New treatise on objectification By Jo-Ella Sarich

New treatise on objectification

The adolescent girl “becomes an object and she sees herself as an object; she discovers this new aspect of her being with surprise: it seems to her that she has been doubled; instead of coinciding exactly with herself, she now begins to exist outside” (Beauvoir 1961, 316)


Midnight grill, a truck
caked with its own sweat, like
rain drubbing against polystyrene

cartons. It took a herd of flightless
birds to break the slightest
whisper. Like she was seen but

unannounced. He liked
to use rain instead of cameras. She
used to think rain was just

a kinder mother, one who would
smile at her stories and carry her
gently in her mouth. Even hyenas carry

their young, and how do they laugh?
He was the mud.
She was the eel mired in

its proselytising. She was the
thousands of unborn seahorses
with the weight of paternal guilt. A candle

like a reflection like simulacrum
in the bumpers of cars,
blotted out with wax paper

and the slim possibility
of existing in non-existence.


This is
your moment. There is
a light on overhead
that could be a ragdoll. You learned
to recognise light. You were only
nine and you were already flashing
a mouth full of acid-washed pearls
that were actually unearthed pillowslips. You were
nothing like the hangover that comes
with sleep for a while. Or uninvited
ships. And it was quite a thing to find
your harbours were on the inside, all
stretched tight like cat-gut strings
or slim herringbones or quite a
brittle faith. Lights capturing the moment where
water shatters like stars about
the bird’s neck stretched in flight.


And lastly,

Narcissus was a stranger to me.

And I always thought I was
unsullied by his hand, until

I remembered that once I had
stood on that log

anchored in the crotch of an oak tree
and the biggest playfort

you have ever seen. The bridge across
the calm void of sentience, where

one standing and dodging balls like
orbiting planets was much like another. It was

not until city high school that I learned
to rinse my hair with ammonia to make them all

salmon-coloured. Like someone handed me
a mirror with my mother’s name on it and her

mother’s mother’s and yes I am

perfectly unviolated. Perfect like shiftless
crystal and the Madonna’s face but my body is

like a cat nursing a hyena, like
a bear wearing a dress or like

a guilt sun over a chasmless void.

By Jo-Ella Sarich


Jo-Ella Sarich has practised as a lawyer for a number of years, recently returning to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of online and in-print publications, including The New Verse News, Cleaver Magazine, Blackmail Press, Barzakh Magazine, Poets Reading the News, The Galway Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, takahē magazine and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

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