[su_box title=”Skylines – Jay Stonestreet, creative writing editor” box_color=”#2D2D73″ radius=”0″]As we enter into October and the sun sinks a little lower every day, each autumn sunset becomes more beautiful. In this issue, UEA’s writers explore the theme of skylines and the framing of the human against nature’s ever-changing backdrop.[/su_box]

[su_quote cite=”Westley Barnes”]Cloudwatcher
Ever since I’ve been a child I thought the old dead painters painted the sky.

Coffee cream on Nursery wall blue stretched out like souls on a recently dirty dinnerplate. No planes cutting between them up there because I’m still watching from the middle of the green where I lived.

An older version of myself -in an attempt to dazzle- while describing an evening sky might have written “chiarscuro” …but for now I’ll stick with “skidding” as an allusion to the colours I’m seeing that mark the surface of the clouds “Like paintings in a museum.”

The way they’re “so far up but floating even farther away.”

Serious and untouchable and content the keepers of dreams adrift in the biggest sea of all which is the sky.[/su_quote]

Illustrated for Concrete by Eunhae Lim
Illustrated for Concrete by Eunhae Lim

[su_quote cite=”Tom Cascarini”]The Big Sky
As he stared up at the sky, he could feel his heart beating. He could feel each pulse like sharp, jagged spikes on a heart rate monitor. He turned to face her, lying on the grass beside him, her hazelnut brown hair spread out like golden rays from a pale white sun, and he could feel his heart flatline, just for a second. “You ever traced clouds before?” she asked him, her dark indigo eyes sparkling.

“Traced?”

“Yeah, you know, like tracing dot-to-dot lines, like in a constellation. Only with, you know, clouds.” She briefly flickered her eyes at him, her eyes seeming like they were made of glitter. “Can’t say I have,” he said.

She pointed one finger out towards the sky, her nails painted burgundy red, like they could shoot lasers into space. “Just try it,” she said. “Trace the outline of the clouds.” He extended his arm. He found a white cloud that looked a bit like a diplodocus. He started from the tip of the hump, and worked his finger around the edges, slowly. He lowered his arm. The cloud now permanently looked like a member of the dinosaur species.

“I just traced a pirate ship,” she whispered.

Silence descended down upon them. With just one movement, he could touch his fingers against hers. Connecting with her like they too were points in a dot-to-dot puzzle, forming a ‘V’ with their hands and arms. Like two clouds touching.

Lines on her were like the lines he had been tracing in the clouds. Nothing straight. Everything curvaceous. Not even lines at all. The softened edge of her chest-plate, just at that tender point where it met with her forearm, round against the rims of her chest, plunging down into the tightening squeeze of her midriff, and then the sudden, sloping bulge of her hips. She twisted round slightly towards him, and he caught a glimpse of her collarbone, as sharp and as straight as knife blades: the symbol of exposure and vulnerability. “Do you think of me as weird, Gregg?” she said.

He shook his head. “No,” he said. “Just as a girl who’s got a bit of an obsession with dot-to-dot puzzles.” She giggled at that: soft, soprano gasps that sounded so close to descending into hyperventilation. “And skies,” he added.

She twisted back round to stare up at the clouds.“Do you know what’s fascinating about skies?” she said at last. “It’s that they’re never-ending. It’s that they have no lines, or edges, or vertices. It’s that they are actually white, made up of all the colours in the rainbow, but it’s just that the blue end of the spectrum reaches our eyes first.” “So what makes a sunset red?” he asked, staring at her lips as she talked.

She paused. “That I don’t know,” she said at last. Then: “But that childlike curiosity. Of not knowing why the sky’s blue, or what the sun is, and why it comes and goes every single day. The same single arc every single day, like it’s following a one single line that it can never break, lest it destroy everything. Like it’s trapped. The not knowing of all these things, and the beauty of it, only for it all to be completely destroyed by science. All the things that these people have learnt, just because they have decided to destroy that one single human trait of inquisitiveness…” He had to interrupt: “Weren’t we meant to be talking about the sky here?”

She shook her head. “Sorry.”

He looked back up. He saw a cloud that looked almost exactly like a wing. A fragment of an angel. He thought of feathers. Lines stemming from the bones like veins in a frail, fragile leaf. Floating through the air, never stable, never controlled, never trapped.

