wingbeats

June 5, 2018

by J. M Mitchell

It seemed to happen slowly.

She could still recall what it was like in earlier times when before her eyes things moved and had structure and colour. It couldn’t have been so long ago. That was then and this was now. This morning when the nurse came to give her a shower and get her dressed, she felt a compulsion to feel the young woman’s face for some feature she might recollect. All through the shower, where she sat upon a plastic chair so she wouldn’t fall over and injure her fragile bones, she wanted to reach out and feel the face of another person, to see with her fingers the curve of a smile, the wrinkling of an eyelid, or the raising of an eyebrow. She waited for the moment when it would seem appropriate but Myra could sense the girl was impatient for her duties to end. The girl spoke in a fast, efficient voice with the minimum of condescension for which Myra was grateful. So many of the people who had come into her life to help her stay at home spoke to her as if she were a child.

Of course, in some ways she was still a child. The memories and pictures she still carried around in her head were of her childhood. They flashed though her mind like projections on a slide night one after the other, in no particular order. Faces mostly. Her mother was there and her father and sisters, and the woman who lived across the street and whose husband had kept pigeons. For some reason these past few weeks she had seen the boy from the corner—not clearly—not his eyes or his smile, merely his shape. And also, his strange half lopsided walk, a shuffle really, quite as she had first seen him approach her where she used to sit atop the deep curving brick wall surrounding the verandah.

He had made her a wooden jewellery box with a lid and a brass catch. He polished it with oil so that it shone and the inside was lined with padded satin. It was beautifully made with precision and care. He handed it to her as she sat on the wall with a shy smile, not meeting her eyes, his body bent, crippled.

What had become of him? Where was the box now?

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Eyes

October 15, 2016

Written by Nazanin Ghodrati
Translated by Negin Ghodrati
Edited by Afshin Nikouseresht

For some time now, when I close my eyes to sleep at night, other eyes open in the infinite darkness behind my eyelids. They all seem different from one another; some appear to be human eyes – with small and deep pupils – while others appear as the eyes of beasts – their pupils wide and wild. Others, I cannot recognise, as though they are not from this world. Yet they all have one thing in common and it is the unutterable feeling of dread they stir inside my body every night. These eyes appear in the infinite darkness behind my eyes, sometimes one by one, two by two, several at a time, or worse…all together at once. They float awhile in this deep darkness behind my eyelids, stare at me and then disappear.

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by Negin Ghodrati

What do these cold staring eyes want from me? Are they there to judge me? Do they have a message for me? Or is their sole purpose to agonise and torture me? What if they belong to me? What if they are different reflections of myself, projecting their way from the depths of my subconscious onto the pitch black screen that is the back of my eyelids? What if these eyes are the very “reflections of the shadow of the soul that manifest themselves in a coma-like limbo between sleep and wakefulness” (1974, p.16) that Sadegh Hedayat had been witness to every night in The Blind Owl?

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Africa Dreaming

October 5, 2002

By Danny Fahey

Darkness has settled like a contented cat. You can hear it purring through the mouths of sleeping husbands. The urban world dozes as people dream their way forward into tomorrow. Street lamps flicker as if powered by dreams less ardent than they once were. Occasionally a car blunders down the road like a weary predator searching for a feast. Sometimes human voices carry, sounding like echoes of a long ago childhood.

In the bedroom, Suzanne sits in the rocking chair bought to feed the newborn. In the double bed, her husband slumbers, a gentle snore escaping as it does some nights and not others. In the cot beside the bed little Thomas sleeps also, his arms flung free from the blankets, his little mouth pursed in a tiny ‘o’. He has his father’s mouth.

She sits in the rocking chair at the foot of the cot and stares out the window. Because it is night, she sees her reflection in the glass mingled with snatches of the outside. A lamppost replaces her nose and her eyes peer back from a neighbour’s wall. The juxtaposition unsettles her mind, casts it free so that it wanders with a nomadic spirit.

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The glass reminds her how frail everything is. How easily things can shatter and never be redeemed.  No matter how many King’s horses or King’s men. She reaches out and touches the cold glass; imagines wet dew upon a vast open land where beasts mingle in a display of magnificence. Above the beasts a wide stretch of blue sky and a hot, yellow sun. Birds waft across the blue as if seeking rain to ease their thirst. She has been slipping back of late. Time travelling is how she describes it to friends and relatives who looked at her for a moment too long before shaking their heads and ‘tut tutting’.

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