Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Till Human Voices Wake Us: The Novellas of Roxanne M. Carter

For years, Roxanne Carter's novellas have enchanted me. In her worlds, deadly mermaids slink in the sea and your unconscious, little girls float to the sky, statues bleed while women dine on flowers, and childlike empresses don costume jewelry to walk in the rain, and everyone one of them will break your heart, then make it whole again. They can be read in their entirety on her website.


Photo by SixyBeast

The Tea Party

When the dreams come for you, will you be ready?

the dream house is surrounded by a garden overgrown with milkweed and rosemary. it has picture windows that the girls pose in, sipping from their teacups, flirting their eyes heavy with false eyelashes for false butterfly kisses. there is a trampoline in the backyard with a few broken springs and an orange tree, branches weighed down, bowing to the ground. aurora picks oranges and juggles them, the bright orbs spinning like triple suns in a science fiction novel. in the dream they seduce one another, and slowly they are transformed by their love and take on shapes that betray them: aurora an underground stream of blood, veronique a golden fish caught in a bowl, and linette becomes a passionate flower.


Photo by Katie Jane Parker


A novella of love lost and found in the sea

I wait for things unknown, knowing only that she is next to me. That giddy waves lap and lick our skin until we are raw with salt and sunlight. Kneeling in the sand, I close my eyes as the ocean hurdles towards me, engulfing me, the sand sifting through my hair, the sea kissing at my mouth until it is bruised and swollen. Aurelia is laughing and dancing away from the tide, her bright feet flashing along the foam as it slides back out into the Pacific. I push snarled tendrils of hair away from my face and grin at her silhouette. Her eyeliner is leaking down her cheeks, streaking like tears, but oh how she laughs and sings, her voice pushing against the waves. Digging my fingers deep into the sand, I lay with my body pressed to the earth and let the ocean move me to its ancient rhythms.

I go everywhere with Aurelia. Anywhere. We follow each other, hanging on to the threads that drift from our tattered skirts. She slides through the city unseen, like a thief or a virus with strangely seductive beauty. Her fingernails stained black from dying her hair. Her transparent skin. Her pale eyes and her body, sudden like a lightening bolt. While everyone seems to notice her, nobody sees her. We can go anywhere and not be disturbed. Yet, people we don't even recognize know our names. They can call me Cassandra, but they don't know who I am, and they never will. Not like she knows, not like I know her. No one can come between us. I am invisible, with an invisible mystery girl.


I have seen mermaids born like sea kelp, growing up from the sludge of the sea floor, faces turned up towards the unseen sky like flowers. Limbs waving like flags in the current. Pretty maidens all in a row, sing willow, willow, willow. They sway like ballerinas, the esprit de corps, slim necks extended, catching plankton in their crying mouths so screamingly well. Weeping at the embrace of the cold, dark and lonely sea. That is how we learn our songs.


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