“‘Don’t Let Me Down’:  Eleven Facts About the Beatles” by Joanna Penn Cooper

It’s a warm day at some point in the mid-1970s, and I’m at the record store about to pick out the first album I’ll buy with my own money. I am five or six, and my grandmother has taken me “uptown” in Salisbury, North Carolina, to the record store on Innes Street. One of the family legends—a legend in my mind, at least—is about my mother being a child and going uptown with her own grandmother. Mamaw would dress them both up, and they’d wear white gloves, 2as you did. Here I am a little over twenty years later, probably not dressed up at all.  I’m wearing shorts or jeans, most likely. Possibly a sundress my mom made me on the sewing machine.  (Those mother-daughter sundresses are the only thing I remember her ever sewing.) Anyway, the fifties are over, and even the sixties, and here I am gloveless about to buy a Beatles record.  Before I go in, I ask Joe—my mother’s baby brother—which one is best, and he says, “All of them.” I feel momentarily at sea, as part of the fun was going to be impressing Joe with my purchase. But Joe walks away from us on the sidewalk to go look at bikes, and I must make the decision on my own, armed with the knowledge that there’s no wrong choice.  (Or is there?)  Finally, after some consternation, I buy Let It Be. The Beatles all look friendly on the cover.  Except John. Well, Ringo looks a bit fed up, as well, now that I look at it. Or maybe just tired.

In an earlier, scene I’m even younger, maybe four. If I am four, Joe is nine. We’re on Gates Street in front of my grandmother’s house, standing by the curb. (Is this when I still call her Mama sometimes because Joe does?) He is having me say the names of the Beatles. I don’t remember if this is for his own amusement, or if he is having me do it for someone else, as a sort of party trick. “Paul, George, John, and Ringo,” I say, my preferred order. “No,” he says. “You’re supposed to say John, Paul, George, and Ringo.” I refuse. Paul is first in my heart and on my list.

I am seven and Joe is twelve. We are sitting in the spare room watching a TV broadcast of Yellow Submarine. My grandfather is downstairs in what is normally the den, but he is on a bed in the middle of the room, dying. My mother and I are visiting from Knoxville, where she is a graduate student in psychology. She works in the animal behavior lab, feeding newborn mice to the two-headed snake. She won’t let me watch them eat, but I’ve looked at the mice, naked as thumbs, wriggling in their box. I don’t know how the occasion of the trip has been presented to me. Often when my mother had to give me bad news, she presented it as something that “could” happen, and I would be shocked when it did.  Before we went to the airport—which in itself was unusual, as it’s only a four-hour drive between the two towns—she had picked up some medicine at the pharmacy in Knoxville to bring with us to Salisbury. Now I wonder what it was.  Morphine? But why wouldn’t they have had that in Salisbury? The pharmacist was very nice to me and gave me a coloring book and some crayons for the trip, free of charge. I knew then that something strange was happening. I didn’t know the word for it, but I recognized what it was: pity.  Joe and I sit and watch, immersed in the world of the Blue Meanies and the acid-mild cartoon Beatles. And then my mom and grandmother are walking into the room, both crying a little. Before they can say anything, Joe is yelling, “Noooo!” and either rushing out of the room or toward my grandmother. I have to wait to be told before I get it. My grandfather is dead.

My mom’s second husband plays the Rolling Stones loud.  Really loud.  I am in second grade, third grade. The sound is an assault, both for the sound itself and the self-centeredness of the act. This is not all that he was—he also brought me stacks of 45s from the record store where he worked. I had most of the hits of 1979-1981 in a box in my room. Steve Martin singing his novelty hit “King Tut”; Pat Benatar; “Cruel to Be Kind” by Nick Lowe. My tastes in pop music at this age were broad and ecumenical. But the Rolling Stones it takes me much longer to like. For years it was Beatles over Stones.

When I am nine, I live with my grandmother for half a year. My mom is on the verge of divorcing her second husband, but I don’t know this, either. My grandmother is still in a state of stunned depression that I now realize was probably grief and tiredness. Joe has started high school and has grown to over six feet tall, seemingly overnight. Occasionally he will deign to speak to me.  He does let me scratch his feet with the letter opener, but I must stay on my end of the couch. One night after we are all asleep, someone bangs on the door loudly until we’re all awake. It is Mike, Joe’s friend from down the street. A guy with what I would now describe as an odd energy, Mike is a little older, but hangs around with all the kids. Now he is at the door late at night, weeping, hysterical, and demanding to speak to Joe. John Lennon has been shot.

