voice. Its starving voice. I’ve heard that voice before. That’s why it’s so scary. The voice is thick like a slow dying tortoise but light like a feather. So light my eyelashes would blow it away as they opened. The monster smells like sour bread and strawberries, a bad smell and a nice smell. A smell that would make dad cry. I think that’s why dad pretends there is no monster because he’s embarrassed to be afraid. I wish Dad would save me but he never does. 

. . .

The monster waits. I don’t know what it waits for or what it wants for. It never touches me, never puts its teeth around my head. Sometimes I pretend it’s ripping one of my eyes out and my eye turns into a blue jay. Sometimes I think it will break my fingers off and eat them like worms, or french fries. I really think it wants to talk to me but I don’t know what it will say. Maybe it will sing me a song. Maybe it will tell me why dad is so sad. Maybe it will tell me about all its bad dreams. But I get so tired from keeping my eyes shut tight that I fall asleep before it can say anything. And when it is morning, I know it’s the monster’s turn to hide from me. 

. .

you talk in your sleep. fight, even. some sleeping dog kicking at air.

the gaps of silence are where i live, then.

when the kick to end all kicks

causes flash of eyelid collision before the breath

the cerebral cortex cerberus vanishes 

into the orange kitchen light strip below your door

then, there i am.

the half caved limbo between the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling and the endless vortex beyond it

draw near, child. your heartbeat sounds like boiling water.

you can’t remember. you can’t remember any of it.

you know the answers of my existence and you locked it away,

you’re imagining my face, and you’re right. the stories were all right in their own way. 

but none of them mentioned how i exist for you.


Draw Near.

is it my heartbeat or yours? is it my fear,

or yours?

i hope you’re afraid. and that you still fear death.

that the hope hasn’t left you.

that mind-made castles and creatures protect you from me.

you think this is scary?

imaginary creatures in crevices collected

like stuffed animal items in a kids shopping section

you think this is scary?

curse words encrusted in the cracks of your mothers favorite plate

an accident, an honest one

you think this is scary,

but in my world we have colder commonalities.

drelion, your great and mighty dragon is loved as long as he is known.

hold him tight.

your under-eyes will slowly betray you and the light in the back of your sockets will dim.

you think paralysis is the worst of it

you think you know

Paralysis.

you haven’t even experienced its true form.

your father fears the foundational morals of the stories that created me.

those stories, fables fighting for their place on withering page-staples

loved as long as they’re known.

a hyphenate of maturity.

i smell your fear and there’s no way to remove it.

draw near, child,

 listen to the words in your head

the six-foot-buried memories encapsulated by a halo of fantasy

i exist to warn you.



Woodland Creatures

Written by Elisa Davidson

Photographed by Lilli Drescher

Model: Lucas Pitt

MUD PIES

Mud pies

Drip down my

Arms

My pants

Stained brown

Splattered

 

Coarse dirt

In my fingernails

 

My mom

Will

Kill

Me.

 

MUD PIES 2

I want to put something special 

In my

Mud pies

Mom always puts berries

On hers

I decided on 

The blue berries 

In the bush

Outside our house

They’re little

Like blue robin eggs

 

NEW FRIEND

never seen a beetle

Like this. 

shiny 

green

a new

Leaf

Waiting

To be 

Noticed.

 

How has no one noticed him?

Maybe I would’ve missed him too

If I wasn’t

Paying attention

 

I let him ride

On my

Hand

So enormous

Compared to

his little body

 

TAG

tag

you’re

it

Hide in the bushes

So they won’t find you

Fronds frame your face

Disguises

As they hunt

tag

I’m

it

BIRDS CALLING

I started a journal

The other day

With all

The kinds of

Birds

 

Maybe someday 

I’ll spot

The yellow-bellied sapsucker

 

Its Feathers

Soft and downy

Real and drawn

Pepper the 

pages



Home Grown

I am older now than I was the last time I checked.

I know because 

my mirrors seem to reflect maturity 

in the way I’ve always anticipated. 

 

My hair dark,

face spotted by the sun, 

lips full.

