Enamel - Rachael Elliott

enclosed in pink
I slice my way through
squash down on hard baked rusks
tear free
test my edge on nipples,
cucumber and sweet peas
months later
I am growing a better me
far inside
but fever burns a hole in my replacement
not to be seen for seven years
my defect caves inward
brown stained reminder
of sweat and fears

years later
I break at this seam
on the handlebars
of a blue and black mountain bike
I snap and bury a piece of myself in a lip
paint myself red
fly into the dirt
under a tiny kauri tree
leech into the soil
pull up through the roots
splay out on a branch

My emergency repairman is late for golf
he fashions me a yellow brick hat
to cover my sharp edge
sends me to heal under a fleshy blanket
days later
my regular guy
trims my hat back
rasps sharp edges
puts me in a firing line
buffs me clean

years later
I tremble over a glass of water
split in half the other way
not short, but thin
behind the shine
a flake of myself floats away
no one notices
so I dance

Write the Body Bloody - Rachael Elliott

At the back of the body is a label that says "This body belongs to..."
There is no name in the gap. 
I would write my own name
but no matter how I stretch I cannot reach
the neck grows strained and pinched with trying
and I trust no one to write it for me.
No one will know who owns the body if it is lost
it will exchange its tag for a Jane Doe labelled toe
and be explored by med students.

The body has a secret name which not even I can know
How does one look at a tiny child and see their name blooming from them?
Men who glimpse letters from the body's name make its world spin
but none has scooped it with his tongue and poured it in my ear
Some have not even looked for the name
but named the body themselves
(which the body does not care for)
Names which the body cannot forget
Names tattooed through the body's skin onto bone
'gorgeous', 'bitch', 'honey', 'slut'
It is hard for the body to move with these names cracking in its joints.

Perhaps its true name is so long that no one will ever read it
or it is tattooed near its spine
curving black brushstrokes beneath its skin
pulsing in the red blood of its pages
perhaps that is how the man with the fists
saw part of the body's name and used it
to keep me locked to him, longing.
By spilling the blood of the body
with his hard centre
wiping it from his body with such care
I couldn't help but think he knew its name
and would not share.

The body has a currency of touching
and a market for parts
lips go for a kiss
legs for a stroking
vagina for the voice that cracks the body open
and grunting, sews it together with purple thread
but what costs the body the most
are the things left behind

the body is not a rubbish bin
but a receptacle for needles
marked 'Hazard' and painted the colour of warning
people want to take the needles away
clean the plastic bottom of the body
with sour disinfectant
but they are afraid of where the body has been
so it grows larger with sharpness
and no one will touch it for the brokenness within.

the body is afraid of pain, but craves it
if I do not provide
the body will create its own pain
so for years I cut the body
with the blade of a blue pencil sharpener
and while I passed out the body danced
flicking blood into the shadows
and we were friends.

Then I could not slice the body anymore
but I knew it needed hurt
so I scratched the body with a pin
but it scowled at me and punished
my lack of commitment to the body's pain.
I forced the body to lash out
so I bled after three months of not bleeding
and its gift to me was washed away in the tide
I did not give the body the opportunity again.

The body practices its relationship with violence
but weakens in the final moments
crumpling to the dirt
shaking, clammy
it leaves me to clean up its messes
and makes choices before I can think
the body puts me places I shouldn't be
like amidst a bar brawl
arms up, swinging
before I realise I've crossed the room
and my friend saves me from the body
and I am left spent as though the body has run a great distance
wishing she had let the body go
so I would not have to hurt the body myself
only search through the blood for its name

the body will love no one until they learn its name
but it's not telling
so I lie cold in bed with it
in dread with it
clean sheets shushing over shaved legs
lavender pillow against its head
and wait for the body to kill me
as I am nothing to it.
The body knows no sorry
knows no fear
the body exists with animal blood
running from between its teeth and hands
and gasping wet
dies without permission

Cancelled - Rachael Elliott

the head is the stain
of blood run from my nose
to the sheet beneath

the neck is the whip
that lashes the back
to shreds of paper that blow

the shoulders are the shelves
that hold the knowledge

the breasts are the bags
for the rocks and the fear

the ribs are the chains
that hold me close
so I can wriggle and writhe
but never escape

the stomach is the site of the struggle
where, with your wolf grin
and your red hands
you took me

the hips are the rails
that hold back the crowd

the thighs are the headstones
in the broken graveyard

The knees and the ankles
hinges to the door
the lock you broke open

the feet are the paws
of the rabbit
ripped off for luck

but the stomach
is the site 
of the struggle
where, 
with your wolf teeth
you split me
from my mother

you clamped our cord
clipped me free

and I didn’t 
breathe
just spread my stain
from the neck

my stomach now
the site of the struggle

so you wrapped me 
in blue plastic

and I died

and you smiled

lifted the lid

and threw me

away

Contributor's Note

Rachael is currently studying towards her Masters in creative writing. She has just been appointed Editor of Waikato University's Nexus Magazine and her work has previously appeared in 4th Floor Literary Journal. She recently won the 2014 2degrees Poetry Slam with her performance of 'Write the Body Bloody'.

 

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