Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge: Iska, Leon & freedom


The painting, What Freedom!, by Ilya Repin is the focus of Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge 15: Freedom. I perceived the painting as a rushing river metaphor. Or is it more?

For Iska, it had been a whirlwind: from orphaned shop girl to wife of a man with hundreds of relatives. A 12 hour train to his family’s country home for wedding celebrations gave Leon, an excellent story teller, the opportunity to make Iska laugh til her belly hurt with tales of his boyhood misadventures. He was resting now, so she memorized the passing landscape absorbing so she could sketch later.

Eventually, she laid her head on his shoulder and drifted through his boyhood tales. He spoke of the river as a living entity. They stood on the banks, the cold grasp of winter still upon her. Leon’s breath came in white puffs: “Spring can undo cold winter’s damage freeing the river into a joyous dance.” He held out his hand “Come – let’s join with the river for our wedding dance.” Taking Leon’s hand, and holding her hat down with the other, they stepped into the swirls and waves of winter’s detritus and debris being swept away. Spray beaded on her new felt travelling coat, but the river brushed by, too happy to stop and wet her dress or Leon’s cape. Dancing freedom with the spring-happy river . . .

Iska heard the conductor over the roar of the laughing river, 15 minutes to their stop. She was back in the train carriage. Leon got down their carry-on baggage, while Iska tried to manage her wind-mushed hair and hat pin. As she slipped on her coat, the bodice felt cool and damp, as did the hem of her dress.  Never mind – with suitcase in one hand, and Ivan’s in the other, she stepped out into the river of her new life.

Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge 49: When demons whisper . . .


Words to consider: Silence, raucous, pulse, haven, lethargic, silver; image: deep dream white noise; rhyme scheme abb acc add aee; 3 stanzas of 3 lines

For Jane Dougherty’s Poetry Challenge, 49 Painful Silence, I’ve written about the emotional pain my depression can cause. The demons of despair and hopelessness whisper loudest when I am vulnerable in a dark space/frame of mind. Their arguments can be seductive. I can silently listen and believe. Or fight.

 When demons whisper . . .

When demons whisper my name in the night

in throbbing waves of pain and tears

they remind me of my sins and fears.


When my darkness and trouble is at its height

they hiss my my many faults and flaws

words pierce like their sharpened claws.


When demons raucous laughter clouds my sight

I curl into a rocking, keening ball

I no longer care about life at all.


When demons in mind torture do delight

I need find my sword and shield

No ground to them should I yield.


When demons exposed to truth and light

they cannot keep strutting center stage

they creep to corners until next engage.

© taleweavering phylor