The Wedding Picture
‘Oh, I do, I do! It fits me fine but… I can’t afford it, I’m afraid. Another time.’
Yiota told the village peddler, Mr. Giorgos, on the phone, letting out a throaty ‘Bye’.
Dina was sitting at the sofa, her Geography schoolbook on her lap, staring at her parents’ wedding photo hanging on the living room wall. Opposite her the setting sun illuminated the balcony door. Black and white, the outline of the newlyweds blurred, as if penciled by kids, ruler-stiff bodies, the constipated smile of Gioconda on both faces. She liked the dress, the flowery lace along the neckline and the hem of the sleeves and the skirt. It was champagne-white, rather than paper-white and starched, like cardboard. Yiota had told her that it wasn’t actually her real wedding dress, or Dina’s dad’s own trouser suit. ‘No money for such luxuries’, she’d said. They were both the result of the photographer’s artistic endeavours. Common practice those days – the late 60s. Like arranged marriages. The kind they had.
‘Never seen him before our wedding day,’ Yiota would tell her best friend. ‘We smelt each other like sniffing dogs on our first night together. I would’ve taken a better pick,’ she’d say.
Yiota pattered out through the balcony door and leaned against the rails after hearing a car rev – for the umpteenth time that afternoon. ‘Ohi. Not him,’ she whispered. Then the phone rang. Yiota leapt across the room and picked it up. ‘Right,’ she said and clanked the receiver on its cradle as if dropping a steamy-hot casserole lid. ‘Your dad won’t be coming to dinner. Going out with friends,’ she mumbled. Hardly had she slumped down in the armchair, when she sprang up and dashed to the phone again. With firm fingers she dialed, took a deep breath and said, ‘Ne, Giorgo, I’m taking the dress. Bring it over tomorrow morning, when hubby is at work, you know…’ She let out a fake, girlish giggle and hung up.
Dina glanced over at the wedding picture. Whitish dress against blackish suit, a bouquet of bright red roses in the bride’s grip. Added by the photographer, of course. A cluster of scarlet blooms against the smudgy space between the couple she’d never noticed before.
Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou lives in Athens, Greece but writes in English. She holds a BA(Hons) in Literature and an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her stories have appeared in print and online in several literary magazines (including IS & T). Her first short story collection entitled Black Greek Coffee is available from Amazon.Read More
What to do? You sign it,
as they all do, sign it in your childish hand,
descenders and ascenders imperfectly described,
a name, its capitals, its lower case
presented in the ink that’s drying even
as you gaze at it, drying as you think yourself
committed, pledge what future
you are able to conceive of to an absence,
disavowal (though you do not know these words)
and cannot see beyond the demon
conjured up before your eyes, you wish
in all your being to avoid. You will. You swear to it
right here. But cannot know
what liquor in a glass is waiting on a table,
what bottle, sweating in the heat of some back room,
has the word upon its label
that will draw you in, make a mockery
of this, its scrolls and curlicues, the fake solemnity
induced by those who should
know better, playing on a child’s mind,
its addiction only to a vow, a campaign, to a faith.
Brian Johnstone’s latest collection is Dry Stone Work (Arc, 2014). His work has appeared throughout Scotland and in the UK, America and Europe. He is a co-founder of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival and was Festival Director from 2001-2010. His poems appear on The Poetry Archive. www.brianjohnstonepoet.co.uk
Note: this poem first published in AntiphonRead More
Struck by an ice-cream vendor at age nineteen!
What a bumptious little prick I must have been
to order a cone and then refuse to pay
on grounds of cost, and in a simpering way
watch as vanilla dribbled down his wrist.
Without reflecting he drew back his free fist
and slammed it in my ribs like a cricket ball,
a response I did not think I’d earned at all –
Today I’m not so sure. My eyes retrace
but seldom his livid loganberry face,
nor do I hear his panicked apology
when I threatened to fetch the constabulary
(a bluff I never meant him to believe).
Instead I see the liquid on his sleeve
and venture to compute the irritation.
It is a sad and shameful calculation.
Nick Cooke has had poems published in a range of magazines, from Agenda to Dream Catcher, as well as on sundry websites. He is currently working on his first collection.Read More
Forgiveness like leavening bread
In the dark heart of summer.
Like following the way down
To where the columbine eats
A bed of roses.
Water knows this work:
Slow moistening, the alchemy
Of rubbing stones, smoothing surfaces
Until they catch light reflections.
I want to be better than myself.
Want the easy open arms
Of the birch in winter.
How it holds the snow
Like someone chandeliering
Someone else’s dangerous blue dream.
How it’s not afraid of ice,
Of the eventual frost breaking
Through its bones,
Of death with his chilled
The salamander beneath the slick
Multiplicity of stones is also like this.
More than disregard, he forgives my intrusions,
Lets me lay down in the grass
To count the stars,
Even whispers the names of constellations,
Of bodies I’ve forgot.
He lets me leave while the wick of morning
Begins its fuse,
While the spilled riches of the sky
Cover the Cascades, almost burn my hands
The miracle is that everything keeps on singing,
Quietly, beneath the mower’s head.
That there’s still a place for the buzzing fields,
For tiny doors through which the wind
Slips small meanings,
For the purity of coming night
Settling over the horizon
Like a sheet of shining mica.
Seth Jani resides in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His own work has been published in such places as The Coe Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, Hawai`i Pacific Review and Gravel.
Visit him at www.sethjani.com.
You can never prepare for this task.
It demands no passion in the wrecking,
just obliterating all signals of existence
throughout your dead parents’ house.
Discovering now what you never knew,
finding parts of what you came to be.
Eventually appearing in your first school report
folded neatly under your first baby shoes.
There are always secrets, some small,
six hoarded packs of sugar, several tins of spam
a forgotten habit, triggered by War memories
only recently remembered and re-lived.
Some findings can confuse or bite,
a carefully hidden photo of an unknown,
a small suitcase with letters of exchanged love
an intensity that shocks, and must be burnt.
If you are lucky there can be humour
a desk drawer full of jumbled keys
brass and steel, but only one labelled
‘This was the back door key- before the lock was changed’
How will you be unmasked when the clearers come?
Have you already left the footnote for your life?
Ivor Murrell has written poetry for over 40 years, but could only give it the time it demanded when he took early retirement, which also allowed him to build his website www.versifier.co.uk to share his writing.Read More
A long night wrestling
in the narrow bed,
constrained and willing
under the snuffed-out bulb.
Breeze-block wall, tin sink,
a locked door
to the neon lit
We slept and woke,
took it up again
then you turned away.
The uncurtained window
let in a mist of light
from the dawn outside,
enough to see
across the floor
a black dog
you’d need to tread
if you were ever
to get out.
Chris Hardy’s poems have been published widely and have won prizes. His third collection was published by Graft Poetry. Chris is in LiTTLe MACHiNe: The most brilliant music and poetry band in the world! Carol Ann DuffyRead More
A Potion to Leave the Past Behind
yoga breaths, pins, pressure points
camomile, beta-blockers, diazepam
fill the void with Jesus, Mars Bars and vodka
fill it with l-o-v-e, hate and oxygen
You can’t turn back
Only walk forward
trust your instincts
catch a fleeting moment
dal dy dir*
give up, give in
and write and
write and dance
and write and dance
Ness Owen lives on an island where she writes poems and poetry in between lecturing and farming. Her work has appeared in Poetry Wales and Red Poets.
*stand your groundRead More