Lines in the sand

After watching you shatter         pink magic sand on bathroom tiles 

I search myself for a splinter        a shadow at the foot of her bed

We fell the same distance            in the night sometimes she dials 

yet only I remain whole.              breathing hard. all unsaid 

I possess a strange resistance.      behind the house the woods are thin  

Is it a loophole in my soul?          exposing                           within  

Purple prose

This twilight is the colour of 

whipped berry pudding 

in a toilet bowl

a bruise diluted 

falling into a pile of snails 

on a midnight run – 

muddy blood rivulets. 

When hunger enters me I am a closed circuit.

The night is there and you standing under it,

words ringing into a vacuum of distraction.

How did it feel to make my body an abstraction? 

All I remember is the pale sated afterglow,

no synesthesia to make the sky a new embryo.

Count my blessings, mourning dove. 

Frozen objects

I want to look out my window and see a car crash where nobody dies, just laugh it off. 

This year I’ve been such a cemetery-gazer.

Gravestones glitter in morning sun

lessons of the inexpressible 

the only mystery I’m nearing is

the human need for language. 

A rock carved with dates is still a rock,

a cemetery a memory.

Death inhuman in all things,

soft morning skies.

The birds stay high up, crying out

with no after-images 

of their own falling 

to follow.

For one more time I watch the black teeth of the buried.

I have nothing to learn from the birds.

Lockmeup diary

This might be a ghost story.

You look into the mirror to think 

‘Did I ever have a face before’,

with a decoloured dread. 

Now, there is a liquid pair of eyes 

fixed upon the soft planes of a face.

Everything that happens to you happens in the present. 

A continuum of days led here

a syrupy darkness spilt over them.   

Now, you stand in a bright bathroom with a black hole inside you, 

and touching the surface of the mirror feels like a natural thing to do. 

It is what people do in films, 

after some abject personal realisation. 

(It does nothing.) 

A hungry cold seeps through the soles of bare feet, 

circulating within this alien body. There is a half-memory 

of the brush of thin fabric against tile seams, 

of white cotton socks caressing skin.

You look down to see blue veins.  

You know you must have been breathing, before. 

So you continue to breathe.

It doesn’t matter if you close your eyes. 

If I could choose something to focus on in this world, it would be your face. 

Oh, but you keep changing too. 

Maybe we can hold hands and fall back into it, whatever it is. 

If you keep falling then just breathe. 

You know how to cling to the world.   

There was a warning

A white mist rises in the valley of electric wires.

My windchime mind cries out at every touch 

a bright sound, a broken glass.

But I’m a dirty window. 

Can you see anything through me – 

anything at all? This fever

keeps dragging me under

the yellowed wallpaper

seeped with cigarette smoke.

I stopped playing with the ashes

only after their silvery soot buried me.

Breathing in and out

every day the same episode unfolds.

Give the TV a little kicking. 

All there is to life

a dull knife that won’t kill me quick

hanging overhead

with its own strange force field. 

Pixels of snowfall ink black sludge

I want to be shocked by your touch.

You take this blood-heeled waltz 

through the witching hour,

pull me closer like a smiling cat drags 

roadkill through the door.

I’m not a lazy dancer, I’m 

being strangled by a veil you can’t see,

wedded to a lucid uncertainty. 

The last chapter closes in 

and I don’t know the ending 

but I feel it in my bones.

Won’t you tell me the breaking order?

Your embrace fills me with a sincere dread.

Let me go limp in the machine arms  

of a visionary angel looking at the mirror

incandescent with sorrow.

Let me be the vessel, 

run through my pale blue veins

a thick prescription of revelations. 

Kaisa Saarinen grew up in the Finnish countryside, studied environmental politics and now works as a research analyst in London. Her work is published or forthcoming in The Hungry Ghost, Expat Press, Superfroot, and elsewhere. Her debut book of prose and poetry is forthcoming from Feral Dove. @kuuhulluutta

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