‘Oh pretty maids, come bite us with your pearly teeth–leave your lovely marks upon us!’ cry the leather-coated russets. ‘Hi, hi, hi– come hither and crush our ripe flesh under your dainty feet!’ squeal the fallen crab apples.

     Lizzie and Laura weave their way into the heart of the vulgar market throng, jostled to and fro by scratchy wicker baskets held in sunburnt crooks of arms.

     ‘Breathe me in,’ persuades the perfectly ripe peach. Lizzie does as she is told and soon her head feels fuzzy. When she looks up, she finds she is alone. Laura’s hand has slipped from hers, as if her slender frame has been swallowed whole by the bustling crowd. Panic rises in her throat, as if a tiny scrap of apple had lodged there.

     She fancies she can hear a flutey voice calling her from afar–Laura? She zig zags across the village green and up the chalky incline towards the wizened gate by the stagnant brook that leads to the straight and narrow of the Priest’s Way, a fearsome stony path overlooked by a congregation of thistles.
(more…)

     She loved her husband, in her own way. He was young and handsome and faithful – all she required. The only cruel thing he had ever done was to tell her that he hated her favourite dress, but upon seeing her expression, he’d immediately rued his harsh words and bought her a new one. It was green silk brocade with leaves of silver thread stitched over the bodice; a flouncy thing, trimmed with ribbons and fine French lace. She never wore it. Her favourite dress was of simple black linen. Too plain, everyone said, for a woman as comely as Corinna.

    Life was peaceful in their household, quiet with no children; and though the servants were discrete, she was aware that the village gossips had their own opinions on the subject. Her husband never mentioned it, not because he didn’t want a child, she knew, but that he didn’t want her to feel responsible.

    She was of course. (more…)

forgotten song

some dreams
are not meant to be held
you were one of those,
but i dream of you still;
even if we are but a distant
reverie of lyric
that slips further into oceans
more and more distant with each
passing day—
you always struck me as otherworldly,
and i longed to be yours;
sweet faerie of the
roses
for you saw my scars and taught me
they were beautiful
not something to be shamed of as i had always
been taught—
you woke the dreaming in me
that i once thought to be
dead,
and turned even days of cold painful rain
into melodies of joy;
and i fell in love with you
the love still remains even if now we are only
just fragments of a distant, disjointed
forgotten song.

(more…)

The Fiery Bird

The spaceship, the fuel, The Fiery Bird,
the vessel builder,
rubberized boots for my feet.

The woman in the leaden space gear
draining danger from the cusp of my tongue.

A great diffusion of emptiness
in a sudden outpouring of space.

The outer rim cemetery, bathed in star shadows,
a docking of red corpuscles and broken wine glasses

floating eyes of the traveler
closed to worlds of seeing. (more…)

     In the northern woods, where the hills grow tall and deep with green, a little hut stood by a thicket of colorful trees. The hut was gray and crumbled with age, and inside lived a fat, choleric little man with legs as pointed as spindle needles. He sat all day and spoke to no one; though much longer ago than our story begins, he had held council with kings and was called by many illustrious names. For he knew the true matter of every skilled craft and also the words of Changing, used to coax frogs into men and children into trees, and even (and this was his pride) straw into gold.

     But Time had forgotten him, and he soon found himself alone. Only the grove of trees brought him pleasure. They were of red leaves and gold, purple and ivory, carmine and the deepest cobalt. He sometimes stared at them for hours, letting the evening’s fire go cold until it was time for bed.
(more…)

     I am Sadie’s original shadow. She keeps me stitched to her being, calls me Girl and whispers, I’m scared, when her brother staggers down the hall on the prowl, sour smelling and angry. I won’t leave you, I say, wishing she’d turn on a light to let me loose but knowing she won’t reveal herself. Not until he’s gone. Instead, I lie flat against the soles of her feet while she hides underneath her bed and says her prayers, all those words she doesn’t believe in but says just in case they curry some favour. I’m not afraid of the dark or of death like she is. I will do whatever I can to keep her safe.

     Sadie waits until her brother is asleep and snoring on her ragged comforter. She turns on her bedside lamp and I come to life, spreading my mass against the wall she’s plastered with pictures and stories of great warriors—Joan of Arc, Trieu Thi Trinh, Queen Boudica. I’m so glad you’re here, she says, casting a look my way, and I can tell she’s comforted by my appearance.

     I zip back and forth as she darts around her room, as she stuffs her lucky penny into her pocket, the penny her mother kept in her pocket before the hunter shot her dead by the falls. The penny Sadie keeps close when her brother’s around, the one she makes the same wish on every time.

     Please come back, mama.

     She pauses for a second before pushing her window open and pulling me through. Silent as a snake we slip into the night and I melt into the darkness, attached to Sadie’s heels. (more…)