Recognition | a Collection by Annie Brown

unravelling: Girl in Tift // Iphis Holds Her Hair // Pushed to One Side // Beasts of Contract reversal: Iphis

recognition: Cotton Tongue, I // Cotton Tongue, II // Mephistopheles // The Early Twenties

Permanence Anxiety // Guesswork // That’s My Boy // Recognition


Work by @_gaby_rc

i. unravelling

I think I am the only one

But then I hear you speak.

I thought I was alone

But then I read.

Take me by the hand

And pull me to my feet

I’m weeping

I’m exhausted

But still me.

Now the girl in tift

Measures the hollows of your hips

And the flat of your chest,

You’re a mystery like this

This a puzzle-sprawl

This a funnel


reddish and split.

I steal from Ali Smith,

Ali Smith steals from Ovid.

And the girl in tift

Moves in whirs and clicks

And steals as she spits.

My feeling is mutation,

Which expands

and shifts

The pronouns breaking even

Just for now

the breaths I’m stealing

In the hollow of my hand.

Take me up with your eyes

You don’t have to understand

But you might recognise

These things I describe.

Come come, expand.

Now every heartbreak, rejection

(if you can call it this)

Now every story that you hear

that reflects some piece of you

some bit

All these bring you closer

Closer to the girl in tift.

You think you are the only one

But then you hear us speak.

You think you are alone

But then you read.


She wishes she’d said

She wished they’d had sex

She’s running up hills,

She’s out of breath.

The shrike beats the thrush,

The Maybelline blush.

Two days in a tracksuit.

She’s sick in her blood.

She’s violently wrong,

She misses her mum.

The time of her life?

Her time of the month.

And I

Find it hard

To try


He didn’t call,

She just decides,

Like penny in drain,

This maelstrom night.

And she’s getting drunk,

Won’t meet with his gaze.

This room is so cold,

Everything’s grey

And everything’s lame,

When he’s come halfway

And it’s just the wrong day

And she just looks a state.

And I find

It hard

To try


The circuit repeats:

She’s knocked off her feet.

Mama say no

Mama say please.

She’s shaving her legs,

Nags and frustrates.

It comes out in patches;

She’s going insane.

No time, she can't eat.

No time, she can't sleep.

Is it just her?

Does everyone cheat?

She’s sick in the sink,

I’m holding her hair.

I don’t even flinch.

Lord knows I’ve been there.

But I still

Find it hard

To try


But I’ve survived.

I’ve survived.

I survived

by pushing a thought to one side,

I kept my habits in check, to keep me alive,

Tried to find a piece of balance and figure things out

But we are not free in what we need.

So here I am pushing words from apologetic mouth.

Everything is fractured, but then you zoom out.

Wasn’t enough to be told, you had to know for sure

Sometimes to get better you have to hit the floor.

Yes, I rocked the boat. I did, I made waves.

Broke the pattern to speak a Brother’s Complaint.

And I was brave, said what I needed to say.

Are you anything like me? Do you feel the same?

The cancer’s in the gutter drive

It will eat you alive

It will eat you alive

It will eat you alive

It will eat you alive.

It is pushed to one side,

My head thrown back, a smile splits and cracks,

Love all you want. But they may not love you back.

Lips pursed. Beautiful wreckage renewed;

When I grow up, I'll be just like you.

Now I just want to move, I want to feel numb.

To hang up your face, to frame it with my thumbs.

But say you say something, try to straighten things out,

You hold worth in your words. Kindness in your mouth.

I can’t explain it but

I feel.

I feel something great

Growing from my palms,

Appearing in my heart.

I, I feel.

I feel something great

Growing out from my palms,

Appearing in my heart.


Come you, brave beasts of contract,

To take back what you’re owed.

It takes courage to debt-collect

From orphans on the road

And on the run.

They hold their praise-palms high.

We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.

The day is dead,

The night mourns her,

I bow my head amongst the fauna,

But they are beasts of contract,

They’re not obliged to love you back.

The Fool is blessed because she learns

how little that she knows.

In the shadows of her temperance

Grace, translucent, loves and glows.

So she sees through you, your face,

Washes away the grime,


“We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.”

The day is sympathetic.

Night understands, but mourns her.

You watch,

I nod my head amongst the fauna.

We are such beasts of contract.

We’re not obliged to love you back.

I’m lonely, and I miss you, babe,

The train slips from the station

Like pennies slip from giving hands.

You’re rain-sodden.

I’m patient,

You’re drained, sudden.

It’s fine;

I think

We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.

The day, she waves goodbye,

And the nocturne mourns her.

My face against the train window

I see you, nodding fauna,

I see a beast of contract

Who's not obliged to love me back.

‘No’ is so mighty-beautiful,

Firework of a word.

It made a camel out of Gravity,

And a carpet out of Hurt.

But ‘no’ is honest, too, it’s dazzling.

It shines.

We should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.

The day is half undressed

And night half full of rapture her.

Instead, she sleeps and brackets me,

Here, amongst the fauna.

Although we are beasts of contract,

We cannot decide to love you back.

Of late I’ve been unfeeling,

Itself a feeling, overwhelms.

Humbles in its movement,

And in approval, shifts and swells.

And it dopes me and it numbs me,

Until I’m weary, crying.

I still believe we should be kind to each other.

While we still have time.

The day is gone.

The night, graceful, has mourned her,

Has cast her web of stars on me,

And all of midnight’s fauna.

Leaves at dawn,

Fiver folded in her palm

Moves like she’s a beast of contract,

She's like an echo coming back.

You don’t need to be an expert

To see that there are breeds of Love,

And faces worn like shifting masks,

Each face is good enough.

So don’t mourn yet, Niobe,

Because one face fell out of sight.

We should be kind to each other.

Because we still have time.

The day is only partial-dead,

The night unjustly mourns her.

And standing mercy-washed

Amidst the freakish fauna

I am so grateful, beast of contract,

That you’re trying to love me back.

ii. reversal

New warnings,

bad fortune,

bad press would have glutted Crete.

But then the transition of Iphis saw better tidings for us,

and miracles we could believe in even now. Imagine Phaestus.

We’re near Cnossos.

There’s a man called Ligdus,

a man just like you and me,

a delicate man, not famous, not rich.

In life he was guiltless.

In everything he was guiltless.

He had this wife,

Let’s call her Telethusa.

Got pregnant

she got warned. It went,

“I want two things, I never asked for much (I think).

I want you to birth a man,

and lightness for your suffering.

Another daughter is a task, I can’t protect her.

If that baby is a girl I will reject her.”

That’s what her husband said.

He cried buckets and flooded his face.

She was commanded and she wept;

he did the commanding and it was hard for him too.

But still Telethusa tried to win her husband, not to give in to his fears.

Ligdus decided he was right, and so had closed his ears.

And now she was struggling to hold this troublesome kid inside of her.

Nocturne, the witching hour.

Some rivermoon creature spoons her beneath her dreams.

Or stands or so it seems.

A proxy of familiars after her in streams.

Child of a little silver slipper of a moon,

she was wet-eared and hot-gold-headed, dressed like royalty.

With her was that man who coaxes and persuades,

a finger down his throat.

And with her Anubis, the soldier.

And with her Bubastis, the divine.

And with her Osiris, the cravenchild.

And with her Apis, the queer.

And look! Here was the travelling snake,

carrying sleep on her fangs as she was.