First Trimester

by: , October 5, 2020

‘First Trimester’ comes from a place of feeling undone. As the piece progresses, the writing begins to loosen, before eventually disintegrating into lines, then words. The process is gradual: the ‘I’ concurrently experiences morning sickness and a miscarriage.

This piece was inspired by Martianism, a technical style of poetic writing which emerged in the 1970s/1980s, where everyday life was written as though it were being experienced by a Martian, evoking alienation from the familiar.

Here, the ‘I’’s bathroom does not recall or recognise them: morning sickness has displaced the connection to their body. Hence, they are reduced to pronouns such as ‘it’.


A face is brushing against the smooth ceramic of the toilet seat. Hollowed out like an egg, it stinks. Everything stinks. Fleshy arms wilt over the edge and the cheeks keep brushing, brushing. Two red globs, they can predict that later it is going to rain, tingling like mint. A big sweater is knotted and furry with vomit. Sweat rolls the hair on its head into thin wires, glistens on the cloth bound to its face. Skin.

A five-week clump of potential causes this jolting chug in the throat most hours of the day. Secret-sick-bin-alien. The nose can smell it growing. Very bloody, very quiet. Insides twist and fold in half, pilates for organs that have forgotten all function but to relentlessly throw up. Yellow-sour-battery-acid-saliva waterfalls down into the cavern of the egg. A wave of bricks clattering to the top, a stream of stomach-talk whistling out. Fingers eat into the edges of the toilet’s base as nails break into a grip. Eyes itch, itch, the capillaries delicate little bloodshot fibres. Small agony. It recoils backwards, thudding onto the bathroom carpet, paralysed, an accident.

Curl the knees up into the foetal position. Flicker the eyes slowly over the thighs, gigantic rubber-sausages, swollen pink. Skin flakes with more sweat. The saltiness crystallises from femur to femur. Sticky dry crocodile scales multiply over the knees.

Now the mouth. Pay attention to its dryness. The roof is rigid and hot; the tongue sits still like a remora, crumpled like a tissue. Lips crunch together like dried cardboard, panging as if scored by paper-cuts. It drinks from the tap. The coolness of the water causes a shudder and a hurtle back to crying down the toilet. Teeth must be scarred yellow and dissolving by now. Acid on acid speckles and corrodes the tubes and enamel, the taste is personal, vile, smacks of bitterness and scalds the chest into the ribs. A convection current, it repeats like song. This is making the stomach turn again,

the turning,



You want to say something, secret-sick-bin-alien.


What can you see?
Where are you sitting?

Is it war in there too, or are you safe?

, a pulsing cherry tomato.


A month before, he’d pinned me down to the mattress and traced all of my insides. A delicious mistake. We went for dinner.  We ate roast beef, sharing it from the platter. I forked a piece of spiced cauliflower into his mouth. His lips two crescent moons.

Chewing. Looking. Nodding. Surveying. Inhaling. Swallowing. Speaking.

He placed his hand over my fingertips and poured more wine. The glug from the carafe whispered lovingly down and into the glass. I do not recall finishing dinner. There was merely: limb-in-limb-in-bite-and-bruise-necks-like-soft-and-feathery-tough-for-sweat-the-drip-salt-on-raging-rugae-hot-100%-egyptian-cotton-dark-incessant-growl-hungered-licked-raphe-defined-like-a-sugar-trail-weighed-down-crack-to-the-headboard-swearing-the-bodies-indiscernible-the-raging-guttural-exclaim-the-wrist-clenched-the-spit-on-my-spine-climb-glittering-on-the-pink-tug-at-the-lip-and-nibble-the-eye-or-the-cheek-tight-pretty-frilly-fleshy-suck-and-tweak-the-beat-and-the-beat-leaping-from-the-forearm-to-the-hip—

like hot tea

yelping over the toilet seat

bile comes again, bloody, swearing out of the throat,

angry as though it came from the bones.

Like sugar-biscuit, something snaps. A cloudiness effervesces underneath the eyelids. There is a tap, tap, like running, something running

I am going to keep it.

more stinging, thighs bubble hot, a dull aching, and then a tear in the right leg

shooting down to the heel, it

is a familiar sensation

but more furious

an internal gunshot

arms rigid, bent liquorice sticks grip the bathroom rug, a golden yellow grinning

ominously and not a shade uglier than bile; a triggering thought so once more


there is more bile to be hurled out

the body has depths

extents it never knew, would rather not know

it is an education in limits

it has a fantastical endurance

where does it come from, where did it go

the sink comes into view.

there is a reflection in the right-hand tap, cold water—eyes like saucers, big black buttons with chalky pasty skin

and I look away at the thing

I know what it is

and I look down

I really look

The tap tap running running

a metallic clink in the nose


the bathroom rug is scarlet

all over

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