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Yvette Naden

That First Year

That first year, I didn’t know why they frowned 
Or why they snickered when I laughed and pointed
At the automatic doors, jumping back as they slid open, closed, open -
Like some kind of magic trick. 

That first year, we went to a dentist with yellowed teeth
And lips like bandages, unravelling in a smile when he saw
Me in Mum’s old boots, crawling into the chair beneath him.
He gave me a lollipop when he’d finished. 

That first year, rebelling became self-sabotage
Cutting short my body’s good work because I 
Tingled when things went wrong – I didn’t wear 
Knickers or brush my teeth for three months.

That first year, I discovered I needed new ways to 
Hurt people. Apparently, breaking noses and refusing
Sleep weren’t allowed here, so I looked for hearts
To squeeze, searching for substitutes. 

That first year, I slept in a drawer by Mum’s bed.
Lying beneath a torn duvet which smelt of 
Pine nuts and paint, where once a spider
Crawled inside for warmth. 

That first year, Mum hardly left her room. 
She had food brought up and that first year,
I forgot who my father was and my accent
Was slowly smothered. 

That first year, I buried myself – it seemed so easy
At the time. But here she is, l’enfant sauvage, 
The wild child - bleeding through. 





I’d like to disappear today. 
That’s probably not what you want to read. 

But that doesn’t change the facts.
I’d like to vanish for day, led by arms of 
Blue into the clouds. 

I’d like to walk into a forest no one knows
Where I could drift beneath the bark and scream
So loud that the birds would fall. 

I’d like to slip beneath a lake, breathing
Through papery gills as I watch the 
Cayugas dive like falling stars. 

I’d like to step into a reflection and 
Rediscover myself – after all, you’ve 
Been asking for another ‘me’ for years.

If a hand rose and split the pages
Of the book I’m reading, I’d hook
My fingers in and let her pull me under. 

Even after years of old receipts and
Chewing gum, I’d happily jump into one
Of my pockets, even if that means sitting 
In the dark, my hands somehow sticky 
And dry.

If I could shrink, disappearing 
Just enough, I’d use a rockpool
As my bed and sleep among
The starfish, entangled in the weeds.

I’d like to disappear today. But
The air of today has already latched
Onto my lungs and it’s pulling me
Breathless, through the day. 

tiffany jolowicz Monday on Michigan Island, Yesterday, the Day Before, Two Thousand Years
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