Lana May

Iris

Holding the words,
sinking slowly down,
deeper down,
dissolving through it all

Darker, braver words
fill my mind:
bounce and vibrate
Entwine, circle each other

Orange and violet ripple through.
The colour of woman
fills my mind,
rings quite still.

It is Iris.

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Lana May

Last Warmth

My sister’s touch
awakens me from my
place of safety.
“Mommy’s gone…”

My eyes close
deeper, turn inwards
and around
before they open.

In silence we walk
through the space
that has forever
changed

to my mother,
her face frozen
in her last moment,
her last moment

frozen in her body.
Four daughters,
Tretchikov Swans,
surround her,

hold her,
kiss her,
stroke her hair.
My mother is

still warm, the bed
is still warm,
this moment is still,
warm
 

Lana May

The green door

When I was small, the world was round and full of wondrous things: stormy skies, haystacks with nesting mice, winds to fly in, tractor rides through vineyards, cows to milk, pigs to tickle, crows to talk to, ducks to waddle with, geese to run from, shadows and invisible monsters under my bed. There were tokeloshes, chameleons, bicycle rides and the discovery of new lands, fairies, magic toadstools and faraway trees, secret gangs and meetings in the mulberry tree, rabbits to play with, hailstones to gather, moths to wonder at, fudge to savor, gum trees to have tea parties in, mountains to climb, gulleys to slide down, wild strawberries, jackals’ dens, porcupines and buck. The world was alive and so was I, although I never stopped to think about it.

Then one day I was put into nice dresses. My smudged doll’s pram was painted perfect red to match my perfect shoes. I set off with my suitcase along the long road into the future. It took awhile to learn to read the signposts and how important it was to polish your shoes. I eventually realized that the signposts made my journey very safe: “1 km to the next corner”… “Rock falls ahead”… The only signpost that made me stop and think was “Only you can prevent bush fires”. Nevertheless, I walked on. I did not look through the windows at the side of the road. I did what I was meant to do. And I forgot about the round world.

Not too long ago, the long road, the perfect path with its perfect corners, came to an abrupt end. It halted at a large green door with flaky paint and a brass handle. I turned around, in disbelief, and scanned the landscape. Behind me was the road that stretched forever back, mapping my life so far. And that was that. There was nowhere else to go. And, sure enough, there was no sign to tell the way ahead.

I opened the door (I had to kick and push it a little) and stepped inside. Before me was a mirror. And in the mirror was me. And the mirror said, “which one comes here now?”

I stepped back, mesmerized, as I watched the marching out of the me, with the shiny red shoes, and the marching in of somebody else who looked vaguely familiar. “which drinks the coffee, which the tea?” asked the wild-haired woman in pants with roses blooming on them.

“What do you mean?” I asked. She sighed, put her nose in the air and walked off.

“Well, it’s about time?” said a judge, in his robes, as he took me aside and seated me at a large desk under an oak tree. “I have been waiting for a very long time for you, my dear. Ever since the world was round. Now, tell me, how are you?”

“I don’t remember,” was my honest reply.

“Ah!” laughed the judge. “You have forgotten who you are, haven’t you, my dear?”

“I don’t think I ever knew, your honor!” said I. “I thought that perhaps I was an artist but then I was told this was not an option. I have done some interesting things since then, I suppose.” I paused and looked at the wilderness that sparkled around us.

“This is confidential, your honor” I whispered, “but I have to admit, life out there on the straight road is dreadful and dreary,” and I pointed to the door.

The crazy lady in flower pants plonked a steaming pot of tea upon the desk, followed by frothy coffee in a pink cup and a milkjug of vodka.

“Yes, it’s true what you say. It is perfectly sound! One can’t live in a world if it isn’t quite round!” said the judge. And with that, he put a paintbrush in my hand and sent me skipping down the field towards the blue, blue lake, without any shoes at all.

Lana May

Molten Ground

The telephone rings
at the top of the stairs.
Speak forever
before my heart’s
on center stage.

I should leave,
before I let it all out
But you put down
the phone
and your eyes
root my feet
in molten ground.

