KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Tanka tale: 280 words

Bittersweet Nothings

by Claire Everett
—for all those without a voice

from the diving bell
of a stifling summer’s day
the shadow
of a silken something
thrumming against the blinds

Here, now, more than a decade since your last “Mum!” A wonder that you are still walking, that having found your feet they were never lost. For this small mercy we must thank that mutated gene.

And so your waking hours are spent pacing back and forth, back and forth, between your own demarcations, lines drawn in invisible sand: up to, but never beyond, the open French windows; no more than two steps along the green corridor with its many rooms you’ve never known. All the while, wringing your hands.

you love me to sing
Beautiful dreamer,
wake unto me...
what do you know of starlight
or this world made of dew?

Laughter spills when moments ago there were tears; your emotions, by turns, like kaleidoscope beads. Cheek to my shoulder, you jostle me for a hug. Then, knuckles pressed to my sternum, you tiptoe-rage, watching my lips as if every word I utter will be profound. But in trying to capture even a little of your spark, I might as well take a lasso to a field of fireflies.

you say nothing
yet everything
holding my gaze
the eyespots
on a butterfly’s wings


Author’s Notes:

1. “Beautiful Dreamer” (1864) by Stephen Collins Foster (1826–1864).

2. The images of the diving bell and the butterfly are a nod to the late Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered from “locked-in syndrome” after a devastating stroke and whose extraordinary memoir, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly, was published in France in March 1997.

Claire Everett
Issue 10, Fall 2018

is the founding editor of Skylark tanka journal and former tanka-prose editor for Haibun Today. She is the author of two tanka collections: twelve moons and The Small, Wild Places. She is co-author of Hagstones: A Tanka Journey with Joy McCall, and Talking in Tandem with her husband, Tony Everett. Claire served on the editorial team for Take Five Best Contemporary Tanka (Volume 4, 2011), and in 2015 she edited the Tanka Society of America’s Members’ Anthology, Spent Blossoms. She joined the editorial panel for the Red Moon Anthology in 2017.

Claire is mum to five children and step-mum to two and likes nothing better than to be cycling through the Dales with Tony on their trusty tandem Tallulah, or walking on the North Yorkshire Moors.

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