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Edges by Elizabeth Chadwick Pywell


I am mapping the edges of my body,

the places hair & nail meet fresh air

I cannot feel. I envy how you know

where the tips of your toes are,

how you do not walk into doorways

or invisible obstacles, how your blood

is not always trying to escape your skin.

I study anatomy, draw on my own thighs

to make sense of muscle & bone.

Everybody wants me to take up yoga

except yoga teachers, who can’t work out

why my head isn’t straight

on my neck, or why my hands can’t tell

where my wrists begin.

Others seem to have a spirit level

in their stomachs that keeps the world

upright; mine’s drunk. I have cried

in every safe space in which I’ve ever sat,

back desperate for a brick wall,

including my own living room

with Adriene paused mid-smile. The edges

of my body have met other people’s edges

& felt nothing at all. I have wondered

if I am too fat for dancing, or if my paleness

prompts the sun to try & see through me,

or whether thumb-sucking as a child

numbed my everything.

On the morning of my wedding

my nose poured blood but I didn’t feel it

for years.

Elizabeth Chadwick Pywell was awarded the Northern Writers’ Debut Award for Poetry and a place on the Out-Spoken Press Emerging Poets Development Scheme in 2022. Her pamphlet, 'Breaking (Out)' was published by Selcouth Station Press, and ‘Unknown’ by Stairwell Press. She has been widely published in journals including Fourteen Poems, New Welsh Review, Shearsman Magazine, Spelt Magazine, Strix, The Interpreter’s House, Tears in the Fence, Carmen Et Error, The Alchemy Spoon, And Other Poems, Ink Sweat and Tears and Impossible Archetype, has longlisted for the Leeds Poetry Prize and Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition, and shortlisted for the Ironbridge Festival Prize


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