Death Valley: Ekphrastic Challenge No. 1, 2024

posted in: Ekphrastic Writing | 3
photo of badwater basin death valley national park with people walking across the saltpan to the lake surrounded by mountains and contrails in the sky
Photo: Julie Rysdale Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park, California 1993

Congratulations to the following writers, particularly students Ayushi, Dulara and Arya from Mount Waverley Secondary College.


Jo Curtain | David Jones | David Bridge | Catherine Hannah | Ayushi N | Allan Barden | Catherine Bell | Kerstin Lindros | Riley Sadler | Neha Sharma | Gail Griffin | Geoffrey Gaskill | Dulara J | Arya T | Jim Fyfe | Bev Blaskett | Guenter Sahr | Mary-Jane Boughen | Ian Stewart | Christine Scheiner | Pauline Rimmer | Emma Andrews | Claudia Collins | Peter Brown



A desert drama over thousands of years. Spectacular storms. Flash in the sky. Floods arrive from distant mountain ranges, forming ephemeral lakes. Water builds, then vanishes. Here at the lowest elevation in North America. A landscape of possibility exists between the layers, layer upon layer of sodium chloride, calcite, gypsum and borax. Life thrives. The endemic snail. Fringed with salt-tolerant plants. The basin is alive. A ripple, a puncture, the shimmering swales is an endless expression. I know. I’ve been here before. Salt mist climbs. Blinding white. The morning trek on spring-loaded poles, gaiters and packs. Crush and stumble along a white path like a long finger. Eyes lift. It points toward a towering, muted tapestry of contours. Badwater Basin, not bad. Just really salty. Pools of groundwater flow in but not out. The suspense is heavy. Evaporating reflections begin the new layer. A vertical relief of geometric polygons. This is a never-ending story. Of. Floods. Evaporation. Salt. I trek these flats larger than some cities in Europe. The Basin is bound by loneliness. Yet I’m not alone. There are ghosts. I feel them walking with me.


By Jo Curtain





‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change’

Albert Einstein


Upon shores of waters gone

crazed mud plates reach, a playa

into a blurred prism of haze

unpointed pavers

floor a world that has lost all sense of life




There is a dormancy within that sense


A waiting


Patient, stoic, circumspect


From between those dried scabs

life will emerge

contingent to the mizzle called change

drawn from the brume of time.



‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

Nelson Mandela

By David Jones




Pilgrims, we file across the desiccated plain, anointed with factor 50, clutching our Fodors Bible, pursuing the extreme. Our footsteps crackle on the glittering honeycombed crust, its crystal page imprinted with the passing of creatures, eons refined to wrest a living here within this sub-sea pit of Hell. Dwindling pools of fugitive water, mineral bound, reflect the glaring skies, scarred by vapour streamers, seeking escape in cooler mountain heights.

RV saddled, we climb to Dante’s View and marvel at the terraced layers, light-washed from sunset’s palette. Flames flicker on the valley floor, where lost souls endure Satan’s glare to glimpse God’s unfettered filaments of light spread serpentine across the darkened heavens.

With halogen eyes, our winding descent picks out relics of a century or so; Shoshone aside, man has come but lately, driven by greed or curiosity or awe. Boom or bust, gold or silver, borax or salt, the dollar now lies with the likes of us: from east or west, from LA or Vegas, the highway feeds the fascinated to the fascinating, and who knows which is which.


By David Bridge





The operation is in two hours.

Two minutes ago

the last sweet, silent swig of water passed my lips

the final beautiful dregs of a litre bottle.

Why does it feel like hours

like days, like weeks, like months

since my last clear beverage?

Suddenly I cannot see the couch cushions or

the newspaper. All I see is rock

and sand and the memory of what I cannot touch

vanishes into the horizon.


I can go hours without taking a sip.

Like a camel

I carry my thirst across the desert

of health and social care.

Maybe I shouldn’t be proud of that.

But now as I my gaze scorches the

barren range of my lounge room and

crumbles to dust atop the peaks that pierce

the haze


I could murder a latte.


By Catherine Hannah




I left the waters that were once deep with love and compassion,

Empathy, company and so much more

How did it dry up so quickly?

