Anna Backman Rogers: Cecilia Turns a Circus Trick

Cecilia turns a circus trick

or, This was written long before I got here
(after images of Ophelia)

I am the one beneath the ice
it is not a question of fathoms, but history
my body – cadavre exquis – a coral field prized open like an old rib cage
a trellis for these
lilac fauna entrails
from inside my rotting chest
entangle my swollen heart.
You could not love the bones of me

…this was written long before I got here

In life I was no Ophelia
no antic air
no dusty delusions
neither pressed petal of posy nor petticoat
but inclement
some said clumsy
and you – you have stolen my death from me.
Experts of ratio and inch decreed, in those final moments, my beauty terrifying

…this was written long before I got here

I was not yet gone
when my body breached the water’s integrity
it was not my life I wanted to escape
I can think of so many better ways to die –
so do not picture me,
for god’s sake,
rising like a foolish angel
water-logged & winged.
My death did not burst with light

…this was written long before I got here

I have been diving down
always since I came out of my mother
pulled back inexorably by that which no bystander
truly cares to understand
so if obscurity still is to be my only inheritance
– and you always insist it must be so –
you will find me stillborn in betwixt and between
my gentle ectoplasm is
the most unexpected of roars

…you will never take my existence from me


Anna Backman Rogers is a senior lecturer in feminism and visual culture at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. In her spare time she writes creatively. She is also co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of MAI: a journal of feminism and visual culture.

Note: The still is taken from Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999).

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