Now that the men are dead
Now that the men are dead we have stopped saying how much how much how much. For weeks we repeated their words like chattering magpies, whispering it for each stroke of the hair brush, each stir of the pot. When we were finished we could not remember what it was that we had once said, looked at each other in amazement, smiled.
Now that the men are dead we lisp through sentences. When we say “soft” we are content with the manner in which it comes out of mouths, thick and furred. We nurse it with milk, swaddle it with cloths.
Now that the men are dead we braid the children’s hair, push petals into the folds.
Now that the men are dead we look at the dirt under our fingernails joyfully. We say, good. We say, yes. We gather handfuls of leaves, throw them onto the fire in the centre of the camp.
Now that the men are dead we sleep closer to each other. The night is full of the sounds of babies gurgling, of the moans and murmurs of women, but no voices. No screams.
Now that the men are dead we bathe in the cold water, unknot each other’s hair. Sometimes we float on our backs, arms outstretched, eyes closed.
Now that the men are dead we sit in the moonlight, pale as ghosts, show our milky scars. We only nod.
Now that the men are dead we eat silver and pink fish. We stand in the river with our skirts blooming around us, hands submerged. We eat oranges, the membrane covering our hands, our lips. We are greedy; we eat the rind, too.
About the author
Hannah Williams is a freelance writer and editor based in south-east London. She enjoys herbal-flavoured alcohol and the Kenwood Ladies Pond. Follow her on Twitter @hkatewilliams
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