PEOPLE OF A SENSITIVE NATURE ARE ADVISED THAT THE FOLLOWING EXTRACTS EXPLORE FAMILY DYSFUNCTION AND ABUSE ISSUES
Gayle J. Greenlea
Excerpt for 2 November, 2021
<chapter> One continued
Hilary found her jeans and yanked them on. She stood up, head colliding with Ryan’s miniature Calder mobile. The art piece zig-zagged like a trapped bat. Cursing, she steadied it; then rescued her shirt from the sagging chair. She moved to the desk to prowl for keys, mindlessly organising sticky notes, guitar picks, flash sticks, vinyl album covers, Sci-fi novels, an empty gum wrapper – no keys.
Pain shot through her head. Keys could wait. A shower, then coffee. She made her way to the bathroom, disturbed by how insubstantial she felt. She splashed her face with cold water and looked into the mirror: dark circles and puffy skin under eyes grey as nimbus clouds; short coppery hair that stuck out in unruly tufts around her face. She looked older than her mid-thirties. On the glass next to her reflection, she saw the sticky note – “Got your car. Back soon. Love, Ryan” – and an annoying little smiley face.
=Gayle J Greenlea
EPIC FREEDOM IN DIVINE LIGHT -Day Two
Tranquility is Divine
It cannot be found in a line
of roses guarded by thorns
nor in a forest replete with trees,
and then if I were a leaf ,
tender would be the twig
unstable would be the branch,
swinging to and fro with the breeze,
tense in breath fragile in heart,
on a pinegraceful and tall,one day would be The Fall
Tranquility is Divine
Where do I find the freedom I seek
Of my home
Of my town
Of the pine trees I smell
Of the clean roads
Of the clean hearts more
Of joys of small things
Of words soft and loving
Of a no war zone
Of no borders nor barriers
But I know so little
I see the ants, are they free?
I see the butterfly? is it free?
I hear the dove coo every day
Does it cry for freedom too?”
-Anjum Wasim Dar
Extract from Jim’s Journal
A DOG CALLED DEATH
‘How s Martha?’ I said to Mary there in the pub before I arrived. I thought I’d ease the way into talking about US’.
Mary smiled dangerously and looked at me with those white blind eyes.
‘Dreaming again. I
I could never tell whether she was talking about me or Martha. I sat down with the words
‘God its brass Monkey weather! ‘She’s been telling me her dreams. I ‘Martha’
‘She thinks her dreams led to Arthur’s death.’ ‘Yeh. I
Well, it had been a weird shift so Life may as well be consistent.
Mary went on to tell me that she’d persuaded Martha to bring down from her son Lozzy’s bedroom his box of favourite stuff and from her dressing table her box of memories. She placed her box nearest as if looking into Lozzy’s was too much to begin.
I asked Mary if she wanted another half She said:
‘Just shut up and listen! I
I sat back down. No way was I going to tell her about my grocer ghost. ‘Martha took a photograph showing Arthur on their wedding day out of her box’ After a moment when all Mary heard were cars up and down the street, Martha told my wife her ‘first river dream.’
The dream had come to her, unexpected, after Lozzy’s death two weeks previous. Beside the River Dearne some of her furniture was laid out in a field as if it was still in her house: a pair of chairs, a sofa, a dining table, a radio, a dog bowl. She had gone up to each of them and felt forced to ask the question:
-Tell me what makes you you?
To which all of them had answered -Ask another.
She was confused.
Then she felt a wetness touching her leg. She looked down and saw a dog.
It looked familiar, like a greyhound, but not quite. And it spoke:
-Hi! I’m Death. How do you do?
She was too stunned to answer.
-1 understand it must come as bit of a shock to find Death in such beautiful surroundings. 1 met your son Lozzy at the same place. I’m not aware of the Lord of Dreams telling me you would be arriving.
Now Martha knew this dog could give her information on how Lozzy -had died. She woke up, and began to cry. How could she tell Arthur, her husband, that she knew where Lozzy had died and could fmd out why through a dog called Death in her dreams?
