How to Photograph a Mirror – Carys Crossen

 

The mirror, undiscriminating, swallowed everything. Mel studied it, its pink plastic frame, the tarnish around the edges of the pane. It sucked in the carpet, the windowsill, the radiator, Mel’s feet and legs.

How do you photograph a mirror without photographing yourself?

Mel had tried it from several angles. Always, some body part crept obstinately into the reflection. Her hands and wrists, clutching the camera. Her right hip and leg. She’d even thrown a sheet over herself, a ghost of childhood Halloweens, but she remained corporeal. Observable.

Whenever she’d stood next to Lisa, whose mirror it had been, she’d never seen herself reflected. Lisa’s golden glow blotted out all else. Her prettiness, her outgoingness, her unassailable status of family favourite.

Now Mel couldn’t be erased. Unlike the remnants of Lisa. When/if Lisa returned, she’d find her room as impersonal as the cell she was currently living in.

Dad, whose love for Lisa had been spun round like a tarot card to reverse its meaning, had been adamant. He was selling off everything the bedroom contained and chucking what wouldn’t sell. Ripping down old photos, stuffing magazines and romance novels into binbags. Mel and her camera had been pressganged into service. Photographing the furniture for an auction website.

The dressing table, once laden with makeup and perfume. Click.

Wardrobe where the doors never shut, stuffed with clothes. Click.

The bed. The hidey-hole for the bills, the demands for payment. Click.

The chest of drawers Lisa had tried to hide behind when the police came, wanting a word. With a warrant. Click.

Click. A thousand reflections of Lisa, frontpage in the local rag. Falsifying invoices, theft, arrest, bail, court date, four years at Her Majesty’s displeasure. No need of mirrors where Lisa was. Plenty of time for her to take a good long look at herself.

Mirror, mirror. Mel stared at it through the convex eye of the camera. Wondered what it must have seen. Perhaps it had always seen her.

Mel had always been there. She just never saw. The eye lied, not the mirror.

She raised the camera. Her waving outline, her round face, camera at waist height, the mirror imitated them all.

Click.

 


Carys Crossen has been writing stories since she was nine years old and shows no signs of stopping. Her fiction has been published by FlashBack Fiction, Fudoki Magazine, Dear Damsels, Every Day Fiction and others. Her monograph on werewolves, ‘The Nature of the Beast’ was published by University of Wales Press. She lives in Manchester UK with her husband, their daughter and their beautiful, contrary cat.

How to See a Ghost – Edward Alport

 

A stain fading from the ceiling as I watch,

A shadow cast by a patch of sunlight,

Two pictures canted at the same angle,

Tell of a life, calm, but out of kilter.

 

The sound of a dripping tap, suddenly stilled,

Of hollow footsteps on a concrete floor,

Or paper rustling in a silent room,

Tell of a life, good at keeping secrets

 

The scent of lavender by the kitchen door

Or roses in an empty vase

And chocolate and raspberries by the fireplace

Do not tell me of pain and desperation.

 

 

Edward Alport is a proud Essex Boy and occupies his time as a teacher, gardener and writer for children. He has had poetry published in a variety of webzines and magazines. When he has nothing better to do he posts snarky micropoems on Twitter as @cross_mouse.

Alma Mater – Laura Potts

 

Widow-black and winter, evening took me south into

lamps burning blue in the dusk. Out and over my hometown musk

lay the hinterland hills breathing low in the dark. Still,

frostspark sharp on the city streets, holy rain sweet

in the winter and the wet, with no evening stars ahead I let

the pavement take me home. Through the town nocturnal, gloam

 

and grey, my chimney throat coughing its smoke, I saw aslope

on the city’s slow spine those old black gates, the summer of my days

inside. Grief cracked my face. Those navy girls and me, a pace

always ahead. But in the pale stairwell light the ghost of my girlhood dead

in its fresh green spring and gone. From roadside wet I looked on

at this child of light, her afterglow bright, her ashes of life

 

already black. The cold breath of loss on my face. At my back

a schoolbell cracked at the evening air. I saw Death at my table there

tipping his hat, and the years in my face that sank as I sat

at that desk at the back of the class. I remember that. And last,

on an old December evening, down hallways dark the wilting hymns

of girls turned ghosts before their time, I saw their eyes

 

like candles cold, like lights no longer leading home. Outside, to the bone

I shook and swung, the darkened seas that were my eyes done

and gone at the sight of myself. Each girl ringing her own passing bell.

Well, in that mist and half-dark morning, my face a clenching fist

in pavement pools, I saw that septic, terminal school

for what it was. No, I never went back, of course.

 

I tipped my compass north.

 

 

527Laura Potts is twenty-one years old and lives in West Yorkshire. She has twice been named a Foyle Young Poet. Her poems have appeared in Seamus Heaney’s Agenda, The Interpreter’s House and Poetry Salzburg Review. She has recently been shortlisted for a Charter-Oak Award for Best Historical Fiction at The University of Colorado and also made The 2017 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize shortlist. This year Laura became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Her first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew will air at Christmas 2017.

keep your pomegranates – Linda M. Crate

 

i have no respect

for you

because you are a man

who shirks duty

and pretends love is a game,

running from his problems

as if mere demands that i be a stranger

will make it so;

a part of me will always love you

but i don’t want or need you—

you were the wolf that turned on me,

snarling and yowling like the wind you ripped

out my vital organs

leaving me to bleed in the snow beneath the pines;

i had to die to who i was to survive

acquire new feathers as i rose from the ashes

of your chaos

a white raven whose flames will never die—

i will not be defeated so easily

as that

will come back to haunt you like a ghost

since you have done this to me for many moons now

four years is enough time to torment me

especially since you’ve already moved on

i need not these memories of you because they’re more

bitter than sweet and i have never acquired the need

for pomegranates in my life.

 

2007Linda M. Crate’s works have shown up in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She has four published poetry chapbooks the latest of which is If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016). She is also the author of the Magic Series and the forthcoming Phoenix Tears.