West Coast

West Coast

I paced the beach a lot as a teenager,
supposing it was a way of being lost,
going lost, finding my lostness
in the sound of the waves, seagulls
in the eaves of a sky cast black
by fire and onyx.

There were shells stuck in my skin,
bits of them sharp and ridged as glass. Adolescence.
Bottles of Bacardi and Glens
in remnants of lovelorn summers—
each one dug deeper as I walked
and I felt the call of the sea
like a summons. Come back to me

—the waves were strange consolation.
I loved
the loneliness of the sea, its sense of otherness,
of distant worlds, blue and green.

Salt spray
in the faces of children;
sand dunes
where we gathered for drinking and smoking,
wasting time
in the dry ice of shared menthols.

You dig your heels deep
by the shoreline, where your feet sink soft
through the mulch of watery sand,
sinking as if to drift down,
to ease yourself out of matter.

I paced the beach a lot on weekday evenings,
while cars passed behind me, while
normal people went home.
I learned to love
the gulls that croaked on the rocks,
crying cormorants, gannets
and black-feathered auks—
I always longed to spot an albatross,
imagining its body swooping
out of the sea fog
like an omen.

I thought I had forgotten these shores,
the way it felt to know nothing
of what would come; great drawings
dissolved in the tidal pull—come with us.
I thought this world was lost;
I thought
I had lost it all.

by Maria S.

(prompt: seagull photo)

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Crossing

Opposite sides of the road, waiting for the little green man.

An old lady mutters near me, impatient, laden with plastic bags.

I can’t wait to pass you in the middle,

I know that the beeping and the grumbling engines will fall silent,

As I catch your gaze.

But today is one of those days –

Headphones firmly in and beanie hat pulled down tight,

Your eyes never lift from the tarmac

That glisters with frost in this cold month.

You’re like an animal that hibernates, so tentative in every winter breath.

When it was warm you used to catch my gaze. In the summer

When I wore jeans and a belly top,

And not this school skirt, with the wool socks,

And broken plimsolls,

Around cold wet toes.

I wonder if we will cross paths again in the summer when I’m seventeen,

And I wonder–

“Eh, love – the light’s just gone green.”

 

By Rachel Norris

(Prompts: wistful, traffic lights, Alan Warner quote)

The Step-mother’s Flower

“My darlings!” He cried swooping the three young girls in to his arms. His little flowers were sprouting up fast. Annabelle was yet a fledging and Rosy was beginning to bloom but Elsa’s petals had been long since opened. The two younger girls could remain quietly oblivious believing that their step-mother was the warm loving haven they had been promised. But as Elsa, pale, stared wistfully in to her father’s eyes she could not conceal from him her own lies that served to drown the deceit of her step-mother. Elsa was a precious flower. A flower who had been prematurely plucked.

What were your prompts?: tulips, wistful, deceit

by Hayley Rutherford

Dust and Melancholy

Josef woke up to dust and melancholy. Through the slatted blinds, sunlight shone in regimented lines, each illuminating seas of dead life. He sat up, sluggish and sulky, and when he looked in the mirror he saw that his eyes had melted and hardened overnight, like an unsupervised candle left to wilt. For a moment he was sad, for which reason he did not know, but he had awoken in a state of sadness and chose to sustain it. Perhaps he had dreamt an unhappy dream, perhaps his unconsciousness had pondered some buried, untouched emotion, could it be loneliness? It was not certain. Josef dug no further.

But Josef had been silly, he slapped himself a couple of times and rubbed his eyes. He had forgotten that he has control over his emotions, a sleepy daze occupied him briefly, deceived by his own delirium. And so now, he moved around the room more forcefully: the blinds were hoisted, the window opened, he sprayed the room with air freshener, a springly scent, daffodils on dewy grass, before leaving to work. He looked once more in the mirror as he left, his eyes promised vitality, albeit in a somewhat artificial way, as though they had been repainted, a glooping, watery honey now rather than the pale calcite of minutes ago. With this final glance toward himself, he departed with a new-found smile on his face – a smile that if were to be inspected further would show possible signs of feigning; the quivering dimple, as though held by strings from unsteady hands, and the slow, resistant transition back to stillness. The scent of daffodils followed him down the stairs, but waned as he opened the front door and stepped into the rain.

(prompts: daffodils photo, wistful, deceit)

by Marcus Bechelli