Leaving only puddles in its place

                                                           Full it once was,

Sometimes flooding its surroundings with a blanket of greenery

With flowers that bloomed, providing the nectar of comfort

With grasses which thrived persistently

All this gone, at the snap of a finger

Time, they say, goes by when you’re having fun

Perhaps I was having fun all these years

Tasting the fruits of childhood

The flora of change

Prickling my fingers on thorns of pain, suffering and loneliness

Piercing right through my flesh,

To something I never thought it would reach

These momentary aches made me ask:

‘When will these splinters be extracted,

These thorns removed?’


Slipped so swiftly through my outstretched fingers,

Reminding me how those moments can’t be revisited

Leading me to the dry desert left

The only remains of the plentiful waters,

The small puddles

which are yet to dry up

‘Too late’ I was,

For now that there is nowhere to swim

No soothing waters to bathe the wounds that never healed

I lay here forgotten

My parents having passed a threshold I cannot reach,

My kin having moved on to find lakes of their own

My once fragile mind and active body, having only self-pity to wallow in

Having left me,

Never intending to return

So much has changed,

Yet nothing, all the same

My body, now altered by time

My health, now broken beyond repair

My mind now mature,

Yet my heart still fragile

Hauling grief it couldn’t ever handle

Straining against the chains of responsibility

Strapped to the world of sadness,

Which it once used to willingly visit

Yet this time, with no way out.


By Ayushi N






Every day my grandfather would walk the main street of my hometown to the general store to collect the daily newspapers that arrived by bus from Hobart and Launceston.  The main street bordered the shimmering sands and sea of Oyster Bay.

While he walked, she would prepare the mid-day meal and listen to ‘Blue Hills’ and ‘Dad and Dave’ on the wireless.  He didn’t expect to outlive her by 12 years.  In the early years after her passing he missed her lunches and their discussions on the latest news. After lunch, as he read his newspapers, she would sometimes listen to Scottish music.  She loved Andy Stewart’s ‘A Scottish Soldier’.

She loved her garden. Each day he watered her flower beds. He still grew fruit and vegetables as he had all his life, supplying them to friends, family and the local supermarket. He said it was his garden that fed his family of nine children during the depression years.

He was not religious; early catholic life had put paid to that. She had enjoyed her church though; attending every Sunday.

He loved his football and cricket. If alive today, the demise of the local football club and cricket competition would sadden him.

He would consider test cricket superior to T20. ‘Sandpaper Gate’ would have angered him. He would be unsure of women’s cricket and football but watch nevertheless.

He would have enjoyed the Bulldogs 2016 premiership win and supported a Tasmanian AFL team but not a new stadium.

Trump would disgust him and Putin would remind him of Stalin. He would not support Hamas nor the incursion of Israeli dwellings onto Palestinian land. He would favour ‘truth telling’.

He would be disgusted with the closure of local banks.

Family say I look like him. I see this each day when I shave.


By Allan Barden





I lunge forward. Arms crossed. Head pressed hard against the seat in front.

‘Brace, brace, brace.’ Then, ‘Emergency … brakes … malfunctioning.’

Heart pounding. Struggling to breathe. Panicking. Powerless. Paralysed.

The captain again. ‘Longest runway has been cleared for landing.’

Oxygen masks cascade through the cabin like party streamers. The man next to me clasps his hands in silent prayer. A woman wraps her arms around a young child.

A kaleidoscope of familiar faces flashes through my desperate mind. I question my need to travel, my need to leave home.

Turning towards the window now. Skimming low over sand dunes. Snaking, dry riverbeds. Oases of green. Close range like a rapid-fire slideshow. Thin plumes of dust rise from criss-crossing roads. A vast grid of flat roofs emerges through the heat haze. Silver silos, the skyscrapers of Dubai, shimmer on the near horizon.

The burning sun, the burning desert, burning my pale skin from the inside out.

Travelling too fast for a normal landing. No slowing down. No sensations of dropping gently through clouds. No margin for error.

The runway quickly comes into view. A baby cries. I close my eyes. Tasting fear. Cold and metallic. Piercing squeals. Thunderous roaring fills my shrinking world.

We hit the tarmac. Jarring on impact. My head slams into the seat in front. The plane shudders and groans in protest. Thump, thump, thumping. Holding true direction for an eternity. The A380 closes in on the end of the runway.  Engines cut. We glide to a halt.

Complete silence.

A woman begins sobbing in the row behind. Hushed voices. Uncertain clapping rising and falling, then rising again to a crescendo. Relief spreads through the cabin.

I gasp for air. Think of home, my heart, my anchor.


