to lie awake all night

flat and open

To appropriate mediocracy for

the safety of being neither here nor there, a

responsibility to confirm nothing.

What happens when you get there?

What happens when they go unanswered?

The closest she ever got to flying without swings was by being tied down to earth.

no matter how far up you go, you always come back

you  alone

the self supplying questions and answers

the aftermath

skids, marks left on charcoal tiles.

So go on, curve.

— Karen Zhou, fourth year, literature and philosophy

Editor’s note: Karen Zhou is The Varsity’s Business Manager. 


Some story, somewhere, some time

The pavement slapped his clouded mind,

reaching back to those memories of woodwork class

when you were twelve; watching a cherry tomato in an iron vice

squelch under pressure, and the seeds

oozing from the punctured red skin.

“Thump”. Dull throbs pulsed from his inactive brain.

Or hyperactive? He thought that only offence

could be his number one defence,

but only waving those arms and squawking served

to reactivate that true figure of weakness

from his cold-bitten fingers to his hard calluses.

Stomp, stomp, and stomp again.

Stomp until your ankles creak.

Don’t stop, keep moving until every regret,

every foul word, every lost desire,

filled his synapses, then disappeared.

Perhaps then this will become only table-talk,

when hyperactivity forms together and vanishes.

 Oliver Thompson, second year, English


It’s Quite Dark in Here 

They say a child can swim through the veins of a blue whale, because the diameter

of the vessels are just right for the thin build of a seven year old.

I stood in front of a funhouse mirror and imagined

how nicely I would fit into a marine animal if

my limbs were like the silver rods of

wind chimes.

I went home and ate papery seaweed for breakfast, and then you cut me open with a

kitchen knife

that I’d seen them use at a bait house,

and I told you to take my hand and swim with me,

but all you could say was that my hands were something a pianist prodigy would dream about, that the translucent skin made my veins seem like the calligraphy of an

Arab scholar.

I told you to not add anything solid into my diet, and you said that if I kept drinking

water I would swivel like a small tornado before going down the drain—you were

paraphrasing my grandmother: “the world will swallow you whole.”

And it did.

I entered the veins of the whale when I was a decade and six years old—my limbs

still fit perfectly through the narrow shafts, and I imagined you



nice and warm where the sea green waters did not touch the skin that covered your


— Ureeba Rehan


Jazz Nights

I must’ve been fifteen when I realized I hadn’t any gym shoes. It was the first day of high school. Maybe that’s right. And then backwards, backwards. How unreliable our memories are. Jack was there, that I knew. Outside, Mr. Mackintyre was in his office. I saw R. looking over, her mascara dark, slouching. I decided she didn’t want to come; but she was here anyway. Was there Ssettuba with the basketball? Hariette beside him? Little Amsterdam and Ezra fighting over the tennis balls. Alice in her uniform, still smiling at me, a whistle in her mouth. “What? You thought I’d forgotten you?” I saw all the people I’d seen on the drive across the country, on the plane backwards, my old college roommates, and their salty pubescent lovers. High school friends I no longer cared about. Teachers and professors, too. My first boss at a burger store. They were waving at me; peaceful glazes on their face, shouting something at me, something I couldn’t hear. Juve and Anabelle making out, soulmates lending out fluttery kisses, on the bleachers. Devon jogging in late still in his street clothes. “Sorry, I’m late.”

Where am I going? Yes, how much clearer now. I took a gulp of air. There, gradually I’d become more focussed, everything less ambiguous; the ambience deteriorating before me. Though I was lost in thought, and I wondered if my imagination was grasping onto a real moment. Almost there now, nearly there. Thinking, are there really so few people in my life? I’ve always thought there’d be more. Wake up, I thought. Wake up. Smell the summer pinecones. Get back to that place. But no, I thought, this is better. Revisiting the past. Memories are like that, little vignettes; half a picture to a beautiful show. I was standing motionless, letting, at last, that lovely sensation lift me up. But, maybe, I thought, I won’t do this anymore. After all, I know how it will end.

Suddenly, here we are. Better late than never. Strangely enough, it’s this episode I’ve chosen. It’s the one where Jack and I stole into the gym locker room, each taking a pair of crusty shoes. Where we walked around the park and threw the shoes into the river. “I’m going to need other shoes.” “You bet. We’ll convince Mom to buy some tomorrow.” How we hopped a fence to get into a crowded bar. The music lullabying. I remember how sweaty we were, how uncomely, disaffected. We’d never listened to jazz before. And here we were. Swinging, bluing, flexing, dancing, and dancing. I decided, then, that a great part of me would be in love and that I would never let it expire.

Whatever happened?

Best to leave us there. Thinking, we’ve got all the time in the world. Now swing it, Jack. Come on. Hey, Ambrose. Can’t you hear them whisper? Loving, I remember, loving those two hours, aware that tomorrow would be different, that tomorrow would be the same, that life would never change, that life had to change, aware that we would die. We would always die. Leave us there, where life was about improvement, the upswing. We incurable romantics, we on the upswings, singing, singing, singing, we’ve got all the time in the world.

Can you believe it?

Of course, I said nothing.

It only lasts a second, doesn’t it?

The days we really lived.