by Emma Warren

On your birthday, I go into the garden
with the words of a child tied with white ribbon.
This is symbolic, probably.
Still, it makes sense,
since these are all that’s left of her body,
and here I am, burning the evidence of her existence.

Yes, I am here. I could still hold her little hand
In crowds, clinging to me as always,
she could stay longer, folded away; harmless.
Yet one day, perhaps by the sea;
Perhaps clambering up the dark stairs together into St. Michael’s;
The familiarity, touches, whispers –
I will lose sight of her and maybe…

“Hush.” The match reassures, twinkling.
Love, pinpointed at half-four in the afternoon
Goes up smokily;
A drawing ranked ‘poor’ amongst other shames;
The names I called you –

No more. She has gone out small and dazzling
And cannot testify alone now;
Vague inaccuracies crumble into flakes.
Inside somewhere, your children are helping you find the matches.
I know, I know, I know, I know
They’re on your shelf.

Having once written down the words,
I can’t throw that little girl away.