Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Garden Laundry Candle
By Paul Edward Costa

Somewhere a cluster of linens lie on the grass, layered into the shape of a pyramid. A single scented candle rests on the peak of this soft structure. Its wick burns like magnesium, sending out a glow to places whose illumination is counterbalanced only by areas with an extreme absence of light…


The sad stone children smeared with dirt ask that you remain silent. They each hold one finger to their granite lips.

Enjoy this moment of peace and reflection. Don’t look at it as the present. Don’t look at is as now. If you do, you may forget and devalue everything within arm’s reach. Imagine this close cluster of time as the past with yourself standing in the white light of the future looking back in sorrow.

And why not sorrow? This garden hold’s dusk’s mystical light like a crystal. The dark grass murmurs with an internal mystery. And the classical white youthful statues! They insist upon your silence. Some gaze around in wonder. In their stillness they withhold information. They suggest the nearby presence of terrible, beautiful wonders. You feel not scared or bored. Curiosity remains, prevailing in the blessed absence of heavy stones like satisfaction or fear. Such pure feelings in this dreamlike place.

…of course you look back at this scene with sorrow while in the future’s white light. Now cease your dark regretful imaginings. Open your eyes. You are not looking back at this serenity from a blind empty future. You are standing in the now, and now is this midnight garden of awe, and this realization is a gift.

A holy ache courses through your muscles. You sit on the garden’s wrought iron bench. You feel spent and content. No paths presently lead out of the garden, but you now feel able to forge one someday with confidence. What is this feeling? A sense of accomplishment overcomes your mind. What did you achieve? What did you construct?

A white tower rises far away in the night fog behind you. It lies in another isolated place within these black lands of midnight. Blood stains streak down its stucco walls. Sounds of life and laughter echo from its top rooms. Green neon letters spell W E L C O M E over the tower’s arched front door. The first three letters are burned out. Spotlights shine through midnight’s fog from the tower’s roof. These lights do not reach the garden where you sit. You never turn around to try meeting them with your eyes.

What does reach you are innumerable groans from the tower’s base and from deep beneath its foundations. They still come out of the dark past to claw at your ears. What’s that in your hands, hanging limply between your knees? You still hold the antique crossbow made of brass and wood from a yew tree because the groans never come alone. They bring their living hosts: ravenous skeletons, half crushed and caked with dirt, pulling themselves through the dark with bony fingers, leaving drag marks rippling through the blackness. One with a bolt through its skull remains mangled in the garden’s closed gate behind you, the same gate you used when entering this place. Its one frail arm lies stretched out on the grass with a single index finger pointing towards you, followed by its skeletal face, whose bone brow and open jaw twist into an expression of rage, silently screaming a grave accusation in your direction.

It feels like the only thing left to do is sit quietly on the garden’s bench while surveying what lies ahead with introspective contemplation. Don’t move your body. Become like the sad stone children, except for your eyes. Let them drift to the right and to the left in their sockets. Feel them move in your skull, soft spherical organs unchanged since yours birth. Feel them move while surveying the tight, tall expansive hedge marking the farthest edge of the garden. Vines and branches twist in on themselves towards a singularity. Green leaves cover them in clusters so close only a few streams of wind pass in from the night beyond. The hedge’s structural complexities bend, guide and morph the wind into whispers snaking through the garden. Sitting still, almost frozen, you listen hard to the whispers balanced maddeningly between music and language.

The sad stone children smeared with dirt ask that you remain silent. They each hold one finger to their granite lips.


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Paul Edward Costa has previously published short fiction in MacMedia, The Flying Walrus, Shorthand and Timber. He currently teaches high school in Ontario, Canada with the Peel District School Board.


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