Ale de Luis was born upside-down, with the umbilical cord around her neck, to a Spanish father and Canadian mother. She resolves her clearly tenuous attachment to existence by writing whenever she can. Her work has appeared in Amberflora, Idle Ink, River Heron Review, and others. Currently based in London, Ale spends most of her time dancing and writing storylines for video games. Find her on Instagram at @churchofmidnight, or on Twitter @Ale_at_Midnight.
Someone Put a Haribo in the Mouth of a Lion
On this gentle morning,
it is hard to feel lonely.
We walk past people,
dutiful in their quiet rebellions.
Two girls sit on the steps to their house,
the sun dripping off their teacups,
on a weekday.
As they drink, their matching pyjamas
billow with laughter.
A man relaxes,
legs dangling off scaffolding.
No one cares that he isn’t building, or repairing,
The music through his headphones swells
the street into something more,
something beating with reason.
I toss a crumb of pastry
to a blue-black crow,
who caws deeply in recognition.
I blink and ten more have joined it, waiting.
There is food to be found here,
there is joy.
How hungry we all are for this freedom.
A Girl and Her Crow
My crow greets me halfway where I need him,
exactly a minute before I give up altogether.
He tilts his head disapprovingly,
as though wondering
what on earth
could have possibly taken me so long,
he hasn’t got all day,
or all night,
for that matter.
He follows along, half-flapping,
hopping when he needs to.
Today he hobbles,
one of his black feet small
and gathered up like dry hibiscus.
He does not need help;
merely, a split second of attention.
Before he goes, his wings catch the light,
and I see all those colors hidden within him:
an oil slick;
the sticky remnants of a long-eaten blueberry pancake.
Finally, he takes off,
flying exactly like the very concept of love
would ask him to.
I open my eyes to time-hardened floorboards,
and echoing footsteps.
I am surrounded by figures poised,
perfectly polished in death and love and pain.
They are white, cold and unblemished,
An example one must always fall short of,
By birthmark or blood.
There is a girl here,
Her back is turned to me as she examines a winged angel,
Transfixed and still impossibly in flight.
I am facing a statue,
A stern woman sitting, a desperate man kneeling before her,
And I can see through to the moment his skin flaked away
And all that remained was grey-veined marble,
His head resting on her stone knees
In eternal supplication.
A recorded imprint of love itself and yet,
I am the one watching with my wide eyes and I
am still flesh, overwhelming flesh
Far too alive to be worshipped.
And the girl and I both learn at once
That being remembered is a terrible cruelty
And so we leave the room,
And are beautifully forgotten.
With our swollen legs,
We march past the cracked graves
of the long dead, the gleaming ones
of the new,
because they’ve all died
and we’re all dying, now,
for a chance to live,
to probe old churches and flowering gardens,
for secrets, for peace;
for a life where we can all see daffodils and crocuses
with unhungry eyes
that don’t need to pluck,
For now, you say, there is no creation
that does not do net harm,
but we can dream.
I cannot dream; I can only want.
I want a life beyond life, beyond duty;
beyond those patterns that seem stuck between our eyes
like the sight of distant snipers.
I want my children to run here;
I want them to see how flowers grow
in the exact shape of the corpses that feed them;
I want them to peer through the doors of a cathedral and watch,
in secret, in wonder,
as stained glass comes alive
with the wail of a violin.