I visited Dover castle and the Roman lighthouse over 10 years ago.
stone upon stone upon stone and ancient mortar. a net stretched across the open space where the floor woodenly stood sentinel against the rain’s rotting lash. a dead seagull was caught in the net. its feathers drift down like snow from its bones when the wind dances through. its feathers drift down like ash from its bones when fleet fled the burning harbor.
Take the splintered memory of your father beating you from between your mother’s clenched teeth. If you can still hear his voice, go west. You will come to a ditch cradling a dead cat. If his neck is twisted, proceed north. If his belly is split open like a rotten orange under a motorcycle wheel, go south; you will find the driver’s bloody bootprints scuffing the Black-Eyed-Susans. If you mix the pollen with loose-leaf tobacco and roll a cigarette, your doppelgänger in another universe will be gifted a front row seat to the next public execution. But that is not the direction you want to go. If you ignore me and walk towards the old Civil War battlefield marked with the city’s slapdash attempts at historical preservation, your old lovers, wherever they are, will turn pail as if a nurse has taken too much life force away from the abrasive latticework of a failed experimental procedure. You taste blood in your mouth. They will fall to the floor and you will not be there to kiss the languor from their eyelashes. If you don’t see a dead cat, continue west as if nothing is wrong. You will eventually come to a fork in the road. Or a river. And you must either cut off all your hair or throw your clothes into the Salvation Army donation bin that washed up on the riverbank with the rest of the hurricane detritus and proceed with your own body acting as a trembling neophyte’s compass pointing towards the sharpest point away. If fear clamps down on you so hard your ribs creak and snap against your heart, you can choose a different direction. You can run, screaming, back home or you can try to walk on water.
Home scratches at her shingles with tree branch fingers, pulls the air conditioning unit to her moldy, aluminum ribs and keens a whale song of mourning. We found her wandering the tornado snarled wild three months ago, empty and starving. We fed her pieces of dining room table, gas key fireplaces, and cast iron bathtubs, clawed feet first. We gutted her plumbing, ripped out her nerves and re-wired the electricity, reinforced foundation seams that let the water in every time it rained. She did not respond well. We found rot and mold in her corners, force fed her antibiotics and quarantine standard operating procedures while she belched ladder-back chairs, sofa cushions, wind chimes, and broken bookcases. She still has her bad days. After feeding time Home likes to sit back porch facing east and picture window facing west; Home sits and watches the sun set, sits for hours in the dark. She gets regular walks around the wolf pen—let her mingle with the vultures, I said, let her feel useful and clean up the dead, but no one would listen—she shakes every time the tornadoes come through. She has bad memories and, hopefully, maybe a few ecstatic ones. When it rains, Home hitches up her porch and hops from one corner to the other, splashing in the puddles when she can.
Three Line Tales Week 139
Writing prompt by Sonya at Only 100 Words
Photo Credit: Jordan Gellie
I want to add to this and make it a chant.
They carried the baby bird wrapped in a yellow, flowered handkerchief. Its eyes bulged behind their closed lids and its prickly down barely covered the stubs of its wings. The wrinkly peach flesh was damp with perspiration and plant juice. It choked and twitched feebly, beak broken open.
“We’re going to operate now,” said the little girl in the red corduroy dress. Her glossy, black shoes were scuffed and muddy and her little white tights had been ripped by the holly bush. There were no lights in the attic but the mother had given them three candles with the stipulation that Make Believe was not allowed to knock the candles over and burn the house down.
The two girls scooted past boxes and trash bags filled with grown up things and tiny baby things from times they could not remember. They were like bright fishes, easily distracted by strange colors and strange noises. They crawled on three child’s paws: two dirty knees apiece, on dirty hand apiece, tipped with chewed nails.
“On the operating table,” said the little girl in the red dress. She snatched the handkerchief from her companion and slammed it down on one of the boxes.
“Scalpel!” she cried.
Her companion picked up the handkerchief and lifted it to her nose. There was something there that reminded her of earthworms and pill bugs, like the juice that dripped from the knife to the kitchen floor, like the scolding she received when she stayed out in the sandbox past lunchtime. She reached into the pocked of her blue shorts and held out a sprig of holly.
Body is a road. Body is a moment on the road. Body is a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn so they die green and fall green into the dirt beyond the road. Body is a molecule of oxygen inside a cell without a nucleus and hemolyzed skin in a moment on the road in an autumn too hot for the leaves to turn so they die green and fall green into the dirt beyond the road where beyond the road snarls at the dying season.
The pigeon made mistakes.
—Frida Kahlo, The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait
When I wasn’t working or fucking my boyfriend I was either standing in a queue or walking around the space between Reading Jail and Jackson’s Corner. I never reluctantly stood in a queue. The space between Reading Jail and Jackson’s corner has the mall with the cash point, the chocolate shop where my boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend works, a pub that brews really good mead, and a church (Reading is too small for a Cathedral). Reading Jail has a very high wall. A friend of my boyfriend once said the space between Reading Jail and Jackson’s Corner was the best place to go if you felt like climbing the church tower with a sniper rifle and a sack lunch. I have a lot of days where I feel like that, especially when I’m not working, queueing, or fucking. There are a lot of pigeons in that space. A lot of those pigeons don’t have all their toes. I saw this one pigeon that had no feet at all but walked amazingly well on its little ankle bones. There are sharp metal spikes on the ledges of buildings. When a pigeon tries to land it loses its toes. But it’s not inhumane because when the pigeons try to land they can still fly away.