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  • Writer's pictureThe Channel

A Collection by Georgina Wilson

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

How To Build A Body


A woman is a spoon. Fill us up, drive us down. To take. To hold. To use.


***


How to become


Once there was a little girl and she smiled with her teeth and knew nothing and

everything. She had arms and legs; head, shoulders, knees and toes, that she knew.

Legs to run, knees to jump, and a head for- well she was not quite sure yet, but was

certain it would be for something good.

“Let the little girl be,” her mother begged the world. For she too had been a little girl

who had arms and legs and a smile and not much else. But then not much else was

replaced with all too much, for little girls always learn about the world before the little

boys.

Her mother tried to warn her, warn her of what would come. The smiles she did not

want, the eyes that would follow her right into her dreams, the stares that would

borrow their way into her bones. Her mother tried to warn her, for the world is a fate

even the strongest sleepers cannot escape.

Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly

Lavender’s green

Boys will be boys, dilly, dilly

Girls will be seen.

And then one day the world, as it tends to be, was inevitable.


The little girl got up and looked outside and the sun seemed the same as it had on

any other day, a bright brass penny in the sky. She stepped outside and her feet felt

the same on the floor and the wind lay the same cold kisses on her cheeks. But then

there was the man.

And maybe he was not the first, just the first that she had seen. He did not see her,

his gaze was not that undemanding, unrelenting. He looked.

Suddenly her arms became a trophy, her legs became the bones that propped her a

little higher, all the better to be seen. What is a mouth but to smile at him? Eyes but

to stare at the floor? Eyes to avoid. What are hands but vessels to scoop out your

heart and lay it at his feet? Funny, it was never your heart that he wanted.

Inevitable was the world. As was the day the little girl with arms and legs and a smile

and not much else woke up and became the little girl with the body.


***


Sometimes I am scared that I was born as a bird. An eclectus parrot to be exact.

That is rather exact, isn’t it? I saw them once, when I was a child. A school trip

maybe? I cannot recall. But I remember seeing them there, a sea of red and blue

and gold. The females, that is. The males are not nearly half as pretty. The males

are built to chase; to chase the pretty swirls of red and blue and gold. And there they

were, the female eclectus parrots in a cage somewhere on a school trip I may or

may not have gone on when I was a child. Objects of the chase, beautiful and

condemned. Maybe it was silly because after all they were only birds, but I felt sorry

for them. And then I grew feathers of red, blue, and gold of my own.


***


How to disappear


Cold. That is what you were. Ice that melted in the sun, dripping down onto her skin,

freezing the blood in her veins. You were cold and far away and took what you

wanted because isn’t that what men do?

When you met her she wasn’t a little girl anymore, she had not been for a while. But

she was not a woman either. She smiled with her lips because someone had told her

once that her teeth were too big for her mouth. But you found it charming. You liked

the way she sang just a whisper out of tune, imperceptible in a crowd but you were

listening. You liked the way she frowned with the left eyebrow only and how she

didn’t know who she was, not really. You liked her arms and her neck and the fact

that she didn’t show the rest to anyone else.

I guess that means it’s yours.

Yours to take. To

break. Don’t worry. Her

heart will heal. But her body

won’t.

You were cold like ice and maybe something of a magician too. For you made her

disappear and if there was an audience surely they would applaud such an

impressive trick.

She woke up and went to bed and looked in the mirror and you weren’t there

anymore and neither was she.

She woke up and went to bed and looked in the mirror and forgot to eat.


She woke up and went to bed and looked in the mirror and pulled on a skirt that

covered barely anything at all because her body wasn’t her own anymore so they

might as well stare.

She woke up and went to bed and looked in the mirror and after a while she began

to forget about that weird, twisty thing you called love.


Reflection. It is created when light bounces off an object onto a surface so smooth it

dances right back into your eyes.


She woke up and went to bed and took down the mirror because there was nothing

to see.


***


You were gentle and kind and I couldn’t love you. How simple it would have made

everything. Funny how the good ones leave no lasting traces on the flesh.


How to love


Love is to the lost and broken what a glove is to a fist. Papering the blistered skin in

something soft, something that feels like a home. Darling you were like a daydream;

a single flame in a starless sea. Light cannot exist without darkness, and our

darkness danced together until a shadow formed against the backdrop of the sun.


Everybody takes; takes, takes, takes. But you took your time with me. I think you

might have turned me into a peach: ripe and sweet and bold. Who cares if I am a

little orange?

Blue eyes, locked on mine. I don’t remember when- I tend to lose track of time. I

leapt through the blue-green haze and found a soul that didn't have a home, for you

too had lost the licence to your fingers and your toes.

I like to think I taught you how to love, as you did me. Not each other, but the blanket

of skin that draped around our bones.

I felt like a kid again. Yes Miss. No Miss. Five plus five equals ten. There is no recipe

for love but surely if you go and dance in the sun you will learn not to fear the

strength of your own spine. Even the cracks in the pavement turn into rivers of gold

in the right light. My cracks ran a little deeper but even they began to feel like a

memory.

I thought we could stay like this forever; maybe I was foolish but then again love is

not made for the wise. You could stay a little while longer and bring me eggs in the

morning and I could fold your clothes.

No?

Okay.

Call me when you get this.

At least we learned to find ourselves before we lost each other.


***


“Women,” Professor Walsh began, “are like fossils. Can anyone tell me why?


No. Perfect. Then let me explain. We are born into this world, new and fresh and

entirely delightful- and we perish. Yes, yes. Everybody dies, that delight is not

reserved for women alone. But we perish in a much more metaphorical sense you

see. Girls grow up faster than boys, yes. That is all down to science and biological

makeup and a bunch of things I could not tell you about. But we're forced to, as well.

It is our innocence that dies. And can anybody tell me the next stage of fossilisation?

Yes, go on. Correct. Compression. So, we are compressed. Weighed down by

expectations and opinions and sexualisation. And our bodies are compressed by all

this bullshit until we turn into rocks- pretty little rocks. But they still won’t leave us

alone. We are dug out and burned up until every last little drop of energy has been

squeezed right out of us. But we really are the most resilient of creatures. We

change, and grow, and change; knock us down and we will simply rebuild ourselves

from the ashes. And we all know that fossil fuels are, well, destroying our planet,

right? Yes. Well, so the analogy goes: burn us and we will burn back.”


***


How to build


I hold the paintbrush between my teeth. The wood tastes bitter in my mouth.

Pink, red, white, brown.

My hand moves like it has its own brain attached at the wrist, dancing across the

paper white.

Negative space. A blank, a void.


My fingers dart across the canvas. I used to fear it, emptiness.

Pink, red, white, brown.

Emptiness is opportunity, I see that now.

A leg here, arm there- beating heart within. The brush strokes cover it in skin.

I take a step back, look down at what my hands have created.

My body. Elegant and strange in the acrylic fog.

It is mine and it is beautiful.


Cover Photograph by Ella Furnell

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