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Jennifer Grey

In The Evidence Room: Fig. 1

The first document was redacted. I thought of my toothbacks after three years of twenty a
day: good Marlboro lights that didn’t come cheap.

The second document was all in calculations. The numbers made my head swim so I wrote
them out in words: train tickets to the coast, Tesco Value Malibu and crisps. Condoms.

The third document was diarised. Important lunch appointments and nights spent working
late, with stars next to Sundays that have stayed underlined.

The fourth document was indistinct. A nightclub photo of a face I didn’t recognise. It was a
long time since the mirror had looked at me like that.

The fifth document seemed hopeful: an email that promised clearer skies, more lightening. It
was misspelt, as if composed with one eye glancing backward, surreptitiously.

The sixth document was lying: promising an office block and not salt air; a planned response
to chaos. Contacts for the wrong hotel.

I lost the seventh document. I wonder what it looks like now, stillborn in its envelope:
stamped, addressed, unsent.

The eighth document was forgotten: lodged in a plastic bottle full of ash that never made it
out to sea.

The ninth document was extracted from the stage: a soliloquy on how she never planned to
leave her husband. Offstage, the door closed with the squalling of gulls.

The tenth document was confused: lists of wine recommendations, late nights that looked like
spirals drawn on wet notepaper.

The eleventh document was imaginary. A wedding invitation predicted in a tube station, as a goth
leaned in to a dark haired girl.

The twelfth document was in denial. It described sights it had never seen, words it had never
written. It did not mention regret.

The thirteenth document was whitewashed. As I lit up, looked back, five months later, I’d
used up all my words: turned out the pocket my mind still groped through.

The fourteenth document I threw out with the tide: it was only your phone number, signed of
with your name. Three kisses. Each one took it out of me more than it used to.


The Muse

Think what you do when you do do that when you love the name of anything really love its name. – Gertrude Stein


Blue lightning. Keep timing it. Rip the waves up into peaks. Or do I mean whip, yes you
mean whip, do you, don’t I but

– Stop it. It’ll all blow over. No need for thunderclaps. Not any string of words can make a
poem, but not any poem can make its words string you up

– Have you ever been torn up by a current, stretched on a wire, glowed out? The texture of
its skin

– Some kind of circuitry’s at play here. Do you think we could stop, just once, this makes it
feel like it hurts. This makes the hurt it feels. This makes the feeling

– Quiet. My hands. Your hair.


From Your Mother’s Desk

Excerpt from an apology written to a feminist discussion group by their tutor, who was too late to discuss Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber.’

Dear Bloody Chamber girls,

I left Bluebeard half battered by sea air and stole away too late, to meet you, by the library, as
we arranged – book in hand and hopeful     I bled him

every time I stretched my legs, obliterating, bit by bit, the rubies stood in droplets from her
throat, outstretched on the block     I admit I loved him

from first sight, a single dumb ovation as he strode into the dance – though I offered up her
flesh and bone, in recompense for mine.      Will you ostracise me

now? I was once the oldest of you all, your traveller, your treasurer, and yet – the sword
borne in on horseback stove her throat, not his.

Did Angela rewrite a happy end – daughtermother reunited right above that bloody den I
dipped my fingers in?      I never could have damned him

though I yoked my self to your stretched arms, your broken fingers – I admit, I lied, and, yes,
will lie again.     I burnt above the bruises he inscribed


into your backs, cracked the smiles you’d just restored to your unwrinkled mouths.     Though
don’t I wear a skin as well as you, if coarsened by

half the pack of cigarettes hacked up each evening, lungs exposing smoke and tar to the last
light?      I have a heart

as bent as any man’s. Even Angela could not account for every exclamation, each skipped
beat as she left my arms, in white.     I had eyes

only for her groom, propping up the altar with his mist of incense. I could smell the rot
loosening his meat    he had grown old too.

Perhaps that’s why he left me (more or less intact) back on my single bed, before he buried
his bride’s head alone, out by

estuaries he showed to me in words, shyly, while we both spread open on their wedding
sheets – even he was shy of the extremes, when I

read him back, repeating every touch he scored into your spines. I left him raw, returning to
your echoes       recoiling from my walls, gathering dust.

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