Underneath

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Photo: Morgan Petroski on Unsplash

 

 

She peeled away the stale layers

Of sorrow,

The sheets that wrapped around the core

Of what had once held

Grins.

And underneath the soot of tears

And grit

And grief

She found the gold that had been

Hidden

Soft against reality’s biting teeth.

 

 

 

For the dVerse quadrille challenge: Peel

 

 

Kultuk

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Nikiski, USA (Photo: Elijah Hiett on Unsplash)

 

“The spirits of water and sun fought with the spirits of snow and ice well before the white man came to this land aiming to tame them.” The old man spoke softly, punctuating his words with silence. “Our people did not fight the spirits. Birth and death. Light and dark. The Tinneh accept them as they do life.”

The elder’s story was met with quiet nods of respect. There was no need for sound when another was speaking. A log crackled in the fire and the hush of waves sang on the shore instead.

“Our Tinneh ancestors have lived here ever since Walrus and Whale were born from the womb of Water Spirit. The white man calls this place Nikiski. It is a fine name, but not as fine as the name it already has. Just like the seal that swims unseen, Kultuk still lives under the new name’s ice.”

 

 

 

For What Pegman Saw: Nikiski, Alaska

 

 

Early Light

sunrise1 NaamaYehuda

Photo: Na’ama Yehuda

 

Still

The promise of day sweeps

Broad calm in its sway,

And the sun,

Rising gold

Lights new stories

Untold.

 

 

For the Sunday Stills Photo Challenge: Early

 

 

A Slowly Fraying Memory

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Photo: Free-to-use-sounds, on Unsplash

 

 

From the hollows of despair, they fled.

The shirts on their backs and the children

In their arms, all they could manage to

Take.

Even the abysmal shelters they had recently

Been made to call

Home,

No longer gave any protection or

A chance at repair or

Reform.

They left, dodging death and finding

Further fright to

Flee,

And in their hearts they held on

Tightly

To the slowly fraying

Memory,

Of days when life was softer

And beds were warm,

And babies slept

Well kept

Safe from war and hate and

Harm.

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Abysmal in 93 words

Note: Dedicated to all displaced, terrorized, pressed, oppressed, persecuted persons everywhere, and to the many millions who had, throughout history and in recent memory and in today’s times, been forced to further risk their lives by leaving what had once been home and safety behind, for the unknown.

 

Tacked On

whitewashed-mill-in-mist-cp CrispinaKemp

 

The house was there first. Small and determined, it huddled against constant winds, braved the sun, stood fast through raging dust-storms and the terror of lightning.

Years passed. The land yielded. The silo was built. A practical thing, meant to store the grain in. However, tacked on as it was, snug into the back wall of the cabin with nary a breath of space between, it also contained hope. It held the promise for winter stews and for bread rising in the oven even long after the growing months had gone and there was little sign of nascent greening, let alone of next harvest’s ripening.

The silo became another sturdy thing to be led home by. There when ice rode in and clouds breathed snow and the cabin was too lonely in the vastness of being. Together they formed a home. An oasis of nourishing.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge

 

Perfect

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Photo: Sue Vincent

 

Finally, the light was right, the water mirrored what it ought, the sky spread silk above her head. Even the dotted white of sheep lent the necessary movement to what might otherwise feel a specter of a time too soon or too late.

It was perfect.

Stella pressed the sole of one foot against the trunk and leaned into the tree behind her, balancing the rest of her weight on the other leg. All through her childhood, this preferred pose of hers had driven her mother to distraction.

Though long passed, the memory of a particular exchange about it was yet to fade.

“God gave you two feet to stand on. Use them!” Her mother had demanded.

Stella must have been six or seven years old then. “I am,” she had countered, exasperated with the constant admonitions of what felt to her a perfectly reasonable way to stand. “God also gave me a knee that bends. I’m using that, too.”

Her mother had made her “use her bending knees” to kneel on dried peas for most of that evening, punishment for using God’s name in impertinence. Apparently God also gave children the gift of parents they were not supposed to talk back to.

Stella had carried the bruises of that evening for weeks thereafter, and the ache for longer. She learned to keep quiet when reprimanded, and to adjust her posture and compose her face and straighten her back and never slouch or run or climb or get mud on her skirts or expose her legs. But she still found ways for small rebellions. And whenever she was out of her mother’s line of sight, Stella never did stop planting one sole against a tree or wall when standing. Not even when her brother, whose maleness allowed him liberties that would not be tolerated in a girl, gave her secret away by calling her “Stella Stork.”

And a kind of stork I indeed am, she thought to herself, and pressed her foot into the tree in a sigh of freed determination.

