Healthline Zine, Swim Press, and The Cloudscent Journal welcome you to submit to our first collaborative contest Ekphrasis.
A brief description of ekphrastic creative writing has been provided on our website and collective social media pages.
We ask you to select one of three carefully curated prompts to inspire your piece; Detail of Summer Night by Aloys Bohnen, The Lost Tribe by Jehangir Sabavala, and Falling Star by Witold Pruszkowski.
Here are sample pieces of prose and hybrid poetry by our staff creatives Nicole Verbitsky and Keerthana A. that utilise Jehangir Sabavala's painting, The Lost Tribe, as ekphrastic reference. A poetry sample can be found here.
Mirages of Togetherness
1 . PRE-MIRAGE
You're in a desert with yourself and the sunrays cut you into little pieces like the unfound reason of your existence. The sands are chipping, cutting, slicing through the cracked, thirsty crevices of your heels. They enter the nascent gorges, their joy at something touching their hot bodies quickly closing once they realise it's the sand, and it will always be the sand. You walk throughout the days and nights with no direction, after the guide left with another, their hands extending against each other. You walk with no direction as the sandstorm whips, crashes against the forced energy and natural tiredness of your body. You know there's a sandstorm, you know you should be running against the wind's current— but survival is just something your body abandoned long ago. All that is left is a sand-laden void that refuses to be filled, refuses to be empty, refuses to be human.
2 . IN-MIRAGE
The void has been lifted aloft in the air by your hands as you enter the sandstorm's chambers, so utterly alone that even the sun can't catch your footsteps for shadows. But what's this that you must see? Inside the sandstorm— where you should be seeing water, that goddess— you see them. The Guides, in their technicolour, continually fluttering in your wait. You see that their stand, their wait, is yours. You see them and believe in their longing for you, you believe that you could be loved in the sandstorm. You believe that their colour can touch your grey, grisly body and can turn it divine, like their very own. Run, they are whispering, Run to me. And so you run through the fast storms to quench the never-ending thirst for their love, their bodies. The bodies in technicolor keep evading you, and you think you know the sandstorm's large, sky-kissing body, but they've lived inside this land all their lives. So they keep running away, and you keep running after. Until you realise that they are crafted by the masterful hand of the desert sands, and as you collapse inside the storm, you sense that there will be no one, and there is no one, to rescue you from yourself.
3 . POST-MIRAGE
Deliverance, your cracked, fiery throat begs in the storm. Your God has abandoned you, yet you plead for deliverance. Your God has left you to tend to their sands, and so you scratch your throat. Blood erupts through the volcanoes created on your skin, and you beg, you plunge your teeth into the sand and swallow the stones and sands and shells and tell god to commence the funerary rites. You howl at god to ascend and light the pyre to your soul— and like the caring god they are, they bring the black,-veiled wizened, sand-duned women. They at once summon their wails as my entire heart tears, oozes out of the shreds. The sandstorm begins to pause, and you are watching how slow it churned, how comforting it was when the Guides were there. But there is no one for you. But now you've been left behind into the millions of sand grains as they hold grains apart from you in their palms. As the veils touch your weakening waif of a body, you finally know the feeling when someone is never going to let you go. The age-old emotion of where you cannot be replaced, where you cannot be used. That's how the veils make you feel, as your body finally begins its descent into the ground's hidden waters, never to resurface ever again.
Find your fire, says the arsonist,
surrender yourself to the flame
wrapped around your waist;
He strikes a gaze instead at the veil’s cascade,
her smile slips in the mirror of those glossy eyes (away
from the copacetic masquerade and tidal tails).
Instead, she levitates
over the qualms of his stirring limerence.
While her wrists are entangled in pearls,
her arms dangle in the holographic sheen of suspense —
the ecstasy that chimes through lace
disembodied coils of abyss,
an incredible absence.
In the hope that she disintegrates
against the mottled boundaries,
his nirvana splits the threshold; it splits the only warmth
this sun sees in our emergence (it refuses to budge for apathy).
She winds down and twists under the faintest starlight,
with Phoebus lasered into her head,
gifting compliments to her raven hair and haloed glow.
Maybe she danced too close to the sun,
but she will watch the arsonist burn
and melt into irrelevance, a remnant of