Fiction    Reading Room    Memoir    Interview

Way Station

On a stony road
to the Balkans,
formerly the scene
of a peasant revolt,
I played billiards
on a table
without pockets
and decorated my wrists
with crinkled paper.


Later, I watched
a weaver border
a field as smooth
and green as a sea
closed early for winter,
and sensed a story
in the fine vermilion
day of a donkey
grazing beneath wattle:
a tale of lichen
and mordant leaf,
vegetable skin
and wild root,
the warmth
and reliable strength
of bone-tinting madder
as discovered by
John Belchier
on surgical examination
of animals fed
the ruby-inducing plant (1735),
documented by
anatomist and dissectionist,
John Hunter,
who displayed
the pink penetration
of a pig’s skull
on a glazed shelf
alongside the skeleton
of a carnival giant
in the Royal College of Surgeons (1783)
and endorsed by
Dutch masters,
red-coated armies
and healers who believed
the blood-coloured
magic cured jaundice
and chronic bruising;
a tale of the oak-infesting
scarlet of dried field lice,
the cochineal remains
of cactus-inhabiting
insects heavy with eggs,
the travertine ease
of bubble and hue,
head scarf and bare feet,
loom and oral tradition
steamed from vats
on the weaver’s straw floor
into the quick motifs
and tumbleweed knots
of her language,
the sheen and mystic grace
of her memory,
the tufts and spun wool
of her modest
interpretation of history.


Before leaving,
I lined up
with a visitation
of civic leaders
to buy film
so the whole world
would know lizards
climbed the face
of the clock tower
and flower heads
ran loose in the square
as I stood in a wode-yellow T-shirt
between monuments
of concrete and soapstone.
Johanna Aitchison
Michele Amas
Angela Andrews
Sarah Barnett
David Beach
Ken Bolton
Jenny Bornholdt
Rachel Bush
Mary Cresswell
Stephanie De Montalk  
Cliff Fell
Tom Fitzsimons
Brian Flaherty
David Geary
Bernadette Hall
Kerry Hines
Andrew Johnston
Therese Lloyd
Iggy McGovern
Mary Macpherson
Dora Malech
Vana Manasiadis
Emma Neale
Gregory O'Brien
Lucy Orbell
Zach Savich
Charlotte Simmonds
Marty Smith
Elizabeth Smither
Abby Stewart
Robert Sullivan
Jo Thorpe
Cath Vidler
Louise Wallace
Ashleigh Young

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