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



Small Towns

She is five years old. She sits in the diner with her mother. Due to a doctor’s appointment, she did not have to go to school today. She is ecstatic. She eats her pancake with the diner’s syrup which always tastes better than the store-bought one. An old man makes his way to the table. He has felt the need to tell her mother how beautiful her five year old daughter is and that one day there will be boys lining the block and how she will break all of their hearts. She feels uncomfortable. Her mother gives a tight lipped smile and returns to the conversation. He seems annoyed at the flippant response to his compliment. They both begin laughing. Even at five she is confused by the events that just unfolded.

 

She is six years old. The clock reads 1:42 a.m. She doesn’t think she’s ever been up this late and she’s worried this is going to interfere with Santa coming. Someone is yelling and she’s hoping it’s not about her. She peeks her head through her bedroom door and sees her mom fighting with her uncle. He is leaving, it is too late to be leaving. She’s worried Santa won’t come if they are in the living room and she’s angry that they woke her up. This is her Christmas too. She hears her mom mention that her brother is crying in her parent’s room. She doesn’t think she’s ever seen him cry before. She thought big brothers didn’t cry. She runs back to her bed before they see her and throws her head under the covers. She hopes she’s on the nice list.

She is twelve and walking her dog. He takes a piss on the motorcycle outside of her house. The man from down the block who owns the motorcycle yells from his porch and asks if she is going to be the one to clean that. She ignores him, her heart is beating faster than she thought it could. She wants to ask him why he would park his motorcycle outside their house instead of his own. That would be too much, that would get her in trouble. She can tell he is waiting for a response so she yells back something between an act of acknowledgement and dismissal. He calls her a fucking slut. She laughs, nothing is funny. She is more scared than she has ever been before. She wonders if she could get into the apartment of her neighbor or into the house of her best friend. He is waiting outside her house when she rounds the block. There is nowhere else to go; she will have to walk past him. It is late, and there is nothing around to stop him if he would like to take his anger out on her. She walks past as he stares bullets into her back. She runs into the bathroom. She can’t breathe, she’s never felt like this before. She laughs when she tells her mom, but nothing is funny.

 

She is fourteen and absolutely wasted. The party she threw in her next door neighbor’s house is in full swing and she doesn’t think she has ever seen this much alcohol in her life. She sits on the stairs with her head on the shoulder of one of her guy friends. He is trying to convince her to go upstairs with him. She doesn’t understand why they would go upstairs if the party is downstairs. For some reason it makes her feel special. He tells her it will be fun, he tells her he just wants to show her something, he asks please. She doesn’t feel so special anymore, she’s worried that he will be mad if she says no but she doesn’t want to leave her friends. She is giggling because she is drunk and she thinks he is too and this all feels so silly. Someone else walks by and she takes the opportunity to get up. He grabs her hand and for the first time she realizes that he is stronger than her. There is a knock at the door and when she answers it it’s her mother. She thinks the world just ended. 

 

She is fifteen and in the basement of this boy’s house. His childhood photos decorate the wall and she feels uneasy. She wonders if he is her age in any of these. He asks her how old she is and she does not lie. Then he asks if she will be a junior. She tells him yes, and this seems to resign any worries he had about her being underage; he is nineteen. She has heard about him before, he seems to be popular amongst the kids she goes to school with. Maybe that’s why she agreed to come over at one in the morning. Maybe that is why she is so worried about disappointing him. He kisses her. He gets her high. He gets her naked. He can’t find her an Uber and he has work in the morning, so he asks her to walk home. Her legs feel like rubber. She has never been this high before. She walks across town alone and calls her friend. He sounds worried but there’s something else in his voice, like he swallowed something sour, like he is disappointed. She feels empty. Her eyes start crying when she gets into bed and she doesn’t know why.

 

She is seventeen and in the back of her friend’s car next to someone much too old to be hanging out with a seventeen year olds. He just bought them alcohol and in exchange, they had to drive him somewhere. She hates this guy and she cannot wait until they drop him off. They pull up in front of what looks like an abandoned house. Something is wrong, so she puts her hood on. He is screaming on the phone with his mom begging her for money, and his mom begins crying and shouting back, calling him a drug addict and telling him that she can’t do this anymore. She feels like she’s six again. Two guys in ski masks approach the car and he gets out to collect the drugs. She keeps her head down. They pass him a little bag filled with snow. He asks if she wants to try it, and she wonders what her mom would think.



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. 



Psychoplay

That is a field mouse. I read about it in my book about animals. The book is called Animals of the American Northeast and it has a part about mammals. That’s the part that has the field mouse. It says that humans are also mammals. But that makes no sense. I am a human and not a field mouse. How could I even be related to this field mouse? I am nothing like this field mouse. 

