Flash Frontier

March 2024: QUIET | MĀRIRE

All Issues

Rod Eales, March
Rod Eales, March

About Rod Eales

Not white, not water

Rebecca Ball


You wake to the weight and silence of snow. Keep your eyes closed, remember. You on tippy-toes, pulling back Beatrix Potter curtains, the shock of the crystallised swingset, crusted swathe of cutty-grass, Dad’s discarded gardening gloves, these things you once knew recast in white. Air like a still pond thickening around you. Glass, a cold wall between this and that.

You know without looking that what has fallen this time is not white, not water. That this is not the weight of snow but of gold, flaking, spinning, covering wood, earth, rock. It is the last of the sun, it is the last of colour, bound in stems and cells, condensed, cast off. It is bare limbs branching like veins through grey sky.

Smell of dust and straw. Before gold, there was green – above, below, around – this you know but can no longer see, even with eyes closed. How quickly chlorophyll drains, how quickly dreams turn to grey. You know the words: grass, field, moss. Emerald, olive, kākāriki. Forest. You hear nothing, see only dry yellow skins, pale leaf skeletons, gold stalks clinging to flaking boughs.

Open eyes. Pull back sheets. Push into thickening air.

The room, hot resin – catching your legs, coating you, casting you in amber. And you’re fumbling for the curtains, clinging to coarse weave. A flash of gold through the cloth. And you’re pulling them apart, pushing them from light and glass, unwrapping this silent world like a gleaming present.

About Rebecca Ball

Night ski

Lisa Wiley


She opens her car door to the silence of the snow. Absolute stillness. Silent Night. Holy Night. Stille Nacht. The snow absorbs any sounds, muffles the few cars passing by the park, kids playing hockey on the pond. Powdered pines surround the perimeter. Does she deserve this snow globe? The powder glistens like diamond studs and the glitter her daughter drops all over the floor. This quiet, a luxury, as the snow falls. She can hear her own thoughts. She conjures her father’s voice teaching her how to cross-country ski, “Shuffle, shuffle, glide.”

She leaves the cacophony of her dollhouse behind for this brief interlude between dinner and bathtime. Away from the baby crying, the twins fighting over a board game, the constant whirling dervish of her kitchen. Away from her laptop and phone constantly chirping – countless distractions and responsibilities. She barely has a moment to braid her hair as skiers do before donning a wool cap.

No one wanted to go with her. They missed out, she shakes her head, clicking her boots into the bindings and inhaling the moon. No ski tracks to follow on the white canvas, just evidence of rabbits hopping. She is a young girl again ready to coast through the snow, forge her own path.

About Lisa Wiley

The (ever) after after party

Annabel Wilson


‘– gold shadows flash over it, out of reach, gone.’
(Anne Carson, Plainwater)

Collapsed in the coat check of a hidden alley club, the two of you entwined like a glove as coats and jackets and scarves pile up: oblivious bliss and this and this and this — new skin feeling. Stamps on wrists. Gold shadows flash. Distant thud of drum n bass. This could be the wardrobe to Narnia. No wait, this jacket feels like Falcor from The Never-ending Story or maybe you’ve both  folded into the index of an ancient book from The Library of Babel. Later you’ll  wake up, walk out — take a long time to get home, stumbling and laughing as a  murmuration of starlings swirl around streetlights — but for now, this is perhaps  perhaps perhaps, just quietly, the first day of love.

A note on the poem:
‘The (ever) after after party’ quotes Catherine A.F. MacGillivray’s phrase ‘the first day of love’ from ‘What is it o’clock? Or the door (we never enter)’, Stigmata: Escaping Texts, Routledge 2009 (59). 

About Annabel Wilson


e rathke


I found a bird. She was made of black and white. Flightless and loveless, swollen by the rain, dried pulp at the edges, she came apart in my hands and so I held on lightly, spoke quietly.

We sat in the sun, my bird and I, and she dried until she was stable, able to stand alone in the grass, in my hand. It was then that I saw the fold. I touched her beak without recoil, whispered Sorry, and unfolded only to find another and another and another. Fold after fold, my little bird expanded more and more until my tiny swollen bird was a faded map.

She was a map of words wound round and round without lines and without markers, only the words in black and white. My bird who was a map became a girl created in the words I traced, spoke aloud, the topography of her body, the geography of her person.

My bird who was my girl who is now you. You taught me cartography and I recognized those words I wrote as another me, in a different life. A me who wrote of love and always impossible you. The me that captured you in print and folded you for flight. The me that sent you away and my tears that threatened to disintegrate you.

About e rathke

Liana Ashenden, Morning, Whakaraupō
Liana Ashenden, Morning, Whakaraupō

About Liana Ashenden


Danika Dinsmore


She packed only the salt and pepper shakers. Falling in love with seasons is the job of a poet. She was done with tourniquets; she wanted her heart to bleed freely. Perhaps in an open space. She would take flying lessons and treat herself to cloud appreciation. Funny, there was no taste in her mouth at all. She had given up chewing gum along with her cell phone and bank account. She would move to a place where she didn’t know the language. Not because she wanted to learn another language, but because she wanted to remain ignorant. She would swim far out in the ocean and drown her PhD in philosophy. Then walk barefoot over hot coals to burn off her master’s degree in urban planning. A night in a bar and plenty of tequila would take care of the bachelor’s in social science. Some anonymous sex and the writing on her high school diploma would fade away forever. She would hike her bleeding heart up a mountain, unfold her yoga mat, and lie down for a long nap. When it grew dark, she would count the stars and not name them.

