Amber Horne’s pamphlet was shortlisted in the Best Unpublished Pamphlet category for the Disabled Poets Prize 2024.
The winners will be announced on 16 March 2024, during Deptford Literature Festival, in an online event.
Amber Horne from So She Spoke
© Amber Horne 2024
Helen has started playing a game
where she sees how many glasses
of water it takes for her stomach
to slosh like a pond in a rainstorm.
She is disrupting the ducks. Wetting
the wings of a steady dragonfly
as she rolls from side to side, drinks
another litre, then continues this cycle.
She tries different lines of motion.
When she sits in a rocking chair
she feels it jump from somewhere
below her ribs right into her mouth
touching the small crust of plaque
behind her molars. Hanging her head
off the side of the bed, twisting just
her torso, she listens as it rushes
to her feet, fights the urge to come
rushing past her lips.
Helen imagines her body is
hollow like an egg. That as
a baby they pricked holes
in both of her pinky fingers
and blew until everything
emptied from right to left
until it was a puddle on
the floor. Pulled out the
paints, coloured her in
celebration golds and reds.
Now when she eats and drinks
it falls right through. And so
a body of water forms within
her shell and how vast she feels,
And so the game changes.
She wanders the halls, picking
chipped edges off the walls
slipping them into her mouth
sliding them under her tongue.
The seal from the milk carton,
every pen lid in the man drawer,
sixteen birthday candle holders.
She swallowed all of them,
everything in sight until the
whole house is rebuilt within
her. She swallowed the locked
doors and the sky lights, every
filing cabinet she didn’t get a
She did not swallow the men.
Instead, she swallowed all the
maids. Invited them inside,
held their hands and explained
what life would be like. They
walked in with packed bags.
Helen wonders what the men
will think when they get back
from the battlefield. She giggles.
She strokes the swell of her belly,
the house tossing and turning
within her. Kicking at the edges.