Claire Polders ~ Four Micro Fictions



On the ter­race across the street below the elms in fick­le light, you eat dish­es that are nei­ther here nor there. Facing the canal, you low­er your spoon into your bowl of soupçon and come up emp­ty, as though the dash of salt is just an idea. You stab your fork into a gen­er­ous cut of some­thing dark, wait­ing for the blood to sprout, and instead meet the resis­tance of a slice of toast­ed bread. When you squeeze your eyes against the shift­ing shad­ows, intent to see what’s up, you chew mouth­fuls of steam­ing noth­ing echo­ing your future’s taste. But make no mistake—your plate is not emp­ty; it’s just a mag­ic trick involv­ing make-believe.

Meteorological Rest

When the moon sets and the liq­uid mer­cury ris­es, even wor­ry takes the day off and suns itself along the shore of a long-for­got­ten hol­i­day. Eyes closed against the glare, or dark­ened by glass­es that dou­ble-func­tion as a mask, you undress in total con­fi­dence: at the beach nobody sees any­thing. Like a naked woman, the sum­mer blue of sky stretch­es out to infin­i­ty, mak­ing sure this day will nev­er end. You sleep and read, sleep and read. Anxieties buzz in every now and then from behind the trash­cans and ice-cream ven­dors, only to fly off swift­ly at the appear­ance of a nap. The sin­gle fear that may stick in the sand is smoth­ered beneath high-fac­tor creams that claim to prove nothing.

How to Kill a Rose

You tram­ple flowerbeds, pluck young tulips off their stems—petals here, leaves there—altering what you encounter or mak­ing things up. But nev­er the rose, the rose you take as is, like water in what­ev­er form. These ducks, these vicious rap­ing ducks, they bring you to the edge. If it wasn’t for the but­ter­flies, dip­ping and spin­ning. The inaudi­ble flap of their wings. You know it’s too much to ask, a song writ­ten just for you, a thing of beau­ty impressed with your name. Roses are ruth­less. Each time you deeply inhale their scent, you fall and let the rose go unharmed. There are always things that stand in the way.


You love black and you love white, but when they put you in a black-and-white world, you will bark. Forced to choose, gray is real­ly the only shade. They will see it for them­selves, if they dare to throw you a bone. They will see how unyield­ing the human mind can be when faced with blind oppo­nents who’d rather kill an inno­cent dog than chew on Van Gogh’s ear.


Claire Polders is a Dutch author of four nov­els with a debut in English on the way. In 2016, Denver Quarterly nom­i­nat­ed one of her sto­ries for a Pushcart Prize. Her short prose recent­ly appeared in TriQuarterly, Green Mountains Review, Okey-Panky, Folio, SmokeLong Quarterly, Tin House (The Open Bar), Prairie Schooner (Blog), and else­where. Find her on Twitter @clairepolders or at