So She Spoke by Amber Horne

Creative Writing

Amber Horne’s pamphlet was shortlisted in the Best Unpublished Pamphlet category for the Disabled Poets Prize 2024.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,

echoing. 

 

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 

key for. 

 

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.