Olivia McCain 2016

Story:      In Leafy Treetops

Poem:     Silence

Poem:     Surgeon

Poem:     Pre-Existence

After "Originally"

Girls with Dragons and Teenage Blues

Story:      Anxiety

Story:      Help

In Leafy Treetops


     Imagine a serene place, where your mind is open and your worries waft in space. The bullfrogs croak their bellowing blues, and the night sky twinkles. A rivulet streams down a hill; you don’t need to look to hear the splash the crisp water makes as it glides over stone. The air is clean. The breeze brushes wispy circles on your skin.

     Humanity lies fast asleep, but nature croons. Hear the owls hoot along the distinct cries of nature. You are enticed into the glistening stream. The tepid water submerges your feet, Into the muddy undergrowth you sink, invigorated by the initial contact of water to skin. The earth’s crust fuses with it’s inner core, and at this centrifugal moment, you become one with creation. You know now why the earth shifts as it does. As you fasten to stillness in the mud you realize it’s metaphorical merit: you have chosen to stand in the rill, the water that appeared welcoming. Even as It clutched you by the ankle and waited for you to make your next move.

     A situation is made by a tactic constructed by and for yourself, sometimes in lust, sometimes out of fine intention settled deep in your heart. It is often that there is no standstill in a moment of decision brought on by pure determination. A bear craves the honey, and in his will to disperse the honeycomb, he does not realize he’s killed several bees too.

     You come to find a solution that was not as evident as it seems it should’ve been before. You close your eyes as a linchpin installs deep in your mind. If you would only pause to find this obvious solution, you’d be surprised by how lucid an idea your mind can generate. Like quicksand, your best bet is to remain unruffled, keep your mind unalloyed.

     When you escape the stream, you have learned to refrain, though it may succeed in tempting you once more. You travel deeper into the night whilst leaving the stream out of sight, but your mind dwells on the situation longer, giving you more time to process and gain from your experience. You head toward trees with camouflaged trunks, making their leafy tops seem as if they levitate. The wind beguiles you to the trees’ swinging limbs. Leather-like leaves flapping as a result from gusts of the uprising wind; chiming as soft melodies in your head. The trees that edifice above you, who are now under their wake, fall like a canopy, clasping you inside. Now it is too late to pivot back around. It’s become so black between the boles and tops that you cannot see your feet.

     You encounter a shift at your quaking knees. The unsteady ground beneath you cracks, splits, and cleaves. Soon, it will all be over and the world will become a steady place, the moon will gleam new, the crickets will buzz in quiet harmony, and the birds will carol away in their nests. The night will turn to day, and the world will stir come morning, never finding a flick of evidence that you had been present tonight. If so they find you, to pull you from the trees that held you at their grasp, to bestow a leafy vine to lift you from your scuffle, then the world was meant to know that at midnight you awoke.


     When the ground fuses itself together as one again, and the skies turn slowly from dawn to dusk, you unearth a peaceful morning; orange splints of sunlight that seep through dangling leaves. You flee through the vines that trapped you once before. You’ve learned to leave the blackwoods untouched.

     You might even leave the canopy forest forgetful of what you’ve learned. The trees may compel you once more, as you remember how the trees appeared, how it felt to walk beneath them, but you failed to remember what they did to you. They ensnared you and held you captive for a moment in fleeting time. They ruined your chance to watch the complete sunrise from an open horizon. You could not see the dew drops glisten on the stems of grass that morning because you were trapped in an indescribable darkness where you heard noises, you heard the birds, but you could not fly with them.







Dejected silence organized the room

Where I grieved after your death,

The room in which you slept.

Till that dreadful day you left.


I imagined vividly,

You standing in the doorway;

narrow, dull and gray.

I swallowed pills, arranged my bed,

pulling my anxiety over my shoulders.


I woke in surges of deep breaths,

head thudding to the presence

of medication in my blood.

I ignored the fleeting pain,

to write about my wild dreams.


For quite a while, I talked to you.

You stood in my doorway moments ago,

eyes filled to the brim with despair.

Stretching your vesselless hand to me,

The night transformed to day,

Coming to a different therapist, a different city.

Some place that might heal my wounds.

A place where I might not be judged.


I tried not to insist that my grief was ending

along with me.







You were my personal surgeon.

My heart was destroyed-

shattered into such tiny pieces it was microscopic,

littering the organs inside of me. I thought it was irreparable,

until you healed me.

You borrowed strings from your heart and stitched them to mine.

The minute I fell in love with you, we were inseparable.


You are the source that fills my light,

the diesel to keep my engine running.

I could never ask for someone different

to hug, kiss, hold, or laugh with me.


Think about how fast your heart beats,

know that’s how long it would take

for me to decide if I should lose my life for you.


On the operating table you saw me for what I had inside,

you reattached the pieces, welding me to wellness once again.

There is nothing I wouldn’t sacrifice for you,

you gave me life.


If it weren’t for you,

there’s no certainty I’d be alive today, to attempt to thank you.