The strawberry blonde baby

with an overactive imagination

is lost, living somewhere deep within. 

Watching, prideful. 

 

All too mature a child, 

I have grown up

and into my own mind.

The adult abilities for which I always yearned,

which were only within my grasp when I reached for boxes of costumes 

and played dress up, 

have finally been bestowed upon me

like a crown on my head.

I would have accepted them with open arms a decade ago—

before I knew the growing pains. 

Before I could swallow and stomach the years.  

 

But after all those years of careful calculation,

sweet dreams 

and superfluous preparation, 

I failed to see how soon

I’d finally reap the reward,

finally get the gift of meeting the girl

I could only ever imagine:

 

The girl who drives a white car 

and covered her walls in rock posters 

and lives in a city—

the girl who loves her friends 

and loves learning.

 

It is her who I have nurtured, 

the possibility of her which I have fawned over, 

the idea of her that I have worshiped 

and loved 

since I first imagined she could exist. 

 

Sometimes, now,

living feels like make-believe, 

like dress up, 

with my own adult body the costume.

Like I am privileged to play the part of the woman

I have always looked up to, but never knew. 

I get to speak as her,

and dress her 

and move her— 

she is who I’ve always been ready to meet, 

but never felt myself growing into. 

 

Somewhere between then and now,

the passage of time must have distracted me. 

I was always forgetting to look up.

Somehow, I forgot that 

someday 

I would be the very object of all my young desires,

until I finally remembered to look up 

and there I saw her 

staring back at me. 



Coffee Date

Written by Ella Donoghue

Photography by Anna Brody

I began dancing when I was three.

Monday nights, ballet. 

In the cold and stuffy backroom of some sad strip mall office, 

where the ceilings were tall 

and the winter sky was always sleepy and dark,

like a romantic painting 

framed by French doors in the back. 

 

With the other little girls 

wrapped in pink tights and leg warmers and leotards, 

I tumbled and turned, 

distracted by people 

shuffling by the back doors. 

 

I began therapy sessions when I was sixteen.

Monday nights, on the second floor of some stuffy strip mall office. 

Entering a coffee shop below 

through its back doors made of glass, 

I stepped backward into time. 

 

And I recognized it all: 

the doorframe, 

the view outside the windows;

they were something from a past life,

except perhaps with lower ceilings. 

 

So once a week, I schedule a coffee date with my three-year-old self. 

Marked on my calendar, right below therapy, I have a meeting with a memory. 

And she twirls in her Target tutu 

and she leaps over the floorboards, 

which have since been covered by plastic wood panels,

and her classical music plays somewhere 

underneath the pop rhythms of the coffee shop. 

I try to hum along,

try to feel her beneath my skin. 

 

As I sip on my coffee we both daydream, distracted,

as we stare out the French doors in the back.

My sky melts into hers. 

I wonder if three-year-old me can smell the coffee beans,

if she can feel my eyes tracing her movement

in the floor to ceiling mirror that no longer stands,

if she is performing for me.  

 

She only ever saw me in her dreams,

now I only see her in mine. 

Except on Monday afternoons, 

when her ghost dances through me,

I silently sip my shaken espresso, 

and we go home to different houses.

 



I can’t ride my bike

i can’t ride a bike

i’m afraid 

of bloody knees 

and wobbly tires 

of pedaling uphill

and gliding downhill

of falling down and

“get back up again” 

 

mom keeps telling me

“let’s go practice this weekend”

 

i don’t want to see that encouraging look on her face

she doesn’t get

how embarrassing this is

that clunky helmet

those uneven training wheels

when people catch us in the parking lot

they smile

as if it isn’t 

pathetic to be a ten-year-old on training wheels

 

this skill isn’t necessary

it’s expected

when my friend is bored

when she pulls out two bikes

she’s disappointed 

and echoes to everyone who will listen

“she can’t ride a bike”

