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House Girl

Lehane, Dorothy (2021) House Girl. Aquifer Press, UK ISBN 978-1-83835-873-0. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:91147)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)


The girl in the sequence is diseased and stigmatised, locked away in the house. Siblings perform diagnostic ceremonies and make home-made treatments using potions from the natural world. With a sense of thwarted belongingness, the house girl is simultaneously complicit and disobedient. While grieving for a particular loss of bodily autonomy, she offers the reader a glimpse into the complex and troubling psychic processes that accompany chronic illness.

‘Who is confined, stigmatised yet sanctified, when “what poisons the / body // is the cure & also / the problem”? Who bears the “mark of the house girl” that some utopia named health might persist? To think one’s disease, writes Dorothy Lehane, is to think through fluke and fugue, “the myths / assigned to the // body at the site of / survival”. To be “autotoxic” is to embody myths of chance and fate and inheritance, yet because autoimmunity compounds one’s self as any pharmacy so might it also provide a “remedy for selfhood”. She who bears the mark becomes the cipher for a collective encryption–“my health is a forgery but no one can see it”. In House Girl, Dorothy Lehane has written a devastating long poem on the uncanny intimacies of quarantine, a poem both austere and gorgeous in its precision, etched by “bone tongue” and “Schlag-ruthe”. Lehane’s fierce lyric argues with the extractions of logic that tag our bodies to put them away–“still not dead but / catalogued / as a patient”–even categorization, after all, bears the root of accusation. What if we are neither hiding nor waiting? What if the tale is witchery, forked as dowsing rod or tongue, a question always of “how to rule my body from her mouth”? Naturalised by gender to domestic space yet unnatural in weaving her umwelt out of and despite “threadbare-ness”, in “weeping & welting”, the house girl is infinite in her mouths. To turn on oneself, Lehane suggests, is anti-strophe, a relentless turning back to the world’.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Dorothy Lehane
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2021 13:59 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2021 11:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Lehane, Dorothy:
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