(text by Miriam Calleja; photograph by Dylan Willoughby)

They said I should hide my body but make it more accessible, fit it with locks that only stay on the latch, never lock the doors, and never draw the curtains completely. My mum insisted that I should get blackout curtains and only use them when I wanted to, but also that I should always want to … use them to hide, use them to always keep every stranger out. Keep friends out too … Il-ħbieb mill-bieb ‘l barra! I don’t know that I wanted the excesses I signed up for. These double ghosts bring obsessive desires. A tongue (is a tongue) as it licks the corners of my lips. I walk to quieten my mind, but my mind draws sheer curtains, never letting me see the entire body. I hide behind internet searches, grabbing at facts that make me sound interesting, intellectual, and, most essentially, not a slave to my whims. At late-night chats, I find myself with nothing to add. I nod at the right places. I sigh. Go to bed with an unevenness. I hide behind draped clothing. I don’t resurrect unless it’s after a hot shower. At night, my bones are itchy, and my body restless. I hide beneath creased sheets, exposing one leg and then another. I make myself a stylite and rise, crawling up and calling out like a cat in heat, racing and stopping in a dissatisfied sigh. I lament riches, stick my hands into every cake’s icing, look for bread, starve of laziness.

Miriam Calleja is the bilingual author of poetry collections Pomegranate Heart (EDE Books, 2015) and Inside Skin (a two-book series in collaboration with a lith photographer, EDE Books 2016). Her most recent poetry chapbooks are Stranger Intimacy (Stamparija Reljic, 2020) and Come Closer, I Don’t Mind the Silence (BottleCap Press, 2023).

Dylan Willoughby’s photography has recently appeared in On The Sea Wall (10 photograph portfolio), Wrongdoing, Rejection Letters, and Storm Cellar. Dylan has been a fellow at MacDowell and Yaddo.