Through the windscreen, we see cars. Ahead,
dead cars, without start or end.
Above us, seagulls dance. But we aren’t there.
For now, we’re parked while in motion:
en route to standstill. Somehow
worse than if we’d never left, at all.
But at least we’re ready to board, right? I feel
we’re always waiting to board, car engine off
to save fuel, the ferry somewhere ahead;
cellophane picnic on the dashboard
the orange peel spices the air
between us, a tang of it,
pricks at the eyes
overhead, a single cloud, as if from
where a shuttle failed to make orbit:
dark, ruined, carefree
outside, and far across the grey quayside,
I see journeys – other people’s ships – leave silently, forever.
My old friend Gary Holdaway and I used to participate in a writing tug-of-war, each one responding to the last writer’s yank. We’re now trying to synchronise weekly outputs, every Sunday, based on a set 7-prompt theme. This week’s prompts were dancing, windows, unrequited love, spaceships, boats, food, and eye contact.
Most of these prompts are explicitly referred to in the text, but there are two that need explanation. The first, unrequited love, is not so visible: a failed love from the narrator’s perspective, perhaps, a shuttle which has taken off but is disintegrating mid-air. I think the next prompt (eye contact) gives some further explanation though, in that the narrator may be to blame. Notice that he looks everywhere else but his partner. This is a man, cursing circumstance, but unable to admit that he has made a terrible mistake.