Mayhem Literary Journal is generously sponsored for 2019 by Te Whare Wananga o Waikato, The University of Waikato
issue 3

october 2015

issue 3 - october 2015

Mother's Garage Cleanout - Rachael Elliott

The first box smells sweeter than wet newspaper
drag it under the light 
earwigs crouch 
top layer of cardboard peels off
like skin
ridges soften underneath
old magazines eaten
by acidic snails
frame a self in pink
sealed sections
how to keep a man happy
the word ‘breathe’
looks wrong
I don’t remember how
to stare at a mirror in a dark room
trying not to pick pimples

The second box flies into my hands
I cannot see over its lightness
friends for every year, louder
lie over each other
brown the shade of 16
teeth soft, 
still 
felt
white of 4 worn into grey freckles of 9
but vivid eyebrows are permanent
small Dalmatians
corners missing
I remember the price of everything
close the lid
write “to go”

The third box opens
on a field of fleece
unpeel its membrane
for a frog, cool in my hand
as I crouch in the pool
fish flicking my calves
porcelain chips fall and click each other
at the bottom of the box
stroke presents from women 
I cannot name
but every time I cry 
I smell their lavender shoulders
I set aside my first yellow fence
two locked diaries to break into
handmade denim pencil case
red zip for keeping
I leave the snakeskin behind
he can’t find his tail
for eating

I feed the boxes left behind
into the fire 
of the rusted barrel 
only one translucent container
to fill
magazines melt from my eyes
the ash of my childhood
covers everything
I am grey

but shoots of green
peep through

Nailed - Rachael Elliott

I bend backward 
break 
below the quick 
and blood becomes my hair

I clip myself 
on your doors 
bags 
and broken locks

I paint myself 
to blend a coloured mask 
to hide beneath

I file myself 
down 
in the bottom drawer 
under k

I hoard 
pieces of my day 
around me 
to pack the hollow I hide

I want to sink into your skin 
pool blood there 
stain myself red 
ready 
re-do 
start over 
with ice water

to make me set 
concrete 
so you can't chip 
at what I have left

Contributor's Note

Rachael has an MA in creative writing from the University of Waikato. Last year she was Editor of Nexus Magazine (which received three Aotearoa Student Press Association awards) and she also won the 2degrees Poetry Slam. Her work has appeared in previous issues of Poetry NZ, Mayhem, 4th Floor and JAAM. Rachael is also a weekly columnist for Nexus and on Mayhem's editorial board. She lives in Raglan.

 

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