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  • Kate Swisher

Folding, Unfolding

Folding

My mentor sent me a letter in the mail the week I graduated from college. Folded inside was a pressed pansy. She wrote "I found the enclosed pansy growing wild between broken concrete. They surged through the small opening and turned their faces to the sun. Unbothered by such limitations - or in spite of them all - they have become a symbol of immense hope in a time of constant constraint. . .such blooms aren't just possible. They are quite common."





Unfolding

The flowers of magnolia trees look just as elegant as buds as they do, blossoms. An open magnolia is pink with vulnerability. A budded magnolia is mysterious, like a hand enclosing something another cannot see.


Folding

I'm learning about boundaries, and how saying "no" can fulfill me just as much as saying "yes." I'm understanding the agency that comes with limitations. The same mentor who sent the pansy once told my writing class that we don't need to reveal everything about ourselves to connect to readers. We don't need to expose our most intimate selves to show our hearts. Her smooth voice cracked as she told us this.


Unfolding

A friend reads aloud his poem. It describes substances seeping through cracks, and excess. "I want to talk about the smoke that makes the bee's syrup," he reads. Just yesterday I held a smoker to a beehive's entrance. I puffed and puffed out smoke until Bonnie, my current mentor, held me back. Too much smoke disorients the bees for several days. How much should I give?


Folding

Two strangers fold their legs to sit on a foggy beach. An blue heron stands by. Sandy, dead jellyfish wash ashore. The strangers sit at a six foot distance, contained in protected spheres, yet after one hour of talking, briefly join hands.


Unfolding

The streets sing in San Francisco. I dance to the music booming from a car beside me. The driver is waiting at the stop light. He smiles at me, but not in a creepy way. It is a joyful smile. I'm with a new friend. Her black hair flows across the sidewalk when the light turns green. We order food from the first restaurant that catches our eye. Between mouthfuls, we discuss the state lines we crave to cross. I dance again, inside of her room. A psychedelic tapestry hangs on her wall and shifts hue every time her string lights shift color.


Folding

My legs move into my chest. My arms wrap around my knees. It's still early. The candle flickers. Soft music plays. My black lab curves his head into my shoulder. We fold into sleep.



Unfolding

Suddenly I realize

That if I stepped out of my body I would break Into blossom

— excerpt from A Blessing by James Wright








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