Issue 5: Carolyn Hart

in the heat, in the rain

[an excerpt from Aurora]

the spell cast winter on the hills; then came the rain;

in the heat, in the rain,

her over-exposure meant –

in the heat and the rain

my story begins, hands blackened by soot,

the coal lumps lifted clay in my hands –

this letter is for you.

i opened my eyes and stared at the gold-green sea,

the ring around his pupils black; the black and white print –

the pages drifting silent snow from my hands;

the written words could not speak, hold rhythms, chime –

i brushed her hair, the strands weaving, drawn together,

bound, our hands, fingers intertwined clasped, formed the weave.

a straw hat covered my head –

his head

in his hands,

the fruit of our labor, the girl; her breath a cloud,

from our intricate weaving formed her head.

damienne –

she raised her hand in the school building and against the blank space, i wished –

he blew.

dandelion seeds from their stems floated, scattering to the dark ground,

beneath the green of the grass blades

and dogs trampling the grass beneath their feet.

i was grown from the head of a pen –

ink splashed, coloring –

a blot dotted the skin spreading black

it grew through the skin to the tissues,

an ink blot spreading its weak design

but i wished, and i blew –

for you to know me well, the time remains.

his hands were like his eyes, lifting the lace of my dress and my eyes closed,

my skin felt to his touch

spilled wine ink, a splotch on the cloth spreading across the table   

the scalpel held in his hand split the skin,

the blood spilled over the map’s pink pastel,

on damienne’s leg in the dream the dark skin misshapen and coloring

the thoughts in her mind;

a pencil shading, outlining countries;

the pencils sharpening and the wood shavings blown across the sky –

ash littered the sky from the steel factory’s smoke,

the particles blown by the wind,

ash scattering to the sea.

i closed my eyes to see the butterfly’s pastel wings –

the shadows falling across the land, maple leaves falling, swirling, the burnt sugar frosting sets solid on the cake.

the world tilted;

for a thousand miles, the land stretched; the wheat grass, the prairies,

the trees growing;

the mud blackening his tan boots; his hair grew gray.    

damienne walked carrying the bundle down the frozen road.

the girl in my arms –

she knew the names and behind the silence words grew;

a vine intertwined to the tongue lacing the words,

the mouth, lips, the tongue coiling

and the letters filled damienne’s hands;

the pastels, inking the countries; the boundaries remain.

i am not one to tell the story

the binocular glass held, i focused –

the lens between my hands caught the absent spaces, the weave open, hovering

and through the absent spaces aidan saw

the curve of the words, the hollow as the miners dug,

and from the carving came the words spoken to me –

aidan’s breath formed a cloud –

the ash,

the steel factory’s

gray, tumored

the sky.

her leg cut open bled red and damienne –

aidan held his head in his hands.

his wish had been for her to live; now he dreamed

the clouds, planting shadows

the hospital sheet folded beneath the blood

and the veins intertwined around the black mark bled –

damienne turned her back from the sun. her skin bled red;

tracing the pale of her skin, the design drawn by the sun

the pictures taken, black and white

bones bled red – mottled bark, the spots gray changing; open her skin;

beneath the scalpel, thin veins split,

her shoulder blade, beneath the scalpel, bled.

there was not enough time to tell the story –

damienne turned the corner to see herself standing beside the fountain;

the steel factory’s heart of smoke, her chest bled, red

hold my hand as the surgeon’s scalpel scrapes the skin beneath the blade.

your shoulder blade white as roses


the letters blown as a breath, scattered to the sky; the bicycle wheels turning

stone marking ground

pressed against her chest.

a coin flew toward her, the money fell from the sky and opened her chest

as the wound began healing.

she picked the paper up, scattered bills, her words,

or the sun rolling light across the sand.

i came to know her well – the stories she would tell.

words pressed against my chest, heaving –

the shovel turned earth.

i have stood, for a thousand years –

mark the time.

a book mark, a page lined, the lines of your face turned,

cold to the brass door knob solid as the knuckle of bone,

reflecting aidan’s features, turning.   

i pushed my hands into my coat pockets, pushed the dirt with the toe of my shoe;

the grave stones – one day, i would have my own.

but the surgeon’s scalpel steel cut skin;

the black mark from the sun spotted my vision; but my time remains,

the blade was pushed beneath the scalpel, skin split.

i am not one to write the story; hers

would be told.

Carolyn Hart’s recent publications include excerpts from her experimental novel Aurora in Shearsman and Stride Magazine. She has also published an article in Journal of African Cultural Studies (December 2009) and chapters in edited collections on African and Diasporic literatures. She is seeking publication of two novels, Aurora and INTO THE SILENCE the Fishing Story, and a collection of short stories, This Empty Room. She is working on a third novel. She received her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and is  completing a book: Transgressive Texts: Production and Reception of African and Diasporic Literatures. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and Convenor of the MA Creative Writing Programme at London Metropolitan University, UK.