The next day, Granny is peering out the front window at dusk to see if anyone has a candle out for John, muttering, “I lit one for Kennedy, but I’m not lighting one for him.”

I guess it’s that same year that John starts to talk to me from the White Album poster? My mom and I are living alone in grad student housing, and I have the poster from her original pressing of the album in my room, next to my bunk beds. I’ve developed a number of strange compulsions. I count my syllables when I speak, tapping a finger surreptitiously against my leg as I do. There’s some equation about how many steps I have to do in each sidewalk square that I don’t even remember now. And not only can I not step on cracks for fear of breaking my mother’s back, but I can’t step on the dividing lines between sidewalk squares, either. John Lennon tells me these things, and it’s possible that John is the devil. I can tell by the way he stares out so intently from the poster. Also, I think I saw a hysterical teenaged boy say something to that effect in a Beatles documentary. When I finally admit some version of these thoughts to my mother, posing it as a question—“So, do you think it’s possible that John Lennon is the devil?  Can he see me from the poster?”—my mom brings a child psychologist to our apartment. He has me calm my mind and imagine that I am in a meadow of flowers. I find it embarrassing. Later my mom asks if I could see myself meeting with the psychologist every week. I’m alarmed, as I didn’t see that coming. I tell her I don’t feel that it’s necessary and I don’t want to. Nope. I won’t go. At some point, John stops talking to me.

Years later, I will teach an essay to teenagers about the subversive power of Beatlemania[1].  The authors argue that for young Beatlemaniacs, the band offered a vision of sexuality that was “guileless, ebullient, and fun.” They suggest that part of the fun lay in the Beatles’ androgyny.  While commentators like Dr. Joyce Brothers saw the Beatles’ “girlishness” as providing a safe outlet for young women’s burgeoning sexuality, Ehrenreich, et al. argue that “the Beatles construed sex more generously and playfully, lifting it out of the rigid scenario of mid-century American gender roles, and it was this that made them wildly sexy.” Some girls, in fact, likely identified with the Beatles, not just wanting to be with them, but in part wanting to be them. Reading about these theories of Beatlemania, I think back to playing the make out game with Lisa, whose parents also lived in the graduate student family apartments. We listened to Sgt. Pepper, our favorite, and I would pretend to be Paul to her adoring fan.

I find myself extremely frustrated with some boy at my dorm freshman year who acts like he can in any way school me on the Beatles. No. Another boy stands in front of my Beatles poster—the poster made up of four psychedelic portraits in a grid, which they may still sell at college bookstores—and tells me I really must try shrooms at some point. They take away your inhibitions and they’re just totally natural. My core of Beatle fandom is part of what gives me power over these boys and makes me feel not at all bad about showing them to the door when they became tedious. A core of knowledge, of desire all my own.

Before I even reach high school, my Beatles albums are stolen by my mom’s third husband, upon the occasion of their break up.  When I receive my crates of records, along with my other possessions delivered from his house—no Beatles.

I’m in my early thirties, and in a quasi-dating situation with a fairly odd guy in the Twin Cities. He’s at my apartment in late winter, and we’re watching a documentary about the early days of the Beatles. We learn that we both have a deep and abiding affection for the Beatles. Even so, our connection feels somehow removed. That is, we have one, but it is polite and never quite lands. Still, there’s something deeply enjoyable about a chill afternoon of remote, companionable shared Beatles fandom. Later, he will drive me to a used bookstore and run in to buy me a gift. He wants me to have the AA handbook in order to understand him better. I refuse to take it. At home in a drawer somewhere, I already have the one my biological father sent me.

I’m between boyfriends in graduate school, driving around listening to Let It Be all these years later. I’ve bought it on CD, and I zip around whatever state I’m in re-encountering a deeply familiar album I haven’t listened to from start to finish in years. I’m making circles back and forth between the eastern states and those of the Midwest, looking for something (education, companionship, a connection to landscape). At one point, I listen to “Two of Us” and feel momentarily lost—there is no longer a “Two of Us”—before settling on a different feeling, the “two of us” as me and the Beatles, or maybe as me and some other, inviolable version of myself.

[1] “Beatlemania: A sexually defiant subculture?” by Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth Hess, and Gloria Jacobs.

