This Pattern of Light Wanders All Over the Ocean, Seeking Prey

by | Jonathan Cardew - February Day 2

From the thrum of his hospital room my father asks for my elegant friend– Laura with the starlit hair, so I don’t remind him how he’d once picked me up at midnight from the now-suicided Laura’s house in a country that spat on justice, a country we’d left long ago along with Laura and her mother, who, high on heroin that night poked me out of her daughter’s bed with a kitchen knife, said get out get out of my daughter’s life, and Dad remembers not the knife nor the name of his wife and only sometimes the land we left but says how wonderful my girl to have had such a dear friend in this difficult world.

(Combining prompts from Day 1 and Day 2. The title is a line in Pale Blue Dot, from my bookshelf, and the form is a single sentence.)


  1. Al Kratz

    yes this is pretty breathless. i like the spat on justice and the faded memory even of something this big turning into just something wonderful to have had.

    • Lisa Alletson

      Thank you, Al. I was worried this might be too plot-heavy, but my Dad’s way of thinking about life helped me wrap it up.

  2. Jonathan Cardew


    Gosh, this is fantastic! What a sentence! I love the movement of this and the characters, especially the characters. Even in this short frame, we experience a world of story bubbling beneath the surface. You tread a careful line between realism and abstractness–definitely veering into the prose poem realm but what is poetry? Isn’t it everywhere?

    “Laura with the starlit hair… now-suicided Laura…” You have a brilliant sub-character in Laura–really she’s front and center, which anchors this piece.

    You should send this one out! My only thought: consider replacing “difficult” with another adjective. This part really comes into land, but perhaps it could have even more impact as something stronger. Not sure about this, and I do like “difficult.”


    • Lisa Alletson

      Oh, thank you!
      Laura was a brilliant person and her life still inspires me.
      I agree about using the word ‘difficult.’ I threw it in at the last second, but I might find another way at it. I’ll look into places to submit.

      Much appreciated,

  3. Benjamin Niespodziany

    Wow! This reads like such a flurry of hurried words (in a good way). Breathless, as Al said. I mean, “high on heroin that night poked me out of her daughter’s bed with a kitchen knife” is such a striking visual. Well done!

  4. Len Kuntz

    Hi Lisa,
    This is a taut gem, replete with a ton of emotion and action all in a lone sentence. Then ending really seals it. So well done.

  5. David O'Connor

    Lisa, great title, great twists, my only thought is I could read much much more of this… so. intrigued, hooked. Thank you.

    • Lisa Alletson

      Glad you liked the title. I wasn’t sure if readers would figure out how to connect it to the story. Thank you!

  6. Robert Vaughan

    Hi Lisa, for some reason I thought of Three Blind Mice (carving knife?) which is weird because you had the rats in your piece yesterday. And that is really random feedback. Overall, love the one sentence whoosh of this, the overall take-away is multi-layered, lush, and haunting. You are one hell of a talent, my friend.

    • Lisa Alletson

      Hi Robert. Your first comment made me realize knife keep coming up in my writing, including my latest. Weird!

      Thanks for your encouragement on this piece. You’re giving me a ton of confidence.

  7. Kristin Bonilla

    Starlit hair. Wow, so much good stuff here. I don’t have any suggestions because this feels done to me. Just gorgeous!

    • Lisa Alletson

      Wow, thanks for this, Kristin. I’ve made a minor change based on Jonathan’s feedback and just submitted it to a journal.

  8. Wilson Koewing


    Wonderful, breathless piece. Like Cardwallis said, so much story bubbling under the surface. I wondered what the country in question was. Also, while I love the word “suicided,” in this usage it felt a little almost insensitive to the deceased. What I mean is it’s sort of like a cool word. As a word it reminds me of a very rebellious woman in high school wearing a leather jacket or something. If that makes any sense.


    • Lisa Alletson


      Maybe the reference to the country is too distracting. I’ll play with that. I grew up in apartheid-era South Africa.

      REALLY interested in your comment on ‘suicided.’ I didn’t realize it was an in-word, but I see what you mean about the sensitivity. I actually thought I’d made it up until I looked it up when I wrote this. Funnily enough, your description kind of nails her in the 80s.


  9. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Lisa, Thanks for the gift of this one. Strong details, a sure sense of craft, and the title is wonderful. You say it’s borrowed, so I say, you know what to keep! The knife will haunt, as will the hospital bed.

  10. John Steines

    Hi Lisa. Lots communicated in short order. I love the word thrum. It seems perfect for a hospital. Dad’s got memory loss, so I think ‘age-related’ and of course he recalls the long ago beauty, action edited out. It’s funny in that way, and sad, frightening. Nicely packed.

  11. Georgiana Nelsen

    this is not only a breathless paragraph, but one that made me actually hold my breath, so much tragedy drawn so beautifully. Well done.

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