before it happened i wrote it down like this, or: something felt at fifteen and turned into a list at twenty-five

1. walk to the beach. make small fires. the fire makes me jealous but also more determined.

2. he said: a pool of flesh, and it made me want to go swimming.

3. a half-dozen ants crawled out. i wonder if i should keep them.

4. they turn towards the window away from the sun. they look through me and i know they are dying to leave too. mother says: i sense you are wanting to garden?

5. i don’t remember feeling wise as a child but maybe wisdom feels like inertia.

6. i did a good thing and it felt nice which made me feel guilty. i threw up.

7. the infliction is no longer a wound because i have named it a gift.

8. soon it turns to water. i spill myself all over mother’s new rug.

9. no flowers grow in comfortable places.

10. and then she pulled back the duvet but i was already swimming elsewhere: i imagine it like this.

11. but there is no point if no one knows you are doing it.

12. tell the doctor: it is nice to feel skin cling to bones. it is nice to feel something work hard to keep me here.

13. stopped taking avanza but feel no different. just seem to be spending longer periods of time sitting alone in my room with the light out. not really sure what this means. last night i stayed up downloading old folk music. i thought i hated folk music.

14. self-help is a scarred thigh laid down to rest haha.

15. a bruise cuts a vision, right?

16. only wear the outfit for mother.

17. write it down like this: a performance of control eventually turns into a prison. just ask my dead father.

18. i looked but only found worms. i keep them near my bed but not as any kind of reminder. i just fear too much space.

19. turn to language to explain what happened, or what we did.


Jessie Berry-Porter writes lyric essays, poetry, non-fiction poetry and also other things. Her words have appeared in Overland, Alien She Zine, The Bohemyth, and others. She has an essay forthcoming in The Lifted Brow. When she isn’t writing she is flower pressing and quitting caffeine.

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