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Reading Objects 2019: Student Edition

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Ando Hiroshige
color woodcut
33.34 x 21.91 cm (13 1/8 x 8 5/8 inches)

Lily Acevedo

Undergraduate: Creative Writing

Class of 2021

Sleep, Dear Traveller.

What is the moon, if not the eye that never sleeps? It watches you, dear traveller,
and your lantern on a stick. The orange glow is vast and dim atop the ocean’s froth.
Within its light you see the place to which you know you’ll go; but it’s dark and deep
and lonely still, too close to what you know.

Dear traveller, why does your face contort with such contempt? I suppose the
music in each star’s laugh is one made at your expense. It’s soft and cruel, but youthful
still, best heard when you’re alone. One song they sing’s a stolen melody from cabaret;
another song’s a mocking harmony to the silence haunting your trodden way. They cast
their pretty faces on the glass-cased waves below. Dear traveller, don’t you see their
pride’s like a candle’s flame? It wavers and it’s blown away by the smallest breath of life.But, if you stay your lantern and listen close, you’ll hear the mirror doesn’t sing. No, the stars that swim whisper truths, words only heard when you’re alone.

Your wife left you, didn’t she— though we both know why. You’d forgotten how
to make her laugh, you couldn’t even make her cry. She took you by the hand and lead
you through each crowded, busy year. They were all from her, each winter’s kiss upon
your nose and sip of coffee that burned your tongue. She placed each gift into a box, and kept them safe within your chest. Cherished, there they perished, as you couldn’t stand the pain. Do you remember, dear traveller, her smile as she watched the flames?Do you remember what she told you, do you know why memories never fade?

You left your wife, didn’t you— though neither of us know why. She got you out
of bed this morning, and put worn sandals on your feet. So tell me, traveller, after all
your years, can you recall her name? I’ll spare two hints: the first, a memory of the
ribbons strewn in her hair; you must know the second is easier, as it has always begun
with an H.       

So, you’ve abandoned Hope, and muted the laughter far above. But I know, dear
traveller, that you’ve heard the whispered secrets cradled along the waves. They told you all you’d need lies within their heart. They do not sing, nor laugh at your expense, but sway gently beside the wind. While your toes flirt with frozen promise, please lift your chin up to the sky. You’ll see the moon is always watching, it can never look away. Have you considered, dear traveller, that what lines the sky may just be its pain. If the moon could cry, it would leave diamonds upon diamonds of tears. Their light might dance, and their fall may chime, but they’re cold and they’re empty as stone. Consider, perhaps, that the moon is alone, surrounded by only its grief. If that’s the case, then tell me, traveller, what makes the laughter that you hear?

Tell me, dear traveller, did you find the answers for which you sought? Were they
shied, and hidden away, below the frozen mirror in which you lept?

I suppose now, you cannot answer me.

I suppose now, I’ll let you rest.