This field mouse fell in the little plastic pool that Dad set up. I picked this pool last year as a birthday present. I just liked the look of it—dark blue waves and bubbles on the inside, seaweed the color of grass in the springtime, just after dad mows it. And there are cool fish, like swordfish and octopi and moorish idols—like from Nemo. It’s like I can actually be in the ocean, even though I know it’s a little silly. 

I went inside to pee and when I came out this field mouse was in there. It must have fallen into the pool somehow. What a stupid animal. The water is probably not clean anymore, so I can’t even go in it. It’s trying really hard to get out. Its little hands and feet keep scraping over the moorish idol but it can’t get out because the plastic is smooth. It has nothing to grab onto. Stupid thing. If it’s not smart enough to get out of the hole it fell in, I guess it deserves to die. So I’ll just watch it. I’ll just sit here and watch.

 

Today Mom and Dad did something weird. Really it was Dad. It was weird because he never does it. Why would he suddenly do things he doesn’t do? I don’t like that. It’s like in my book Animals of the American Northeast. All the animals are split up into groups and they don’t cross. Mammals don’t breathe water all of the sudden. Where would we be if all the animals in the world acted like every animal except for the animal that they were? It would be discord. That was a vocabulary word from school last week.

Mom or Dad almost always wait at the end of the driveway with me for the bus to come but today they told me to wait by myself to prove I was a big boy. Dad said that. Mom thought it was weird also but didn’t say that. I was waiting then realized I forgot my axehead for show and tell. I found it in the dirt when I was doing something called excavating. It looks like a rusty tooth of a huge monster that lived a long time ago. An axe was used to kill people. I left the axehead on my nightstand and went inside to put it in my backpack. 

But before I go inside I can hear Mom and Dad whisper so I stand and listen. Whispering means they want to hide something. If they whisper when nobody is around they want to hide something extra bad. I listen.

Dad says, He was just standing there. 

Mom says, For how long? 

Dad says, For a while. For a few minutes. 

Mom says, Maybe he didn’t know what to do. 

Dad says, No, he did. I was waiting for him to do something, to call for help maybe, but he didn’t. So I rushed outside and scooped up the mouse. And you know what he said?

Mom says, What?

Dad says, He said, “Why are you saving the mouse?”

Mom says nothing. I agree with her. I don’t get why Dad is talking about this.

Dad says, I feel like most kids would try to save it, right? Or at least be upset about it.

Yeah but that’s because I’m smarter than almost all the other kids. Other kids don’t know that a mouse is a rodent and not a human.

Mom says, I don’t know.

Dad says nothing.

Mom says nothing.

I guess they’re done so I go inside. I startle them. I laugh. I go get my old weapon.

 

I know it’s my bedtime but I can’t sleep. I was sleeping for a little bit, but then my eyes opened and all my tiredness was gone, like it was a goldfinch on my chest that suddenly got scared and flew away. There’s a page in Animals of the American Northeast about goldfinches.

I hear this weird roaring sound—it’s not really a sound. Somehow it’s less than a sound. I guess Mom and Dad are watching a movie downstairs. I’ll go watch with them since I have nothing better to do, except lay here and twiddle my thumbs like a dummy. I’m not a dummy. I’m much smarter than that.

I walk down the stairs to the living room and I see a white-blue light moving around on the wall, and I hear people scream. I was right: Mom and Dad are watching a movie. 

I turn into the living room and stand in the doorway. Mom is curled up against Dad on the couch. Their eyes are fixed on the TV—entranced. That was a word on the vocabulary list in school last week. I was the only one in class to get all the vocab questions right last week. Everyone else is pretty dumb.

Their eyes look like dark circles, and Mom keeps ducking away into Dad’s shirt. I don’t really get it, but Dad looks like he can’t look away. Then the room is covered in dark red. I look at the TV screen. There’s this big man in a weird, ugly-looking mask that doesn’t really fit his face. He’s stabbing a woman through her stomach with a chainsaw and her blood is going everywhere. He lifts up the chainsaw and hoists her off the ground. This is so stupid! How could she still be screaming if her stomach was being destroyed like that? Scooby-Doo is a cartoon and even it is more realistic than this, because the ghosts are never ghosts or anything like that. Just really unhappy people pretending. I laugh at how stupid it is. 

Jesus!” Dad jolts up and looks in my direction. “Aw, shit.” Mom smacks him and they rush to grab the remote and turn it off.

“What’re you doing out of bed?” Mom asks me.

I shrug. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Oh.” They look at each other. 

I go over and pat Mom on the knee, because she still looks scared. “Don’t be scared, Mom. That’s not how people actually die.” I look at the TV screen. It’s switched to a basketball game now. “Plus, if anyone tried to do that to you, I would do it to them first.” I wouldn’t let someone hurt my mom. And if they did, they would deserve what I did to them.

