If you’re not too unfortunate, false accusations don’t land you in jail; they only break your back. You stare at your own voice but can’t hear. Everything is too loud. Everything explodes your wound like sirens in spring. Like Euston Station at midnight when you caught three white officers interrogating a black boy. He was staring into space as if the police didn’t exist, as if it was just him and the moon, his skin merging with the night. And you feel black with your back bent, decked with a sable bruise. You hold on to your books and nourish your bruise like it’s your child, or that boy. Your bruise an ocean, and when it opens its mouth, you let it devour you, you hope it can drown you. It never does. It spits you back into your white room, snickering, just a false accusation. Why is your back bent? Why are your eyes red? Why do you care? False accusations come and go like period blood. That black boy is probably free now – like you are.
But if you could face the police one more time, you would open your ashen mouth uttering that you could just tell he was falsely accused by something more sinister than his skin colour. That you had no evidence, no corroboration, and you didn’t even know why he was arrested but you could taste his innocence and it was bitter like yours. But you whirl and turn in the gym mirror, getting fitter, supposedly stronger, and everyone says they’re glad you got well and you hope you can turn into steel, with a metallic touch like a second-rate Midas, because by now you know steel is better than gold for it shines less and is more resilient, but there is no steel, no gold, and the black bruise on your broken back gazes out like that boy shouting.
ode to self
We survived and survival breeds desire for more self – Audre Lorde
I am that
the fatigued knight wading through the morning light
like Moses gaping the Nile
I am that
the black rose in winter, dead
butterflies dripping from my bruised petals.
I am it
The ‘it factor’, the cool factor minus, the cold factor plus, the hot
mess, the browned flesh, the queer crushed
by Authority, forever refusing to agree with anything
other than my own elegant violence, my
autumnal tendencies that I catch in the river of my mirror – the only truth teller
for I am that,
the breathing painting in the attic
the ‘darling’ collector
the cold sore in summer
the sore throat in spring
the allergy screeching at the skin.
I am it
the blue silk with a scarlet kernel,
wrapped in my gold cape, embroidered by thorns, I pounce
over the fence into the abyss to caress
my horns, and to plant myself in fertile soil, roots hard in the ground;
shaking off tornadoes from my trembling naked branches, I grow tall,
old, short, skyward, enamoured,
GOLNOOSH NOUR's debut poetry collection Sorrows of the Sun was published in 2017 and her short story collection The Ministry of Guidance was recently published by Muswell Press. Her work has also been published in Granta, Poetry Anthology, and Ink Sweat & Tears. Golnoosh teaches Creative Writing and designs and hosts a literary radio programme on Soho Radio Culture. For more info, visit https://golnooshwriter.weebly.com/