Longlisted Poem 2014

Elizabeth Hong

Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls, Warwickshire

a beloved girl

any news
of the small bird? if you require anything more
to add to her missing girl report,

do not hesitate; we were her mothers
the physical imprint of her existence scribbled,
indelibly, into our hears. for example – if you were to ask

for any identifying birthmarks,
well: she hated pomegranates, said they were bitter
when they were sweet, and spat them out

into her palm. we smoothed her down, tucked her wrists
delicately back into place; still, six red seeds

were lost beneath her skin in the scuffle.

any news
of the small bird? don’t say you caught her
on camera; when it comes to mannerisms,

what digital net could capture her slight
and studied grace – the way we taught her, how
she folded in on herself with hands like dollar

koi or a smile
that swallowed sunshine. oh, she was
a serious child, but her mouth

was full of fish: swimming between her lips, they
splashed dreamily against her tongue

and sung to us in their lyrical bubbling cant.

any news
of the small bird? of course: she was a beautiful girl,
she had eyes we should die to drown in – like the deepest

of limestone caves, blue
all the way down when you forgot
how sunlight changed children. but those dark hollows

cupped five inches
of clear water at the bottom, no more:
to put it into perspective, the sun

fell fifteen metres down a cenote
the day she disappeared, inundated by the small details

of her sudden negative existence.

any news
of the small bird? yes, we have waited
summers. we know

she is most likely dead. But perhaps the next body
shall have wrists ringed

by six sprouting trees, and a smile
that spits desiccating scales; or eyes whose water rots
and gently seeps away through stone.

we are her mothers; it is our dearest and fondest wish
that she may sleep

(peacefully, well-rested)
within our palms.
© Elizabeth Hong

Project Details

  • Date February 10, 2015
  • Tags 2014 News - Longlisted Poems