Illustration by Alice Maiden

A damnable papercut,

acquired on a snowy December afternoon by over-eager hands,

tearing into a letter addressed to yours truly, taken directly from Willy’s (the mailman, we were friends).

Oversized shaggy gloves, circa 2003-2004.


You say: Marvelous clouds and where to find them?

I say: Melted snowflakes are such a phenomenal texture. Melting. Rain is rather plain for my palate.

You say: Do you have some kind of fluid dynamic, onomatopoeic differentiator for splish/splash sploosh?


These are all rather big words for a six-year-old. But you spent the afternoons after school reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. Think that this was before Hermoine Granger made it cool.


You would catch butterflies in your butterfly net.

Close all the windows and doors in your room. Tell me to lie on my back. To watch them dance above our heads.

You say: That’s a Monarch over there. A Red admiral. Brown Argus. Small tortoiseshell. Black Swallowtail. And my favorite Chequered skipper!



Announcing its arrival with a fluttering hum. Tastes of freshly baked bread and honey. Collecting the crumbs on the plate for the ones perched outside.


You say: To awake to the sound of birds, is to awake to the groggy pretense of summer.

I say: To find the seasons tucked under yellow sheets.


For my seventh birthday, you got me seven chickens, and chameleon named Charlie.


Charlie lived in my planetarium, till we took him on a jungle mission and I guess he got too camouflaged.


For your ninth birthday, I bought you seventeen baby frogs. We fed them boiled eggs. They all died. You wouldn’t stop crying. So, I showed you how to catch tadpoles with your palms. That did the trick.



Lying on our backs in our underwear, the fan swirling lethargically above our heads. Sweat accumulating at the base of our necks. A study in corporeal architecture.


You say: Let’s throw baskets way up there and catch all that air.

I say: Go to sleep.


Once there was a gorilla in the backyard. Hippos on the front lawn. You grabbed my hand so hard, your thumb nail broke the skin below my right knuckle.


A quotidian damage. Consolidating into a tiny scar; a crescent moon.


Now, that’s the only trace I have left of you, Martinus Young.

Do you enjoy reading the Nass?

Please consider donating a small amount to help support independent journalism at Princeton and whitelist our site.