Alexander Booth: Scheggia

From “The Little Light that Escaped”

Bryan Sansivero, from “Abandoned Lives”. Source:

But I remember.

The scent of sun and ash, a taste of resin, blame. Summers across slanting floors and smiles like sickles for thoughts of flight. Abandoned streets and a feeling of sinking. Makeshift holes not far from the sea; closer in, the cicadas’ hum the whirl straight up to twilight’s hem, brittle wings which brought no breeze while all the rest were busy drinking, swallowing the searing-eyed, searing-tongued prophets and seers, and jaundicing into the yellow silence of the years. The tonal monotony of the land.

Days passing, just out of the reach of the sun. Days passing, in a basement room, watching the arc of the sun through a small square of sky. Tides of no turning. Blocks of light mosaiced while the slow days tasted of mineral, copper, rust.

How much of the other side is one allowed to see? Shadow. Half shadow. Cast. Night barely impastoed before the distant blue line of the country’s spine once again appeared. Mallow, poppy, thistle, thorn. Streets like veins tracing a story through the heart, the city a map of a narrative. What hands, what fingers worked the threads, and who gave voice to whom.

In the silence the quicksilvered side of a leaf though he, for his part, sent his head to hibernate in some distant port. With all his dreams how many dreams where do dreams go in the land of the dead.

And yet, somewhere just behind the scorched thread of air, did he hear, what was it, the faint twinkling of shepherd’s bells? Not amnesia but a late-night aphasia and what ghost came to knock just around four? What lights were lit when the darkness came, there to lick at the panes? And must word from the beyond always arrive in flame?

On pale wings they rise, but I remember, he began, I remember the way the streets they shone, I remember the way the afternoons would glow. The most beautiful place I’ve ever seen (but I don’t remember because of or despite the debris). Standing again, and all the rest, he said. If afraid, what with such cinders in the throat.

And yet, though splinter you can sing through cinder. And with the birds’ fingers.      Sing sunlight. Sing sky.

Remember: the key will come from the mouth.

A pale evening as thin as cigarette paper over a back courtyard. Stairwell
of stilltime, where a note on the ground said,

How can the door to hell look so much like home

Drugs the same, as was the drift, the drink, the darkrooms, all the undefined millennial unease and isolation

White buildings, grey buildings; trails

spinning out into the peripheries
















More former worker’s flats. The perpetual cool and damp like nights like stone like shadows, cramped, but in the kitchen a small square of light. Potted herbs lined up on the sill. A young woman cooking with garlic and oil. Ashtray, a cheap bottle of wine. On the wall, just above the table, a hand-written sign: something about a locomotive, history.

Beneath it the crude sketch of a wheel.


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