Eighteen Anamneses

by Joelle Barron

Joelle Barron is a poet and writer from Fort Frances, Ontario. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2014. Her poem “A Girl Like This Might Have Loved Glenn Gould” won The Malahat Review’s Open Season Award, and her story “Dawson City, YT” was longlisted for the CBC Canada Writes Short Story Prize. Her work has been published in Arc Poetry Magazine, in Plenitude Magazine, and on The Hairpin. You can read her blog at joellebarron.com.

 

for Lizzie

 

I. Things belly their way in, furred, many-legged; she cups them
to her.

II. They are kept in almost-large alcove; she, her little sister, never
leaving. Many bits of old paper around.

III. Not Fall River (1892). She is not that Lizzie and also
she is. She knows about hatchets.

IV. Here is a scrap: R-A-T, B-A-T, C-A-T; learn to spell them,
there they are, vocabulary-creatures.

V. She is moon-eyed and wild and rarely eats breakfast. She is
fifteen and thirty at once.

VI. A flock of pigeons gets in and roost on her so she
is made of birds.

VII. Rats scoot across rooftops; attic-bound, up high
girls can watch. Wish to be rats.

VIII. Roosting pigeons, pets, put to hatchet-death by the father
who keeps them (girls, not pigeons).

IX. Another scrap: I am a witch! Pentagram, pentagram, pentagram! What
is a pentagram? What? WHAT?!

X. Girls, kept penned and comfortable with all sorts of the father’s
malevolence.

XI. If only to be Hecate. Hatchets, though, are heavy
with their own memories.

XII. Lizzie squiggles down while the father is sleeping. To the hatchet,
hunkered in the corner.

XIII. The father’s eyeball split in half, mulch-coloured iris. Skull
whacked, face bashed.

XIV. A call placed to 911: Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody. Help!
You know I need someone! Help!

XV. Gross, what a body can do to another when all a body has
is itself, its memories.

XVI. Little sister helps Lizzie burn her clothes. And his clothes. They keep
the hatchet.

XVII. No one thinks to wonder if the sisters had done
it. They fix up the place, keep pets.

XVIII. Last scrap: I am a horror. It’s wonderful to be a horror and to live
in a house that’s mine.

 


Joelle Barron is a poet and writer from Fort Frances, Ontario. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2014. Her poem “A Girl Like This Might Have Loved Glenn Gould” won The Malahat Review’s Open Season Award, and her story “Dawson City, YT” was longlisted for the CBC Canada Writes Short Story Prize. Her work has been published in Arc Poetry Magazine, in Plenitude Magazine, and on The Hairpin. You can read her blog at joellebarron.com.

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