About Danika Dinsmore

Eels in Jáibīn Supermarket

Rachel G Jordan


Undulating against glass, the eels watched with unblinking eyes. Dancing for a foreigner. I was called Léi Qiè Ěr, which translates to ‘quiet fall’. Yellow hair, big nose, about seven. I stood open-mouthed in Jáibīn Supermarket.

Cart wheels squeaked to a stop beside me. It was filled with vegetables, yogurt drink and two Snickers bars for the taxi ride home – a sweet luxury reminiscent of cultural home. Momma smiled, somewhat sadly.

We watched eels next to turtles who scraped aquatic paws at glass, climbing one atop the other. Their eyes were yellow and bellies were red. Enamored with the colored frenzy, I didn’t yet notice local shoppers standing open-mouthed around us.

But there was a lady with cropped, black hair, delicate hands, and heron eyes. At her direction, the butcher’s bare hand plunged in, grasping at crowded tails. An eel selected, examined, carried to the massive, plastic chopping block. Writhing a final dance in silence as the cleaver fell. White table, white apron splattered red. Someone snickered at my flinch, but there was something gentle in an instant end, I thought.

We squeaked through the gathering crowd toward the exit, heron-eyed lady close behind. Her phone was out, snapping pictures of my hair. This was normal, but only because we were not. Somebody yelled, Wéixiào – to smile. I squeezed Momma’s hand and concentrated on the Snickers, anticipating a quiet taxi ride home where fresh autumn air poured through cracked windows, with no more crowds pressing against my glass.

About Rachel G Jordan


Dave Agnew


The sun has just dipped behind the ocean when the angel crashes into Foxton Beach. The sky, already glowing a light pink, becomes a vibrant orange for a second, then clouds over into a dull murk as the air is filled with steam and debris when the angel’s flaming sword is doused by the surf. The angel – immense, all wheels within wheels covered in eyes, wings crumpled at odd angles – is leaking ichor from its wounds, which seeps into the sand.

Divine silence settles over the beach. An alarm warbles across the little town. The volunteer firefighters leap into action, everyone else just feels guilty. The fire engine skids onto the beach, red lights flashing, and the quiet swallows the sirens. 

Without speaking the fire crew gets to work, unspooling the hoses, establishing a perimeter, carving sigils into the sand. An audience gathers at the fringes of the beach, cresting the dunes to get a glimpse of the vestiges of heaven clinging to its wings before they’re washed away by the volunteers and their hoses. The archbishop is driving up from Wellington, the apostolic nuncio murmuring a rosary in his passenger seat, answering questions from the media.

“In situations like this, we do all we can to help them, but there’s only been three successful reassumptions since 2003.”

The night drags on and the angel degrades, bits of it sloughing away into the water as the tide comes all the way back in and the sound returns to Foxton Beach.

About Dave Agnew

Keith Nunes, Into the Mystic
Keith Nunes, Into the Mystic

About Keith Nunes

Instructions for survival

Belinda Rowe


Find the sheep farmer who owns the land where your daughter died in a car crash. Purchase the land. Buy steel cap boots, an army trench coat, a large Thermos. If your hair is long, cut it short. Order Native Plant Restoration and Rewilding Farmland. Read them closely; never lose sight of the bigger picture. Source novels, poetry, a dog, philosophical works (especially the Stoics), quality wine, wool for knitting and crocheting, a rifle, pot, and psilocybin. Keep a well-stocked pantry in case you’re snowed in. Make sure you can sharpen an axe and wield it well. Chop enough wood for the haunting winters. Survey your land. Find the highest point and breathe in the quiet, the possibilities. Come up with a plan that will make the eels sing and the green waters ripple. Place your first order of two thousand seedlings: kauri, pōhutukawa, nīkau palm, kōwhai, rimu, mānuka, tōtara, rata and kahikatea. Begin in the ravine and slog for months, digging, planting, watering in, working your way up the steep slopes and beyond until the seedlings are up to the firebreak surrounding your small hut. Observe the returning bees – hovering drunk, thrumming. Wait about nine years for the trunks and branches to broaden, the leaves and flowers to forest, then carry the urn into the ravine in summer. Scatter her under a stand of flowering pōhutukawa and watch the wind whorl your daughter through the narrow chasm. Regard the kererū as they coo and nod.

