We stand high on the edge of the curving road and look down
at a darkening farrago of fields, street capillaries,
lights laid in uneven grids igniting one by one,
each marking a family, a couple, a person
Beside me, she tugs a red curl from the side of her face
lets it spring back to place, then speaks
in almost-straight lines.
She says she used to feel tantalisingly blank,
as if she were a toddler with rainbow crayons
surrounded by fresh white wallpaper.
But now she feels a nauseous headache building
like that brought on by hunching in gloom
staring through the unwritten essay
to the unfocused drone of a screen’s backlight.
Snow blindness had begun to creep in.
Cars in the background hummed a light grey rhythm
as I emptied a few clumsy words into the air:
‘Too much choice is no choice at all’, I said,
and the line echoed in the space between us
casting tiny shadows of itself.
She said we had to stay up here,
away from the gaudy evening below;
the viscous press of bodies,
lipstick and moustaches asking her again, again
what she was going to do now.
She couldn’t hide from them how she comprised
fistfuls of mismatched jigsaw pieces,
malfunctioning valves and membranes.
If she opened her lips they would hear the groan and shudder of misaligned cogs.
She told me that the breathless scope of the night,
the small town puddled at her feet
showing stars reflected in living room lights,
they were making her talk like an idiot.
So we exchanged sellotape-smiles
Elena Orde, Ekphrasis
British, b. 1991, playing from Chester, England
Completed BA English with Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. Currently completing an MA English Literature at UoB and working on various creative side-projects. Contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook at Elena Snells Orde.
Thoughts on the Telephone process
This has been a really fun and interesting experience. The task at first seemed impossible and ridiculous, but with each drafting stage became clearer. The overall experience has been very fulfilling and has encouraged me to keep writing.