from You Must be George
It felt like recognition. The ticking of my veins and the
Rhythmic oscillation of day to day suddenly responded to
A predetermined signal, flickering so quickly that it felt like a
Continuous sensation vibrating paler and paler
Until the instrument was absorbed into its own sound.
That’s why I didn’t correctly interpret the data.
When the system started to gutter and drift out of phase
I didn’t think this mechanism had anything to do
With the unforced vibrations that had always rung out
So mind numbingly. I couldn’t identify it for what it was.
This new man who is not George, he may only be half a hertz off,
He certainly generates a relatively strong response signal,
But he doesn’t touch intent to cut crystal and dash the air alive.
Don’t call my name, George
even on a whim.
Your ghost is loud enough
sounding in semitones that fill
my skull and cavities with noise, leave me
trembling in the arms of another man
who says he loves me
poultices my wounds
his soft swollen mouth drawing
out the cold panic.
Mumbling his incantations. And I, half
a breath away from dissolving into
our skin, hear you working indifferently
in some well lit room
your keyboard tapping in a calm rhythm.
I’m not so sure about this being a patient in my own ward business.
I used to be prized for my analysis, now a most unusual case,
X-ray’s jittering about in my ovaries.
The technician’s screen is turned away until I ask to see the results.
She shows me in an indulgent, amused sort of way
her hand on mine while my coffee rattles.
She is satisfied that I too have been broken down, I am not impervious.
She knowingly absorbs things George said and my disbelief.
It only goes to prove the trend she’s always wanted to observe.
She knows I am the sort of woman who doesn’t mind
laying herself out for man like that, who doesn’t know,
wasn’t taught that his life had made him untouchable.
God, they’re never going to let go of that
A-bomb thing. Even when I don’t say a word
they smell the lab-light on me like a lover,
smell the bright bleeding through my clothes where each
data point has left an entry wound. You were
the ones who told us how to do it they say.
Well perhaps. But I think my interest
lies more in potential fields than foreign cities.
One day they will find a spot on my wrist
that’s white and bloodless, saying Ha! This is where
familiars feed, where she is unfeeling.
where he sealed her obedience with his tongue.
I will be contemptuous, hold out my arms covered
in dribbling pin pricks and say Yeah, you got me.
I heard the people outside/George
say that she is precise to the point of inaccuracy
way too intense/her level of concentration is caustic
clings viscously/viscously to the bench top
burns through the focal point.
But he doesn’t understand the dynamics of pleasure
edit: the pleasure of dynamics/mechanics/connections
the singularity/euphoria just past exhaustion
the resonant frequency
that rings through her mind and drowns out
the white noise/interference of her body.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruth Corkill is in her final year of her Masters in Physics at Victoria University of Wellington. She has just returned from three months studying poetry and fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop summer graduate programme. She has a minor in Creative Writing from the IIML. Her work has recently appeared or is upcoming in New Welsh Review, Poetry24, Tuesday Poem, the Bristol Short Story Competition Anthology, the Dominion Post, The Feminist Wire, Hue&Cry, the Listener, JAAM, Natural Bridge, Salient, and Landfall. She is shortlisted for this year’s HISSAC short story competition.