 

people say

it’s easy

“just like riding a bike”

i can’t tie my shoes

everyone keeps telling me nonsense

about bunny ears and wrapping around

i punish mom with angry 

tears when she sits me on the floor

one shoe 

staring it down

at the shoe store 

we search for velcro sneakers

as if the sound isn’t deafening

when i strap them on next to my classmates

their hands full of strings

i’m the only kindergartener with no shoe badge

i can’t climb the monkey bars

i’m the only one

whose arms don’t 

support her body weight

all the other

girls dangle their feet 

sitting on top of the yellow bars

i can’t see anything

but the bottoms of their shoes

i can’t hear anything

but their laughter from above

i sit on the swings

trying not to look over

trying to swing as high

as the monkey bars

that i don’t see when my friend falls

and the bone in her arm sticks out

but she gets a purple cast that

everyone signs

and when it heals

she climbs back up

leaving me on the ground



Child’s Eyes

Written and Creative Direction by Sage Greenwood

Photography by Lilli Drescher

Models Nicole Guth, Ruby McLean, and Sage Greenwood

Not-So-Girl Barbie

Mother put down the plastic box, 

said “Sweetie, it looks just like you.”

The little girl gave a bright pink Barbie smile;

she loves playing with dolls so, so much! She paints faces 

in pretty colors and when she rips heads off

she does it gently because she loves it so, so much!

 

When mother falls asleep,

the little girl has the perfect plan.

She fills the bathtub with bubbles,

drops the doll right in,

presses it down to the porcelain.

 

Layer the Body/Carve Out the Self

From the hallway, dim light leaks 

onto blue cheeks, pink throat,  

red cut across the face; smile 

of a paint-person made of acrylic, still wet. 

 

Handprints on the wall, mirror, sink; 

a nightlight, layered to useless 

 

I reach— 

the paint-person reaches for the door handle— 

Not me. It’s not me. 

 

The paint-person blocks out the light. 



Leonard and the Stupendous Library

The most magical room in the world

to Leonard was Mrs Naumenko’s library.

Every Tuesday, Leonard would walk

just two doors       down,

unsheathe the little brass key from its doormat and  t   h   r   u   s   t   !

it into the door, opening a new world. The room was a small circle, but reached impossibly tall

like a great, big tower of tomes, books

lining all the way       to the ceiling!

It was clear that Mrs Naumenko was a wizard.

Leonard was convinced. He was even more

certain of this because everytime he read a book, the story would swallow him up.

He would fall

in

to

      the pages…

Suddenly, Leonard became a hero, Leonard-Hood

and he was surrounded by green hills and new friends:

adjectives!

Merry, Brave, True, and Just

all helped Leonard-Hood save Nottingham from the Sheriff of Greedy and Evil. Leonard-Hood

let loose a volley of words

as piercing as arrows. Satisfied, Leonard-Hood

put down his Hood, leaving happily ever after for another book…

The next | book spoke | in love | ly verse, A

roman | tic rhymes, | and mush | y words. B

The boy | soon re | alized | his curse: A

more yu | cky plays | split in | to thirds! B

To not | protest | rudely | and terse, A

poor Leo | nard flew | away | like birds… B

 Leonard now found himself inside a mystery!

Where?     Who?

Why?     How?

      So many clues and so many questions!

Leonard craned his neck this way and that 

like a question mark, trying to solve the puzzle.

Of course, Detective Leonard solved the case.

Stupendous, good fellow! declared Watson

Leonard replied, It was preschool, dear Watson!

But, Leonard had another question:

Watson, what was that word you just said?

The doctor paused, “Stupendous?” 

I mean that you were truly great!

Leonard smiled, Thank you, friend. I think we’ve closed this case…

Now,

Leonard was an

       adventurer,

    paddling rapidly

               through the rushing 

white water pages

            of an

             exciting,

yet short

    story…

The last thing that Leonard read

was a sneaky sticky note,

left in the real world

while Leonard was out on his long journey.

It read, “Come back when you’re done reading!

I made your favorite…”

—Love, Dada

Leonard came back to

the buttered scent of grilled cheese

and warm tomato soup. Dada in the kitchen

stirring a pot over the heat

of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”

Home is always a nice end to a story. 

“How was the library, baby?”

Leonard puffed his chest proudly.

“Stupendous!”