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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Thetis, a Minor Sea Goddess, Speaks

Nereid arms octiply, ink sprays and I serpent you. You think
you win when I grow still, allow penetration to stillness
at the center. It's called foreplay, Peleus. You never
even knew what it was you grasped. Still,
I have Achilles, fruit of pathos
and transformation. I dipped
him in Styx, my hand-print
on his ankle a reminder
that at the center
something still
is permeable.


She was white like the sands, tawny like the sands, solitary and burning like the sands.--Honore de Balzac, Passion in the Desert

What would happen, I wonder, if I let you place your hand
on my fur, my sheathed claw, my muscled flank, or if
I killed a gazelle and shared, gave you belly, groomed you,
sliced you open, dragged you up into a tree for later;
animal, god, theriomorph, djinn,
would you recognize yourself?

A Traditional Zen Story

A story must be told in such a way that it constitutes help in itself. --Martin Buber

There were tigers in the woods. They didn't tell me this at first,
so when one of them startled me with its white teeth, its insatiable
hunger, I ran. It chased, of course, being a predator: running just
proves you are prey, but they didn't tell me this either. I was young,
didn't know better yet. Anyway, I ran. I came to a cliff, a sheer face
plummeting. The tiger's paws made no sound, soft and giant
as they were, but the earth shook beneath them. I slid over the edge,
bounced the face, scraping rocks too small to grip, bleeding, seeking
purchase. At last, a vine. It held my grip, and when I could breathe,
I looked up: the tiger's face hung there, twenty feet above, a supernova
of fur and hot, panting life, its hunger visible on every breath. I looked
below, to find a way down: tigers down there as well, circling
on great pads and oceans of muscle. They were an extremity
of beauty, all those tigers: no one told me that, either. Oh, some things
we have to learn, and at the least convenient moments. The vine
I was holding began to give out, of course. It was a small vine,
and there were two mice chewing it, which didn't help--
one was black, one was white. The masters told me later
they represented yin and yang, but at the time I didn't know that,
and it wouldn't have helped much, anyhow; the point was,
I was going to fall, or I was going to climb, and either way,
tigers. So, I looked more closely at the vine the mice and I
so dearly loved, and right there in front of me was (yes,
you know this one) a strawberry. So I ate it. And that,
my friend, is the end of the story, except that
it was sweet.

Jessamyn Smyth's short story "A More Perfect Union" in American Letters and Commentary Issue 17 (November 2005) has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. "Dancer" was recently released in For Here or To Go: Stories from the Service Industry (Garret County Press, 2004), and her prize-winning short story "Blue Plastic Menorah" appeared in Jewish Education News, Spring 2004. Her short one-act plays "Main Street Love Song," "Wolves," "Wake," and "Paper Moon" have been produced by Naked Theatre in Northampton and at The Paul Alexander Gallery in 2004-2005, and her poetry and essays appear in various print and electronic journals. Her play "The Importance of Being Wild" was the first commissioned work produced by The Shea Theater, and premiered in 2004; it was reprised with Boston's Playwright's Platform in 2005. Her play "Jenny Haniver" will hit The Shea Theatre stage in March of 2006, at the Second Annual Playwright's Festival of New Works. Smyth is a 2004 grant recipient of the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. She writes in several genres, is the Executive Producer of Basilisk Productions in Western Massachusetts, teaches writing and occasionally directs other people's plays. She earned her MFA at Goddard College.

Copyright 2005, Corey Mesler. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.