Art for a Little Sister at Eighteen – Olivia Tuck

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

There’s Always Someone Messier – Olivia Tuck

There’s Always Someone Messier

Her anger caused an avalanche in the centre of Bath
and all the zopiclone in this hemisphere wouldn’t let her sleep
and the spell of her name makes psychiatric nurses scream
and there’s a ward in the Priory
just for her exes
and she flickers in agony
when the boy next door chops turnips
and she binges-and-purges
as often as she smokes
and her debt is deeper than a catacomb
and her Smirnoff tears burn throats
and the heat from her cuts melts tungsten
and last week she kicked off when an old man was sleeping
in the corner bed in the A&E observation ward
because that’s her bed
and she never knows how she’s got home when the search lights
of morning smack her in the face, like Betelgeuse dying,
and the bonfire in her back garden is stoked
with letters, negligee, bridges, bridges, bridges
and her parents buried themselves under the patio
and the poltergeist in the attic avoids her
and the Devil spends Friday night on her sofa,
watching Breaking Bad and painting her naked
thighs with tracings of pomegranate seeds
and her baby is a haunted doll: chipped,
with lunar eclipse eyes, unblinking,
when she leaves it – as she was left –
cold, in the sink.


Olivia Tuck’s work has been published on Amaryllis, in Three Drops from a Cauldron and in Lighthouse. She is due to start at Bath Spa University this autumn, to study for a BA in Creative Writing. Find her on Twitter: @livtuckwrites