Under the Skin of New Year's New Body

by Kristen Cochrane

For most of us, this is the start of an antagonizing annual cycle that begins with earnest calorie restriction and a gym membership. Then we give up. I call this the New Year, New Body trope, a mysterious and torturous actualization that demands self-starvation and encourages eating disorders.

Menagerie

Thousands of animal species are threatened by anthropogenic climate change. Here is a small sample. Axolotls are those enchanting salamanders, limb-growers, Bowie-esque in style and, now, frequency. Bicknell’s thrush with confetti of stars on breast, insect quests no longer synchronised. Coral (staghorn), crystalline dendrites of the deep, food for many before warming and mass bleach.

Will Indigenous Voices Be Heard at the Paris Climate Conference?

In the midst of the polemical environmental debate between the reactionaries of the right and the activists of the left, an under-examined knowledge system remains neglected. As the descendants of those who carved nations out of “New Worlds” fight over contamination of the planet, ancient epistemologies are being erased, along with the peoples who existed before systematic colonization.

To Be Good

‘D’you want a hand with that?’ he says, a hand-rolled fag hanging from the corner of his lip, unlit, of course.

She pushes the crate of milk bottles onto the flatbed of the float.

‘Don’t often see a lady doing this job.’

‘No?’

So Long, Sertraline

I gaze long and hard at myself in the mirror, straining to reach the girl behind the face. I’m in there somewhere and it’s both liberating and terrifying to think that the person before my eyes is now the ‘real’, emotional, non-medicated version of my being.

Hungry Ghosts / 餓鬼

On the 15th night of the 7th month in the Chinese lunisolar calendar, the lower realm is opened so that ghosts and spirits can return to roam the living world, seeking food and entertainment. During this month (鬼月), Taoists and Buddhists must perform rituals to absolve the suffering of the deceased.

An English Ending

At six it was a black mirror capturing and framing the first settled shapes of rising sun, but by seven the reservoir held ten thousand triangles of light that reconfigured themselves across the surface like a shoal of rising herring. There was a light breeze too, and birdsong from the curlews and house martins as they rode the unseen currents of air.

Me, My Dad and Fags

I have never liked myself as a smoker. A full decade and a few thousand cigarettes in, I still don’t. But what keeps me at it, with fondness, is that I might not have him were it not for the fags. When I was very small and his beard was still black, he would kneel by the bathtub and I would sit happily in the warm water. His eyes would swim as he babbled to me and I babbled back.

Mushroom Cleaners and Other Stuff

For longer than I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with stuff. The sort of stuff you keep because you think you might need it at some point down the line. I’ve got stuff in drawers, stuff shoved under the bed, stuff stuffed down the back of wardrobes. There’s stuff in bags; stuff collecting not just dust, but weird damp residue; stuff buried under more stuff.

Counting Syllables

It’s the middle of the night. I’ve just woken from a bad dream. In it, three lynxes in the garden of my childhood home are chasing my parents’ scrawny runt of a cat. He makes it to the safety of the kitchen, where I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor, and leaps onto my lap. The lynxes paw at the cat flap, but can’t get through.