"/ / /" by Jessica Varin

“/ / /” by Jessica Varin


Photography by Mick Davidson



I am this slash that. Slash reduces, cuts, and alters my identity. I am Chinese slash French slash American. To be mixed is to be fractionated. We are sliced for simplicity without regard for who we are. Problematic? Absolutely. Halves, quarters, and eighths are always unwhole.


Hiking Near Lookout Creek 


On the Old-Growth Trail, upturned roots torn from the ground by gravity and high wind reveal a world born of one tree’s demise. These broken things are beautiful. Moss, lichen, fungi, and fern rise from the fallen tree. On this path, life and death are seamless.


Mixed Refrain


You’ve named me Negro, neither,

biracial, half-breed,

whasian mutt.

I have been an Oreo,

banana, Twinkie, and coconut.

Fusion cuisine and future race.

You voted for Obama

and couldn’t tell us apart.

Both colored, interracial,

whitewashed, and multi-culti. I guess

we all look the same.



Night Crossing


Feet splayed outward, I walk across a fallen log. This makeshift footbridge is narrower at night.  Below my boots, the water is a chaos of pearl and black. The daytime gradients of green, gray, and blue are destroyed by lamplight. As Lookout Creek tumbles over itself, dark and light become a symphony tuning to the E.




Tiny boxes instruct me to choose one race. Will I betray my mother or my father this time? Even if I know who I am, the world is not ready to accept it. I must abbreviate myself. Human diversity deserves a nod to complexity. This is fraught with danger. Yet as much as we fear life beyond the box, humans yearn for space to exist. We are destined to tear open the top and climb into the unknown.




The afternoon sun beats down on a violent landscape. This area has been thinned into submission. Each step is an air pocket of duff and limbs. One wrong move might twist my ankle. I have already fallen twice.  Branches jam-pack the forest floor. A log truck drives by heavy, its shock absorbers engaged.


Slash Speaks


You’ve called me detritus, downed

logs, large woody debris, the living

dead, decaying matter,

coarse woody habitat, and compost.

Litter and leftovers (that no one wants

to eat), slash destined for the burn.

When did I become so anonymous?

I know my name is uncommon,

but it still exists. If you insist,

go ahead and call me 

Doug fir.



Habitat Restoration


During the summer of 69’, bulldozers raked slash from the streams. All obstacles to the passage of salmon were stripped away. In the name of simplicity, they tried to erase complexity from the landscape.


Sometimes, they still try to erase us.




I don’t have music, so I borrowed hip-hop. I can rent whiteness and buy a day pass for Asian-America. I live in cultural appropriation. Forgive me these stolen spaces; I’m not allowed to own.