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The Five Delusions of Claudine A– , 1886 – Anna Kisby

The Five Delusions of Claudine A– , 1886

(i) taste
Water has the flavour of blood.
Try swallowing a toad stuck with pins. A clot.
Clear your throat. A neighbour spat in the well.

(ii) sight
Try using your vulture-sharp eyes. Whose bones
are these arranged on my plate in cruciform?
His sidelong glance casts a spell.

(iii) touch
Bowls are frogs leaping from my grasp.
Try binding your hands with hangman’s rope.
Stoop. Bear broken pots that burn like hell.

(iv) smell
I make a bonfire of my dress. It smokes
like dung cakes. Eggs turn. Try breathing in
sulphur, a bitch in heat. My house is my cell.

(v) sound
Whispers make love like fleas.
I’ve Hail Marys coming out of my ears, drownings
of gossip. Try listening. Tell. Don’t tell.

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