About Belinda Rowe

Snow moon

Kathryn Kulpa


And when they ask, didn’t you hear anything, you will say no, only the snow. Only the sigh and sweep of snow, the crystal clarity of it, the whiteness of moonlight on snow, a blue-white glow that makes day from night, but you didn’t see, you didn’t wake. You slept under your soft blanket like princesses sleep in enchanted tales, under counterpane, under eiderdown, in the hush hush hush of a winter night. Was it the cold that woke you? Was it the smell? Who can say how snow smells, like ozone, like ash, like a cloud that pushed its way into your room, and you wake to see the window fallen in, leaning open into the room, snow drifted over windowsill and rug. Maybe the snow knocked a tree into the window. Everything is strange, everything has changed, and why are you so afraid? You turn to wake your husband and touch a cold pillow and remember he’s in Chicago on business, it’s just you, you and the baby, and you wonder – sitting up in bed now, pillow falling silently to the floor – how did you sleep so long, why didn’t she wake you? Why didn’t she cry? It was the quiet that woke you. You look at the bassinet, only steps away, a continent away, a dark country you must cross, and you wish for a cry, a crash, a scream, but there’s nothing. Only the snow. Only the sigh and sweep of snow.

About Kathryn Kulpa

About the bees

Pam McKinlay


Pam McKinlay, Sitting at flower height
Sitting at flower height

About the series: I accidentally dug into a community of ground nesting bees last year. I dropped my tools and ran screaming from the “bees” like a big girls-blouse. One trip around the sun later and I have formed an alliance with the bee kin. And the people who come from zoology include Jenny Jandt and, from the Tūhura Otago Museum, Anthony Harris (he should be a national treasure). On the bee side there are families from three generations living in the garden. I wait, I watch. Finally, they come out of the ground and are summer flying. 

I often am literally sitting at flower height.

They are incredibly difficult to photograph. I have great admiration for the insect photos I see on i-naturalist, which is where I started my journey when I was trying to identify them.  Their world is increasingly precarious as we tidy our back yards and landscape, or farm and plant forest over these hidden bee communities. They live underground so are often not noticed. Sometimes people just think they are flies.

Pam McKinlay, Bombus on tagetes
Bombus on tagetes

You have to really slow down and be part of the garden and not a disturbance as the ngaro huruhuru are very flighty. They are smaller than honeybees (Apis) and much smaller than bumble bees and fly faster!

Pam McKinlay, Bombus on calendular
Bombus on calendular

You have to let them come to where they want to be and not agitate the air around them and then photograph and hope through hundreds of images for the few photos that will be winners. I have many photos of a blur of iridescent wings quickly leaving stage left. I took this photo as a comparison for the tiny native bees on the next flower.

Pam McKinlay, Leioproctus on unknown
Leioproctus on unknown

The flying conditions are so finickity that you have to stay still when they are flying, until the bees have decided that you aren’t a threat. You start to get your eye in.

Pam McKinlay, Hylase on coriander flower
Hylase on coriander flower

The Hylaeus (masked bees) are so small and delicate. When you are really still you can get images like this.

About Pam McKinlay

At Trinity College

Kirby Wright


Black clouds haunt the quad, sending shadows through the open windows of stone dorms and professor quarters. I teach to learn. The ghost of the murdered dean watches from his old room in the neighboring rubric building. Seeds sway like spiked grapes on the ash tree. A blue crane’s horizontal arm swings west over Dublin. A couple claims a bench. Umbrella opens. The fawn legs of women stride an emerald lawn framed by oak. At midnight, the campanile bell will swell loneliness in hearts. Cold toes retreat under covers. 

One of my students majors in sonnets. I lugged her pink suitcase up three flights of stairs but doubt she remembers.

When you grow old you learn to hide. Hide the scalp first. Then the belly. When you die, family hides you somewhere distant. Blessed are the ashes and the unburned bone. I lost the map for my father that marked his grave orange. His plot wedged between a Chinese man and a Hawaiian. I inherited Daddy’s skinny legs, my left calf stamped with a scorpion scar. A human or an animal cry rattles the night. Rain pounds the cobbles. 

About Kirby Wright

Flight path

Margot McLean


There was a witness who saw me running blindly onto the road, but the teenage driver panicked, sure he’d be blamed. His car sped away, red taillights swallowed by the night, turning an accident into a hit and run. 

The man in the nearby house was admiring the new double glazing. Waterproof and soundproof. He saw my body flying in slow motion, a dark angel arcing over his hedge.

It was so quiet, my end, so very quiet. As I flew, I smelt the rich wet earth, felt each raindrop caress my face, heard the song of the wind. Was this really it? How beautiful it was. My distress had vanished, leaving a mild curiosity. My great drama, a break-up text from my boyfriend, was nothing to the world of the night. I saw my mother kicking off her shoes and putting down her bag, my father putting four plates on the table and asking where I was, my sister, staring at her phone, shrugging. Sweet living beings.

I landed with a soft thud. The security light came on and the man splashed through shallow puddles. He knelt beside me on the tarmac.

It’s all right, he said, just hang in there. He stroked my forehead.

The boy told his girlfriend to keep quiet but a week later she cried and told her sister. The boy started on his dismal trajectory, to no one’s surprise. That signpost had been there since he was born.

About Margot McLean

The long ride

Pallas Hupé Cotter


“Pedal circles.”

“Yes, I know.”

“That way you use less energy. It’s a more efficient pedal stroke.”

“Yup, I remember.”

The sun is at our back and we’re chasing our shadows. 

Eyes on the ground, we ride side by side. I can see the outlines of our helmets, our arms. Our hands are indistinguishable from our handlebars. 

I notice my shoulders move, side to side – just slightly – with each pedal stroke. My partner’s remain still and straight.

