In the Shadows (2)

Sal crouched under the tiled worktop in the kitchen. Her wet face smeared the cool plaster wall as she pressed her body into it. She heard the creak and grind of the metal doors as they came together to close, the two sections adjoining with a dull clunk and the rattle of glass, announcing Guy’s departure and punctuated with the click and slide of the key turning, being withdrawn. She sat a while longer, part crying part humming, beginning to move her legs away from their limpet like position at the wall and out into the wider area of the room. Her hands crept down from their blocking position over her ears. She was vaguely aware of a monotonous drone somewhere in the room but entirely oblivious that the noise was coming from her. Her hands felt for the cool floor, fingers fanned out and started to feel their way over the floor, moving her from her refuge. Distress remained palpable in the room and as her head turned slowly, her hair plastered wetly to her neck and face, her fingers encountered the sticky, congealing wetness on the tiles; kicked back like the recoil on a rifle. The feel of it made her finally open her eyes. Butterfly pools of red flitted over the floor, glistening, patterning the white and turning brown in the grouted channels. Dull red shrieked down the far wall and a metallic tang hung in the silence that now boomed in her ears after the onslaught. She felt defeated and the sight before her just brought it all back. She slumped onto the kitchen floor amongst the mess and the filth and slept. Continue reading


In the Shadows

Sal stood on the tiled balcony an arm draped casually around the chalky pink column. Her other hand rested on the damp balustrade, fingers flicking at a rotting papaya leaf that had been swept there by the afternoon rains. The post rain breeze carried a pungent waft of leaves, moist and decaying in the ditches beside the road, and cleansed away the fumes of the traffic below. Petrol and oil would soon resurface as the traffic geared up again and would mingle with the symphony of smells that told her she was home: the neighbour’s drifting incense, the steaming food carts, the open drains.

She gazed at the scene laid out below and thought about leaving; distracted herself by counting. No radio, no television, this was her favourite game: people watching, people counting. The most people on a motorbike (seven), most on a bicycle (four adults but they quickly fell off), biggest family in a cyclo (seven again), largest load on a bike (a fridge freezer), most cops on a motorbike (five), weirdest thing on a cyclo (a motorbike? A curb side petrol station?) She’d even tried counting tourists (one looking lost). The balcony was her window into another world. The sun’s descent had left an earthy glow on this side of the city, the daylight not yet gone but the cool moving in. Tuol Sleng stood a street away surrounded by green grass and palms, trimmed with barbed wire. The shady confines were tinted red. She shivered at the sight and as she scanned the street below she felt simultaneously removed from it and a part of it. The exertion of the afternoon had shined her face and arms and sapped her remaining energy as she moved back into the house.

Guy lay on the bed. Sweat glistened along the coarse, wiry blonde hairs that coated his arms and chest, shone in the dark hollows beneath his eyes and slicked his upper lip. Continue reading

Burying Myself

I touch, slowly and carefully, along the lines of my bones and wonder how this came to be. I look at my hands and they seem no different. Maybe a few more creases, a few more lines; slightly darker than the rest of me. The Khmer women wear elbow length gloves to shield their hands and arms from the sun. I stay covered up but not gloved: it seems an excessive vanity. The sun is wild here, not like at home where it heats up slowly, lazily climbing blue skies and drifting amongst white clouds: it gives fair warning of a hot day in its languid build up. Here it cranks itself up into the bleached out sky and aggressively torches the city, every day the same. My hands ought to look like frazzled bacon the amount of time they are exposed. They don’t. The changes are more subtle than that. I don’t notice until I slip off the gold band on my finger – then I can see the difference. A thin white ring remains; a ghost of a ring. How fitting. Continue reading

Verbal Fluffer

He tells her his sex life has improved no end since they started doing overtime together. They talk dirty for a couple of hours while the labs are empty and dusk gathers outside, but she’s wondering why she peps him up, preps him up, gets him ready for his girlfriend. She thinks he’s lovely. That shaggy dog hair all tousled and natural highlights – which is weird really because she normally goes for the dark haired types. It flops over his eyes that twinkle naughtily. He does a great Deputy Dawg impression and he can make his mouth look like a letter box. He makes her laugh. And her? She knows she’s nothing special. Hair a dirty blonde, skin too-much-time-in-the-lab pale, ingrained with coal dust around her hairline, smutted with dirt. She’s the best in the lab at heads though; holds the record. But then Dave Cowper taught her. She sets them up, calibrates them running up and down the row, always moving, no sore arse on heads. Right now she’s on methanometers: D6s and D6Ds. Her least favourite instruments but the area of most overtime, and she knows, overtime is Richard time: fluffing time. Continue reading

Sweet Summer Slain

Some summer soak sabotages sanguine sunlight—
scuppers soothing sunniness…
Slick slabs seep slowly,
squally showers slake sward; sate sodden soil.
Sweet sunny season stymied,
spared sundry sunbeams’ sympathy—
sweet summer slain.

A poem using only words beginning with ‘s’. Our wet summer seemed a good place to start…

© Ammie-oy 2010

Going to Work (Triolet Re-structured)

I set out for school today but a man was in my way,
dead and bloating in the sun, dredged in the dust of the road—
well seasoned for death and fully tenderized by the fray.
I set out for school today but a man was in my way.
He lay dead in the street, causing my delay—
surrounded by a crowd staring bug-eyed like toads.
I set out for school today but a man was in my way,
dead and bloating in the sun; tossed in the dust of the road.


© Ammie-oy 2010