by Amelia Mwale Eilertsen
I am left to wonder, do you ever feel the need to slide out of body? Slip skin over shoulders?
Expose rose-petal-delicates over butcher’s plastic? Scars mar the softness of my skin where
callous histories lay, impossible to forget, impossible to peel away. A violence all my own
grows like a graft. The widow, on the back pew, unseen by the nailed god, asking for time, she
leaves as she entered, without noise. I soak up the rage she’s too meek to lay at his feet. It’s
like antiseptic; cleansing, strong. It keeps the desire away, the need to dim, unlike the bug
zapper—hung up as a tapestry, some screwed up trophy of all the beautiful things I am allowed
to collect; plucked wings and that infernal hum—it does not carry a note to keep the flies off
my sweet, sweet meat. The freezer isn’t cold enough either. I can smell the changes from here,
above the light, below the frost. As I pull the drawer, rime makes rattles out of ice, and I
remember there is friction to breathing, but the battered ribcage no longer dances, the
diaphragm does not fist the cavity space for oxygen, it no longer remembers to plunge up air.
It has become too easy, dimming. This fight with the body to keep the mind is a passive after-
thought. There’s a willingness now, to slide out of body, slide out of mind, to strip myself bare
for the butcher that keeps me in his meat locker, the one with holes on his palms and feet, and
a hunger for something I cannot duly satiate: mortal acquiescence, to serve as some devout
thing, satisfied by how I’m cut-up and packaged, wrapped in plastic that smells alive with rust.
Tell me I am what is left of Choros; of green and grass and places to rest. Lay your weathered
seashells over the mounds of my dirt, hush seeds under my heft so I may yet still possess the
smiles of spring to usher in a new green—one fortuitous enough to see the comets come and
sing as the sky lights up in wreaths of pale blue flame. Tell me I am what is left and I will tell
you yet of the things still possible; of the bodies I can yield and the faces not yet sprung. The
word (the science, the religion) told you we were separate, mirrored limbs on a giant body. I
tell you we are branches of root; spanning, spanning, spanning and entwined. I am rich and
deep and, just for you, cavernous with a place to call your own—a place all nice and hollowed
out without you by my side. You are my bones, my homely bones where I make music from
your silence, where I sew history to rock, instil story to seeds and sprout (next spring) a memory
almost of you. And when you claw your way down to the burrow like the rabbit or the hare or
the hunt-crazed fox with a lonely tail, seeing in my colours that I am, indeed, what is left, I will
hold you, corpse or copse or the hate I held in abandonment, as I have always held you: close.
Amelia Mwale Eilertsen (pronouns: she/they) is a queer, Zambian-Norwegian mixed-race writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from Bangor University. Currently enrolled in an MA program at the University of Oslo, her life is a cosmic swirl of insomnia, travel, and the brief spaces between the making of a moment and watching it pass by. She has had poems published with Landlocked Journal, High Shelf Press, Passengers Journal, Temenos and Poetry Wales, among others. She can be reached at @ameliaconny on Instagram.