Hermione: Age 16*

hermione full

The car kicks up
ochre dust
like an angry child,
making bird clouds of red
against the perfect sky.

It’s a city car.
You can tell
by the newness
of the dirt
that freckles its side
like makeup.

The wheels are warm.
You can feel it from here,
the rubber
is expectant
as a horse bit.

The car is smoothly impractical,
gliding along
like an ornate black insect,
a limousine in the desert.

The guardian shifts
her fingers
as she knits,
and I know
what she is thinking.

I grit my fingers
around the cotton of my shirt
and wait.

Until the dust
like icing sugar
or the traces that perfume
leaves in the air.

The black-suited driver
sweeps out,
penguin-like and incongruous
among the wastes of eternity that
surround us.

Then they
come out,
he has the
face of his phone calls,
like stone-carvings.

She is
blue-eyed and balletic,
her eyes
like saucers
full of milky tears.

They are such opposites;
she is pale and white,
her face cold
in the desert heat.

He is large and dark,
sweat runs in rivers
down his brow,
tasting of harshness
and saltwater.

They look out of place,
their clothes, even,
are corporate.

And they do not touch,
they approach
as parallel lines
upon the never-ending
of this ochre world.

He smiles,
a smile
of lacking,
like that of someone
missing a tooth.

She is
like messages saying
“Fragile, this way
like a beacon.

Her hands
are not clammy
as I expected but
like nothingness
is like nothing,
her hands
are the hands of an android.

They both sound happy
and shake hands
with the guardian,
their English accents
harsh in the
ancient air.

He shows me
of their travels
to Egypt,
and there they are,
before the Pyramids,
trapped in a
camera flash.

There are no pictures
of the dead,
or the wounded
in the album.

They do not talk,
they open their mouths,
and babble
as though they had
how to be human.

They have no mention
of the things
that have hollowed
their eyes
into gun barrels

and sucked out their souls.
For they are hollow,
like earthenware vessels,
and without substance
as a mound of dust
on the ochre plains.

For the hollow
are blameless as bells,
and invincible
as a violin.

For the hollow,
have no hearts
with which to pulsate
their cryogenic
additives that,

unlike everything else,

can replace blood.

I imagine them,
at the front
sucking out people’s lives,
the way you suck out venom.
I see their teeth,
curved like scimitars,
biting through stone
like the skulls
of predators.

They are demons
of silicon gel
and liposuction

unreal as day.

Tonight I shall cry
in the car
over these photos
of Egypt,
that cut my hands
like scars.

I shall cry
to prove I am alive.

And then
I shall cry
to prove I am human.

And then
I shall cry
to prove I have eyes.

And then
I shall
get a needle
and prick myself
to prove I have blood
and a heart.

by Sophia Nugent-Siegal ©

*By the time her parents returned, Hermione, daughter of Helen and Menelaus must have been an adult. According to Homer’s Odyssey, she was later married off.