The cracking sound above the Freud sisters is the royal guard shooting black clouds brimming with hailstones over the Thames. From the terrace, Anna taps the glowing throat of a cigarette into her father's skull he saved from medical school. We are all emptied, she thinks. Salvador is late and has been for two years painting double images—swans, so unlike hailstones over the water. Ice stirring the bottom to the surface. Sophie folds newspaper into origami birds to float in the melted crook of her highball. The cut crystal fragments The Times, tickets to the Ballet Russe, pictures of trombones, into Braque's collage. She watches each headline becoming part of a floating body, blending the ink in to skin: "The Rookpund Lake Skeletons"—600 found by a park ranger— carbon date back to the 12th century. How it took seven centuries to find them broken around a remote lake in the Himalayas. Their deaths misdiagnosed—as doctors will do— landslide, ambush, epidemic. Scooped from ice, each skull with the same fracture. Sudden hailstorm—stones as big as cricket balls in the flayed valley. No cover. Sophie snatches the page, turns it into a hat for Lola barking at cannon shots softer than thunder. Patting the dog near the ashtray, Anna wonders whether the animals fled and no one noticed before the storm, smelling the stones in the air.
Copyright © 2009 by Anna Journey. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.