Session Four Anthology
MENTOR: Donald Quist
Midnight, I find myself in the backseat of a jeep, vomit-hued and similarly perfumed, watching for crabs. “The size of two palms,” an ill-placed ornithologist describes, his two palms stretched and waving in enthusiastic surrender, “and with incredibly human eyes.” His eyes bulge, but frog-like, in a fruitless demonstration. I can see the beading of sweat on the whites all around his pupils. He repurposes his suspended hands to the fanning of his head. “They cross these roads at full moon in hundreds.”
It’s hot. I make sure I say something coherent in response, something not as explicitly evasive as fascinating nor distastefully American as wow. “It must be magical.” I must be magical; back straight, I cross my legs at the ankles and fiercely disregard how the mist mingles with the mold and decade -old puke residue and settles with a film on my glasses. Through the offending droplets, I gaze into glistening full moon and no crabs.
And then a motorcycle thunders past us, tipping past the ravine and riding on water. Shoot. “It must be gory,” I amend. A grave jerk from the point of his chin; from my throat I produce some sympathetic, delicately heartbroken, determined noises. Now the smooth lull of the vroooom and its ensuing environmental pollution is replaced. My eyes tear. My fungi allergies persist. I hear red rubber tires crack-crack-cracking against the backs of pregnant crustaceans and I knock my head back hard onto the one headrest that isn’t cushioned and try not to faint.
I am here to document and protest this roadkill with the flash of my camera and I will capture something poetic and poignant, I decide. I caress the broken lightbulb above my lens with renewed spirit and a gently electrocuted finger.
They cross the road to wash their eggs into water. They birth life into the ebb and flow, and gush hope against the current. “A few in their hundreds of offspring survive.” The ornithologist’s eyes are crabs’ now, beady and bright and nurturing.
Against the current, he echoes, turning to watch the moon summon water uphill.
Beady eyes turn elegantly prideful in the rearview mirror. “Our tribe fought the Dutch afloat these straights.” They were traders, wannabe conquerors, and all intruders. “We used this stream and they used their weapons. We forced them here, and ambushed them right at the crux – right there, don’t you see?” His jagged pointer finger extends, ecstatic until stopped short at a fogged window. “I mean, of course we had our weapons too. We slaughtered their forces. All of them.” He chuckles. I see blood now, rippling in sync with the shimmering waves. Red with black ink and moon juice. “What raw, beautiful power – to command a battle in allegiance with nature.” I don’t know who is saying what. Do I smell the iron of the gore, the iron of the arrowheads, or the irony of all its grace? I want to swim into the moon, bask in its gravity, and then crash down to add to the stash of puke I’m now sure is in the trunk of the car.
I will never consider the field of medicine.
“That was centuries ago, at the end of the third month, on a night like this.” Before we erased ourselves. That day when water flowed backwards for sky to kiss land.
“And your great-grandmother was the priestess.” He twists backwards, his left eye on mine, his right eye on the road, his stubble scraping the side of the car seat. My pupils flashed a white light and conjured a crab in its pixels, distilled into the future.
She bears her children in this crossing, chancing herself for her tribe’s survival. Moonlit, cupping eggs, trusting water, a woman warrior and a great-grandmother of the crustaceans.
Kyra Mo is a junior at The Horace Mann School in New York. She spent her childhood years in Taipei and Beijing, where she found her love of photography and writing. A National Gold Medalist and Best-in-Grade Award recipient, she has exhibited her art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Parsons Gallery, Carnegie Hall, Beijing World Art Museum and others. She is the co-editor and writer for the online student arts publication of Lincoln Center and the founding editor-in-chief of her school’s performing arts journal, Artsphere. In 2019, she will be serving publicly as Ambassador to Silk Road International Youth Photography Competition, a FIAP initiative. Otherwise, you can find her acting and dancing in the black box, pondering AI, or mixing rocket fuel!