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Fragile

I’ve agreed to this curse of seven years of silence.
And until those years are over, my six brothers remain swans.
I don’t have to seal up my lips with the threads of their unworn shirts.
But all the same.
Seven years.
I might crack like some glass-made thing.
Spilling screams and curses of my own. What if my mind breaks?
After all, aren’t all sisters fragile? Or is that only what brothers think?
But my skin is still warm. My lips still part to breathe. And I am full of hope.

Tonight my heart sings with unspoken stories as I weave my hands through this cold northern wind.
I kiss the sky as my swan-brothers sleep indoors, snake-necks tucked into white duvet-wings.
Breathing and gasping and sighing all this moonlight into myself.
My hands pick thistledown from the edges of the road.
What is it like, to fly?
An aeroplane passes over, and my mouth blows the thistledown away.

The swans go out all day and come home at night.
They nudge at the pots and frying pans with their wingtips,
jerk their heads in the directions of the cooker and microwave.
They jump on the table, spread their wings and pretend to be tablecloths.
I don’t like the sounds they make. They hiss like anger, and there’s no rhythm to their stamping.
They want me to serve feasts to them, as if they still had the hunger of boys.

Out in the fields, it’s spring. A coil, a season, a jump?
I laugh about all the wrong words for things, and wonder where mine will go to, now.

I clunk chipped plates on the table and dish up our meal.
Boat-shaped birds are clumsy at mounting chairs, but once they’re up, they don’t tip.
Tonight, we eat flowers.
Tomorrow, we’ll have moss.
The next day, I’ll serve up leaf mulch or frozen water.
Everything tastes vivid, now I can no longer describe it. I could eat the world whole.
My swan-brothers slide stamens and leaves and bulbs into their bills, wetly swallowing.
Their kohl-lined eyes watch my red-painted lips as we taste petal flavours: yellow, white.
I’m stronger, now no words are forced.
Strong as a swan.

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Published inPictures, Words & Tangles

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