The Girl in a Dead Man’s Shoes

Your death would ask to be a firework.

People would not walk on without noticing it, appreciating it.

They would treat it as a spectacle, as a monumental instant,

The life-celebratory mourning of an untouchable man.

You’d want to be applauded and your memory adorned.

You try to embalm me with your remains so you’ll survive

In one form or another. Can I resist? Am I allowed to keep my own skin?


The one that you created? I looked at you and I wanted to leave.

You presented the world to me, ridiculed it with decontextualised

Half-truths and pain and aggressions and insurmountable memories.

I grew up in your world and then in a secluded one where you did not exist.

You’d draw me in with your hands on my shoulders and beg me to stay there.

You discarded yourself, me within you, me without you, apart, extracted.


I hear you within me when my smile is fake.

I feel you amidst my bones, your anger and frustrations.

Love never gained any substance between us.

The candle stopped burning after I had been born.

Now that you are being deconstructed you beg for my body

To arrive at your shores, to join your endless agony,

To exchange my life with yours, claiming the life back that you gave.


Has there ever been a language between us?

You’d never let me become anything but a child.

And yet you’d violate me with sentences, to grow up.

You wanted me helpless. You needed me to remain small.

The most important words had no backbone in your mouth.

And became ashes in my ear. Hunger in my cold skin, my fingertips.

My whole life I longed for intimacy, life would be about seeking

Things that could never be found. If you couldn’t find them,

You wouldn’t let me either.


I’d cry on your behalf, without knowing why,

I made your mental illness my own and wore

It as a crown without noticing the blood on my temples.

You’d transfer life’s wastelands onto me and bury me amidst your past.

You want your death to be mine, metamorphose into mine.

That’s what I owe you, isn’t it, for everything unlived and wasted

Within you, all the anonymous and meaningless sacrifices that I

Never asked for, I came into being without saying a word.

woman in white scoop neck shirt
Photo by Thuanny Gantuss on

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