Words: Lilya Barnard (She/Her)
There are days when I know the strangled mess called Fear,
The one you left to rot inside me,
Is still there.
The cotton knickers you stuffed down her throat
Don’t stop her from screaming
When outlines look too much like yours.
You see, at her core-
Which you made mine too-
She wants to help.
She wants to share her knowledge like lipstick in a club bathroom,
Like a pinky-promise secret.
So I kiss her blue mouth until I am cold too.
And when my grandmother asks me why I can never sleep,
Why I learn the name of every girl they pull from the river,
And the addresses of their ex-boyfriends,
I prod at your name with my tongue
Like I would a loose tooth,
Like something I want to be rid of,
I picture her prying you from my skull.
But I will not have her hand hold your ugly truth.
So to the boy who left his fingerprints in my bones,
To you who made my safety a hypothetical thing,
The only reason you are alive today
Is because I never told my 5 foot grandmother your name.
You see, whilst your father taught you to wield the word allegedly as a weapon
And the promise of your bright future as a shield,
My mother’s mother used her still strong hands
To dig graves in her garden,
Right next to her perfect flower beads.
She promised to turn the body of any boy with wandering, unwanted hands into fertiliser
For the trees her girls had planted.
And I know my anger isn’t a completely fossilised thing,
Because I like the idea that you would feel,
As I do always,
That your life is not your own,
But something my sisters and I could take turns holding up to our torso,
To see if it suits us.
But on good days,
I am not stretching the cheap fabric of your life against my skin,
I am not asking my sister what shoes to pair it with, no
On good days,
I leave you at the bottom of my drawer,
I lay Fear’s body to rest,
I help my grandmother pick fruit from the garden,
And I don’t think of you at all.