the dirt

women, the balm
balm for my wounds
seamstresses of my heart
blood in my blood
those men never related to me
they just wanted my eyes wide
and my mouth wide
maybe I wanted their eyes wide too
or maybe I just wanted a new father
but they are not in my blood,
like you women are in my blood.
come, warriors
on the other side
of the world
inside a phone screen
or ten tube stops away
come,
over bread and oil,
or cigarettes
or creating –
you warriors,
you make my bones strong
and my mind agile.
let me do the same for you
and let me stop apologising
for needing you
you pearls,
you islands,
you sisters.
cry,
and I will cry too
and we will
lock our fingers together
and keep growing out of the dirt.

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snow

little moon baby
eyes like mine
deeper than black holes
telling tales of destruction
her hand rests on my hip
and I would never compare her to
a doll, but
the words to describe someone so
precious and delicate escape me
her skin is snow
so how do I melt when
it’s mine that is warm?
we will never understand us or them
those beasts of brawn and hair
they fill the holes but don’t heal
I wonder if I want to love her
as I wish I loved myself

pairs

pairs of eyes
(mostly blue, one pair brown, one pair hazel)
I looked into wishing for
eternal love
unconditional, magical love
I begged them not to leave mine for
a single second.
so, well, when I saw the girl
in the mirror, I spat at her.
she stared into my skin
taking in every blocked pore
and said nothing but “I’m sorry”.

not good enough!
I said,
and I spat at her again.

I locked the door
looked down at my feet
jammed cotton wool into my ears
and when the outside light burned in
(at about four o’clock)
I shut the curtains, too.
not good enough! I said,
and I hung a scarf over the mirror
so she couldn’t look at me any more.

it hurts, I said.
it hurts so much (I gripped my knees and
rocked like a child fallen from a climbing frame).
I looked over to the mirror and its scarf
and I couldn’t see her
but when I picked the cotton wool from
my right ear to replace it
I heard her whisper from behind my improvised
iron curtain.
“I’m sorry”, she said.
“I’m sorry”.

well, I went back into the outside light
after a little while
but still I avoided her in car windows and shop fronts
and mirrors
and oddly metallic hand-dryers and sheets of foil and ice
she caught up with me eventually, though.
and by habitual force
I cleared my little throat ready to
gob right at her, the insolent bitch.

she was still saying it.
“I’m sorry”, she said.
“no time for that,
I’m on my way to
meet a blue-eyed surgeon who’ll fix my pinholes and chips and
prevent that nasty infection from returning to my
badly sutured wounds”.

she said nothing

then

“I’m sorry”, she said.
“I said no time for that!”
and I lifted my hand to silence her

wait
what
she reaches back delicately
she doesn’t grab me like the last blue pair
nor shout like the first blue pair
she doesn’t scream and hit like the brown pair, either

I stare down at my own hand, and shuffle off
to meet the surgeon
but I begin to wonder what would happen
if I looked at her a little more often

titanic

a girl
just as lost as I was,
reached out with
a perfectly manicured hand.
queen captain of the new Titanic,
weathering a storm you
could never know
(not even in your worst nightmares).
the lies of boys brought us together
brought us to a three-hour phone
conversation before we even knew
who we were.
that’s not how us damaged girls are
supposed to act, but
even then we knew where
our blood was best directed.
a girl,
with more beauty and soul than
you could ever understand
(or would deserve).
they should be the ones eating our pain
digesting it whole and
letting it fester in their rotten guts
but that
is not how life works, so on
and on we will go.
she does not need to prove anything
to you, but look how she
glimmers in the light as
a pearl
even when you try to cast your shadow.
fuck you,
we live.

magic

how can you
ever repay
goddesses
who gave you life?
a debt so enormous
unending
and true
yet never once
expected.

woman bore you,
in her body
laughed in the face
of the foul
modern expectation of her life
her work
never finished,
as you grew and squalled.

she bore a life,
and watched it
destroyed by
things she
could never control.
with her own pain
a searing
knife in the heart,
yours, a thousand
needles in her eyes.

yet
she carried you.
she is not made of magic
she is a foundation
on which you built your
independence,
expected by all as
a cornerstone of life

life tells us
she is not made of magic
but look
deeply into her loving eyes,
and it is what you will see
plainer than cotton
clearer than summer sky.
her magic imbues
us all.

honey

your peaceful dreams
they dissolve
like sugar cubes in
below-average cups of tea

and your nightmares,
they stick to you
like hard golden toffees
stick to broken teeth

by now you should know
that sweetness rots your gums
and gives you gaping cavities
that are costly to repair

you may crave the
dripping satisfaction of syrup
in your little mouth
on your little tongue

but do you really want to remember
the honey trickling down your throat
when you are scrutinizing
the size of your hips again?

my darling, no
replace the lid of the biscuit tin
and be grateful that nobody
wants to see beneath your summer dress

stone

stone girl,
you look in the mirror
who do you see there?

do you see
the cracks
in your
nature

do you see
how you filled
them up
with technicolour?

stone girl,
you feel the storm
weathering your heart

I wonder
if you know
how implausibly strong
your barriers are

I wonder
if you feel
your rejections
of splintered wood

stone girl,
you brace the curse
of a compromise

the others
made of clay
could never know
your power

the others
so delicate
when mixed with water
glazed over

stone girl,
you were thrown
into the fire

stone girl,
you came out
at one thousand degrees

stone girl,
if only you could know
what you have defeated