You laugh, loud and clear,
At my look of pure horror
When you tell me what paper is.
Careful, you’ll stick like that, love –
You said, as I blink at the thin page,
As barely there as my pale skin.
Not at all rough, like its body outside,
That glimmers with bright baubles,
Even when it’s not nearly Christmas.
There is no shine here, no warmth,
Like the pies, golden, and sweet –
Or presents, and smiles. Just nothing.
The lack of, the after,
Empty plates and frowns –
It reminds me of the stones,
Dry, blank, and rough, just standing there
In the long, loud grass. Like dead trees –
Only at least they have names,
Scratched into them, like promises, reminders,
So they aren’t just stuck, bare, in the cruel wind.
I asked you for a pen. You didn’t ask why –
But your face scrunched up when I wrote my name
Then flattened again, like a page, bent over, turning…
You understood where I was going, I think,
So you whipped it out of my hand, quick –
Told me I was too young for that kind of thing. The after.
But trees get cut down all the time –
I just didn’t want this one to die
With empty branches.
Reaching out, waving, just for someone
To sit, just for a second. Join them
Before they go, and get split, alone and scared, into paper,
Like this one, a single page, shaking in my still hand,
It’s not fair –
The least I can do is be there, Mum,
Give them something, a sign, a covering, comfort –
Even if only in spirit. In shining wet ink.
Chloe Smith is a disabled and autistic writer and poet from the UK. She is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year 2015, and her poetry has been published in the Honest Ulsterman, TERSE. Journal, Rose Quartz Journal, Cauldron Anthology and more. Her flash fiction has been published in Ellipsis Zine, TRAIN, Three Drops From a Cauldron and The Ginger Collect. For more about her writing, please visit her website: https://chloesmithwrites.wordpress.com/. You can also find her on Twitter: @ch1oewrites.