Lis Romine Tyroler

Lis Romine Tyroler

Joanna Penn Cooper is the author of The Itinerant Girl’s Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press) and What Is a Domicile (Noctuary Press). Her work has appeared in South Dakota ReviewZocálo Public SquareOpen Letters MonthlyPositPoetry International, and other journals. Her digital chapbook of collaborative poems with Todd Colby, I’m Glad I Know You, was published by Poetry Crush. She is an editor at Trio House Press and lives in Durham, NC.

This entry was posted in Nonfiction on September 18, 2017

“Brick” by William Bradley

It took us close to an hour, but I managed to knock the bat to the floor with the broom, causing a slapping sound that made my stomach tighten. Emily covered the animal with an upside-down garbage bin, which I then pushed, slowly, out the door and onto the side porch. We heard the bat fluttering about for a few seconds, then it got quiet. I hoped we hadn’t killed it—Emily and I are both pretty squeamish about such things. This was at around 12:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday. We’d found it—our second bat in less than a week— sleeping in our dining room light fixture.

We let the cats out of the bedroom, where we had isolated them so that they wouldn’t get in our way as we got rid of the invasive creature. I regarded Leroy, who for the last day or so had been acting strangely—hiding under the bed, jumping at the slightest noise or unexpected movement. Not his usual purring, attention-seeking self. He also had a strange bump on his neck that I worried might have been a bite from a bat. He’d had his shots, but we were late getting the annual rabies booster. In fact, we hadn’t seen the need—neither of our cats had walked outside our home since their early kittenhood— until we saw the first bat.

Emily’s period was late, too, and though we knew the odds were against it, we were both afraid she might have been pregnant.

The guy who called me back from the emergency veterinary clinic told me Leroy should be quarantined for ten days, but he added that if I brought the bat in to the clinic, they could test it and get back to us the next day.

“How do I get it to you?” I asked.

“Just kill it with a tennis racket or something and bring it in,” he said with a nonchalance that puzzled me. “Don’t touch it with your bare hands, though.”

I don’t really know anything about rabies, but I thought I knew that you couldn’t just beat a bat to death and then test it. But this guy was the expert, and I was clearly out of my element. So.

“We have to kill the bat,” I said as I walked into the living room after I got off the phone. Emily inhaled sharply and stared at me, mouth and eyes opened wide. I realized she’d misunderstood my pronoun use. “I mean, I’m going to do it.”

We don’t play tennis. I thought we had a badminton racquet, but for the life of me I had no idea where it was. Though we both workout, neither of us is really into sports, to be honest. So with no other weapon at my disposal, I grabbed the broom again and walked towards the door.

I stood beside the overturned trashcan for several minutes, occasionally tapping it with the broom. No sound came from beneath it.

The screen door from the apartment next to ours slammed and a moment later our neighbor appeared in the driveway beside the porch. He was a young guy—just out of school, a fire fighter and sportsman. Country boy, 15 years my junior. I told him about the bat, thinking he might have advice. I needed someone with expertise to tell me I was doing this right. And though I have a PhD in creative writing and probably know more about literary theory and avant garde cinema than he does, I knew in this moment that he was smarter than I.

“How you gonna do it?” he asked.

“I’m going to beat him to death with this broom.”

He nodded. I could tell this plan didn’t impress him. “If he goes flying, you’ll probably miss him,” he said, which seemed obvious once the words were out of his mouth. “Bats are hard targets. Here.” He leaned over, picked up a huge brick left over from one of our landlord’s recent construction projects, and handed it to me. “I’ll lift the bin, you drop this on him.”

“Will that… work?” I knew a brick would kill a bat, of course, but it seemed to me there was a right way to do these sorts of things, and this wasn’t it. I’m not a hunter—I haven’t even caught a fish since I was a kid—so I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about these things. But this seemed wrong. Savage.

He laughed. “Let’s just get this done. You ready?”

Turned out Emily wasn’t pregnant. The cats didn’t contract rabies—in fact, apparently the one-year vaccine is effective for considerably longer than a year, and bat bites don’t tend to leave bumps. But I didn’t know these things then. All I knew was that the cats we had found in our backyard and nursed back to health when they were sickly kittens—holding them in the kitchen, feeding them with eye droppers– were in danger. That my possibly-pregnant wife could be at risk too. I wasn’t thinking about morality or the naturalist writers I read in graduate school or phrases like “hegemonic masculinity” or “what a man’s gotta do.” I wasn’t thinking about the time in the tenth grade that I declared to my parents that I would never fish again, that killing animals was immoral. I just knew that everything I loved was threatened, that the only way I could be sure we were all safe was with that brick.

