Hollow Hauntings

Black Hole, 2016 by Ian Cumberland (b. 1983)

I am the hollow woman. I swallow holes. I can see the gaps in your cabinet of selves better than you can, selecting your latest reinvention or falling back on an old. As you reach, I look at you and your emptiness becomes mine. For a split second you pause, as if aware of me.

I hold my breath in case you hear me.

I hear you.

You say, “There is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles.”

Then you glance in the mirror and see me, and are shocked. Why? We swallow being into nothingness. (Or are we swallowed?) We make perfect the meaninglessness of it all, call it life, and make it compost, a place for new beginnings and endings. A cycle. Endless. Bare. Signifying nothing.

I am the hollow woman. And I am not alone. Am I?


Written for dVerse’s “Prosery” which asks that we confine our prose to 144 words or less and use the following line from a Lisel Mueller poem: “there is nothing behind the wall/except a space where the wind whistles.” Click on Mr. Linky to join in!

42 thoughts on “Hollow Hauntings”

    1. As I was writing, I thought how this is the horror that begins in our teenage years and sets us out on that nightmarish quest to “find ourselves,” whatever that means.

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  1. “We swallow being into nothingness. (Or are we swallowed?) We make perfect the meaninglessness of it all, call it life, and make it compost, a place for new beginnings and endings,” … this is incredibly eerie and apt! 💝

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  2. The idea of swallowing the nothingness is haunting, and kind of reminds me of “The Nothing” from The Neverending Story. But then it ends up it could be a cycle by the end of the poem, but the idea of it signifying nothing sounds like existentialism to me. Always good to get me philosophical! Great job!

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    1. Thanks, Ingrid. After I wrote this, I read at least a couple of others go with this take on the prompt which seems to suggest that its something that not far from our concerns. We want authenticity from others but also ourselves as well.

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  3. I like the philosophical angle of your piece, Dora, but I also like the idea of a hollow woman swallowing holes, other people’s nothingness. The scary part for me is glancing in the mirror and seeing the hollow woman (I’ve never liked mirrors), which reminds me of all those urban myths.

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    1. I know what you mean: there is something inherently scary about mirrors (not just seeing yourself and realizing you went the entire evening with spinach in your teeth, haha). Horror movies love using this trope.

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  4. If only the people who think they can choose what they will be were able to see how meaningless it is. Accepting and building on what we have is surely healthier than choosing a different persona as the mood changes.

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    1. I’ve seen many chameleon-like people and wonder if its camouflage they’re after just to fit in or whether its self-protection/insecurity. Probably a mix.

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      1. Dissatisfaction? The eternal quest for perfection? Certainly a lack of self-confidence. My youngest talk about the tyranny of instagram and the impossibility to be anything but a clone of the latest bodywork. You’d think the answer would be to turn off instagram but they don’t have that option on their check list.

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