(Photograph by Liza S)

Put a Body Into Words

Unwanted male inattention is just as unwanted as unwanted male attention. I take my dolled-out body and spread it on the long ground. Easier than figuring out how to compose the thing. Poster of an oily man in Playboy bunny ears. So sad. Puppy-bitch eyes: trigger of our own sensory defeat. You feel a flock of organs sink. Unshaved serenade: Wax a little follicle. Kiss my fur-shadowed lips. In the harsh light, the HQ of me floats away, not wanting to imagine your Tier-1 seats. We stare hard into a stranger’s eyes and are asked to cross-communicate the Take-home. I tell my stranger about the double-blunt magnet repellion I felt pushing me away. Apologise. Throughout, my finger tapped war-speed on the palm of my hand. My fault we didn’t connect. I hadn’t washed my hair again, hadn’t set my posture straight.

The thing about bodies is there is no ejection seat. You’re a cursorless screen. Every thought, spontaneous or otherwise, imprints itself onto the fabric of the girl we’re in. Every denial, every North-Westerly wind. I’m an ongoing sound effect, a grow(l)ing loop machine. The stiffest one in the office when I would rather be plasticine. Make me an owl, a hedgehog, a roller blade. Help me find the exit to this mysterious apartment. If layers create movement (chop, dab, scrape), why would I say no to anything?

A Kind of Strength

I want to go where my voice is free
and deep. Learn how to be
(the) kind (of person who doesn’t

I want to prepare a path, filter out the background noise.

I remain a child because I identified with adventure rather than
with waiting for people to come
home. The children were small,
the word ‘home’ overused. I grew
into something bound into
a too-small shoe,
and out of fear, not want of beauty; although
those two limits have long been inextricibly
wound. You worry
that your child will be waiting up for you,
peeking through its slit-drawn
in the bothersome bottleneck of night; or
you worry they won’t wait up at all, won’t ever be home,
won’t know the meanings of the word.

Community denied via concern of exile. A voice
too shallow to convince, concedes:
it cowers under covers, coward
in a crowd of others, co-opts another
course―infantile―and leaves.

Yet I have excluded, been too obscure,
unsure. Have bored, withheld,
restrained and drilled …

You only went and sent me my weaknesses in a list.

Upon which I shrugged and said,
Spot on,

Lydia Unsworth is the author of two collections of poetry: Certain Manoeuvres (Knives Forks & Spoons, 2018) and Nostalgia for Bodies (Winner 2018 Erbacce Poetry Prize). She has two chapbooks forthcoming in 2019 from above / ground press and Ghost City Press. Recent work can be found in AmbitLitroTears in the FenceBansheeInk Sweat and Tears, and others. Manchester / Amsterdam. Twitter@lydiowanie