1. the conjurer
She looked at her curling hands, manifesting nothing, and screamed why? but only in her head. Her mouth, too, was not her own, paper-dry and strange. The body’s unrequested performance: both a trick of control and lack thereof. Remembering a Seurat painting in the Orsay: a yellow-costumed rider standing on the back of a white horse, frozen but turning endless circles inside a ring. A clown, acrobat, ringmaster, and the audience gazing upon her curved limbs, bent in an act recalled from the depths of the body as if in a dream. Accusatory tips of hair, mane, and clothes point in judgement. The entertainment of witchcraft, the witchcraft of entertainment. She remembers, and a flutter of repetitive sounds bursts from her lips like applause—
I don't know, I don't know,
I don't know.
Little teeth clatter their approval as her constricting hands recall both nautili and the womb.
2. the gleaners
They wanted to upturn the metal waste bin, to draw out and read what they thought must be sheet after sheet of stories imprinted on tissue-thin scrolls like some ancient library of crêpe-paper entrails. Laid out, torn off, then forsaken for each new entrance like winding sheets or moulted silences, snaking. A parade of figures whose remainders were more articulate than the poor words that had tried to be drawn from their mouths; those little fish could do nothing but splutter and writhe when exposed to the world.
3. the fisherman
Each day he sat in a windowless room playing miniature tapes of appointment notes. Listening and rewinding as he typed, the hypnotic click-and-whirl of the tape machine released its hourly secrets in calm voices, great nets of flailing emotions. As his fingers grew numb with repetition, he imagined himself an automaton powered by the words of others. At the end of each session, names of medications and experienced side effects were repeated, doses adjusted. The shifting dosage numbers moved as an infinite line in his head, like a scrolling market index—
Up 5 grams, down 2 grams.
He fantasised about those voices: catching his own emotions as he pieced together reassurances with scraps of words that did not belong to him; a scavenger among the plastic carcasses. In his imagination he played back his regrets. First with nostalgia, then with the incredulity that he could rewind but never return.
Tomoé Hill’s work has been featured in publications such as Vestoj, MAP Magazine, Socrates on the Beach, Exacting Clam, The London Magazine, Music & Literature, and Lapsus Lima, as well as the anthologies We’ll Never Have Paris (Repeater Books) and Azimuth (Sonic Art Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University). Songs for Olympia, a response to The Ribbon at Olympia’s Throat by Michel Leiris will be forthcoming in 2023 from Sagging Meniscus Press. Twitter @CuriosoTheGreat
Still Life with City
reviewed by Ashley Wagner
... This is a writer who can accomplish hugely imaginative leaps with very little space, minimalist flash firing on all cylinders ...
Whatever Happened to Ann Darrow?
by Sara Dobbie
... She lives in my spare room, forever caught in the leathery palm of her monstrous abductor ...