All your actions are deeds to me; no thank you, no gratitude can ever repay you.

As I fall for you,

I give you my trust.







     I squeeze a handful of damp sand as it seeps through my fingers. I hear, if I listen intently, the rush of water trickling through and above jagged rock and the wind that whistled through the leaves of the cottonwood tree. This is where I belong, this was me. If I came out to the beach at just the right time, before the sun set and the clock struck eight, I could see the pinkining of the sky, right where it met the yellow descendant sunline. Then, minutes after it began to turn purple, splashing with blotches of blue and orange, all of the darker variety. If I were to leave home I would sure miss the beauty before my eyes. Everyday was beautiful and for as long and as far back as my mind could take me, I didn’t remember a day where it was foggy, or I could not see the stretch of water for miles. Never had I been hungered, never had I been alone, never had I the feeling of abandonment or loss of hope. In the beauty of my earth I was utterly lost.

     The sea was crisp, and the air was fresh. In the sand I floated until I came upon a shifty rock protruding from the grainy surface, I felt it’s masculine curves. Sun radiating from the rock did not even redden my hand. How could it so? As the grass whistled high where the shore meets land, I stare in the direction of a distant pear tree. Springing, leaping, right off the spore, delicious and ripe. What a beautiful gift we’d been given here on this earth, wonderful to taste, but not to me.

     One day we will reverse, and we’ll crave to taste the sea. The salt and hydration we one day will need. When we’re given earthly vessel, and use a thing called gravity. Limits roam our cells and hold us to the ground, so far we might travel without fearing danger from an enemy. All things become the enemy, such as man and the sea, the cat’s of the jungles, and dogs of the mountains. No longer communicating in harmony.

     How will the world see the ocean when they cannot climb upon the back of a whale? The ocean is unseen unless we see it with the manatee who own it.

     The skies are white, not a bright white, but a cream, a color that comforts me as a cotton pillow behind my head. I will miss this sheer peacefulness. A paradise falls on my back, here there are no worries as to a burn from the fireball. No hatred, no evil, no distress brought upon by men.







     I tried to scour my hands; wash away the woe. The pain was stronger than it had ever been before. To me, it felt that the sin on my hands was as evident as the guts of a broken glow stick. Only it was worse, it was as present in the light as it was in the dark. I feared how it would travel up my arms, proceeding to varnish my body at last. I feared my guilt would spread over every inch of me like wildfire. It would melt my soul as fast as an icecube under scorching water. I would not perish, but watch myself timely decay. Because suffering is long, it is not meant to quickly go away.

     I scrubbed at my hands, washed so many a time that they became raw. The glowing residue stuck, and now it seemed to seep into my skin, just well below the surface and I feared it was permanently in. I wished to make it better, though only made it worse.

     At night I lost sleep, I could feel my veins drain of blood and become infected with regret. Everytime I blinked, the ceiling caved inward. I was suffocating my mind, it twisted, snarled, and hacked at me inside;


     Awake, awake, you will not sleep. Mistake, mistake, you will repeat.

     I tried to take in deeper breaths, to fill my raisined lungs with air. My hands began to burn, to sear the sheets at my sides. My heart began thumping at a thunderous pound. So extreme the thudding was, that when I placed my fusing hands upon it, I could feel its pulsating pressure against my palm. A heart that flew faster than a humming bird’s wing, a violent sting. I whisper wishes to myself; to hold a stabilized thought. One that would not cause my breathing to stop.

     For a second split in half, I thought of something new: of fairy tales, of castles, and of blue skies too. I turned to my side in a position that was fetal, I squeezed my body together, and again I began to whither.

     I don’t deserve happiness. I’m a sinner, I deserve to die. I didn’t know if the sun came up that morning, because life was black continually, the storm never eased. Good times became sheer memories, memories I was erasing intentionally because I had not felt worthy of their presence in my life. Even my dreams were haunted by daunting thoughts and worry, in my dreams  rubbed my hands, and they started to bleed. I am unsatisfied by the washes, they fail to become clean.







Mommy kissed my cheek,

straightened up my jacket,

handed me my lunchbox,

“Make the best of your first day. Be kind, and be brave.”


That day I arrived at school,

my best dress on, my hair in bows

“What is with her clothes?”

One regret I have from my past-

was my submissive mind.

They didn’t mean it.


They say your first day is tough,

but fail to mention the rest of your days are too.

For the next six weeks every morning,

I sobbed on the floor.

“Mommy, don’t make me go.”


I heard it all the time, my faulty four:

Weird. Ugly. Fat. Stupid.

It became so bad, Mommy couldn’t take anymore.


When she pulled me out of school,

she didn’t know my mind stayed back.

The words continued to haunt me, ate at my skin,

and kept consuming until it reached the bone.


It was not long before all I felt was the pain of hunger,

a gnawing in my stomach,

a pain I considered an accomplishment.

Of my faulty four,

I would finally eliminate one.