Written by Annabelle Cormack
We know these men. They would have us
Twisting, our insides scraped
Venison red, fallow-deer
Dead, dear fellows. Fathers, now.
I. Girlhood is a bloodsport Learned in playing fields Yellowed by cricketsong, the secretions Of sycamores Coagulate the tar. Will it hurt? Stripped down To tickbite mottled shell-pink shame, down to my silly shoes & the soft sore lock-click of breathing. They come in and leave Something open in me, a terrible eye. What quaint overreactions ! Thin grey cuckoo spit stings the eye for but a second, Pig-cupid, the sun shuts down on me, I am burned quite white & it is over very quickly. II. The same boys, men now, with their little lusts and lamentations. So serene as they sit there, so effortlessly Cunning. Cocotte, We know these men. They would have us Twisting, our insides scraped Venison red, fallow-deer Dead, dear fellows. Fathers, now. III. We are well-acquainted with the Scissor-man: The stairway, the door-knocker, the six Needlewomen in pinstripe dresses, corn dolly stitch-eye And woollen hair. One girl bore a baby straight into the canary grass behind the gym hall Class-of-2013 pluot, blood-clot, chanterelle These elegant consummations, rot. Aunts with dark eyeglasses conspire in undertones. I am just a small girl and vulgar. I will not survive It (The usual adorations and dotes) The steps go on forever and they are white. We go, quietly. As things go. IV. Things go and fathers come back To stone our wicked mouths, mothers Wait behind doors with hatchets to kill Pig-cupid. You remember him like a rash: Skin rolled up & up like canvas, drains Clogged with our hair, saliva sassafras Supermarket carrier bags in the throats of rotting girls. Pig-cupid: my first love rests the tip of his daddy’s laguiole hunting knife Against my eye and it is almost Ecstasy. A male friend, well-meaning, reduces me to raw parts please Forgive me, pig-cupid, fathers push mothers down the stairs Over unmatched socks. V. We open inside ourselves one paperthin escape: Masturbatory – I jest. Even that now bores me to tears. The way out is this: to have been bright and wanted and to be those things No longer. Unfond fingers pluck out the eye They opened in me, cauterise and subtract, these so-called divine things (soft pink calyx/ Cataract/muse) (the usual adorations and dotes) Take it as a blessing, hagstone, wishbone. Crone. They have ripped out my spine/No/They have let me Live, drab and sexless Fatherless, and free. VI. And what if I bear a daughter into the canary grass With Grandma Lilian’s rosebud mouth? What then? What will we tell her, pig-cupid? The same? That we are blighted with these bodies that hinge Themselves open like houses, on and on Until we are repossessed? That we must tread the road To white annihilation, these endless steps to Unbecoming? (the stairway, the door-knocker, the six) That fathers will come, proud, Write poems perhaps (divine feminine/flesh Of my flesh) and soon forget. The steps go on Forever and they are white. Fatherhood folds away Neatly, infinitely reductive, readily Forgiven: the eye opens, and love shrinks to the size of a spermatozoa. (We go, quietly. As things go.)
Check out this poem, and more of Annabelle’s work, in print in Serpentine Vol. 3