In the town where everyone dresses in black all the buildings
are white. Only swans and crows are allowed to alight.
All the food eaten is black or white. Sloes, olives, grapes.
Potatoes, bread, cheese. Bananas must split from their green
or yellow jackets at the town’s breezy limits. Citizen Kane
and Woody Allen’s Manhattan are everyone’s favourite movies.
The pattern upon pattern of Disney’s Fantasia would be
dismissed as mania in the town where only the end
and beginning of The Wizard of Oz are known. Nobody
has seen how Dorothy’s shoes bled as they shone. When
the sky blurs blue they pray for clouds. Every home is heated
by a special oven which gobbles coal aloud while hiding all
flames deep in its black gusting brain. Snow is the most yearned-for
weather after black hail. Right at the start of life, blonde and red-haired
babies are discarded in baskets on the outskirts of the next village
five rabies-riddled hills away. Chess is the most popular game.
Dice are played too but cards are burnt whenever diamonds or hearts
are thrown. The tarot is unknown so in three-year cycles a travelling nun
arrives and deciphers everyone’s palm, dispels their fears, while for weeks
afterwards dreams are wheeling with colours no one has the language to explain.