2024 – Spring


Author: Mel Riverwood

This room has no windows.

The walls encased, close, digging into one another
With the painful persistence of something man-
made to stand but which wishes it could crumble.

They are naked at places, scraps where the skin-coloured wall-
paper detaches from where nails have dug into it. 
There is more paper underneath.

Even the floor is papered, dirtied, rolls of it bouncing out of position
Like flowers rooted in the soil of a scabbing forest.

A table, in one corner. A skinning knife, blade sitting
Innocent on an edge.

There must be a door somewhere.

I pick up the knife.
Yes, surely there must be one.
I walk to the first wall, raise the pained blade,
Pressing the flat of my thumb against its side
As an executioner would guide a death-sentenced to the noose
And together they slide under the piece of loose
And pull upwards.

It tears, scarlet sap pearls from underneath and slides as a solid tear at my feet.
I ignore it.
I was taught about the inconsistency of pain and the irrelevance of echoes.

There is no door under that part.
I raise my hand again.

Soon my feet stick to the petals on the floor and in walking around
Wall to wall
I pull them off and along.
The glue covers my fingers, stuck the knife to my hand
But the door is still hidden, 
Though it must be there.
It must be.

I cannot think of anything except the word ‘escape’.

And then the room is covered in pieces of paper and drenched, 
In wallpaper-
Glue that sticks to my eyes as I scour every corner
In search of a frame.

I lay down the skinning-knife.

I have torn every possible layer,
And the last pieces hung high,
And I did not bother to wonder
If they would hold on much longer,
Or when they would fall.

There was no door.
Skinning the walls of my room had only made them bleed.

Perhaps the door is underneath my skin.

I pick up the knife again.

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