Rachael Barnes-Powell



I am on the shelf

locked in my specimen jar


I cannot remember how to open my jaw

nor the taste of words


Vinegar evicted my blood years ago

Pickling my organs

cramping my limbs into shape



Beyond my home

shadows pass me by



Some taunt me with their humanity

their freedom and ease


They tap the thick glass to make me flinch



Others hang back


Disturbed by my distended stomach

pregnant with acid



They bore me



I wish someone would add spices to my jar

maybe mustard seeds or star anise


My fingers would make excellent party snacks

speared in a bowl with toothpicks



I am spoiling on this shelf

and it would be a shame to go to waste



Tiny spider perched ceiling-side

watching from afar with shining eyes



As I sleep and dream

she weaves her tomb


Delicate and air-light



From her, the world is gifted

an army of mouths

Greedy for firstfeed



Her descendants cocoon me

Wrapping me tight


Under layers of dusty blankets



I sleep on



Rachael Barnes-Powell is an East Midlands-based writer. She was one of Acumen’s featured Young Poets in 2019, and has been published by Nottingham Poetry Exchange and Creative Writing Ink. She promises that she does not always write about creepy things.

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