“Poetry is the liquid voice that can wear through stone.” ― Adrienne Rich
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
"[B]ewitching riddle of a novel" — O, the Oprah Magazine
Honeymoon By Naja Marie Aidt
It was Tim’s eagerness and boundless spontaneity that got them to set out up the mountain in the midday heat. The Greek landscape, which Eva never cared for, appeared more hostile and parched than ever. The stone pines and wild olive trees dangled out over the steep slopes like helpless mourners, and the pervasive smell of thyme made her nauseated. But Tim wanted to see the women’s town, Olympus, which lay at the top of the mountain. And so they drove up in the old, beat up car he had rented from an American woman who reminded him of his mother with her flowing robes and wrinkled sun-ravaged skin. The muffler rattled over the gravel road. Eva kissed Tim on the neck. He looked at her. Their faces lit up in radiant, knowing smiles. He let his hand glide up under her yellow cotton dress. Her thighs were warm and damp from sweat. But a little while later, when Eva insisted they pull over, Tim took a picture of her bare bottom as she squatted to pee; she jumped up and ran after him, trying to pull the camera out of his hands, she was furious, but he just laughed and ran up the road, managing to take another picture: She’s standing, legs apart, shouting with her mouth wide open as she points menacingly at him. Behind her you can see a silvery-green wild tangle of vegetation and the dusty black car. The left side of her face is lit up by the sun. One of her straps has slid down her shoulder.
She got in the car, slammed the door, and swore that starting now she would not talk to him for at least half an hour. He shook his head and speeded up. He laughed and said she was a Fury. He said he loved her. But Eva would not give in. They were both thirsty, but they had finished their water long ago. Small stones from the road kept shooting up and hitting the car as they drove and after awhile she began to feel crazy from the racket.
Then suddenly a man stepped out of the bushes and stood in the middle of the road with his arms raised over his head like a priest calling for prayers and devotion. His voice rose and fell, almost as though he were singing. His full beard was impressive. Long matted hair stood out like a lion’s mane around his reddish-brown dirty face. His eyes shone wildly from their deep sockets. He was tall and dressed in rags. He had obviously been living out in the wild for a long time. A savage. Eva had read somewhere that you can find out everything about a person by how he or she reacts in a panic situation. Tim did something strange: He sped up and drove right at the man. The man just stood there. Eva thought she heard herself scream. Then Tim slammed on the brakes and the car swerved to the side. The man was hit, but apparently not seriously; he raised his voice and moved toward the two in the car.
The Brotherhood of Wednesday Afternoons by Armel Dagorn
We were the sons and daughters of busy working men and women who couldn’t afford crèches, of half-lost souls, of feckless unemployed folks who had some betting or drinking or TV-watching planned on our schoolless Wednesday afternoons. We weren’t quite left to our own devices, but rather trusted to the factory-tested smooth edges of the local Ikea show-room. They walked us kids to the store’s entrance like they’d walked us that morning to the school gates, and released us with the same confidence that they would find us again at the end of the day, happy and spent. We stormed in like into a candy shop as soon as they let go of our hands, we found each other as if by instinct in the swarm of shoppers’ legs.
We each had our preferences – some of us liked to play cooking, reached up over the too-high counter tops to worry invisible knives over invisible vegetables on real, five-quid wooden chopping boards with exotic names. Others lounged in living-rooms, put their feet up on coffee tables in dad-inspired poses. You could spot who among us didn’t dream of nights in front of the screen, but were allowed to imitate their parents’ watching habits: they disappeared into bedroom scenes, catching up on their sleep in neat bunk beds, in neatly organised rooms like you only saw on TV. Many shoppers got spooked by the stirring of a duvet as they pulled on a price tag, or by the moaning of a child, bleary eyes materialising out of the set. We had that effect on adults. We understand it now, thinking back, visiting our memories like those adults coming into the store, the strange vision, walking into one of these little corners full of real-life props, the gangs of children filling it, pretending to live in the pretend rooms, turning the knobs of lifeless hobs, gulping invisible food out of clean plates, waving the remote at en ever-black TV screen. We spooked them. They must have felt like they’d just walked through the looking-glass, stepped into a world of midgets with impeccable household-maintenance standards.
Favorite Photo Friday!
“The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.”
― Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
"Writers remember everything…especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar. Art consists of the persistence of memory."
