In a world without water, gold dust is only dust. In a house without light, a boy stands on tiptoes to sweep high ledges, sneezing in disturbed plumes. His knees are bruised from stone steps and his wrists are chafed by imaginary cords that keep him indoors. Some days he remembers wings, some days he remembers water, and he thinks he remembers wading birds on the edge of a lake so wide that it could have been the sea. If he could untie all the knots, he believes he would leave, but his fingers are stiff as quills, and other people’s dreams are blocking the doors and windows with their upgrades and deluxe extras. In a world without light, paper money is only paper. In a room without lamps or candles, a boy peels strips from desiccated walls and rolls the scraps into fine spills. His eyes are blank from looking only inwards and his skin is pocked with imaginary wounds. Some days he remembers to eat, some days he remembers his name, and he thinks he remembers his mother’s voice calling as he floated in a lake so blue that it could have been the sky. If he could breathe in the stifling dust, he believes he would leave, but the only warmth comes from burning notes that give off no light, and his breath is as dry as pressed flowers.
Oz Hardwick is a UK-based poet, photographer, musician, and academic, whose work has been published widely in international journals and anthologies. He has published nine full collections and chapbooks, including Learning to Have Lost (Canberra: IPSI, 2018) which won the 2019 Rubery International Book Award for poetry, and most recently the prose poetry sequence Wolf Planet (Clevedon: Hedgehog, 2020). Oz has held residencies in the UK, Europe, the US and Australia, and has performed internationally at major festivals and intimate soirees. He is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, where he leads the postgraduate Creative Writing programmes. www.ozhardwick.co.uk