Collection by Walburga Appleseed
(first published in The Airgonaut, 2016)
She was a large woman with bright grey hair. Her body sprouted malignous shapes and she collected them; put them on the mantelpiece in her living room:
The cancer extracted from her womb was the shape of a larger Pacific striped octopus and just as rare.
The pert left breast she had removed twenty years ago - it wasn’t cancer, but she wanted to preserve a youthful part of herself.
A glossy tumour, attached to a bit of her intestine. She arranged it to snail around the breast, and its end dangled dangerously close to the gas fire.
When the woman’s daughter committed her heart to a sailor, and left home, the woman grew a lump in her throat. Of all her growths, it was the smallest, most delicate one. It resembled a second soul, and every now and then, she’d hold it between her palms and feel its weightlessness pulse through the tips of her fingers.
Not knowing what else to do with her spare time now her daughter was gone, she pulled out the golden stitches in her belly from the Caesaren section and draped them over everything, like you’d hang lametta on a Christmas tree; to remind herself that life was long and full of growth and that she still had some stitching together to do before she died.