ISSUE No. 4 Ecology
In the fourth issue of Clerestory Magazine, writers explore the environment and relationality.
The gardener is an artist, a creator, and an architect... the serenity in the garden sings to their soul.
Early on a summer morning, before the heat held the city captive in its stagnant breath, I sat on a bench in Madison Square Park looking at Ghost Forest, an installation by artist Maya Lin. This barren grove of Great Atlantic white cedar trees stood like weathered sentinels in the verdant park.
Learning to love New Jersey roughly translated into learning how to love myself.
ISSUE No. 3 Therapy
In the third issue of Clerestory Magazine, writers respond to the question, “what heals?”
Clerestory writers and contributors share their collective wisdom on physical, emotional, spiritual, and social healing.
As a photographic practice, fragmentation has always fascinated me. Images of dark corners in brightly lit rooms; photos of isolated limbs curving toward another subject; highlighted facial expressions and gestures in a crowded, chaotic space.
How the ocean heals us…
I am listening to Eckhart Tolle on a stale bus filled with 50 Greenwich moms, seated next to a boyfriend I love but do not like, on a dark gray January morning headed to the Women’s March on Washington. It is 2016.
How does one heal from the death of a child? My son, Wells, died of a heroin overdose last year, the weight of grief shaped me into a woman I did not know – angry, bitter, hating the world and God.
When I was 21, I visited the British Museum in London. I toured the winding exhibits that showcased artifacts from around the world with my college roommate in tow.
In early spring I found myself flooded with grief over the death of my uncle Aleksey, whose life was cut short by a car crash just before my 10th birthday in 2000. He was only 24.
Fritzi Horstman is the Founder and Executive Director of Compassion Prison Project, a Grammy award-winning producer, a filmmaker, and a trauma survivor. A graduate of Vassar College, Fritzi envisions “all prisons as healing and education centers” and works toward that vision of transformation every day.
The school to prison pipeline is not just a theory. It is not something that social scientists conjured up. It is real life.
I have a tribute that stretches from my navel to the place where my mother hangs her rosary and this is where you kneel because, this is not the only part of the poem that may need a little worship.
My grandmother loved flowers. Originally from a farm in South Korea, she knew how to tend to things, how to get them to grow and thrive.
Geoffrey James is a comedian, writer, actor, and podcast host. A graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Geoffrey writes for Carpool Karaoke and works for the Headgum Podcast Network, where he hosts The Headgum Podcast, co-hosts Review Revue, and appears in Headgum’s original sketch series.
On Sunday, March 21, 2021, my mother began a self-imposed, nine-month period of silence and isolation at her apartment in central New Jersey. Had it not been for Covid-19, this experience would have taken place in an ashram in Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, India, in the foothills of the Himalayas.
About 20 hours after my second COVID-19 vaccination, I awoke from a nap with a foot cramp that took my breath away. I hobbled to the bathroom for more Ibuprofen, then sat down at my desk and reached for the last pen in the box.
I watched from my window as my father-in-law pulled up in front of our house with the trailer hitched to the back of his truck. He got out and lowered the metal ramps at the back of the trailer down to the ground and undid the straps that had held the wrecked car in place on the trailer from Ohio home to Connecticut.
At first, I attributed the feeling of unsteadiness that I felt in college to being far from home; I envied my friends who drove home on weekends to do their laundry. But by the end of my sophomore year, I knew that something was wrong.
It’s a very strange thing, when you consider it, that sleeping or waking, you exist on an immense globe of atmosphere-wreathed rock hurtling through space.
May 25, 2020 changed America’s trajectory. On that day, Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. This murder sparked protests in cities across America.
Through dreams, it is possible to fly very high; to tell secrets without fear; to meet someone who we don’t see anymore; to perceive that impossible things come true when we fall asleep.
Wrestling with my thoughts and emotions is my national past time. My preferred coping method has always been intellectualizing, or removing myself entirely from, an emotionally stressful situation rather than dealing with it.
The morning light beckons. To the east, the sun rolls over the ridge, a yellow beacon piercing the gaps in the tall evergreens, blinding and bright.
Sudden grief overwhelmed me to a point where I couldn’t function in my second year of college. I had never viscerally experienced an emotion so deeply it made me sick.
Near the end of our work together, I mentioned to my therapist that I’d been feeling “weirdly okay” lately – for the first time since the betrayal that ended my engagement and propelled me into therapy, I was sleeping better, spiraling less, and even thinking of my ex in a more detached way, when I thought of him at all.
You are not the same shape that you used to be. Your body has grown solid. It’s filled out the peaks and valleys of your ribs and hips, and there’s a slight glow in your cheeks.
I am a former refugee, and I held a factory-floor job in Canada in 2018 on arrival. I woke up at 5:00 am for a supposedly eight-hour job that extended into 12 hours when you counted the time it took me to climb endless stairs and the necessary three-hour Metro train ride to get there.
What happens when you’re past the point of talking about it? What happens when I’m abundantly aware of my mental health to the extent that I’d much rather just step away and ignore that nagging itch in my head?
A tall Victorian at the end of the line for the J-Church streetcar was home to The Integral Counseling Center. I caught the streetcar a block from my apartment on that most rare of things in San Francisco, flat ground, and rode the car as it lurched around the curves up a very steep grade.
My friends know me as ‘Jen’, but marketing agencies know me as ‘a mid-20s American woman.’ I am the target demographic for those shilling self-care products, and I am bombarded with ads for them constantly.
There is no magic deeper than re-telling a story, for you are giving yourself agency to assign meaning and (most importantly) to assign usefulness to time and events. When fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen wrote, “Our lives are fairytales written by God’s fingers,” it was not just a cute ditty— it was a magic healing spell.
“You healed yourself through writing.” a friend said to me, her eyes locked to mine through the Zoom screen, as I finished telling her my story of how I became a writer.
Thérèse Cator is a mother, leadership coach, embodiment practitioner, storyteller and founder of Embodied Black Girl, a collective dedicated to the “embodied liberation,” flourishing, mental health, and wellness of Black women.