By Catherine Bell





By Kerstin Lindros





I don’t like to be at the lake when the grave diggers are there. They are efficient of course, with their shovels and rakes, but seeing them is too stark a reminder of what they do.

The dried out lake is where we bring our dead. The men come daily and cover the corpses that appear on the dirt. Out of kindness, there are no cameras at the lake. This way the bodies can be delicately placed on the ground throughout the night and dealt with the following day before the heat sets in and begins to cook them.

If, when I arrive, I see them far off in the centre of the lake digging. I turn around and leave. This is what happens on most days. If it has been a particularly hot summer or a bad flu season, the gravediggers can hardly keep up with the new arrivals. There are sweet spots throughout the year. When the seasons change weeks can pass with nothing for the grave diggers to do. I always wonder if they relish those times or drown in boredom. I visit as often as I can during these weeks.

I arrive when I can and sit with the mound of dirt that I associate with my mother. I’m not certain where they put her. I left her corpse on the river bank so many years ago, but this spot felt right so I come back here every time. I can only stay for ten minutes before I can feel the heat begin to hollow me out.

When I leave, I touch my fingers to my lips, reach out and lightly graze the dirt with my hand. A goodbye until tomorrow.


By Riley Sadler





Max winced at the small pebble that had found its way into his right boot and which now kept intermittently rubbing against his little toe. Not quite annoying enough to make him stop and remove it but annoying enough to steal his attention from his friend’s chatter. He already knew he would later wish he’d just taken the forty seconds to untie his lace, upturn the boot and eject the minute piece of Death Valley desert rock. That the consequence would be a small blister lasting a few weeks.

Francis was pointing at something on the other side of the silvery waters in front of them. His annual description of how the Badwater lake now stretched to more than double the width it used to.

Wasn’t it funny to think that this lake used to only appear once every ten or so years. So rare that all sorts of journalists, adventurers, photographers would turn up to look at it.

Yes, crazy to think. Max flatly replied.

Now, they’re saying it will become permanent. Most of it will probably drain though, and only be this big a few times a year. So worth still coming to see. Or we find someplace new.

Max felt his chest tighten, heavy with all the words that wanted to come out but couldn’t find an escape route. Words that would only form an indecipherable collage of feelings. Yes, it would be nice to try someplace new. No, it sounded terrifying. Why did Francis always have to push him.

Sure, we could, Max said.

He grimaced at the beads of sweat dripping down his neck, pooling together between his shoulder blades. Excitement knotted together with fear in his stomach. Without Francis, would he have seen any of it?

Sounds good.


By Neha Sharma





Getting old is a bummer sometimes. At 91, I have difficulty with arthritic hands so I can’t play bowls but, as a Life Member, I still go to Friday’s social bowls days’ presentations. We ladies there have an hour or two with each other and share a bottle, sometimes two, of bubbles. Needless to say, the group’s always keen to hear how I’ve filled my week.

‘I agreed to accompany Brian and daughter-in-law, June, on a guided tour of Golden Valley’s Aged Care, about ten minutes away from their home.’

‘Why?’ asked one lady.

‘Because they’re concerned for my safety whilst I’m living independently.’

‘So, how’d it go?’ asked another.

‘Interesting… A very welcoming staff member led us through the buildings. Residences. Bedrooms. Ensuites. Dining rooms. Library. Cinema. Café. She then listed the benefits of the activities on offer—singalongs, dancing, bus trips. Oh, and the qualified, supportive staff.’

‘What did you think?’

‘Nice, but I asked where the residents were… They were resting, I was told.’

‘A bit quiet, eh?’

‘Quiet? More like deathly silence.’

Deserted, the lifeless starkness floored me. Living here’d be like sleeping in God’s waiting room, I thought to myself. Thinking about it even now makes me shudder.

‘So, I guess that’s a “no thanks”?’

‘Absolutely. I told Brian and June, Golden Valley should be renamed Death Valley Aged Care and that while I still enjoy the small things in life, like being able to choose what I do, when and how I do it, I’ll stay at home. Most importantly, I get to drink and eat what I want. None of that pureed pap.’

‘You go girl!’

‘You’re a legend, Val.’

‘I’m not senile. Yet,’ I laughed. ‘Here’s to fun, freedom and Fridays.’

‘We’ll drink to that,’ cheered the ladies, raising their glasses.


By Gail Griffin



RUTH 1:16


She’d carried him, body and soul, for days.

When they reached the ridge overlooking the valley, she said, ‘Look.’ They stared at the place below them. ‘At last.’