Midwifery did not quite pay the bills. Nor did her artistry through painting. However, between the two callings she had found a certain kind of balance. Granted, she often got paid for the former in apples and hens’ eggs, and while those filled her belly they did not translate into peat or cloth or rent. However, the commissioned illustrations for “Country Ladies” magazine did compensate in some coin, and she had recently been asked to provide a “pastoral series.”

Stella gazed at the scene, adjusted her easel, lifted her brush, and leaned further into the trunk behind her. The past receded. The future waited. The present moment lingered, perfect, as the hours rolled.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s Write Photo

 

 

Digging To China

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Photo: Keith Channing

 

“Winter is the best for digging!”

Icicles hung from Snout’s whiskers, and his tail wagged excitement. The cookies-n-cream dog had two settings: asleep and overexcited.

It was exhausting.

Dumbo yawned. She stood under the dubious cover of a naked tree, and tried to make the least contact between her paw-pads and the frozen ground. Soon enough their human would stop staring into the hypnotizing rectangle, realize that he can do the same thing indoors, and “Cum’eer” them home. All she could do in the meanwhile was endure.

A bird took flight from a branch above her head and a pelt of snow plonked right onto Dumbo’s back. A shudder traveled from the tip of her nose to the end of her tail, shedding snow as it went. Now she was wet as well as cold. Stupid bird didn’t even have the decency to pick a different tree limb to launch itself from.

Dumbo hated winter.

She hated rain. And ice. And snow. And hail. And wind. And any type of weather that didn’t come with a built-in dry spot to sun herself in, preferably without any flying insects or pull-on-your-ears baby-humans or a housemate that believes the only kind of recreation befitting a dog is one that involves digging smelly things out of the ground.

She should’ve been born a cat.

Cats don’t have to go out in all weathers just to relieve themselves, and no one expects them to sniff others’ butts or follow orders or look happy about it. It was beneath a dog to be envious of a feline, but there it was.

“Come dig!” Snout barked enthusiastically.

“No thanks,” she muttered.

“You’re wet already, might as well have fun!” the smaller dog almost disappeared into the white mounds, paws tunneling in double speed into the frozen substance on the ground.

The human looked up, smiled, and pointed the hypnotizing rectangle at Snout’s behind, before checking the contraption, and raising it again in Snout’s direction.

Great. Mini-dog images. It meant they’d be stuck outside for another era. Who cares if the tip of Dumbo’s tail was ready to fall off from the cold.

“Come dig!” Snout yipped. “There’s stuff underneath here. Who knows what we’ll find!”

Dumbo yawned again and licked her chops in irritation. Go dig yourself to China, she thought, and stay there, too … see if I mind.

 

 

 

For Keith’s Kreative Kue #250

 

Numbered

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Photo: Amitai Asif

 

‘Twas the best of the betters

The coveted spot

In the field,

Where the corn rose in sunshine

And worms did not stay

Concealed.

He fought hard for the privilege,

Beak and claws he had

To wield.

As the count of days rose

His calls echoed less

Even keeled.

Yet he hoped that the home

He’d claimed for her

Still appealed.

 

 

 

For the Tuesday Photo Challenge: Number

 

 

Unyielding Stone

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Photo: Smadar Halperin-Epshtein

 

Never quite able to move beyond the yearning,

Formed into a pose

Between desire and

Response,

They are frozen, sculptured into something

That cannot become reality

Despite constant striving,

Their despair exposed

At a heartless ornamental pond.

Still their eyes do not the silent gaze drop.

Even as their hands are

Locked away from the ability to

Enfold,

Set in stone they are forever reaching

For an embrace

That cannot

Form.

 

 

 

For Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt: Sculpture in 71 words

 

Bauble Bob

tolhouse CrispinaKemp

 

His father declared him hopeless. His mother bemoaned his daydreaming. His brother called the boy a fool. His teachers rapped his knuckles, dressed him in the dunce’s cap, slapped his head. Nothing helped. His mind continued meandering and his pockets remained filled with bauble nonsense.

By the time Bob turned sixteen, the village elders had resigned themselves to him becoming one who loitered by the stream, carried water for the old, and attracted the cruelties of the young.

The last thing anyone expected was that Lord Bailey’s new wife, who hired the young man for the price of bread and ale to repair some fallen stone in her abode, would so enjoy the river rocks and pebbles utilized as repairs by Bauble Bob, that she’d have him adorn her gate, her walls, even her door.

Soon enough there wasn’t a manor around he hadn’t been called to restore.

 

 

For Crispina’s Crimson’s Creative Challenge #66