We haven’t ridden together in more than twenty years. Careers, kids, deaths, job losses, job promotions, four houses bought and sold, and a few international moves filled the time in between.

“Shoulders in, stomach in, elbows in!” The running commentary in my head kicks back in as I remember the training we did all those years ago.

Alongside each other, we pushed harder, grew stronger, became better versions of ourselves, grew into ourselves. 

We conquered mountains then. Now we face a few more hills. 

As I threw my leg over the ‘top tube’ before this ride, I noticed how stiff it felt. An anxious worry followed, “What if the brakes fail?”

I used to swear when he’d shout encouragement over his shoulder, “Give it all you’ve got!”

Today, he cycles to my side and asks, “Are you having fun?”

I nod and smile.

Then I look down at the ground, searching for obstacles in rocks and gravel. 

As we round the corner I look up just in time to see our shadows merge together.

About Pallas Hupé Cotter

Lynne Fellowes, Broad Horizons (collage)
Lynne Fellowes, Broad Horizons (collage)

About Lynne Fellowes

Objects in a hospital room

Becky Neher


Ava’s father lay under the warm glow of LEDs, a liver-spotted head at the top of a tan blanket. His lips were parted. His chest rose and fell in slight, irregular motions. She thought of lichen-covered mounds, of rocks buried under old snow. Earth furrowed by an animal’s nocturnal activity. 

She sat in the hospital chair next to the strangely innocuous body. She imagined herself guiding a tour through the angular world of stiff mattresses, bed rails, metal trays and linoleum floors. “And here you have a region of minor interest. Note the elevated temperature and lumpy topography.” Or, “In the middle of Tubes-and-Plastic Realm lies the Organic-Matter Anomaly.” Her shoulders relaxed. She unclenched her thighs. 

Suddenly the pallid hand in hers gave a little squeeze. She sucked in her breath. Her eyes flicked up: The face, irreconcilable with the land of objects, had once again caught the pretend world off guard. Walls and lights and medical equipment recoiled like a slingshot from the gray whiskers, the sunken cheeks and sage-green eyes. Her father’s breathing grew quick and ragged. The eyes widened and roamed over watercolor prints, a deflating balloon and muted TV. Air whistled through his teeth. 

She wondered what it was about her own face that had made it so thingafiable. 

Death would reset things. She would watch him de-animate, his jaw slacken, his chest go still. 

He’d lose his force that way. Quietly. Passive. 

She’d imagined it for years. She could wait a few more days.

About Becky Neher

The anatomy of silence

Kai Holmwood


Your mama always told you to be quiet. “Children should be seen – ”, but she didn’t want to see you either, not really, so you learned to be visibly silent too, with no move too fast or too surprising.

You become intimate with other kinds of silence. Your aunt’s house is shrouded in a quiet that carries the weight of all the expectations your mother never met and that no one expects you to meet either. You worry a different kind of quiet between your fingers like bracelet beads as you watch your cousins across the room saying exactly what you know they’re saying. There’s the silence of the things you don’t say even in your diary, in case your diary shares your secrets. The deepest of all is the silence of longing, of dreams barely dreamed and always unspoken.

You stay silent about your cousin’s desires. Who would you tell?

You barely notice when being quiet stops being a choice.

The detectives flock around you as if they want to hear the stories you could have told. They can’t ask you. They ask your mama, who sent you to live with your aunt. They ask your aunt, who wouldn’t have listened. They ask your cousin, who has his own reasons to stay silent.

Surely someone knew. Surely someone will speak for you.

They ask the neighbors, who have no reason to lie.

The neighbors say they didn’t hear a thing.

About Kai Holmwood

Ballerina at sunset

Catherine Chiarella Domonkos


At sunrise in the theater district, the teen ballerina wraps her bloodstained digits and dons her lustrous slippers. Her bun tight, blond, rose ribboned. She has danced this piece a thousand times, today rehearses it for the company audition. Pas marché to the center of the room. En pointe. Grand adage. Only a modest movement from one foot to the other – a jeté – devastates her, provokes a howl, shreds the silence, as she lands ever so slightly to the left, fracturing her fifth metatarsal in three places. She will not make the audition. This year or any.

At midday near Union Square, the Pilates instructor adjusts her student’s posture with muted, gentle pressure at the student’s lower back. She guides the group through flowing twists, teasers, swans. She conditions them to breathe for stamina. She teaches them that strength prevents injury. She doesn’t mention her own wound, even when forecasted showers cause it to twinge.

At sunset along the Hudson the unyoung ballerina rests a hand upon the steel railing, the last rays softening her lined face. Silently, she performs a graceful routine, in her head counting. Her posture regally erect, she glides from relevé to plié and back. Little girls in whispers of pink tulle pause on their way home from lessons to admire this elegant old lady with her silver French twist. But she has learned to tune out distractions while she dances, while she is the prima ballerina, while her awed audience watches.

About Catherine Chiarella Domonkos

Are you there?

Emily Macdonald


In the balmy stink London night when there’s no breeze to breathe, the air hangs heavy and moist. I lie with arms and legs adrift, sweating in sleep.

The ringing phone trills in my dreams, calls to me like a faraway siren, an echo of home.

