Cat O’Neil + Caitlynn Cummings

Pomegranates and Placebos


I’m three feet tall and I love red fruit.  Everyone says that’s good ’cuz when I eat ’em I get full of antiaccidents.  I think that’s good too, ’cuz I don’t like having accidents.  Once when I was at Johnny’s for a sleepover I had an accident and smelled like pee under his spaceship sheets.  I’m eating raspberries for it.  The bestest kind are the pomegranate seeds though.  I feel like a king with all my expensive rubies.  It’s hard to get them out though, through the tough white stuff that doesn’t taste good at all.  Trust me it’s gross!  But once you break into the white net you see all the little rubies tucked away in their little rooms.  And then you can pick them out one by one by one, and sometimes twos.  I like to line them up in a row, from one end of the counter to the other.  Then I watch them.  How do they get rid of my accidents?  They’re so small.  Sometimes I see them glowing.  I bet that’s where they get their power.  The glowing ruby fruit.  I’m about to eat a seed, the first one.  Gloooooowgllllloooowgllllooooowwww: it’s blinking.  I grab it and pop it into my mouth.  My grownup molars (I just got them in!) are chomping and grinding and eating the seed.  The seed will sprout in my tummy and make a super-tree full of accident-fighters.  They will march into my penis and guard the pee from coming out at night.  I grab a bunch of pomegranate seeds and push them into my mouth.  There’s red juice all over.  Messy – don’t tell mom.  My eyes are glowing now.  I’m gonna tell mom I’m ready to go over to Johnny’s again.


                I adore pomegranates; they must be the most sophisticated fruit.  Some people can’t stand the work it takes to break into those luscious seeds, but that’s fine by me, more in the Waitrose aisle for us.  Of course, I’ve taught Benjamin how to eat them as well.  I am not raising him to be a lazy plebeian.  And besides, he loves the endeavour, makes a little game out of it.  But I, I love pomegranates because of their lineage.  Persephone’s fruit: the symbol of lust, power, bondage.  She made one false move in Hades’ lair, ate one tiny (albeit juicy) seed, and was cursed to marry him and stay in the Underworld.  Sometimes late at night, when Benjamin’s in bed – hopefully not wetting it, poor thing – and Rupert is snoring on the sofa, I get up, tiptoe to the kitchen, and pull out my sharpest knife.  I lift my arm above my head and bring it down, hard and precise, onto a pomegranate, its blood staining the hideous apron I got for Christmas.  I rip into it and pluck out a handful of seeds, shoving them into my mouth.  Their juice stains my lips and hands crimson, and I feel the tennis bracelet tighten around my wrist.  I stare out the kitchen window into the dark where I see houses replicating themselves, roof after roof, making up this cul-de-sac’d hell.

Skeletal Down


They call me a witch, a rebel, a preacher.  On me they found a freckle, a wart, no left eye.  I’m hanged for sorcery, treason, blasphemy. 

                It was shocking that fall – snap-neck, breath-out – but over quite soon.  Now I hang limp, lifeless, a memento of man’s fear, man’s vengeance.  

                Peck peck ow, the meat of my bicep.  Beak through to bone, past ligament and muscle, she eats my sinew like suet.  I hang on the gallows, a birdfeeder.  This wee blue wren, her sharp beak leaks a syncopated chirp tune offbeat to her jab-nibbles.  The dust-blue little love consumes me until I am a cage of carpals, tarsals, ribs, and pelvis.  She makes her way in, my heart now flutters, avian and precocious. 

                I’m glad I’ve become a home, an enclosure.  It means my plummet wasn’t for nought.  The crowds have gone away, but Renée still remains, and to her I will stay true.  People are fickle, nasty, point fingers.  Scapegoat and cry out for blood.  My relationship with Renée, I warrant, started out gory but she just wanted to get inside.  She was vicious, beak screamed “flesh delicious,” but honest in her intent: she made me her dwelling.  I prefer her plumes to any human.

                I see the cracks in the stone.  This city will crumble like the ideologies of its inhabitants.  One day nature will win me back, Renée will sing-song bring it.  Eco will pry through masonry and human toil, grow up through the pavement, bring back the soil, and fill my vacant innards with tree, arborous green.  The trunk will wind round my ghost-stomach, branch out through phantom lungs, sprout leaves from invisible glands.  I will sweat sap.  My thoughts will bloom in foliage clouds.  Renée will perch on my collarbone, surveying nature’s reclamation.

                Augury is no longer a mystery, I just understand.  I preen with Renée, breathe with Renée, foresee with her.  If my accusers were still alive they would think their hunches validated.  “Witchery, voodoo, you commune with the birds,” they’d say, ignorant of the true meaning of auspicious.  They’d tell me to say my Ave Marias, repent.  But I am one of the Aves now.  I am proud.

                Shadows terrify me; I fear flocks are blocking the sun.  My bones rattle with the dread: murders will kill my relationship with Renée, they will swoop her off.  Or maybe she’ll go of her own accord, tired of sucking my marrow, yearning to be with her own.  But she hasn’t flown the coop, she still gives me pecks.  We are a symbiosis, her moulting bathing me in warm skeletal down – just in time for winter.