I certainly didn’t know that the animal’s head needs to be intact to test it for rabies—that what I was about to do was going to make it impossible for me to get the definitive answer I wanted, wasting my time and the life of a bat who hadn’t actually intended us any harm.

My neighbor lifted the bin and I saw the bat, on the ground, unmoving.

“Do it,” he said.

“Wait…” I said weakly. I very much wanted for this to not be happening.

He raised his voice. “You’ve got to do it now.”

And I did. I let the brick go—“Fuck that rodent,” I might have thought— and it landed with a loud thud. The brick was big enough that it covered the entire crushed body. That was a blessing. I was already feeling nauseous.

BradleyWilliam_photoWilliam Bradley is the author of the essay collection Fractals, recently released by Lavender Ink.


This entry was posted in Nonfiction on July 20, 2016

“He Didn’t Shoot” by E.K. Gordon

Why Didn’t He?

The suspect was a black male running from the parking lot of a liquor store. He looked to my police sergeant father like a teenager. Maybe all he was fleeing was the screeching police car, or maybe he had been involved in a crime. Either way, when my father yelled “Halt, police” the teen didn’t halt; he scrambled up a high chain-link fence, spilled over it, and disappeared into his future.

Apparently police policy even back then was that running in a high(ish) crime area is a crime. My father was suspended for two weeks without pay–not nothing since our family of seven lived week to week and my mother didn’t yet work outside the home.

I can’t say I’m proud he didn’t shoot, because I don’t know why he didn’t shoot. Was it hesitation, fear, compassion, the ten commandments? Something else? As I watch the terrible video indictments of police officers, I wonder what stayed my father’s hand.

Maybe because he died at 41 and because he talked so little about himself, I’ve thought a lot about my father’s youth. His own father died when he was a small boy, and his widowed mother moved her large Scottish-American family from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Queens, New York–a very multicultural place, as it still is. My dad loved sports, was crazy for football. In Queens he played quarterback in a pick-up league and from what I’ve heard (from my albeit not necessarily objective mother) he was a sandlot star. He made friends with some of the African-American boys who also played. He spent time in their homes and they spent time in his. They knew each others’ mothers by name, ate at each others’ tables.

When he was 17 my father enlisted in the navy along with a football buddy, his go-to wide receiver. They boarded the bus together for the trip south to Quantico training base. At the Mason Dixon Line the driver told the blacks to get back and the whites to move up (this is early 1950’s). My father refused to move away from his friend and was put off the bus.

I had this just a few years back from a cousin who had it from a letter my father mailed from Quantico. Unfortunately for this story, the letter didn’t give the friend’s name or else my cousin didn’t remember it to tell me. Still, I cherish the image of my dad on the side of the road, duffel bag slumped against his leg, thumb out. I cherish it almost as much as I do the photo, one of a very few from his whole life that he saved, of him and this friend whose name I don’t know standing front to back in their service dress blues. Sailor boys. Crazy thin and goofy happy.

Here’s my theory, or maybe it’s just a hope: when his police training told him Shoot, when the system that fed and housed his family expected, no required, bullets, the fleeing suspect, the running teenager, looked a little to my father like a receiver going long for a pass.

Our experiences and friendships change us; they repair and right us. We can’t retroactively desegregate American history or give police officers memories that would humanize their policing (unless story telling counts, which I think it does), but we can change policies that are racist in intent or practice. One policy my story seems to point to, and which has been much discussed regarding Baltimore, is the requirement, or lack of a requirement, that police officers live and pay taxes in the cities they serve. West Baltimore sure isn’t policed by people who grew up in West Baltimore, or any place like it. When my father became a policeman, we were required to move into the South Florida town (Lauderhill) that had hired him. Although its police force was all white then, the neighborhood and schools were not. I thereby began a valuable multicultural education that left me willing and able to live in North Philadelphia, where the education continued. Too many white police officers in America are just plain illiterate. And the ones who aren’t need to step up big time. Yes it will be hard, but so is stopping blood flow from a punctured artery, or reconnecting a severed spine.

I would like to say my father stepped up big time, that his experiences made him a civil rights activist or at least a force for change at work, but I don’t know that. He may have had some good conversations, may have thrown the wrench into some back stage racism. He may even have served and protected all the citizens of Lauderhill. But I have no evidence. I have only that two-week suspension. It’s my inheritance. I receive it not with pride so much as relief, relief and gratitude that the question troubling me today is why didn’t he shoot, and not why did he?