Better leave now
But
your eyes
block my way
again.

Better leave
Now
Before I forget
Again.

And as I reach
for the door,
I am silenced.
Winded by the vigor
of your swift
embrace.
Warm saliva

your kiss
floods my forgetful mind,
searches and finds,
takes me
away down a
desperate river
in which I will
probably
drown.

(100 words)

Lana May

My Mother's Brass Clock

My grandmother comes to the door, smelling of fresh furniture polish.  'Hello my darling!' she says.  She sits me down on one of her golden chairs and puts her feet up, next to a pile of books, while the kettle boils.

Her lounge is full of interesting things that belonged to somebody great in our family, once upon a time.  Like my great-grandmother's silverware and porcelain, my great-grandfather's oil paintings, a book written by my great-great uncle and various other curiosities whose previous owners I have forgotten.  The latest addition to my grandmother's lounge is a brass clock.  It's from the greatest of all the greats, my mother!  It sits on a shiny brass table next to a picture of my dad.  The time is always ten to twelve.

'My mom's clock looks just right there,' I say to my grandmother.

'It does, doesn't it?' she replies.  'I put it there so I can see it from every part of the room.'

My grandmother gets up to attend to the kettle. When she returns with our steaming cups of tea, I ask her to tell me more about her mother.

'I don't remember much about her,' she says in her crisp English accent as she puts her feet up again.  'I must have been five when my father put us in the car and drove us to my grandfather's house in Scotland.  I remember my mother crying on the porch.  That was the last I saw of her.  We stayed with my grandfather until I was eleven.  He looked after us very well.  There were cooks and nannies and housekeepers.  We had everything we needed.  I did ballet and tap dancing and gymnastics.'

'So your grandfather loved you,' I say cheerfully, relieved that she had a happy childhood after all.  My grandmother pauses as she picks up a piece of shortbread from a gilt edged plate.

'No, he didn't love us,' she says, as a matter of fact.  'He was good to us but there was never any love.  The only time I ever knew love was when I married your grandfather.  Even though we had nothing, after the war years, it was the best time of my life.  I still remember walking through the fields to visit him in agricultural school.  We stayed on a farm then.  We had no furniture, only a few suitcases and our clothes.  But we really had everything we needed!  We had old army beds whose springs were so stretched that we had to put our suitcases under them when we wanted to go to bed!  And because we didn't have any cupboards, we banged long nails into the walls to hang up our clothes.  The farmer gave us vegetables and we got our meat and dairy from the agricultural school.  That's why I was always making scones, because flour was cheap and our butter and cream was free!  And then, once we started the poultry farm we hardly ever left it.  We didn't have a car and the kids walked barefoot to school.  I'd climb down to the spring every day with my bucket, to fetch water.  I actually washed our clothes in the river.  They were wonderful years.  It seems a pity that people are always chasing, chasing, chasing these days.  We don't stop to smell the coffee anymore.'

I swallow hard as my grandmother says this.  And then I reach for a biscuit.  'Why are we like this?' I ask.

'Because we have forgotten that it's the simple things in life that bring happiness,' she says.

I take my last sip of tea and look across at my mother's brass clock.  My grandmother's bird breaks into song.

Lana May

Lana sent in two versions of her pantoum – a great example of how changing line order and punctuation allows for subtle variations.

Version 1

Under my fingertips

As the sun rises, as the sun falls,
all that was and ever shall be,
touches me,
touches the earth.

All that was and ever shall be,
all of time.
Touching the earth,
under my fingertips.

All of time,
all of existence,
under my fingertips.
Falling in grains of sand

-all of existence –
touching me.
Falling in grains of sand,
as the sun rises, as the sun falls

Version 2

all of time

Touching the earth,
as the sun rises, as the sun falls,
all that was and ever shall be,
touches me.

As the sun rises, as the sun falls,
all of time
touches me.
Under my fingertips,

all of time,
all of existence.
Under my fingertips,
falling in grains of sand:

all of existence,
all that was and ever shall be.
Falling, in grains of sand,
touching the earth.