Guts: A Murder Ballad

You don’t know what is survivable. Don’t forget this. I have folded myself back together time and time again, on this long walk back to my home. Hearth calls me, linen, silver spoons waiting. What we need is purpose and a place to return to, this is what propels us. Somewhere in the dark, bed waits. The windows of the house still glowing, the smoke billowing into the sky. I want to lie down and sleep for a hundred years beneath that roof. Help is there, warm kettle, and a pot of rosemary on the window ledge. These details are tugging me onwards, gut-first.

I woke alone with the night, surprised to wake at all. I could not recall my name, or find where I ended and the world began. I counted my fingers and toes, I took the dirt from my mouth, brushed the grit from my skin. I stood, spilled, reeled, cried. My arms are full of slippery something, but nothing hurts. I believe this means all things are possible, good or bad, you tell me what I am. In my hands, viscera like silk worms, like nothing you’ve ever felt before. I know I am a terrible miracle.

I try to remember the face of the one who struck me down. What was taken from me, what was given back. When I find it, I am alone beneath the deep dark velvet night, and all the winking stars can see me, can hear. No nightbirds warble, no snug little creatures, I make this place dead and still, and I fill it with my own grief. I throw my head back, and a song comes out, a howl from an ancient place anyone would recognise. I have no language left, I have no words. How much longer will this take? Who knows, who knows. Onwards, with burden in my arms, and blind, I still see it, the squat stone home on the horizon. I am pulled to it with umbilical love. This land smells like transplanted hopes, like threadbare dreams come to dust. Houses like blights on flat, grey earth. It seems right to be bleeding here, and I wonder what animal will come snuffling after the trail I have left. 

Just a few more steps, and here I am, back where I pretend to belong, and pressing my forehead to the door. So tired, let me in, let me in, whether now or later I will lay my hardship here. I have been working some self-deluded spell as I journeyed, to ask my memories to lie down and die like I did, so that nothing has to change. I have such forgiveness within me, such strength, spilling forth as red ribbons. I have been your mistake several times over, now you look surprised to see me.