Dorothy Lehane: Bettbehandlung [Bedrest]

  Dorothy Lehane


  JPR 07

chaperone her | toujours toujours toujours | is this how she made babies | learning & singing & sewing | do you not want it | may she not be like this | this has happened before | there you go | escaping & raising the stakes | the final rift | living museums | you consent | will cast demons out | will not further suffer | every catholic girl knows early on | the suffering she would later endure | every catholic girl knows to genuflect until she has handmaid’s knee | and it is not nothing, the desire of the hysteric | c’est toujours la chose genital | toujours toujours toujours | to enter into | anchor this womb | plunge a closed fist into the area of ovarian pain | such sites | unsated spaces

a belt-like ovarian compressor | for the fist of the physician | strapped on | show-man Charcot | she is hypnotized | she belongs to us | to indulge him | deviant to deviant | ventriloquised over | dubbed by male pen | etching words | body pad | the body message | ‘girls’ | ‘girls’ as mediums | ‘girls’ and their genitals | toujours | the genital thing | sneezing puts the uterus in place | in its true place | the markings from grabbing a barbed wire fence | every good catholic girl escapes her restraints | leaps out of a window | everyone has the right to be stupid & clotted | I am bound to the woman suffering | bound by an overcurious | JUSSIVE JUSSIVE BABE conundrum | who’s got the body

remember our ballet classes | you were slightly more graceful | you were very withdrawn | you were very religious | a real ballerina | labelled ‘girl’ & ‘taken girl’ | finishing life | for your own good | in the lithograph | unconscious ‘girl’ hysterics | labelled ‘girl’ | ‘knotted girl’ | invited to imitate | our dead baby sister | in the ground | but also in the faces | of interns | the camera likes her | stirs her | contorts her | outmatching each other with poses | ‘girls’ out-perform | and as a child always performing | always drawing an assembly to convince | the performative ‘I do’ is a means to the end of marriage | hereby sick | hereby performative

what kind of ordeal | say something while mama slides the needle all the way in | incarcerate as in cancel | your deadlock in your hate screams | your fragile body is difficult | your fragile body is difficult to uphold | showing your fragile body is difficult to uphold | my shift in the upholding of the fragility of your body is difficult | what is the nostrum to expiry | the sick living body is the anticipation of the corpse it will become | you escape your restraints | leap out of a window | they pin you down for your injections | the whole ethical field is in revolt | & isn’t this performative | identity in each quotidian space | in thrall to the real | refusal to submit | to be injected is performative

high & holy is performative | they have said nothing except being alive is a gift | nothing stops you pushing forward except for the man in your life | my inflammation in the still bright morning | I have quickly grown accustomed to the way she sinks into my spaces | makes my name in the still bright morning | makes her name my name | what happened, happened | the human face is a multiple sexual organ | faces performing the vulgarity of diseases | the vulgarity of diseases cathexed & half mast | atoning for the wayward | for itself and against itself | the living ego is autoimmune | I have never been intrigued by the betrayal | in the living present I am stimulated to rethink all this

& this is what I am doing with my time | this & the blue grotto | by the ear of Dionysus | this & the problem with creation-fall-redemption | creation-revolt-fall | not the pilgrimage not the lullaby | not the yearning for sparseness | the absolute shape of defeat | you were restless over the dead baby | kept writing on the dead baby pictures | improper viewing & improper glazing | stop the carnival | stop eating the body of Christ | she is looked at from all sides | guillotine love | guillotine performance | toujours toujours toujours | you see how the hysterics cry | you could say this is much noise about nothing | go out & feel better | be put to bed | no-one needs a chaperone

tidy your spaces away | tidy up our dead baby | tidy up my dead sister | look how we baptised our dead baby by the outdoor tap | look how we attend to her | look now how they come in the night for vaginal swabs | you come in the night with house wife psychosis | will you be my chaperone | for all your urges | you have been sculpted | remember our song | merit to bear | alleluia & common love | hallelujah babe | we need a rest from the antiphons of our childhood | you are thinking so fast of hollow things | to whom may it concern | heavenly things | have we reinforced our roles | can we keep this quiet | can we reuse the dead baby’s name for our own children | do not be unchaperoned

can we keep reproducing | bring that baby back from the dead | can we stop seeing her choke | stop seeing her in the coffin | can we stop throwing petals at her | toujours | these shapes we were drawn as | toujours | we did not argue with them | toujours | they pinned us down | with mournful pleading out | bleeding from the left side of her chest | left side & feet | four pin pricks to her heart | the mournful bleeding out | pleading from the right side & feet | you can’t see jouissance | your ears & your eyes extend the performance | your ears & your eyes paint the lake & the tree & the sunset | your ears & your eyes paint the traumatic romance | and it is not nothing

not trusting any of the decisions you have been making | keep being in the world | having chosen to be out of the world | it is about time | it is about phenomenological time | low rent matricide | love smitten if ever I saw it | low to high fugue factor | St. Anthony, please look around; something is lost and must be found | me & those like me | let us alone | nothing outside can cure you but everything’s outside | one liveable symptom | disbanded | during your fertile days | you wake with a mouth like Bette Midler | that is to say | the same mouth | do you look like a precog | do you look like Samantha Morton | do you | do you | do you | we have the space to exist

& what are we doing with it | laboureth for the meat | laboureth for the mind | the straight gate & narrow way | your dead entrance to Heaven | you are a good lady | a good lady of the night | undertaking prayer marathons | you chose a male confirmation saint | skilled in bilocation | you are walled into a cell | he was a great saint | now how about you | for your choristers & gardens | three apples & three roses | living in a cave & doing penance | climb into confinement | the floodlights are up | the clinic begins | with a self-lacerating impulse | go ahead | with gradual psalms | wandering lethargic uterus | whether you eat & drink | and whatsoever else you do

for the glory of | lapsi | if this is just heathen persecution | ten thousand words in your tongue | adulterine child | the lentern rule yields to charity | libera me | we will not change the old & approved laws of England | the corpse of the adulterine child cannot be absolved | the corpse of the unbaptised cannot be absolved | let a woman learn all this in quietness | the sacrament of the woman & the beast | the sacrament gives rounds of hysterics | bandage the head to stop the jaw being slack | carry away the babies | writhing on the ground | plunged into the water | stained by the occult | in the slipper chapel | fundamentally unheimlich | not so silent prayer | glory glory be

 References taken from:

Austin, J.L. (1962) How to Do Things with Words. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Pontalis, Jean Bertrand (1977) Entre le rêve et la douleur. Paris: Gallimard.

Bronfen, Elisabeth (1998) The Knotted Subject: Hysteria and its Discontents. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Derrida, Jacques (1983) Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International. trans. Peggy Kamuf London: Routledge.

Didi-Huberman, Georges (1982) Invention de l’hysteria. Charcot et l’iconographie de la Salpêtrière. Paris: Macula.

Foucault, Michel (1973) The Birth of the Clinic, London: Routledge.

Kyd, Thomas (1998) The Spanish Tragedy, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Mayer, Bernadette. (1992) A Bernadette Mayer Reader. New York: New Directions

Rose, Gillian (1995) Love’s Work. New York: New York Review of Books.

Schneider, Rebecca (1997) The Explicit Body in Performance. New York: Routledge.

Trillat, Etienne (1986) Histoire de l’hystérie, Paris: Seghers.


UK poet Dorothy Lehane, 2017.

Dorothy Lehane is the author of three poetry publications: Umwelt (Leafe Press, 2016), Ephemeris (Nine Arches Press, 2014) and Places of Articulation (dancing girl press, 2014). She lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.