The Girl in the Basement / The Boy in the Basement
And I wanted to be the girl / in True Detective / Catatonic /
Cared for / in the perfect institution / the place where
horror is mediated / The girl /
rescued / and loved forever / The girl swept up in the arms
of the detectives / who have never witnessed such horror /
I wanted to be taken up by the protectors /
passed from hand to hand / to be that girl forever / And I
wanted someone to listen / I wanted
to be turned around like a / precious / piece of glass... of something /
I wanted to be handled / with care /
And I suppose I wanted people to look at me / the way they do
on TV / with a rare quality / as if I was rare / and what I’d been
through was so rare as to render me / priceless /
The wan girl / in the oversize cardigan /
the rescued girl / The girl who is found years after / The girl
who escapes / and comes home and her family / have kept
her bedroom untouched / and they treat her /
as if each day is Christmas /
And I wanted to be the boy who lies / who returns home disguised
as the boy who vanished / and even when they find out / they
still keep calling him by the name / The name of the boy
Selected as a finalist in The Geometry/Open Book National Poetry Competition 2018 by Anna Livesey and Sophie van Waardenberg, and first published in Turbine literary journal 2018 (The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington).
They don’t do it anymore,
breathe into the mouth to save.
We had learnt it reluctantly,
lined up beside a recumbent dummy,
waiting to take our turn to kneel at that mouth.
The simplest things disturb –
at night when the fluoros shut off and the cover is pulled,
the tiles swabbed – there it lies open,
not even a ventriloquist’s dummy
is so exposed.
2nd place winner in The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2015 – judged by Tristram Fane-Saunders and Holly Howitt-Dring.