The Horror of the Body, by Sam van Zweden

This poem first appeared in Issue Six of Tincture Journal, available for purchase here.

The Horror of the Body

In jars, in boxes, in over-lit cabinets, on tables

the human body gapes at me.

This museum is horror.

My body is horror.

A moulage masquerade—

mermaids are manufactured—all horse-hair and wax,

as if what the body does to itself

is not shocking enough.


We have to pretend.


A woman gives her daughter a brilliant explanation of what an umbilical cord is,

and I miss my mum.

Body parts are shattered, separated, strewn across a room

I can’t imagine the function of all these bits—

I can’t place them in my own body.


A woman’s tumour has grown its own hair.

What is the purpose of that?


My horror body.

This room full of horror bodies

separated and given up.

All the million ways

our bodies will betray us.


Sam van Zweden is a Melbourne-based freelance writer. She blogs at Little Girl With a Big Pen, writes reviews and personal essays, and is also the online editor for Writers Bloc. This year Sam is doing honours at RMIT, writing about food and memory.

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