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River Daydream

Juliet Bel, Grade 11

Silver Key in Poetry

New Orleans Nostalgia: A Collection

The heat melts on your skin

like Roman Candy in your teeth,

sucking the energy

out like fillings.

 

Split-pack AC and central air

are more practical

but there’s just something so magical

about lying on your back

watching the ceiling fan rock.

 

The windows are three-layer painted-shut

so you couldn’t open them

even if you wanted to.

Welcome the mosquitoes in to perch.

 

When you were a kid, you’d tighten the muscles in your arm

to trap them to you,

watch them panic.

Such stupid little bugs.

 

When you ride your bike along the levee

and see the river so high up

so close to your feet

you wonder what it might be like to slip in silently

 

swim with the polluted catfish

watch the Natchez paddle by

avoid the hooks set by men on the levee.

 

You can’t see the river from your porch anymore.

Someone bought the empty lots at the end of the block

and built tall houses to soak up the view.

 

Your house is eight feet above sea level,

high up for a house in a swamp

you’ll never flood.

The whole block won’t flood

but you wish it would.

 

You want your river view back.

Deathwatch Beetles

Juliet Bel, Grade 11

Silver Key in Poetry

New Orleans Nostalgia: A Collection

A bedroom in the attic has its perks

when you live on the Mississippi.

The Natchez and her calliope swim

silently in the almost-autumn heat.

 

The bright yellow paint

on the house next door

can be seen peeling through my window.

If I look hard enough I can see the termites underneath.

 

Sometimes when I can’t sleep

I open the window and

drape myself over the sill,

looking into the long-abandoned building,

 

her guts a sad reminder of the hurricane.

Which one?

 

People used to live there,

I know that,

but I was too young to remember them

once they moved away.

 

On my sleepless nights,

I look at the scattered pieces of life

on the attic floor

and make up a story

of why they had to leave.

 

Last night I saw a figure in the attic

and I watched it.

Like a ghost, it hovered above the floor

from one not-so-rotten floorboard

to the next,

kept company only by the

Deathwatch Beetles.

 

They knock

knock

knock

in the lonely night

looking for another in the walls.

 

They are an omen

sitting alone with the ill

and the dying.

 

They accompany Death

in all His cloaked glory.

 

For the figure in the attic next door,

they keep watch.

Bywater Blessings

Juliet Bel, Grade 11

Silver Key in Poetry

New Orleans Nostalgia: A Collection

Tonight, we are filled with wine

from boxes at the Julia Street Art Openings.

 

We are too young to be out alone like this,

but there’s a parade nearby

and who are we to deny a good time?

 

To my right,

I see an angel with purple teeth

whose hair falls in her eyes with each step,

her laugh echoing off of the sleeping houses around us.

The too-big cardigan on her shoulders slips to her elbows and she has wings.

 

Ahead of us

I see our final puzzle piece

and the Bywater street lamps have crafted her a halo.

When she turns to face the other angel and me,

I am breathless.

She glides backward over the broken sidewalk

And the live oaks bow as if to worship her.

 

I tell them they look like seraphim

and they laugh,

filled with love and wine.

 

I am no angel!

cries the purple-toothed angel to my right,

I am a child of Dionysus tonight!

She steps into the silent street and spins,

her skirt whirling around her

like the bloom of a flower.

 

We join her

spinning and laughing,

welcoming the warm earthy smell

of the river breeze that carries us

whichever way it pleases.

Arcana

Juliet Bel, Grade 11

Silver Key in Poetry

New Orleans Nostalgia: A Collection

I . The Moon

My gut tells me

Now is not the time

To admire pretty sculptures

 

Maybe it is my love of the magical

But I think they’re trying to tell me a story

Or a message from the universe:

 

For the Mystic Orphan Misfit

For the Cosmic Debris

 

II . The High Priestess

In a hall of mirrors

A voice whispers in my mind

 

Look at that

The crooked reflection

Of hips and hair

Golden for all eternity

 

And I think for a moment

I have heard Her voice

 

III . The Hermit

In spaces alone

I wonder if I truly am.

 

Who is she to lurk in the shadows

Quiet like a creature not wanting of light

Who would be blind without the dark.

 

What if I drew the curtains to take a peek?

Would she see me too?

