It’s the habit of snow to heather the dormant beach in white and to frost the twinned silver birches, still young with slender purple branches. At noon thaw, these are laden with drupes of transparent water-fruit twinkling in the hush of sun and wind.

Hare tendons, vinegar mothers, fawns’ spots, and spiders’ eyes–a recipe to disinhibit memories of bygone trauma. Cecily held her nose, retched once, and chewed. Because her need to recall was acute. Yes. Her firing from Woolworth’s did kickstart her lifelong slide into oblivion.

An antique miniature portrait of a young courtesan, a Belladonna with vermilion cheeks and flawless pale face. Already dying, she’s got up in a lace ruff and powdered wig. Leeuwenhoek’s lens could detect the suppurating ooze behind her toxic mask of cinnabar and lead.

He wrought a chest of scrimshawed whalebone & locked it cunningly. Long it languished in his dank cellar. No memories escaped to remind him of their love, the feasts of kisses. Only the ambergris he set upon her breast remains. Its fragrance is unrelenting. 

The fog deflects, breaks promises, and outright lies. To be sure, a familiar landscape is where it always was but beware the ethereal damsels of that eldritch gauze. Those sirens bend your steps wayward to doom and mermaids sing you to grottos of cold hard stone.

All his life an outcast in other men’s shoes, he endures frostbitten toes and eats in soup kitchens. Christmas shoppers brush by as he panhandles for change. He guesses there’s a canker in his soul, but solace too in the face of a summer flower.

Plump with summer sap and roots anchored deep and fast, the birch dances in soft breezes and gentle rains, but when her leaves flutter away like migrating butterflies, she borrows a coat of green moss and thus endures the bitter blasts and snows of winter. 

Oh, to overturn history and still be here, having preserved what is just and kind and buried malice in toxic landfill so deep the bad elves with scalpel fingernails use it as a showground for gallows humor, slippery slides, tolling bells, and beetle crushers.

The church of the god of light is turned refuge for warriors of a dark god. Battle-weary, they squat silent among its pews and lick their bloodied palms for the last grains of the drug that dredged horrors from their souls and which no medicine was put back.

Earth’s axis shifted permanently and entire populations were drowned, burned, or buried alive. Sheer panic until mindfulness resumed with the age of portents: fowl disemboweled themselves, cats diagnosed cancer, squirrels pinpointed earthquakes, and dogs ate the dead.

Palms on that of a fortune-teller so ancient the gender is indeterminate, Lily raptly absorbs the news of a soul mate in the wings, a happy home, and baby in her arms. She grins. // She’ll visit another tomorrow. Her prognosis sugarcoated with hope is almost bearable.

A nova predicted for a galaxy heart star flares but blooms into a supernova’s celestial inferno. Professionals and thrill-seekers on observation ships are sucked into the maelstrom. The fortunes of those on Earth are more protracted and painful. 

Fluffy pastel clouds are tethered to a crimson horizon where sailing ships once dropped off the rim and migrating birds now flame like Phoenixes. Bloodily consuming the landscape, the horizon draws ever closer. Our bunker offers us scant promise of another sunset.