Second Place Winner:

Café Central

by Paula Grenside

No one knows how the statue, naked but for a cornucopia hiding her left breast, landed in the billiard room at Café Central. Probably some unknown artist departed before he had time to wrap her body in a tunic. So unveiled and covered with black blemishes, she still retains a touch of classic shyness in the way her right leg presses over the left as though she had entered the room looking for the toilet, but withdrew to the farthest corner, waiting, reluctant whether to leave or stay—

like the Café artists with thinned hair and dripping eyes. They spend the day and night delivering lectures on the absolute of beauty, give their telephone number to friends and foreigners, scan the papers' titles looking for their names, jolt when the phone rings, brief thunder of hope, then chins drop back on the espresso cup. There's a touch of classic dignity in the way they busy themselves drawing figures, wreaths, masks, mottos on the statue's limbs— they cover her nakedness; she, their uselessness.

Copyright © 20003 Paula Grenside

Paula Grenside lives and works in Italy, close to Venice. Her works in English have appeared or are forthcoming in American and British reviews on line, such as TrAce, Atomic Petals, Samsara, Taint, BlueFifth Review, Bonfire, and in print: Maelstrom, Free Lunch. Her two chapbooks, Scratches On The Windowpane and Skin Leaves, were released in Summer 2001, by Echo Park Books. She is co-editor at Avatar Review.

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