Issue 18: Paige Smeaton


I am holding the bird whole in my mouth; let me describe it to you minutely:

The feathers taste dust soft and malleable they are the ash of the incense that is the heat of the body of bird. The heart handsome on tongue; it is small and shining one single pomegranate seed and rises and thrums to the sound of my voice. The feet are scratching the bottom hard flesh palate of my mouth: the attempt to escape burns. The bird echolocates down my throat oesophagus stomach like fire; the sadness is not the burning it’s the hope. So I swallow.

I was pulling feathers out of me for days. I still feel the heat on my tongue; I tap it out to heal on empty lightbulbs with my thumb. My feathers grow from the inside out. The pomegranate seed is sweet; I sit in the dark and eat all week, I sit in the dark to try and find your song or body in between my teeth. The lightbulbs are spent the matches are blown; my unique fingerprints are dust are feather prints are feathers. I burn the feathers down to the quick, I charcoal them until I make my skin sick. I am composite bird. I am in the mouth of the room. I swallow myself. I am in the outside of the stomach: I have not pulled off this party trick.

If I pressed my own thumbs into the chambers of my heart and folded it out you would find the vaudeville of the new dawn bloody in the sky testifying to the endurance of tomorrow and the next day and the hours going by. The birds sing in the atrium; the sun rises in my veins.

Enter my right chamber: witness the girl who is both within and without, touch her feathers like skin. She cannot sing but she can strip to the quick. She is all quills; her palms hold her heart the dawn the vaudeville.

Paige Smeaton is from Aberystwyth, Wales. She was shortlisted for the Robin Reeves Prize in 2015, and has assisted in curating a number of Poetry and Performance art events such as 'Azure Noise', 'I am no Soldier' and 'Nutshell Space'. Her poetry and prose has featured in How to Exit a Burning Building and The Gull.