I go because I am hollow; gutted
by a boarding knife, my insides drawn out and melted
into oil, burning in a distant lamp-lit room.
Today is Saturday. A workday. Towers
of paperwork beckon, colleagues I do not want to see.
I leave and I do not want to explain myself.
I am tired of explaining.

The people on the boat bring children, cameras, popcorn.
They are foolish and frail. Above ten knots and the sea turns cruel;
pitching the vessel around like a child’s paper airplane, shredded in an updraft.
the ocean bucks and rocks; the tourists sport pained expressions
along with their cameras. The wind burns
and stings, a relentless sandpaper raking across my face. Children
dart about, by turns whining in boredom or crying in fear,
unsettled by the foreign motion. Their bodies have already forgotten
those first nine months as aquatic beings—their mothers
moving jerkily, gracelessly unmoored by pregnancy. The level
of the horizon tips back and forth; young asian women
lean over the railings, heaving.

Fifteen miles outside Boston harbor, the sea is calm again, all
is forgiven and forgotten. The sunlight is warm, glittering
shards on the surface of the water. I stand behind
a boy, maybe eight or ten,
pressing his small body against the railing. “Nick, Nick—
Look!” his father calls, gesturing towards the water.
He stands a distance away; he is tall, too tall
to follow his son’s body, lithe and small
and darting through the crowds on the deck.

Nick looks, his eyes scanning and
scanning, not quick enough
for those giant, flickering tails—vanishing again
and again, faster than you’d imagine. He turns
his small face around and upward toward his father, searching, frustrated.
I see his auburn hair and milky skin, freckles poured out
across his nose and cheeks like a jar of spilt marbles. I crouch behind him, matching
my height to his. I breathe him in; imagine
he is mine. I stretch my arm out over his left shoulder like a periscope,
drawing a line through the air from his eyes to the sudden cloud
of erupting water droplets, appearing like a magician on stage. Fifty yards
ahead, two grey, shadowy figures emerge, mirage-like—their broad backs and barrels
cresting the surface, graceful icebergs of girth below. The arc
of their bodies ethereal and blissful, unaware—toothless and giant.
My brain scrambles to understand. A sharp intake of awed breath.
He sees. I am whole.


“Cool Front © Dr. Regina Valluzzi


Emily Boshkoff is a child psychologist currently living in Virginia. “I love working with young children with autism and being a world wander/writer on the side.” Her writing has been published in Etchings, Edgz, and Hippocampus Magazine.

Art can illuminate even the most elusive and difficult to comprehend ideas. Visual rules and tightly codified visual metaphors help scientists communicate complex ideas mostly amongst themselves, but they can also become barriers to new ideas and insights. Dr. Regina Valluzzi’s images are abstracted and diverged from the typical rules and symbols of scientific illustration and visualization; they provide an accessible window into the world of science for both scientists and non-scientists.

Dr. Regina Valluzzi