THE ANATOMY OF A PIXIE GIRL DROWNING | Martina Dominique Dansereau

You have always loved the anatomy
of a pixie girl drowning; from my salt-
covered lips to the weeds in my lungs,
you worshipped me as a false god.
When we first met, the water was
only just beginning to lap at the shores
of my heart. I was thirteen; my eyes
were still lit torches and I still thought
that the stars might hear my wishes
if I shut my eyes tightly enough.

On my fourteenth birthday, you took
me out behind the school and shot
a rocket ship into the clouds to join
those stars—a man-made wishbone.
I remember wishing to write poetry
that would make people ache.
I learned that ache with time,
as I learned the shades of the sky,
from blue to black, and how
to paint them on my skin. The flames
in my eyes died a little bit.
I died a little bit.

You liked my corpse.

When I was fifteen, I became
a hollow something that made blood
flow thicker than ink. I made words
out of ashes and ate them as if
they could fill the void, but still I
starved and my bones cut through skin.
Eventually, I allowed you a glimpse
into my coffin—something brief that
meant nothing to me, but to you…
You liked my corpse. You told me
that it was beautiful, even drenched
in blood, even with maggots
writhing under my skin.

When I was sixteen, you slipped
a finger under the lid of my coffin
and I was too battered to push you away.
My flesh crumbled so that you could
stroke my bones. Victory—yours. Shame—
mine. You called me pretty. Pretty dead
girl walking. You, the necromancer,
trying to see into my soul—you were
always watching, a few steps behind
my shadow. I tried to run but you tied
a string around my collarbones and so
it became a dance, pulling together
and apart like the sea and the shore.

You can’t blame the ocean for
following when the moon pulls.

You can’t blame the ocean for
following when the moon pulls.

You spent six years watching my lungs
fill with seawater, and it is only now
that I ask myself why you were so obsessed
with a drowning girl. Boy, what was it
about a drowning girl that got you hard?

When I was seventeen, I looked
in a mirror and tried to see what you
had seen. My illness made your manic
pixie dream. Maybe this time you could
be the prince, the savior, if you could
just cut away enough of my rose thorns.
I was the dragon princess with fettered wings.
What a wild ride! And claws! And teeth!
Keep stalking, keep proposing—

One day she has to see how much
meaning she gives your life! One day
she has to understand what she is to you!
One day she has to say yes, right?
Wrong. I already had a lover.
Depression had settled deep into my bones
long before you had ever taken my hand,
psychosis trailing kisses down my spine,
and anxiety was already gripping my knuckles
when you offered your ring.

When I was eighteen, I looked back
into the mirror and didn’t recognize
the reflection you had made of me. My
skeleton shrugged you off and your fingers
left graves where they had broken through
my skin. Manic pixie girl, drowning girl,
dead girl, sick girl, broken girl. I cut
the string, but you were everywhere;
I was your ketamine. Girl with a
matchstick mouth. Kindling. Spark.
A mad girl who sizzled.


Martina Dominique Dansereau is a disabled, non-binary lesbian writer and artist whose works centre on trauma, marginalisation, and love, particularly as they intersect with gender, disability, mental illness, and LGBT issues. When not entrenched in academia or creating art, xe enjoys reading books with xyr snakes, who often fall asleep between the pages. You can find xem on Twitter and Instagram @herpetologics.

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.