She was dead: to begin with.

666 words

Linda Stupart

Sophie Hoyle and Swan Meat (Reba Fay), Chronica, 2018. Commissioned for Jerwood Staging Series 2018, supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Image: Hydar Dewachi
This page was made some time ago and may contain information which is now out of date

The cheap banality of white light at the end of a tunnel shining on paper skin fencing in a body beneath this body under institution green. We (split in two by death and then in two again) haunt your phalluses and plains and corridors: We cannot smell disinfectant without reappearing at the site of multiplication and/or substitution: skin cut out of skin stitched onto wound traversing limbs and so-much-blood pooling across architectures of time. The surgeon opens up the heart and identifies the defect. If it is large, he cuts a piece of the pericardium (the sac that surrounds the heart) in the size and shape of the defect, and uses this tissue as a patch.


In economics, fungibility is the property of a good or a commodity whose individual units are essentially interchangeable.


And then again, she died.


Eyes closed against the prick/the point of contact and extraction of ancestral trauma curdling in blue streaks just below the windowsill/the hymen or the brink: The evidence is exhausting. A fable is that as a child the nurse had tried and tried again to find a vein and couldn’t – cried. The child says ‘are you alright’ and pats the nurse on head, but nurse is taken out back all the same. The child is murdered anyway – pricked with the froth of frog skin[1] extracted with another needle passed inside mouth and exiting back leg. Mummy frog suckles squirming tadpoles with eggs of the unborn, to gift them with their anaesthetic toxic veil.


(Pick the skin off of the top of warm and night time milk and swallow it whole,

You might as well.)



The trade is the return –





A membrane stretches across bodies and slick horses hair tied back in plaits you’ve pulled too tight and to wake up saying ‘I/can’t feel (my) legs’ and it’s the mirror stage all over again and what you mean is those legs I see are both mine and not-mine because I cannot feel them/ this blood is both me and not-me and you and yours.


Now addressing the reader directly. Says, “Your mouth is full of spit.” Concentrate: this is real life; your mouth is full of spit. Now find a glass or coffee cup and spit it out. You with me? Readermouth/ Glass/Spit. Good. Ok, now drink that spit right out the glass. You see! You might as well. As they lay unspeaking and retracted from the world an unnamed or rather unremembered woman brought a box of Red Mouth Sherbet for a gift  – as a child they loved to see their sugary lips and spit turn to red froth in glass or teeth on frog skin.


Did you know that when a heart or blood or tumour is removed from your body then it’s no longer yours, according to the law? So our hearts-blood-data riots when we fuck or eat or crawl across the dermis of your room with limbs we had forgotten glitching towards yours…


Undead and in stitches, we’ll giggle while they burn: the hospitals and the asylums and the photographers and online counsellors and chores – our slicked back together tendril dermis weaving its way back into pores, now stuffed with sprigs of hair-made-grass and grass made hair again. The End!


A monster always kills their maker, and in a final act of refusal, steals his name.


*This text has been written in response to Sophie Hoyle, Chronica, which was commissioned as part of Jerwood Staging Series 2018, drawing off the author’s own memories of hospitals, and reflections on data, bodies, the medical industrial complex and trauma.



On the skin of frogs: To be considered poisonous, an animal must be toxic to eat or to lick. For instance, venomous snakes are not poisonous. They are only dangerous if they bite you, injecting their venom into your bloodstream. The golden poison frog has no such limitations. It keeps its poison in glands beneath its skin, and secretes a froth when under stress – fatal to any licker or biter.