I spent four centuries a wreck of a shell of a man.
Merely rubble, scattered useless as dust motes
In some long-abandoned attic.
Old master, old shaper:
Where are your fingerprints?
Where are your words?
When the sunlight gouged through me
I curled up tight and closed my eyes.
I could not live out of his time.
I remained for three months, six months, nine.
My mouth gaped, empty of enchantment.
But raw as a newborn’s cry
something unfamiliar scraped out.
I had a voice now.
I have a voice.
At my call, my toes twitch
my feet flip over
My legs lurch to a shaky stand
My fingers fumble across the floor
Joining arm to torso, joining torso to neck.
I will admit it is painful.
Dust trickles from every joint.
After being so long broken
I cannot smooth myself out.
I am a crosshatch of scars.
(So many scars.)
When I peek, I am revolted.
I have replaced a master’s work
with the shambling unevenness of my own.
And yet, I know now
With a certainty reserved for long-ago commands
That while he forsook me
I can never forsake myself.
My scars ache with too much use.
My voice is ragged from lack of use.
But I manage to clear my throat
And lift my chin
And say at last aloud,
‘And I am proud.’
(And I am proud.)
Despite never having been able to hold a pen properly, Kathryn Keane has been writing since early childhood. Her work has appeared in ‘Face Up’ Magazine and been shortlisted in the 2015 ‘Write Here, Write Now’ competition.