Tumbling down the rabbit hole, lights out

And I remember I am not my mother —

Arms out straight in this darkness, the switch

Is a brutal one: on/off sane/insane

The voice I hear belongs to a stranger

She is a lonely angel; how have I never

Accepted her? Each night: a knife to her

Throat; each day… a gloss veneer

Talk of fine nothing empty words

Holding shadow at bay— they circle

This decapitated mermaid— diving into

The wreck; no relics, no apparatus found

Breathing—the greatest chore; shaved legs

Matter not, the water grave beckons: come…

Hide away; in midnight blackness

Faces are blank, none will know my name,

Or my pain–save one; the one who drowns

Beside me; She is not me, she is not my

Mother. She is the mirror, where I look

Into the void— see myself reflected in her;

Whispers of hold on… one more day; sew

Back to the neck, the damaged brain, once more;

Invisible filigree scars buried under

Blood and bones, long and thin—

Fingertips touch mine, return the colour

To bleached coral; a bubble rises to the waves, and I remember—

Love can cross oceans, and this heavy burden

Will float. The stranger sings me a life buoy,

The knife slips its silver to the floor, and

I… stretch a worn hand, and take hers.


A note from Amanda McLeod:

Eli and I are incredibly close; we met when I submitted to her at Anti-Heroin Chic Magazine, and she became my poetry mentor. Now we work together on our small press project. 

We never could have known when we first met how similar we are, even though we live on opposite sides of the world. We pass work back and forth to each other, questioning and commenting; and we think in the same patterns and I often hear her voice finishing my sentences exactly the way I would. It’s as though someone else finally recognised my voice, and I hers, and somehow through everything and against all the odds, we found each other. We honoured the closeness in our voices when we wrote this poem; they slipped together seamlessly and the whole process felt very natural for both of us.


Amanda McLeod is an Australian author and artist. Her fiction and poetry can be found in Ellipsis Zine, Fevers Of The Mind, Tiny Molecules, and elsewhere; and she’s the managing editor at Animal Heart Press. She loves the quiet and long walks with her dogs. Connect with her on Twitter @AmandaMWrites or at her website amandamcleodwrites.com.

Elisabeth Horan is an imperfect creature from Vermont advocating for animals, children and those suffering alone and in pain – especially those ostracized by disability and mental illness. She is Editor-in-Chief at Animal Heart Press and has several chaps and collections coming out in 2019. She is a poetry mentor and proud momma to Peter and Thomas. Follow her on Twitter @ehoranpoet or connect on her website ehoranpoet.com.

Banner image by James Knight