Doe Diligence | Teen Ink

Doe Diligence

March 18, 2019
By cloemaurer BRONZE, South Pasadena, California
cloemaurer BRONZE, South Pasadena, California
3 articles 1 photo 1 comment

A cactus wren, dusted in fine desert silt, swooped down, perching on the arm of a saguaro growing in The Desert Springs trailer park, which, if you’re wondering, offers access to HBO. Next to the cactus was a trailer. Actually, it looked less like a trailer and more like a psychic’s den. Call it what you want, but kombucha has definitely been brewed in there before. Windchimes clinked gently in the hot breeze. In a small bedroom, six kids sat on an old shag rug. Sunlight filtered faintly through the curtains. A pirate flag hung off the side of the sticker decorated bunk bed. A sign was taped to the door, “DSESS meeting in progress SO KEEP OUT. DSESS stood for “Desert Springs Elliott Smith Society.” Members of the society rarely explained the acronym to anyone because a mysterious acronym is pretty much the entire point of naming a society in the first place. A jar sitting on the bedside table, half full of change and the occasional dollar bill, was funding for a DSESS trip to the mural in Silverlake featured on the cover of Smith’s last album. This trip would probably never happen. Of course, the wren had already seen the mural as he sat outside a Silverlake coffee shop, sticking his beak into the last few drops of someone’s abandoned six dollar latte. The wren scoffed at the mural, “very pedestrian.” He considered himself somewhat of an art critic. To be honest, I’m not sure he knows what pedestrian means. I think he heard it on an episode of Antiques Roadshow watched through a living room window.

A twelve-year-old boy with chin-length hair and a puka shell necklace banged a rock on a copy of a Hardy Boys book.

“I call this meeting of the DSESS to order. Macky, if you will.”

A skinny, bespectacled boy pulled up a video on an ancient desktop and loaded the comments. In a voice an octave higher than yours or mine, he said, “Guys, I think something we overlook is the comments on Elliott Smith music videos. See look at this, Kill Rock Stars posted a recording of Alameda three years ago and this short comment thread guys, I mean, wow.”

Gina, a lanky girl with a messy, dirt brown ponytail and stuff written in sharpie all over her hands, leaned over Macky’s shoulder. She read aloud, “2 months ago, a user named Admiral Kriegs commented, “I really want to kill myself, but i don’t want to break my mom and dad’s heart.” A user named everyfifthsunday replied “please don’t please don’t” A user named Justin Levesque commented, “Don’t do it. Hope you are safe.” A month later Admiral Kriegs responded, “I am safe now. The day i made that post i was too sad and thinking about bad things. Thank you all.”

“See, guys, we just witnessed some really beautiful, crazy intimate stuff. We read someone’ innermost thoughts, in the comments section of a recording of a song by the greatest artist of all time.”

The DSESS sat in silence, marinating in Macky’s wise words.

Then, puka shell said, “So, in conclusion, the internet isn’t totally impersonal. We are forever connected by our humanity, our capacity to care for people we don’t even know. We must not forget that every one of us is brimming with love, just waiting to spill, flooding everyone and everything with a river of our shared compassion. ”

Even the wren was a little moved. He wiped his beady bird eyes, opened his small beak and began to sing a song the society had never heard before, as it wasn’t by Elliott Smith. Baby, Back by Jessica Pratt.

Sometimes I pray for the rain

You know I tried to see things from your side

To leave things undefined

But where would you advise?

From outside, the wren could see the circle of kids swaying with his song, actually Jessica Pratt’s song. The bird was well known within the aviary community as a shameless plagiarist, but that is of no matter. He flapped off the saguaro's prickly arm, flying deep into the sky blue horizon.


Three- Cliche, But Yes, I’m Learning to Love Myself (Note: This is completely nonfictional)

I am biracial. I used to feel kind of ashamed of my Korean heritage. I don’t know why. And to this day, I’m incredibly ashamed I ever was. More ashamed now of being ashamed than I was ever ashamed of my Koreaness. In kindergarten, my mom (oma) and grandma (halmoni) were walking me home. I guess I looked sad because my mom asked me what was wrong. I told her nothing was the matter. My grandma asked me why and I told her I was “embarrassed by the way my mom spoke.” My mom cried. And my grandma looked disappointed asking me why I would hurt my mom like that. I remember months later when we were cleaning out the bookshelves in our living room, I saw a “get rid of your accent quick” audiotape. I wish I could take it back. I used to wish I had a full double eyelid. I would stand in front of the bathroom mirror lifting the little portion of monolid up so a double lid appeared. There was a period of time where I refused to speak Korean. I would call gim seaweed and kimbap sushi. When my mom spoke to me in Korean, I would only respond in English. I don’t know why I was so uncomfortable. I don’t know what changed, but now I’m proud. Proud that I can pronounce Korean words, proud my mom is a bilingual immigrant, and I guess, even proud of my eyelids.



Four- In What Do We Place Faith?

The surf laps at your feet
fingers the color of tranquility bite at your ankles

when rain falls from the sky’s forgiving blue
your pores open to catch the drops

like a baby in a cradle  
A sacrilegious icon of naivety

Your Madonna

Her rosy cheeks and small porcelain body

In the pocket of your cargo shorts

You’re not even sure if you’re religious

But, three easy guitar chords make you feel

A lot of love

Maybe that’s what religion is

Can religion be reduced to a set of predetermined beliefs?

I don’t know! You tell me.

Maybe it’s wrong to feel a religious presence in

Driving fast and 99 Cents store religious icons

But right now you can’t think of anything else that feels so


Like waking up to a bird warbling in the peaceful morning

Perched in a tree like the ones that grow in

Your aunt’s old neighborhood

Now she lives in a condo

And somebody else lives in your

second home

Their kids swim in the pool, splashing water all over the hot pavement

The heat erasing their water dipped finger crooked smiley faces and lopsided hearts

Moments later

Adults that aren’t your family drink wine on the long patio

Sunlight glints off of the stemless glasses that they hold

In their hands with green veins

that are beginning

to stick out

in late middle age

The hammock rocking in the sweet breeze

Watching the sunset

Over the yellow hills

Dotted with oak trees

Like cows gone out to pasture

A pasture like the hundreds you drove past

On a road trip to


Half expecting to see yellow stones

Yellow like the afternoon sun you saw streaming through your open window

Waking up from the last nap you ever remember taking when you were seven

None of the stones

Were yellow at all

They were gray

Like the color the edges of your mom’s pupils turn

When her mouth stretches in a tight line

It means you’ve disappointed her

Which has always felt like most of the time

You remain unsure about your religion

You guess that’s okay

Just feel the engine turn over under your seat

And drive back


Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.