Writer and storyteller

Bear by Rima Staines


HIS LUNGS ARE BURNING. He feels as if he is carrying two fiery wounds on his chest. Pain is marching through Digger’s body as he leans, hands on his knees, and wonders how, or even if, he will manage the next stage of the run. The chill wind cools the sweat quickly on his skin; he can tell that it stinks of the bodily residue of wine and cigarettes and coffee. For the hundredth time that morning, he remembers how easy this run used to be, and curses. He spits thick phlegm to the side of the path and straightens himself to standing again, feels the ache in his lower back as if he has sat slumped for a month without moving.


‘In my youth I committed black deeds.

In maturity I practised innocence.

To say more than this would only cause weeping and laughter.

What good would it do to tell you?

I am an old man.

Leave me in peace.’*


*from ‘The Life of Milarepa’ by Thaye Dorje.


You know the call. All your books speak of it. If I differ from you, it is only in this: When the call came, I heeded it. What the call commanded, I fulfilled:

Go to the moor. Eat only nettles for one year.



THE FIRST SEASON SAW ME WEAK AS STRAW. My limbs shook; my vision shimmered, rollicked and rolled. The world was made of water and I was a ship, tall on the waves, easily blown. My youth in the world of nettles, their taste still unfamiliar and my hands stung to red rags and waking in the night wearing fire-gloves, pierced with pins, boiled in oil. I bucked and retched and buckled, thought I would probably die soon enough, another skeleton in a gully to be found by walkers in the Spring.

Tom's work available from Hedgespoken Press

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