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Susannah DICKEY

her ass is international

She would have liked to be going to rather than simply
from but in lieu of that she goes nowhere. She lies
on her bed like she’s paid to and enjoys this: her portion
of the living cake. The cyclical nature of things means
you don’t need to be about long just long enough.

There are tree stumps and empty glasses to serve
as reminders there was something briefly other
than now. It’s hardly an annulment. It’s evidence.
At best. A response might prove
the one-time existence of a question but it doesn’t

justify the question. It doesn’t justify itself. A clamshell
can be anything: call it a fan or a toilet paper or a decoy
mirror. Keep your onlookers always on one side of it
and call it a regular mirror. The cherry blossoms
are gurgling and though they’re in black and white

the memory of pink is good enough. She once stole
a parrot from a house she was paid to break into.
Why did you bring that? her colleague said.
A macaw’s worth more than a typewriter she said.
So we sell it? No—I love it now. Who knew parrots

could have nut allergies? Still. That’s in the past.
For the first time since sleeping she relaxes. Maybe
once she had someone look at her in a way that called
into question. Maybe it was a trick
in the way things are. Maybe she’s a tunicate recycling

its own brain. She burrows deep into blanket and hums.
Siestas and concertos. Roosters. She once heard
someone say something that made a whole room go
Ooh. She remained unconvinced. Being dead gets a bad
rep apparently. What a very alive person thing to say.

the psychic always knew she’d be a psychic

If I could have any job I’d have any job but mostly
the job of psychic. That’s the any job I’d have most
of. I’d like to be sought out by former enemies
and told I know we had our differences but this is
bigger than that please it’s my son please. I’d tramp

through a wet marsh in my don’t-care boots. Violet
Bick about it. I’d be weetabix impassive at various
mothers’ various griefs. That’s how they’d know
I am reliable—makes no difference if someone’s
mothered or not. I’d smell bed sheets and hold a well

-thumbed lighter and I’d read a diary. Isn’t this
in itself a kind of finding? I’d say solemnly. It’s
about knowing yourself so intimately that nothing is
a surprise. I’d wear the winter sun like a mortarboard
and I’d have the austere glow of a placenta

-eater. Grant me the capacity to say runes and beyond
and temporal and astral and alive. Know that I’d never
bungle my lines. I’d never say
She doesn’t want you to know she’s safe. I’d never say He wants you
to know he’s not safe. I’d take my work home

with me like someone trying not to take their work
home with them. I’d listen to the shipping forecast
but then I’d cry oh god I’d cry so demonstrably in the shower.  
I’d have testaments to my credibility
orbiting like moons and those moons’ respective

moons. Neighbours would stand curbside and discuss
me. I heard she predicted the rain once one
would say. She’s brilliant the other would say.
She promised my uncle he would make it.
I can’t stress what a comfort that was in his final days.

the summer the fish arrived in the net precooked

The last memory anyone has of the fisherman is 
of a man-shape by the even-y quayside. Of how blue
will always expand to fill its container. Of him saying
I’ve been inside so long I’ve forgotten how to wear
a hat. Before the fisherman died he liked to speak

about a woman he saw once. He’d just got himself
a new trawler and it was difficult to evenly distribute
his attention. The woman looked Slavic though. 
The same couldn’t be said of his trawler. She was nice
for someone not talking to him. Sometimes the sky’s 

a bed sheet and sometimes it’s a pavlova. Sometimes
it’s a reminder you’ve been awake too long.
When I got a fire escape it was better than a bicycle
he heard her say. It was better than a hundred
bicycles. There were wet leaf moments up there.

Watching the precursor of light retreat like skin
decomposing. When a plane went over and
I pretended it was my pet. The convex metal acne
putting dents in my sole. The fisherman listened.
He decided he wanted a summer with a title.

The Summer We Broke Our Front Tooth On A Bottle Cap or something. Why have an exit route be so hospitable? he heard her saying before she died. I wanted to stay there till I got hot.

Susannah DICKEY is the author of three poetry pamphlets, the most recent of which, bloodthirsty for marriage (Bad Betty Press, 2020), received an Eric Gregory award. Her debut novel, TENNIS LESSONS, was published in July by Doubleday UK.


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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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