A Letter from Your Editors… Hello and welcome to the Trinity edition of The Queen’s Rambler! This is just a little note to introduce your new editors and to thank everyone who contributed. It was great reading all your submissions and we have compiled a collection that we hope you’ll enjoy. Love,
Steph & Emma
In the Beginning – Jonah Miller
Fascination... – Poppy Middleton
Strength Like a Tower – Anonymous Picture by the Window – Kitty Ho
Octopus Eggs, Octopus Eggs ii – Elaine Lillian Joseph
Le Rêve – Anonymous
A Retrospective – Elaine Lillian Joseph
Memento Mori – Anonymous
Burned out Smoke Filled Forges – Emma Papworth At Night – Steph Carey
Take me – Elaine Lillian Joseph
The Sun Never Sets – Jonny Newhouse
25.04.13 ON THE TUBE – Elaine Lillian Joseph
Affairs of the Mind – Anonymous Ice Cream – Evie Atkinson At The Tip – Jonah Miller
In the beginning In the beginning was the word. The word was one, because there was one word, and one was it. But one can't last alone for long, so another word was made and this was love, which - being love - brought a friend along; run was the third word. Now that one loved to run it found more words day by day until every pebble's underside had yielded something: dawn or mouse or tread or thin. And one looked at all the words it had brought out from the dark and wondered at the complexity of things. Jonah Miller
Strength Like a Tower Today is a bleak day. The sky is dark, smeared with cloud and rain; the sea below writhes, gnawing at the shore with foaming teeth. Wind screeches through the trees, battering branch against branch. It’s as if the world is angry, angry at something it can’t find the heart to voice. A tower sits on the jutting edge of a rocky cliff. It’s half tumbled down, a bare handful of crenulations remaining, but it still sits there, squat and squinting into the storm. It’s watched ages come and go, slipping through owners and occupiers who matter nothing more than grains of sand – but the ages have left their mark. It’s abandoned, now, empty and lonely and alone against the earth’s anger. Crouching beneath the bare shelter of the tower’s walls, lashed by wind and rain, he touches her cheek as gently as he can manage. His fingers are shaking, but whether that’s the cold or his fear it’s impossible to tell – and there’s something in her eyes, he thinks, something hidden behind the raindrops catching in her eyelashes. After a moment, she covers his hand with hers, and her skin is so warm it almost hurts.
Thunder rumbles overhead. The clouds seem blacker, if that’s even possible: the sea’s white horses gleam bright. Lightning shatters the world into black and white, but the tower is brazenly grey around them. It’s all a blur of noise and light and movement: trees tear their roots from the ground in their torment; streams gush off the clifftop, waterfalling into the mess of the ocean below. “Please,” he says, but the wind tears the word away. She doesn’t hear him, but that doesn’t seem to matter because she kisses him anyway, even warmer than her hand. A first kiss.
Lightning whips across the sky, again, far bluer than the ocean’s depths, and it silhouettes the tower’s rough outline against the darkness of the sky. It cuts a swagger, almost: a swagger with a limp, as it were, because this place is old, old and crumbling, clinging to the memory of its former strength. The stones of the tower huddle together as the wind blows stronger. Inside, they cling to each other, wet hands intertwined and smiling lips just laughing in the dark. Anonymous
Fascination With the Striking Resemblance of You and Nothing Else, Nothing Else at All.
Outlined through that dandelion haze, And blurred by fluffy refractions,
Itâ€™s still the old heady burdock high, Euphoric reality detractions.
Lime light waltzes in eyes from above, The sight of you in full glory,
Roses drown themselves in our glasses,
Though they could not mimic our story. There is a faint smile that wishes you well, So take it in love, take the blue,
Iâ€™d whisper if the air would allow, you know, But echoes you know will carry you, Poppy Middleton
Picture by the Window ‘Come back to bed,’ I said, staring at him staring blankly ahead.
‘There’s no use in waiting for the morning birds to sing. Not like that.’
The moon shone inside our room from a hidden place, running along the lines of his face. Leaning with his left shoulder lightly propped up against the wall, he gazed longingly into the night.
I saw him in the old films, dressed only in a vest, perpetually poor and sucking on a cigarette. I saw him in a thick overcoat, wandering the streets of New York: ambiguously handsome. I saw him: intellectually misunderstood. Poor, poor ____, I thought. Inside my head, I saw him. Slotting imperfectly into an imperfect world.
