i. Thin Girls
waiting by the phone
for referrals, if it happened
to men / it could be happened
at cash machines. Thin girls
wait by the phone for the
plummy voice of necessary
steps / of reassurance / arm
to shoulder. They don’t come.
2. Pang from Pang
Abolish the body! Flowerwise, falling
only to save the shame of being seen
to shudder, yes, she would far rather
see you lovely than any army, yes but
seeing you “lovely” is less likely by far
than an image of you, flayed, unsure,
even in this distinctly inglorious battlefield—
“slain”— you still can’t keep your
bloody fingers still. You’re not like a
flower at all, you’re embarrassing, and we
are all sick of the sight of you. Who can I
taste on your lips like liquor? Lotus and
Lethe on my lips like dew.
3. The Roses of Heliogabalus
Violets and other flowers, or roses—they
fill the mouth up all the same. The pipe
sound streams clear despite the choking
sound that muffles screaming. For those
who ate, the meal was enjoyable. For those
who drowned, their breath at least was sweet.
Can you inherit
My fat heart says
Helen Charman is a writer and a PhD student researching nineteenth-century maternity, sacrifice, and political economy. She teaches undergraduates at the University of Cambridge, and primary school children at the Hackney Pirates. Her writing can be found in Datableed, The Germ, King’s Review, Dazed and Confused, the LRB Blog and The Inkling Magazine.