Gillian Devereux
Slasher Film
Her motion begins as a light, a bright circle
in the black. Another light appears, then
a flash of her t-shirt, a clump of stars stuck to the sky.

Sweat sparkles on her face; dry leaves crackle
under her feet. At specific intervals, this series
divides into frames, into a procession of image

upon image, and in each image, a beautiful girl
glitters, still convinced she might escape, unaware
that she's caught already, already suspended

in acetate and silver emulsion, her delicate body
pressed into a transparent base. Like her stalker,
she's screened in darkness, fed through the projector,

between lens and aperture - where a gap quickly opens
to admit light, then shuts. Here, everything must pause
while the girl catches her breath. Everything must pause

while the shutter blocks and unblocks each frame
at least twice. Tears will blind her. At least twice,
she'll lose her way. Insert an interlude of blackness.

Repeat this process 24 times every second. She'll emerge,
supported by nerve, retina, synapse, impulse, thought
and emotion. She's motion, to us. She's action, and lights

we can see in the dark - just like the killer who tracks her
through the unlit wood. Her screams will be dubbed in later,
but she screams now anyway, her mouth empty and soundless.

She runs, each step a separate still that can be removed,
or enlarged, or played backwards. Here she stumbles, there
she falls. It happens in 35 millimeter; the knife exposed,

the hand slashing downward, the close-up on her face.
It happens, visceral and violent. Her skin rips like paper,
spurts geysers of wine-dark blood, turns grey as dead ash.

She's a beached starfish, dry and cold, her five points spread
over twisted roots, over mud, over square after square of film.
The lens holds her, keeps her in focus, while the story continues,

cycles from reel to reel, leaves the brightness of her body
extinguished, reduced to a static flicker, a trick of speed
and light, an optical illusion. A lie, developed like any other.

Gillian Devereux received a BA in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a MFA in Poetry from Old Dominion University. She teaches English at ODU and participates in a Writers-in-Community outreach program. Currently, Ms. Devereux is learning to surf.
All contents copyright The New Journal, 2001.