Your long face doesn’t fool me,
I saw your satyr’s grin in
the mirror which we dress in.
Out of your geometric eye
I saw my own reflection.
The rectangle was a geometry of glass, silvered.
The slope of the ceiling, the press of sky
On dropped shoulders.
I should have escaped, but
Jo Mazelis is a novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist. Her collection of stories Diving Girls (Parthian, 2002) was short-listed for The Commonwealth Best First Book and Welsh Book of the Year. Her second book, Circle Games (Parthian, 2005) was long-listed for Welsh Book of the Year. She was born in Swansea where she currently lives. Originally trained at Art School, she worked for many years in London in magazine publishing. In 2014 her novel Significance was published by Seren.
Leah’s dirt-traced palms rub trails over cherub-cheeks when it’s ninety degrees in the shade. Your hair’s a rat’s nest,
Leah, Grandma says. No, no,
Leah says, it’s a bird’s nest. She wears a halo of butterflies and bees. She’s pixie-led, her pockets full of rocks, and she’s raising tadpoles in the paddling pool again. Now she’s tripped over the garden hose and scraped her knee. Her grandma scoops her up and
Leah’s smooth warm skin is traced with algae from the pond, and hyacinth petals.
Leah’s watching the ants march through the peonies. She tells them stories and they never touch her. And this one’s from daddy, she says, pointing to a bluish-brown blossom on her thigh. The ants begin to raise an army from the sweetness of the petals. They say they’ll bite him; they’ll destroy everything he used to hurt her. Don’t be silly,
Leah tells them, and reminds them he’s away. Just wait, she says. If I have to, I’ll give you the signal. Besides, she’s seen unicorns in the woods and her daddy says if she’s good enough, they might come closer. So for now, she waits, because
Leah knows she’s a good girl, Daddy always says he knows it too, deep down. The killdeer let her touch their babies when they stray from the nest. She knows she’ll earn herself a unicorn one day.
Leah tells the tadpoles goodnight on her way inside. In the bath she’s a mermaid with a pearly tail and she’s free.
Leah wants to run into the sea, and swim away, but she has to wait until her frogs are grown up. Florida is pretty far away, Grandma says, but it’s as good a plan as any, I guess. In her bedroom
Leah plays her little red record player, she likes the singing lady from the TV; she’s a funny fairy queen. So Grandma bought her the record about how girls just wanna have fun. It’s still light out, so
Leah listens. Summer tilts forward, the breeze through the screen dances with the lace
curtains and the rocks lined up on the windowsill. Fireflies give birth to the stars, from where
Leah stands. Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight.
Kate Garrett writes poetry and fiction (often at the same time), and is the editor of Pankhearst's Slim Volume anthologies. Her pamphlet 'The names of things unseen' is forthcoming in the six-poet collection Caboodle (Prole). In real life she lives in Sheffield, and lives here on the web: www.kategarrettwrites.co.uk
The Artist's Bedroom
after Van Gogh
Any room you like can be a refuge –
with three closed walls and a window
through which you glimpse the world.
One by one the walls collapse,
extending your view towards both east
and west, but then revealing everything
you thought you’d left behind. The low
ceiling lifts into a sky so distant
you forget sometimes it’s there.
All that remains is a window
that you will slowly fill with bridges,
boats, faces, trees, some yellow, white
or purple flowers, the endless waves
of a cornfield above which a handful
of wind-tossed birds
seem to be holding their own.
David Cooke won a Gregory Award in 1977 and is published in the UK, Ireland and beyond. His collection, Work Horses, was published in 2012 by Ward Wood. A Murmuration, will be published by Two Rivers Press in 2015.