Poem: Helen McClory

Six Places Where You Have Spoken

  1. In the French church, when it was taken outdoors for Easter. I don’t remember the closest town, only the greenness, the fact it could be warm to sit out of doors. A china rabbit crouching in my palm. Spring winds up and à la. And your voice, hard like a pair of paint-spattered overalls, after mass was over, telling me to duck below a branch.

  2. No I was mistaken. Reverbing branches come at you like a fierce message. Puncture, says the skin. Little prints laugh indented and the lips raised. Blood sketch on the ground. I held in my teeth, but I hadn’t been hit by you, not then.

  3. I rolled my eyes at officials and smoked, getting lipstick prints on the filter. I wandered out on an adventure. I forgot my tidy life and lived it forgetfully. I shed the various names for grace. I fractured my fingers, I fell in with a faceless crowd. I spoke flatly, without qualities, pretending that was possible. There was a silence that was my being told.

  4. In the house on the rock by the lake. I was told, if you need to tell someone, tell the sea. If you are far from the sea, a river will do: the words will make their way downstream eventually. If there’s no river, not even a stream, at hand, go to the mountain. Don’t ever tell the lake. Don’t. But I drank whisky and I sat by the lake and I told.

  5. When the needle pushed in and out of my skin, point gleaming like a star. I need someone to tell me before I am hurt, I said, silently. I held a silent thing with a smushed face, and my blood. The nurse had hard, strong hands, and the outside world was fogged blue beyond the walls. The tattoo on my wrist was half a pockless moon. What do you think the difference is between good and safe? I asked myself. I winced, and the nurse looked up with his teeth and he said, not long now.

  6. When that woman shamed my gentle boy, when that woman peeled him down to be laughed at in a room full of paper and guts. I wanted sanctuary for us both. I wanted you to tell me the river knows, the sea knows, and that the red years will suck the bruise. Lap, says the wave. Death, says my baby. I realised then that was all we ever say. For the first time like a saint I heard you say in your still, laconic voice, oh honey, no.
    Helen McClory is a writer from Scotland. Her first flash fiction collection, On the Edges of Vision, was published by Queen’s Ferry Press in August 2015. Her debut novel, Flesh of the Peach, will be published by Civil Coping Mechanisms in 2016. There is a moor and a cold sea in her heart.

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