Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

A Year Without Denial

By Allison Lowe (Finalist)


I look up to the sun and see the sun.

I have decided to stop wishing for the world to be more than it is.

I traveled across the continent to take a pilgrimage, to walk over the mountains

in my bare feet. I had hoped that it would teach me something about divinity.

And now I’m here, standing in the city of God, feeling nothing new

other than the calluses between my toes. Here, the bell towers are always

a minute off. The man performing in the church courtyard is always singing

the wrong notes.



I think of that one summer, the hottest of my life, when I did nothing

but pray for rain and take long showers. I hope that I haven’t been too wretched.

I hope that wishing I could believe is close enough—that these days

climbing mountains have been enough. I try to remember when I was too young

to feel guilty. When I could bite into the skin of a bright red persimmon

and not feel ashamed of the juice running down my chin.



Along the dirt roads that led me here, I met a man

who told me that my love of figurative language is a sin;

that it is a form of denial. That trying to call flowers by anything

other than their names is denying them of their God-given beauty.

Isn’t all belief a form of denial? I don’t tell him this then,

but I taste blood in my mouth for days afterward.

For a week, I ate nothing but bread and salt.

I tried to teach myself what denial really meant,

but I’ve never been good at learning from my mistakes.

All I learned is that salt is no substitute for metaphors.

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