His eyes were lowered as though half-asleep and yet quite on the contrary, I knew his mind was at its brightest at this time of night. How many nights had we spent where he had been so gazing, so simply looking, out across our window ledge? I sat safely and neatly on our unmarried bed, capturing his image and painting it with the easel in my head. Such long, beautiful arms, now tucked into the folds of his cotton dressing gown. Such soft, caramel hair swept across his forehead. Such a woeful expression sewn into the features of his face.
‘Why are you so sad, ____?’ I asked gently, as was routine. And quite typically, he did not reply but continued to do as he would, absorbing the moonlight with his body and the darkness with his eyes. Daylight brought him such seeming joy while night would bring the dark: to spread sadness from limb to limb and from heart to heart. Kitty Ho
Octopus eggs You are eight times as beautiful in the snow
And twice as funny when you speak English. I have fallen in love three times and lost one sister.
And in warmer climes,
with accents softer than this,
I hope to see the land my Father first lit a cigarette and hit a six.
Octopus eggs ii Meanwhile
By the quiet wisdom of candelight
Faint smell of porridge, nutmeg, sugar, burnt, I see the malice in my heart and forgive myself.
Elaine Lillian Joseph
Le RĂŞve The sun gives way to luminescent glow as late night revellers come to and fro something stirs in the comfort of bed;
the inception of dreams in a young manâ€™s head The body settles, lain on its side,
the mind wakes up in the absence of light a lucid dream, a lustful story,
propagating thoughts of gain and glory. You can be who you wish you can be as you desire this is the real world for when you tire,
I wear my heart on my sleeve
In life, in dream I do as I please
A doublet, we live in unison at night
and together, our heartbeats coincide homeotherms writhe in their sleep,
meat kisses meat and feet caress feet
then, le petite mort, dead! Without a peep then we go back to counting our sheep
A Retrospective When I was four I read the same book every night just before I went to bed. It had little blue bunnies on the front and on the side there was a little musical device that when wound up played a lullaby. I forget the tune. I sat on it by accident and crumpled the cover.
When I was four I made friends with two brothers from the “big school” and they visited me occasionally at my Nanny’s with their big smiles and rude jokes. My epileptic uncle lived with us then and he frightened me. I saw him with a knife in my Nan’s kitchen once and froze. Those days I’d drink Horlicks before bed and fall asleep to the general buzz of the telly. Back when I was four my Dad left me alone in the bath and I painted the walls with all sorts of suddy delights and made the greater part of the floor into my watery domain. And when my Dad returned his face was a picture of confusion and despair. And anger obviously.
My mum nipped to the loo and while she was gone my teddy bear not only came to life, but demanded a starburst (or opalfruit as it was called back in the day). By the time I’d screamed, told my mum in breathless terror and finally resolved to give teddy a sweetie, he had returned to his usual inanimate self. Sometimes I still feel a rush of guilt that I didn’t share my starbursts that day. My favourite show in the world was Barney. It used to come on really early in the morning and I’d watch it as my Nan got ready for her shift at the hospital.
I lived briefly in a weird apartment at the back of some shops that was on stilts and had big scary steps that I thought I’d fall through.
I peed myself on the climbing frame at school, because I was too afraid to ask where the toilets were, or maybe I was just having too much fun, or maybe it was laziness. Elaine Lillian Joseph
Burned out Smoke Filled Forges
Whilst the easterly wind carries its silence with pride, it loathes the tin can wailing Hollow whistling
Over chimney top gutters of smog and despair.
Weary are the workers.
Their coal smoked sighs carry
Breathlessly through the sweeping hills of abandonment. They strike the steel And clutch at silver
Falling short every time. Only in the burned out, smoke filled forges Encircled by the blackened cherry trees
Must they lend their lives to a span of labour. Emma Papworth
Gunshots ring through the house, three in quick succession, short and sharp as whipcracks. For a moment after there’s nothing but silence, nothing but emptiness— something so much worse than the calm before the storm—and then the silence is broken by breaths, by whimpers, by the raggedy moans of someone with only a handful of heartbeats left to thud against their ribcage.
Jason wakes from uneasy sleep, scrubs at his sleepy eyes with the heel of his hand. The curtains are agape to stars and a dinner-plate moon: he lies still for a moment, covers heavy across his thighs, and lets the dreams fade. Another gunshot cracks through the paper-thin walls, and someone starts to cry, heaving bitter sobs from the empty places in their heart.
