Conversations With My Shadow


by Faye Brinsmead


 

You’re at it again. Tugging the cracked skin of my heels. It’s tender, that skin. Beneath the shark-tooth pattern, blood-ready as a lip.

Yes, you’re swimming through grass, oily with memories. The same grass, yes. You nip my ankles, show me the spot. Here, beneath these old-man cedars, the picnic rug spread red-checked wings. Hesitated; alighted. One corner scrunched: a half-shut, watchful eye.

My toes join your rebellion. Flipping off sandals, searching the dirt for a clue. Why? one chipped red nail asks. Why? echoes another.

Her toes were paper-pale, they agree. Their indecisive hairs (now red, now gold) wondered what to do. 

They traced us. My ankles chime in. Furtive, at first. Quivered as they mapped our contours. 

Jotting discoveries up and down our pages, add my shins.

But we were mouth-kissed, boast my knees. The mouth that shunned baguette, rosé. Chose us. 

Confronted with the tide of evidence, my thighs give way. It’s what you want. To call me down to the ground, melt me dark, into you. Whisk me through underworlds, root labyrinths hissing with the commerce of worms and fungi. Drag me deeper, into stone’s waiting, the restless lives of magma. You’d pull me into earth’s core if you could. We’d boil into some new substance, some freak of resurrection chemistry.

I clasp the tree. Don’t let me go.

You too, old-man cedar? Unfolding the image you’ve treasured, crumpled but alive. Her peekaboo hair hides uncatchable eyes. Two copper coins, smeared with the tangled colours of the day. Just when I thought they’d glint the words, they glanced away, cogitating beneath their lashes. The butter knife flew into her hand, scored your bark. I bent to read the runes.

She + I = ?

Her equations yielded only questions, never answers, she said. I’m a genius, or a moron. Maybe I should give up on maths.

Curled beneath my soles, you’re quiet now. If I stand here long enough, you’ll waver into dusk.

In the empty park, a woman waits for her shadow to dissolve. Caressing a carved question, hoping to soothe it to sleep.

 


 

Faye Brinsmead‘s flash fiction appears in X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, MoonPark Review, New Flash Fiction Review, Spelk, Reflex Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, FlashFlood 2020, (mac)ro(mic), and others. Among my molecules, her poetry e-chapbook, is published by proletaria. She lives in Australia and tweets @ContesdeFaye.