Mementos scattered across the map of the world pictures of times past
all recall happier days now singed in ash
journals the spyglass no clues
How long had it been? Those stolen moments? Those discovered treasures. She pressed her fingertips to each. Oh, how she missed him. Days scattered into weeks and months. And finally, years.
She picked up the spyglass. When had he used it last? Had he found what he’d been looking for? Or did the engravings deny him translation. Many times, over their relationship, she’d seen him baffled and intrigued by what history had to offer.
Egypt had been their last work-vacation. Her, in the hotel conference her boss had arranged for his employees. Him, the remains of a new-found mummy. When she’d last held his hand, he’d croaked out something about plagues. Had she heard him correctly?
The map slowly curled its edges while she went to prepare something for lunch. She turned on the faucet to get water to boil, and the liquid splattered in the metal sink, blood-red. Thick as molasses.
Outside, locusts flung themselves repeatedly at the windows.
She backed away from it all. Closed her eyes. No, she was imagining. When she looked again, a meteor of fire flashed across the skies.
a piece of fabric lies cluttered beside rail tracks its owner misplaced
did she run along the train’s rails, heart in her throat, or did her dress tear
did she see the beast leave the shadows of the trees no bones or blood tracked
The Girl Running Beside the Train Tracks
Millie lost her shoe in the flight from whatever lunged after her. She’d been about to tie her laces at the time. Bent down, she’d heard a noise. Low, keening. Like a wounded animal. She’d thought perhaps a dog—
And gone to look. Eyes hooded like a snake; the beast had crept from the woods. She’d shouted but no one came. Perhaps the train drowned out all sound from around her. Gusting down the tracks, the people inside paid her no mind as they went about their travels. Never mind, that she’d been a passenger. She’d gotten down to investigate some flowers and that was that.
She raced down the path beside the rails, the beast coming near enough to snatch a piece of her purple dress. It spun her around as it did so. She stumbled and braced herself on a tree trunk. Please. Whatever god was out there—
She wanted to live. To grow up. To do so many things.
Why she hadn’t even kissed a frog and turned it into a prince yet.
Okay, maybe that was a stretch. But what about the pony she wanted? Surely, she should have that. Or at least, a kitten.
She sucked in air. Must run. She bolted toward the blue sky ahead. Someone, help.
The beast panted behind her, its claws snarling in her hair. It swung her around. She batted at it, pushing those great snapping jaws to the side. Her gaze widened at the trickle of blood on its paw. She examined it further, the beast stifling its rage. At once, she saw the problem.
The thorn removed; the beast bowed to her. “My thanks.” He gestured to a saddled and bridled pony. “Yours.”
Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Poetry Challenge using the words Circled and Squared, synonyms only.
The sketch encompassed her day of who he was, this balance boy and man
he seemed all shadows and light both brash and bold
girded by life ink and bone
All day she sat, sketching him first then adding ink. He leapt off the page, part boy, part man, all shadows and light. Who was this mystery man? Had she met him somewhere before? Glimpsed him in a dream? She tapped her finger slightly one the edge of the canvas. So brash, so bold. His image balanced perfectly there.
A knock came at her door.
“Beau is here to see you.”
She straightened her dress and hair. Oh, no. She nearly upset her chair when she launched to her feet, determined he not find her like this. What would he think?
He strolled into the room, hat in hand. Her mother behind.
“Judy, darling,” he said, reaching for her hands and kissing the palms. He eyed her painting. “Is this then my rival?”
Her mother tittered.
“You have no rival, Beau. He’s merely a dream.”
He studied her work. “Well, I hope he won’t steal you away to often. I don’t intend to share.”
She smiled at him.
“I merely stopped by to tell you our reservations are set for this Friday. We’ll share a booth at the opera with my parents and yours.”
Her mother beamed.
Judy squeezed his hand. “I’ll look forward to it.”
Beau and his mother left her to her thoughts. She turned back to the painting to find it empty. What? She stepped over her chair. Where had the image gone?
Try as she might, she never got the subject back. It was almost as if the mystery man didn’t want to compete either.
Motherhood descended on her not long after she and Beau married. She never took up her art again. Perhaps he had represented what she knew she would lose with her vows.
Then again, look at those towheads out the window. What a gain.
Colleen’s Weekly Tanka 2020 Poetry Challenge Synonyms of Comfort & Torn
Three Senryu’s on human nature along with a story.
Tom spent his days out in the barn. His night by the campfire. He couldn’t quite forget the way things had been when Judith had been alive. He missed her. He found himself growing impatient with the daylight. He wanted nothing more than to be done. He was worn. No comfort remained for him in his days. He closed his eyes, the saw laid to rest beside him. This then, was the end.
He awoke on a park bench, just south of Heaven’s gate. It took him all day and most of the night to get where he headed. He knew he’d find her there, waiting for him. She always said she’d park herself outside the gates and rest a spell till he showed.
It sure was beautiful here.
Look at all the happy faces.
He waved to a few and renewed his pace, energy bursting inside of him that he hadn’t seen in years. He’d been changed inside to a new version of himself, strong and true. He hummed to himself and continued on. Surely, he’d reach those gates soon. He came to a gate, but it wasn’t the pearly ones. It was ordinary and showed signs of life. He gazed at the white picket fence in confusion. He’d seen it somewhere before but where? He peered at it. Why—it couldn’t be.
His old house. The one of his first wedded years with his wife. They’d lived on a farmstead outside of town. Bellbrook, OH. He inspected the gate further. Oh, how he remembered the creak! He always meant to fix it but never found enough time.
His fingers splayed across the gate hitch. Another second and he was inside.
As he approached, he saw someone swinging on the porch swing.
It was her. Judith. He smiled and waved.
She blew him a kiss. “Welcome, home.”
“Where’s my tool shed?” He scratched his newly restored hair.
“Take a gander out back.”
He did. The old shed was in need of as much repair as he remembered. He nodded to himself. Just right. He rejoined his wife on the bench and sipped a glass tumbler from the pitcher of iced tea she had on the tray on the table. She passed him a chicken sandwich. With a bite, he savored the quality. “Man, there’s no place like Heaven.”
“Heaven,” she said. “Why, Tom. You fell asleep on your tool bench again.”
He woke to the brightness of another lonely day. With a groan, he picked up his tools and started anew. His gaze went toward the ceiling as he at last set his saw aside for a time.
He blew a kiss. “See you soon, darling.”
The lights dimmed in the shed with a switch.
Maybe he’d enjoy some iced tea. A little reminder. A little promise. He reached for the pitcher and pain shot through him. He heard something shatter as blackness covered his vision.
He found himself before the picket fence. This time, he didn’t hesitate to go in. Judith laughed at the wrinkles fading from his skin. “It’s like we always imagined, isn’t it?” she said.
He nodded; afraid he’d wake again.
“Don’t worry. You’re home now. And about time. This place needs some tending to. Your tools are out back in the shed.”
He smiled. “Don’t nag me, woman. I’ll get to it after a drink of that tea and one of your famous sandwiches.”
scoured boots in the shed tattered khakis faded perch before the tool bench
saw rests in impatience above the concrete
the brand cracked in shoes by choice
Trying to keep busy? How about a book or two to occupy your thoughts?