find the illustrated version here


    Reception Theory or How to Sit in an Office Chair

    words by Autumn Royal


    ‘What I hide by my language, my body utters.’ — Roland Barthes


    Before the telephone rings again we should touch

    on the things that make her human in combination

    with her ill-fitting clothes—a skirt too tight

    around the waist and the jumper so loose the sleeves

    drag along the tiled floor—the lamb she nurses

    in her lap is surely a convincing marker that she

    is what one would call a person and should be held—

    in the office chair—as the individual who

    owns the voice providing the etiquette of greeting

    other people with a warm and welcoming hello

    pronounced clearly and with appropriate volume.

    Water drips into an empty bucket as she inhales air

    and exhales longing for the burden of disappointing

    someone very much like herself. A patron enters

    the building, crushing leaves underfoot. Her wet-haired

    willingness shifts into the lamb’s body—she returns

    to the field, on her back and rustic—the telephone rings.