Through the gap we glimpse the familiar cloth, a faded red with yellow threads like sun between prison bars. All the buildings did have windows. Not angled broken walls, outlandish sculptures. The cloth hangs lifeless, all dirt beaten out, one side matching the other, over a high metal rail as though placed there yesterday to dry before nightfall.
The sniper’s bullets lace the cloth even as he guns for the fighters edging up the open stairway. We huddle below, not for warmth; the temperatures rage, as in those summers before. The crack or boom or rattle of guns and bombs litter our days, devour our nights.
In those days, months and years without end, before blackened, frayed holes, our neighbours covered the cloth in succulent pieces of lamb, wrapped in herbs and bread, hot on our fingers. Burnt into the bread sprang maps of exotic islands, realms where thin men might walk like kings over hot coals; crimson, gold, and lapis lazuli blue would adorn the women’s scarves and flowing robes as they danced, flames from the lanterns only dying as stars dwindled into dawn.
Down here in this room we call home the stars have vanished. Charred maps are hard to come by. Rumours spark hope of a bakery. I taste the fire taking hold, the searing a nectar multiplied a thousandfold. New charts and contours clothe our earth floor as ash first blows up then drifts down like a veil at our feet.
About the author:
Moira Garland is a published short fiction author and award-winning poet ― the latest being Blackbird from Scandinavia which won the 2016 Leeds Peace Poetry Competition. She likes to address social and political injustice in her writing. She is retired as a lecturer and Morris melodeon player. Find her on Twitter: @moiragauthor