Persephone’s Feast

Get up, because the draught has woken you again, make a thin, weak instant coffee and listen to the absolute feathery white static silence of the night. Try to be positive; think how lovely this breeze will be in the summer, as you rub the blood back into your feet. Check the cupboards and nibble a slice of hardening bread.

Back in bed, with the covers wrapped cocoon-like around you, wonder if today’s the day you can have a hot shower, or a bath without boiling the kettle seven times, because maybe by some miracle the plumbing your landlord won’t fix is better now. Wonder how many calories there are in the bread you’ve just eaten, tell yourself to relish the cold night because shivering burns fat. Wonder what you’ve become.

There’s an ethereal quality to the hours just before dawn, when the night is over but the day not yet born, it’s the counterweight to faerie’s dusk, when it’s dangerous to look in hallway mirrors. You know you should be writing but instead you’re thinking about Victorian seances and bathroom suicides and bad omens (before you woke you dreamed about a buzzard dying with its wings torn off). About bisexuality and lesbianism in bohemian Paris, about the likelihood of WWIII predicted in Buzzfeed articles, about dying your hair in lilac pastels and changing your name again. About the food you can’t afford (it doesn’t matter, starvation has 0 calories).

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When the sun comes, listen to the crowing of a rooster in someone’s back yard. Dress in cold clothing, staring at the freckling of peridot moss on next door’s tiles. There are bargain plums ripening in a bowl on the kitchen counter but they are not ready to eat; remember that time you bought a pomegranate and every seed was flawless and the most mystical thing you’d ever tasted, rivalled only by farmhouse eggs with the richest yolks of golden orange. Remember a house with heat and light and carpets, look around at the mould beginning to creep through another coat of nunnery-white paint. Wonder what you’ve become.

Call your partner, your sponsor, your friend. Tell them everything’s fine. You miss them, you’re still sober and getting to meetings, what are they up to. Block out the insistent whispering in your head by trying to act like a normal person. With going to the shops and gazing longingly at meat that won’t be reduced until 18.00 like a normal person. With running a tepid bath and lying there until your flesh is numb obsessing over torturous cold water therapy in Georgian sanatoriums like a normal person. With picking up the tablets that stop the worst of this putting you back in hospital.

Wait…Just wait for the quiet night to roll around again, when it’s just you and your ghosts in the Hades of this room, waiting for revelation between the clock hands, eating up the seconds like those pomegranate seeds.

Wonder what you’ve become.

Lola In The Snow

Image by Marta Bevacqua
Image by Marta Bevacqua

That girl is full of swans
– though her hair is dark as spilling ink –
tall, chalky feathers stuff her heart and lungs.
Graceful as those proud and ponderous kings,although
she is skin-thin and scissor-tongued,
and holds her bones as careful as a dancer,
trying not spill the rib cage.

Look close –

– the pores of her skin are a billion open eyes.
A poppy flower rolls between her thighs, and
she seems all dazzling fragility;
like running watercolours,
or starling murmurations whirling in the freezing air.
An ugly sister who shrinks in the rain,
laughing at how perfectly the slippers fit her smaller feet.

She’ll tell you that it’s all about control,
and looking as sick on the outside
as she feels within.
You cannot force a lonely princess into heavy adult flesh,
she will rebel, until wolf’s fur tickles the inside of her skin.
Until her body is a glassy coffin,
for the wild creature that she could have been.

Tucked away in her heart’s hollow cavity,
she has folded herself into the pages of a love story,
following a white skeleton
that rises from a living grave in silence fierce as fire.
And it isn’t all the mirror’s fault;
her entry into womanhood was cracked,
and like the tales she watched witches
sail away in the shell.