Grandmother thumbs the knotted skin above her right eye, where they removed her horn. It was a long time ago, she says. Back when they wouldn’t let folk like us keep them. It will be different for you. Don’t let anyone prune away the strangeness that makes you strong. When I ask about Ma, she smiles and says these things often skip a generation.
She unbuttons her blouse. The scar where her left breast used to be is wide enough to post a letter. I lost my heart to love, she says, her fingertip drawing a line of love along the puckered skin. She describes the crimson pearl of it, shucked from the oyster shell of her ribs, still quivering. Did you cry? I ask. Of course, she says. A woman must cry, to wash away the poison of discontent.
She lifts her skirt, shows the crescent stitching from hip-bone to thigh. From this I birthed my twin, she says. To her I give my aches and pains; my injuries. She stores them safe, away from harm. One day you will discover your own twin, to walk alongside you through life’s bombardment.
Grandmother sings me to sleep. Her stories are true on the inside, where it matters. The outside is embroidery. I dream of knives pricking their needlepoint upon my flesh. She comes into my sleep and whispers, don’t wish for wounds too soon.
About the Contributor
Rosie Garland’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in Under the Radar, Longleaf Review, Casket of Fictional Delights, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Butcher’s Dog, New Welsh Reader, Bare Fiction, The Rialto, The North and elsewhere. She is author of three novels: The Palace of Curiosities, Vixen, & The Night Brother. The Times has described her writing as “a delight: playful and exuberant.
More from Issue Ten:
- Tracks of Life and Death by Liz Kohn
- A short course of treatment by Tim Love
- Heating disorder by Myriam Frey
- Heirlooms by Rosie Garland
- Mourning by Katherine McMahon
- The Ghost of my Mother is waiting for me in Arrivals by Claire Collison
- Pakistan Zindabad, from Abroad by Hana Riaz
- Adopt a vortex by Han Smith
- Sea Sickness by Eloise Unerman
- British Street Music by Tamim Sadikali
- Pomegranate by Caroline Gonda