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PART OF THE Applause ISSUE

‘Imagine you put aside the pulse of fear at your throat and lean in, mirroring the stone’s tilt.’

The uncanny: ‘the familiar become strange’ according to Freud, and there is no doubt that Edinburgh in August in 2020 without its festivals feels unsettling. The Uncanny Bodies anthology plays with the uncanny in a variety of ways with a variety of authors, and here we share poems from Jane McKie who looks at the city slightly askance.

 

Uncanny Bodies
Edited by Pippa Goldschmidt, Gill Haddow and Fadhila Mazanderani
Published by Luna Press Publishing

 

Where the Edinburgh All-night Bakery Used to Be

Straight from the pub,
sticky and jubilant,
we devoured them.
Ovens thawed the icerimed
pavement, which
chimed
the high note of
everything
glazed. And we,
close to hysteria like guests
left afterhours
at a wedding, toasted
each other’s skin
with snow, dusted lips
with sugar, slipping
our way home
with breath building
in our own shapes, that is,
in the shapes of ghosts.

 

East Coast Gothic

Imagine you come across a single grave
in a formal garden, the light
almost gone, tree shadows so thick

they coalesce like people milling
in corners. The stone, a simple
slab, precariously perched,

tips towards you, insisting
that if you bend close to its lichened skin,
you’ll find your own name.

Imagine you put aside
the pulse of fear at your throat
and lean in, mirroring the stone’s tilt –

not a single name to be found,
just the usual pocking and blotches
of a rough, weathered face.

Imagine it isn’t relief you feel.

 

Baby

In the discount basket: feet shaped like fins, a candle-wax colour.
I haul her up like a line-caught fish, this plastic doll, her eyelids
spoked with black brush from which tears will inevitably spill.

She will be called Baby Maia like the last Baby Maia. Toys, like
pets, are loved so obstinately.

Her right eye-click is delicious, the iris violet, glassy, and impossibly
huge when it falls open. The left lid is half-shut and will not budge,
even when I get my nail under.

Still, she’ll do. She has enough in common with the other Maias:
tenacity and sweetness beyond her years; the ability to pee.

And when she cries her voice box emits a sound like wind over
bottles – faulty perhaps, but as I finally lever her reluctant lid,
I have to mourn the also-rans, lost on the beach, mauled by the
dog, or simply put away.

 

Uncanny Bodies edited by Pippa Goldschmidt, Gill Haddow and Fadhila Mazanderani is published by Luna Press Publishing, priced £16.99.

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