small print

by Suzanne Antelme

if this product does not reach you in perfect condition,
please return the packet and contents,
stating when and where purchased.
your statutory rights are not affected.

well i’d like to return
myself. mum will you pack me up
in your stomach again. and tape shut
the slit in your middle:
the bit that opened like a door.

mum the sellotape
will make zebra stripes above the eye
of your belly button, but i am
recalling this prototype of me.

please put one hand where my head will press
against the palm of your skin,
and walk us back:
to the attic room where
you first gave me to the air
yellowed by a broken bulb light.

mum, will you kneel
on the dried up wooden floor:
and imagine water and
breathe.
i will curl up in the middle of you,
and shrivel.

at some point
i will unfurl from the hug of your
womb, like steam exhaled from the lip of a mug.
mum, unwink me
from the twinkle in your eye. and afterward
run your little finger over the ridged impressions of
sellotape,
as if i leave my silhouette
among your freckles. but
your statutory rights are not affected.

hello. you have reached our customer service hotline.
we are currently dealing with an unusually high number of calls
please hold,
an operator will be with you shortly.
[music]