Selected pieces from the current magazine

DON’T CRY                                    Anne Ranasinghe

Don’t cry
Because the pot is broken;
It had long been cracked.
But gather the shards Dig a
deep hole And bury them.

And the rain will smoothen
The disturbed earth
The sun will bake, and wind trace
New landmarks
Till finally you won’t remember
​Even the place…

A NOTE ON THE WITHERING      Kevin Griffin

The first thing he noticed as he awoke early that Saturday morning,
was her shock of dark hair lying over both of them and how their scents
had mingled.

Unmoving, he watched her for an hour.

He sensed her stirring, but was distracted and amused as
the memory of yesterday’s thought-bubble persisted, along
with the promise of the paths he would travel today.

While she was gone, time subsided.

She brought coffee for herself,
tea for him, as he liked it, black,
no sugar, but too hot, and
brown bread toast, bitter with
jam.

Casually, she asked about the train.
Merciful God, the train, what else had
​he forgotten?

THE LAST RAINS IN CUTTACK                        Bibhu Padhi (for William Meredith)

Their long arrivals have turned episodic now; now they
come between long waitings.
They do not embrace the earth anymore with that
perfect angular gesture of a kind mother. They have
lost their old sense of touch, their feeling of growth
and new life.

My trees are dry now, like my own fingers; they no
longer bear the smell of wet green and loving rain.
The last rains are falling now on the mango tree
widespread against the sky, on my closed eyes, on
​the seeds of winter, softly, on the last blade of grass.
Let them fall.

OUT OF FAVOUR                              Laura Sheridan

That day at Hampton Court
we came out through the back doors
and stepped into a Looking-Glass scene,
a Dali dream; those trees,
clipped into precise cones alongside
stone paths – open, free. Later

the Maze, planted for a listless queen,
trapped us in its leafy walls our fingers
rushing
dusty green where she had once walked, paused,
touched her neck,
shivered.

WELSH RAREBIT WITH AUNTIE MARGARET AT THE EMPORIUM                Christine Gray

She led me down the hilly streets of Bradford to
a large department store, a Co-op grandly
called the ‘Emporium’
inside, its 1930’s décor had pale green walls
with pink concealed lighting round the ceiling
and pink wall lights with fluted glass shades.

It was my ninth birthday
(though it didn’t feel like it) away from home.
The restaurant was on the top floor white tablecloths
with gilded chairs.

This was my birthday treat, afternoon tea for two.
She ordered Welsh Rarebit. I wasn’t at all sure
about this I needn’t have worried. When it came, it
​was only CHEESE ON TOAST!

HIKIKOMORI                              Stephen Albones

Opening the wardrobe door, I was surprised to find my grandmother.

« What are you doing here, Gran? I said. We haven’t seen you since 1988. –
I was getting a bit sick of the world, she replied, so I thought I’d spend some time in the wardrobe; and, d’you know, I felt so safe and protected that I decided to stay.
–    But what have you been living on all these years?
–    Moths. They taste horrible, but they’re actually quite nutritious.
–    Thanks Gran, without you there’d probably be no clothes left by now. – That’s all right. Could you shut the door now, please? There’s a bit of a draught.
–    Okay. Before I go, is there anything you’d like me to get you after all this time?
–    Well, I wouldn’t say no to a bag of Werther’s to get rid of the taste of moths.
–    Righto. Do you know they do minty and chocolaty flavours now?
–    No thank you. I’ll stick with the originals: I can’t see the point in changing a winning formula. »

I closed the door, pondering on this meeting. Then I realised I’d forgotten to get what I’d originally gone to the wardrobe for. Never mind, I thought, I’ll get it when I give Gran the Werther’s. And, who knows, perhaps I can persuade her to leave the wardrobe for a minute. Or perhaps not.