By Evyn McGraw 


With twisting muscles I whipped
My body into shape,
I ran like a machine,
Pumping down the pavement through the dead winter wood,
When water’s whisper hissed
My name.

The call led me off the path,
Into gray
trees, down a hill, dead
leaves crunching.

I stood on the wet shore
In the mist of morning and inhaled
The song of the river.
It hissed,
This is right.
This is right.
This is right.

And from the green jade glass splashed
A face, shining in the sun,
Smooth like a river rock.
Rings of silver rippled ‘round her head.

“You have forgotten us,” she said
her voice like falling leaves

“I’m sorry,” I said.
“I’ve been busy.”

“Shame on you,” she said.
“Always heed
the river’s call.”

She plunged beneath the water and vanished forever.
And with a twinge of guilty, sweet
regret, I found the path and finished my jog.

Once, between monotonous school days, I fell
Asleep and found myself face down on a swell of snow
Above a forest, where air quivered
With silent ice, a life
unto its own.

I floated to my feet and scrambled through the snow
Up to a stone cottage
Perched atop the hill
Intransient like a pastel drawing.

The wooden door creaked
And I crossed the linoleum threshold,
To meet an old woman perched over a rickety tea table
Drenched in the pale, icy light.

She poured me a cup of tea with her silver teapot.
“Explain to me,” she said, “Your refusal of the call.”

I told her I was busy.
I had things to do.
“Besides,” I said, “You aren’t real.”

The folds of her face furrowed like paper Mache
And with a rush of vertigo
I floated backward through the arctic air
into shuddering darkness.

Then I jolted at the blare of my alarm
And got ready for school with the same mechanical repetition.

These phantasms suppressed,
I lived my life.
Weeks fell away and
Days and nights strung together
Like endless tick marks of light and dark.
And I, a traveler, was trapped in a small town
Of squat concrete buildings and dusty highways
While I pined for ethereal ice
And the whisper of wind and water.

Last night I dreamt of a desert.
This desolate expanse
Bright in the dream-sun
Wavy horizon slicing
Plains of orange and blue
Dunes sunbaked like rich burnt clay,
A stony sculpture of eternal flames,
Windswept, battered, bright,
Below the endless heavens.
I pity those who dream in black and white.

During the day, they tell me I must only
Write about my life.
But how can I when these visions assail me?

I can no longer ignore the call.
I must transcend mechanical repetition,
But where is my journey?
Where shall I begin?
Must I set out only in my dreams?

There are whispers.
Whisper wind and water hissing.
Arctic air and azure sky.
Stained glass streetlamps light the way.
I must begin my journey.

Accidental Platonism – Ghazal

I was born into the world with a defect: my vision.
It gave me the fear to pray, “God, please, correct my vision.”

It was the fear of infinite darkness, a gray world of nonbeing.
where decay would eat away at my retinas like acid and infect my vision.

Black motes swarmed like fine, faceless insects.
I chased them to my periphery as they flecked my vision.

Once I demanded of God, “Do you even exist?” and with Humean doubt,
Cartesian questions rising, I began to inspect my vision.

Trembling with terror, I tore at truth, and knew,
If transcendence was illusion, I had no choice – I must reject my vision.

If meaning was a convenient lie, I could not trust my inner sight.
How could I know reality? Only with hope and intellect: my vision.

And as I wrestled the beasts of beauty and truth, fending off inner darkness
The outer darkness slipped my mind; I began to neglect my vision.

What was sight next to luminescent essence? The material next to the real?
I could either ponder substance or shadow, the world’s Architect or my vision.

So now I, Evyn, fall to my knees and say,
“God, keep me blind but, please, perfect my vision.”

A Simple Proposition

We lonely broken few,
Why must we suffer in silence?
You say humanity is nothing more
Than a pile of writhing grubs in a crevice of the cosmos
Offering dirty rags of supplication to God.

All right, fine.
Then why are you appalled when we admit it?

When we approach you with trembling hands,
As we show our souls
In the dark living room
After dinner
And before Bible study.
You recoil.
It is not right, you say.

What is this thin mask you call “right?”
This viscous membrane,
This gauzy veil draped over a corpse.
You wrap yourself in it before you leave for work,

If we’re grubs, why
Bother with the mask?
Why live with pretensions of “right?”
This is neither beauty nor goodness,
But merely thin propriety,
Shallow milky dishwater.

And when we remove this layer of “right”
And for once
speak with frankness,
You treat us like the grubs you believe yourselves to be.

So now I offer a simple proposition.
Instead of hiding,
Let us scream our fallen-ness from the rooftops,
Sing our songs of sin,
And if it shocks; if it frightens you
who value beauty more than truth,
Then we have succeeded,
We prophets of Original Sin.
Let us bare our brokenness to heaven.
Lest we forget Redemption
A thing of true Beauty,
Not this thin thing you call “right.”
I don’t swear, but,
Fuck propriety.
Give me Truth.

About the Author:


Evyn McGraw is an undergraduate at John Brown University pursuing degrees in both creative writing and illustration. As a blind artist with delusions of grandeur and an enduring interest in philosophy, her life experiences, though admittedly limited, have provided useful sources of inspiration.