'This isn't a body!'
Jane Hartshorn's ekphrastic response to 'NOW' by Chantal Akerman at Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris, September 14 - October 21
This bit is good, this bit is bad. Draws lines between here and there. Here, I have a small nose. There, I have a strong curve. Behind, on my back. She turns to see. Runs her hands over its circumference. Feels its wrongness. See, touch. Touch, see. She imagines herself on the operating table. 'This isn't a body!', the doctor cries, and everyone claps their hands to their mouths. Her neck is too long. She hardly has breasts. She names them slowly, her voice crunching. Feet on broken glass. She starts again, silent this time. Sound slowly gives way to touch. Soft, at first. Then pushing into the flesh. Her tongue massages their shapes, will know for next time. Hands scramble, tip-toe crab-legged in the shallows.
First, the sound of bird-song. As though from an open window. Then, snatches of the radio. Five-eyed, I listen for clues. Everything has been split open again. The violence of upturned earth. Furrows and furrows, ochre and blue. We watch the hard things blur to soft. Rocks, trees, houses, people. Streaks of dull colour. A horse moans. Sound like iron shoes on flagstones. Gunfire. We keep moving left. The bird-song is actually the sound of water. A tap dripping on stainless steel. Crack crack crack. We are moving left, which means we are returning. Now, he is sitting on the edge of the bed. I keep my eyes closed, but I can feel the corner compress. The shutters of the pizza restaurant below our window; it must be after midnight. I wish he would just speak.
Commissioned as part of Objects I Have Been - a reviews season in the ekphrastic mode
Jane Hartshorn completed an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Kent. She has had poems published in Raum, Gnommero, Glasgow University's From Glasgow to Saturn, and Poetry Scotland's The Open Mouse. Her first poetry collection, 'tract', has just been published by Litmus Publishing.