Holly McKenna

I’m constructing a matchstick house, tricky

work balancing sticks which might take me with

them at a single twitch, when I should be

polishing windows. but I don’t want you

to see me. I put two-way mirrors in

their place; turned the path to ankle-snapping

cobbles, traded my mouth for drapes and stapled

them shut. it’s slapdash but pure-intentioned.

I won’t let it out. if I say it I’ll

wear it. I’ll take it apart and prod at

its insides and put it back together

again. I won’t let it out of my sight.

I’d sooner set my matchstick home alight.

the silence holds all that we need to say.

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image shows pink and white flowers and a leafy sprig against a background of clear blue sky

we can try each other on, like shoes; slack

round the heels, loose-laced, then give them away.

we could melt like peppermints — heaven-sent

single hiccup, a gulp, and forgotten.

we wouldn’t even flirt with tenure, we

can forward to the denouement; live it

out in triple-time, an hour or so.

then go back to papers and train tickets

and make-believe insouciance. my aplomb

stops the words falling from my page as I

deliver them; stops a restless itch from

thieving the driver’s seat and allowing sense

to float out the window like a silk scarf –

crestfallen, directionless, out of sight.

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Holly McKenna

Holly McKenna

University of Glasgow scholar, postgraduate researcher in criminal law & justice, poet & writer of bits and bobs, passionate feminist, mental health advocate.