[ToC]

 

GRAVEYARD SHIFT

Scherezade Siobhan

 

 

at the oncology ward, i am in debt of a ten year old boy who likes mango flavored popsicles, reads kafka, borrows my comic books and guillotines me at chess. sometimes even errs a single flea into my ear—"in the past, you are dead." i have always wanted to know my father as my child.

x

i am a guest at my own funeral; i tire easily of its dramatics, its synthetic cabal is a jubilee of gnats. i think of an american film where the elf king turns to ashen marble after his son's sword is planted in him. he cracks and continues cracking till all that was him is a handful of luminescent dust.

x

in the hemophiliac mantling of his sinew, time is transplanted like an animal organ. it beats a foreign hush against the borders of his blood. i mouth it again—in the past, we are dead. even though what was buried, was still alive with meaning. so, i purpose fractures, propose fragments—spoon-bend the rib of the rhizome. this is a deleuzian bastardism; this is a skinny volume of  knowledge that doesn't dial back into the collective neurosis. call me camphor & find the nearest matchbox.

x

in huichol, the word is iyari - the memory of a heart. a priest will tell you that you were born into this memory. this memory is what mothers you. soon i smooth the tousled hair of a dactyl careless against the aberration of my tongue. coddle. repeat. this memory is what murders you.

x

week upon week has been soaked in a dettol stupor, the weighing scale with its antiseptic silence licking at my feet. through the hermetic dark, my father's voice : gravitas, something stolen from the fishnets of andalusia, deseeded wine grapes of black muscat, the husky tobacco hoop of a tuscano flickering like a cinco de mayo rose smoldering between the dancer's teeth.

x

the girl in the last window is more ivy than silk. a deaf ghost watching the bunraku of factory smoke curling around octopus-limbed banyans. spells holy, spells razors. wants to baptise her legs capulet & montague because there is always a bloodwar between them.

x

against the numb silhouette of my psychosis, the iconography of your basilic vein.

x

as half a roma, my body has no country & my god is the indifferent father of time. he asks why i write in a second language. why does my tongue foster the vagus nerve. i say—to touch what can't be spoken. to say that everyone before him was an asylum, that he is the first sanctuary.

 


 

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I spent an hour trying to fabricate an involving backstory about a haunted hospital but I failed miserably so the fact of the matter is "Graveyard shift" emerged from the dichotomy of working or volunteering at a place meant for healing people that can also sometimes end them. The dual strands of how silently and ghostly a hospital can be at night sometimes tangled with caregiving jobs that require you to cover graveyard shifts which be the most poignant and heartbreaking time in a psychiatric care facility. As a mental health professional and a patient, I have run in and out of this graveyard in all possible directions.