This Vanity of Distance by Natasha Burge

“All great and precious things are lonely.”
— John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Bright banks of cloud in the bend and billow of bodies at prayer.
I’ve learned the anatomy of this life and I know its octaves of
needled grace; the edges are always dark and the center
forever wearing thin. I’ve watched the children coming home,
their mouths spangled like starfish. I’ve seen the women,
thick like dunes between their shoulders, wearing faces stained with
the runnels of time. I’ve known the men who carry their hands
like caves, like weighted stones, like slabs of bleached coral.
Together we kneel to the wind of memory, to the flowers made
of twine. Together we abide by laws of blood and fated salt.

Deep sky hangs like revelation, like a soft word taking
the darkness. My life is the crossing of arms, the raising of hands,
the bending of waist, and the folding of knees. My life is the touch
of ground, like ashes, like octaves, like slabs of bleached coral.
My life is the utter loneliness of precious things, this vanity of
distance, this blue calligraphy of ceaseless grace.



Natasha Burge is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer and psychogeographer living in the Arabian Gulf region. She is the writer-in-residence at the Qal’at al-Bahrain Museum and her writing has appeared in Pithead Chapel, The Smart Set, Pidgeonholes, and The Establishment, among others. More can be found at