“Basic Aid for Minor Scrapes,” by Finn Purcell


CW: trauma, child abuse

The end of March smells like fresh wounds.
I wake up with wasps in my lungs, thorns at my feet,
the heat bleaches through my window
and I am back there but I am not back there.

It will take ten minutes of stillness
before the threat of the sting ceases,
before I can ease the air to my lungs.

In that nervous quiet,
I remember
I forget

I was born a week too soon, the only on-time I’ve ever been.
You are rushing down the hall to get this shoe and that card —
“Come on, can’t you help me here?!”
My small fingers stretch over the table, clamp around your purse strap, and I pull
until the sack lurches and thuds and spills.

You are in the doorway, noiseless and on fire,
I am on the floor, tangled in handles.

“Are you fucking kidding me? What the fuck are you doing?
Look at this fucking mess! I can always count on you!”

In my uncle’s car, he is laughing. “What took you so long?”
“Well, you know this one,” you say, waving at me.

I was fresh skin and tripping rocks,
wholly infant, tender and wild,
what did I know? what did I know?

A shower is just a shower until a shower is
a white noise sanctuary
to drown you out, to drown me

until you become thunder
banging at a cracking door,
muffling demands, shimmying
a steak knife through the lock mechanism
to get me, to get my attention
again and again

23, I forgot.
24, I remembered.

I am fourteen and I am asking why you hate me.

You are hurt, indignant, asking
“when am I so horrible to you?
when I buy you clothes? when I cook you dinner?
when I let you have friends over?”

I am fourteen and you are right
and it’s only me, ungrateful.
(I am ungrateful still
and maybe I should be better.)

and when we fight, you are saying “let me guess,
you’re going to make me the big bad wolf,
you’re going to twist me into a monster
when you’re the monster!”

so I am being quiet
and I am on the floor
and already my skull is a pulse in a spin cycle,
bleached for nine more years.

A recurring nightmare started at six:
me and several others, shadows creaking,
trapped in a house we couldn’t leave.
A monster slips and slithers the halls
while I hide in low corners.

Sometimes, someone disappeared
and the courtyard statue would bleed.
Sometimes, people would visit the outside
and I would scream from the upstairs window.
They never heard.

School pictures, grade four. I am ten.
You are showing me how to put on concealer
because this is what happens when I won’t stop crying.

I stop crying.

One of my exes stopped coming over the day you threw a plate at her.

“I was aiming for you” you told me,
and “What’s the big deal? It’s just a plate”
so I told her the same.

The ashes I have become
will carry, will scatter,
will soot all they touch.

I’d been moved for months before anything came out,
before “that’s just my mother”
became “oh” and “wait” and —

Now I am mechanisms, symptoms.
Now I am “what else have I forgotten to remember? what else have I? what else?”

Some scars have exact stories,
others appear in the morning, throbbing without explanation.

Do you remember the time
you and Dad removed the training wheels
and I, overexcited, took to the sidewalk,
sped up and down the street from one corner to another?
Hot July sweat tickled, stuck the hair to my neck.
Black leaves willowed against one another in the sun.
The spokes whizzed and my legs churned
until I hit the rock.

The handlebar seized, I flipped,
and you came running.
You cradled me
while I held my scraped palms to bleeding knee.
Soft, warm tears.
You rocked me back and forth, pet my hair, sang to me,
and Dad rummaged for the First Aid.
I wished I could scrape my knee every day.

If I remember you are my sunshine, my only sunshine,
will I forget the skies are grey?

The end of March smells like fresh wounds,
smells like eggs cracking and butter on toast.
In the midst of the spatter, I am shivering.
My hands are not my hands.
I am the nest, the keeper of the wasps, only the container,
the bodily visceral memory
that I can’t remember,
I can’t forget.

I am crying over eggs and I don’t know why.


these words by Finn Purcell were inspired by the work of Daphne Boyer

Issue #215: On memory and colour


When I look at my hands I start to cry. Leathered and worn, dry skin flakes between my fingers and my lifelines seem etched into my palms, my hands are permanently stained; dark hues of purple and green crept below the surface, and stayed there. My life is on my hands and I can’t hide the fact that I have graced many a wall with my personal epithets. I staked my claim, marked my territory with a manifest destiny-type vengeance and sought out every clear space, every void, and every emptiness to fill it.
 art colour memory
My face is wet and I let the tears fall freely from my face. My hands lay in my lap, unmoving, poised for continued inspection. They tell every memory and moment and hurt with the knowledge of a past ached for.
  art colour memory
In the summer time heat, the humidity was thick and held the paint in the air around me. I searched the streets for new ground and found beautiful canvasses in the neatly tucked away spaces between buildings, inside dimly lit tunnels and parking lots; these were areas ripe for beautification. Can always at the ready, I would surveil the area and quickly throw up my tag. I would come home tinged in color, turned sepia, a danger to all white surfaces in my vicinity. I would take my black off, strip down bare, lay on my back, raise my arms in the air and look at my hands with intense interest. Color caked in the crevices of my cuticles and my knuckles darkened by the paint in the creases of my skin. I would lay there until my arms were tired, feeling the adrenaline leave the extremities of my body. Right index finger bent, I would practice above my head, my tag lines fluid, clean and quick. They littered the pages of my school books, and even now, the discarded envelopes that formerly housed my bills, bank statements and junk mail. I make my mark everywhere, although no one else sees it now.

word by Cora-Lee Conway

colour by Pichi&Avo

On memory: “self and other”


Despondent at the sight of her, waxing caramel and silk, bruising blue from apathy. Who it is I am looking for in the shape of her, the curve and weight of her bones. The scrutiny of this survey has everything to do with consumption. Mass of flesh, scent of jasmine, soap, talcum powder.

I become suddenly thirsty and my legs fold in like a hand. From every angle calls some small adjustment, something not quite in place, not quite concealed. I remember the shirts I wore in highschool, carefully selected from your laundry pile and big enough for my body to move beneath them unnoticed.

Meanwhile she moved with such a lightness I had never been empty enough to feel, spread her toes across the bathroom counter smoothing lotion into her calves; she had six children for the institutions of God and marriage. What I saw for the sake of this story was the width of her waist on an inhale, saw her spinning across the living room floor. She praised my poetry then stopped calling altogether.

Of course I never expected she would, and this is not really about her, or the blue light of my new apartment where no one eats and everything is covered with a film of dust and the smell of smoke. I blink into the mirror and take a sip from a white, enamel cup stained with her lipstick. I know that I will see her in the kitchen and she will have cut her hair again. She will be quietly frantic, pouring cream in her coffee and letting the filter drip. The garbage can is full of dust and the ends of her cigarettes stained with lipstick.

If the weight of my bones were a little less dense. If I did not bruise under the touch of her fingertips. I could step into this room unfeeling, dressed in animal prints and steel, chewing a stick of gum.

word by Alisha Mascarenhas
colour by Gan Chin Lee