My brain was full of hair that you wanted to brush, style like a dolly. Good dolly. You worked your way up to stroking it, as if I were fleshy, jellyfish tendrils, that I might sting you if I wasn’t ready. You gathered the threads of my head into a bed of worms and redefined words, dropped a step on mother, turned mother over like a tarot card stripping my future. You mixed yourself with lines of prayer, the power and the glory, taught me how to kneel in a cold bathroom and pledge Amen. You wove a wicker basket from the canes that you staked in my mind, put in love, drove along my roads and canals to the happy place you’d built us by a river, where you’d take out love and lay it on a sheet in a jam tart for a treat. You washed me in the Nile, your fingers in my scalp working out knots, until the brown of my mane unlocked and bled into water, and my hair dissolved into ripples from your hands and there wasn’t a droplet they didn’t touch. And then I was snakes.



Holly Conant is a mature student currently studying at the University of Leeds. Her poems have been published since January 2021 by Ink, Sweat & Tears, Anti-Heroin Chic, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, Dreich and more, as well as appearing in anthologies.