Literary Orphans

Hay, we’re on fire! by Elizabeth Morton

Girl, we sat in the dog smoke, huffing night and star winks, from God’s raw hands.

We burned the bales dropped by trucks headed South –

Sniffed black yeast and honey straw whiskers.

Girl, we made shadow puppets in the glare – double finger geese, and honking circles.

Fire engines spent themselves like serpents on the singed lawn.

Accelerant bled into the grass webs and flooded the gaps between the hillock’s little toes.

Girl, we charted ridgelines, yabbered stories gone-to-seed to the earth’s crude fontanels.

Girl, can you feel hallowed fonts that smoulder in our speech bubbles? I am an Italics kid.

I know how to bat my eyelashes into the prevailing wind.

I can count in sevens with my lids shut.

I know how to meet toothache with a pistol, how to fan fire with my small hope.

Girl, on this earth, you can place a knuckle between one skull plate and the next.

You can pause in a field of blazing lupin and wonder at the heat.

You know, with you I was dog smoke breathed backwards.

I was the name of the flower you forgot to pick,

but I could prove your lungfuls in algebra, and I could toast your birthday

with bourbon in a slandered cup.

Girl, there is violence in these meadows, and blisters on God’s raw hands.

I could tell you the name of the song you didn’t want,

and the vintage of scorched soil that hugs our unborn children.

I could lay a jump-sheet outside your shattered window, quench your gardens with milk,

let you feed on a nozzle of orange.

Girl, I could be black flame in a yellowed polaroid.

I could be the shadow geese, the scent of burned feathers, the fumbling apparition to lead you home.

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Elizabeth Morton is a writer from New Zealand. She is published in Narrative Magazine, The Moth, PRISM International, Smokelong Quarterly, Crannog, Cordite, Island Magazine, among others. She was feature poet in Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017. Her first poetry collection, Wolf, was published by Mākaro Press (2017). She likes to write about broken things, and things with teeth.

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–Art by Piotr Kaczmarek