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‘harvesting’ & ‘the water park’  & ‘montgat’ 

Madeleine STACK 


at dusk the cactus garden thru whose
rare and winding cocks stand proud or
slouch bristling in the gravel, curl in half
like animals, or squat, between old columns
wround in vines a man has taken his own
animal from its basket and is stroking
brisk and slick, pinktipped in his lap
we approach from behind
I want to see I say, he is watching the
ocean and the solitary movements of the port
and sees us, stands to complete
half-hunched and gasping
pink treasure hidden in his hand
it goes on the wound brown municipal vine
we give him a moment of privacy and he
departs swiftly from the scene
we stroke the wetted bough spray of milk
webbing between the fingertips
look closely at its anonymous shimmer say
is this our only daughter?

the water park

metallic sounds
screeching sounds
shouldn’t someone be there telling me
telling me what’s there what’s coming
the dank and enormous waterpark
all pink and yellow only for girls
I move through the network of cubbies slides tunnels
lit alternately rose mauve gold
I am an adult among children
I am a woman among girls
I find the large slides that seem to promise OUT
down to the bottom to the real world
back to the parents awaiting with cameraphones
                        poised for the joyous, splashy, exit
I find that these slides have been dammed
dammed with wood and raw metal
when I slide down hoping to exit holding my breath at the smell
I find they have been closed up
creating traps for little girls
sitting in puddles, confused, unable to
climb back up the slippery slope from
whence they’d slid
sitting in warmish water up to the ankles
uncertain, awaiting punishment
waiting to be found by the men at the end of the day


miraculous initiation into the rite
leave having comprehended nothing
what gesture palpates the lung of a child;
percussion, sound like a tin drum, reverberation in the miniature chamber.
glassine voices tinkling down from the sky
waves follow wings
all the great pestilences. gems, nuggets, feathers, tat
marmalades of entrail
one follows another
the night fits well
we no longer announce who we serve
lovers not
nowhere to be
the words of the prayer disintegrate in the body that holds them
a little shocked glance
I fill out the required paperwork
I fill out a dress made for a woman
request to not be seen. silent mouth.
nest in the crook of the brick firewall
the lure flies out, reels back exhausted.
the prayer falls to pieces in the mouth
at montgat the sky is white
we are relieved from the heat
children leap off the rocks facefirst into the shallows 
every language is a stranger’s language 
women being watched as we angle our flesh to the light 
angels with brown feet pick through the shoreline flotsam 
our love-language is inscribed in the official record of the halls of power
how to prove? we trade techniques. 
turning inside out the sacred gadgetry of our cohabitation. 
the last minutes, hours, and days are longer than anything, except for
                      what is to come.
the last minutes, hours and days feel very long, but they are not as long
                       as what comes after.
what comes after is longer than the minutes, hours, and days of the end.

Madeleine STACK is an artist and writer.

Madeleine STACK, ‘abacus’ [detail], 2020

(as photographed by Rebekah BIDE)


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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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