Jane Doe

Maggie Gordon's picture

A Practical Education on Rape

TRIGGER WARNING: Discussions of rape and sexual assault

Olga Wolstenholme's picture

Home Invasions

The Inspiration

I was reading This Dead Relationship: Foucault’s Daughter is Stuck by Quiet Riot Girl the other day and the poem she quotes at the beginning really struck a chord with me.

The Poem

I carry a dead relationship around everywhere with me. It’s my hobby. How lucky to have a job that’s also my hobby, To do it all the time. A few people notice, and ask if they can help carry this thing. But, like an alcoholic scared they will hear the clink of glass in the bag,

I refuse—scared they’ll smell rottenness, Scared of something under their touch That will cave in, a skin over brown foam on a bad apple.

I cram this thing over the threshold Into the cold and speechless house, Lean against the front door for a moment to breathe in the dark, Then start the slow haul to the kitchen. Steel knives catch the moonlight on white tiles.

This dead relationship.

Or not yet dead.

Or dead and half-eaten, One eye and one flank open, like a sheep under a hedge.

Or dead but still farting like the bodies in the trenches, Exploding with their own gas. Hair and nails still growing. It has the pins and needles of returning feeling in a deadness. It is a reptile in my hand, quick and small and cool; The flip of life in a dry, cold bag of loose skin. A pressure without warmth of small claws and horn moving on my palm.

At night it slips slow but purposeful across the floor towards the bed. Next thing it’s looking out of my eyes in the morning— And in the mirror, though my eyes are not my own, My mouth shows surprise that I am still there at all.

Oh, a sickness that can make you so ill, Yet doesn’t have the decency to kill you. A mad free-fall that never hits the ground, Never knows even the relief of sudden shock; Just endless medium-rare shock, half-firm, half-bloody all the time. A long, slow learning curve. The overheating that can strip an engine badly, Strain it far worse than a racing rally. The fear that you will slow to a stop Then start a soft, thick, slow-gathering roll backwards.

I want something that is familiar but not. To feel in someone else’s pocket for a key While they lean away, laughing, their arms up, Hands in the air covered in grease or dough or paint or clay.

I have to carry it around. A weeping mother brings a baby to hospital, Late-night emergency. The tired doctor smooths the hand-made lace back from its face. He sees it was stillborn weeks ago, has been dead for weeks. He looks at her, there is no air in the room…

This dead relationship. This dead and sinking ship. Bulbs lie, unplanted, on a plate of dust. Dry and puckered pouches, only slightly mouldy; Embalmed little stomachs but with hairy, twisted fingers, Waiting for something to happen without needing to know what it is. When it happens everything else in the universe can start.

This dead relationship.

I am this thing’s twin. One of us is dead And we don’t know which, we are so close.

- Katherine Pierpoint

He was a musician, a lyricist, but he didn’t like poetry. Can you make sense of that?

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