Thursday, 25 January 2018

The Cutting Block

Words have littered a woman's flesh, unspoken.
Memories that she has not made, places she has not seen.
They tell her that those are the days she'll remember,
a way of living that takes and takes and leaves you raw and brittle.
She hates those days, keeps them in a photograph, hidden on display.

Words bring her here, to the belly of the beast which is never full.
They bring her to a cavern, hollow save for an echo of what used to be.
She wears her best skin and ignores the hushed conversation, the whip
of a careless tongue over an open wound. You are not all you could be.

Have you seen the fine china, they ask. Have you seen the cracks
in the walls and the dark shadows that follow us to the graves we dig.
There's earth on her tongue and weeds growing in her throat, and can
you keep it down, please, nobody wants to hear your politics.

Polite conversation. Lovely weather we're having, they say, but
she's drowning under the growing rapids, struggling to stay afloat.
Cut into the steak, it's better when it bleeds. The walls tell the story
of a boy who kissed the barrel of a gun, but we don't talk about that.

We don't talk about the collective; we don't talk about being stripped
to bones and a heartbeat, having given so much there's nothing left
to take. Smile, extend a hand, return gesture to sender.
She's quite the artist, they boast, saying they knew her when.

Saying she'll make it if she's meant to, fire at their fingertips
with the door closed behind her. She's rasping in the cold,
lungs weak from fighting the ice they all take in so naturally,
and she's far from home with no place to get warm.

They don't remember the script they wrote, back when they were she.
They don't remember the labour sold for more than hers is worth now,
but they'll close their eyes when it's not their place and trust in a system
which was never meant to last.

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