Collyer Rachel Verkade I call for my brother, he does not answer. We grew behind these walls, encased in brick, Hidden from high-class streets where prancing horses drew Painted carriages, and cars trundled over cobbles. Inside we were lords of twist and turn, paper and wax, Of walls where music oozed from string and groove, Where textbooks fluttered their pages and Our father came home wet from the river Telling us of leaping flames and ducking spears And our mother sang love songs to white bulls. I call for my brother, he does not answer. I wait for my brother, he does not come. Then it was he and I, elders lost in the maze. Bones in the dust and paper and glint. We stood against invaders, lost ourselves in the warren. We invented and laid traps, we burrowed and schemed, We barricaded against the slings and arrows Of the outside world, squatted on a dragon's horde. We heard the whispered voices through the walls, Of gold and ivory, slave girls and lacquered jade, Of black sails, sacrifice, and silk-winding girls, While inside we lorded over our castle of paper. I wait for my brother, he does not come. I search for my brother, he is not there. When the darkness came over me, He was still there. He made no wings of feather and wax, carried no sword. He fed me on oranges and black bread, peanut butter and scraps, The walls smelled of kerosene, of dust and old fur. And a silent carriage is drawn by a horse of bone, And the cars are gathering dust. He brought home news that I couldn't see, he left it to rot in the corners, And he followed the winding silk, Crawled through towers and traps to bring me supper. I search for my brother, he is not there. I call for my brother, he does not answer. The piano is silent, Spider's silk drifting around a jar of hearts. Rats chewed through texts and news and burrowed through Skeins of silk, and their claws plucked tunes on piano strings. The bricks drifted dust on my head, and I called, I called into the silent halls. The labyrinth had grown around us, and Theseus was lost, Leaving the minotaur blind and bellowing, blind and alone. I call for my brother.
Rachel Verkade is a 33-year-old Canadian currently living in the UK with three cats, a parrot, and one husband. She’s been previously published in Under the Bed, On the Premises, Romance Magazine, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, 365 Tomorrows, The Future Fire, and The Escapist. She also regularly writes for the site Nerds Raging under the name “Herebedragons” or “The Drunken Dragon Lady”. Her story “Blood and Ivory” was nominated for the 2011 Million Writers Award and named one of the Notable Stories of 2011. Her background is in English literature, Classics, and wildlife biology, and she is currently working on various projects with her husband, Jack H. Marr.