Poems by Liz Quirke (Ireland)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 42
You will come to me, perfect.
Skin alabaster, a primed canvas.
A space for ink and paint,
light and shade in a fleshy bundle.
Scared and hopeful, I know
I will leave fingerprints,
watermarks on your surface,
reduce your glass to less than perfect.
My eager breath will frost failures
onto places they have no business.
Without intention I will change you.
My doubts will mar the pristine.
As our years together thin away,
skin will peel, little by little.
A layer from me, a layer from you.
Words between us will catch and flay,
leaving us ragged.
As much as I will fail
without meaning to and
mourn every sliver of destruction,
I promise I will be there, a constant,
naive and imperfect,
With the hope that loving you
will nurse and tend your wounds.
New rooms I will build from you, bones and all.
The laboured rungs of your spine will stack neatly,
beautiful furniture. Angled strength
siphoned through your forearms,
trust wrought from the ballast lines of your limbs.
You are the structure I crave, but I have little
to give to this construction,
no materials or design.
The dimensions must come from you,
your shape and clever eye.
I will unpack my flimsy particles for assessment.
Spread me out, inventory what remains.
If you see fit, assemble my unruined elements,
joints, anything you can salvage.
Wrap tight, firm till I set and can stand alone.
These rooms will be a composite of us both.
You, the shape, register of craft.
My fingertips will press your intercostal
muscles to cornice definition,
push your art to show itself.
Debris thickens your knuckle bends
and fist-curled territories,
but this is our arrangement,
where my tiles slot into our mosaic
and you are the setting clay that holds.
Once done with your reclamation,
survey the scree, hold the smallest parts together,
dust my skin with cement-rough hands.
Through the heat of your palms
I will come back,
resembling what I was before,
but better because of you.
Liz Quirke is 30 and lives in Co. Galway, Ireland with her partner and daughter. Her poetry has been published in journals including Southword, Crannóg, The Stony Thursday Book, Boyne Berries, Revival Literary Journal, The Galway Review, Skylight47 and The Poetry Bus. She was shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize in 2015.
Image: "Pierced" by Jenny Downing.