Konch Magazine - “Excerpt from Hamlet’s Needle” by Po Silagan-Bush
Excerpt from Hamlet’s Needle
Po Silagan-Bush

 
Hamlet’s Needle
November 12, 2028
The first word that I will speak will be a fiction. With a single utterance, I will 
weave myself a world. I will breathe in the variegated fragments of past, present and 
future into my wet lungs and expel them in a brilliant chain of infinite strands. I’ll do it 
right now as I ready the kids for bed. I’ll do it as I balance the weight my daughter’s 
small warm body, on my hip and climb the stairs with a labored gait---a mother’s gait, 
brisk and purposeful, yet always teetering on the edge of collapse. I’ll do it because I 
must. Then I will---as I always have---become accustomed to this trick and think nothing 
of it. I will walk the curves of the earth clothed in those vibrant fibers. They will be my 
very skin. They will be my amour. I will inhabit the fibers as if by some warm fireside at 
the heart of a dark mountain fortress, until again, that force which can neither be forecast 
nor fought against comes to unravel them. 
That inexorable force first honed in on me the night I first saw The Running 
Woman twenty years ago. Her frail translucent white limbs made jagged shapes of the 
blackness as she tore across the sprawling emerald carpet in front of Brenton-Buchannan 
estate. The Running Woman’s flight marked the point where the world would split into 
sinewy strands, in the same way that the night had fractured into pieces at the choppy 
movement of her white form. What I didn’t know then was that as the world was ending, 
another would form from its remnants as small jewels of potential rising into a brilliant
firmament. The day the world began to unravel was also the day I met Dennis Lightfoot. 
It was not however the day he met me. Excerpt from Hamlet’s Needle
Po Silagan-Bush
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On the day that Dennis met me, the wind was like a whip that cracked out over 
the street, rustling the fallen leaves of the sycamores and dogwoods. I went to see Marta 
at the Jack Indian that day, before going to the library. Back then, I counted Marta among 
the few people I actually liked, because she had a nice smile and reminded me of my 
mother (the first mother, not the second, but I’ll get to that later). Marta’s apple red nails 
were always tapping on something, tracing things, holding tightly to the neck of the fat 
white cat Gustav Pimperton. When the tourists who came to the pub asked why the cat 
was called Gustav, Marta would say, “He just looked like a Gustav,” and the cat, sitting 
on the glossy hardwood floor between the brassy legs of the barstools, would stare up at 
the people and hiss. The tourists put up with Gustav as “one of the things about the 
locals.”
“One of the things about the locals,” the twill and khaki covered tour guide, Mr. 
Beam would always say. “is they like their tales and they like their drink.”
The tourists would all chuckle lightly like it was just a bad slightly prejudicial 
joke and would marvel with serene smiles at the thatched roofs, timber-frame buildings
and verdant provincial gardens of Hamlet’s Needle. Depending on the season they would 
exclaim at the white blossoms, or the gleaming red fruit, or the snow covered branches of 
the many apple trees that stood guard throughout town. They would pull cameras from 
their fanny packs and consult their laminated leaflets as they followed Mr. Beam, with his 
graying neck beard and low brimmed felt hat, up the main street. The town radiated, from 
the keyhole shaped main street, into apple orchards atop rolling emerald hills. At the top 
of the cobblestone keyhole was a tear shaped island of the brightest green grass, anointed 
with a single rapturous apple tree that had the look of a hand reaching skyward. The Excerpt from Hamlet’s Needle
Po Silagan-Bush
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Green diverted the main street into an oddly shaped cul-de-sac. Curving around the culde-sac were the Episcopalian church, the town hall and the chamber of commerce, with 
the church at the apex of the cobblestone arch.
“This is the Jack Indian,” Mr. Beam would say as he stopped in front of the scaly 
stone structure. He would point exuberantly up at the oval of wood, bearing the image of 
a golden horse against a cobalt background, that hung from an iron bracket. “A real old 
fashioned Public House.” 
Marta would always be behind the polished cherry wood bar cleaning a glass with 
her slender red tipped fingers. Sometimes she would swing her long ink black hair behind 
her shoulders and fix the tourists with a discerning eye. She never liked the tourists, in 
their matching outfits and practical outdoorsy gear, but she, like all the people of 
Hamlet’s Needle, agreed that they were the town’s “life blood.” 
“If it was the old days you could rent a room up there,” the tour guide would 
chuckle at nothing in particular. “Awful drafty though. Now it’s a really good place to 
grab a burger.” The tourists would laugh again and peer curiously up at the dark and 
dusty windows on the second floor. They all knew about the old days. That’s why they 
came, to see the isolated California town that didn’t seem to know it was in the new 
country. They made the sharp and winding ascent through the rock-strewn hills and up 
Bellman’s Pass to see the town that Robert Hamlet built “from the ground up” and in 
which he met his tragic end.
Some days, if he was feeling faint of heart as he called it, the tour guide had a 
megaphone. On those days he claimed the sadness inside him was so great that he could 
only speak in a tearful whisper, “The story goes that back in eighteen eighty-five or so the