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

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“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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imperturbable

 

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Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

I follow the instructions exactly. At the automat I get a cup of coffee and sit at an empty table. My pulse is racing, but I appear calm. Like everyone else, I look weary; my once fashionable coat discreetly mended.

A young man in a nondescript suit sits at a nearby table. As he turns the pages of his newspaper, he mentions the rainy weather. I reply with the code phrase. We sit for a while, sipping our coffee, each of us seemingly lost in thought. Then the man puts his coat on–leaving the newspaper on the table–and starts walking toward the door. I stand up, and as I pass his table, I pick it up.

We both exit. We go in different directions down the imperturbable street. It’s difficult to believe there’s a war going on.

 

This is bit of flash fiction for my prosery prompt for dVerse. The prompt line that must be incorporated is “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street,” from Gwendolyn Brooks, An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire.”

Without intending to, I wrote a companion piece to another prosery piece I wrote—and also illustrated with a Hopper painting.

 

Secrets

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Edward Hopper, New York Restaurant

 

“I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended.” Perhaps I wasn’t, not really. Not in those days. I was like the wind blowing in and out of places, and love followed—a gentle breeze or a gale—either way it was here and gone. Until Joe.

We both had worked as codebreakers. All that’s history now, of course, but even now, I can’t give you any details. Enemies remain—secrets, too. I didn’t even notice him at first.

Then one day, I glanced up as he was consulting with a colleague. He looked at me and nodded. I nodded back. Without a word, we had an understanding. Later, we met for coffee…

It’s been thirty years. He brings me coffee every morning. I’m surprised if he doesn’t spill a drop or two. But that will be our little secret.

 

This is my flash fiction “prosery” piece for my prompt today on dVerse. Our pieces cannot be longer than 144 words. Mine is exactly 144 words. The first line comes from a poem by Jane Hirshfield. 

 

 

 

Waiting

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Odilon Redon, Beatrice

 

She remembers the day her daughter was born and died. One of those things, the doctors said. There’s nothing anyone could have done. They named her Ailana, light bearer. She was a brief beacon of hope. For her and her husband. For their country. For their planet.

She never had another baby. No one did.

But. . .there are moments caught between heart-beats, when she senses her, this ghost-baby, growing like a golden flower, glowing in the shadows. Waiting to bring the light to their dark world.

 

A wisp of flash fiction for Kim’s dVerse prosery prompt. She asks us to use the line

“There are moments caught between heart-beats.” From Louis MacNeice’s poem “Coda.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Story up in Ekphrastic Review Challenge

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Fin de la Jornada, by Emilio Boggio (Venezuela) 1912.

My flash fiction piece, “Chromatic Scales” was one of those selected by guest editor Janette Schafer for the challenge based on this painting by Emilio Boggio. (I’m not sure if the word for mine is flash fiction, microfiction, or some cross between either of those and a prose poem.)  I’m pleased that Kerfe Roig’s  poem was also selected. You can read both of ours–and all the other wonderful poems and stories here.

Something Happened Here

 

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Red Bank Battlefield,  National Park, NJ

He watches from this place. Where—he’s not certain, and he drifts and wanders, but never far from this spot. Something happened here, he thinks.

He doesn’t know how long he’s been here, or what was before. He notices others like him here. They nod to each other, sharing a bond. . .of some sort.

What is that sound? Oh yes, that’s called music. He thinks it’s something he used to like. I rememberyes, I used to. . . sing.

He watches as people gather. A woman dressed in black wipes her face. A small boy stands next to her holding a flag.

Something happened here, he thinks again.

And as the leaves blow and whisper in the breeze, he remembers—these memories were left here with the trees. The woman’s eyes open wide as he gently kisses her, and then disappears forever.

 

This is my prosery piece for my dVerse prompt, using the line “These memories were left here with the trees” from the poem “How to Write a Poem in a Time of War” by Jo Harjo.  When I walk in the park, sometimes I think memories whisper from the trees.