Asking Advice Across Time

Cam Kelley

St. Mary's College of Maryland

UReCA: The NCHC Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity 2020 Edition

     Asking Advice Across Time


Dear Ms. Willendorf, 

I am cleaning my bathroom while writing this. I wonder 

if you find it hard to keep your great, bulbous self neat and organized under the greasy stare of historians 

as they fertilize your body with their own meaning? 

How do you move freely? Because this bathroom is so small and stifling. 

Sincerely, Dreaming of White Tile 


Dear Ms. Willendorf, 

I am so sorry to be bothering you again. 

Only my countertop is extremely cluttered. I suppose you didn’t have countertops. 

I will explain, very quickly, that they’re flat surfaces on which I display the parts of my life I find least horrifying. 

I suppose I’ve become too comfortable with myself, as there are dirty paper towels by the sink and bagels near the microwave swelling with mold. 

My wide hips are knocking over mugs every time I turn the corner. 

I was just wondering if you experienced the prehistoric version of this situation. Did eyes ever cast judgment as you upended history with your powerful girth? 

Sincerely, Dreaming of White Tile 


Dear Ms. Willendorf, 

It is night, so I am in bed and have stopped cleaning. 

But, Ms. Willendorf, I am so restless. Against my will, my entire body shifts and vibrates under the sheets. 

Sitting so carefully on your museum perch, do you ever feel jittery enough to set off the motion sensors, or 

is insomnia a brand-new creation? 

Sincerely, White Tile 


Hello Ms. Willendorf, 

When I am angry, I eat an orange. 

I force the fruit out of its skin and my hitchhiker’s thumb spears it down the middle. 

When I am angry, I eat an orange, and the smell reminds me of Christmas at my aunt’s house with the nuts roasting in the garage and the cold wind forcing itself through the slats on the screen door. 

I am angry, and then I am soothed by the fluid warmth of tradition. 

I am curious about your habits, specifically the faithful repetitions you might use to expel 25,000 years of silenced rage. 

Across the sea in Vienna, what does your muscle memory recognize even behind your shatterproof glass? 

Sincerely, White Tile 


Hello, Ms. Willendorf, 

I’m sorry to harp again on cleaning, except if I don’t keep a hold over the chaos of my life. It seems to run away from me. 

I end up sending bottles of perfume, Toothpaste, pencils, and pens off the edge of things with these exceptional hips of mine. 

I know you lived life closer to the ground, but tell me, is this my fate? To displace the world? 

Thank you for your time, White Tile 


Hello Ms. Willendorf, 

I am running late to my early class. 

I have made bread with butter for breakfast; the fat is slipping down the skin between my thumb and forefinger. 

In your time, was it harder to find sustenance in blood and pulse? Did a woman bring stringy meat to the back of her mouth, masticate animal muscle, swallow, with white teeth and red tongue? 

I suppose we both lick our lips the same way. 

Wish me luck, WT 


Ms. Willendorf, 

Are we familiar enough with each other that I may call you Venus? The Venus? 

It’s your name in the textbooks, but it feels presumptuous. Like how men always call me girl, and how my father tells me how much lip gloss to wear on a full-grown mouth. 

Anyways, just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you, Ms. Venus, and the way your rolls of fat bulge from your rock. 

(Can your stone jiggle like my flesh does when I walk?) 

All my best, WT 



This week, there has been a setback. 

I’ve found myself apologizing to the milk I left out too long, Trapping myself in guilt after crushing ants flat with my big toe. 

You are small, but you are certainly not weak. You survived where nothing else really did, and you came away (almost) whole. 

Before you were found, did you consider crumbling apart? Allowing insects to squirm their way through your belly button? Allowing yourself to be found as fractured granite, mistaken for nothing, for something worthless? 

That doesn’t seem like your style. Or maybe I confuse strength and endurance. 

sorry Hope you’re well, WT 



I intended to say that it’s okay if you never write me back. 

But then I thought, perhaps It’s not my job to reassure you. Anyone, really—but especially you. 

It’s okay if you never write me back, but you already knew that. You are small, we’ve established this, but you are certainly not stupid. If you need comfort, you can find it yourself. 

Wishing you luck, WT 



I am shaving as I write this; the shaving cream makes the whole bathroom smell like wet grass. 

I love the ceramic smoothness of my legs. I used to be so methodical with the razor, slicing my legs into glass until they reflected light. 

Now I think I’ll leave little patches of wooly mammoth fur to confuse anyone who sees my bareness and expects a dainty porcelain vase. 

I would like to be a mother, so I imagine you giving birth while a midwife grips your luscious brown ankle, your leg hair as she coaxes the baby out of you. 

Did the blood from the placenta leave matts in your fur, did you show off the tangled strands with pride? 

Love, WT 



Here it’s warm, getting warmer, and the sloppy mountain of myself makes a puddle of stink in my sheets. 

But I have decided not to do laundry. 

The inside of my thighs rub red, rub raw, together. The skin peels backwards in the heat. Did you ever feel such pain? 

Did it bother you to fall asleep with red cheeks and a restless body? Did the scent of your piss, sweat, and moistness became strong and bitter at high noon? 

As I stew in the stench of my sun-induced laziness, I try to channel your essence. 

Let the world smell me. 

Love, WT 



People ask about my art, which means people ask me about you. But your body does not fit on an 8×11 page, so what language do I use for that? 

Tell me if I’ve not done you justice. 

If you’d like your life back, blink once. 

I’ve made such a mess of it. But I’d be happy to return it any time. 

With love and chaos, WT

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