BODY AS A METAPHOR
This body is a junkyard, a haunted house.
Skeins of mouseholed muscle, ligaments rusted stiff,
Watching the others dart by, limbs obedient and obliging.
Trading like for like, salvaging what can be saved,
Dragging the redeemable scrap away
From weariness like a blanket of snow.
A shipyard of wrecked vanities, skeletal, scuttled,
Left for the wind to tease, and to slow ruin.
The rust creeps, sleepless; the rags
Bow to the breeze. At the bottom of the sea
The barnacles offer their testimony, their final affinity
For smoothing shattered and forgotten things
Offering no prescription for these jagged ribs;
The broken parts accumulate, turn Queen’s Evidence,
Testify against the carefully meted untruths
Of their owner, who lies for safety
And not for gain. The compulsion
Is an old one, worn out by use,
And no longer fooling anyone.
Slowly I have slipped my obligations,
Scattered like snakeskin, uninhabited
By caution or responsibility.
The body fails, time and again. I
Inhabit it only when other options are unavailable,
Which is always. I make excuses for it,
Even to myself, even when I know better.
It offers me a future bright with needles,
Shored up with aluminium, and with so many pills to take.
It offers me no future at all.
It marks time, month on month, dosing at intervals
To ensure I do not forget the immense unlikelihood
Of it existing to begin with. It
Will kill me as surely as fire, as drowning,
But it will do it slowly, allowing me
To note its various intricacies,
Marvel at its irreducible complexity,
Asking the questions that time does not allow.
Subterranean London conceals a family
Of inbred pigs, huge and blind in the darkness,
And pale, their bristly hides
Scraping the filth from the walls.
A tiger paces beneath the Edinburgh cobbles,
Twisting, furious with waiting;
Below Dublin, a monstrous snake coils.
Paris is the plaything of a pack of gigantic dogs,
And a colossal moth, wreathed in smoke,
Pupates under Amsterdam.
Berlin, naturally, shelters a bear
Of astonishing bulk, with claws like sickles,
And Madrid’s unfeasible monitor lizard
Is Cretaceous in its size.
New York’s great king rat has predated
Even the sewer alligators,
The vast coyote of Los Angeles curls its tail
Beneath El Capitan in the coldness of night,
And the rangy, hungry wolves under Seattle
Rattle the pines with their howling.
The cities pulsate, live and breathe,
Flood in resentment and glory and fear;
Bathe in failure, preen in hazy dawns,
Kick sunsets away across rivers and beyond horizons,
Warm the worn stones, tenant empty galleries,
Smooth the wooden floors of the museums,
Haunt night buses, wait alone for the train,
Devour lovers and losers and drunk businessmen,
Exhaust metaphors, frustrate poetics,
Ride the blue night and glimmer,
Winking at the cameras in space
Cassandra Finch (she/her) is a writer, artist, and zinemaker from Essex. Her work sits at the crossroads of disability, queerness, class anxiety, and life in the suburbs. She is currently currently working on her first poetry chapbook. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.