by Sophie Mayer

(On waking from a dream of [Hannibal Lecter] my father)


When the cops ask me what had been stolen, I say: “Everything.”

Dining room table, chairs, sofa, armchair, coffee table, TV.

(Spine, hips, kneecaps, liver, kidney, eyes).

Boneless, I ragdoll to the floor. Her head wedged in a tight corner, too-heavy pumpkinhead. Fridge. Washing machine. Beds. Wardrobe. Books.






I can’t breathe. I tell the cops, “I can’t breathe.” They took my lungsspineentrails.

Kitchen (skin) table. Storage (blood) heaters. Kettle.



Why do I despise myself so in my dreams?


(dead. time. memory)


The house is like a doll’s house, cut in half for show. Anyone could reach in and touch. It’s a cavity, like in the game Operations, its organs (bright, plasticky) scattered after some implacable sacrifice. And it’s wired. Tiny shocks run through her as she touches carpet that has forgotten it’s carpet. Carpet with its stuffing knocked out of it. Her fingers rest in the chair-leg hollows and feel at home. Feel useful, like a filling. Feel familiar: she knows her own hollows. Shocks anyone who touches them. Drop the organs back in (plop, plop) with a buzz and a sting. It’s inside out, pecked at by ravens down to clean bones.


(I fear I have never used my body, or notes on reading Judith Herman, Trauma & Recovery)


She can breathe but breath is tears, is torn from her cavity in blue waves that set the hairs on her arms alight.

(Arms return.)

She presses her face into her forearms until

(eyes return)

her eyeballs spring back beneath their lids.

She is a pressure system, tectonic plates, something huge and roaring.

(Lungs return.)

Roaring into silence, roaring silently, don’t scare the neighbours. Rawing her hot face

(blood returns).

She drags her toes

(feet return)

on the fitted carpet, kicking up sparks, presses her elbows into her ribs until the glass globe shatters and she’s inside, she’s up to her elbows

(organs return)

in hot guts and stuffing. She’s ten little piggies. She’s

(bladder returns)

running wee-wee-wee all the way home.

She’s jubilant, she’s a Christmas tree festooned with innards and eyeballs, with sanded white patellas and vertebrae, a biology textbook cut-up and coloured in by a sugar-crazy five year old. She’s this red blood cell and that neuron. Really, she’s that tiny in the doll’s house of her blood. Really. She’d stay here forever.



A shipwrecked cathedral of spars and sunlight, a few not only leafless, a cabin returning its timbers to forest, a greenhouse where the glass has turned to back to sand, an exhalation from a cave where there is nothing but prehistoric bones.




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