by Penny Goring

when I worked in the pet shop I sunk my arse in the fish tanks
sunk my tits in the freezer at the supermarket
sunk my brain in the stacks at the library
sunk my looks in the lights at the club
sunk my liver in the glass at the bar

on a day trip to the london aquarium, I felt the ennui of the squid, puked at the drift of the jellyfish, saw through the eye of the shark, stroked the sadness of the stingray, longed for the lapping of water

I sunk my hope in your shallows

dithering on the south bank, eyed-up by a leery moon, waves came crashing over my head carrying all the junk I’d sunk, throwing it down at my feet. my legs dissolved beneath me and I saw what I’d often suspected — a long tail of rubbish was pouring from my hips with shocking ease

my feet had always been clumsy, cringing inside my shoes, my legs had always been tardy, flagging beneath my skirts. this sinuous tail flipped proudly when it met the cold slap of the river, and I swam gracefully, in search of the famous escape

the weight of my heart dragged me in dangerous directions

it delivered me to this unknown rock, where trees meet on hilltops to tangle dark branches under fog shot with dankness and blight, and I am always welcome because I am the only one — and the funny birds who tell no jokes, and the giant bile-squirting flowers, and the delirious prancing monkeys, and I have nothing in particular to say, and I say it again and again

I wail
I send smoke signals
I am the message in the night

I didn’t dream I could ever be happier — until I found the bottomless pit

my heart was dying from inherent weaknesses. I trimmed the unwanted anchorage roots — they were thick and fleshy, it was really a job for two people — then I kissed it goodbye. no window box or greenhouse, kitchen garden or orchard, no digging deeply in autumn

I sunk my heart in the sinkhole

I studied my reflection, it didn’t look any different, cooled my tail in the rock pools, built battlements with the pebbles. you said you could never put a time on us — we could end tomorrow, we could go on for years

tentative tendrils crept from the hole. I chopped them back. a crooked tree grew. I hacked it down. it grew stronger and even more twisted. I called it beautiful, called it ugly, nurtured it with my moody weather. it never blossomed but it sprouted fruit with the flavour of offal

you arrived on the eye of a vicious storm — my storm, not yours — riding two snarling dogs, trailing clanking empties, black tar oozing from your veins, spikes shining from your shoulders — screaming lies about forgiveness

speak to me in foreign, I don’t want to understand
if words were piss you would drown

you jacked off in my flowers
you sunk your fist in my face

you jacked up in my forest
you sunk your teeth in my fruit

you ate my heart and it choked you

no pomp required
I sunk your body in the sea

toilet seats, mobile ‘phones, plastic bags, needles, lockets, charms, bangles, bottles, corks, forks, bunches of car keys, table legs, dolls’ legs, deflated balls, flip-flops, used condoms, bicycle wheels

I wail
I send smoke signals
I am the warning in the night


About the Author:

Penny Goring is a poet and author based in London.