Sinead Overbye on Virginia Kennard: the girl & the girl & the ghost

The cross-pollination series continues in 2018, with a number of creative and written responses to festival performances.  Sinead Overbye holds an MA in Creative Writing from the IIML. Her work blurs the boundaries between reality and magic in order to reflect queer experience. This poem was written in response to the performance art work of Virginia Kennard.


the girl & the girl & the ghost

the room is empty
except for you & me
& the ghost of myself
muttering in the corner—

she’s very vocal
about her feelings
i cough            & pretend i can’t
hear her saying         please, get me out
of my head,       i’m so afraid
i’ve always been           lonely

you stay politely silent
painting patterns                  of your love
onto my spine           across the wide expanse
of shoulder     & repeat

the ghost says           don’t
                        don’t
           don’t
she’s far too good                 for me

i try to ignore her—
you’re painting me              a new skin
& it’s fucking beautiful

outside the widened window
birds flit along white roofs
trees caress one another        & whisper
back & forth
as you                          with your paintbrush
& your loveliness                     stay soundless
marking me                           for hours………..

i wonder what it means
to wear your love                    on my body like this
if the paint will           even last
or         if instead         it’ll           split open
scatter              the carpet                    with tiny flakes
& disappear    into the fibres…

when you’ve patterned me                all over
& i’m     shaking             i finally tell you
i’m not a ghost               & the ghost isn’t me
she just follows me around sometimes
& makes people                  uncomfortable

you say            don’t worry
            there’s no ghost in this room
there’s only       you & i

you kiss me once                  before i leave
& i go home      without showering
walk downhill               through winding streets
with clouds the soft colour of pigeons
& the sun beaming through
cracks form               like webs              in the paint

the city’s cats            stalk me home
& the birds        & the wind…           i stop
to take in                         the view                 they ask
what’s made me                        happy
i hold out my arms
smile                 & sing
look!                 look        at this!
these are the marks
she has left me

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