She tells me her pain is a squall,
sudden and vicious, like a flash
storm whipping in from Bass Strait
to batter King Island.
Do you remember our Island, Garth?
Her doctors build shelters; nurses
batten hatches, but this tempest
won’t blow over. She says her pain is a vulture now,
circling the desert on threadbare wings.
A glass of water if you please, Garth?
With beak and claw, it slashes and rips
nerve endings, drinks color from her eyes.
The pain is no longer squall or vulture,
she whispers, but a flutter of pages.
One last story before bed, dear Garth?
I don’t tell her that I’m her grandson—
not her brother Garth, stolen by war.
She’s a thin sheet stretched over an empty
bed; a gull’s cry on the wind.
– Ryan Stone
first published by Eunoia Review, June 2019