“Ghost world” by Lorette C. Luzajic

for Svetlana

The artist’s house is an electric still life: a jumble of jetsam, flickering with clues to other worlds and time. She rearranges her collection like assemblage, bringing objects together for a brief encounter while she furiously paints the spirit of their ensemble. You have lost track of what she is telling you because of a cupboard blooming blue and white porcelain fish and swans. You are drunk on patterns, on pinpoint constellations on the thin rind of an Ukrainian Easter egg. There is a fireplace filled with smooth stone body parts, severed feet and hands in bloodless alabaster. There is a tin elephant filled with matchsticks, beside it. A horse head book end looks on from his chess-like perch on high. His gaze shyly averts the upturned marble breasts. You are wary of the herring slabs glistening pink and fatty under lean coils of onion, but find their salt and slime strangely sensual in your throat. There are, too, small, three-footed dishes filled with cashews. The artist shares a portrait of the artist as a young woman, one eye shrouded by a falling brim. She is talking about how her friend painted her just before she came to Canada. There was nothing to eat for days but a hunk of pork fat, but they had saved a bottle of goodbye champagne. She came with her teenage daughter, and six dollars in ones, her grandmother’s photo, and this canvas, rolled, cherished, in her lap, en route. It was the first work in her collection. Now she surveys a small queendom of relics. Now she strives to tell their stories. Oil-slick beets and potatoes, on canvas, Roma scarves, a basket of dusty Soviet rubles. Stalin was a dictator who made Hitler look like Winnie the Pooh, your hostess blurts. Embroidery from Uzbekistan, colonized by Russia like she was. Like you were, before you were born. Watercolour landscapes by forgotten Ukraine painters, sequinned moccasins from rural Belarus. You want to crawl under the arms of the ivy on the wall, huff the heady fumes of the oily brushstrokes yet to dry. The jagged onyx clock behind the cameos is stuck at ten and twelve. Half of your DNA is tangled in all of this, but you remembered nothing before now. You were not there. Now something epigenetic is stirring, unravelling. Now you are wearing your grandmother’s boots and your shovel in the frozen flesh of Saskatchewan has chipped at the clink. Strange tongues sound familiar, and the worn volumes of Gogol and Chekhov take on an aura. You will not forget again these things now marking you. You will be remade, and you do not have any say in this.


“Ghost World” first appeared in Pretty Time Machine, by Lorette C. Luzajic (Mixed Up Media Books, 2020).

FEATURED IMAGE: Lorette C. Luzajic “Ghost World”, 2021. 12×12″. Mixed media and collage on canvas. Available .https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/LorettesArt, www.mixedupmedia.ca. Toronto, Canada.

Lorette C. Luzajic

Lorette C. Luzajic is an author, artist, and editor in Toronto, Ontario. Her small stories have been widely published, at New Flash Fiction Review, Flash Boulevard, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Indelible, and beyond. She won first place in a flash contest at MacQueen’s Quinterly. Lorette is the founder and editor of The Ekphrastic Review, a journal devoted to writing inspired by art. Her visual art has been collected in at least 25 countries.


Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Very nice. Maybe we have a little of every culture in our DNA? If not, we should

Cynthia Sharp

Powerful write! And art!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x