Thou has blessed me with the faculty of seeing. Her beauty hath ripened with coming summers. This love was not sought: witchcraft lies between thy woman's lips. I prithee, free mine soul from this perdition. Lord created such a creature: a devourer of wit, tamer of time. Upon her absence, I fear great desolation.
Black bores, not beauty's name, yet art's would borrow thine face. I detest love's convictions, I humbly beseech thine pardon, Lord. Thy Temptress my mirth, matter, and exercise, all. I know I shall be damned for my carnal affections: amorous rites in hell, come I.
Your most obedient
4th Septr 1782
Sat in an old Gum tree
A Merry, Merry king of the bush was he
kookaburra laughed of
How gay his life has been
A Grey mechanical hand
Cut down that gum tree
The lit cigarette went on a killing spree
Kookaburra cried of
How grey his life will be.
Waddling with not a joy in the world, he knocked on that door. Its hinges were rusted over by the sand dunes of time. Almost all my memories were eroding, unable to survive the barren sands. This door, however, was an oasis that replenished me, and all those gone days were revived. The dent in the bottom right corner of the door reminded me of petty squabbles fought among siblings. Yellow paint peeled off its sturdy front and I smiled remembering the memories made beyond this threshold when the paint was still wet. The home-baked meals that enchanted my gaze away from the TV on Sundays, Mom's hugs that snuggled my deepest fears away, and Dad's bedtime stories that beat even the cleverest Roald Dhal tale. I knocked now with the urgency one has when charging towards a loved one.
No answer. Strange as I recall contacting Mother once I landed on my return. I knocked again, a more stern incessant knock than before. Nothing.
I scrummaged in my pocket past old slips and forgotten coins until my hands got a grip of my phone. Annoyed now, I called my mother but it just rang and rang. Once more I called but it did the same. I followed this by calling all my siblings and my dad but as with the others before it they, just, rang. I called my one and only reliable sibling again and like a dog, they picked up the line after a second try. Wheezed breathing came from the other side, it made my brows frown in concern and my mind race. I asked them if they could come open the door because I needed a rest. No reply. The wheezing of their voice becomes more hoarse.
I do not scare easily but when the wind picked up and tickled up my neck I shivered. The shivering was not from the cool wind but from the manic cries that burst from the other end like a symphony. I pulled the phone from my ear in confusion.
At this point, the sky was ushering people inside their bungalows and sketchy clouds set the scene for my anxiety to take center stage. My feet were aching from the plane ride but my neck was stiff from the current circumstances.
I stepped back from the yellow door and peeked around the sides of the large house. Compelled by the calmness familiarity gifts me I trudged around the side of the house to the back. The cloak of night shrouded all my senses and made even the crunch of a tree branch seem like the end of my days. I was on high alert as I waddled forward and then I saw it.
Faintly I could make out the washing line that stretched from the corner of the yard to the red shed. I reached out and felt the clothes. Still wet. Possessed by curiosity and by the commands of my gurgling stomach I headed to the red shed. Cue the hacksaw killer or the insane scientist were the thoughts in my mind. Humor was something I long used to deflect horror as I often did as a child when something horrible happened.
When I was 16 years old my Uncle, Trevor, fell and busted his head open at camp. My sister was the one who saw it all happen and it traumatized her. I coped by using humor to soothe myself from the obvious tragedy. This tool I would use sadly time and again as death plagued my family like words robbed poets of peace of mind. I inched closer and closer to the red shed that looked less dangerous as I neared.
I undid the latch that held what I wondered and what was apart. I felt like Prospero as if my revels had ended and it was time to take my proverbial bow. The latch hitched open making a clinging sound of metal against metal. One breath in and i pushed the door open to reveal...
Really, nothing, there was nothing there but old tools hanging from ceilings, all the discarded bits of toys long forgotten and medals won. I expected a big horror but it seems the only horror was my reflection in an old mirror in the far end of the shed. Irritated by my mind's overzealous hunt, I slammed the shed shut not bothering to latch it as I stormed towards the back of the house and turned the doorknob, without a flinch.
My stomach now conquered my every being and all thoughts of finding my family were extinguished by my need for food.
