Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.
The tour guide tugs on a jaded sleeve.
One eye on the group behind, she powers
through her explanation. Climatic conditions meant . . .
life expectancy . . . risk from other migrant groups . . .
bones hollowed to blow . . . spray painting . . .
thoughts drifting to the next cigarette.
How did they make the light to paint? Her reply
diffuses in uncertainty: something about animal fat.
Wax walls drip
their liquid glow of lard.
Hands crowd around; measure
those left behind;
add their own anonymous print
(we, too, were here).
Testing each crevice from bulge,
rust from meat, they stroke
your thick blood pelt,
trace the black shag
of your underbelly,
redraft those bulbous shoulders
perched on matchstick legs,
their fingers wrapped in skin.
Staring back across millennia,
a cartoon yellow eye understands
the death wished on it
with deepest sympathy.
Outside the guide checks her messages.
Hugging her breast with one crossed arm,
she watches two last wreathes unravel
before stalking across the grass —
A half-hunted bird
strains against the impossible
burden of its weight.
Beating the ground with broken wings,
it watches death approach sideways;
the shape of a woman,
close enough now to recognise herself
in its eye.
A poet and intermittent writer of short fiction, Simon spends most of his time teaching English in a Secondary School in Cologne, although he would like to escape back home to Spain. He has had work published in Envoi, Orbis and Ink Sweat & Tears, and been shortlisted in various short fiction competitions.