Zoë Landale

Writer & Indie Publisher

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Burning Stone - Excerpt


Here we are arranged
into set-pieces on the sofa.
Manners by mother,
& temper by Dad.
Fear all our own.

I am fourteen, the eldest.
I sit with one knee
crossed, hands held in the lap
in closed, palm-on-palm gesture that says
Oh really?
We three girls have put on
hauteur for the camera,
formally assumed mouths
though the youngest’s socks
have collapsed at her ankles like panting dogs
& her skirt bunches at the waist.

Our brother gazes at something invisible
on the shag rug.
His downed white lids
give him the look of someone asleep
or dreaming of stillness,
a lizard
lit green glass on a sunny wall.
somewhere far
from here.
Far from the shouting that will resume
within moments after the snick
of the shutter.

The middle girl has round
cheeks & eyes that narrow warily.
She whirls
from one locus of strong emotion
to the next, a compass needle
pulled by forces
for which she has no name.
she will die
when she is twenty without
a word.
In the photograph, she looks guilty

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