Prism & Pen
Published in

Prism & Pen

Novae on My Chest

Thoughts on an Irish Sunday morning

Holy Sh*t, sun light in Ireland? Photo by Helen K. Ronan 2021.

The days of “roses, poetry and prose” are neatly tucked away now, as are my Kristallnacht in Beijing where I willingly plunged, headfirst, down a rabbit-hole.

Making coffee in the sober light of an Irish Sunday morning the thought occurred to me that my rock and roll days had been done; all the hazy shards accounted for, documented and put way.

Even Mark on bass, my Australian ex-band-mate, had bit his own bullet and brought his rampant emotional problems back to home territory for his family to marvel at the complete overhaul in his personality.

His exit from our rarefied climes was even more dramatic than mine: jail for cocaine abuse and eventual deportation.

He’d been preening his expat feathers down in the guts of some obscure Hutong for well over a decade.

Now he’s just a week sober.

The bang of eggshell timidity in his voice and my sudden promotion to voice of experience was an interesting side dish to have with the fresh perspectives on things I usually have for breakfast.

All the converted addict buzzwords peppering his narrative like glitter, “journey” and “fellowship” for example, animated by desperate need, the white-knuckled grip on your hard won epiphanies and the hope of building your sobriety on them.

Whether one week or twenty-one months, those in recovery will forever live in a cocoon spun with the weather of the“early days”, the apocalypse to be had in a relapse a constant threat.

I found myself extolling the sober life though, on the sly, I gag on my own sense of disenfranchisement daily, a wine glass brimming with chardonnay appearing to me, wanting me to follow it like Macbeth did the knife the night of Duncan’s murder.

To sip the crisp notes of a Sauvignon Blanc, sweating deliriously in the joy of being chilled, would be a suicidal act.

Facing my demons, rather than sedating them and having them flare up worse than ever when sense has been suspended until further notice, has given me a brittle but nonetheless sturdy sense of who I am.

Now I know what made me drink in the first place I can hoist myself up, Bambi-at-birth-legged, on the promise of a fresh start.

The estrogen makes my nipples itch and radiate like I have tiny novae on my chest.

A new identity and a new life exist somewhere out in the ether, it is up to me to hone my senses to find it.

It is all far from perfect, let me tell you, but a sapling breaks the arid ground of my life and it gleams with health, finally.

It’s taken almost two years.

But here I am, sprouting.



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Fiona Evangeline Leigh

Fiona Evangeline Leigh


An Irish writer, transgender woman and singer currently living in the Republic. Has just completed a memoir A Changeling in Beijing.