‘Home.’ His voice was a breath above a whisper.

‘Not long now,’ she said, easing him to the ground.

‘Promise me,’ he said, his eyes moistening, ‘don’t, let them take me. Bury me here. Looking on home is as good as being there.’

‘I’m not leaving you here,’ she said, indignant. ‘If you wouldn’t leave me back there when they …’

She stopped. Let the past bury the past. Who’d want to remember those days when the fever raged and the danger was ever-present?

‘I meant to,’ he tried, ‘I had a few things to do before I …’

She put a hand on his shoulder. ‘I know. Me and you … Always. Remember?’

He tried to smile.

She put a hand to her eyes. ‘There are people there. They could help us.’

She turned to him, but he had eyes only for the valley.

‘Enough downtime,’ she declared, all business. She picked him up and threw him over her shoulders. He was as light as … a box of ashes.

The Badlands, the days of danger were behind them. The valley … home … beckoned. Her first steps on the downward slope were tentative. The only thing to slow them now was that narrow path taking them home.

A day. That’s all it would take. One more day.

Each step became easier. ‘Take heart,’ she whispered. ‘Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people. Where thou diest, will I die.’


By Geoff Gaskill




umber and gold

russet clouds, low on the horizon

the dry deathly beauty

of the desert

fissures spiral and spread

cracks in the ground

cleave the earth in two

ivory lanes

of cotton candy in the sky

streak the perfect blue

scars that disappear

and are replaced

with stars

mountains or mirages

i can’t choose

but they loom, ominous

yet a promise

the arid wastelands

 barren and bald

measly clumps of straw-coloured grass

the only vegetation

only salvation

pools of hydration, flickering

in and out of existence

feet pound the earth, weary yet alert

eyes hungry, scouring the scorching soil

for Oasis

it’s the thing that keeps them going

the adrenaline rushing through their veins

even as the acid turns to metal in their mouths

salt and copper


they howl into the sky

as it shifts from night to day


they cry

but only the vultures return their calls

and they resume their path

trudging along the crumbling road

of sand and dirt and dust

the sky bleeds into dawn

the rosy blush of the sky,

teased by clouds of spun gold

as the sun sinks into the horizon,

They sink as well

into a dreamless deep sleep.


and the creeping shadows are chased away

Replaced by rays of light

As our travellers rise again.


By Dulara J





The parched land before you; hell for some, home for others.


Tumbleweeds summersault across the desert, letting out dehydrated cries to their families.

The heat creates waves of uncertainty in front of you, resembling static on a television screen.

Your delirious gaze drifts towards the canyons; their protective shoulders; their forgiving shade.

Screaming in agony, you tug your apparatuses in a futile attempt to escape the fixed position Mother Nature has trapped you in.


Birds, animals and insects seek shelter beneath your emaciated limbs, toting what food they can into the shielding crevices you offer.

Encroaching on your mind, hallucinations from the heat claw their way through your thoughts.

The formerly green triangles on the ends of your boughs begin to fracture and leap off; a desperate attempt to find solace.

The sun scowls down you, showing no sympathy.

Now unprotected by the ozone layer, you lament the losses the human race has caused to the planet.

The heat is growing oppressively unbearable.

Your wooden heart palpitates, wishing it would rupture – once and for all.

Nodding nonchalantly, a state of acceptance washes over you.

Naturally, your stare tilts upwards in the habit of glowering at the sky, hoping for rain.


You can almost taste the sodden smell that precedes thunderstorms.

But alas, no prevail.


The wind whistles through your ears, cracking macabre jokes and cackling sardonically – as if it is humoured at your suffering.


After all, how is an anachronistic evergreen supposed to cling to survival in…

Death Valley?


Despite the solace the hours of darkness bring, you release the last string of hope you can muster into the atmosphere.


You breathe out…

surrendering yourself to inertia.


By Arya T





I heard them. Talking.

Walking down the road.

I smelt it. Wafting past me.

Before I heard them. Tobacco. So strong.


I hoped they had water. Dry for so long. So weak.

Can they hear me? Barely a whisper.

Too dry to call louder. Too weak to wave.


I’m sitting in shade, not in the light.

I’m feeling pain, not really right.

I’m fading fast, they’ve all gone past.


I hear my name, they’re calling still

They WILL come back! I hope they will.


My legs are trapped, my voice is gone

My god – they’re heading back to town

My heart is thumping through my chest

My stupid pride began this quest


The rocks have snared another prey

The sun has sucked another day

The valley hills are fading grey

I’ve nothing left, I’m giving way.