The phone keeps on its insistent shrill ringing, while I stand barefoot on cool kitchen tiles, barely there, baring all, groggy and damp.

I look at the ringing, ringing phone through slitty eyes. I hesitate.

“Are you there?”

The voice, twelve thousand miles down under, journeys from wintery wet. From damp stealing into bones and mould growing ripe in the darkness. Where rain is falling, ring-a-tin on grooved metal roofs and rivers swell, burst banks and rush through half-pipe storm drains.

The voice travels under brittle-lit cities, seaside suburbs and new-build estates. Beside sleeping railways and hard tarmac roads. Travels through snaking, sinewy, long-laid cable lines, perhaps coloured yellow or black or luminescent blue. Under snow and shimmering ice caps and fathoms deep oceans. Buried by clay, by sand, by sodden black earth.

“Are you there?”

I feel the sad cold transmitted and I want to say “No. No, I’m not here.” I want to lay the phone back in its cradle, lull it back to gentle sleep.

‘No’, because by the ice in my belly and my barely-there breath, I know only one thing comes from a wintery call in the dead quiet of a warm, summer’s night. 

About Emily Macdonald

Kirstie McKinnon, Night Flare
Kirstie McKinnon, Night Flare

About Kirstie McKinnon

The poorer quiet

Mandira Pattnaik


The quiet before the couple climb the stairs and exclaim “Oh! The colour of the walls!”; the quiet before the house-owner says, “Rent negotiable.”, while the couple look on expectantly; the quiet before the man calculates if they can afford it and the woman stands on her toes to match the man’s eye level and says, “A home of my own!”; the quiet before the woman says, “Yes!” when the man proposes a spring wedding date preceding their moving-in; the quiet before they are about to kiss, the woman’s lips parted, eyes closed, when they’re startled by the potbellied men squabbling at the street below for the spoils of gambling; the quiet before they pause to hear bickering haggard women at the public toilet under the stairs; the quiet before the slumped walk back to where they came from as the floor and walls rattle when a goods carriage passes by; and the quiet before they look at each other in sad recognition of the cancellation of their plans.

About Mandira Pattnaik

The wake

Tom Gadd


The house is full of solemn adults, wearing black, eating crustless sandwiches. His grandad lies in a box in the living room, dead, with silver coins weighing down his eyelids and Rodney has escaped to the garage where the doors of the ‘54 Bel-Air are locked, and he can’t sit behind the wheel pretending to drive. Instead, he’s pulling a dust furred box out from under his grandad’s workbench. Inside are hotdog shaped batons, crusted with crystals and the faint remains of the word ‘dynamite’.

The old stone quarry at the back of his grandad’s property is off limits and Rodney’s new dress shoes are scuffed when he reaches its bottom. The pack of wooden matches he took from the drawer where his grandad’s pipe is stored rattles on opening and one match hisses into flame when he scratches it across the box side. The dynamite wick he touches it to hisses louder. He knows from television to count to three before throwing a bomb but loses his nerve at “two” and not long after leaving his fingers the dynamite explodes.

The world of sound is sheared from him. He sits where he was knocked to the ground with the explosion’s expanding cloud hanging above him, churning, cut with shards of light and he believes he is witnessing the soul of his granddad ascending to heaven.

On the quarry rim, adults are scrambling. Rodney’s father is running soundlessly toward him, and his mother looks as if she’s seen a ghost.

About Tom Gadd

Jezebel and Jehu meet in the next world

Bethany Tap


Jehu sits beside Jezebel, staring at his own corpse. How sunken and foreign his body looks from the other side. They’ve been in the cave for days, soaking in the stench of earthy myrrh, and beneath it, rot as sour as spoiled figs.

Jezebel remains as he remembered, before the leap, the fall, the dogs with bloody muzzles licking her skull, her blood blackening the dirt. She’d looked down at him from the window’s edge, kohl on her eyes, long black hair tumbling past her breasts. After she jumped, she hovered above him and he’d almost believed she would not fall and the prophecy would not be fulfilled. He had almost believed in something more than destiny.

She takes his hand. Her touch is like the spine-tingling shivers, which had nightly catapulted his living body awake, screaming.

Jehu. She has a voice in this world, her world. I have a prophecy for you. Her fingertips trace the back of his hand, forearm, elbow. Centuries from now, they will tell tales about me. They’ll remember me for everything you took from me: my strength, my power, my sexuality. You’ll be a footnote in my story. I will be an icon.

He coughs, squeaks, They’ll remember the dogs. These are the only words she allows. Already, he regrets them. She knows this, his small thoughts and worthless repentances, and will not forgive him.

For centuries, they sit in silence, watching his body rot.

About Bethany Tap

All I can hear

Slawka G Scarso


The city is still asleep. I dress you in a clean bodysuit. I wrap you in the warmest blanket I find. From the basket, you look up at me, unaware, your little fists moving erratically. But you’re not in distress and when I tell you I love you, you seem to understand, or maybe it’s just me. I’ll never know.

I circle the hospital. I know where I should go, but I tell myself I need to be sure nobody will see me when really it’s only to have you close to me a little longer. The third time I pass in front of the screen, placed for privacy and discreetly indicating the Angel’s Cradle is hidden behind, I slip in.

