In the Beginning

Untitled, Helen Savage, 2017


by Helen Savage


In the beginning I was handing really lovely wholesome things over the counter, things from Sylvia Plath’s land as far away as health. I was passing them over, things like large loaves of plaited and glazed bread, things like large bunches of wild flowers, things like perfect cakes. I am not sure where they were coming from exactly. I might say that they were ‘just appearing’ like the beer and the pizza just appears in a Jack Knox painting. It’s just there – innocent looking. I remember my hands very clearly. They were larger than life, comic in fact, like the hands in Paul McCarthy’s Willem de Kooning. Also smiles, I was passing my smile over the desk. After a while this smile changed, and there was also a sense of sickness now. Of passing too much over the counter, too much wholesomeness, purity, bread. Too much giving of the things I had. Bringing them up one at a time like a box of tricks behind the counter and the box of tricks is a hamper filled with regional delights. Disappearing behind the counter and then reappearing again with something else, my hands so large. It was when I started to pass my hair and bits of flesh that I was reminded of another writer who also spoke of their flesh coming off their body. It was when I started to pass bits of flesh in handfuls that it got really sick and really pure. What is it that happens at communion with bread and the flesh of Christ? I passed mine over, fucking have it I said. The nasty dogs – and by that I mean the homeless men – took it from the counter then barked and went back to their computers. I wish we didn’t live in a world where one person has to sacrifice him or herself so another can eat. The homeless men have been fucked over and now they want something. This is structural. As I said, I am conflicted. It felt really sick, and really pure – of course you can have my flesh, I was brought up a Christian gal. To want nothing and give what I have away.



Helen Savage is a writer and artist based in London.

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