Poetry by Renée Eshel
So much beautiful time
I am stroking the bottom of the barrel, sticky jam and sour honey are stuck to my tongue and lips and the pages of my imagination. I read and read and read until the pressed work will eventually become formative and widen the four walls, expansive. But for now, I am a size too small, the fresh scabs on my knees are accidental, dirty, and healing, and my hair ties like a noose around my hips, caressing me, keeping me young. The monarch in the cavity is alive and well, her wings stretch wide, fragile, but firm, directing my hands to branches and leaf handles. They do not break when they are trodden on, I do not chew on my fatness, there are no broken clasps. I look down to insects on the hair of my legs and the swell of my belly, I am full, I have lapped up the dew of summer and am satiated. I do not fear hunger, I am not indebted to winter, I am pouring jelly through the gaps in my teeth and transporting frogs to basins. I knit yarn together with unblemished fingers and march through playgrounds, hardy, fierce and entirely unafraid. I cut my hair and bleach my favourite dress and then wear clips and the sodden fabric for weeks – mistakes are frequent, fixable, and fickle. I collect fossils, marbles, stamps, cards, sequential hobbies that will ebb and flow, becoming slack and lean. Constellations are only as big as the stars plastered on my ceiling, my knowledge does not move further than my mouth, my hands are the right size. My hands are exactly the right size.
Chalk in hand, etching boundaries as lines in gravel, praying for high tide so they are erased once again. I’m thinking about how I give up ownership of myself every night to sleep and if I fabricate fatigue, I can do that with you too. I will remove my ribs, one by one, curl them inwards on a slate of snow, I want to be placed next to a can on the shelf, forgotten about until winter where I will have to be thawed out. By then it will be too late. I realise this is fictional, so you can leave sticky imprints, sap to a tree touched until I am all gone, likened to the morning dew. I awake in the field and suck a lemon and my breath and a lollipop and my thumb and then cry in my cradle. I swaddle myself in a factory line force field, clad in invincibility and a lack of autonomy. Recklessness has become so inviting, so I sharpen a penknife as I let my conditioner sit, I pick out a new area as I try on clothes, I mutate as incense mends.
Maybe I’ll see you one last final time, the cord cutting spell has not yet taken place.
I go into construction work, I find a filthy rag and a set of tools and watch as cement mix churns and spits and then guard the drying words with my arms. I’m thinking about how impenetrable I have made myself and if I can bulldoze buildings and puppeteer skyscrapers to mud, I can do that with you too. I will sew together wire wings, set flight to them at mountains peak, I want my spider legs to navigate me somewhere I don’t recognise, unmarked by place names. By then it will no longer be a secret. I realise this is plausible, so I leave trodden footprints, a path to a clearing, lay until I am all together, likened now to nature’s breath. I awake in the grass and promise a girl and myself and the sea and the fog and then swim in the water. I cradle myself in salt, clad in ripples and frost and kindness. Recklessness is no longer tempting, so I fashion a swing set as I wash you out of my hair, I silence your voice as I kiss my knees, I multiply over and over.
It’s only me, the candles have burnt down and the string exhales into ashes.
Photo taken by the author.