 

IV . The Wheel of Fortune

I wear saint coins around my throat

I like to think they strum my vocal chords

When I hum alone

 

They feel the rumble of my laughter

The shaking of my shoulders

When I find another silly thing to light me for a moment

 

In the night I sometimes pray

For rain and for a patch of clovers

And a ladybug for good measure

 

V . The Hanged Man

My last night in the haunted quarter

I spent alone

Wandering the streets

 

A young woman joined me

Aglow with gin and love

She bumped my shoulder with hers

 

One day she said

You’ll let go of all that holds you

And you will never have felt so free

The Last Parade of The Grand Marshall

Juliet Bel, Grade 11

Silver Key in Poetry

New Orleans Nostalgia: A Collection

In time we all will come to dance.

Death does not come

cloaked with scythe in hand,

 

But Death is preceded by music,

a Danse Macabre,

a soulful song of time passed.

 

The jester comes first

the faint jingling of his shoes

the first notes of the song.

 

He is followed then by

the nobility in their

flouncy skirts and dapper suits.

 

They find their living

partners and begin

the Danse Macabre.

 

Linked hand in hand

the dead dance

with the living and their own.

 

The hours never seem to pass,

dusk settles in the sky

and the Danse continues.

 

Slowly, Death peels his court

from the arms of the living

stopping at the final pair.

 

The man lingers a moment

his hand still clasped

in the grasp of his lover.

 

No longer the sick

man in the hospital bed,

but again in his ruby shoes.

 

Night-blooming jasmine

permeates the evening

as their dance begins to slow.

 

His grip slips from hers

as he joins

the joyous dance of welcome.

 

The celebration ends

as night fills the sky

and the Grand Marshall

takes his place at the front

of the Danse Macabre.

Letter to a neglected daughter

Helèna Bofisé, Grade 11

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

Dear child,

You felt unloved, unwanted, abandoned

 in a world of  torment and indignation.

Self-hatred was injected in your flimsy body.

The needle’s scar marked you forever.

 You believed love to be a fictitious invention

Created by the easily tricked, to make life seem worth the agony.

Words , they were spit at you by those who should have cared.

They should have cared.

 

But, my dear child,

The world is not torment and indignation,

And your scarred soul could have hardly understood,

That those words wouldn’t have harmed you forever.

Because, my beautiful rose,

Words are the water of the soul. 

You were a flower who was never given a chance to

Enchant those passing by.

Those words, they caused for you to drown

Into an ocean of lies.

 

I would have watered you, I would have given you a chance

To enchant those passing by. I would have shown you love,

The beauty of this frantic world.

I would have made you forget those horrifying scars.

 

Oh, my child,

You are now long gone,

Beneath a big black wave

of sorrow and falsity,

And I can no longer

Save your soul from this

World of vile lies.

A Present Far Gone

Helèna Bofisé, Grade 11

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

We welcome your pain in our melting arms,

and pray to Penthos, God of Grief,

Give her back a heart of grey.

 

Please, take your shoes off and come in.

Sit on the couch, hold your soul in your lifeless hands

and we will take your sunken heart.

In exchange, here’s a teacup filled with loving memories.

They will warm the dark away.

 

Our dishes will cleanse your palate from the taste

Of salty tears and reminiscence,

and we will wash off the shame you carry.

Of forgotten words you’d like to say.

 

It’s too late! But as you say goodbye

To a present far gone, we welcome you

To the cloudy skies of a new home,

Of a new day.

 

We welcome your pain

in our melting arms,

and we will pray

to erase your life of ruin.

 

Hang your coat of worries

at the entrance,

And let us turn your mind

of deathly black into cloudy grey

 

For life won’t feel of summer joy for long,

But our home

( our love for you! )

will always stay.

A plea to stop time

Helèna Bofisé, Grade 11

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

Moonshadows,

Strip me of each unavailing complication,

And be the light I so long searched for

Within the starless skies of a city night.

 

Liberate me from the routine of a nullity

Too heavy for me to carry on my sole,

And trap my feet below a pile of sand.

 

Tear me apart and remind me of a buried joy,

One which belongs to a child with salt in her

Hair and not in her overused, blinded eye.

 

Moonshadows,

Let me rise with the sun, when the time is right,

And let me transmute into a candied sky

Before I must return within those starless lies.

 

Stop!

Hear me scream and let me stop your disappearance

For if you leave you’ll take with you the joy I called mine.