Death Valley Sucks


By Jim Fyfe




WHAT LIES IN THE PROMISED LAND                                                                 


Firestorms blazing behind me, I picked through rubble to the edge of town. Ahead was a flat, treeless lowland, revealing a thin procession of dots stretching towards distant mountains.

Survivors in flight, like me.

Adjusting my head cloth for shade, I trudged a well-worn track.

At length, the path forked. A signpost pointed three ways: to the left Paradise; ahead Wealth; and Freedom on the right.

Uncertain now, I rested, rousing as three people approached.

One man was laying a mat for another who was dressed in black robes. A woman rushed forward and placed a second mat in front. The black-robed man walked the carpeted path as each mat was raised and laid.

I greeted them warmly. ‘I seek safety,’ I said. ‘Please tell me where I should go.’

‘We are bound for Paradise,’ the man in black said.

‘Paradise! How far?’ I asked.

‘Those who give me their faith and keep on this path reach Paradise at journey’s end.’

But my faith had been lost along my path, so I waved them on their way.

Now three others came up: two men carrying another on a chair. Having greeted them, I asked their destination. The seated man said, ‘Ahead! Hurry! Give me your strength, and you can find your place in Wealth.’

But I lacked the strength that he looked for, so I wished them well on their way.

Now another three men approached, the first of them bearing a flag. After greetings, we talked of our plans. ‘I lead my followers to Freedom,’ the leader said. ‘Give me your trust, then fall in behind!’

But my trust had been stolen long ago. Without it I could not follow, and so we said our farewells.

Gathering myself, I stepped from the path, to find my own way, alone.


By Bev Blaskett





And the messiah came out of the arid wilderness

with the promise of a new America

whose factory forges of the east

would once again create a people of mettle

to minister to the world.


With his stout staff of plumwood

he caused the grasses of the great prairies

to grow in lush abundance,

the thundering herds of buffalo

to spread across the unfenced land.


And on the continental western seaboard

the messiah held high his hands to bless

the new frontiers of AI and its California dreaming

streaming out of the Valley and across the great land

to the Potomac River’s Foggy Bottom


By Guenter Sahr




An adventure across America.

It sounded fun.

Route 66, lights, glamour, the warts and all of modern day America.

History, food, culture…of a sort.

‘Pack lightly,’ they said.

I thought I’d see the real America.

That my prejudices against a land of right-wing Trump supporters would be squashed by

meeting genuine salt of the earth folk.

‘Some walking involved’, they said.

Yet, here I am, day 4 of a ten-day tour

and I’ve stuck trekking across a wasteland

desperate for an oasis.



By Mary-Jane Boughen





By Ian Stewart




A lifetime ago I met a man trekking the Badwater Basin. More than 30 years ago.  Knew he was mine the moment we met in that remote and desolate place. Loved him, married him. Fresh out of teachers’ college and ready to nurture the unloved.  He started his career at Tech schools, then TAFE. Did his best work with the badly behaved and troubled. Finished his teaching days working in the youth justice system. Teaching kids whose parents gave them black eyes and broken arms instead of love.

Went back to Death Valley last year to lay his ashes near where we first met. Knew all roads in life led in the same direction but had hoped our journey together could have been longer. Guess someone higher up had other plans.

Soft sand and desert air still remind me of him. Tender. Gentle. Quiet.

I believe we will walk the Badwater Basin again one day. Watch the moon rise over the mountains, lay down together and see the dawn crest over the desert horizon. 30 years can be a lifetime but still not enough.

I cannot wait to see him again.


By Chris Scheiner




I had not wanted to go. I envisioned suffering through heat, dust and ugly, empty landscapes. I was so wrong! We travelled through amazing scenery following The Ghan railway on the Oodnadatta Track. We camped beside the ruins of railway buildings and bridges and marvelled at a million sparkling stars above us. Dingos howled nearby and added to the atmosphere of the outback. Dust, flies and heat, but there were also quirky outback pubs, friendly people and lots of history to discover.

A convoy of three vans and six friends was perfect for sharing this journey. We had reached  Kati Thandra-Lake Eyre in  South Australia. Lake Eyre is one of the world’s largest salt lakes and Australia’s largest inland lake, stretching a mind-boggling 144 kilometres by 77 kilometres. It has only been filled with water four times over the last hundred years, usually being an expanse of shimmering salt crystals. We were lucky to see the lake flooded by desert rain, bringing wildlife, stunning natural beauty and dreamlike pastel colours.

