The Garden of Thorns

Abigail Mitchell

Shut out the last of the light. Feel the way your breath leaves your body. Feel your hand on my shoulder, the warmth, the firm pressure of your fingers pressing into my hip as we dance: like possession, yours and mine and ours, and that grounds me, because home is not the house where we grew our skin. That was temporary. Home is now the sluggish thud of your heart and the way I itch to say come over here, look, I’m tangible, look at all the ways that I can fill up your empty spaces. There are things you can love and there are the things that must be wild, like dandelions in the grass,
or the monster in our blood that tells us to do bad things—as if it’s a decision—and I have given you a road map to tell you where to find me. You can’t help but follow
it, a trail of breadcrumbs into the garden of thorns: a wound and a hearth and the tight press of your thumbs against my jaw like an apology. I dream about your cold feet on my bare ankle, or the starlight dripping onto thin pages. Think of the bridge over the water by the old house, your blistered fingers, moonlight making claims upon our bodies. We are all dreaming that we belong. Sketching out a life in cautious pencil. Dreaming of a god who made another person to fit us. Dreaming of a tombstone and our names in crumbled cursive. There is somebody who could love you.


I am dreaming it all for you like maybe this is a fairy tale. Here is the hunger I have to consume you if you’d let me. Sometimes I am afraid of my own desires. There are no words for it; for the way you would taste. Heavy on my tongue, the heaviness of wanting. For how you’d let me in through the narrow gate and say, here is the garden of thorns. Here, I have made this place for you to call home again. But I know how that story ends. I was trying to tell it so that it could be real to me, but there are no words for the language of bodies, the tongue of possession, for the gaps between the trees where the darkness waits. The words are nothing. The forest is nothing. There is nothing to say but to feel the weight of you on my chest when I am alone, as if we were lying on the floor, or six feet under with a stone that says we belonged together.


I am waiting for you to say it. I have drawn out the map for you, your hand is on my shoulder, and you are too bright, you are too beautiful for me not to let you carve me open, for me not to dream of our garden of thorns, and how you might tend to it. We are in the garden of thorns and we are not our desires, and you ask me what I want, and yes, I want you. I hope you might kiss me, then. Soft mouth and the careful fit of your hand around my pulse. Perhaps here, in my party dress, you might think we belong together. You, your empty spaces, us, the stone bridge, the steady slide of a slick tongue in the quiet, saying, yes, please, yes.                                   But you don’t.




Abigail Mitchell is a London-based writer and a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton (UK) working on queer readings of the British witch trials. She also holds an MA Hons. (Cantab) from the University of Cambridge and an MPW from USC. She can be found on Twitter at @_abbimitchell or at