August 2019 Issue Space


Mx. Universe – Liberty Tidberg (age 16; Elkhorn, Wisconsin, United States) 
Morphogenesis – Josephine Parker (age 07; Christchurch, New Zealand)
A Wasteland of Beauty – Reuben Veenstra (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Space Between the Walls – Adaeze Chukwuka (age 16; Maryland, United States)
Safe Space – Adaeze Chukwuka (age 16; Maryland, United States)
Coming, Going – Chloe Henkel (age 16; Darlington, Maryland, United States)
The Museum – Matthew Marshall (age 22; Hartford, Connecticut, United States)
Vacancy – Jana Heise (age 14; Dunedin, New Zealand)
Shadows from space – Naomi Dana (age 14; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Ida van Kan (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Max Henkel (age 17; Darlington, Maryland, United States)
The Waiting – Sylvie King (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
[Mural 1 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students (ages 14 to 18; Kaufering, Germany)
[Mural 2 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students (ages 14 to 18; Kaufering, Germany)
The Clinic – Margaret Li (age 17; Auckland, New Zealand)
The Moon of Cheetahs – Tom Nalder (age 10; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Rain Wang (age 11; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Reflect – Hillary Walker (age 13; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Music of Movement – Jasmine Ryan (age 16; Christchurch, New Zealand)
The Lost Moon – Millie Sarjeant (age 12; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space to dream – Emma Geddes (age 09; Christchurch, New Zealand)
Space – Sophie Yu (age 20; Auckland, New Zealand)
Meaning Is Attached – Lauren Sanders (age 16; Austin, Texas, United States)
Space is a blanket – Chloe Wu (age 07; Christchurch, New Zealand)

Mx. Universe – Liberty Tidberg

Liberty Tidberg is a rising senior at Elkhorn High School in South-Central Wisconsin. Along with having a passion for the visual arts, Libby is an active member of her local Parkour gym. She currently works as a camp counselor for the rec department and as the social media consultant for the United Way of Walworth County and Dementia Friendly of Walworth County.

Morphogenesis – Josephine Parker

In space
form shapes.
One hundred
hot planets
make one sun.
Long ago
tormented the sun.
Parts of the sun
flew away like tears
and got colder
turned white
and formed stars.

Josephine Parker is seven years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. Josie lives with her mum, dad, two older brothers, five cats, three goldfish, a pony, a dog, and too many chickens. Her favourite cat is black, fluffy, and named Ziggy. She especially enjoys writing poetry, drawing, and playing with Ziggy.

A Wasteland of Beauty – Reuben Veenstra

shimmering stars
as far as the eye can see
raging sun invades the night
colossal craters scattered across  planets
engulfs me like a warm blanket
black holes stealing stars
sweltering mars like an infinite desert
determined rockets hurtle into the abyss
mysterious  creatures scuttle across earth
a wasteland of beauty

Reuben Veenstra is eleven years old. He grew up in Hamilton and now lives in Christchurch. He enjoys playing football and writing poems.

The Space Between the Walls – Adaeze Chukwuka

Adaeze Chukwuka (16) The Space Between the Walls

Adaeze Chukwuka is a digital artist based on the eastern coast of the United States. Her work is inspired by the bright and colourful children’s books that she was obsessed with as a child. She likes to experiment with contrasting colours and lighting, creating pieces that demand to be looked at.

Safe Space -Adaeze Chukwuka

Adaeze Chukwuka (16) - Safe Space

Coming, Going – Chloe Henkel

There are a million people
And gaps the size of the sun
Between us
Are you pushing through this cluttered space
Or is it only me?

Chloe Henkel is an American artist and poet. When not writing or painting, she can probably be found playing the ukulele, listening to music, picking flowers, or catching up with friends. For more of her work, check out @chloe.creating on Instagram!

