This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Alaina Hanchey, is from Portrait of a Woman Walking Home by Anne Casey, released by Recent Work Press in 2021.
content warning for violence against women
With a practiced twist, the man on tv is prising open the fragile mouth, probing tender flesh unable to resist, orbs of sunlight string glistening water behind. Inside the injured tissue, he leaves a small stone— in time, it will grow a pearly cyst to smooth over the rough intrusion. In the jumble of a city flea market once, I couldn’t resist a string of aged pearls, their soft peach glow alluring from velvet folds— I realise now why no matter how I would twist them, they would find a way to choke. How a man’s hand can close over a small mouth, encircle a throat— unable to resist, injured tissue accepts the stone. I almost drowned once, refound how words won’t form in the absence of air. If I could form the words now, I would tell you how you can drown on dry land. Never take me to an oyster farm— all those closed mouths not forming words under water, slowly growing over their own small stones. There are places where a woman can be stoned for failing to resist a man, her pulped flesh left to ripen around the stones.
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