Plain China


by Elizabeth Burdette · College of Charleston
I Can See, Corey Rowland · Florida State University

A man had written head on his forehead, and hand on each hand, and foot on each foot.
He had walked the squares of cement leading to his house,
Stooped at the seam of each to write sidewalk. He’d identified
each room with the blackest marker, for uniformity’s sake.


You have clinical depression, a doctor had said. The man
had looked up into the isolated brightness glaring down like ice,
What does that mean?


Fenced-in back pews and fragile steeples,
shuttered eyes had fallen
into drying hands folded for prayer, jammed under the man’s chin.
He turned eyes to the vaulted ceilings for hope.


Into the suburbs he had gazed, Unrecognizing, frustrated beyond belief
In a loving God. On the suburbs, he’d written mirror
And on his reflection, he’d written real. Reality


Is power, he had realized and
Began writing blackest marker on everything:
Family photo, necktie, favorite recipe, coffee mug.
I can create new realities! the man had exclaimed


To no one in particular. He wrote paid on his daughter’s tuition bill and
Calorie-free on a slab of chocolate cake, authentic on his flock.
He wrote more-attentive on his wife’s heavy eyelids and
Home-more-often on the worn bottoms of his daughter’s feet.


The man wrote sunny across his solemn sky,
Second-chances on the wadded tissues filling
the trashcans. On his blackest marker, he wrote empowering.
And on his soul, empowered. Then one day,


He stood up on his pulpit and looked out at the congregation,
past them to the solid doors separating “blessed”
from “condemned.” The man said,
I will write God bless everyone on God.

About the Author

Elizabeth Burdette · College of Charleston

A native South Carolinian, Elizabeth Burdette is a senior studying sociology at the College of Charleston. She is an expert traveler and enjoys constructing poems on airplane napkins. Now and in the future, she seeks connections between her love for poetic words and her passion for social justice. “Healing” originally appeared in the 2013 edition of Miscellany.

About the Artist

Corey Rowland · Florida State University

Corey Rowland is in pursuit of a B.A. in studio art and an M.S. in art education. He plans to teach middle or high school art upon graduation. Although he has a background in drawing, he is currently exploring other media. I Can See first appeared in the FSU literary journal, Kudzu.