by Lizzie Latham
When mother tells me I need to sleep
I tell her there and then about skin.
I tell her the worst of it is human,
Hard as shaved hoof and cooked with age –
Documents, so they are kept and called,
Ordered in drawers between desiccating beads,
Are etched with cartoon whores
Who lay down and perhaps loved, once
These sailors and criminals
Now grafted in part that they are to the air,
Quiet as a felted eardrum.
There, a sterile room about town’s
Used to keep the air around objects dry.
Feathers, crisply static as the day they fell,
And the one seed clean unstuck from its glass.
Too dry to stick, say the druggists.
Their old methods of packing their pills amongst rice
Near overthrown, they moisten their lips.
I should have known, as grain upon grain
Heap in the vertices of matchboxes
Tipped at the corner, and fall into wastepaper bins,
Repeat what Mother says,
Mother says you need to sleep.
I’m shouting with the wind in the streets,
Awake to skin, women and document forearms,
Awake to grids I am too intelligent not to tessellate.
Squares just do it anyway, perhaps you know.
But they don’t. They don’t know
Meaning ‘without water’,
Meaning ‘do not eat’
In the street,
Where your harlequin skin does not protect,
From every personal effect,
I will remove my caustic fingers.
The frothy air, pregnant with its pieces,
Can take its meat.