Bella Li


When you enter the room it is through the door at the end
of a long corridor. The door is painted red but the room
is blue. The body of the man sits at the table in the far
right hand corner. It does not move. The twisted cord
you pick up from the ground next to his shiny black
shoes is as stiff as a malt whiskey and just as good.
There is a radio on the table. There is a radio on
the table playing Cagney playing Bogart playing
himself. The radio is listening to you. You are
listening to what is coming through the open
window even though it makes no sound
even though it is as silent as the man
in the chair. Something coming
through the window and you
can feel the hairs on your
neck do their little dance
and when you exit as
you must now that
you have entered
it is through
the win

In the room the curtains move.
In the room the curtains move.

South of the water

South of the water, Miss Myra lifts her hoop skirts across a minor abyss in the barroom floor. She sits delicately, whiskey sour in hand, near the window with the air blank and brooding (demoniac?) behind her. Outside the earth churns its muddy music; West Wind blowing, carrying the smell of burning and flesh, knives in the parlour, while an old slave bends to the ground, acutely watching the horizon with his ears. The sound that rises—clear, metallic, far down, down, down but coming up through the damp and the ice and six feet of frozen turnips—it goes: fan blades flicking, saloon doors swinging, ceiling shadows, hand around a drink—Miss Myra, teeth blinking, smiling like a villain.

Two children are threatened by a                , 1924

“While I was thinking back to my childhood, a vision befell me:” it was a rainy night and the floorboards were “forcing me to look at the floorboards full of marks and scratches” filling with water and “I made a series of drawings”. They consisted of a curious collection of “objects”. It was 1924. I was at                , near                , which had the effect of “a sudden increase in my visionary faculties”. It was 1942. It was 1924 and two children were threatened by a                . There was a city in the distance. I did not know its name. The sky was a diminishing shade of blue, diminishing into a city in the distance. I was “carefree, yet full of hope”. Beneath me ran the path. Beneath me ran the path that led to                . But it was 1942. And there was a “third” child (“I was staying at a small hotel by the seaside”). And there was a                on the roof. I was staying at a small hotel and “Eva, the only one left” was the only one left. It was 1924—the year of the sphinx—it was raining. It held (it was the only one) the child against the fading sky and prepared to     take          flight.

Bella Li comes from Melbourne, and her work has been published in Meanjin, Cordite, 543, The Paradise Poetry Anthology and Stop Drop and Roll.
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