Mayhem Literary Journal is proudly sponsored by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato

Respiration - Zoë Higgins

She is crying always, lately:
at questions, and the shape of babies’
heads, and birds; at sweet solid
oranges; at high-vis and the offered
cups of tea. She cries especially at soft
voices, at skyward branches and the thought
of emails. She feels unseaworthy.
Her joints are loose; water pooling in her belly.
Friend, you do not have to carry cargo. Free
your hold. You are a tree, unshaped: the
world is dry and drawing water through 
you. This is a cycle of nutrition. The flow
of tears is leaving minerals in the bone,
is softening flesh, is breathing out and in. 

A Freudian Theory of Orthography - Zoë Higgins

Of course there are two kinds of letters: the male principle and the female. Related to the male principle are the upright, active and dominant letters. The “l”, “t” “h” and especially capital “I” fall within this category. The female principle relates to encompassing, open, receptive and passive letters. The “u”, “n”, “c” and especially “o” fall within this category. The combination of these principles gives language its expressive social force. This explains why words like “loo”, “hut”, and “oi!” are among the most erotic in the English language.  

Before the Party - Zoë Higgins

Her mother is standing on the table again. Her mother’s shiny high-heeled shoes are reflected in the table’s surface. The table’s surface is reflected in her mother’s shiny high-heeled shoes.

The table is set for a large dinner party. Her mother’s colleagues will be coming as they do every year to be entertained. Just next to her mother’s left foot is a crystal cruet set. Just next to her mother’s right foot is a sculptural glass vase filled with orchids. 

Two years ago, before the party, she snuck into the living room to take an orchid for her rabbit. The rabbit had died the day before and she thought she could take one white orchid from the bouquets. She eased the door open so quietly that her mother, standing on the table, did not notice. She was poised, feet shoulder-width apart, between a vase of orchids and a salad bowl. She could see tension in her stance. Her knees were locked, as if she were standing on a high bridge. She pulled the door closed and ran outside to her rabbit’s grave and climbed a tree, to be high up. That was before she was a teenager. 

She sees her standing on the table again. She waits to see what she will do; whether she will move. Crystal glitters around her feet. 

Contributor's Note

Zoë Higgins works in theatre and lives in Pōneke. Her writing has been published in STARLINGChameleonSalient, and Aotearotica.

 

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