Sunday, April 17, 2011


First, pluck at your hairline, pull
the skin up, away and back like a surgeon performing a face lift.
Remove your face.
Lay it on the ground in a pile, look back at your features: your plummy mouth; good cheekbones;
deep eyes –still that particular shade of dishwater, like what’s left after washing cold food from chipped china; your nose with its particular angle,
the one you always hated, although now, as it lies
pointing up at you, it seems so achingly familiar,
kind of endearing, in fact, you may even regret the loss of it.
Watch your lips relax as your last words go dry on your tongue, dissolve like swallowed smoke.

Unjoint your hands and take them off. Those blunted, scarred, dry and bone-bent
instruments, leave them crossed below the face. Touching only each other now, only the tips of their symmetrical pointed echoes, unringed, unvarnished, holding onto nothing at all, as if praying.
Now, your spine, the curl of it like a dragon’s tail, a miracle
of skeletal puzzle pieces.
Tear it down and let it coil into place beside the other body parts.
Note how they arrange themselves, grotesque but still
reassuring, related to each other even when
dismembered. It might be like watching a baby fall asleep – how the face, the limbs soften, how everything fades in the bliss of forgetting, tension dissipates, as does

Your feet – step out of them. Leave them there neatly beside each other, pointing inwards, perhaps, pigeon-toed, a little ingrown, buffed
and battered, clinging to the earth.

Last your heart – unzip your chest and take it out.
No picture-book pretty pink Valentine, this, but an old,
tired, steady vessel, rocking itself onwards, grasping the blood and pulling
pulling, pushing and pulling, kneading life.

Feel the oxygen enter your lungs like a whistle and
having nowhere to go, fill you and keep on filling you, so that you
or whatever is left
expands beyond the fields, the trees, the snow-smeared peak of Earl’s Seat, the pale,
blank, luminous sky.

Now turn. Walk away. Don’t look back.


Janine Ashbless said...

I love this :-)

Nikki Magennis said...

Yay, thanks, Janine! I liked the imagery when I thought of it - out on a walk. Imagine just leaving oneself behind ... and its a kind of memento mori, too, I suppose.