OUR BLOOD, OUR RIVERS

Marie Baléo

ISSUE TWELVE | SPRING 2019

One night, as you contemplate

your stained underwear, you are

ambushed by the following thought:

 

anytime a man has assaulted

you, it was never you in attendance,

but always some hesitant understudy,

 

a still life of your face, your home

after it was robbed of all your things.

It was this ersatz whose thighs were stroked

 

by the hand of an acquaintance

under the table while her boyfriend sat

to her left. Above the table, all smiled

 

and carried on. It was her, not you,

whose ribs were crushed by a great mass

of a man, all beard and knotty fingers, nude girls

 

plastered on the cold walls of his garage

(he captures them headless, always),

scalding breath slid inside her (you know

 

I’m going to see you naked, right?) It was she, again

(it’s like you attract it) who found herself dragged to

the airless back of a thrift shop on a holy Sunday

 

by the man with the smile lines around

his eyes. She saw them, close enough to feel his

warmth, before she made the run for the thirty-inch

 

gap between the metal curtain and the ground.

How ridiculous she looked, scampering down

the streets of Ménilmontant like small game.

 

On the day at the river when a boy

snatched her by the crotch and carried

her away, you, of course, were not around.

 

But raptured by the godly joy of being home

again, floating in the only air you ever loved,

you decided, no, you knew that you would remain

 

untouched - and, hands open, abandoned her to her

own devices. You saw her from above, the freckles and

sunburn, the drops on her shoulders - but recognized

 

nothing. You noted: the lack of expression on her

face, the absence of words in her mouth. How determined

she seemed to remain rooted in the before. You noted:

 

her desertedness, like grey rubble in an abandoned city. Or maybe

she was something different, something corrupted: spoiled fruit,

once new (you remember). Yes, a tainted, tattered mash

 

of organs and fat and blood (disintegrated). And as

invisible hands dipped her, again, again, into this stream

you loved so much, you began to count down the seconds.

 

Marie Baléo is a French writer born in 1990. She began writing fiction and poetry in 2017. Her work has been nominated for a Best of the Net award (2017 and 2018) and for Best Microfiction (2018) and Best Small Fictions (2018), and her poems and stories have appeared in Passages North, Yemassee, Litro, Lunch Ticket, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is an editor for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. Marie grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, and Oslo, Norway. mariebaleo.com

DO YOU LOVE NAT. BRUT?

If you enjoy Nat. Brut and consider yourself a reader of the magazine, please consider donating to us! We are a fledgling non-profit on a shoe-string budget, and our staff is 100% volunteer (all of us!). Every dollar you give goes directly back into the operations of the magazine. Consider giving today!

NAT. BRUT: THE RESPONSIBLE FUTURE OF ART AND LITERATURE
 

Nat. Brut  (pr. nat broot) is a journal of art and literature dedicated

to advancing equality and inclusivity in all creative fields.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER!

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Tumblr Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • m-01

Site by Design Altar

© 2019 Nat. Brut Inc., All Rights Reserved.