Our pound of flesh

Anwen Kya
3 min readMar 12, 2021


(Alternative title: first draft of a poem I wrote on my lunch break about the feeling of seeing women disappear, and the fear that you know exactly how the story ends, because one day it might just be your story too, because in so many ways it already is, and it always was, and no matter how many times we tell it, it always ends the same way.)

We are human remains.
Here, watch us rend our own flesh
and show you the empty houses we’ve built
from our bones,
all the men who have forced their
way inside and beaten down
the walls with
their bare fists. Here is
where the life was; here
is where we become derelict,
where our bodies crumble
and rubble remains.

Here, listen to us tear ourselves apart
hear the snarebeat of snapping bone
the strings of splitting skin and
the creaking of our spines like shipwrecks as they
strain under so much weight. Here,
we come to you, ragged and bleeding,
saying this is where it hurts,
this is where I am always hurt,
this is where I was, who
I became, after

over and over again like echosong,
the refrain of our trauma,
our pain,
of how it remains.

(and how fitting that echo comes from
the myth of a woman
doomed to repeat the last words of others,
who wasted away at the altar
of a man who could not see
past his own reflection;
how fitting that the gods
made something beautiful of him
after all. That he became flowers
and she became nothing
at all.)

Here, we have opened our bodies
like wounds, raw and bleeding, and
shown you what lies at the core of us,
this hateful, beating thing,
half-beaten, unbroken. Can you
hear it? The last sound our bodies
make, that voiceless stutter and then
silence: nothing else

But if you really want to know:

Here, we are eight years old and
playing in a cornfield, feeling the
long grass scrape along our shins,
not quite enough to draw blood
or bruise, until we do. Here, we
are five years old and we hold
the wrong hand, and soon there will be
nothing left of us but red ribbons decaying
in faraway towns. Here, we
are fifty-five and in bed with
the man we’ve loved for thirty
years, and in three hours’
time we will be dead-weight,
never found, and it will not be
murder; what man hasn’t lost
his temper? We should have known better
than to speak our mind to the man
who knew it best. Here, we are nineteen
and the first kind touch we ever knew
was the pair of hands that wrung
the life from us. We are daughters,
mothers, sisters, always belonging
to others. We only die alone. And here,
we are thirty three and walking in the footsteps
of a thousand men,
and full of life until we’re not,
and we are human remains
fifty miles from home.

Here, we’ve told you the truth
the meat of it, the marrow.
Here, our pound of flesh. It’s
all we have; our flesh has never been
anything but currency. And at
the end of it all, what
are we? Human remains,
our bones and our names
and our stories told
again and

again and