I see her in corners.
I see her in corners,
a wild thing stuffed and stretched into human form
a child in well-loved but ill-fitting garments.
nail-biting, snot-faced, bloody-kneed, tangle-haired.
She crouches under my desk and gnaws on the ends of M.I.A pencils
snaps warningly at my fingers with a splintery grin whenever I attempt a rescue mission.
I see her in the kitchen,
thin, disjointed limbs bickering and scrabbling for control
words and fists like forks shrieking on ceramics.
white-knuckled, silver-scarred, hot-headed, red-faced.
Eyes and ego rubbed raw she crawls under my covers icy toed and rough heeled
clawing at my stomach and breathing hot, damp air on the knobbly bone of my spine.
Only I can see her
when she stands proudly on the mantelpiece, a ship’s captain
small face playfully stern as she commandeers the crashing waves.
Is it cold in here? My brother asks
and shivers as he stands in the middle of her wooden ship.
I see her in doorways,
a ragged mongrel with hungry heart and hands
ill-trained to wait, to sit and watch for a morsel to fall.
sulky-eyed, pinch-mouthed, sullen-faced, skin-starved.
Mum holds me close and over a perfumed shoulder I spot her, fists by her sides
shoulders painfully straight and blank, black shark eyes boring a hole through me.
I see her in swimming pools,
a twisted pale creature curling in the current
aiming rude, water blurred gestures at the lifeguard.
fidget-fingered, freckle-legged, furrow-browed, water-logged.
She trails pruney fingertips along the calves of overhead swimmers and laughs
curling sharp knees into a red bikini top, distorting the sun-bleached fabric.
I see her in shop windows and cracked black phone screens, chrome-coloured car doors and
the dirty disabled bathroom mirror. Her in the swirling wood grain in the banisters and her in
the scratchy, pink-penned initials cowering under the coffee table. I see her in dusty
fingerprints, in bus stop signs and ticking clocks, in pools and corners and doorways and
kitchens and everywhere.
I see her everywhere.
I don’t see her in graves
not lying unmoving like a broken doll in a chocolate-box coffin
dull glass eyes and painted lips forever buried next to cat bones in the yard.
not-dead, not-buried, un-mourned, her.
She grips me like rigor mortis, red hot lines on the back of my hand saying remember
St Andrew’s College, Christchurch