Half a year in this shelter proved too much for me.
In times of great stress I learned to move inward,
into worlds that I created or borrowed from books.
My body ambulated as usual, untenanted,
doing whatever was expected of it
from milking cows to mathematical equations.

I spent a lot of my limited free time, then,
in undergrowth, conversing with the tree-roots
and breathing in the sour stench of cedar mulch.

Pain blurred to a smudge of smoke
in the distance and my eyes retreated
beyond the mask I learned to give them.

Tallon used my pain to prove her reality,
my blood to give tongue to her ghosts;
if she could force a reaction from me, weigh herself
in tears or bone-shards, it was for her an affirmation.
When I fed my heart in brain-generated green pastures,
my eyes staring through her, she did not exist.
We were nearly parasitic.

Towards the end I could vanish, leave my body
a sack that I watched from the shade of an invisible oak
that floated in the high left corner of our bedroom,
near the quilted paste-board celling,
behind her naked left shoulder.

Once I had gained the knack of it
she untranced me only once.
Weeping, her pert nose
spouting green, frustrated mucous,
she tore my fluid-slick body
from the bed and dragged it
by the freshly regrown hair
across the threshold to the toilet.

A boys room originally,
the walls were lined with urinals
that had since been transformed
into pots for young ferns.
She lifted the plants out
and lay my head into the bowl
which lipped around my neck
as comfortably as the sink in a hairdressers.

The stink of her urine
pulled me down from my perch.
There are few things as blinding
as an ammonia eye-wash.
I sputtered and choked,
with banshee-like shrieking.

When my eyes cleared enough
to make the room visible, I saw
that my dark twin was crying with me,
her relief and my agony were equally matched.

About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on April 9, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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