Stephen King, Misery (via wordsnquotes)
Back to School by Scholastique Mukasonga
Our Lady of the Nile: how proudly the school stands. The track leading to the lycée from the capital, winds its interminable way through a labyrinth of hills and valleys and ends, quite unexpectedly, in a twisting climb up the Ikibira Mountains – which geography textbooks call the Congo-Nile range, for want of any other name. The lycée’s imposing main building comes into view, and it almost feels as if the peaks have eased themselves aside to make room for the school, there on the edge of the opposite slope, at the bottom of which you glimpse the sparkling lake. The lycée sits on the mountaintop, glinting at the schoolgirls, a palace that shines with their impossible dreams.
The construction of the lycée was a spectacle that Nyaminombe won’t forget in a long time. Not wishing to miss a thing, the normally idle men abandoned their jugs of beer in the bar, the women left their fields of millet and peas earlier than usual, and at the sound of the beating drum that announced the end of class, the mission-school children ran out and scrambled through the small crowd watching and commenting on the work in progress, to be in the front row. The more intrepid pupils had already slipped out of school to line the track, watching for the dust cloud that would announce the arrival of the trucks. As soon as the convoy reached them, they ran behind the vehicles and tried to grab hold. Some succeeded, others fell off and barely missed getting run over by the next truck. The drivers hollered in vain, trying to shoo away the swarm of daredevil kids. Some stopped their vehicles and stepped down, and the kids would scamper off, with the driver pretending to chase them, but as soon as the truck started off again, the game began anew. The women in the fields lifted their hoes to the heavens in a gesture of powerlessness and desperation.
Everyone was amazed to see no smoking pyramids of baking bricks, no procession of farmers carrying bricks on their heads, as they did when the umupadri asked the faithful to build a new church annex or when the mayor summoned the local people on a Saturday to help with community projects, such as enlarging the clinic or his house. No, this was a real white man’s construction site in Nyaminombe, with real white laborers, fearsome iron-jawed machines that ripped and gouged the earth, trucks carrying machines that made an infernal racket and spewed cement, foremen barking orders in Swahili at the masons, and even white overseers who did nothing but look at large sheets of paper they unrolled like bolts of cloth from the Pakistani shop, and who went crazy with rage when they called the black foremen over, as if they were breathing fire.
The Refugees by Thaddeus Gunn
My brother turns to me. He says: I want to go home, but I don’t know where that is. I say to him, so do I. In time, I’ll repeat that line to him. He’ll agree, and we’ll order another round.
Neither of us lives on the street. He lives in an apartment. I doubled up when I bought a house. It has a mother-in-law apartment. It’s a home-within-a-home.
Our parents no longer have a home. The last I heard they live at the fairgrounds. Either they’re in one of their cars or a ramshackle, dog-scented motorhome. I’ll get more details on Mother’s Day if either of their cell phones work. Mom left their rented house. She was unwilling to pay for it and the assisted living facility dad went to after his stroke. Then Dad went AWOL. Now they’re together at the fairgrounds which are—until the change of seasons, at least—vacant.
Before he left the facility, dad asked my brother to help him serve divorce papers to mom. My brother declined. Our parents got married 62 years ago.
My father retired from the Episcopalian clergy. When we weren’t home, we were at church: a house exalted by dazzling stained glass and soul-stirring music. The air thick with rich frankincense. Not a bad second home.
The first one wasn’t bad either. It was a magnificent brick colonial on a boulevard lined with mighty elms. I can still see the beveled glass in the six-pane doors. I can still smell the hedges, bloom-burdened at Easter. I can still hear my dad reading to us in front of the roaring fireplace. While the snow was knee-deep our half-acre yard, dad recited Dulce domum, our favorite chapter from The Wind in the Willows. His voice was pulpit-strong as he told of Mr. Mole stumbling upon that precious thing he abandoned for his new life:
Home! That was what they meant, those caressing appeals, those soft touches wafted through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way! Why, it must be quite close by him at that moment…
My brother left home at 17 and joined the Air Force. Probably not the usual first career choice for a tuba player, but dad told him he was never going to get anywhere with that horn. So he left his dream of playing in the symphony behind and joined the Air Force band.
Home left me at 15. I joined someone else’s family, taking their mother as my legal guardian so I could finish high school in the same place I started it. I just didn’t want to move anymore.