Lady Sword Swallower

by Pat Murgatroyd

She’s rarer than Lady’s Slipper or Bee Orchids.
She thinks of the minutes, hours, days, weeks –
fingers, spoons, knitting needles, coat-hangers
before the non-retractable solid steel blades
at least two centimetres wide and thirty-eight long.
He thinks of her lips, the pink flesh of her tongue,
soft palate, resistant pharynx; imagines meandering
veins, oesophagus, unpredictable tilt of her stomach.
Even when reduced to mechanics of muscle control
it makes him shudder – an involuntary reaction
that would probably kill her.
Was it only the gag reflex she desensitised?
Tired of blokes wanting to shove their gristly attention
down her throat she resigned herself to living alone.
Which is why on a cold bathroom floor (after-performance
specks of blood not unusual) a perforated intestine
bled her to her knees. But she came back.
Why is impenetrable. Perhaps because a sword
once brushed her heart where no man did.