said the sea-witch

August 6, 2017

then your tail will part and open into what men call pretty legs
the legs must be kept open. the mouth must be kept shut. the tongue is stolen.
but grace is enough. beauty is enough, and legs for dancing. legs for opening.

every step you take will be as if you were treading on a sharp knife
as is the breaking and binding of feet into a lotus gait. as is the
humbling sway of stilettos.
who even needs feet? trim your toes, your heels.
your man is strong enough to carry you.

you would think that your blood must gush out
but it won’t; not for you the thrust of him, the turn of the moon, the
softened heads of babies.
no need to tie up your hair or grow your fingernails.
only this knife, and his blood on your feet.
you will have never known such soothing.

from the ship and into the sea
this is your ending.
your prince long gone and your blood curdled and your tongue in a jar
and you think it is worth it.
to be snow-white. to be hood-red.

Kirsty Logan

erotic device

August 6, 2017

Writing is an erotic device. The imaginary gaze of the gentle reader has no function other than to give the word a new and strange consistency. The reader is not an end; he is a means, an instrument that doubles the pleasure, in short a voyeur despite himself.

Jean Paul Sartre
Introduction to Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers

Has beauty never had any other purpose than to cause those who wish to possess it to rise up against each other, and, in the end, between them, tear the beautiful object to shreds, or failing that, destroy each other instead?

Jenny Erpenbeck
The End of Days

A grown woman is like a coyote – she can get by on very little. Men are more like house cats. Leave them alone for too long and they’ll die of sadness. Over the years I’ve grown to love men for this weakness. I’ve tried to respect them as people, full of feelings, fluctuating and beautiful from day to day. I have listened, soothed, wiped the tears away. But as a young woman in X-ville, I had no idea that other people – men or women – felt things as deeply as I did. I had no compassion for anyone unless his suffering allowed me to indulge in my own. My development was very stunted in this regard.

Ottessa Moshfegh
Eileen

on a winter’s evening

August 6, 2017

Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body, and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.

Virginia Woolf
Night and Day

Her discipline as a writer was intense. Each novel emerged from a few months in which she wrote through the nights, smoked a lot, slept and ate little. She constantly read aloud what she had produced, to get “the music of the prose” right, and in an alchemical process of cutting and perfecting, she would distil every dozen or so draft pages into one sheet without a single wasted word.

The books that survived this surgery were short. In case anyone called them slight, she would quote Voltaire’s apology when he wrote a long letter: “I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”

Guardian obituary for Beryl Bainbridge