The Museum of Terrible Objects
A lifetime of clipped toenails, reattaching to your toe.
A sheep that bleats the works of Shakespeare
in Morse Code. Today, the Comedies.
A jar of starving wasps.
The ghosts beneath your bed formed into fists.
A dog in a breathless car.
A grain of rice carved with a cry for help, in fourteen languages.
A child in a bottle, bubbles rising to the cork.
The quiet space behind your chair.
The television whispering, and only you can hear.
The name of the unknown soldier.
The answer to the question Why?
This is Hall One, of fifty-nine.
No-one is allowed to leave
until they have purchased items from the gift shop.
Dreaming of panthers
Too hot for bedsheets. The room pants out swollen air.
He stands at the window, palm circling his stomach.
Under the rhododendron, a leopard draws itself together
from the night, unravels claws across the grass.
He turns to tell his wife. Her back is a low wall along the mattress.
Her thighs twitch in that recurring dream of running.
When he looks round, the cat has gone, leaving a scatter of pawprints
the same size as the wine glass he left on the lawn.
He thinks he’s too wound up to go back to sleep, but
next thing he knows, it’s morning. There’s an empty snarl
of sheets next to him. He stumbles downstairs. The kitchen stinks
of cat tray. He unlocks the back door, calls her full name,
not the truncated version she hates. There’s no answer.
The shadows under the magnolia stir themselves, uncoil.
You snip round your face; play Who am I?
The blades promise Red Riding Hood, sweetheart chin
and button nose. But what sharp teeth you have;
how they sieve each breath. What eyes; those slitted pupils.
You cut again, make yourself more reasonable
with baby skin, rose petal breath, until you think
I’m fooled. But you’re no Snow White
and I am onto you.
The more I won’t believe in you the nastier
you get, threaten witches stuffed and mounted
on the hunter’s wall, my heart ripped out and eaten,
spiked barrels, three pigs belly-up on the butcher’s slab.
You always were a prick. I’m done with happy-ever-after.
I dance out of the forest in tight red slippers.
A little more about Rosie Garland...
Rosie Garland is a novelist, poet and sings in post-punk band The March Violets. Her poetry has been widely published, including Mslexia, The Rialto and Great Weather for Media. She is a seasoned performer, from the Cheltenham Festival of Literature to the Bowery Poetry Club, New York. Her latest solo collection of poetry is ‘Everything Must Go’ (Holland Park Press). Her debut novel ‘The Palace of Curiosities’ won the 2011 Mslexia novel competition and was published by HarperCollins in March 2013. Her second novel, ‘Vixen’ is due out in June 2014.