Untitled (Books for Women)

Julia Polyck-O’Neill




I’ve been reading books for women
Hundreds of books for thousands of women in
the free libraries here 

domestic themes and light comedy. The covers
are mostly turquoise with inviting fonts.

all best sellers. They all involve trauma and
death but somehow make this seem airy and

I take cold baths imagining my ugly tub as a
small swimming pool, and I’m a pale whale
sliding around 

mostly I’m on my phone. I drop it in the water at
least once, but the world has made phones
that withstand this, now 

at first I let all my body hair grow in like I’m a
heroine in a fairy tale, time stopped and the
grooming stopped 

I mean it didn’t matter anymore. 
There was no one to see. We might die. We are
mostly alone 

such a bizarre thing. I’m mourning the end of
my marriage, my mother’s illness, and instead

the world marching on, time stopped,
And life stopped for everyone. Even movies

we collectively rewatch films about pandemics,
first as an ironic gesture, then as a kind of
research, comparing 

fictions to the news. The news seems
to match, and this is oddly reassuring at a time
when everything shocks 

every day I go for two walks. One is longer,
taking me around the whole neighbourhood.
We map cats 

there is a house with four of them, but only
one is friendly, he purrs and rubs up. For a
while he is my only friend 

we think we know all the cats, but posters go
up to advertise that some are missing. Cats
I’ve never seen are missing.




JuliaPolyck-O’Neill is an artist, curator, critic, and writer. She is currently completing an interdisciplinary doctoral dissertation at Brock University, and is starting a SSHRC postdoc at York University’s Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technology in 2021. She has published three poetry chapbooks with above/ground press.


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