Art for a Little Sister at Eighteen
Day unfurls on the conservatory roof,
and you sit, chewing your pen, blinking.
You flinch at the flit of the tiger moth
on your windowpane – wonder why she stares
as you watch the sky become peach parfait.
The essay title is your name. You search
a thesaurus for post-club burger grease,
an exam hall clock’s fast heartbeat, the stall
of a car engine. All the rest is hidden
behind bathroom mirror fog. You didn’t see
the arcs of those days before you existed.
The sun leans in. I look at you; open my mouth –
unveil each work in my exhibition:
you at birth, head capped with coconut bristles,
your fist an apricot against your cheek.
At two, scattering the crushed-stone dust
of a pepper grinder across a tablecloth.
At ten, riding an inflatable dolphin
over wave-swells, Atlantis at your toes.
Now, your hair is autumn-infused, your eyes
are blue lace agate, your skin brandy butter;
your laugh is the smell of ginger, of cloves –
it could thaw an ice age. Don’t be afraid
to burn like Venus at dawn. Don’t be afraid
to spit out sunrises, to sing. Don’t be afraid
to run full pelt down the stairs – through the door,
into the quivering light of child’s-moon morning.
Olivia Tuck’s poetry has appeared in print and online journals including Under the Radar and Ink Sweat & Tears, and Tears in the Fence, where she is also an intern.Her pamphlet, Things Only Borderlines Know, is published by Black Rabbit Press. Find her on Twitter: @livtuckwrites