KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 5: Spring 2016
Tanka Prose: 276 words [R]

Carved in Stone

by David Terelinck

There is a calm here. A quiet acceptance of what has passed.

Despite names lost to weather and time, Celtic cross and shamrock still sing of Irish roots. Trading hawthorn and rowan for the strangeness of eucalypt and wattle, what did they think of life in this infant land?

We walk slowly through this world of silence. Paspalum fronds scratch at our legs as they escape the caged confines of where they’ve taken root. A light mist begins to fall, and we shelter under the branches of a large gum. Empty eye sockets stare up from the overgrown plot beside us. We look closely and see the skull of a small animal. Then shoulder plates, long bones, an intact rib cage...and I wonder at the things I cannot see.

and fortune tellers
can be wrong—
the difference between
too much or too little?

I run my fingers through the soft needles on a dark green pine sweeping low over a headstone. You touch the marble and trace the outline of a name, as if reading Braille is as natural to you as breathing. We talk softly of the harshness of a time when life often ended in single figures.

As the rain lets up we head off towards the small sandstone building in the centre of the grounds. Windows, curtained with decades of grime, become mirrors for our own curiosity. The old mortuary chapel, doors now closed forever, keeps silent counsel of those who crossed the threshold.

gentle sway
of a mourning cypress...
between two points
of life and death
their stories carved in stone

—One of two Honorable Mentions (unranked) in the 2015 Tanka Prose Contest (A Tanka Society of America Fifteenth Anniversary Special Event); republished here with permissions from the author and the Tanka Society of America

Note from the Tanka Society of America (TSA):

Last year we celebrated TSA’s 15th anniversary with a special event, a tanka prose contest. Each submission to the contest included a title, a prose portion not exceeding 300 words, and one to three tanka. The noted writer and editor Bob Lucky (also a KYSO Flash contributor) selected first, second, and third prize winners and two honorable mentions. All five works are republished in this issue of KYSO Flash. The results and contest details are available at the Society’s website.

David Terelinck
Issue 5, Spring 2016

is widely published in international tanka journals. In 2011 he was on the editorial panel for Take Five Best Contemporary Tanka 2011, co-edited Grevillea & Wonga Vine: Australian Tanka of Place with Beverley George, and published his first tanka collection, Casting Shadows. David was awarded third place in the Spirit of Japan Tanka Contest 2011. In 2012 he joined the editorial panel of Gusts: Contemporary Tanka.

The poet’s website:

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