The Museum – Matthew Marshall

——Museums are labyrinths, their blueprints architected like a crossword—drawing you along each piece of the puzzle until its collection of white squares builds a solved installation.
——There is a couple behind me whose bodies, so tightly intertwined, are a Möbius strip of interlocked hands and feet. Their microscopic separation holding an infinite past.
——Paintings are one-way mirrors to interrogation rooms. Depending on proximity, you’re detective or suspect. With one canvas, you’re behind the glass, investigating, hoping the case isn’t as clear as yesterday’s clue: six letters for “we’re done.” The next, you’re wanted for questioning and see yourself in the reflective frame.
——The couple is in my elevator. One wants to view the fifth floor, the other the sixth. The disunity separates the lace of their knotted fingers. One hand, cold from the other’s evaporating sweat, touches two buttons.
——This painting, the one whose strokes demand attention like a torturous memory, is my barometer—gauging the pressure behind my eyes, inside my heart. Today, it reads: don’t text her.
——The couple splits. One is next to me, trudging through the exhibit, clinging to any image capable of distraction. The other unknowingly copies every stride from the floor below.

Matthew Marshall is a recent graduate of Michigan State University with a B.A. in English. While unpublished in the world of fiction, he has been awarded numerous creative writing scholarships and nominations, including the Anderson Essay Award, Creative Writing Award, and ultimately winning the Ambrose D. Patullo Scholarship for literary analysis in poetry. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

Vacancy – Jana Heise

Jana Heise (14) - Vacancy

Jana Heise is fourteen years old. She’s grown up on a sailboat and is intimate with the colour blue.

Shadows from space – Naomi Dana

Naomi Dana (14) - Shadows from space

Naomi Dana has loved space ever since a young age—she has at least twenty books on the subject, and her walls are plastered with posters about the solar system. She is fascinated with the colours that come from beyond this world, and loves knowing that there is more to life than we know. She is fourteen years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Space – Ida van Kan

The forever travelling sky
Dancing so the world can see
Space, please tell me where you are
I can be seen but not heard
If you look around I’m everywhere
Who am I?
I will forever look for you
What do you dream when the sun takes your place?
I’m clueless without you
Tell me where you go
I move freely but no one knows
Where I go
What am I?
And when you do, teach me how to
Dance like you
And listen to me sing like an angel
Stars in the sky that I behold
My face is the planets and
The stars are my hands
Who am I?
Space, please tell me what to do
When the sun is at its peak
Where is your starry face
That warms my heart through the troubled nights?

Ida van Kan is ten years old, and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Space – Max Henkel

Max Henkel is an aspiring composer. When he’s not writing music, he enjoys walks in the forest, stargazing, and playing the piano.

The Waiting – Sylvie King

No one hears us scream
The everlasting bash of supernovas
Tell stories expected in the past
Of the protoplanets
Predicted to hold life
The life that could sustain us
In an exoplanet far away
We wait and we watch
Through our telescopes
As we set them on planes in the air
And we search until someone
Calls to join us in our void

Sylvie King has been contributing to creative writing for around five years. She has been published in a selection of sources, including Otago Daily Times, Toitoi, fingers comma toes, and The NZ Poetry Box. Her passions are writing, space, astronomy, engineering, and hanging out with her friends.

[Mural 1 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students

The Montessorischule Kaufering students are between fourteen and eighteen years old, and live in Kaufering, Germany. These two murals were painted as part of a school project in 2018, and can be found in the underpass at the Kaufering train station, located near the school. Photographs: Jael Hecht. 