A sign says what will happen when I press the button: the window will open, giving me access to the cradle. Once I place you there, the window will close immediately.

You’re sleeping now, lulled by the walk. I want to wake you and see those newborn eyes just one more time, but maybe it’s better this way.

I leave no note. No reason I can give you will ever be enough for me to explain and for you to understand.

The window opens silently and silently closes. When it does, all I can hear is a distant bell coming from inside, calling the nurse in charge, and my heart thumping in the silence and then stopping.

About Slawka G Scarso

Reihana Robinson, Connection That Lies Between
Reihana Robinson, Connection That Lies Between

About Reihana Robinson

Key deliverables

Sandra Arnold


The CEO nodded approvingly at Ellen’s armful of files as he passed her in the corridor. He stopped and turned and reminded her that he’d like her project strategy report on his desk first thing in the morning. Out in the carpark Ellen found an abandoned supermarket trolley, dropped her files into it and with the CEO’s lunchtime speech sticking pins in her eardrums with key deliverables going forward, scoping high-level deliverables, incentivising the client base, maximizing profitable outcomes and achieving project directives, she strode along the street until she came to an abandoned house. She tried the door and found it open, so she pushed the trolley inside and sat on the bare wooden floor with her head in her hands and watched a spider spinning its web in a corner of the ceiling. The traffic sounds outside faded as the room darkened. She listened to a blackbird singing in a tree by the cracked window and watched the sky turn pink then gold then navy. When the first stars appeared, she pushed the trolley outside into a garden full of weeds. She tipped all her files onto a bare patch of earth and lit a match. The only sounds now were the sparking and crackling of flames and these sounds faded too as smoke and ash spiralled into the air carrying with them the whole weight of words until there was nothing left except a ring of charred ash and the acrid smell of smoke. 

About Sandra Arnold

The photograph

Deb Jowitt


My grandmother carried a tattered black-and-white photograph in the depths of her purse. It was more like the talisman of a lost cause than a celebratory shot.

She and Grandad were standing together on unfamiliar steps, smiling at the camera. He was in uniform, tall, good-looking, holding his cigarette like a matinee idol.

“Did you have a small wedding to save money?” I asked.

“Wartime rationing,” Gran replied. “I was your age – eighteen.  I would have married him in a registry office if my parents had let me. He was a real catch.”

I knew a bit about Grandad. He’d kept quiet about his background; wrote that his father was a farmer on the marriage certificate when he was anything but.

“Errol used to say I had dancer’s legs,” Gran said, looking down at her withered calves.

They had three kids under five when he left her. The loser. Gran swears he sent postcards, but no one believes her.

I looked at the photograph again. “I think he’s got a black eye. What happened?” 

Gran fidgeted with her purse and looked away. “What about you, dear?” she asked. “Anyone special?”

“No standouts.”

“Don’t get left on the shelf.”

“There are worse fates, Gran.”

Heartbreak, a gaping hole in a young family, living on rations long after the war ended. I wanted to ask about the dark days after Errol disappeared. Why she’d kept believing in him. But she held her hand out for the photograph, and her purse snapped shut.

About Deb Jowitt

Chichester Park

Laila Miller


At the base of a eucalypt in Chichester Park, there is a curve in the wood where the trunk split long ago and healed itself. Inside dwells the feral honey bee queen, escaped from a domestic colony. She controls her adopted realm with a precision inherited from her European ancestors. In the storm-soaked winter, her workers bring pollen from the orange candles of banksia; in spring from the bottle brush blossoms of the Callistemon; in the crackling summer heat, they soar high among the red-flowering gums.

From the front door of 17 Warwick Close, a child toddles into Chichester Park. Its mother hurries to catch up. Worker bees advance, cross in front. The mother grabs her youngster’s arm, rummages her bag’s outer pocket for the hard, oblong plastic of the EpiPen. She presses numbers on her phone.

City workers wearing bee-proof suits arrive at the eucalypt. They extract the queen, gather her workers and drones. The mother watches warily from her veranda.

As summer wanes, seeds and roots, desiccated from the dry, prepare to grow with the first rains. The native Hylaeus bee crawls, quiet and unnoticed, from her hole in the front garden of 17 Warwick Close. She flies toward the cream-coloured stamens of the blooming eucalypt, collecting pollen for her young in an ancient, solitary ritual.

About Laila Miller

Lynne Fellowes, The Sound of Silence (assemblage in resin)
Lynne Fellowes, The Sound of Silence (assemblage in resin)

About Lynne Fellowes


Chak Yan Yeung


He stands in front of his apartment’s door for five minutes. His gaze lingers on the ‘2103’ in the middle of the door, as if the sight of the number comforts him. At last, he takes out his key and plugs it in. Another pause, then a twist of his wrist and the door unlocks. He pushes it open in the same motion, not allowing himself another moment of hesitation.

The apartment is dark, and gets darker as the door closes behind him. The only sound in the living room is from the clock on the wall. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. He stays in the darkness with his head bowed, as if he is praying, or counting. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven.

Nothing changes.

