Current issue

Instructions On Killing Tradition

By Sarah Hilton

First I want a room a big room a big white room because she raised me to think that if anything has colour a painted wall or a brown carpet then there’s a little bit of death hiding in it somewhere like the time there was a mouse in the house that blended into the carpet or the time I stepped on the floor and she had a panic attack it was the Black Plague come home everywhere she looks there’s rats running under the carpet waiting ‘til dark to gnaw holes in our feet

Then I want all the people in with me the ones I see on Christmas actually it’s just Christmas because I can feel how cornered it all is and how much the space shrinks with how big they make themselves feeling like the Christmas I was seated in the corner of the dining room at a TV dinner table watching everyone because I didn’t fit next to them

But then put a glass window down the middle a soundproof glass and now they can talk and it doesn’t hurt you what you hear can’t hurt you it’s like Christmas without the trauma without the tradition your Dad your own Dad can talk about how women’s bodies don’t belong to them without it hitting you like the door on your way out they can talk about the fags they saw kissing at the gas station without you excusing yourself from the table

And somehow I can move these walls it’s an episode of Jane the Virgin or a story by Isabelle Allende and the glass pane becomes a small room in this big room closed down becomes a smaller room and I can’t decide if it’s a moment of magical realism where they shrink with the room or they just move in on each other their bones eventually breaking their bodies contorting tying knots around each other until I am alone with myself but still knowing it’s all happening somewhere they’re still together they’re still family they still look at me like I’m under the knife like I’m blended in with the white on the walls like I’m no more an extension of them than the dog they buy over and over to fill a void to never meet death in the face and admit they called it love 

Sarah Hilton is a queer poet from Scarborough, whose work is currently featured or forthcoming in Contemporary Verse 2, Hart House Review, FEEL WAYS: A Scarborough Anthology, Cypress Poetry Journal, Ithaca Lit, and elsewhere. She is a Master of Information student at the University of Toronto’s iSchool, and she is currently compiling a collection of poetry. Her pieces in Mnerva Literary Journal speak to the personal boundaries she’s had to put up for herself in familial relationships, as well as the boundaries she’s had to overcome in relation to her sexuality.

Photo credit: Xavier von Erlach

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