choke | Lindz McLeod
Updated: Jul 1
When I was six weeks old, I was ‘cranky’. A doctor examined me, flushing, he told my mother that I was submerged, my infant lungs brimming with amniotic fluid. I hadn’t been flushed out properly. A scene permanently set. A life spent politely dying.
even when you were born, you didn’t cry,
though the birth was hard and
you inched out the wrong way up; face
towards the stars, legs ready to vault.
As an adult, I have a recurring nightmare; I’m looking for a bathroom. I spend the majority of the dream searching and searching. Fruitless, no pulp. And towards the end – it feels like years, as I trudge through corridors I never recognise – I find one. It’s rarely my own bathroom. Usually, it’s a brand new room every time. I stop drinking after 8pm, thinking that the culprit might be a full bladder, but this makes no difference; I blink into existence again and again, only half a heart lost. I kneel on the white-tiled floor (hotel-clean, at least three stars) and then I
The sound of the sea lapping over my
mouth full of a sticky residue,
off-cream to match the grouting; no matter how much of it I
claw out, endless handfuls of stringed gluey dentist putty.
It grows faster than I can dig it out.
Fingers reaching, prompting retching.
Fist inside my gullet.
I capsize the evidence of my fathoms.
I dreamed this every time a relationship is in decline, the body snoring easy beside me
plastering my airways, papering over the face. A little on-the-nose, that symbolism, but the body prefers blunt honesty. My truths have always forced me underwater – my sexuality, my gender, my dreams. I spoke myself as a child; I learned that I was meant to hold my tongue. Words, uncaged, feel like candid breath on the body, true life in the lungs. A truth can duck you for a witch, the signs of the times writ small and safe upon my forearm.
Miles to go, before I sleep. I have no one else to be. I refuse.
I never asked whether I showed any signs
of it, these dormant strangulations.
No words were offered, no curious insight.
I keep all my drownings to myself.
Lindz McLeod's short stories have been published by the Scotsman newspaper, the Scottish Book Trust, the Dundee Victoria & Albert Museum, and more. Her poetry has been published by Allegory Ridge, Impossible Archetype, and more. Lindz is the competition secretary of the Edinburgh Writer’s Club and holds a Masters in Creative Writing. Her writing can be found at www.lindzmcleod.co.uk