The Sestina of Degeneration
if my buckled body could talk it would
stutter and twitch, wail and moan,
sliced up and scarred, my stain
would land hard, soak the resined floor
blanched under years of bone,
fighting its way through,
there were threads to cut through.
at first my heart was wood
my skin bittered and burnt, my moan
flew out, next to the stain
his hand had left on the floor—
his smile the colour of bone
my teeth rattled—brittle as bone—
china, slippery red surging through
like a wounded branch of birch wood
my paved tongue a black moan,
my ragged lungs a warm stain
to worship one man’s flaw. [End page 79]
they found me on the floor
one Friday, a broken bone
and yellow fear snaking through
the room, the way it would
most days, a long slow moan
spilling its way through the stains
they found on the stain—
less steel bars in the corner.
he had left no prints, only the bone
meal bruises on my ankles, and through—
out the place a smell of sandalwood
rode the air, incense with a hint of moan
my fingernails gave voice to the moan
in my liver, no scratch, no bloodstain
marked his lair, just the buckle of floor
boards where he would
leave me to stare at the bone
dry crust of rage poking through
my only flaw was the warped wood
that ran, stain washed and straight through
to bone—I have no memory of its moan. [End page 80]
I have an ache
sharp edged and hollow
like the voice of my mother.
I have her eyes
and her first wedding ring,
both look older than they should.
She always lied
when asked about the cellar.
But I still have teeth
chipped at an angle and
questions that crouch in the corner
beside the washer they never repaired.
Victoria’s lips would curl like springs
consonants brisk on the palate, bitter.
Leaving her mouth
as empty as ash.
Shadows hiding under her tongue.
We were aliens
around a man who would be king.
arrived at Christmas
but left soon after, a whole family by its side. [End page 81]
No broken animal
There’s a she wolf
feral red heart
she shits and spits
and spider brown
moaning like her
skin is the blaze
dripping bile onto
craven and hungry
harden her tongue
coiled fur to the
bone cage un-bruises
as she waits
for the sound of
his feet on the floor.
About the Author
Kira Legaan is completing a Doctorate of Arts at the University of Sydney. Having a background in professional theatre (NIDA graduate 2001) and dance (Qld. Ballet, 1988–1998), her autobiographical play, The Legacy, had a successful season at the Darlinghurst Theatre, Sydney. Earlier in 2018, Legaan presented a conference paper at Oxford University, and her research will be part of the 2019 BSA Oxford Conference journal. She is also published in Writing the Ghost Train: Rewriting, Remaking, Rediscovering: The Refereed Proceedings of the 20th Conference of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (Swinburne University, 2015), The University of Sydney Anthology 2014, and Breaking The Silence (Hodder and Stoughton, 1997). She has twice been awarded Sydney University’s Sir Walter Reid prize for academic achievement. She was also the winner of the Sydney Writer’s Festival Rocket Reading Cup in 2016.