Laura Grothaus is a custom framer and educator from Cincinnati, Ohio, currently living in Baltimore, Maryland.

L A U R A   G R O T H A U S

The Jane Lumley Prize '15 : Honorable Mention

A   M O U T H   I S   A   G H O S T   Y O U   C A N   S H U T



​When my mother was little, even on days her parents forgot how many children they had, they would still tell enough stories for all of them. They told them about life before they moved into this city, stories of living in Czechoslovakia, the Slovak side. 

Her parents told fairytales, where girls danced and danced despite their mothers’ warnings. They danced with other girls, who stroked their hair and held their hands. At the end of the story, when you expect them to die from all the dancing or from their mother gutting them for losing all the yarn which is their livelihood after all or from a talking fox or an angry brook, they don’t. They find out that the maidens they danced with have made them rich. The heroines–– now queens or first time home owners or whatever–– they go back to the woods again and again, the smell of leaves and iron hot in their memory, but they never find the maidens.

My mother took ballet for many years. It taught her how to walk, her head tilted so high that people could see up her nose. She said that I came more naturally to it. When I was little, my back was poker-straight. It made her hurt to watch me. She named me after a tree, after a forest with an iron smell. I watched her move, aware of the weight and volume of each thing she carried. She sets them down. She walks away. There are many stories I am used to repeating because I want them to be mine. You return to things that make you: forests, bare feet, your old home in Cleveland. Like things touching like. And the maidens are at my mouth, opening it with their tongues.

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L