Doubts in the Night : Prosery

Edvard Munch, Separation

So, she’s become Night Hawk again. It’s scary how easily she’s slipped back into the role, an act of survival once. But she’d not been acting with Paul.

Yet, despite her skilled spy-craft, every trace of him seemed to have vanished like raindrops in arid ground. And what would she do if she discovered he had betrayed her? What would she do if she found anyone who had?

She considered Rachel, a survivor she’d met in Maine after the war. They’d become good friends, and though Rachel seemed content in the small fishing village, Julia knew she was tormented by night-terrors. She remembered when Rachel said: “No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife. . .for when I meet one of those bastards again.”

But what would Night Hawk do? Julia’s not certain at all.

Continuing with my spy saga for dVerse and Lisa’s Prosery Prompt using this line by Zora Neale Hurston:
“No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” from “How Does it Feel to be Colored Me” in World Tomorrow (1928)

Only Mouths: Prosery

In her memory of that time—the war, the occupation–every day was bleak and dismal, as if filmed through a grey filter. Most everyone looked pale and gaunt. She dressed in layers of threadbare clothing—and ate what scraps she could obtain. Her thin face seemed all eyes, but she thought, “only mouths are we.”

Who sings? The distant heart, which safely exists in the center of all things? Perhaps, but the mouths she knew then were hungry and crying for food, not singing. It wasn’t only the winter gloom; it was also a darkness of the soul. She kept her mouth closed, so that she wouldn’t reveal any secrets–and so that she wouldn’t scream.

But what about Paul? Had his mouth also stayed closed? She needed to know her sacrifices—and love– had meant something. She needed to find him now. (144 Words)

Another installment in my occasional and non-linear spy series for today’s dVerse Prosery prompt. Sanaa has chosen quite a difficult couple of lines for her Prosery prompt!

“Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart
which safely exists in the center of all things?” from Rainer Maria Rilke, “Heartbeat.”

River of Possibility

Seurat, Georges; The Seine seen from La Grande Jatte; The National Gallery, London

Sometimes the past seems more real than the present. We float on tributaries of seconds, minutes, and years—merging in the river of time. Do we choose the course we take, or do we simply follow the currents?

Could I have chosen differently? Could you have?

Our brief time together was fueled by danger, not dances or riverside picnics–I still hear jackboots in my nightmares. I don’t even know if you’re alive. But I’ve always preferred knowing even the hardest truths, and I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being. I will keep looking for you, Paul. I still miss you, as though a piece of my core has been lost—despite the possibilities.

Did you betray me?

I look down at the Seine, but it gives me no answers. It reflects only the present.

Another episode of my spy story for dVerse , where I am hosting Prosery Monday, prose of no more than 144 words that includes a line from a poem chosen by the dVerse host. The verse I chose for everyone was an unintended challenge.

“I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being.”
— Wisława Szymborska, “Possibilities”

There’s Danger in the Woods

Frederick Golden Short, Spring Sunlight, New Forest

Am I really on my way to Paris? My mind drifts and tumbles like the clouds outside the plane’s window.
I think back—when I met Paul (as he was called then) that first time in the woods. I hadn’t slept much the night before. I couldn’t stop thinking of the bombs and the flames—London burning; my family gone. I wanted the cool peace of the ancient forest that surrounded our training area. I heard his steps and turned quickly. My instructors would have been proud of my instinctual fighting stance.
“I saw you leave,” he said, “I was worried about you.”
I said, “Do you know Yeats? ‘I went out to the hazel wood because a fire was in my head.’”
He smiled, and as I looked into his grey-blue eyes, I knew I was smitten–and I knew it was dangerous.

Back to my Prosery spies, but no Hopper this time. This is for dVerse, where
Kim asks us to use this line from W.B. Yeats’ “Song of Wandering Aengus.”
‘I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head’.

I love this poem, and it is such a well-known line. I first incorporated it directly into the prose, but it just didn’t seem right. So, I hope this is not cheating, but this seemed much better to me. Also, in my head, I always hear this line sung because I knew Judy Collins’ song version before I knew the poem. Kim shares a Christy Moore’s version.

The Heaviness of Secrets

Edward Hopper, Monhegan House, Maine

I’m weary, and sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy. The secrets that fill them are an extra weight I carry with me always. In the terror of those times, they were a fuel I swallowed eagerly, and they kept me alive then. How could I know that they would stay within, bricks cemented to my core?

We all had secrets. We were chameleons. Pierre/Paul/Hans—he had so many names. Were any of them real? Where are you? I’ve wondered for over a decade now. Oh, there have been rumors—he was sighted in Moscow, in Buenos Aires, in Singapore—but none of them have checked-out.

Yet, I can’t rest. I’m comfortable here in Maine, living on the pension from the job I’m not allowed to talk about. But I’m going back to France. I have one final lead to follow.

I’ve returned to my spies and Hopper for Linda’s prosery prompt at dVerse. She asks us to use the line:
“Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,” from Mary Oliver’s “Spring Azures.”

Remember

Winslow Homer, Dutch Doors

When Pierre finally arrived at the safe house, it was empty. A chair by the table was overturned, a broken plate lay on the floor. Nothing else seemed disturbed. Below the loose fireplace brick, he found some money and a letter.

