All the names are the fathers, and none of them are real. All the letters are false despite the stamp, zygotic. Not known at this address. Looped and lost and ether. Reaching out to mailer-daemons. As cheesecloth is to ectoplasm. These things do come up (a stain, some seepage). Hand over mouth. No words appear in the breath on the mirror. Shadowshape, my old self sloughed and standing wait. You are smoke at sunset, twitch of the nostrils saying: fade. Distillation of years, a rendering. Offered up. Grease, ash and fat, and lumps of final bone. For on the seventh day. For our sins. Forenames taken from the book and inscribed into it. No more than a number-plate, a round of mumblypeg. They stumble over me still: all careless vowels left echoing. Askew, the question mark implied: a sickle to cut off discussion. An allegation. Theft. Left to loss of face I'd take the sword before the knife. No ifs or cuts. Swallow my tongue - a curative - a grated root.


When I come to the place in my body that's the strongest, I find it a knot of you. An entanglement of address: you who. And in answer to my call, no wisdom. Nothing but the rage and wreckage of cellphones warping every tympanum. When we die, they will know us by our chips, and our bones will irradiate the shacks of our descendants, glowing artefacts of the time that ate the world. And how we are with the world, you were with me. Princeling of devastation, satrap of a rubbled crater crowing through the ashes. Well, I hope your feet are burning as I write this. I hope your ears are scars of flame as mine are shells cupping cold inlets. Ringing. How much of my wire tracery plucked by your guitar-playing hands. Frets and stops, Hamlet claims. But I am fretting still, unmusical fingers at the knot of you. Each thread a groove in my thumbnail, wearing a new line on my palms. A frayed.

In certain dreams, I have a house made of paper and barbed wire. The paper is watermarked bond. The house (as I understand it) is inside me and light glows through the rip. To be a house made of wings is the idea but I cannot get the cage to fit. There are precedents. Ties to history. Look. She places the straps over her dress and washes her doll in the morning light. She will call him: a single note, missing. Winging the question of water, what we see without. And through. Just a droplet, forming. Between her shoulder blades. Could a bird rest there, claws delicate as twisting barbs, before pulsing through the vertical. Dust of the uprush. Tear in your hand. You say you'd like ash from my eyelash but it's my flight. It's here in the room. It's soft furnishing and it needs to be vacuumed. Grey pillows will neither hollow nor silver, whatever the moonlight. You cannot mine them, you cannot leave deposits in their seams and return to prise them from my gullet. I have risen, you see, neither bird nor man. On this attenuated plane, I am hovering. I am on wing. I am Mercury. You iron bars and press them to me, nightclothes of the naked. But reverie spills like saliva from the corner of my mouth. Cigarette sticks. Dribble of ash. For once and all, this is not my skin you're burning; scraped of barnacles, it is within me.

Counter-element. Riptide. Full moon for the bird-girl, selkie, phoenix, city. Your wire vibrates with me: furled there amidst your dank pelt, it nestles. Whispers, a thin filament hearing my refusal. So you don't have to. So nothing goes through. You. Become an alley where a bird alighted. Took flight and its echoes. I cannot leave you shit-stained. Not even. Not obscured. Not, as yet, filed for future reference. I furrow the public archive, exhume its index. It does not point at you. The bars are bars, not arrows. Not lines. Hell, angels I can repel like lightning but the limitless blank of the page sends grey pouring through my ears. All lash and struggle, I lick my lead pencil. For tradition, and the poison. And watermarked. I unwing.

                Sophie Mayer 2007