Episode iii: The Day the Shelling Started

Liz Gallagher


for Zena el-Khalil

The doctors said her tumours had shrunk. A wedding
took place across the street. Everyone stopped at the red

lights. She wants to cash checks, stop the mosquitoes
coming in the window and prevent small children

from wading through garbage heaps. She lists by candlelight
the things she doesn’t want to leave behind: the doodles

she drew on the balcony after the break-up, family pictures,
love letters, glitter and paint, her Siamese who cowers

in an empty milk crate stained with vomit. Plain wooden
caskets are just big enough to hold babies. They lie

alongside a white freezer truck. An artist in Lebanon ties
a microphone to his balcony to record the Summer Rain

of bombs breaking the sound barrier, he plays the trumpet
in the background and sketches drawings in the hushed seconds

of a starry night. An ex-hostage dreams of the bloodletting
being over. He imagines one day sitting under a magnificent

oak and letting the beauty of the place soak into him.


[First published in The Pedestal Magazine]

Liz Gallagher is Irish and lives in the Canary Islands, Spain. She has poetry, fiction and non-fiction work published or forthcoming in Stirring, The Pedestal Magazine, Wicked Alice, Kaleidowhirl, The Hiss Quarterly, No Journal, Arsenic Lobster, The Mad Hatter’s Review and others. She placed first in the Inter Board Poetry Competition in December 2006. She was selected for the Best New Poets 2007 anthology.