Thruhiker: Day 0

We were going to get married, but we didn’t. I’m glad. I’m OK with being somebody’s girlfriend, or even somebody’s lover, but I don’t want to be anybody’s wife.

After my boyfriend moved out, I sold everything. Bought my Osprey Arial AG 55 pack, my ultra-light quilt, a Tarptent, rose-purple Salomon shoes, a few pairs of socks, shorts, t-shirts. Water bottles. Cliff bars. I am ready to go.

I’m hiking the Cross Country Scenic Trail, affectionately known to thruhikers as C2C, corner-to-corner, because it runs from the southeast corner of the nation to the northwest corner.

The trail is 2,055 miles. If I hike 20 miles a day (and the serious thruhikers do upwards of 30), it will take me nearly 103 days. That’s only three months.

I’ve downloaded the Guthook app, so I can scope out the best tent sites and places for water. Hikers post comments, too, so I’ll be able to keep up with the latest conditions.

I guess it’s so millennial to be hiking with a phone. My dad, he hiked this trail when he was a little younger than I am. Of course, he didn’t have a phone, except for the payphones at ranger stations or refill stops along the way.

I don’t have any timeline, except that dictated by the seasons and their weather. I don’t have any place I have to get to, except the next tent site, and the one after that, until I get to the end of the trail.

It can take me three months. It can take me five. It could even take six, but after that, the weather will start to get cold up north.

The point is that it doesn’t really matter. I’ve got my gear. I’ve stocked up on food. I’ve set up my tent in our old bedroom, and I’m sleeping in it tonight, to get used to it.

Tomorrow, when I wake up, I pack my tent, I pack my supplies, and then I leave my apartment. I drop off the keys with the manager. And I’m off. I’m hiking across the country, and I’m leaving all this–all of it–behind.

Author’s note: Hey, what’s this? It’s a new SimLit series! I’ve been inspired by a thruhiker’s blog, Roaming Wild Rosie, which tracks her route along the Pacific Crest Trail (which happened to be one of my dad’s favorite trails and one I grew up hiking sections of). I can’t really take five months away from my job and home to hike the trail, so I thought I’d send a Sim on a trek. Maisie Santos will be traveling by foot from Willow Creek all the way to Brindleton Bay, and in my imagination, that’s from the southeast corner of the Sim continent to the northwest. Let’s say it’s 2055 miles. She’s blogging her adventures on the trail, and I hope you come along for the journey!

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GloPoWriMo: Day 8

letter0112

Redirection

“Are you in pain?” asked the Dental Technician Coordinator.

She didn’t think she was.

“We can write a prescription, if needed.”
Before she arrived
the wet-vac system had collapsed
with bang and a fizzle
and a lingering smell of burnt sulphur.

All appointments cancelled.

She’d cleared her schedule
Freed her morning
for the endodontic bur
and the afternoon
for recuperating on the couch.

“We’ll call on Monday
to reschedule.”

And that was
three long days away.

Which left
this morning
and a long drive
home
along the road
that snaked
across the base
of the mountains.

And that was where,
in a clearing
near the vista pull-out,
verbenas, poppies
and desert zinnias

danced

in spun light
that shot from the sun
through the

veins of the leaves
and petals
and the styles
and the stamens

All that
was left
was the
light.

And it shone
from her hands
and her fingernails
and her solar plexus
and out through her
eyes and mouth

and through
the wings
of the monarch
butterfly

All that

was left

was the light.

The drill would wait
for another day.

Daily Prompt: Write a poem “in which mysterious and magical things occur,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 7

letter0105

Identity

The Gardener walked with the Breath
along the path between
the back fence
and the prickly pears.

The stalk of a century plant
stretched above them.
“It’s blooming,” said the Gardener.
The Breath exhaled.

“Too bad plants don’t breathe,”
said the Gardener.
“Oh, but they do,”
said the Breath,
“through stomata.”

They walked
under the songs
of mockingbirds.

The footsteps of
a black cactus longhorn beetle
scuffled
among the fallen
pads of the prickly pear.

“Beetles breathe
through spiracles,”
said the Breath,
before the Gardener
had a chance to ask.

The crossvine
bloomed, too.

They picked
snow peas
for lunch.

“It might be the last
harvest of the season,”
said the Gardener,
tying a straggling
vine to the trellis.
The Breath
sighed.

“What will you do,
when I am no more?”
asked the Gardener.

“Move on,”
came the reply.

Daily Prompt: Write “out a list of all of your different layers of identity… These are all ways you could be described or lenses you could be viewed through. Now divide all of those things into lists of what makes you feel powerful and what makes you feel vulnerable. Now write a poem in which one of the identities from the first list contends or talks with an identity from the second list,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 6

train218

Full On Human
(For Yugyeom)

I
fell
in love

Hard

with a Korean pop star with moon eyes and a laugh that tricks the scariest dark burr out from the undercoat of awkward shyness so I can laugh, too, and maybe–

He has
this way of looking
up at the sky with his eyes closed yet he sees all that can be seen and more as it rolls through him like quicksilver to shoot out in bright stars of love when he opens his eyes–

I want to feel that, too,
with my neck stretched and my face at the moon and my eyes closed and my heart so

Soft

It’s not
just
his rubberband legs, his white arms, the veins in the back of his hands, his eyelashes, his front teeth when his smile cracks, his hair–now blond, now black, now red, now white–

that aesthetic

it’s not his green sweater, either, the one with the yarn coming unraveled over his collar bones…

or his choker

It’s that
he
smiles for real when he walks with his fans and he cries for real when the hyung play a prank and he plays the best jokes when you forget to look and when his friend talks to him even on live-stream with thousands of aghase in Cleveland and Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro watching, he

stops

he

listens

like really listens and his eyes ask, “how do you feel,” “are you okay”

Bam!

we want a friend like that.

He
is
the true maknae

and so

the oldest living aghase
am
I

Daily Prompt:  “Write a poem that stretches your comfort zone with line breaks,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 5

lighthouse108

Meniscus

Of course the skin of water

is smooth,

before the trout breaks the surface to fly

out for a moment to see

what the dry world looks like through spheres built for the refraction

of light through stream,

but when it pierces

the meniscus it opens its

mouth in dry air

and o! it burns ah! not the air but the colors: yellow, orange, and red.


말간 눈을 한

애인이여,

동공에 살던 은빛 비늘이여

오늘은 눈이 내린다

목에 하얀 수건을 둘러놓고 얼굴을 씻겨주던

가난한 애인이여,

외로운 천체에

성스러운 고요가 내린다

나는 눈을 감는다

손길이 나의 얼굴을 다 씻겨주는 시간을

(Original poem: The Snowy Night – Moon Tae-Jun)

Daily Prompt:  “Write a poem that… reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. Begin with a photograph [I’m using a screenshot from one of my Sims games]. Now find a poem in a language you don’t know… Ignore any accompanying English translation. Now start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem is actually ‘about’ your photograph. Use the look and feel of the words in the original to guide you along as you write, while trying to describe your photograph,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 4

kristal806

Satisfaction

Free day,
I walk to Santa Teresa plaza,
in search of warmth

Warmth
of a stucco wall
radiating sunlight

Sunlight refracting through
the scale of chitin on
a Mexican bluewing

Wing of a mourning dove–
a whistle and a whir–
wind on my face

Face of a quarter,
round and hard in my pocket,
pressing against my thigh, a ring

Ring of the trumpet
in the mariachi band
bouncing over the wall

Wall of sweet lemon
perfume from the field of verbena
to drown me,  and I…

I won’t be spending
my spare change today.
All I want is free.

Daily Prompt:  “Write a poem that is about something abstract – perhaps an ideal like ‘beauty’ or ‘justice,’ but which discusses or describes that abstraction in the form of relentlessly concrete nouns,” from Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 3

eatit01

Album Titles for Boy Band

(You make me) Feel
Like a unicorn, baby

(Feel)
the Grace

(Of the beautiful)
Paper sky

Eat it!
the Dance
the Day
the End of Night

My maknae
(Snowflake)

Oppa aegyo
Come on, hyung.

