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Poem and Collage by Síle Englert

A photo collage. A sepia-toned photo of a woman sitting in profile, looking to the camera, is mirrored. A sketch of a heart looms in the distance, between the the mirrored women's faces; two dolls stand beneath it; five bees hover in an arc above it. Lacework borders the background, where a ribcage fades into yellow linen.  

Síle Englert has created a series of collages, each one inspired by a poem from her debut collection The Lost Time Accidents. The series was featured in long con magazine and has been shared on Englert’s social media (@SileEnglert). In celebration of the book’s release, we are highlighting the poem and collage “Beetroot.”


I used to press my girl dolls together
at their painted lips, like each could eat

the other’s pain and push it back, holy.
I understood that I was rotting inside, that god 

was a he and he was watching, his smile all
teeth, offering candy in exchange for my skin. 

The day before, I crawled out from under the news,
damp and fluttering; I was the woman with bees

in her eyes, crying sugar tears instead of salt
to fill their gaping mouths with sweetness.

In the kitchen, the beetroot nested in my palm
was a hardened heart, excised; I pressed

the knife in, butchered the green of its limbs,
purple-veined leaves dissected, fruitless

on the cutting board. Beet-blood lingers
after dinner and the evidence is in my hands.

The day before, I clawed through that dream
where I was a white cotton sheet, stained

like Turin’s shroud. The faces of two women
on a bus rusting into me when they refuse to kiss

for men. Their mouths and eyes reduced
to an absence. So many holes to fill and time

is running away. In the kitchen, I learned
my carving from the beetroot, how to gut,

remove stalk and peel, how to be only an organ.
There are lines to be drawn on these bodies

and cuts to be divided. The day before, I was the girl
with two hearts and one of them had to be removed.

I left it on the cutting board. I was a tooth
knocked loose. I was a fractured orbital socket,

the umbra wrung into anemic skin. I was honey.
There are days now when I am less afraid to hold

her hand on a bus or kiss on the street. Nights
when only a rock is thrown or some stray words

knife through from a passing car. I might feel
like more than holes to fill, more flesh

than empty space or use a gentler word for god.
Whatever persists when all disposable parts

are cut away. In the kitchen, I bleed
on someone else’s hands.

“Beetroot” from The Lost Time Accidents copyright © 2021 by Síle Englert

Check out more of Englert’s artwork, and pick up her debut collection The Lost Time Accidents wherever you buy your books.

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