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  • Hannah Hinsch

Sinking: A Prose Poem, to Virginia Woolf

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

published in Lingua journal


It's dark inside.

I used to be a cave-dweller. Mining you, your mind, I searched for the lapis lazuli among sharp reefs and scurrying crabs, cold blue fish and eels that stung.

Where were you this time? When I dove in, I thought you'd be there, bubbles surfacing with mine like long strings of dark pearls, our fingertips touching, feet gathering silt as we tasted each other's mouths.

But I touched only open water. Salt sifted through my hands; the stones in my pockets were hideous weights, pressing me as though I were a lily in one of his dictionaries, those very desert stones once clutched in the hands of pious men who'd throw them at the whore but let them fall to dust instead.

But that story's already been written.

To Leonard: you worked with me by candlelight, type-writer fingers tasting of wine and other women. You glimpsed my mind and called it a treasure.

But I'm already here--sinking into a place far away as health, lost in the Norse waves, letting them dress and un-dress me as though I were baptized in a sea of forgetfulness, a Styx at Hades' threshold.

Leonard. Books, stacks of them. My thin scrawl haunting the margins. Vanessa's bright laugh. Quentin's small hand in mine, reminding me of the moment I knew I'd never be a mother, when they dug that pink thing out of me and wrested it from its clam shell and spat it out on life's dismal shore.

I sink, and sleep. Lay out on the ocean floor, among the fool's gold, the bright wings of dorsal fins that will mingle with my bones for some literary pirate to find.

But enough of all that. The split selves, the green light that lingers behind my eyes like a camera flash that whispers of Lazarus and cold stones, of the white room with the gauzy curtains, a phantasmagoria of where I've been, what I've written--

Enough.

I sink now.

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