Gathering pebbles – microfiction for Jane Dougherty

We gather pebbles. I don’t know why – it’s what we do. Every morning, we dress in our prettiest clothes and head down to the shore. We trail along, picking up whatever pebbles catch our eye – the colour, the shape, the pattern – each of them has something unique. We gather them in baskets. At noon we sit and watch the sea. It’s different every day. Sometimes we play games, tossing pebbles into a circle we’ve drawn in the sand, or maybe playing jacks with a handful of them. We talk, lazily, wondering if today will be the day we find the right one. We eat our lunch – bread, cheese, an apple – and drink clear water. In the afternoon we gather yet more stones, or examine the ones we’ve already chosen.

Then we carry them home to mother. She will have made soup, or a thick stew, and there will be freshly made bread. We eat and talk. Maybe one of us will sing. We patch any holes in our baskets. And while we do this, mother looks at the stones we have brought, turning each of them in her hand, muttering under her breath, and finally discarding them.

We will go back down to the shore again tomorrow. We will keep searching, even though no-one can tell us what we’re looking for.

For Jane Dougherty‘s latest microfiction challenge. The glorious image is by Frederick Leighton. 1024px-frederic-lord-leighton-greek-girls-picking-up-pebbles-by-the-sea-1871



Ekphrastic haibun for dVerse – murmuration.

I’m driving home, and the sky is darkening – there’s still light at the edges, over in the distance, if you lift your eyes from the road, look over the winter hedge, all twigs and scratches, and out – beyond – to the horizon. The kids are telling me about their day – the injustices, the laughter, the lack of sandwiches at lunch time. There are bags piled up on the back seat, with PE kit to wash and homework to moan over. Suddenly, a cloud, a crowd, a great moving, swirling flock of starlings sweeps over us. We stop talking, and watch them as they wheel above our heads, and then away, into the dying light. If we could hear them, we’d hear the movement of their wings, the murmuration made up of a thousand tiny fluttering sounds. They are our midwinter visitors, bringing cold and darkness on their wings. We won’t see their ballet many more times this winter.

Winter visitors
Bring frosty nights, crimson skies,
Trees hung with dark birds.

This woodcut is by Merlyn Chesterman. She’s a local artist, and we’ve got four of her works on our walls at home.  I love her prints so much, and I hope you do, too. Because she’s so local, she sees what I see, and shows you what I can only tell you. The haibun is for dVerse. Bjorn is asking for ekphrasis tonight. If you don’t know what that is, you should head over and have a look. If you want to see more of Merlyn’s work go to:

Low tide – for Sue Vincent

I low-tidepause here, to appreciate the quality of the light. We are connoisseurs of light, after all. How many times has my love sliced me a delicate sliver of moonlight, or licked the last traces of a soft pink sunrise from my fingertips? This light, the last of the day, is as silver as a mirror. I inhale the clean scent of it.

We are creatures of fire, my love and I. Cut me, and angry flames rage forth. Bind me with rope, and I will burn it to ashes. Wrap me in chains, and I will squeeze them as you squeeze a lemon – liquid metal oozing between my fingers. Only trickery could have captured my love, and only cruelty could have cast him into the cold darkness of the ocean. The fire burns white within me when I think of it. I have vowed to find him. I have sworn by the sands of the desert, by the bright molten heart of the volcano, and by the dangerous beauty of our mother, the sun.

You will know when I find him, you pale moist creature moulded out of earth and water, sucking in air like the milk you suckled at your mother’s breast. You will know, because the sky will burn. I will take my vengeance on all the slippery beings of the water, on the darting, swooping children of the air, and the plodding dullards clotted out of earth. My love and I will make a desert of this world.

Pray that I never find him.

This is for Sue Vincent’swritephoto Thursday prompt.


Many paths

Which way to go?
I wonder which path I should take?
Which way to go?
The great silent trees do not know
What difference each path could make –
Love, joy, sadness, riches, heartache –
Which way to go?


Last year I did a regular poetry challenge offered by Jane Dougherty. She encouraged us to try out different forms. This is a rondelet, a very formal structure, which lilts along. I always feel they should be set to music. This rondelet is actually for the dVerse poetics link. Mish offers a series of paintings by Canadian artist Ally Saunders to inspire our pens. If you like this painting, you can find more of her work on If you want more poetry, go to dVerse, or check out Jane’s site – great poems and amazing stories.