His hand finds the switch on the wall and the light turns on. He unties his leather shoes and puts them on the middle shelf of the shoe rack, next to his outdoor sneakers. The three-level racks seem unnecessarily large. He puts on his slippers and walks through the archway in the middle of the living room, stopping at the door to his son’s bedroom.

There is nothing to see. He must know that. And yet he opens the door anyway, with the same air of expectancy a magician has at the final step of his trick. But this is not his trick, and there is no miracle.

The room is empty. Still.

About Chak Yan Yeung

Dead men for sale

Nicole Brogdon


They played the game for hours. Dangling on bellies off the third story balcony, heads like buckets of blood, near banana trees where monkeys stole morning fruits. The children hanging upside down like animal carcasses in the Zumba Market, being the corpse, or the salesman, giggling till they peed themselves or tipped onto the balcony. When Julie was the saleswoman, she pointed at James, “Buy this chubby one!” Or, “Clearance on pale ones!” James made up the game. “That boy’s not long by this world,” Mama said. 

This morning Mama colored her lips coral. “Daddy’s sick again, sleeping one off. So don’t wake him.” Then Mama went bareback riding in the jungle with her big friend Jean-Paul, who worked at NASA like Daddy. “The Place where they Follow the Little Moons”, the natives called it. Beers at the open-air Brasserie Tananarive made Daddy sick, strolling whores calling his name. Worms in this god-forsaken Madagascar made him sick, he said. 

Julie slid onto her feet. “My ribs hurt. Now I’m the saleslady. ‘Ugly boys for sale! Cheap!’”

Onja stared through her one good eye from the kitchen, hands in dough. “Calme ta joie!” If one of them fell, Daddy would yell at Onja and whip James with his leather belt. 

James shoved Julie onto her belly. “Dead men for sale!” He smacked her butt, “Sold!”, tipping her legs over the balcony. She tumbled head first, falling toward giant poinsettias and red ants, hitting the earth, thud. Then quiet. 

About Nicole Brogdon

Black sunlight

Hayden Pyke


Someone can’t be missing if you don’t expect them back. My husband wasn’t due home for two more days, but I knew something had happened. The snow had become quieter. The night had become wide and guilty with silence.

The day he was due back, the God of Thunder lay dying on my front path. A stone was lodged in his head and the blood spilled out in a halo. He was too heavy to drag inside, but burning sage brought him around enough to crawl. He got as far as the fire before he collapsed again and I did my best to nurse him.

On the third day, he was walking. I insisted he stay, but he waved me away and stepped out into the snow. I began to mourn him as well as my husband when he left as I felt sure he would die. I was mourning my sons too who would one day do something like freeze to death or get married. I was mourning all men who were too stupid to see how stupid they were being.

When the moon halved, Thor appeared on my front path. Silently, he dropped my husband from his shoulders, ice blue, but breathing. He had to sacrifice something to be still alive, but when I foisted bread and gifts onto Thor he refused. He pointed up, the sky on fire, and found a star I had not seen before, he then showed me my husband’s missing toe.

About Hayden Pyke

The world becomes an unkind place

Reihana Robinson


As friends disappear, the world becomes an unkind place. Girlfriend sees an installation at Mass MoCA – it’s Laurie Anderson being a carpenter. A table with two shallow indentations called Handphone Table.

If Girlfriend places her elbows on the table and covers her ears with her palms she becomes the listening device as vibrations move through the table and up the bones in her arms into her ears.

So the irony of covering ears to hear, only becomes ironic as an observer. As a participant she feels at first a warmth of connection from another set of elbows at the far end of the table, and then a sense of unease, perhaps melancholy and the adjacent room’s admonishment – to be really tender works.

About Reihana Robinson

Sylvia Marsters, 'Tei' ea' 'Where', acrylic and oils on canvas board
Sylvia Marsters, ‘Tei’ ea’ ‘Where’, acrylic and oils on canvas board

About Sylvia Marsters


Sue Barker


You asked for this.

You volunteered for the overnight. Rangitoto Island. Help Charlie photograph the storm. Anything to be near Charlie. His energy. His innovative work. His quirky smile – just for you?

Now here you are on the peak, in the dark, counting seconds between flashes and cracks, your skin tingling. 

It’s not so much the ear-flattening explosion of the thunder when it finally claps. It’s the pause, the stillness between the flash and the crash. Complete silence, apart from your rapid breathing. The anticipation, and the uncertainty. How far away is it?

Charlie boosts you roughly onto the old gun emplacement.

Stand up…I want a silhouette – you, and the fortress – lightning forks behind, shot from below.

He’s excited, down amongst the rocks, rigging a waterproof cover for his camera, jerking his arms upwards, yelling, Stand!

You jump to a squat, slowly straightening. The air pops and crackles and the hairs on your arms stand up. What’s that formula? Seconds from lightning to rumble – divide by three. The storm’s a kilometre away. You bob down, panting hard.

Maybe, if you stand quickly, he’ll get his shot.

You hear the wind before it hits, a great roaring wall of air, then the flash-boom. You grip the edge of the fort. Two seconds. Half a k. Not much time.

Charlie yells, Stand, Goddammit!

You get up again, skin prickling, air smoky – a metallic taste fills your mouth.

The hair on your head stands straight up as the lightning, thunder and deluge hammer.