It didn’t look very far to the water’s edge, but soon we realised our mistake. Sticky mud lurked under the seemingly hard white crust. It gripped shoes, so we all became taller with each step. It was hilarious but very hardgoing. Tourists watched our efforts with amusement from a safer distance. A few of us turned back. The glare, mud and heat winning but my friends managed to reach the water and were soon sinking in the quagmire. They had to crawl back to the relative safety of the firmer salt surface. It was a bird-watcher paradise, but not great for a swimmer! The unrecognisable mud people returned to dry land and were hosed down before being allowed in the vehicles. Onward to Coward Springs for cleaner adventures tomorrow.


By Pauline Rimmer





Their legs carried them into the classroom in a disorderly squabble, taking delight in the last few undetected bumps and shoves before draping their bodies languidly across chairs.

No words were needed. They had perfected the art of winging each other silent coded messages through their eyes. One raised eyebrow was all it took to set the mood of the lesson.

Another writing prompt.

As they reluctantly pulled their pens from bags, writing the title and date with studied enthusiasm, they looked up at the image and felt a vast disconnect, wide blank open spaces like the mountain range in front of them.


The hot, stifling desert on the board sucked out their creativity. As they put pen to paper, they wrote meaningless words whilst the real rhythm of their lives jangled along silently inside their minds.

Moving like a gypsy queen through the rows of desks, Julianne congratulated herself on another successful start to a lesson. Glancing through the sliding glass doors, she observed the bustle and disarray of the other groups, feeling proud of the quiet haven she had created.


She’d had her doubts moving here, had seen the results. Knew behaviour management was the key to getting kids to focus, to improve.


A room full of writers. As the pens flicked studiously across pages, she drew her eyes back to the board. Imagined herself traipsing through the desert, the craggy outlines of the mountain ranges jutting out like sharp stencils across the sky.

Watching them all so engaged, their words weaving their own fictions, she moved with purpose along the aisles, nodding with approval at each student as she passed.


The timer on the board ticked away, forcing words to fall out more carelessly, reminding them they had only three more minutes to write something worthwhile.


By Emma Andrews





The anaesthetist inserts a needle into my arm and instructs me to count backwards from ten.

‘Ten, nine, eight …’

Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death …




The hot desert sun beats down on my head—the light blinds me—my throat is parched.

I beg for water.

A masked face swims into view. A straw is inserted into my mouth. ‘Just a sip.’

The water is snatched away before I can quench my thirst.

‘The surgery was a success, Eve, but you’ll need speech therapy and physio for your leg.



Mitchell drives me to my appointments.

The leg man says, ‘One more step.’

I try. I fall.

My speech is slow. I can’t find the right words. I feel stupid. Mitchell never calls me stupid.

Sometimes the mask slips.


Mitchell’s eyes shine with excitement. ‘I have a surprise for you—a second honey moon. You always wanted to see Uluru. The doctor says you are well enough to travel.’


We watch the rock change colour as the sun slowly sets.

My head spins.

I cannot focus.

‘Let me help,’ Mitchell’s voice comes from far away …


The hot desert sun beats down on my head—the light blinds me—my throat is parched.

I beg for water.

Mitchell’s face swims into view. A straw is inserted into my mouth. ‘Just a sip.’

The water is snatched away before I can quench my thirst.

I close my eyes. When I open them he has gone.

Where are you Mitchell? Come back …

I force myself to my feet. ‘Just one more step.’

I try. I fall.

I hear crows cawing. Crows are carrion birds, aren’t they?

Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death …


By Claudia Collins





By P. Brown


3 Responses

  1. Guenter Sahr

    I am all smiles at how one prompt has created 24 disparate and pleasurable responses, most expanding my mind beyond the shared image. Remarkable: Ayushi, Dulara and Arya. Startling: Kerstin and her use of the sham advertising trope to remind us of the importance of reading the fine print.

  2. Guenter Sahr

    And Neha, how could I fail to comment on your perspicacity in recognising my own inability to put into words the dread and ‘indecipherable collage of feelings’ I have felt, and yet ventured beyond, when encouraged to do so by a true friend.

  3. Claudia


    I have enjoyed reading the wonderful ekphrastic submissions. I hope Geelong Writers continues to provide this fun and challenging creative writing exercise.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *