A coin falls into a piggy bank
and a girl draws flowers
with a pen.
A father, home
from work, places
on her desk. Richie Rich, Archie,
Caspar the Ghost. She hears
the revving silence
of the Singer.
Outside birds play house:
find the right mate; find
the right tree. Flight-maps
in air, traffic of matter.
and there thereafter.
They’ve stolen the song
from a mother’s mouth.
Spring meant papercut daffodils
taped to classroom walls,
no crosses like at my best friend’s school
where April heat prodded our backs
towards the shortcut. Fresh kittens
at her cousin’s house, a nest
of soft, when coming up the hill,
pushing his ten speed— even then I felt the sun
twist round him, the plunge
of my gut—he used his cycle to gate us,
to block our path, watched us slow, stop.
He checked—no one. The hill
shadowed his dark. The fat tongue on his t-shirt
eager for flavour and beneath it, the growing
pink he’d unzipped—no adults to pull
us back except this twist in the blood said—
run! The mud soft-sucking our shoes.
Don’t look, don’t fall—
She screamed between our broken breath—
you asked, you touched!—she ran
—disgusting!—straight into her cousin’s house
while I stood chained to the sound
of the lock sliding time forward
and back into place like a zipper.
Catherine Graham’s most recent collection Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, now in its second printing, was a finalist for the Raymond Souster Poetry Award and the CAA Poetry Award. Winner of the IFOA’s Poetry NOW competition, she teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto SCS where she won an Excellence in Teaching Award. Her work is anthologized in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Vol IV & V and The White Page/An Bhileog Bhan: Twentieth Century Irish Women Poets and has appeared in such journals as The Malahat Review, Poetry Daily, Poetry Ireland Review, The Ulster Tatler, The Fiddlehead, LRC, Room Magazine, CV2 and elsewhere. Her next collection will appear 2017. Visit: www.catherinegraham.com