Kittie Belltree is a Specialist Tutor for neurodivergent students at Aberystwyth University. She received a Literature Wales bursary for her debut collection, Sliced Tongue and Pearl Cufflinks. Her short stories and poems have appeared in Cut on the Bias, Heartland, The Brown Envelope Book and Cast a Long Shadow. Kittie was recently selected for the Representing Wales Writer Development Programme, supporting writers from low income backgrounds. She's hard at work on a novel, and writing her second poetry collection.
The Magician’s Daughter
In the fairy stories, the daughters love their fathers
because they are mighty princes, great rulers,
and because such absolute power seduces.
~ Carolyn Steedman ~
Landscape for a Good Woman
He draws a silk scarf from a secret pocket in his trousers – snakes
it around wrists, splits in two, twists it taut, like her vocal cords,
places it over her eggshell eyelids, then offers his hand – white-gloved
bowing low, he lets loose the stolen jewels lining his jacket.
She accepts – blindly – curtseying into the citrine shaft
of spotlight that slices the stage in half, then footsteps
into the dead-flat chest, arranges herself – doll-like – inside
before he lays the wooden lid to rest.
Until now he has kept her for himself, fed on a diet of sliced
tongue and pearl cufflinks. The ritual begins before the stage
door, before the audience, the dressing room – where he inserts
the knife into her velvet and feathers, plucks
her hair into tucks and tresses, places a glass
slipper on her pillow. Thus, he enters without breaking
and she slips seamlessly into the space conjured by his third wife
who broke all his spells while he snored by the stove
after Saturday matinée, stole the key to his best hat box
for her whale-bone combs and peacock frocks
and vanished with a ventriloquist from Vladivostok.
He feels the thickness of the blade like honey inside her
and the strength of his heaving old magic. Why, his wand
can cut her in two – separate her bones from her meat
like halving a peach. She is ripe, now, for his next trick –
Now he has her undone, he will make her disappear. Now –
Dirty rat. You’re a fat duck
in the House of Lords, fiddling expenses,
pinching, farting. You insinuate intemperance,
an excess of back-bedrooms, a debauched
dissipation in disability benefits, washed down
by a superfluity of free school dinners and social care.
You point parsimonious fingers into porky pies.
You lie with the fishes, the figures.
You’re a tight-fisted wrecking ball, punch
drunk on stuffing filthy wads into greasy palms
and off-shore pension pots. You’re out to lunch,
insatiable, voraciously force-feeding families
into food banks, mincemeat, rent arrears, debt.
You’re a champagne Charlie Chancellor
of The Exchequer who neglects to check. You’re specks
of white powder smirching naughty nostrils.
You’re a glut of gluttony gutting kitchen cupboards, a
rip-roaring rusty tin opener doing dentistry
on the NHS; an overweight authority
on obsessive abscission-making; on cutting
things cuttingly; thinking yeah, what the fuck.
In 1945, August DeMont drove to the Golden Gate Bridge with
his five-year-old daughter, Marilyn; told her to climb over the
rail and jump. She did so without hesitation. Seconds later,
he dived 'gracefully' after her. A note left in the car stated:
'I and my daughter have committed suicide.'
For that was the fact of the matter.
The fact of the matter in a sentence.
A punishment. The blunt force
of its grammar. Pragmatic
punctuation precise enough to slice
through time like a seam.
That night, the rain fell in short, pattering
clusters. Your clothes moaned in the closet.
A dog slipped out into the dark.
The quiet fact of the matter.
Seven words for sadness.
Words like stones.
She never spoke. Someone said
the car seat was still warm when
they found the note.
The matter-of-fact fumbling
at the rubble of my heart.
A cigarette butt tossed into space.
How to smother a black
hole revoke the last
of doors annul
the unspoken bond
deeper than any drop
leaving me done
with life. A sentence followed by
a full stop.
The Magician’s Daughter: The Lampeter Review (No. 11)
Austerity: The Morning Star (May 21st 2020)
Bond: Poetry Wales (Vol. 54, No. 1)