Green Gills

oh, how simple it must be. to wean. to suck generously. oral thrush and strep throat, but worth it for all the warm memories and healthy boundaries. how simple it must be to writhe your hip bones around in a circle. to not hide behind hands in your own home. I imagine what it must be like. to not feel afraid in parks. to not flinch. imagine feeling so safe in a body that you fall asleep on a mat during a $14 yoga class. is it so wonderful? is it enough? I pray I will remember bread is safe for me but vegan protein powder leads to a rash. and so do contraceptives and my own bodily hormones. I pray for a way to get stronger, to protect. learn that there are cures for dry mouth: gum. cures for softness: flipping the mattress over. I question, even if the pain is a part of the healing, still, what is the cure for getting older? I think of it all, knitted in my stomach. the ways this life has infected me. wonder where my body will be buried when the fever breaks. waterfalls of vomit leave my mouth, and it’s spiritual. I purge everything that has ever been. the residue of you, every memory I have, wrong and gone. unfortunately, you cannot just google ‘how to be a person’ if no one ever taught you. healing is not a job that pays well. overdraw can become a lifetime sentence. black coffee spills out of the plunger because I push too hard and it burns my hands and stains your floor and suddenly I’m getting offered lithium at a party. I say no to drugs and try to ride out the horrors of the feral plague I ingested. apparently ‘it can be like the universe is winking back at you’ but it feels more like the universe has gut-punched me and is dunking my head into burning endless whirlpools of my own making. over and over again, it is dancing with my suffering. it feels like I am there, and nowhere. directionless stars surround me, stabbing at my centre. it’s insurmountable. it’s Chapter 12: The Unbearable Heaviness of Remembering. it’s Britney, bitch. it’s, simply, all there is.

Kate Aschoff is a multimedia artist and writer based in Pōneke. They have a background in theatre, campaigning, and community organising. Kate has poetry in Starling, Bad Apple, Nagology: An Exercise in Mattering (5ever Books, 2022), and in a series of self-published zines.