GordonEK_picE. K. Gordon is an English adjunct at Northampton Community College. She represented New York City’s Urbana Slam Team at the 2014 Women of the World poetry slam and continues to read as a performance poet. Her work has appeared at Moonshot, PANK, Salon, SlamFind and elsewhere. She is the author of Love Cohoes and Walk with Us, Triplet Boys, their Teen Parents and Two White Women who Tagged Along, which won an Indie Book Award. Find her online at ekg3.com.

This entry was posted in Nonfiction on July 13, 2016

“Time Space: Places They’ve Never Met” by Janet Dale

“Is it e’en so?—Then I deny you, stars!”
—Romeo and Juliet (5.1.25)

According to The Astrology Book: The Encyclopedia of Heavenly Influences by James R. Lewis, a birth chart (or astrological chart) calculates the position of various celestial bodies throughout the heavens as viewed from the Earth at the moment of an individual’s birth. And even though the legitimacy of astrology has changed since the discovery of physics and astronomy, many still believe that the position of the sun, moon, stars, and planets have heavy influence on an individual. These positions are calculated and charted both symbolically and in actuality similar to how longitude and latitude is measured.

In a simplified version of astrology often found in newspapers or magazines, it is the Sun’s location at the time of birth that is directly related to a “sign.” 

Sun in Scorpio at 26° 06′ | Sun in Taurus at 18° 27′

Positive characteristics often associated with Scorpio (his sun sign): focused, brave, balanced, faithful, ambitious, and intuitive. Negatives include: jealous, resentful, secretive, and manipulative.

Positive characteristics often associated with Taurus (her sun sign): generous, dependable, down-to-earth, patient, independent, and persistent. Negatives include: stubborn, self-indulgent, materialistic, lazy, and possessive.

Moon in Capricorn at 22° 07′ | Moon in Gemini at 13° 45′

It takes the Earth’s only natural satellite 27.3 days to complete one orbit, waxing and waning along its elliptical path. As it moves, the moon pulls at anything to bring it closer; the Earth is able to hold on to most things—except water. No matter where one is located in the world, together or apart, looking upward into the night sky the moon is shared.

Mercury in Scorpio at 09° 26′ | Mercury in Aries at 22° 13′

He was born in the top left hand corner of the United States, the lush verdant Pacific Northwest near the Canadian border not far from Vancouver. Her only trip to Canada happened nine years after that—visiting family near Toronto—more than 4,300 miles east. She was born closer to our neighbors to the south, in the Lone Star State, on the Army base he’d be stationed at when he turned 21.

Venus in Scorpio at 29° 10′ | Venus in Gemini at 14° 44′

Celestial navigators—such as mariners travelling by water—rely upon chronometers, sextants, almanacs, and other tools to traverse by stars and planets. They learn constellations then draw imaginary lines, calculating degrees, and angles in order to know where they are in the world.

In the Northern hemisphere Polaris (above the North Pole) is the most important point, while in the Southern hemisphere it is the Crux (above the South Pole). Only cloud cover can get in the way.

Mars in Scorpio at 14° 40′ | Mars in Leo at 11° 48′

Scorpius (Sco) is part of the family of constellations named for the zodiac. Antares—the brightest star within the pattern—is located near the scorpion’s “heart” and glows reddish. It lies within the Southern hemisphere and occupies an area of 497 square degrees. Apollo sent a scorpion to attack Orion for claiming to be a better hunter than his sister. To show displeasure at the quarrel, Zeus cast both the hunter and the scorpion into the heavens. 

Jupiter in Pisces at 08° 23′ | Jupiter in Cancer at 04° 26′

Taurus (Tau) is also part of the family of constellations named for the zodiac. Its brightest star—Aldebaran—functions as the “eye” of the bull, seemingly glaring at Orion who is located to the southwest. It lies within the Northern hemisphere and occupies an area 797 square degrees. After falling in love with Europa, Zeus transformed himself into a magnificent white bull with golden horns to take her away with him across the sea.

Saturn in Cancer at 18° 38′ | Saturn in Leo at 23° 49′

He intersected the muddy river at the Hernando-Desoto Bridge while driving a Cavalier cross country. Two years later after missing an exit on the Tennessee side, she would accidently drive a different Cavalier across the same bridge.

Cutting the country in half, the 2,340-mile Mississippi river begins at a glacier lake in Minnesota then runs south before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico at New Orleans.

