"the courage to be repulsive"
Fragments after Claude Cahun
they built this body to house a false haunting. the heart is irrational auricles, is the soft mort that murmurs on itself, says: i am the obsession, i am the solution. an eavesdropper, a vestal fake. cavorting in tall disorders, the tongue. an ulterior poet pretends, sadistic and comic, to be more than a relic, remaindered in sheets. i hang my own face over the mirror, wake-ready, mouthing my funerary motives – my finery.
this body is a machine: reproduces bland endearments in a monotone. walk into a room, see their lubricated gaze slide over me. crown me. imperative and sentimental flowers.
industrious supplication for the welfare of the living. nail yourself to church doors: milagros, tamata, arms and eyes, silvering to severance. be a byzantine mammal, their most flagrant idol. if the miracle arrives as stale farce i won't be at fault. making my icy devotions, the halo a cage that encircles my head. it can't be called courage if it isn't a choice. say instead my inordinate mettle. if i am a mermaid – brackish siren – my gills are razor sharp.
i exceed my mistake, i survive my sentence. silly zoo, i scandalise the uniform you slip on me. sometimes i dream: a vixen's stiletto corrections, the doomed no comment of my titless chest, little vanquished factory, little upturned boat. the light pokes holes in my sordid organs, i am burning up. my aether faint, my wasting cure.
i fall out of my body – straight down. masks intend not to disguise, but to punish. not bury, not to praise. dear one, you are out there, walking toward the light. my gloves become a nursery for grasping fingers. i am gold, i am marble, i am grey. even today these bodies wax wrong. routine strangers, recalcitrant committees. the one that got away from the one who got away.
my weeds, my flowers, my nonchalant enemy. swastikas. the armband pimps its broken black propeller. turns bagging hooks toward europe.
night-scent, monsters, old stars squared. the void breath we exchange in drowning – love. europe, your dappled remains, a blue sea insipidly. we are furtive hands, the subtle tarot of mutual doom. what bodies might become: passing fear through a photograph. eking, falsely opened, and come to a clean shame kissingly. troubled serpent, my body a long, tractable bone. and sophie scholl's face stretched across a t-shirt. and sophie scholl's face, a torn j’accuse. what did you do, poet? wrote? fucked? hid in plain sight? that sea, some azure-accustomed morning, and me on the white cliffs slipping my gyp from me. didn't i tell you, the bluebirds are over? little arrows of desire, renouncing their wings.
all the single ladies. all you heads on spikes.
the mirror's bitter, cloudy milk. these weeping acts. a flat havoc we surrender, again and again, in dawn's weak masturbator's grip. the guillotine edits, smilingly. see shackled hands return to the piano. poet's eye: little studio. poet's tongue: province of corrupt exits. the darling narcissi we treat as weeds. how could i be so – heads you lose – reckless under a using sun? between us a dare, a persuasion of robes where the sea wraps you. my perfect missals of desire. missiles. i mean missiles.
small desire, the width of a minute's silence. but deadly. i scrape a plaque of names from
my teeth. your secret name is a fold in the diaphragm, fold in my favourite beholding, a strategic crease in a photograph, cutting us clean in two.
not, in fact, the fondant centre of my soft admiring, but a horn of skin, a rasp of flesh. calix, forcible and veiled. something closes the throat. bon-bon, bon mot with a core of rotten caramel.
a memory of myself, my slickly palpitating sin. something is drawing me in with a hard, crooked laugh. all their gilded come hithers, wasting now.
war makes desire obscene, perversion necessary. a glass needle under the skin, magnified and fragile. you cannot soothe with salvation alone. christ's calamine. impossible intensity. strike the eye in the ruin of its rut, and into the great light walking. the world is stubbornly over: unsociable, repetitive finale – finale rack.
Dr Fran Lock is a some-time itinerant dog whisperer, the author of seven poetry collections and of numerous chapbooks, including Hyena! Jackal! Dog!, which was published by Pamenar Press last year, and Contains Mild Peril (Out-Spoken Press, 2019). She completed her Ph.D. at Birkbeck College, University of London, titled, "Impossible Telling and the Epistolary Form: Contemporary Poetry, Mourning and Trauma". She is an Associate Editor at Culture Matters.