MAYHEM - Issue Four

> Download Hedge (after Plath’s Elm)

Rachael Elliott

Hedge (after Plath’s Elm)

My grandfather winks and loses an eye
No one notices.

It rolls between my legs into the gutter
He reaches from his coffin with wet paper hands
begs me to take his death picture
no smiling

he flaps around my ankles
as I     
            lean,
                        lean
                                    lean
                                                away

A sweater lies, panting
in my shadow
Coloured ladies flit to my shoulder
to dig their pincers in
pull my hair out
one strand at a time
to lacquer the ground

I stretch my fingers
stroke hot concrete
My limits burn, bleach yellow
You want me to keep them out
shriek when I keep them in
you cut me
down to a stump
and roots

A feathered whiteness shelters beneath me
They plant their futile children
in my softness
to rot
beneath their shells
for boys to fling
for cats crack

Inside me, an itch has made its home
It pecked itself
a splintered place to hide at night
I feel its fur turn
brush against me
the rhythmic thump
of its leg
scrabbling
keeps me awake
I feel it gnawing at its edges
scuttling beneath my skin

I bloom
the itch eats me
the whiteness steals my colour
joins the other painted ladies
draped in my hair
children pick me
lick their hands
reach between my legs
for my Grandfather’s eye
spit
shine
eat it whole

Contributor's Note
Rachael has an MA in creative writing from the University of Waikato. She was Editor of Nexus Magazine (which received three Aotearoa Student Press Association awards) and she won the 2degrees Poetry Slam in 2014. Her work has appeared in Poetry NZ, 4th Floor and JAAM.