 

If the moon sets, it will be the sun’s turn to fly.

And you will disappear with her.

You, too , will die.

 

moon sets,

sun, rise.

Let us return to those

starless skies.

WHERE IS IT

Leila El Zabri, Grade 11

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

I spit out my hatred, matted with pomegranate blood that slips

through my fingers in pain

It comes up like bile,

Dark;

The anger I have at myself, the putrid flood of burning doubt.

I tremble in this sack of skin and bones,

All impulse and no one else.

Where is it?

I can’t find it, I don’t want to understand.

I curve into my fetal position,

Absolving myself from all that came after.

I tear at the frailty of it all, I break it until the blood is the (stale) river

that never stops flowing,

never remains the same.

I don’t want to step back in, I want to fly,

But I’ve killed things.

Maybe I Was Sleeping

Leila El Zabri, Grade 11

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

Oh love,

You’re perfect, aren’t you?

Let’s swirl in the painted lines of symphony.

But I’m only crazy, you’re only dead.

I want to talk to you but I need your help. What is one to do? I want to run.

Yellow oozes from a blanketed horizon, a banana peel lying unfeelingly in a sticky sleep.

Your stubbed fingers lift my eyelids, white nails covered in lengthy words

which spill at an uncanny pace.

I pull at your lip, yet you are unresponsive. I don’t understand,

why did you tell me you would hold me, when now you are asleep?

Yet the leaves still lie sweetly on the burning skies, and The Killers still spin

in roaring waves.

I wallow on the undone bed and think of your whispering hands.

Lionhair

Leila El Zabri, Grade 11

Honorable Mention in Poetry

A Collection

i.

You remind me of the words

I clumsily read while waiting

And the smooth tang of sticky fingers.

Rivulets of blemishes and scars etch small curls in your hair,

And the cobblestones scream to your bare feet

 (Mine are padded with brown socks).

The cold marble seeps into my back and the running clouds reflect in your blue cheeks

We convince our sadness that it is important by celebrating it

 with words and tears and running paint,

But we don’t mind because we sit on the rickety stools and laugh.

 

ii.

Our heavy legs chase our breath as we trudge around the bright breeze

as it numbs our cracking knuckles.

The sun makes us see white

And we lie on the striped hammock with my tears and his.

Who I want him to be isn’t who he is but I wish he were,

So he leaves my heart but takes me with him.

La Serenissima (a Haibun)

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

“Elsewhere eventually caught up and had their own doomsday.”*

The Grand Canal appears to me as an old woman. Her words are carried by the gondolas, winding roads of water creating syncopated sound waves. Her voice clouds the sky in the morning as cool fog stains my skin with her tales. Against my ears her story laps, aqueous tones that drip-drop from the laundry basking in the rising sun. She says:

 

This is a world where

Seafoam seeps into the sky,

And the walls bleed paint.

Each fingertip a candle, each candle a flame alight with gas that melts into midnight prayer for a world now lost. The woman locks and unlocks her doors as the vaporetti pass under each bridge, waits for each lock to lift. Her tongue is foreign, dips and swoons with the crests of the waves.  

 

Horizon blurry

With blue-green glass and toy boats

Made of cobblestones.

In brilliant sun-crystals the woman’s eyes divide across the ever-expanding lagoon. I look down and find I can walk on water; the magic of the woman seems to be rubbing off. Her magic is finite, however, and without warning the sunshine dissipates. Her voice falls into rain.

 

City of water

Drowned by ships that glide through its

Elegant canals.

If the woman's tears could level the lagoons that wash over her body, her city, she would, I can be sure. If the woman’s breath could cleanse herself, her world, of the venom that snakes through the cracks in the stone, she would, I can be sure. If the woman’s love could bring back the warmth once present in her cheeks, her planet, she would, I can be sure.

*Larissa Sansour, In Vitro. Venice Biennale 2019.

The Black Cat (or, Amsterdam)

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

A black cat crossed my path in Amsterdam,

And I wondered

If every time I set the salt down flat on the table

And unbroke mirrors for every seven years of bad luck that I’d had,

I wondered if perhaps my luck was buried in this cat,

All black save for tiny white paws.

 

The paws were the ‘perhaps’,

The snow-dipped whipped cream

On the Black Forest cake of sin.

They were the sunbeams heating the pavement

And tickling my nose with warmth and moisture.

