Writing Catalog

Carys Bowen

Grade: 12

Hathaway Brown School

Instructor: Scott Parsons

I inherited stress from my mother.


I inherited stress from my mother.

I inherited stress from my mother.

"It's amazing what she can miss,"
says my father. "You could put up a new wall
and she could come home from work and walk in like nothing has changed.
Just 'cause of how caught up in her head she is."

I sit up in bed in the blurry darkness and look at the ghostly
light of the streetlamps dulled through my window shades reflected in the mirror
on my closet door that refuses to shut all the way.
Wondering how can I possibly sleep.
and why.
The lights are off but I turn them on again
and off and on and off and on and off
and on again as I keep remembering—I need
to bring an extra pair of shoes tomorrow. I forgot
to tell my brother that there's a string cheese in the fridge for him.
Did I plug in my computer.

"I'm a stress puppy," says my mother. "That's me."
I turn and look but I don't quite say "I am, too."

I can't unremember
the sudden vibrancy of the darkness
when my eyes snapped open after a single tired neuron
decided now was the time to spark a firework
and blow it against the wall of my skull at the back of my head.
It was a still earthquake. The lake stayed a perfect mirror of the sky.
But how many more until my foundation splits.
How strong are these patched up cracks.

The damp residue of secrets
I wasn't supposed to know about
seeps in and feeds the mold
you can smell but can't see.
Threatening to eat away all the mortar and rough grout.

A stray movement, a single chisel tap
could send me sprawling;
my walls will buckle.
I'll keep standing up, because you can do anything for six months, or a year.
Every year.

And when my mother says she's a stress puppy,
I don't quite say, "I am, too," because I am trying not to be. because

I inherited a love of ice cream from my grandmother,
who defends me when my dad laughs at how much ice cream I eat.
Ice cream and hot showers,
the only ways I know how to soothe the ache in my eyebrows and shoulders.
I blast Chopin and Schumann
and try to take care of these tired bones so I can make it through one more week.
One more month. One more year.

I can't take each day as it comes anymore.
I can't wait for the weekend to live.
So instead,
I find a spare half hour on a Monday night during which I can fit
the small salvation of art.
five measures of piano.
even if I can only play one scale on my violin it will have been worth it.

Instead, I keep my eyes on the horizon
and admire the rioting clouds.
the gilded iron-dark water.
I may forget to eat but for me, ink and paint are enough to live on.
I've got better things to do than to fish for a feast that will only go rotten.

"At the end I am reduced to a small child." "My Only Regrets" "Grateful"


"At the end I am reduced to a small child." "My Only Regrets" "Grateful"

At the end I am reduced to a small child.

At the end I am reduced to a small child. Weak fists from the numbness of a heavy winter sleep, small weak fists like crumpled flowers as I rub my teary eyes. Filled with the grief of losing something so basic as the simple strength I need to lift my glasses from their roost beside my bed. Somehow in a small child akin to this mother's grief over the death of a baby loved in secret, when silence is not enough to hide this rot behind, when the perfume of the numb and blue desire for just a single thing, one single thing, to go right in a year of tilting floors, when that silver-as-flashing-fish-scales perfume is not enough to disguise the ugly smells, that is the grief gliding over my eyes like rain, reducing me to a small numb child in the shape of a crumpled flower.

My Only Regrets

The end of summer meant only
go back to school. Online, of course.
By then, I thought I'd be somewhere—
I thought I'd have been
to Wyoming, Spain
I thought I'd have taught myself
   Now there are only.
   Eddies in my brain of dreams released
   too early.
   Pieces thick and dead like a lysed cell,
   overcome by viral infection.


From the sunlight
to the dewy grass
and the steel-toned fire,

Pumpkins in a sunny jungle
—we surprised ourselves.

A lazy rolling river, sparkling, was our summer
and in the end I find that I cannot lament what would have been.