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Image by Phill Brown

She Will Escape Salpêtrière Hospital 

We lie like dolls, discarded.
Cloth limbs splayed, ungainly 
on the board floor; split planks splinter-rough
under porcelain fingers.

Playthings handled badly: 
iced baths, forced food, hypnosis.
Unrelieved  trauma, endlessly re-lived. 
Medicine as performance.

We turn our bone-white faces 
to the wall, find
the vented grille within the skirting.
We whisper what they did 

to us today. Our voices stir through gaps, 
through secret spaces, magnified 
in the darkness. The hope of her plan
makes a weight inside all of us.

Penny Blackburn writes poetry and short stories and has been placed or commended in a range of competitions, including Ver Poets, Poetry Tyne, Writing Magazine and Crossing the Tees. She has also appeared in many journals, such as Riggwelter, Spelt, Dreamcatcher and Waxed Lemon. Her collection, Gaps Made of Static, was released by Yaffle Press in autumn 2023.


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