I, a stranger

by Aki Schilz

A short story of mine is now available to read over at Annexe Magazine‘s website. They publish lots of wonderful prose, poetry and reviews of excellent texts, as well as running spoken word nights and doing lots of exciting things with zines and cross-platform literature, so do have a look through the rest of the site.

I, a Stranger takes its title from a poem by A.E. Housman, which I have included below. It was inspired by a writing task, which was to think of a ‘non-place’, inhabit it in the mind, and find a way to humanise it, to force interaction in a place that does not encourage interaction. The non-place I chose was a petrol station, those strange, transitory halfway houses passed through by countless travellers, but sought out as a destination by none. For those interested in ideas of space and place (as I am), I recommend Marc Augé’s Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity, Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of SpaceAt Home: An Anthropology of Domestic Space (ed. Irene Cieraad) and Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili (Invisible Cities).

from Last Poems

THE laws of God, the laws of man,
He may keep that will and can;
Not I: let God and man decree
Laws for themselves and not for me;
And if my ways are not as theirs
Let them mind their own affairs.
Their deeds I judge and much condemn,
Yet when did I make laws for them?
Please yourselves, say I , and they
Need only look the other way.
But no, they will not; they must still
Wrest their neighbour to their will,
And make me dance as they desire
With jail and gallows and hell-fire.
And how am I to face the odds
Of man’s bedevilment and God’s?
I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.
They will be master, right or wrong;
Though both are foolish, both are strong.
And since, my soul, we cannot fly
To Saturn nor to Mercury,
Keep we must, if keep we can,
These foreign laws of God and man.

A.E. Housman