About Sue Barker

The ears of Saint Myra

Alexandra Packer


Inside the abbey gardens, a raucous earthly paradise of school trips and parakeets, the tour guide is handing out laminated info sheets to our group. 

We have gathered near the entrance to the crypt, a black mouth that gapes at the bright shrill of July, as if appalled. 

In the chapel below us reposes Myra, the holy abbess. We leave our voices at the door and make our descent, sandals and crocs slapping worn-out stone. 

The chapel is domed and cramped like the inside of a skull. Murky, except for the altar raised over the bones of the silent saint. 

Myra glares down from her gilded fresco. How the racket of our bodies must offend. Wet with pollen, sinuses whistle and throats stifle coughs. Plastic-covered sheets rustle in clumsy fingers as we learn that Myra set out to lift the mortal din and hear the Divine.

A vow of silence would not do. Myra bound her sisters’ feet in cloth to dampen their fall. Myra prayed the birds and the crickets away. Myra sequestered herself, at last, in this very crypt, and here received her revelation. 

Venetian red, blood oozes from her godly ears, the real ones preserved inside the altar’s reliquary. Her emblem is the pin she used to pierce the final veil. She holds it out to us like a sharp, golden promise. 

Later in the gift shop, there are ear-shaped fridge magnets, chocolates, erasers. Someone asks if they sell any pins, and we roar with laughter. 

About Alexandra Packer


Amanda Hurley


We’re at a loss for words, Anthony and I, and our silence is only growing longer. We sit at the breakfast table, our fancy repast spread before us and my fingers are twitching for my phone, my newspaper, anything in which I can bury myself.

Ten years ago when we first met, we would have ignored the food before us. We would have talked and laughed, telling each other the stories of our lives, reaching out to touch a cheek, a stray hair, to kiss. We would have stopped to order more coffee, fruit juice, another bagel or two and we would have sat here until the waiters appeared on hushed feet to sweep the tables of their crumbs and to lay the lunch settings, white cloths like sails in the breeze pinned by weighted silverware.

I can hear Anthony chewing his food. Without looking up from my plate, I know when he has taken the next bite of his bread roll, is reaching for his coffee. I hear his teeth jar against the ceramic cup as he sips at his Americano. Even his swallowing seems overly loud. Under the table, I toy with the ring on my hand, slipping it on and off. It has become loosened with age, falling away easily from the indentation it has burrowed in my skin. There’s a dull clink that only I hear as it glides through my fingers to the floor.

About Amanda Hurley

Nicolette Wong,  Quiet in Hong Kong<br />
Nicolette Wong, Quiet in Hong Kong

About Nicolette Wong

Room 24, Restview

Caroline Greene


Since my Trouble, I find I can talk to animals. Only yesterday in the garden, a fox came by.

“What are you up to?” I asked.

“Just passing – ooh,” he said, and grabbed the sandwich from my plate. “Muchas gracias!”

And I hear other voices, too. Those long gone. Today, there’s a party. Ma arrives, not seen these thirty years.

“Oh, here you are!” she exclaims, and hugs me with a rustle of favourite petticoats. And Aunt Lena, from Austria, with her yodelling laugh, who can sing the whole of The Sound of Music from memory. There’s the plop of jellies and the snap of crackers, and friends breathing raucous tongues from party blowers. And, of course, Petey with his saxophone.

“Where’ve you been Pete?” I ask, and he laughs.

“I’m back to fetch you,” he says, and the blue notes rise up to the hills and echo off the summits.

“Not long now,” I say. There’s a chorus of whooping and hollering and a round of applause, and even the fox says,

“Good on you, Abuela.”

But someone is coming into the room – the one with the apron and a younger one, who perhaps I know.

“How’s she been?” asks the younger, her voice low.

“Oh, very quiet,” says apron-lady. “Very little change.”

And everyone at the party is holding up a finger to their lips.

“Shh,” I tell them.

Softly, the door closes behind the two ladies. 

Trust the fox to be the first to snigger.

About Caroline Greene

Why speak when no one listens anymore?

Heather McQuillan


After perigee, tooth marks rake the sandbanks as if kraken devour the coastline when the moon comes too close. 

My house is three back from the beach. A little more warming, I joke, and I will be neighbours with Takaroa. The high tide will lap, hush-hush, at my door and the concrete pillars of washed-out next-doors will lunge up through the waves like Christ of the Abyss. Endangered gulls will nest in the scars.

In Venice, I wade through St Mark’s Square and join a queue on raised platforms. Taciturn guards shush us. We have paid to view the church’s opulence; pieces of silver and gold, glass antiquities and bones of trickery – relics of a hijacked saint, lost and miraculously found again, though without his skull. He has no auditory ossicles and no malleus, incus or stapes to hear the sirens that warn of the latest sea surge. Even though we manage the correct configuration of words of worship and entreaty to shift old bones to intercede, our voices fall on no ears. Should we then be like Noah and fabricate a ship? Or like Utnapishtim – who was in the exact same story years before. Did you not think we’d notice?

Ahead of the coming wave, the winged lions will rise and the kraken will dive beneath hadal plains. The saints will drown. We will be on our own. And then it will be quiet. 

About Heather McQuillan

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