[Mural 2 – Kaufering Bahnhof] – Montessorischule Kaufering students

The Clinic – Margaret Li

The clinic is empty apart from the receptionist and a tired-looking older woman. Flickering lights bounce off her garish lipstick – the flaky kind you buy at the pharmacy. She picks at the plaster blistering off the walls; her belly swells under a tank. Guilty, my eyes swerve away to the posters above her. Their furled edges morph into sneers, murmuring lies like safe and quick.
Under their unforgiving glare, I sink deeper into my chair.
Somewhere down the hallway, a door creaks open and a teenage girl comes out. My heart flutters thinking it’s my sister. It’s not.
This girl is older, her apple-pie cheeks swollen with innocence. A doctor waves her toward the front desk. The receptionist – not much older than me – pushes a form and a pen in her direction.
From the back, her broad oak-shoulders shudder.
Reception girl slides a box of Kleenex at her.
A warm draught, strawberry-scented and baby-powdered, crawls into my mouth. The bitter-sweet combination lingers in my throat, choking me.
‘Th-th-thanks,’ she stutters, blowing noisily.
Reception girl smiles through sooty lashes while taking another drag of her Marlboro.
I catch myself recoiling as the new girl drops down into the seat next to me, a wad of snot-smeared tissues clutched in her fist. She is near enough that if I reached out, I could squeeze her hand. Instead, I sink deeper.
The older woman seems to feel differently. Across from me, she tugs at her tank top. Beads of cold fear glisten at her hairline before rolling down her left temple. Behind closed lids, she replays that night. That man. That moment.
The second-guessing game consumes her.
The woman moves closer to the edge of her seat as if ready to bolt, and at the same time, frozen – a deer caught in the headlights of nobody’s car. Her knee jiggles up and down.
Up, down.
Up, down.
The silent war unfolding in the scrunched-up space between her brows echoes through my head. I cover my ears. But it’s too late.
Up, down, up, down, up, down, up, down.
I watch my seat rattle.
Get me out of here.
The burning gaze of the room devours me as I rise, the plastic edge of my chair digging into tartan-skirt flesh. Breathless from not-running, I slam my palms into the door and push hard.
Freedom. Finally.
The cold air rushes to hug my cheeks. It’s breath, raw and dry on my skin, knocks the feeling back into my bones. I swill it down, thirsty to purge myself of the clinic; the people in it, the taste.
But the relief is short.
And too soon, the air is nothing more than a splash of water to the face.

Margaret Li is in her final year at Saint Kentigern College in Auckland, New Zealand, and is interested in pursuing a Language and Literature degree in the UK. She reads widely in her spare time and enjoys the creative writing process, particularly with short stories and script writing. She approached the theme ‘space’ by describing the senses evoked by The Clinic, exploring the often overwhelming pressures faced by young adults.

The Moon of Cheetahs – Tom Nalder

The moon protects
a living planet of Cheetahs.
They run with the wind.
They sleep with the wind.
They chirp with the wind.
At night the moon
carries them up to a bed
of silky yellow fur.
From there they watch the moon
make shooting stars.
From there they watch the moon
light the African forests.
You can see them
through your telescopes,
sleeping between spaces on Saturn’s
mysterious rock.

Tom Nalder is 10 years old and lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. His favourite colour is yellow, and he really likes cheetahs and would like to learn a lot about animals. He would also like to be a scientist.

Space – Rain Wang

Rain Wang (11) - Space

Rain Wang is eleven years old. She lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She enjoys reading and drawing. Her artwork Space, published in fingers comma toes‘ August 2019 issue, is her first publication.

Reflect – Hillary Walker

Hillary Walker (13) - Reflect

Hillary Walker is thirteen years old. She likes swimming and photography in her spare time. She also plays netball and does extracurricular activities. She doesn’t have a lot of time for photography, but would like to start focusing on it more.

The Music of Movement – Jasmine Ryan

You pulled me back and with a sweeping motion my hand reached towards yours, circling the air as we took bounding steps backwards, astronauts in zero gravity. My body glided closer to yours. My controlled movements matched yours like symmetry as the song brought us nearer, our fingertips within reach, our arms extending towards each other.
You got so close, but you were pulled away before I could reach you. The next line was sung; it took our bodies into different steps and as the music changed, you turned your back on me, and I on you. With the great, lilting melody and dreamy, driven music, we were swept across the stage in motions and movements of grace, of a flow that matched the run of the ocean between two continents. The current brought us together and then it threw us apart. We were but helpless waves in a vast sea trying to make our way to each other, but every time we got close, the space between us was stolen in larger and larger proportions.
With a rise in the music like a tidal wave drawing into the bay, it rose only to crash down, one final, dramatic note ending the song. We stood with our backs to each other, reaching up at the air as if it held something for us, and as the music stopped we stayed like that. The choreography ended with a gap between us that seemed like the distance of the vacuum between two galaxies, and I could feel your warmth but I could not feel your touch. The audience stood to clap and cheer for our dance that had taken the stage like the poetry of movement, but I wondered why it had to end this way, why the song had to emphasise the space between the two of us when all I wanted was for us not to act like two opposing continents, planets, universes. When all I wanted was for space to be a distance that was possible to cross so I could see you up close and hold you in my arms.

