life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

Something of

Joan_of_Arc,_by_Gaston_BussiereThere is something

about you

they said

and they were right

in that way that isn’t universal

she did have something about her

and then she gave it to you

and you had

something about her

locked around your filigree neck.

When you whistled

only she heard your call

came running time and again

hands powdered with flour or words

losing each moment

something about her

because that is what happens when

girls give it away

without thought in little hand-made envelopes

as if it, and themselves, were

a paper boat let loose to rent

how then to remain whole?

they have to have it

to be

something

about

them

or they stay as tinsel in corners

gathering misapprehensions dust

no one remembered to take down

after the celebration was over

as hollow as old marzipan

left to suck up dry cupboard air

when placed for safe keeping by soft-hearted child

leaching color onto old towels

still smelling of beach and sand

how to build on sandcastles turning to powder

how to make bread rise when it rains

or dry clothes in damp

girls who grow from weeds

standing on asphalt

as cars spit exhaust and the world

is dirty and cold

how do they remember

the something about them

to keep going?

when rivers dry and the shape of regret

lies like a trace of memory

itching in place

we find our strength through

lifting others toward light

where for a moment they remember

in the purity of being held

tightly with grace

something of

 

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fiction, prosetry

Teeth

She looks down and sees her bottom jaw resting on the ground by her feet. Carefully, she picks it up to assess the extent of the ruin but it is clear: her mandible has entirely detached itself from her head and now sits quietly in the palms of her shaking hands. It half-smiles at her, just as it had done so many times before at handsome strangers and bad jokes.

As if newly erupted from the grip of the ivory bone, her teeth form a sparkling semicircular row. She studies the teeth, noticing that where they are not laced with blood and saliva they are obscenely white, almost iridescent, like menstruating pearls. They look delicate and indestructible.

She begins to run and so does the blood: it trickles through the gaps in her fingers, collecting in the crease of her elbow before dripping on the pavement, leaving a trail behind her. The blood is gooey and viscous, and though it looks too dark to be fresh it keeps on flowing. A mess of bloody saliva pours from her jawless mouth, down her neck and settles in a sticky pool on her chest. When she tries to spit out the taste of rusty nails and panic, she discovers that she has no tongue.

The unfamiliar residential street is surprisingly busy for 3 a.m and she knows a lot of the people that she passes. She stops to ask everyone she sees to help her put her jaw back in place. She is met with bemused faces. She screams and shouts and begs but no sound emerges from her, just the occasional crimson gurgle. She looks pleadingly at the passersby then looks down at the jaw in her hands, motions fitting the jaw back to her head and then looks back at her potential saviour, praying they’ll understand. They look at her with pity and faux-guilt, apologise and say things like, “Sorry, dear, I’m in a rush,” “I’m not a dentist, unfortunately,” and “Oh, I don’t really want to get involved.” The fact that she can’t properly communicate to ask for help, or even find out what has happened to her, frightens her and causes her far more distress than the fact that her jaw has fallen off. She tries to communicate using her eyes; she is certain that her eyes must surely convey the horror, confusion and desperate need to be helped that she cannot speak aloud. But no: she is ignored and unsaved. Tears tumble down her cheeks, over her top lip and straight down to her chest to mingle with the rest of the mess of fluid. She tries to spit again but grows frustrated upon remembering that she can’t. She runs out of tears and sits under the glow of a street lamp, with her bloody, perfect jaw beside her, and hopes for somebody to throw her a tissue at least.

Sometimes she wanders about the strange town for hours, begging for help through her eyes, frenzied, covered in blood and clutching her jaw in her hands, rocking it slightly as if it were an injured bird. Sometimes she gives up after a few minutes and resigns herself to living a life of silence, with only her bottom jaw for company. Sometimes she smashes her jaw against an orange brick wall, sometimes repeatedly, hundreds of times, but it always stays whole. Nobody ever helps. She no longer truly believes that someone will eventually come along and fix her because nobody ever has before and she knows that if she expects nothing, she will never be disappointed, only ever pleasantly surprised. She remains mute and hungry and ugly and cries and cries and cries, but she never dies. She is, after all, built of the same matter as her jaw: she is delicate and indestructible.

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