Just as the rain reached its hands out to caress the concrete,

The rainbows painted in technicolor paradox.

 

And what of Amsterdam?

Of the city of water and wheels?

Of movement, of progress?

The cat jumped from doorstep to doorstep,

Silent as a windmill on a windless day

Until it called out to me

With a guttural scratch of a meow.

 

The black cat with white ‘perhaps’ paws was writing its own luck,

Telling me to pick up the pen and scratch the papyrus

Until the ink bled and flooded even the furthest fields and wetlands.

 

I decided the black cat with ‘perhaps’ paws would be called Amsterdam from now on.

And Amsterdam‘s perhaps would tip-toe its way along the streets,

Making sure to step on each cobblestone with only one paw,

Making sure that each path that was crossed was rewritten and explored,

Making sure that Amsterdam’s perhaps was not dirtied or spoiled

But rather, that the black cat’s white paws remained clean and unburdened.

Polis

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

Stand and wait.

Board the train.

Pick your way through the wall

Of one by one by one,

Packed to the brim,

Each just like the last.

 

In the city we are many and we are alone.

Anonymous unity,

Guilty by association,

Silenced by the crescendo of voices

Filling the space

Until the walls threaten to burst

Like a balloon inflated by small lungs

With one breath too many.

 

The city of         ;

A faceless world.

The walls know no shapes or places,

Only stillness and commotion,

The scraping inhale and empty exhale.

 

Stand and wait.

Get off the train.

Fight with the walls of the city

To scratch and scrawl your name.

Whether dignity or fame

The walls may hide what you seek.

To the Pomegranate Woman

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

Pomegranate woman,

Unfurl your tightly crossed arms and let me crawl in.

Hold me in an embrace bound by silken threads,

Nestle me amongst your sisters who lie up high, clutched in the palms of the tree.

Your rough and tough exterior scratches the fingers that rip you from your branch.

Teach me how to use my red-hot fury to hold fast to my own trunk.

 

Your sparkling seeds decorate the solemn dark sky.

Show me how to shine as if Sun and Moon were my mothers, too.

Your aunts are Ocean and Sky; through tempests and torrents

They wish me winds of pomegranate womanhood,

Breezes that dance and sing amongst the trees.

 

Between your fingers you hold a delicate seed.

You squeeze each seed, soft at first, then sudden and strong.

I watch you watch the blood-juice burst and drip onto my arm.

The crimson liquid blossoms and spreads,

Bright against my innocent skin.

 

Pomegranate woman turns me to pomegranate, turns me to woman.

Yarn of Youth

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

“My love,” she said, and stroked my head.

“Your bed is warm and the table’s set.

It’s far too late for you to leave just yet.”

So from her palm we shared a meal

of health and heart and home and heat.

She sang me songs of plums and sugar-sweets,

Spun stories of lavender fields and dried tea.

 

That night I slept and dreamed a dream

Which seemed to dance around my bed.

This sunny dream told many tales

That tumbled round me and assured,

In tones just like her silky words,

That soon enough the time would come,

And when that time would truly come,

I would not face it without fear,

But rather with a dreamer’s ear.

 

And soon I drifted further off

Till all that danced were mindless thoughts

And milky shadows calmed my eyes

(the kind you see before sunrise).

When I awoke the world had changed;

My mother’s voice had gone away.

“Perhaps,” I thought, “I ought to leave.”

“Not yet,” she said, or so I believe.

Que Podría Pasar

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

Caramel corduroy desire melts your form.

Velvet love, turned to concrete,

Sings songs of immortality.

We are alone, but not by ourselves.

Your poison-gold touch calls like the sea,

While porcelain sighs calm my fear.

 

Eccentric summer brewed between days of immortality

And naked champagne devoured by our fear.

The drunk goddess screams of concrete

Loneliness, her broken-dancing form

In rhythm with the smoke-star falling in the sea.

Meanwhile, through the blush, we can’t see ourselves,

 

Masked by a silent heart shut out in fear.

We are a thousand languid sculptures left to ourselves,

Living in the fervent anatomy of our unquenched form.

Beauty never tastes clear, nor concrete,

But even still you whisper worship to the sea

And tell me your dreams of immortality.

 

The rose moon continues to trudge through the sea,

Just as her beams have heaved through spring in fear

Of leaving her garden in the hands of humans like ourselves.

