The spells we manufacture inside us are dismal. Sydelle throws oyster after oyster down her throat, casting a spell to turn her pussy gold, chanting over in her mind for all the men to smell her as an overripe peach and come to claim her. She thinks we don’t see this, or else she doesn’t think of us at all.
Grace is here, mewing on Sydelle’s arm in scraps of spandex and jeans, plastic glasses like neon window-shades, and lip gloss, and filming us as she drinks.
Luciana orders another and the light quivers blue-green into the horse-mane hair of these girls. She told me how Sydelle punched her as hard as she could in the face while she lay sleeping. How she bled like a fountain.
This is invincible.
The covetous hive, the hive bathed in black soap.
Three little queens in three little cells. Three little hedons, self-stripped, opening their legs in each corner of the room, in the dankness of stark 5am under a pitched roof. Six little legs, three little wet mouths, and more fingers, more fingers than there should be in the dark.
We are the velvet women. If you are looking for witches, we are the witches, storing sperm in jars under our beds, sending out our army of velvet girls.
Luciana and I pour ourselves baths of ambrosia in our desire and sickness, or our desire of sickness. We grow and our sex grows, that is the point. Making us eternal, insulate, able to inseminate even ourselves, to poison and lick our many fingers. For this, Sydelle wants to ribbon our bodies bloody.
Man after man after man brings the queen of drones and, in her fetish of herself in them, the hive’s destruction. Engulfed in this swarm of men is left only a fall of bright hair.
A fetish of men, and the hive’s velvet girls
praised and cut low,
praised and cut low.
Brings the two queens, man after man, how Sydelle’s teeth grow like stakes.
The velvet girls are not velvet. They are dressed in the vomit of their hivemaster. Washing her porcelain face with a cloth, learning her how she fears to be learned, leaving her naked eyelashes the color of wheat and her long, bleeding nose to snort up the constellations.
It should’ve been time to sleep, but we were up screaming, or we were up cleaning someone off, or fucking half-heartedly because we only wanted to fuck the idea of fucking each other. These are the girls dressed in velvet, but they are not velvet girls. Are we, Luciana? Are we the girls dressed in velvet? Luciana, what have we become in the land of destruction.
Sydelle took down her slip, smoothed her tits out over the come-apart duvet. A man named Gael and me in her bed, in her bed of filth, slop yellow, dead skin, and wax, and bodies sewn in.
And the rain. It fell a summer thing. That night, Gael slept near me not Sydele. He was all tuxedo jacket, cheap fabric and red pocket square. He spoke of and with absolute disarray, the abandon of language, a fuck and a cunt, and that handsome Mediterranean dirge. He was dark and aureate; with him you could throw yourself out of the window, see how far you could fly. I shouldn’t tell this story. He is my collateral of it all; and I am the collateral of it. Meaning the hive wedged itself between the thing of us. I could have been his lover, but. A sadness that the hive could not snuff.
He went to touch my breast but I said I would prefer he do that in character.
That I was such bravado. That I had gone and gone and gone by midnight somewhere. Where. That I deteriorated and was reborn. That I would take off my face and be sullen. That I could lie. That soon I would not have any love or desire left. A shell is my sadness. It is xenolith, protruding so, but I cannot extract it.
We are petting our ways around corners in the dark, sticking a leg out to trip a spirit, and then coming up short, because there is no spirit. We want one there, but sometimes there isn’t one there. So we invent. But the hive did not invent invention. I want my body back.
We strive to not be versions or the dead. Always expecting lace but coming up cotton. The lack is hungry.
We are sitting, satin shorts twisted up in the centers of us, summertime sweat, folds of skin lapping, drinking in the moon. I am drinking hard liquor tonight, this black blinding night. Alraune and I are splayed out over grass, in folding chairs, in wooden chairs. A wading pool with the bobbing bottle of cava, foam pouring over the edges. Blades of grass stuck on our elbows, a hose of water trickling around a statue in the dirt. Do you understand? We’re almost fucking but we’re not. We’re all tongue. We’re all tongue down the glass, mouth open and taking. No, we’re not. We’re wasted on memory tonight. We’re fucking memories.
I don’t come easily to the night, but when I do, I am the night. Alraune is too, and she and I command it, the high priestesses of one another and our revenge kill. We feel we have been used. We will slaughter happily that language of the past, days before we became sheep, sheepish, sewn into patterned. We feel we are made dark. That’s Sydelle and Levee we’re fucking with the slick oily dark dick of goodbye, and the wicked wheel turning inside of us, away, toward the somewhere that isn’t here. Do you taste that? That’s the salt of us turning away.
Lisa Marie Basile is the founding editor-in- chief of Luna Luna Magazine. She is the author of Apocryphal (Noctuary Press, 2014) and the chapbooks Andalucia and War/lock. She was a finalist for the 2017 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize, and her work can be found in PANK, Sporklet, Best American Poetry, PEN American Center, The Atlas Review, Berfrois, The Rumpus, and the Ampersand Review, among others. She has taught or spoken at Columbia University, New York University and Emerson College. She holds an MFA from The New School.
Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein is the author of Quiet, winner of the The New School University Press contest. She was a semi-finalist for the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize and a finalist for the 2017 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize; and her work can be found in Sporklet, Prick of the Spindle, Front Porch, and others. She is currently collaborating on a new album with composer Fraser Campbell, and her libretto will be featured in the premiere of composer Jonathan Dawe’s fractal operatic retelling of Tamburlaine. She is the founding editor of Sound, a literary magazine on contemporary musico-poetics. She received her MFA in poetry from The New School, and her BS in classical vocal performance and literature from Mannes Conservatory.
Note: Luciana’s monologue “we are sitting, satin shorts twisted up in the centers of us” originally appeared in the Atlas Review.