‘Weird’ I proffered finishing off the dregs of my pint.. ‘Like me and you’ she said.
‘You used to notice me more. My new dress. I’m the one who’s blind. You’re like Martha A world outside and you can’t get beyond your own selfishness. ‘
‘Mary. 1 did not come here to be insulted. I ‘No. You came here to justify lying to me.’ Now listen to another selfish man.
As soon as Martha told Arthur about her dream he said:
– There is no reason to this! Lozzy died. That’s it.
Arthur stood up from the table leaving her to clear the pots.
-And what’s this nonsense about a dog called Death in a dream ? In a dream telling you where and why our son died. Wake up woman!
-1 knew you’d be like this Arthur …
She held a handkerchief to her watering eyes.
-1 knew once 1 told you …
Arthur opened the back door and strode the path to his garden shed.
-Please Arthur? There are more things on earth than …
-No! A dream means nowt!
He slammed the shed door.
Just like us’ said Mary.
‘Eh!’ I proffered again, gobsmacked.
Mary said Martha continued:
While Arthur chewed on his anger in the garden shed, I cleared away the pots. I decided to get on his good side and cook his favourite meal. Anticipating his reaction to my news that I could learn about Lozzy’s death through a dog called Death in me dreams, I’d bought a chicken. Arthur liked white, succulent breast with sprouts.
‘Where’s this tale going, Mary? Make sense, lass! ‘Patience, Jim.’
‘Watch your language. Listen and learn!’
Under the bloody thumb again left me looking forward to a pint that evening with Bill my brother-in-law.
Martha said she binned the giblets and prepared the chicken. It would sit in foil and oil. It’s fragrance would drift out of the kitchen window into the garden shed. Arthur would water at the mouth.
The way to a man’s heart.
I placed the sprouts in a pan, preparing a cup for the green water. Arthur always said:
– Green Waiter is good for thee. Puts hair on thee chest.
Arthur had a bird breast himself All small and hairless.
As I checked the whitening chicken spitting in the oven, I thought of the blackness of the dog called Death. As I turned the sprouts down I thought of the green of the grass by the River Deame where Lozzy had died and Death had stood.
Soon I heard the shed door softly shut, the pad of Arthur’s shoes towards the kitchen door as I drained the green water into his mug. As usual Arthur
knew when the chicken were ready.
‘Alright, alright. What’s the point? What are you getting at?’ ‘You can’t see what’s in front of your eyes. ‘
‘No I can’t! I’m a typical man beaten into submission by a superior woman.’ ‘Don’t you dare patronise me. After spoiling our marriage. After lying to me and then having the gall to keep on seeing her.’
‘Look what’s this all about? Explain to me then we can both go.’
‘We agreed to these meetings for a reason. I’ve got no explanation from you as
far as I can see as to why.’ ‘Why?’
‘Give me strength! Why you preferred her company to mine. Wasn’t I good enough for you? Didn’t I fetch and carry enough for you?’
And I stomped out like somebody had set my arse on fire. I wasn’t sitting there to be insulted. I got back from a pint with Jim to find she’d phoned and said she’d see me as usual the following week. The cheek of the chuffmg devil. Also Linda had phoned. She wanted me to come for a meal on my next I/¥p evening off.
YOU’RE THE DEAD TO ME
First week – Beginnings – Day Two:
Tree says to dead leaf
“You’re not my first grief, nor last.”
Leaf makes a new life
Bios And Links
-Gayle J. Greenlea
is an American-Australian poet and counselor for survivors of sexual and gender-related violence. Her poem, Wonderland”, received the Australian Poetry Prod Award in 2011. She shortlisted and longlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize in 2013, and debuted her first novel, Zero Gravity, at the KGB Literary Bar in Manhattan in 2016. Her work has been published in St. Julian Press, Rebelle Society, A Time to Speak, Headline Poetry and Press, The Wombwell Rainbow, Fevers of the Mind, Kalonopia and The Australian Health Review.