I strode confidently through the house making the floorboards groan in response. I made my way to the kitchen guided by years of traveling this very same route. I stretched out my hand to find the handle to the heaven i so sought after. The kitchen light pushed against the darkness while i bathed in its white clinical glow. My eyes traveled over my sibling's torsos and past my father's and mother's dismembered heads. Next to Dad's hand, I found the butter and jam. I grabbed the butter and jam but i first high-fived Dad and thanked mom for the lunch, she always made the best lunch. I then stopped and sighed with relief as now i remembered where they were, i sometimes forget these little things.
Humming a careless tune I buttered and jammed two breads and began chomping on them both. While chomping away i realised why mom, dad, and my siblings did not respond because they were all in pieces over the return of their beloved son. I laughed wickedly, as this was the tool i used to cope with such tragedies. I grinned with jam slipping down the side of my chin,i licked it up with one swoop of my tongue. I went down to the cellar to get a white wine bottle to celebrate my return from abroad when i saw my reliable sibling, one hand tied the other gripping their phone. Sweat competed with one another as they raced down my siblings' taut faces.
They grinned with satisfaction and then the true horror unfolded. A snatch of the phone a smash of the head, thump, thump, silence. I heard the sound of sirens wallowing down the road, so i ran to the front porch and gripped my suitcases i left on the porch, one hand on my siblings' phone. The officers pulled up looking rather blue. I told them i called because I feared something happened to my family. Suspicious eyes rested upon me after they investigated the area so I cracked a joke that left them bawling and their suspicious eyes turned quickly to sympathy as they told me what they saw. I welled up just enough tears to deserve of such a tragedy. Death plagued my family and I was but boy trying to get through it with a bit of humor, What was so wrong about that? Just like the time I cracked open my uncle's head because watching him fall made me giggle.
Haha, to think Uncle's head was full of pink gumballs, amusing.
The plate shards shattered further under Mrs. Beal's heels
as her crimson lip leaked onto her husband's favourite meals.
Carnation pink stains on the crotched cloth
were left behind by the beating from Mister Beals Croc.
A slave to Memory(part 1)
The hardened wood underneath my nails cut into my whitened skin. My hands gripped tight onto the frame containing a most precious something.A memory. Crimson teardrops dribbled down the side of this memory. I did not squint when the pain overtook my racing adrenaline.No,I wanted it.I reveled in the sensation because this memory had hands.These hands had claws.Calloused, wrinkled like a forgotten newspaper,they stretched out the frame.Ever so gently they carressed me like curious child.They wiped the anger away from my sullen mood and scraped at my dried tears like a tiger scraping for food.Its claws dug deeper into me hoping to hit the well where my tears swam.I did not let it,not today.
Darkness expands and swallows all the light leaving me void of feeling and life. Time crashes over itself like a continuous wave beating down on still water. I am unsure where I am and what I am as if I have dived into a galaxy far bigger than my mind can comprehend. My sight appears and disappears like a ghost hesitant between life and death. All my senses are then freed and yet I still feel imprisoned. My sight arrives, firstly with my greatest enemy darkness, and then explosions of fireworks. I hear the humming of what I believe to be a turntable playing and replaying a scratchy version of a familiar song. I am told by a blurry figure that I have awoken from a long-term coma.
My body gets control steadily and hesitantly like the sun peeking out to see if the moon has gone. The once blurry figure is now a tall arching ancient-looking woman with youthful doe eyes. Usually with strangers, I am uncomfortable and jitty like an impatient bee waiting for the flowers to bloom, but I was calm. The woman whispered unintelligible words and it echoed and bounced against the walls, as if the walls were my brain.
I rose to my feet and tried to get my balance by staring at the ground hoping that I would embody the same traits the ground has stableness. The woman whispered more clearly,’’ Follow me, I want to show you your castle.’’ I began to follow her and I expected to stumble when taking my first step, but instead it came with ease. I glided across the ground so elegantly a flying bird would fall out of envy. I come to a halt behind a scraggly woman in rags so heavy-looking it seems like chains are weighing her down. She is staring at the castle and in a croaky voice spills out, ‘’This is your happiness and you are the architect yet it is built on rotting dreams.’’
I am frightened by my happiness, its garden is barren and dry. I had an empty expectation of what I thought my life would be. The memories crawl into the jungle that is my brain and I remember. I remember saving my money on a dream vacation, making promises that were hollow vessels, and spending all my time preparing for happiness.