We are still virgin to revolution, blind to immortality

And so we swim through ideals of concrete,

Unable to distinguish between bronze dignity and falsified forms.

 

Our figures fill as we ink ourselves,

Yearning for logic and paint more than immortality.

In your eyes Eden has come to life, lives in concrete;

I am her image in your telescope pointed from across the sea.

But soon the ocean spray clouds your form,

Death begins to taste stronger than my fear.

 

My funeral shall smell of the sea,

Shall rhyme like concrete.

A wild nectar will be served to purge our fear,

Leaving us once more alone with ourselves.

As the glass buildings lose their form,

Spend your secrets on me and this futile immortality.

Villanelle

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

Her lungs are cloudy with her lonesome tears.

The cobblestone glitters with broken-heart shells.

A patchwork smile disappears.

 

Hidden walls muffle silent cheers

While outside she’s deafened by whispering bells.

But her lungs are still cloudy with her lonesome tears

 

The maelstrom is the water of her fears

Water that drips down the ceiling of the stairwells.

Day after day, a patchwork smile disappears.

 

Her brush-stroked mask streaks and smears

As night after night her hopeful heart rebels.

Yet her lungs are cloudy with her lonesome tears.

 

Minutes pass that are longer than years.

Foggy eyes see colors as less than pastels.

A patchwork smile disappears.

 

She feels the darkness slip through both ears.

She burns from the heat of the flames she quells.

Her lungs are cloudy with her lonesome tears.

A patchwork smile disappears.

Tenuta di Spannocchia (a Haibun)

Isabella Todini, Grade 12

Honorable Mention

Senior Writing Portfolio: City/Woman

We clamored down the stairs of the farmhouse, stepped in time to the beat of our laughter. Like the sunlight that spilled over the tops of the trees as it sank towards the ground, we poured out the doorway, a smattering of students on a Sienese mountaintop. We walked out into the front garden, and I was deafened by the sound of the crunchy pebbles beneath our feet. I stopped short, consumed by the sweet country air, my eyelashes fluttering butterflies. I felt them fly away while I stood still, reveling in the air that swirled around me. Time changed speed, and all at once the sun set and the sky was a deep indigo, revealing more than an ocean’s worth of stars.

A star shot by me,

a whisper of a daydream,

in the cool, dark night.

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Chapter 6: Student Life | Student Clubs, Chris Smalling

Tackling Inequality

AS Roma defender and Manchester United legend Chris Smalling was invited to talk to students of St. Stephen's School about equality in sports, his vegan diet, and, of course, football, on 2 December 2019.

By Laith Zehni '20
writing awards
Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, 2020

Again this year, St. Stephen’s Creative Writing teacher Moira Egan is delighted to present the work of her students, who achieved wonderful success in the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition for 2020. This year, students in Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 garnered 10 Honorable Mentions, 6 Silver Keys, and 2 Gold Keys.

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
Grade 9 award
Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2020

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
Grade 10 award
Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2020

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
grades 11 12 thumb
Chapter 7: Scholastic Writing Awards

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards 2020

By Moira Egan - Creative Writing Teacher
winter arts show3
Chapter 8: The Arts

Winter Arts Show

Enjoy a visual showcase of our Winter Arts Show highlights.

By Luigi Fraboni - Photography Studio
cortile regenerative medicine 2
Chapter 9: Alumni | Alumni Spotlight

The Next Frontier in Health Care: A Review in Regenerative Medicine

Regenerative medicine (RM) is an emerging and very exiting multidisciplinary field aimed at restoring, maintaining or enhancing tissue and, consequently, organ functions.

By David Rosales '16
Wahiba Sands
Chapter 9: Alumni | Alumni & Friends, Health & Wellness

Alumni & Friends in Oman

Our fearless leader Dr Helen Pope lead in October our 5th edition of Alumni & Friends Trip. A group of 10 alumni followed Dr Pope in Oman, The Land of Frankincense.

By Cortile Staff Writer
NY(5)
Chapter 9: Alumni

DC, NY & Boston Alumni Events

Images from St. Stephen's Alumni events across the North East last Fall.

Painting by Cate Whittemore 1972
Chapter 9: Alumni | Class Notes

Class Notes

Welcome to our first-ever digital 'Class Notes.' Enjoy the posts and images collated by Class Ambassadors from their respective years!