He shoves the covers away, sits on the edge of the bed. Jaw clenched, he runs a hand through his bed-wavy hair, tight and angry and hurting – but he doesn’t go for his gun (handgrip moulded to his palm by sweat and fear), hidden away in the safe under a layer of passports and discharge forms and photos of his parents from that last beach holiday when they were seven. The carpet is thick and supple beneath his bare feet, and he drops his head into his hands, lets his shoulders slump. Downstairs, someone is laughing a supervillain’s laugh.
“Not this,” he says to the thick carpet and the cloying blankets, to the stars and the wideeyed moon. “Not again.” He rubs at the scar across his cheek, traces the pale slash with absent fingertips. In the darkness, it’s smooth and cool. The house is silent, except for the creak of the pipes in the walls and the gentle whisper of someone dying far away.
Jason stands, pads out of the bedroom, heads down the stairs. There’s dust gathered in the nooks of the banister and dirt caught in the fibre of the carpet, a blown bulb in the kitchen and a spiderweb absent of its owner stretched across a corner of the living room. He’s been meaning to clean for a while now, ever since they got back—he even went out and bought a load of dusters and bleach and those iron wool scrubbers that pinch your fingers—but he never quite gets round to it. Other things to do. Other things to think about.
The lights are off but the telly’s on. Images flicker across the walls, painting decade old family portraits and crocheted cushions in red and black – and the screen is splattered -12-
with blood, thick and dripping. The volume is turned all the way up, so high the speakers splutter with every new scream. Jason rubs at his eyes, crosses his arms. “Jack,” he says. “It’s late. Turn it off.”
Jack sits where he always does, quiet as he always is, hiding in the threadbare wingback their father never left. His eyes are glassy, shoulders hunched; the television splashes across his face, superimposing a manic grin in his still lips. He doesn’t respond, doesn’t look up. “Jack,” Jason says, and he doesn’t even try hide his anger, his frustration. “It’s three in the morning. Turn it off.”
Jack just blinks. The television blazes louder: gunfire spatters across an already bloody street, staining the inside of the screen a heady crimson. Someone is running, someone is chasing. Enough. Jason rips the plug out of the wall, and the television dies. The screen crackles in the sudden silence, echoing the sweep of the wind outside: the only light comes from a chink in the curtains, moonlight spilling into the mess of the living room. Jack’s legs are hidden under a torn blanket, his eyes shadowed under unwashed hair, long and floppy: buzz cut it isn’t, and for a moment Jason can’t keep himself from remembering the man Jack used to be, stronger than him in mind and body, better and faster and always in the lead, whether playing football in the streets of their childhood or out on patrol in a wartorn desert a thousand miles from home.
The remote is clenched in Jack’s hand, and his knuckles are as white as bone. There’s been a kernel of exhaustion eating away at Jason’s heart night and day, ever since they got back, ever since they moved back to the house they grew up in, ever since Jack just stopped talking. That was three months ago. He says, “Please, man. Just go to bed.” Jack doesn’t move, doesn’t even look at him.
It’s almost too hard to care anymore. What can he do when Jack won’t go to the doctor, won’t see the shrink, won’t even tell him why it is that he stays awake all night, every night, drowning himself in screams and blood that seep into Jason’s dreams, leaving him sweaty, panting, heart racing? His limbs are heavy, his head is a dead weight on his shoulders.
“Never mind,” he says, and goes. Outside, the wind swirls around the chimney, and inside, soot dances in the fireplace. It’s dark, darker than the shadows under Jack’s eyes, and Jason just puts one foot in front of the other, doesn’t look at the peeling wallpaper or the cracked floorboards, the inches of dust on top of pictureframes and the fact that the photos just stop with him seven years old and smiling. He feels old. “It helps.” Jack’s voice is cracked and scratchy, almost nothing more than the wind in the trees outside. His eyes aren’t bright and keen, aren’t what they should be – but they’re -13-
not as foggy as they’ve been for so long, not as clouded. His lips are peeling faster than the wallpaper. Jason stops. He feels like someone’s smacked him between the eyes. “What?”
There’s a fire catching his brother’s eyes, still only embers but rising higher, higher. “It helps,” he repeats, and his voice might be shaking and almost nothing more than a memory but it’s getting stronger with every trembling word. “The killing, the blood. If it’s on a screen then it’s not in my head. Not in my dreams.” His voice is nails on a chalkboard. “And I can pretend it wasn’t me.”
Jason knows. Jason remembers – and he wants to say none of it was your fault, big brother, but the reassurance freezes on his tongue. “He had a gun, Jack—” “Yeah, and it was pointed at your head,” Jack interrupts, words spilling out like they never stopped: his lips are cracking, bleeding. Jason doesn’t know what to think. “I took that bloody reckless shot without a second thought. And I hurt you and I put a boy in the ground.” He pauses, breathes heavily “He couldn’t’ve been more than fifteen.” Jason just remembers a bright sun burning in an empty sky and searing pain lancing across his cheek. He doesn’t think about the rest.
Jack settles back in their father’s chair, remote still clutched tight in his scarred hands. “This helps,” he says. “The more violent the better.” His voice is barely more than a monotone, hoarse and hoary. He’s bent and old, so much like what little Jason remembers of their father – and he’s fading away in here, skin white and papery, wartime tan faded a long time ago. The sun doesn’t burn inside. “It’s not real, Jack,” Jason says. “What you’re watching, it’s not real.”
Jack doesn’t look at him. “Then maybe the same’ll go for what’s in my head,” he answers. His gaze clings to the black screen as it crackles its way into quietness, but there’s something different in the line of his shoulders, the tension of his jaw. He’s not okay, not about to leap up and run and wrestle and playfight – but there’s a looseness that wasn’t there before, a calmness. “Why now?” Jason says suddenly. “You’ve been sat in that chair for months, not saying a damn word. What’s so special about today?”
Jack doesn’t look at him. Slowly, his deathgrip on the remote relaxes, loosens, and he starts to spin it across his palm, fingertips sliding slackly across the buttons. Moonlight slants across his face, and Jason thinks of the gleaming scar that stretches across his own cheek: there are times when he forgets that it’s there, forgets that anything happened at all. Something to do with moving on. The house is dark and warm around them.
The remote spins faster and faster in Jack’s pale hand, on and on unerringly, and after a long moment he says, “You looked tired, baby brother. That’s why.” He pauses. The remote spins slower. “It’s not a good look on you.” He looks up, and the skin around his eyes, tired by the sun and the sand, wrinkles in something that might be an echo of a memory of a smile. “Couldn’t have that one on my conscience.” Jason thinks about a land a thousand miles away full of bullets and fear and death and then of the armchair his father spent every Sunday afternoon in, papers spread out across his lap – and something twists in his gut, twists and lightens. The remote spins in Jack’s hands, faster than the merry-go-round they spent the whole day riding on his eighth birthday, round and round, over and over. Almost unconsciously Jasons thinks, I’ve missed you. The fire in Jack’s eyes says, Me, too. Anonymous
At Night Eventually, your mouth finds mine, yet – Only after searching my heaving length and breadth. My frantic fingers curl up, relieved, In the bed they’ve found in your hair. Your hands, after a hard day’s work, Hunker down, clasped tight around my middle. Our legs intertwine like the love-laced boughs, Of the ever-inseparable honeysuckle and hazel… It is dark; and we, with breaths relenting, lie still. Steph Carey
Take me dingy, dull, skinned. I am friendless in the purest sense and fear that my madness
is poor company. Take me there.
In monosyllabic gestures, measured weighed in polyphony eyelids now in motion
bend me over and examine me.
And if you fish out diamonds, praise me! So take me there in silence
In memorised sibilance, unheard cadence, Rhythmic sorrow.
Elaine Lillian Joseph
The Sun Never Sets When he saw from a distance what was come upon the land he thought at first that some storm had ravished it, but then he came closer and looked long and hard at the colour of it and the shape, and picked up a clod of what had been soil and turned it over and broke it in his hand. And he saw that it could not be so, for there was no storm that could blacken the land like this, so that it crumbled in a moment between a man’s fingers and no green thing would grow on it. Then Marthinus cast his head down, and then up to the great wide blazing sky, and down onto the earth again. His thoughts turned away from the elements and he reasoned that it might have been some neighbouring farmer who had done this, looking to settle some unknown score, to put right some unknown wrong. At this he looked to the sky again, for he, Marthinus Andries de Boer, had never so much as trod on a man’s boot in all of his days, and he could think of no earthly reason why a man should be so offended with him as to turn his land to ashes. He walked on then, it was no use staying still while he could not reason - when reason fails then a man is bound to taste and see. Yet what he saw stopped him in his tracks, and he took off his wide-brimmed hat despite the afternoon sun, and he cradled it under his arm as he looked at the house. The plain wooden door hung out of its hinges, the windows were smashed into shards and the taste on the air was not of earth and apples and stew in the pot, but of ashes. He gulped, thinking he should have thought it odd that his young wife had not come out from the house to greet him after being so long away, and that it must be robbers that had done this, and that he would call in first thing in the morning, but he thought these things only to keep his mind from wandering, to tie it up inside itself so it would not see the empty house and the scorched earth, and would not think too clearly. At an ever hurrying pace he made towards the front door, dragging his shattered leg behind like a fallen comrade and cursing it under his breath at every stride. And then he ran into the house – yes ran, for that pain was lost now in the greater pain around him – and found the hall empty and the kitchen empty and all cloaked in a deathly stillness. He raced from room to room in his panic, pulling drawers out of cupboards, books out of bookshelves, looking blindly, wildly for anything that would tell him there might be hope. A mounting hysteria seized him and he beat against the wall, pounding and pounding at it until his fists were bloody and he sank against it for support. And then, too lost and too weary to beat any more, he walked into the bedroom. He had saved this room ‘til last, and seeing it empty he stood in silence for a moment, and then walked over to the set of drawers with his wife’s picture on it, and took the picture and held it firm but gentle to his chest, and lay down on the bed and looked up at the ceiling until it faded into darkness.
Marthinus woke to a gathering dark, and he woke as if from a deep sleep, though he had slept only a couple of hours. He took his wife’s picture and with a wrench placed it squarely back on the set of drawers, and took up his hat and went to the broken door to look out over the land. Truly it was coming dark, and as the sun’s last rays lingered over the land all seemed dark, so that charred earth was one with whole, and he could not see the line where the one ended and the other began. That was a mercy at least, this darkness like a flood that would come over the land and wash away the lines between the strong and the weak, the hale and the hungry, the sick and the dead. Yet the sun shone weakly yet, and as he turned to go back into the bedroom Marthinus caught in its last leaving rays the sight of his young wife’s face, and then he felt a feeling like a pitching into darkness, like an ocean roared at once into his mortal head. And then he took the picture in his hands and he howled, howled to highest heaven like a dog at the moon. He howled a name, her name and God’s, howled them over and over until God and Frieda merged and were one in the pitching darkness beyond sight. It was only when he tired of howling, when it tore at his lungs and his bones rattled with it, that he fell to his haunches, and for the first time since boyhood Marthinus de Boer, who had snarled and cursed and bit his way through a shattered knee and forty miles of country, broke down and wept. He wept for the land and for its wasting, and for the crops unsown that would grow no more upon it, for the child unborn that would play no more upon it, and most of all for himself and for the wife who, had she but known it, had been his very soul’s shadow, had been the vessel into which he had so gently poured his hopes of solace. Yet by and by he was done with weeping, and he placed her picture once more on the drawers. He felt clean now, and hollow, like the sorrow had all been poured out, and left a space behind, uncertain what to be. So he resolved to fill it with plans, for the devil makes work for idle souls, and he resolved to find his wife and unborn child, to track them like a hound across the country and to snatch them from the demons that had kicked the oak door down. He resolved too to heal the wounded soil, to be a balm to it until even the noon sun showed no line between the strong and the weak, the hale and the hungry, the sick and dead, until the earth were whole once more. All these things he resolved to do tomorrow and tomorrow until the end of his days but for now he resolved to sleep. He unbuttoned his shirt and trousers and folded them neatly on the chair and placed his hat upon them. Before he turned out the light he looked once more at his wife in the picture, looking longing at her from a different life, and he supposed the reverend wasn’t all wrong when he said it was only the body that passed on, and that even if he searched to the ends of the earth and never found her he’d always have this piece of her, this picture, and it sent a stab of comfort through his chest to think of this. He didn’t kiss the picture yet, just smiled assurance and placed it back atop the drawers. Then he curled up on his side as he had when he was a boy, and before long the sun’s last rays lingered and sank past the horizon, washing darkness over the land so that there were no more lines upon the earth. Jonny Newhouse -19-
25.04.13 ON THE TUBE a man reads poetry on the tube his expression neither here nor there.
I, observing from the platform, think of rhyming couplets
to close the afternoon. but with thoughts morbid, elliptical, I look beyond the platform
and think of the rats who look like stones and how the man who rides in darkness amongst the cables and the wires is no less alone than you or I.
Elaine Lillian Joseph
Affairs of the Mind Sam’s not in a rush. He’s ambling, weaving through crowds of tourists and swerving round a flustered mother frantically trying to placate her child with a fast-melting ice cream: the kid’s screaming, thumping fat fists on the ground, but Sam’s not listening. His attention is elsewhere, because the sky’s a blazing blue and the sun’s an angry gobstopper. The pavements are scorched and the students’ hungover faces are hidden beneath oversized sunglasses. It’s a nice day, a hot day, and the tourists wilt around him. He thinks about the cool shade beneath centuries-old walls, the quiet of his usual spot in the library, the simplicity of books and papers. “Sam?”
He starts, stops in his tracks. A girl with an armful of ringbinders gives him a dirty look, swerves around him – but he barely notices. His heart thuds against his ribs, and he says haltingly, awkwardly, “Hey. Hey. Mark. Hey.” Overkill, he thinks. You idiot. The boy’s tall and skinny with a shock of red hair and lips so puffy they look botoxed – but they’re not. He just chews them a lot, when he’s excited or thinking or just bored. And he’s not a boy. Not really, not anymore. Maybe he never was. “Sam,” he says, and smiles a nervous smile. “I wasn’t sure it was you. I mean, it’s been a while.”
“Yeah,” Sam answers, brain switched firmly to automatic. “Tragedy was three terms ago, wasn’t it? Almost a year. Long time.” Not that he’s been counting or anything. Why would he? Nothing ever happened; it was never anything more than a passing thought, loitering unhelpfully at the back of his mind. Just made him mark all the harsher. He fumbles in his pockets, rolls a fifty pence picture between his fingers, clears his throat. “You must have finished by now?” Mark nods. His eyes are cornflower blue, brighter than the sky. Sam remembers those eyes. “Two one. Nothing special.”
Sam’s first thought is, I wouldn’t say that, but he doesn’t voice it. He’s old, far too much on the wrong side of forty, and Mark has only just finished his undergrad – even though his eyes are heavy and clouded, full of knowledge he shouldn’t have. Tongue thick in his mouth, Sam says, “Don’t worry about it. Me, too.” He pauses, thinks about a year of shade that’s cool but empty, of a library where no one looks him in the eye, of simplicity that’s far too simple. And he thinks about blue eyes. He says, “Busy? I know a coffee place just round the corner. They do great espresso, if that’s still your poison.” His heart is racing faster than it has in a long time. The sun is too hot, pounding down on his head and shoulders; a child’s crying is shrill in his ears. Mark smiles a smile that’s old beyond his years, and says, “I’d love to.” Anonymous
Ice Cream Turns out your fridge is bare, but then I turned up out the blue So I won’t dare complain that the best that you can do Is offer me the last of some ice cream you dredged up And yes, eating it with a fork was not, perhaps, my brightest thought
You notice, chuckle solidly: ringing quite nearly true So we’ve smoothed this minor blip and now we move on to scene two: Cut to “the garden”: sleepy light of the dozy sunset feels so right I falsely think (I falsely ache): nothing here has lost its shape Yet, as I sit down in your chair Your sparkling eyes glow dull with glare And suddenly I glimpse the whole As I stare at the puddle forming in my bowl I prod my ice cream and prod you With niceties about the view We say we’re glad that nothing’s changed: If we’re not liars, we’re deranged, for Shivering from the inside out, I’ve decided without a doubt My memories of you were frozen and fake And the ice cream was also a big mistake. Evie Atkinson
At The Tip
Recycling. Banging bin-lids, plenty of dust, and everyone's thinking about something else. Will is thinking about the biggest something else there is: love. He's wondering how you're supposed to do it, whether it really lasts forever. Meanwhile he's moved from glass to paper, and on to plastics. Today he has to dump the microwave, an old friend from student days, casualty of domestic war for its apparently devilish desire to cause cancer. This takes him 'round the back', where it's quiet. No more pot-bellied elderlies dragging cardboard boxes of unwanted memoir. There's an oven lying prostrate, dangling wires like intestines. Some of them are. They belong to a young woman who's lying wrapped around the oven like a lover, and the bugs are already on her. Recycling. Jonah Miller