A drum starts beating in the far distance as darkness falls upon my jungle and the memories scatter away out of fear. The woman is now a familiar child with a taunting smile, eery and unnaturally wide. She sings as she skips cheerfully away. The further she leaves my sight the more I know darkness is running towards me. The drum becomes louder and slower at the same time and the darkness grabs me and becomes me. I scream,’’ I want more time!’’ and a symphony of laughter attacks me. The drum stops.
I speak, I can. These were the first words I spoke on this foreign soil. The lady across from me examined my face. She was searching for something. That something had been clogged up by bloody rags and stitched close with hollow words. I dug a grave for that something and left it anonymous- to be forgotten. She asked those four menacing words, what happened to you? I swallowed my past whole, leaving it lodged in my throat, preventing me from speaking. Her eyes begged for a response, so I answered with a loud silence.
My name is Nia and that was my first therapy session.
I am an immigrant from Malawi and I have been in this gloomy country of England for 5 months 13 days and 32 mins. Yes, I have counted every minute that I have been here.
England echoes my feelings back to me. Their sun's battery here seems to be running low, making the land dim and bleak. The sky is depressed; constantly weeping. It is perfect. If you have not noticed, I struggle to find joy in life.
I came to this country with my father and older sister, Nzeru. We are the same age, but she was always more mature than me since little. My father (a flawed but brilliant man) left behind all that he knows for us to learn all that he does not. My sister Nzeru has let this new land whisk her way with all its charm and wonder. Yet late at night when drapes block out darkness and electric lights shine in place of stars, I feel guilty. Guilty that I have not moved on; the memories are like scabs that I pick open. This new place was meant to save me from myself, but I'm still lost in what was.
Life. Has beaten me into a coma.
My therapist, Laura, told me to transform my pain into words on paper, so now I am reflecting on my life. I go to Laura because I have not spoken since we arrived in this country. Words tire me. I used words to fight before, but it was scrunched up and forced back down my throat as punishment. I have learnt from experience that a girl's words are oil to water; it never gets through. In my country, girls were often married off young and had children too early. This foreboding fear loomed over my sister and me our whole lives. When we were children dancing with the dust and dreaming of becoming doctors, pilots, and teachers, my mother was planning something I dread.
The fear yanked my leg and dragged me to its crawlspace nestled in my trachea.
I can recall the day I was ripped away from my sister and home and bottled up and wrapped like a present for him. I was 14 when it happened. My thought was that my life would be different, but that's a foolish hope I had. I am to become a wife and bear children for him.
A goat. Three chickens and 115 kwacha. I am worth nothing but that.
I was brought to his house of mud walls and a thatched roof. The sun seemed to turn its face down in pity. My feet dropped to the still warm ground. There was a tree bent skew as if the wind had carried all the girls' cries over the vast country and this tree bent as a sign of respect. I followed him into the house like an obedient dog. He unwrapped the gift and I sunk to the ground. I was not there. I did not exist. It did not happen to me.
I do not like to dwell on that time in my life, but I feel I am still sinking into that ground enclosed by those four unstable walls. Wishing that it would implode on me. I am not there, and I know that if I leave my physical body it will cause more pain to the already wounded. Nzeru was left back at home all alone with my mother. She blames her for many things, I did too once, but I forgive her as she did what she was taught. My father left to find work in South Africa, and we did not hear from him for 2 months. Watching my mother cling to the hope of his return loosening gave me an understanding of her actions.
My father returned, late, but he returned nonetheless and took me away. The damage was already done, but I got something many girls did not; a chance. Every day in this new country, I try to get better and not wallow as I did back home. Nzeru has made new friends at school and introduced them to me. I recently got invited to join them out at a party. My therapist Laura believes this could be the spark to relight my flame. Maybe breathing won't become a strenuous exercise every day. maybe I can make this place my new home, a safe home, a loving home. Maybe I will catch the virus joy that's dangerously contagious here. Maybe I will want to want to
live. Maybe i’ll pursue love with wondrous naivete as i did once before.
His skin was crumpled and creased as a used and discarded cloth,markings like hieroglyphics were spread across his face. Specks of his peppery younger days screamed through his salty hair. He stared down at the black-inked words glaring back at him. He was vulnerable and so they struck. The thieves threw a long rope bound by karma and tightened by fate around the man's neck. They yanked his head down heaving like sailors bringing in a boat to shore. The thieves quietly stepped in with loud hushes shared between them. Silence became them and any sound made echoed wide. They arched their backs and stretched out their hands and squeezed and pulled it with all their strength. The old man awoke and found his sight was taken.
