Above the plastic-cluttered high tide line there’s an empty pair of wings. Probably a kittiwake, with feathers of pearl grey, ink-dipped and grafted to a stub of spine.
The rest of what made it a kittiwake is gone: the head and lungs and crying call, but nothing wants these two wings. What would? All the world knows that only the birds can make
anything of them. A sudden gust flips them over, the wind knowing well how to lift this structure it evolved. They leave two scoops in the dry sand, symmetrical dips
like those corny angels I made with you in the snow. At least it’s something to show for what was left; but even that will blow away. The wind knows how to shift sand, too.
Karen Macfarlane lives in Perthshire and spends as much time as possible letting Scotland’s coast and islands inspire her. She is studying for a BA (Art & Humanities) with the Open University. Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared in various magazines, including Poetry Scotland and Spelt.
Paths, whether footbridges or dirt roads or railroads, indisputably exist with a purpose. They were never intended to be deserted when they were created. But paths are deserted, as though such a fate is inevitable.
I often wonder: Do they face existential crises when they are deserted? Do they continue to stand alone with hope and faith or do they continue to stand out of helplessness?
But the question that haunts me is this: Are they wary of the indifference of their surroundings? To me, the word ‘empty’ signifies emotional emptiness, and the word ‘spaces’ means physical places; but when I put the two words together, ‘empty spaces’ remind me of the indifference of the universe towards deserted places.
Through this photograph series, allow me to take you to three deserted paths I found during my 2020 pre-pandemic trip to the northern districts of West Bengal in India – or as we collectively call them, North Bengal. There were tourists around me, albeit a handful, yet these paths stood deserted either completely or for a moment in time.
Suntaleykhola, a village and tourist attraction in Eastnar Forest (Gorubathan, Kalimpong District in West Bengal, India). A footbridge stands over a stream, alone and drenched in rain while the hills and her trees remain indifferent.
Jaldapara National Park, home to the largest population of the nearly extinct Indian one-horned rhinos, at the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas on the banks of the Torsa River (Alipurduar District in West Bengal, India). A dirt road stands in the middle of a clearing, alone, while the forest and her creatures remain indifferent.
Ellenbarrie Tea Garden, a privately owned tea estate between National Highway 17 and the Teesta River (Malbazar, Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal, India). A railroad stands in the middle of a tea garden, alone while the tea plantations and their underpaid workers remain indifferent.
Tejaswinee Roychowdhury is an Indian lawyer, writer, poet, artist and photographer. Her works have been published worldwide and can be found on her website. Twitter (@TejaswineeRC).
My visual art is inspired by emotionally transportive experiences during my walks –a perceived enchantment of being the only one in the world, or a sense of wonder from so much ordinary beauty. I take spontaneous photographs of landscapes and empty urban spaces, capturing the purity of a fleeting witnessed moment. My images are often dream-like and timeless, evoking feelings of nostalgia, mystery, and solitude.
Spaces Inside Spaces
When I took ‘Spaces Inside Spaces’ I was inside a crowded international airport on a busy travel weekend. Yet wandering just a few gates away, I found myself strangely alone in unoccupied, abandoned spaces.
The Ethereal Nothingness
With ‘The Ethereal Nothingness’, I had woken one morning to the lure of ship horns sounding in the fog. I took my camera down to the sea and disappeared into the mist.
Karin Hedetniemi is a nonfiction writer and photographer from Vancouver Island, Canada. Her atmospheric images appear in numerous literary journals including Barren Magazine, CutBank and Parentheses; on the covers of Pithead Chapel and 3Elements Review; and have been nominated for Best of the Net. Find her online or on Twitter (@karinhedet).
Snail slow, we pass neighbours stiff as sentries lining the crescent they call a waiting room for the graveyard. On the main road a bus queue of pensioners pays its respects in what looks like a choreographed routine. When the lights at the bridge are against us you drum the seat as I twist Mum’s ring, the one you said I had no right to, round my too-fat-for-it finger. We stare straight ahead, The Favourite and The Other One, although we never could agree which was which. I ask if you remember the time Grandad’s trilby blew off here, in a blizzard, on his way to wait in for the man coming to mend the telly and we found it, days later, sad and soggy in the thaw. Your lips twitch, but just in time you remember we’re officially not speaking. In silence we pass the school where I fulfilled my potential and you failed to live up to expectations, and the park where you hung out with the rest of the cool kids while I sat in my bedroom watching Top of the Pops on a black and white portable, writing poems that read like suicide notes. We crawl past the pub where we had our first underage drink, me part of your gang for once, stumbling home, arm in arm, to Dad on the doorstep, half-pissed himself and doing his best not to laugh as he read us the riot act. I give you a shy sideways glance and know, somehow, that you’re thinking of the same thing. By the time the car turns into the driveway up to the crematorium our hands have breached the space between us, and our little fingers are entwined.
Alison Wassell is a flash fiction and short story writer, published by Bath Flash Fiction Award, Retreat West, Reflex Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, NFFD and other random places. She lives in the North West of England with her elderly cat and has no desire whatsoever to write a novel. She wishes people would value short fiction more highly.
Frank William Finney is the author of The Folding of the Wings (Finishing Line Press). His poems can be found in Journal of Undiscovered Poets, The Metaworker, Tiny Wren Lit and elsewhere. He is a former lecturer from Massachusetts who taught literature at Thammasat University in Thailand for 25 years.
In the warm dry night a wind carries the new scent. I strain my senses, imagining leaf colours not visible to me now.
Frances Boyle is a Canadian author, whose third poetry collection is forthcoming in fall 2022. Her earlier books include two poetry collections, a novel and a short story collection. Her writing has been published throughout North America and internationally. Frances lives and writes in Ottawa.
This photo was captured sometime during the covid-19 pandemic on the eastern coast of Singapore.The shot is a reminder of rising sea levels, disappearing coastlines and of a bleak futureshould we turn a blind eye on our ecosystems and natural environment.
Elancharan Gunasekaran is inspired by Dadaist movements, butoh and anarchism. He believes that humans are capable of governing themselves without the need of political systems. His art often involves experimenting with visual and literary forms on the raw aspects of the human condition, climate change and man-made / natural phenomena.
This photo was taken in my hometown and to me, it evokes this feeling of being slowly swallowed by something you can’t change, something that stays the same or keeps getting bigger and bigger until you’re swallowed whole by it and left with nothing. It has that in common with empty spaces where nothing will change in either space unless deliberate actions are taken to change the space; or, as one of my therapists has put it, nothing changes if nothing changes.
Shawn Ferrari (she/they) writes different third-person bios each time that she submits her work to publications, but they’re unsure if anyone has caught on to that. What people have probably seen though is her work in Wrongdoing Magazine, HOLYFLEA!, Queerlings and her twitter (@cursed_car).
if you enjoy bone crushing boredom and writing imaginary letters to imaginary councils about imaginary ice on imaginary pavements. Imagine how easy life would have been if you’d managed a C at GCSE.
Tracey Pearson is a poet and flash fiction writer from Newcastle upon Tyne. Her work is published in print anthologies, magazines and online. Tracey’s recent writing appears in Culture Matters, Dreich, SelcouthStation, Visual Verse and Poetry Wales.