Sharp- Jennifer Haig

By January 15, 2019 August 1st, 2019 No Comments

By  Jennifer Haig

Sometimes I imagine I am made up of shards of glass.

Beautiful, but only when artificially coloured and moulded. Useful, but only when I am held strong by lead casings. All my outlines given definition and imbued with divine purpose – a refraction of heavenly light.

He was to be my sanctuary. Provide me with shelter and comfort and safety. Serving a husband faithfully would give my life meaning, the nuns promised me.

Even in appearance, he was not the ethereal prince I was promised. No shoulder-length, tousled brown locks. Instead, he stood upon the abbey threshold crowned with blonde ringlets. Soft blue eyes peeked from behind heavy black lashes. Even now I can picture the lines of his face, a topographic relief etched onto parchment. The page is worn with revisions – I have revisited it that many times, certain I would find a blemish, a reflection of the rot within.

I am still not my own.

He did not start straight away. Have you never inflicted pain upon another human before? An appetite must be built for it first. A woman is a fine meal, a six course degustation, each dish more delectable than the last. You take your time, heating slowly to a simmer, never letting it boil over, bringing them back from the brink every time they think they are upon the moment of disintegration. Intentionally, tortuously, consciously untethering them from time.

Sometimes I imagine my body is made up of patchwork fields.

From a distance, rich fertile lands – pleasant, you think, and perhaps somewhere you would like to settle down. You would cultivate the land and plant the seeds and you’d say this is good, you’d wipe the dirt from your face and your crop would take root and you’d say this is good, you’d till the soil leaving the earth barren and admire your handiwork and you’d say this is good.

It took ten winters for my hair to grow, but only a second to cut.

You said you preferred me that way, as if it mattered. Your words are sticky molasses that I pretend to be caught in. We developed an understanding didn’t we, you and I? We could live in peace if unspoken commands were followed. Leaving the house is forbidden. Locking doors is forbidden. No more knives at dinner.

The house seems to mock me, all yellows and bright wallpapers and vases of flowers.

Summer feels heavy on my skin.

At night your sweat soaks the bedsheets and I think of my father. Man lays claim to that which he deems his, all he acquires and all he begets. I am swallowed whole from the inside out – my ribcage is exposed but at least it protects my breast. He stifles my wet heart in one thrust and has the audacity to call it love. Rivelets of blood flow, and the child screams into non-existence.

You ask me what I think of the new housemaid. My facsimile soothes your ego. Of course dear you hired the right girl do not doubt yourself. I kill you both a hundred times over, sometimes it is a broken glass bottle slitting your throat until all that is you flows through the floorboards, other times the poker is heated over an open flame until the tip glow white hot and melts your flesh with a sizzle and smoke, maybe it should be.

The heavy paperweight clubbed into your skull until it caves and your filthy thoughts are laid bare for the world to see, you know I hate the pewter colour of it why do you insist on having it on display in the drawing room i thought the house was mine to run but even that does not belong to me do i have no duties or purpose or point or function how is my life not mine I am living it and yet i am not living it you unravel and unspool and untie me from my anchor my anger my clangour my heart it drowns in red present and unpresent within and without empty and full of grace the lord is with thee blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

A forgotten rosary breathes life into fingertips, and repeated actions are a balm on chafing thoughts. Even without belief, a ritual is still a ritual. I am not my own. I am someone else’s. The smallest of stirrings, the barren earth has been sown.

Seasons will pass and she will ask me how she came to be. Do I speak of rivelets of blood flowing, and a child screaming into existence? Her heart will be so small and fragile. She will be entirely new and wild and beautiful. Undenied and unclaimed. I find you, seated by the fireplace in the drawing room. You are turned away from me as you sip your drink, the flames reflected in the bottle at your feet.

Man claims what he begets, but she is mine.

Sometimes I imagine I am made up of shards of glass.

Broken and smashed and unrecognisable from what form they once took.

But still Sharp .

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