I curl inwards Though no sleeping rose am I Waiting for tomorrow’s sun Protecting the bloom Tighter and tighter until it hurts Fingers curling, toes, too A spine made willow Bent by autumn storms This is the life you’ve granted Sights and sounds Growling through the dusk Moaning through the midnight Weeping till the dawn An emotional contraction I’ll never unfurl
She sits at the bus stop day after day. I stand at my window, imagining her name. Rain or shine, snow or wind, it makes no difference to the girl in the little lemon dress. She waits there regardless. I watch her the same.
There are buses every fifteen minutes that lead to and from the city, but which city, I no longer recall? I’m as obsessed with her as she is with time. She’s crying today.
I pour out a coffee on this evening to chill souls. Seeing her waiting for a man who’ll never arrive has warped my mind. Today, I shall make a difference. Today, I shall do the right thing.
The door clicks shut in my wake; my eyes are already upon her. She shields her own from the steadily falling snow, invisible against her porcelain features. The coffee steams from the cup.
The distance takes an age to cover, not because of the traffic, as there is none, but from my stuttering footsteps.
“Hello,” I say when almost upon her. “I’ve brought something to warm your soul.”
The cup is offered and dropped, slipping from her fingers like a dream. This saddens me and I leave.
The next day comes, and she is gone. All I can think is, was she ever there? And, was I?
The first sign came in the form of migrating crows. Not in the least bit odd, apart from the fact they don’t. They poured from the fields like a great Black Plague, out over the basalt cliffs and away.
The second sign was subtle: A grasshopper dead in the snow.
The third sign was less so. An earthquake hit the city, shaking every brick from its neighbour and every bottle from the fridge. I lost my milk in the event, which annoyed me greatly.
The fourth sign was as easy as breathing. The wind changed colour from nothing to lots. Crimson particles filled the air.
Sign five was my personal favourite. A dove flew over and sat upon my shoulder. There, the creature cooed for all it was worth, until I stroked its head. This seemed to settle my avian friend. Perhaps the crows sensed this.
Sign six, the final one, was given a name: The Return. The crows streamed back over the ocean like a black fog. They coagulated, poured down like an open vein, ignoring everybody except one, me. They pecked and cawed, scratched with sharpened talons, refused to stop. It woke me from my slumber, that which all else had not.
I awoke from my dream to the dove at my feet and a snowing of black feathers. I looked from one to the other and wept, for I was no longer bound by disdain. The wind, having returned to clarity, only emphasised my own crimson nature. The steadiness of the earth only served to highlight my volatile self. Mephistopheles had returned from his sojourn, and thanks to the six signs sent by my father, Death, would make sure the world knew. Well, everyone has to have something to do.
There’s something about the cello that ruins the soul. It’s as if whoever first built one had fallen from grace, and in so doing, torn their heart from their chest and strung it from ear to toe. Before bleeding into the land, into history, into nothingness, they’d picked up a twig and begun to play. Death was not an option. Only a life of unending sorrow remained.
I recite this story to my secretary as I sit here and play. The notes rise and fall with her breaths. My fingers rest only when she blinks. I pour my everything into this most personal performance, not to impress, but to explain.
Indefinite, she rises A sombre shade of grey Melancholy by her movements Spectral by the day Licking at the sunset She pokes the dawn away This ghost is acting strangely This ghost of Anna-May
A charcoal wash, her paintbrush In gloaming, she will pray To those willing to hear her To listen to what she’ll say For screaming’s not so fearsome In a misting winter bay Where she leads the dead from water As they set their feet on clay
To fear her, is to see her Unadulterated fay She who walked amongst us Now drifts here to betray The ones who marked her passing The ones who sparked foul play But most of all once lovers This man who writes to pay