Holly Bars: Body, The Things I Have Done

Body, The Things I Have Done

I left you for those few cold minutes in the hospital, flat on the bed, with nurses and doctors swarming your corpse, storming your veins with paracetamol antidotes, cracking down on you. Electric. You took me back, and I never forgave you for it. Body, it was just like before, when we were five, and you were down there by the toilet, unalone, and I was on the ceiling, watching. You were utterly abandoned, body, remember? And it didn’t stop. I left you in the hostel, hoarding addictions and diagnoses; I cut you into skinny pieces. Then threw you onto nightscapes with creeps in ginnels. I put you in clothes which made men admire the ugly way I treated you; I got you pissed to make you willing, used your lips, hips. I left you to fend from one hour to the next whilst I fractured into seven voices; your teeth unbrushed, sanitary towels unchanged. Dirty. It took lupus and Sjogren’s and Raynaud’s and a thyroid up the knacker’s yard, a mania of antibodies, to make me listen. Body, you impossible, obnoxious thing, killing yourself with the will to survive. And me, your neglectful mother, your desperate daughter. I’m sorry I couldn’t forgive you sooner for being a defenceless child.

About the Artist

Holly is a mature student currently studying at the University of Leeds, where she is also co-editor for Poetry & Audience.

Her poems have been published since January 2021 by The Moth, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Fragmented Voices, Porridge, Visual Verse, Anti-Heroin Chic, Runcible Spoon, and more, as well as appearing in anthologies.

She is currently working on her debut collection, Dirty.