To feel free. That must be how clouds felt. To feel that they can seep; that they are not trapped by any boundaries. He spotted an airplane in the sky, and he watched as it left a straight trail of smoke in its wake. The unstable, temperamental nature of wind. How do you draw it on a weather report? With lines. But there are no lines in wind. Straight lines. In the sky. Impossible.

He spread out his arms and legs, and he pretended that the grass he was lying on was snow, and he made a grass angel. A fallen one. Forced to live on the Earth, it had lost its freedom. But there are no lines on Earth either.

“You look like the sky,” he mumbled.

“How so?” she asked.

“You have no lines.” [/su_quote]

Illustrated for Concrete by Ana Dukakis
Illustrated for Concrete by Ana Dukakis

[su_quote cite=”Francesca Kritikos”]Carnival Nights i met the prettiest boy at a summer night carnival who worked in the hospital down the street who was older, and quiet, and reminded me of a boy on tv, who now probably lives a million cities away, a million cities into a future that i will never catch up with i have been to other summer night carnivals and i have seen other pretty boys that disappeared into a world elusive to girls who live at home & i wonder what cities they see with their cigarillo smoke eyes and who they touch with their golden hands and where their feet walk once they leave the festival grounds & do they ever think of me, seeing a wonder of the world, or soaking in a beautiful girl like the midnight tide, or walking from one paradise to the next? do they ever wish they took me with them? i remember all these pretty boys, the way they held their heads like trophies, the way their shirts draped their bodies with just enough room for the summer breeze, the drawl in their wino voices, the tilt of their squinted eyes, their veins of sweat under city streetlights glowing as if liquid silver. i imagine their shoes dipped in the ink of dusk and in the morning when i wake up in the same small room i grew up in, i can see their outlined footsteps and i can follow them, just catching their scent, always a little too far behind to ever see them again[/su_quote]

[su_quote cite=”Benedetta Mancusi”]Shy Beauty

What my traveling has taught me so far is that each country, each city in the world silhouetted against the sky in its own, unique, different way. Some profiles scream proudly their beauty, others whisper with timid grace. I recall when i traveled to the airport, leaving my country for good, that might sound sad, but it wasn’t. Not a tear, just a smooth feeling of curiosity and sometimes, a vivid, sweet fear. I have never really experienced homesickness. I love everything I left behind and I love that I left everything behind. I don’t look back, the road ahead is too intriguing. If I was Orfeo, Eurydice would have never returned to the darkness.

There is, though, something that sometimes, in my sleep, unconsciously, reminds me of what lies on the other side of the sea. A final image. Just a shy profile. Profile of my city, the place where I was born, raised, the place that fed me for nineteen years. The houses looked so small, so frail. The city hall yawned to the pale newborn sun.

My land. Sunburnt soil and sunburnt skins. Brown stripes, golden wheat. I miss that. Not the burnt skins, or the sun or the wheat. I miss that image, a single moment of pure Beauty, which I was so lucky to witness. Yes, each city in the world has a different skyline, each building a story to tell. Unique profiles. Paris has a small nose and tight waist and London, well, London quite a belly pot for all that ale, but a nice one, a belly pot that that girl from Pulp Fiction would like. A typical Italian city has smooth, soft contours, motherly embracing the sky. Yes, our cities must have large hips and big breasts, for all the carbohydrates we eat.

That’s something that might actually make me homesick, one day. When i’ll be walking on the streets of London, listening to Ralph McTell and at some point I will recognize my language, spoken loudly by some tourists. It will remind me of that moment of Beauty, not Sorrentino’s Great Beauty. A small one. Just my personal, shy Beauty. Witnessed from a car’s window, a few minutes before falling asleep.[/su_quote]

[su_quote cite=”Carlo Saio”]Orlorgesailie

the mind was flat before it found the horizon could sink into the sea’s drift, and eclipse the silted cliffs, that stretch their lips beyond the rested bones of this basin

lapping off the endless run of mist untongued by air, into the philosopher’s sky

a mountainous resound of the land’s pooling cloud, drowned in the pathless sun

saving us before our thought’s dawn- the mask of nuclear shadows, that settle upon the shores of an anenome moon

we can no longer explore

The journeys of color through light’s array hold the day in echo of where it began in yesterday, a wrinkle retreating

in the elephant’s skin we are cratered in, alive in the dormant valley’s paleosol, red swept from the back of tomorrow

where the tributaries traced as maps are kaleidoscopic truths to the eye of a thousand pencil cartographers

engrained in a refugee’s face

or an ancestor’s print, petrified within the desert of direction[/su_quote]