With bright instruments and vast humming machines

Jenny Blackford

The thing within her whispered night and day;
pain roiled round it like purple-green darkness.
White-coated youngsters, smiling with pity,
offered small blue pills, but nothing changed.
Come spring, it worked a claw
into the tangle of her guts,
and pulled.

She screamed in silence. No one was there to hear.
She swore under her breath as the pain peaked
and faded, peaked and faded
almost to nothing.

She sighed, and went back to her book.
The jagged claw snagged at her guts again.
She bit her tongue, and tasted blood. This time,
she swore out loud.

Smooth-faced surgeons searched inside her
with bright instruments and
vast humming machines.
Nothing was out of place, they said,
and sent her home.

Back in her own bed, she took another
small blue pill and dozed an hour,
maybe two, with one eye open.
The whispering had never stopped,
even among the strange white noises
of the hospital.

Midnight. The point
of the egg-tooth
jagged its way
right through her stomach wall.

It was three months
before the neighbors
noticed the smell. The coroner
declared her death a suicide.

No one
a knife.

Jenny was awarded the University Medal in Classics (Greek and Latin) at the University of Newcastle, NSW, but instead of finishing her Ph.D she fell into an unexpected career as a computer network specialist. Award-winning Sydney imprint Pitt Street Poetry will publish her first full-length poetry book, The Loyalty of Chickens, in early 2016. You can find her online at jennyblackford.com.

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