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Ireland's premier fiction and poetry magazine since 2002
Fiction and poetry
The Wild Purge
im Collaboration Horizontale
They tear at us like carrion, stripping us
to our underwear. It helps to imagine
our heads are covered with tight petal
caps and we are wearing swimsuits,
our soft silhouettes no disgrace. That
about us only seagulls are screaming
and on the sand lie small clumps of seaweed
as though it were ordinary for kelp to shore
in Chartres as our Boches were leaving.
We shed tears big as pears waiting in line
like sheep to be sheared as if hair were
the only thing holding a woman together.
But the sandy beach is a broad square
and an intimate suffering is falling
on the pavement like dozens of shrouds.
We are misshapen on the outside, use
our minds to hide the dire offence of
thinking love a virtue, of having had men
billeted upon us – what strange motive
to kiss a soldier’s mouth for a tin
of sardines. Our scalps are the cold glee
of a crowd that brands us with iron,
stones, kicks and spits in what could be Salem
or Revolution as our tumbrel trundles
across the square in ugly carnival –
the woolly proof of our humanity
just lying there. We are each other’s
abomination; who knows what tide of
conscience will sweep that sargassum out.
To be a woman is a performance
and we are exiting the stage. Hail
and farewell our baldness is saying,
freer than we were or ever will be.
Tracy Gaughan is the IRL/UK poetry editor at The Blue Nib magazine. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in Live Encounters, Boyne Berries, The Honest Ulsterman and others. She has been shortlisted for Poems for Patience and the Over The Edge New Writer Award.