Jasmine Ryan is a sixteen-year-old year 12 high school student from Selwyn, Canterbury. She has been long-listed for the National Flash Fiction Day competition, and writing is something that she uses to express her creative ideas that she hopes can inspire thoughtfulness in readers.

The Lost Moon – Millie Sarjeant

Rain tickles the misty, remote mountains.
The possums tug my hair.
The smell of ash still lingers from the flames.
Sodden leaves brush my shoulders.
Midnight shakes hands with dawn.
Moss hugs a bridge as it bends above a stream.
Leaves swirl and scatter in a distant paddock.
Turf still glints with dew from the evening frost.
Musty, degrading bark.
Fresh, bubbling water.
A forgotten waka sways.
Jubilant takahē cry to each other.
Emerald brown ferns reach out to grab me.
I should be there in the inky sky,
My arms reaching out to take you home, but I’m gone.
I’ve been swallowed by the forest.

Millie Sarjeant is very interested in space and NASA and loves writing fairy tales with a New Zealand twist. She has been doing creative writing for two years, and has been published in Toi Toi, Extra, and The Jillion.

Space to dream – Emma Geddes

Emma Geddes (9) - Space to dream

Emma Geddes is nine years old. She really loves animals and wants to be a vet when she is older. She also enjoys school, reading, and all her sports, which are netball, dance, and water sports. She loves hanging out with her friends. She has two cats, Charlie (six months old in Space to dream) and Smokey.

Space – Sophie Yu

Sophie Yu (20) - Space

Sophie Yu is a third-year medical student at University of Auckland. Although she’s had to choose between science and art upon entering university, painting is something very important to her, and she hopes to maintain this hobby throughout her whole life.

Meaning is Attached – Lauren Sanders

“Physical location does not distance memory,”
a man once told me in response to my “if only…”
A hundred miles and I won’t feel this way.
Two hundred and it’s my baptism,
though I’m not religious anyways.
The moment is the only true definition,
our hours bathed in ever-shifting haze.
To hold onto these former pains is futile…
They are but ashes from the flame that, as I smile,
I call The Past.
I laugh I laugh I laugh.
I stare into the face of the cruel irony of it all—
over thoughts that once claimed my consciousness,
over a disorder that stole my identity.
This is a day that is brighter than bombs,
the day I choose to live.
This is the day all things must pass.
Today I am reborn. Today nothing lasts.

Lauren Sanders is sixteen years old, and lives in Austin, Texas. She is a guitarist and bass guitarist, as well as an indie rock enthusiast, who enjoys psychology and writing. One of her poems recently won the Texas Night Sky Festival contest and another has been published in the anthology series Upon Arrival.

Space is a blanket – Chloe Wu

Space is a blanket as soft as a feather
Space is inspiration for a bird passing by
A little tree reaches up to the sky
And says good bye
As it gets chopped down
A goldfish jumps
Over the moon
And lands in a galaxy
Of water
And flies through space
With excitement

Chloe Wu was born in Christchurch in 2011, and is a year 3 student at Ilam School (Christchurch, New Zealand). Chloe has had her poems published in the Otago Daily Times, and the New Zealand Poetry Box. Chloe enjoys reading, writing, playing piano (ABRSM grade 3), and dancing ballet (BBO grade 1).

One thought on “August 2019 Issue Space

  1. Pingback: fingers comma toes | August 2019 Issue Space | Penumbra

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