Dear P–

My love! Where are you? I sense danger snapping at my heels–I fear I’ll never see you again. But–
reading what I have just written, I now believe—I MUST believe—we’ll see each again—soon!

Remember our woods, the spring—no one can take away those memories.

All my love forever,

J.

What have I done? he thought, as he shoved the note into his pocket. Grabbing a stale bit of bread he found in a cupboard, he filled his flask and left—not knowing where he was headed, only hoping it was towards her—and not too late.

Back to my spies for a bit of prosery flash for dVerse. Lillian is hosting and asks us to use this line:

“Reading what I have just written, I now believe” from Louise Gluck’s “Afterward.”

Living in the Aftermath

Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

The war has been over for five years, but still she watches for him. She can see him as he was–in threadbare clothes like everyone–but somehow elegant. As her cigarette burns untouched, along with the food on her plate, she thinks about their last meeting and his promise to meet her at the safehouse.

She sat inside it for hours, as the day darkened to dusk, then thinking she heard a sound—she remembers it so well–walking outside to find there is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles. And then the soldiers came. Had Pierre betrayed her? Is he living a life with another name now? How many names has he had?

She has survived, but she’s only half alive. She sits at the table in the dreary café till closing. Then goes home alone.

This is for dVerse, where I’m hosting Prosery today, using

“there is nothing behind the wall
except a space where the wind whistles”
from “Drawings By Children” by Lisel Mueller

I thought I’d go back to the spies—a different couple, I think–and Hopper.

Shadows in the Dark

George Lambert, Moorland Landscape with Rainstorm, Wikepedia Commons

I am dreaming. I traipse across the moors in Brontë country. It’s almost Halloween, and soon, back home, I’ll be carving jagged smiles on pumpkin faces. As I walk, the sun sinks lower and lower in the sky, deepening the grass’s golden glow. Shadows walk with me, till they’re obscured by the darkness. Night lays a black shroud over the naked trees and heathered knolls, covering them completely. A fine mist obscures my vision even more. It kisses me all over, lightly like a playful lover, until I am weakened and drenched. Lost. At the sound of a ghostly screech, I jump, then laugh a bit at my fright. It’s just a barn owl. There’s nothing here to frighten you, I tell myself–until cold fingers wrap themselves around my wrist. I try to call out, but no sound emerges from my throat. I try to wake, but I cannot. I am dreaming I tell myself as the bony fingers pull me down to the cold, damp ground.

Cold, autumn mist,
nightmare shapes in the shadows–
Jack’s crooked mouth laughs

Toby Ord, CC BY-SA 2.5 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

This is for Frank’s Halloween dVerse prompt. I liked the image he used, so I used it, too. Franks said we could write fictional prose, so I’ve revised one I wrote a few years ago.

Moon Dreams

In their dreams, they sleep with the moon, though I don’t think they remember it– the moon. Kirsten says she does, but she was only three when we left. Still, it’s become our bedtime ritual to say good night to things, even if she and Lilly are too old for picture books. We have no telephones or red balloons–or kittens and mittens, for that matter. I hold on to my tattered copy of Good Night Moon—print books are rare and treasured, this one especially so because I remember Jonas reading it to the girls. They and I managed to escape on the last ship from Earth. We’ll never see it or the Moon again. We’ll never see you again. Good night, moon; good night, my love. I’ve become the old woman whispering, “hush,” but in my dreams, I sleep with you.

I’m hosting dVerse today for Prosery Monday. For this prompt, everyone must use the line “In their dreams they sleep with the moon.” It’s from Mary Oliver’s, “Death at Wind River.” Good Night Moon is a popular picture book. My husband and I had it memorized at one point. **Also, a reminder that Thursday’s dVerse will be a live event.

We’ll Make Our Garden Grow

512px-Mars_Food_Production_-_Bisected

“NASA plans to grow food on future spacecraft and on other planets as a food supplement for astronauts. Fresh food, such as vegetables, provide essential vitamins and nutrients that will help enable sustainable deep space pioneering.” NASA

 

Here, a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills. It’s always a red moon, always low in the sky. The rivers do flow, but the water is. . .different. There’s no blue sky, fluffy white, cotton ball clouds, or golden, blushing dawn. Perhaps it’s some consolation that we can see a million stars–shimmering, sparkling jewels, in constellations that are becoming familiar to me now. I’ve started to name them—that one that looks like a dog, Dorcas for my old hound. And that one—just above? I’ve named it Peter Rabbit.

I see it from the greenhouse, rising over the salad greens. Slowly, we’re putting down roots. My baby will be born soon. I’ll name her Sylvia for my mom. We will make our garden grow, and perhaps she will plant a forest for this new Eden.

 

 

A bit of flash fiction for Prosery Monday. Lillian has selected two lines from Carl Sandburg’s “Jazz Fantasia.” I chose the line above in italics. My poem has nothing to do with his evocative poem. It’s actually a sort of sequel to an earlier prosery piece I wrote, which you can read here, if you’re so inclined. My mom’s name really was Sylvia, and she didn’t garden, but she loved gardens. For some reason, this song from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide popped into my head while I was writing. It always makes me cry.