Facts About Leeches

Facts About Leeches
by Victoria Simons

Explain it to me like I’m an alien who has never been to Earth before, I say.

He doesn’t smile because it’s not a joke. It is a task he takes seriously and so he tells me why, citing Adam and Eve and evolution and the apes and the structure, the integral structure of society that is woven into our DNA that, no, can’t be seen under a microscope, don’t be obtuse, but is intrinsic, the evidence is everywhere and in everything. He finally breathes, then continues.

Look at the animal kingdom, look at the womb you have right *there* inside you (he prods the base of my ribcage and it tickles and I try not to laugh) — is that not evidence? You are to be a mother. You are wired for that purpose. I’m not saying anything political here! That is fact.

He insists, he insists, he insists all the way through starters and mains and dessert and on the walk home, he insists so incessantly that I have to stand outside my door waiting for him to realise that the date is over. He kisses me chastely on the cheek, like he would a mother and hopes that I had a good night. The stain left by his mouth has an odour: a childhood of not being told by his mother to brush his teeth for two minutes twice a day.

After, I think about facts and the fact that we used to believe the body was made up of four humours. Blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. That was fact and from that fact we derived treatments including leeching. Bleeding subjects to get the humours in balance. Blood rightly exited the body, there was the evidence! And sometimes subjects recovered, other times they were too poorly (from their humour imbalance) and could not be saved. But that didn’t disprove the facts.

I am not really an alien who has never been to Earth before. I am a woman who has sat in history classes, biology classes and just about all the other classes too. My womb and I have rolled around in facts like a pig in filth, the pungency becoming matted into our vellus hairs, absorbed by the same pores which secrete our (dangerously imbalanced) humours. We swell, bloat and bulge with blood so the leeches scrounge for an opening. An orifice not plugged with dried filth, forming its own impenetrable surface around our bodies, soft and untouched underneath. The facts become breeding grounds for families of complex bacterium, fed by our moist warmth and maternal nurturing, they multiply and crawl and say their first words and go to college and— unnatural, unnatural! How unladylike, the leeches squawk.

I am thinking about facts and families and other filthy things when my phone pings. I do not think we hold the same values, he texts, without wishing me the best.


Victoria Simons (she/her) is a twenty-something currently living in Lincolnshire with her cat, Clover. Her poetry has been previously published in t’Art Magazine, Madwomxn Magazine and Kamena Magazine, amongst others. Instagram: @vicki_simons

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