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Fiction and poetry




The Wild Purge

Tracy Gaughan

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.