Tuesday, June 8, 2010


i saw with my eyes
what i will tell you

my eyes wanted to close
but i couldn’t let them

i felt with my body
what i cannot forget

a silence so heavy
the weight of the moment
pressed on my chest
like a fist

and that silence
was broken by the footsteps of a man
walking his dog down the cobbled street

the dog stopped short
as a pot of flowers fell from a small ledge
and smashed to the ground
in a kaleidoscope
of white porcelain fragments
scattered black dirt
and red geranium petals

at his barking
a flock of starlings
from the fullness
of an ancient tree
scattering across the sky as one swirling black cloud
and in that moment
from somewhere deep in the earth
there was a rumbling
as if boulders
were being tumbled against each other

above me the tower of the church
began to sway
in giddy calligraphy
pencilling drunken prophesies
onto the darkening sky

just as suddenly
it gave way under its own weight
and the air was filled with debris
that smashed to the ground
rising back into the sky
on powdery thermals

as the walls fell down
i could see
the splintered pews
and shattered glass
the great grey bricks
laying like so many bones
on the ground

the rain
in clouds bruised purple and dark grey
sullen and dour
fell slowly at first
then hard and with purpose

a rich emptiness

people wandered in from the surrounding streets
slowly picking their way across the fluttering pages
the rubble and shards
sometimes stumbling
sometimes stopping and catching their breath
their clothes dark with rain

the scarred edges
of the church walls
were the backdrop
against which one of them

a boy

stooped down to pick up a dust-covered gold candlestick
feeling its improbable smoothness
against the work-roughened palm of his hand
then carefully replacing it
he saw me

picking me up
in both hands

he stared tenderly into my eyes

a look of wonder
crossed his face
as clutching me close to his chest
he turned
and ran home

to read more writing in response to the image above please visit magpie tales for links


Elisabeth said...

This is exquisite Steven and reminds me of the statue we have in our backyard, a replica of the goddess of winter.

Many years ago this form terrified one of my daughters because it had no eyes, just empty spaces where her eyes should have been. At least this girl has eyes, however staring. Your imagination has taken you to a wonderful place here.


Lorenzo — Alchemist's Pillow said...

Magnificent imagery, Steven. I love the:

"above me the tower of the church / began to sway / in giddy calligraphy / pencilling drunken prophesies / onto the darkening sky".

NanU said...

absolutely wonderful. so rich and varied and surprising! it makes me wonder why - why this random destruction, of a church no less, is the diety angry. or clearing space to rebuild?

Dave King said...

I thought we were heading for a vision of the end, and nearly stopped reading as I am working on one and didn't want to be influenced.
Very impressive indeed. Surprising and compulsive reading. Congrats.

steven said...

thankyou elisabeth - when i saw the visual prompt the story - such as it is - it's really more of a allegorical event - unfolded in my head. my challenge was to place it into words. i'm still learning to get out of the way. so i actually free wrote this - gibberish and all - and then edited out and refined what appeared. thanks for the kind comment. steven

steven said...

thanks lorenzo - that's my most pleasing phrase also. it's the corner stone to the allegorical piece. steven

steven said...

nanu - as i free wrote this i was relling a discussion i once had with my grandfather who was a methodisy minister in england. he had in his head that if churches were to act on their beliefs that there would in fact be no buildings dedicated solely to the purpose of worship. that's an event that can take place in any space. selling the churches would bring enough money into the world to take care of many of the challenges faced by people who live within the shadows of their great walls. steven

steven said...

dave - i can see how there could be a vsison here . . .nice idea actually. i find with these prompt response pieces that the flow of writing stops at a point and i disengage from the narrative. leaving them complete in one sense and incomplete in the instinctive need for closure sense. hmmmmm. steven

willow said...

This tale was a feast for the mind's eye! I especially like "clouds bruised purple and dark grey". Wonderful, Steven. xx

Friko said...

great imagination; I see I shall have to join in too. Not sure that I can come up to your standard, though.

Anonymous said...

This is great creative writing... very good indeed. Thanks for sharing!
:) The Bach

Paul C said...

You've created a scene rich with circumstance, imagery, and possibility.

The Bug said...

I enjoyed this a lot. I love the image of the boy rushing home with his treasure. Perhaps his imaginary friend has a face now :)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Amazing stuff steven - compulsive reading for me once I started it.

Dan Gurney said...

I'm with Lorenzo and you about the most compelling lines.

I found it interesting that it is a boy who picks you up tenderly in both hands and runs home with you. Is that boy the boy you once were?

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow! I kept seeing the image of the Tower card (part of the tarot). The wisdom of the card has to do with how important it is to let the constructions of our minds tumble down, every now and then, be washed away so as to clear the air so we can start anew.


Joanna said...

I was carried along with the story right to its sweet ending. I'm heading off now to read some of the magpie tales.

Lena said...

A wonderful piece indeed. I adored 'giddy calligraphy'. Great title for an album that....!

Anonymous said...

The phrase Lorenzo picked out is the same piece I was so impressed with. Great writing. Agree with yours and gfather's assessment what good those pompous churches could do for the poverty rate.

Ruth said...

I've seen this stone head with open mouth in lots of blog pages this week. Your contribution is rich with sound and feeling. It feels like a stream, steady on and leading to something heartworn.

Nice to share Lorenzo's post with you today and come over here at last, having seen your good and thoughtful comments around blogland like buoys.

Jingle said...

exciting tale...
thank you for the lovely words.

Brian Miller said...

that was amazing...all the random events and details wove tight to create an incredible picture...nie magpie!

steven said...

thankyou all for your kind and thoughtful comments. dan, i saw myself as a boy in this piece yes. reya - the tarot is something of a mystery to me. i have had readings done, know something of the symbolism but not how it plays into my daily experience. but the tower - well i chose it didn't i!!! steven

Tumblewords: said...

Wonderful imagery and well-crafted phrasing make this a delightful read and one that remains with the reader.

Helen said...

Magnificent ...

Noelle Clearwater said...

Well this was Phantasy. A dream really. Jung would have kissed you full on the lips for this one, Steven. If I were to analyze it as a dream it would appear to be one of annihilation of the old self, the geranium with red petals (like drops of blood) fall with a kaleidoscope of white pottery shards), the starlings bursting from the "fullness of the ancient tree" (lovely image by the way)and the tree itself of course might reference the Edenic tree or the bodhi tree, both are trees of enlightenment in the collective unconscious. And their bursting forth causes a rumbling in the earth and the church towers come tumbling down. My, what a surprise!
But with what beauty and detail you focus on the destruction of the church and the renewal of the earth by rain. The boy is the moment of grace in this incredible piece, amidst the rubble, cradling a church candle in his work-roughened hand and then setting it back in place. It is like something out of a D.H. Lawrence story, but he is you isn't he? He is your avatar after a fashion is he not, taking you up, an impossible task for a mere boy, unless he is quite large or you the size of a reborn child or a sacred candle. Thank you for this. The beginning sounds like John of Patmos in Revelations. Very apt. Perfect piece.

Kay said...

This is so....breathtaking ..literally!!! at the end of reading your piece i realised that i had held my breath...reading the words...totally moving...you have such amazing imagination steven..

Stafford Ray said...

Lorenzo! yes.
Further on, the boy replaced the candle but took 'you' home, perhaps to comfort the only human-like survivor of the earthquake. What were you calling from your wide eyed open mouthed face?
A warning? A revelation?
Stephen, your subconscious is indeed a fountain of imagery.
(If I had looted the ruins I would have taken the candle :-)