 

They are in the hallway after they carried me back to my bed. They think they are whispering. Their voices echo down the hallway.

Dad says, What kind of kid laughs at Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Mom says, Kids laugh at weird shit. 

I guess this is bad because that is a bad word.

Dad says, But after the mouse thing?

Mom says nothing.

Dad says, I feel like we should look into it.

Mom says. What do you mean by it?

That is a question I also have. 

Dad says, The possibility that our kid is, you know.

Mom says, No.

Dad says, A psychopath. Or a sociopath. Or something

Mom says nothing. I hear my heartbeat. Then Mom says, It’s not called that anymore.

Dad says, What?
Mom says, It’s antisocial personality disorder.

Dad says, Oh, great.

But the way Dad’s voice sounds tells me that he doesn’t really think it’s great.

Mom says, What, are you scared?

Dad says, I think it’s reasonable for me to be a little creeped out that my son thinks a woman getting disemboweled with a chainsaw is funny.

Mom says, That’s just made up for TV plots.

Dad says, What?

Mom says, He won’t—he wouldn’t kill anybody. Most don’t.

Dad says, Most

 

No one plays with me anymore because I pushed someone down once. 

It was finally time for recess and we were all running out to the baseball field next to the playground because we wanted to play tag. Then this boy suddenly ran in front of me and almost made me fall over. That’s not nice so I just pushed him down and ran right over him. Then I turned around and yelled DICK! It’s a word I heard from one of the older kids around school. Then when he tried to get up I pushed him down again, then I kept on running. I didn’t think about it. It just happened. It was autonomic. That was another word from this week, autonomic. It just happened, like when a dog sees a squirrel and just starts running. It doesn’t think about it, it just does it. Kind of like that. So I pushed him down and stomped on him as I kept running. And then it was over. But he didn’t think it was over. 

It’s still like that. Like I’m still stomping on him, like I’m constantly stomping on him. But I’m not. Now I just want to play tag. Whenever I go out into the field everyone stops running and just stares at me. “You’re the mean kid,” they say. But I don’t want to be the mean kid and I don’t see how they don’t get that.

So now I just sit on the swings and kick wood chips and look at the sky. It’s all gray but a really dark gray, like it has rain in it. There’s one cloud shaped like scissors, a cloud shaped like an hourglass, and one kind of shaped like a heart in the palm of someone’s hand.

 

When Mom stops the car in the driveway and gets out of the car I don’t get out of the car. I just stay there. I’m tired from crying.

Mom opens the door and unbuckles my seatbelt then picks me up. She hasn’t picked me up in a long time. I wrap my arms around her neck and hold on like a sloth in a tree that could walk around. That is ridiculous but the world is ridiculous.

Mom opens the door and carries me through the kitchen. Dad is in the kitchen and sees us. He starts following us. He asks what happened but Mom doesn’t answer him. I don’t answer him. I don’t want to answer him.

Mom opens the door of my room and puts me in my bed like she is tucking me in. How did she know that? How did she know I want to sleep? She’s a good mom. She gives me a kiss on the forehead and closes the door. 

And then Dad starts whispering again. He thinks he is whispering but he’s not. He is right outside my door so of course I could hear him. 

He says, What happened?

Mom sighs and says, When I picked him up from school today he just sat there and cried. All the way home.

Dad says, What did he do now?

I feel accused. I had to look that one up in a dictionary one time for a story I had to write for class. It was about someone saying you killed someone even though you didn’t.

Mom says, Nothing.

Dad says, Then why was he—

Mom says, No one would play with him.

Dad says nothing. 

Mom says, What’s wrong?

Dad says, I’m just trying to think.

Mom says, Think about what?

Dad says, About how this happened. 

Mom says, What do you mean?

Dad says, I mean…did I give it to him? Or did—did I fail—

Mom says, Hey.

Then there’s this weird sniffing sound. Then there’s another sound. It’s sad and small, and it hurts. It comes from something that hurts. I’ve heard that sound before. I don’t know where. 

Mom says, Hey. Come here.

Dad says nothing. It’s just that sound—I remember where it’s from. It was the sound that field mouse made except if it came from a human. From my Dad.

Mom says, It’s okay. He’s going to be okay. His first session is next week. 

Dad says, Okay.

Mom says, It can be passed down, but it’s all nurture, okay? It doesn’t matter if he has it, as long as he can deal with it.

Dad says, Okay.

Mom says, We’re doing okay. He loves us. He’s a good boy.

Dad says, I know. I’m just worried now—way more worried than I was before, you know?

Mom says, Of course I do. It’s okay.

Dad says, I just don’t know what to do now. And that scares the shit out of me.

Mom says, Hey.

Dad says nothing. 

Mom says, Look at me. We just need to love him, like we always have. Okay?

Dad says, Okay. 

I’m glad my parents love me. I hope they don’t stop.



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!”