Still Life

by Nia Morais

I used to sit in the room above Blue Banana

looking out over Fore Street, as the lady clamped

my earlobes, came close with the needle, asking me to

exhale. I used to hurry home as the blood welled in my new piercings.

In the mirror above the sink, I used to waver:

a match at the moment of flame.



I used to want a sun inked on my left thigh, a moon on my right.

A mermaid would play at my hip, while flowers cascaded to my fingertips,

bees buzzing in the ditch of my elbow.

I wanted to be opened like a book of fairytales,

to be pored over, every dog-eared page considered,

my chapters marked with ribbon, my split spine softly laid

to rest.

I cut off my hair on a dark evening in February

and that was the beginning of the fragmentation, really.



My life came back, slowly,

my bed made, my burnt pots left to soak.

But my head can be a number station of hurt

and I am still tempted by ink:

to carry a current of colour,

a lighthouse that calls I am here,

a map I carry with me forever.

I think I’m now a many-faced thing: a fish mating in a shoal,

or else a snake eating its own tail.

A howling wind. A still-life in oils. A tardigrade.

And wouldn’t that be nice? Forever?



Nia Morais is a writer and playwright from Cardiff. She is interested in short story, audio drama, fantasy and horror genres. Nia is a Welsh-Cape Verdean writer who recently graduated with a Master’s in Creative Writing from Cardiff University. In autumn of 2020 she released her first audio drama, Crafangau, with Sherman Theatre, which was re-written as a live show for the Summer of Smiles Festival this summer. Her work usually focuses on themes of identity and survival.