Sign up to our mailing list


Barium Swallow Test by Chloe Elliott

A good throat in the dark
can appear as a livery, a fountain,
a milkshake washed up on the beach.
Brush your teeth without the lights on.
Your neck will become a pendant
over the basin spilling the soft whir
of milkbottle toothpaste and festoon spit.
For a second year you’ll draw the line
from plug to pharynx, follow the rocket trajectory
of a purple aurora borealis, a silk tie,
a communion of fireflies.
Whiteness begins this way, starts chalky and soluble,
and then is fixed to mix with other substances
to become whiter. Before a vanity mirror
you’ll swallow. A flare will push to the back of your throat,
will momentarily resemble an oyster being shucked,
before finally licking clean the sides of your oesophagus
on the way down. A stranger will resuscitate you on the sand,
noting your asymmetry. You will be X-rayed the whole time.
On the scan, a thread runs through the entirety of you,
turning lavender as you cough. After it is done, you will
rock yourself in bed, praying to the glow-worms as your
breath drags, snagging on the water.


Read about Chloe

Log In