Published 30 May 202225 July 2022 · Poetry / Friday Features / Friday Poetry Poetry | Pretty sick Madison Godfrey Been watching women in romantic comedies toss tiny handbags over their shoulders, laugh without smudging their gloss. They suck lollipops noiselessly, as if silence is true seduction. Sometimes, disclosing my illness feels like coming out (again). I look too young to be this tenderised. My birthmark not yet faded. My freckles unironic. I believe that a body in pain is a body in the opposite of freefall. In the film Second Act, the protagonist pretends herself someone else. Not to acquire attention, but to be successful in ways that can be recognised by strangers in train carriages. Last week I answered a work call while wearing a surgical gown, my underwear bloodying a plastic bag. Mimicking filmic femininity, I recited a dialogue of betterment; poured wellness down the plastic pores of the phoneline, as if my womb would simply un-scar itself. On dance floors where nobody knows, it is easier to convince myself that my hip clicks like a metronome, not a clock. This chronic body is a betrayal I am trying to warm towards, an apartment with damp walls that I stay homesick for. When I fall in a ballgown does it soften the impact or just soften the sound? A student exclaims, you look like a main character today when I enter the room, red lipsticked. A louder mouth collaged over my own. Despite fake pockets, aesthetic signifiers of fertility still receive more speaking roles. If I were a romantic lead, my pain would be a plot point: deserving of dialogue, yet damsel defining. I don’t long for arched redemption. Let sick stay ordinary. An inconvenience carried in my cutest clutch. Something tactile that can be folded into squares, like my grandfather’s handkerchief. If my body falls from a roof tomorrow it will still be a body in pain, only falling. When I confess the chronic of my illness, new lovers reply to a wounded animal. The signature scent that makes me feel sexiest contains musk, an ingredient derived from hunted deer. Each time I prioritise desire, there are consequences. An evening spent swaying makes my joints protest the morning / I sip pale ale and each vertebra flinches / I make love and make pain, simultaneously. I perch on the priority seat of public transport, wearing stares. They say, a priority body couldn’t possibly paint itself pretty. To be believed, we must be so sick that mirrors forget to include us. Otherwise, we are merely actors playing faulty protagonists, who forgot to get better before the film’s final kiss. Overland’s Friday Features project is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. Madison Godfrey Madison ‘Maddie' Godfrey is a writer, educator, and emotional feminist. They have performed poetry at The Sydney Opera House, St Paul’s Cathedral and Glastonbury Festival. Maddie is a previous recipient of The Kat Muscat Fellowship, the Varuna Poetry Flagship Fellowship and a WA Youth Award for their ‘Creative Contributions’ to the state. Currently Maddie is completing their PhD and living on Whadjuk Noongar land with a rescue cat named Sylvia. www.maddiegodfrey.com More by Madison Godfrey › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 24 November 202324 November 2023 · Friday Poetry Poem with vertical viewfinder Shari Kocher If in future an image of mine— of course, I have made the if-ness of your looking a multiple Ferris wheel turned to trolley car trundling down the street. Damn, I will show you something all right here, inside the daily or what you call private. First published in Overland Issue 228 3 November 20233 November 2023 · Poetry our neighbours poem Ender Başkan our neighbours face appears above the fence – hello. our neighbours have a chat with us. our neighbours learn our names. our neighbours become our friends. our neighbours landlord thinks the market is ripe. our neighbours are told to leave. our neighbours try to buy their house at an exorbitant price to keep their kids in the school zone. our neighbours are denied.