Birthday Present

by Dillon Leet

It was a gift for an international girl;
a book of hard-hitting photographs
on glossy paper. Something to leave about
to complement her framed intellect.
She presses pansies between the pages,
for the thank-you card.

One night she examines it by phone-light,
nestled under the duvet her grandmother made
when she was ten. A distraction
from the rainstorm
that howls behind the curtains,
rattling her Victorian window panes.

She traces the face of a Ukrainian man,
pressed up against floral wallpaper
by masked boys in khaki.
Dim light dissolves pages’ edges
until eyes drip onto cotton sheets,
splattering shadows across her fingers.

Red veins scar streets
by mud-brick sick houses
cracked glass reflecting
pixelated screams
in high definition magazines
She turns the page.

The book hides under her jewellry box
as she wraps herself in blankets,
an international girl hyperextended.
She chooses another book; a well-worn
fairytale, and dreams herself to sleep.
Outside, the rain falls.