Let me be
(Your bias)

Daily Prompt: Write “a list poem in which all the items are made-up names,” from Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 2

daytwo

Blue-Green Landscape on a Canvas

1.
This rough skin
beneath the oil and varnish
has nothing: No opinions. No voice.

But also, no worries. No cares.

2.
I have one long black care,
that snakes across you

Dashing your empty space
with a fragment that remembers
what you were

When you were empty without me.

3.
The representation of an illusion–
what light seems to be
when it bends
through space.

Phthalo beside cerulean,
I wrap around your cares, soothing,
through what I seem to be.

4.
What is this talk of
nothing,
illusion,
soothing?

Don’t you see?

We simply are!

Vibrant,
bending,
snaking,
empty.

Life is this.

And more.
And less.

Daily Prompt:Write a poem that plays with voice,” from Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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GloPoWriMo: Day 1

dayone

Kristal

One word
to end it.

The lie was that
we would love forever.

The conclusion, simple.

Suds in a sink–
maybe one day
I’ll forget
that word, “No,”
and with the grime,
my shame,
down the drain.

Then I’ll discover
my secret:

In solitude hides my pleasure.

Daily Prompt:Write a poem that is based on a secret shame, or a secret pleasure,” from Na/GloPoWriMo.

Author’s note: I’m participating in GloPoWriMo, a poem a day to celebrate April as National Poetry Month! You can join, too! Just check out the Na/GloPoWriMo website to find (optional) daily prompts. Whether you’re a practiced poet, or, like me, an inexperienced poet, if you take part, at the end of the month, you’ll have 30 poems under your writer’s belt! 🙂 Let me know in the comments below if you join in (with a link, please), so I can enjoy your poems!

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Eight Pieces: Fragments

kristal101

After her husband of thirty years left her droopy old self for some perky thing half her age, Kristal Kraft faced the empty space that stretched before her the way many do: She filled it with the old dream dredged from the recesses of freedom she abandoned when she married that jerk.

She would finally find her talent.

She would become an artist.

She googled “artist hideaway retreat three months availability someplace secluded,” and on the second page of listings she found what she was looking for: a small, simple studio cabin near the plaza of Santa Maria, El Selvadora.

She subleased her home for the winter to a visiting professor, and by mid-January, she found herself in the tropics, walking the path to her cabin.

kristal102

It hit her then that she was alone, in a town where she knew no one and barely spoke the language.

kristal103

The cabin was simple, but, as advertised, well-appointed for the visual artist, with a fancy tea-maker, three easels, and stacks of canvases. She’d brought her own brushes and oils, but the agency provided the Turpenoid in 2 liter bottles and a can of linseed oil.

kristal104

The light felt like cream and the shadows like velvet. She chose a larger canvas and set it on the easel on the porch.

The cabin stood in a small clearing, with the jungle pressing in around it. Her thoughts felt like this, tangled, confused, one wrapping around the other, choking off its growth. The softness was there, the cream and velvet, but it only draped the pain and hint of terror underneath.

kristal105

She truly was alone.

There had been an afternoon, when she was eighteen, during a summer spent at her grandparents’ cabin in the rain forest in the Pacific Northwest. The grandparents had gone into the city for some reason, and she’d stayed behind to paint. She painted the forest, with ferns and huckleberries, lichens, moss, and cedar. The painting had felt like this one, overcrowded, without a focal point, a jumble of shape and texture, lacking contrast. But she had liked it. It showed how she felt inside.

This one did, too.

kristal106

OK. She was a mess, she admitted it. It was OK to be a mess after your husband becomes your ex. It’s OK to be angry, sad, lost, confused, afraid, and also, maybe a little bit excited. Maybe a little determined. Maybe a lot stubborn.

kristal107

Maybe it was OK to pull out those pieces that had been forgotten about for decades, to look at them in their jumbled mess, and to begin to consider where each piece might rightfully belong, to slowly put the fragments back together again.

kristal108

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Author’s note: It’s a new bonus short! Eight chapters, an artist finding herself at last, and lots of pretty jungle pictures! 🙂