In the bed, my leg a hill, when I sit up it redistributes itself. I cross: the skin-surface rippled, wind on a sea sky-lit. When did I get these vague outsides. I’m made of silver snail trails from some angles and then not. Look. Turn away from the light. Gone. Sheen of a curve catching overexposure, unflatter (to get flatter), the criss-crosses of bright like swimming pool wavelets, reflections cast, all the times I’ve made myself bigger and smaller (now why would you go and do that.)
Those who described me in terms of: bounty, plenty, volume, increase, abundance. Croissance, eating too many croissants. Those descriptions, you’d think you were a landscape or a food half the time if you didn’t keep a careful eye on what you were. In the long black garments of different lengths and sizes, you square your shoulders, walk leant forward.
The things seemingly garnering remark and appreciation the things hated most, the decoy, the meat suit. The thing they are complimenting is someone else, the ill-advised Celtic Tiger extension on the house, the cringey back garden conservatory. (Why that image, I have never lived anywhere with a conservatory. Just want to get that out there.) Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever understand what people want me to look like. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever understand what people want me. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever understand what people want. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever understand – what – people. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever understand. Sometimes I don’t think.
A slug, a ghost, a rock face but soft. Because something with striations. The name of the rock with glitter bits embedded: what. Forgotten now but maybe schist. I look like schist; I’ve stopped giving a schist.
To have a body that doesn’t require careful posing, precarious arrangement. I had a friend who said the flat she moved into had a big mirror on one wall facing the bed and she just lay there one day in the nip going ‘oh jesus this bit of me does this when I do this and then that bit does that when I do that.’ Still the preoccupation with ourselves, with what they think of us, or what they might think, when they look at us, if we are not prepared in the way that minimizes everything looking awful
they only want to sell you light. Us in the darkness of trying to get ourselves lighter, and then there’s the cellulite. I am told it is irreversible. I had another friend who was concerning herself constantly with buying special brushes intended for the brisk exfoliation of the butt cheek. As if you could scare the undulations away, banish them like bits of fluff to the corners of a room, the woman’s work of brushing, shushing. Dust! It’s like a kind of sparkle dust, the way from some angles from some squeezings and impressions I dissolve into silver trenches. Scars from wounds I didn’t feel I was getting they happened so slowly, battles in your sleep.
There’s cellulite and there’s stretch marks and there I am conflating them, unforgivable, I am sure there are beauticians, dieticians, devoted to precisely this distinction, but it is sometimes difficult to tell wave crests from depressions somehow in the silver grid, slow flux. (I’ve stopped giving any flux.)
In a poem I heard someone read once, but I forget the poet: but they said guilt-edged for gilt-edged. Shimmering shame.
Cliché slam poetry line about stardust and everyone being made of stars. Or which is the cliché, that or the thing about the stars being dead by the time their light reaches you. Both. Both are slam poetry clichés.
I wonder is the silver-looking skin is it dead, is that what’s wrong with it. Bits of me ghostening themselves even here, now, in preparation, while I try my best at the business of living, if you can call my lying living.
Are there people who go around just not looking down at themselves? Who walk into rooms with mirrors in them and don’t look up at themselves, across at themselves? Who swear up and down that they never are cross with themselves?
Alicia Byrne Keane is a PhD student from Dublin, Ireland. She has a first class honours degree in English Literature and French from Trinity College Dublin and a MSt. in English Literature 1900-Present from Oxford University. She is currently working on a PhD study of ‘vagueness’ and translation in the work of Samuel Beckett and Haruki Murakami. She has performed poetry at events such as Electric Picnic, Lingo Festival, and Body & Soul, and has more recently turned to writing prose pieces. She is currently working on a novel/photobook hybrid, combining personal essays with fictional pieces.