The scuffed rhinestone boots stand sentry in the doorway, phantoms of feet going nowhere now. Once proud beacons of disco strobes, a blur in the beat of Gloria Gaynor. Paul is as small as he has ever been, a rack of brittle bones poking through the sheets. Maw open in a ratchety snore. Paul, honey, it’s me, I say, setting down cheerful sunflowers from the market stall downstairs. The hospice people warned he’d been unresponsive for days. Probably wouldn’t wake up again.
Two weeks ago he’d had enough left in him to beg to be wheeled outside for a cigarette. He was wearing the Hefner-esque robe he loved, the smoking jacket he’d always had on in the wee hours when we came by looking for party favours. Then, though, with a pink boa.
There was a wreath brooch holding the housecoat together over his swollen belly. It read, “make the Yuletide gay,” in old-fashioned lettering. With Paul, it was always Christmas. We would help him string rainbow lights and popcorn garlands in October. The tree would still be up come March.
That afternoon, Paul had puffed away, thin shoulders shuddering behind the smoke. You got a bump for me, honey? I shook my head. I’d been out of rehab over two years. He was too far gone to remember.
The silence now is strange. I flick on his kitschy flamingo radio, fumble for something festive, find Sinatra. I’m sitting there, bopping away in his kingdom, like the days of yore. Suddenly, Paul takes a loud breath and sits straight up, eyes empty and wild. Well, deck the bloody halls then, won’t you? he says, but he doesn’t see me. He waves an imaginary cigarette in his skeleton hand. What do you think, darling? he asks. The poinsettia would look fabulous over there.
is from Toronto, Canada and writes prose poetry, flash, and other forms of little stories. Her work has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including Gyroscope, Free Flash Fiction, Bright Flash, Club Plum, Red Eft, and Indelible, among others. Her story The Neon Raven won first place in a writing challenge at MacQueen’s Quinterly, and her work has been nominated multiple times for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Her most recent of six collections of prose poems are Pretty Time Machine (2020) and Winter in June (2021). Some of her works have been translated into Urdu.
Lorette is founder and editor of The Ekphrastic Review (established 2015), a journal devoted to writing inspired by art. She is also an award-winning visual artist, with collectors in 30 countries from Estonia to Qatar. Visit her at: www.mixedupmedia.ca
Two Must-Read Books by The Queen of Ekphrasis, commentary in
MacQ-9 (August 2021) by Clare MacQueen, with links to additional resources
Featured Author: Lorette C. Luzajic at Blue Heron Review,
with two of her prose poems (“Disappoint” and “The Piano Man”);
plus “Poet as Pilgrim,” a review of Pretty Time Machine by Mary
McCarthy (March 2020)
Fresh Strawberries, an ekphrastic prose poem in KYSO Flash
(Issue 11, Spring 2019), nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize