A teenage girl walks

the November woods at dusk,

leaves no trail of breath.

                                                                        After three hundred

                                                                        years I still look like the child

                                                                        I was modelled on.

Low shafts of sunlight

cut between branches; the girl

stops in a clearing.

                                                                        I’ve known everything

she’d have known and more; lived her

 life four times over.

The girl bends down, scrapes

back leaves to reveal bare earth;

a lone blackbird sings.

I’ve never known the

grip of pain before, and now

I can’t escape it.

The girl claws at the

soil with her fingers; the trees

breathe in unison.

Before yesterday

I’d never harmed another

sentient being.

The earth will not yield;

the girl drops to her knees, mud-

caked hands to her face. 

I am made of earthstuff –

ores torn from the planet’s womb

by those who made me.

The girl lies down, scoops

a blaze of leaves across her

legs, belly and chest.

Ice-hot pain that comes

from everywhere and nowhere

is calling me home.

Now the final leaf

is placed; one uncovered eye

flares, and then grows dark.


(C) Helen Lewis 2011

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