Uranus in Libra at 29° 51′ | Uranus in Scorpio at 14° 12′

The Rhine is one-third the length of the Mississippi and begins in a glacier lake in Switzerland before running through five more countries emptying into the North Sea.

When visiting Germany, he boarded a sightseeing boat somewhere around Rudesheim to explore the river. She had taken the tour seven years earlier while living in Germany. They rounded the same rock on the eastern bank where the legendary Lorelei sat murmuring to sailors; throwing them off course.

Neptune in Sagittarius at 08° 51′ | Neptune in Sagittarius at 17° 42′

His first experience with ghosts occurred while driving one summer night north of downtown New Orleans. He said the absence of light made the sudden circus music playing among abandoned industrial building that much more eerie.

The next year after visiting the French Quarter, she wandered through a maze of above ground tombs and mausoleums inside both St. Louis No. 1 and Lafayette No. 1. Looking to connect to spirits, knowingly she experienced none.

Pluto in Libra at 08° 27′ | Pluto in Libra at 14° 28′

Her last experience with ghosts occurred while visiting a now mostly abandoned mental hospital located in the town where she attended graduate school. Despite the soaring summer heat that day, all she felt was freezing air when sliding a camera inside broken windows to take pictures.

He was in Georgia the year before, taking advanced training classes at the home of the Signal Corps about 83 miles away; another missed point of intersection.

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Janet Dale’s work can be found in Zone 3, Really System, Atticus
Review, among others. She holds a BA in English from the University of Memphis and an MFA in Creative Writing from Georgia College. She has been a pharmacy technician, a reading teacher, and has worked on journals such as the Flannery O’Connor Review, Arts & Letters, and Wraparound South. Currently, she teaches first year writing at Georgia Southern University.

This entry was posted in Nonfiction on May 11, 2016

“Adaptation” by Rori Leigh Hoatlin

For twelve years we attended chapel at the little rectangular school on Oak Street. We sang songs about God carrying us. We prayed for our enemies. We joined hands in unity.

There, we were taught that evolution didn’t exist. In a beautiful garden, humanity breathed life from the dust of the earth. Our DNA mirrored the image of God. We were designed, not at random, but through His inspiration.

Yet in science class, Mr. Reef knew we must learn about evolution. But he played it smart. He didn’t talk about Darwin or try to convince us we came from apes. He didn’t use the word “evolve” at all; he used the word “adapt.” We never learned adaptation didn’t exist.

He talked about the peppered moth. “Originally light in color, the peppered moth hid from predators on the bark of light-colored trees. But as the air filled with soot during the Industrial Revolution, the peppered moth had to adapt. The darker ones had a better chance for survival and thus had a better chance to procreate. This meant the light-colored moths died out, while the darker moths lived on.”

Mr. Reef showed us pictures of the moths on the projector. The stout bodies of wide-winged creatures looked like carved-up pieces of the birch trees in our school courtyard.

I think we knew he was teaching us evolution, but we didn’t protest because he proved small, incremental changes could occur in nature, and over time those small changes could add up to something bigger. We were just talking about moths after all.

I don’t know if Mr. Reef was trying to confound our faith. Or if he just wanted us to see the world from another angle. He probably figured we just needed this information to be functioning adults. There must come a point as a teacher where you learn there are indirect avenues that will lead you to the same spot.

I got an A on the test covering the peppered moth material. It was the first time since elementary school I received an A in science class. Here it was, proof that I too could evolve.

I’ve moved at least half a dozen times since high school and I still have that test. A memento from the small cracks that lead me away from that small town.

When I page through that test, I see I misspelled the word “evolve” a few times; I kept forgetting to put the “e” on the end. I suppose because he never said it, I didn’t know how to infuse it into my vocabulary. It’s interesting that I wrote it even though he never vocalized it. Somehow, on the day I took the test, in lead pencil, in penmanship somewhere between cursive and print, I wrote: “It is a great benefit for any organism to evolve.”

Hoatlin_Rori_Leigh_PhotoRori Leigh Hoatlin is a 2014 MFA graduate of Georgia College & State University. She is the summer director of the Writing Center at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, MI, where she also teaches. She is also a 2013 Lake Michigan Writing Project Fellow and the 2015 Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer for the Story Catcher Conference in Nebraska. Rori has published essays in Prick of the Spindle, Superstition Review, and Tampa Review Online, among others.

This entry was posted in Nonfiction on October 21, 2015