Pauline Picot //

Part One – Happy as a Lark

They are eating
They are dying
Statement 2 shockingly
Does not invalidate
Statement 1
Eating as actively
As they are dying
Maybe all the more so
As they are dying
I watch them eat Death
The restaurant’s clock is ticking
Right above one swallowing mouth
Or is it ticking mouth
And swallowing clock
I know this is a little too on the nose
But hey
I don’t make reality

They are trying to speak
That common thing
They are trying to voice
Anger, frustration, desire
But only mashed-up sounds come out
Feelings purée
Crisis stew
To get it you really must listen
Kneel and listen
But what if no one does
And what if a day
The purée finds itself
In your own mouth
What then

What did I do
To sweat so much
Who did I kill
What little girl
Did I protect
From what evil
Was I the girl
Am I evil
Night has neither delivered
Rest nor justice

They must be dead
They must have died
While I slept
They must have left
They must have lied
I looked away
And they must have
This is real
Tide must have turned
Earth must have shifted
They must have fled

Happy as a lark. That’s what my mother used to say to me, on account of my singing all the time since I was a little girl. She was overjoyed with my merry disposition, and maybe a little proud. My girl is a little chaffinch. Of course I wasn’t all singing. I had always been very sensitive, and a sunbeam on a wooden floor in the morning hours could make me cry. But the singing was there, clear and sharp.

When I turned 20, I stopped singing. I thought it must be the massive loads of work from the preparatory class, or the fact that I was in love with a fellow student who didn’t felt the same. I thought it was fatigue and loneliness. I thought I must go through a teenage phase I hadn’t experienced before. At times I would crumble suddenly and see everything in a dark and murky tone, as if someone had put a mud filter above my eyes and poured dust in my mouth. And then everything was OK again. Something was taking me, crushing me, and leaving me estranged. I would try to share this sensation with the few friends I had, but the best advice I got was : stop wallowing in whatever this is, and get it together.

Symptoms of that period included : crying / biting my hands / skipping meals / banging my fists against walls / losing weight / cutting my thighs, breast and arms / having two or three nightmares a night / visualizing things : spiders on the walls, people stabbing me on the train platforms, people throwing me under the train, random disturbing sex scenes, faces distorting.

I was no longer a chaffinch.

I am 1,70m and I went below 50kg. Sometimes eating was OK, sometimes it was impossible. I once sat for 30 minutes staring at a chocolate pastry and having a panic attack. Sometimes sleeping was OK, sometimes I beat people up and cut them and murdered them and was murdered and raped and locked up. Sex was never had. Face was still in place when I checked.

I didn’t know what was going on.

Cover Picture by Pauline Picot

Proofreading by Madeleine Mant

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