He knitted his anger and pain into a long, heavy scarf and draped it around his neck. It became precious to him as a reminder of what he had lost. He clung to this scarf as a child clings to its mother's familiar arms. He lost more than the vibrant greens in the pastures and his late wife's vibrant yellow flowers that kissed his aching heart every morning. A young him strutted in his home. Wafts of a mountain brook, grounded parsley, and hints of mint swam to the old man. His grandson engulfed him like a black hole sucking everything in. He held his grandson tight, hoping his youth would drip like an elixir for his pain.
Yet time was still making a joke of him as it does with all those who live long enough for the punchline. The old man could once take steps swiftly without tripping on his breath. The old man could once lift a spoon and climb inside a pot of wonders of his own making. He swallowed those days with books hoping to ease his hunger. He felt like an alien tree over the years, absorbing all waters of others that he had hurt, and now he was afraid he might drown. His grandson scratched the wooden chair against the recently polished floors making a sound of a squealing pig. He drags it nearer and nearer as the unsettling sound takes centre stage in the room. The mountain brook, ground parsley, and mint were balled up and baked wafting the familiar smell. The grandson's voice was like scrunched autumn leaves when he uttered words from a book.’’It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…’’
The old man felt as though he was withering away.
He raised his wrinkled fingers and commanded silence with this single motion. His voice crackled like a scratched CD as he said, "Take me to her ".His grandson knew. He seated him gently down on the damply soft pillow of the earth. He untangled the scarf clinging to his neck and let, it, go. Those flowers that kissed him with their sight he felt that day. He realised that he could find refuge in what he had with her. In her sinkhole of a yawn that he fell inside every night or in the charred, puffy yellow eggs she attempted to make for him.
The old blinded man pulled himself out of the sinking sand. He realised she was all the wisdom and secrets to life he was searching for in those books.
Aged and devoured by time he sat breathing her in and this brought spring to his winter day.
A Dream Propelled
There is no better alarm than my anxious joy. It made me swirl and tug at my irritated blanket all night. A gasp followed by my excited giggle made even my imaginable monsters hiding in the dark uneasy. Eventually, morning came and the night crawled away with a sigh of relief. I fell out of bed purposefully just to make sure I was not dreaming. The cold wooden floors greeted me with a hardened shake and the summer dust stuck to my cotton yellow pajamas. After I was certain I was not dreaming I sprinted to the bathroom looking perhaps like a massive yellow blur to my unconcerned roommate, Louise. Swiftly, with no eloquence whatsoever I did my daily routine. Battled my hair with different weapons of war, splashed my face although most of the water was flung into my wide open grinning smile, danced to guilty pleasures in the shower, and lastly picked out the outfit.
I eventually faced my dull-eyed roommate scrolling through her Instagram whilst she played with the depressing greens on her plate. Two coughs later and a stomp of the foot I snatched her attention. Attempting to be subtle I said,' Such a fine day for a dream to bloom''. No expression on her face she replied,'' What's got you talking like you Shakespeare''. Unphased by her lack of amusement I sneered my nose above her nonchalance and said,'' Funny you might ask, I shall make it quick as brevity is the soul of wit .''
Impatiently Louise waved her hand,'' I will listen to you because I'm bored, but please no fancy talk so early in the morning''. I gripped my hands together and began,'' Louise, as you know I published my first novel, Hopeless Semantics recently, Well...uh my check from it is arriving in an hour, ahh!"
Beaming with complete ecstasy, I stood tapping my foot on the floor. Louise put down her phone,with not even a twinkle in her eye she replied,'' How much?''. Shyly I blurted it out and Louise's eyes widened whilst the rest of her face like cement was stuck. Simple words tripped over themselves as they came out Louise's mouth and they fell upon my heart. She asked me what would I do with the money. This is something that never crossed my mind.
Excitement drew back inside me and morphed into a hideous monster. Thoughts invaded my mind, they formed rings wherein they wrestled one another until a victor rose supreme. The sturdy champion thought took hold of my inner mic and replied for me with an air of contentment,'' I never had the funds to apply to study abroad so a scholarship was not even over the horizon, but this money would make my dreams palpable .''
Louises face screwed at the corners of her mouth and the morning sun seeped in, enveloping me in a warm hug.
Ding...dong went my future and I opened the door.