Voices from the Underground

Honi Soit Writing Competition Fiction Shortlist

Content warning: gendered violence, abuse, death

his hands strung her throat in a wedding band and they clip her feet and bag her stiff limbs up;

from the choke of body bags – while other bones are battered into seaspray, and a

dismembered mother is frozen like an ambered bug;
Gathering our scattered bits and patching

each to rediscover our remembered selves – as fathers knead his children’s flesh, curl them
up like foetuses or umbered fronds;

Unpurpling our bodies and
Unfurling like September’s buds. And no –

spiderlike, a groom ensnarls her in his silk, thieves to flaunt her jawbone as a necklace, her clavicle a crown;

No more in your warzone jaunts will we be your usables, your playthings or collaterals –

on the bus a stranger thrusts too close, his hunting tongue is rummaging for bits of her to eat;

two hands in the bush halve her up
two eyes in the rear-view carve her down;

while battering fingertips wet
their cheeks to manufacture streaks bleating sorrys that die on their lips

Watch, as we unvanish each effaced one of us, unbend our spines, emerge from all the hidden places

unbury us from bushes and car boots
unfold from webs and freezers unearth from underground as bulbs found by

daybreak. No longer evanescing phantomlike beneath your boots, the webs, the sleep. We’re coming, and

spilling in from every edge, Us unkilled ones, us unstilled ones,

scintillant as eastern suns that split horizons,
Halo trees and soak the breeze in apricot –
See us flooding in like dawn that steeps the windowpanes.
That hum is the sound of us coming, coming,
Each drumming foot, a shooting sun and see us showering the sky

in fireworks rupturing the silence that protects none but the silencers.

Not even spidersilk has the strength of the spine that mends itself.

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