Amelia Loulli is a poet living in Cumbria. A pamphlet of her poetry was published by Nine Arches Press in Primers Volume Four. Her work has twice been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize, and longlisted in 2020 for the Rebecca Swift Foundation's Women Poets' Prize. Amelia is an MA Writing Poetry student at Newcastle University, and was recently selected by New Writing North to deliver creative writing workshops to young writers as part of their Inkubator scheme. She's currently working on a pamphlet of new poems, as well as a verse novel.
they talk to me,
the day you were born,
as though another me stepped out
and never returned, my very own
double image, retreating, and for years
I only know knees of the dirty kind,
hands which would struggle to pick up
a small stone, a halo fastened at the neck.
There is a world in which I never had you,
the handle to my parent’s bedroom door
was missing, leaving behind a small
square eye hole, just above bed height.
I carried love around with me like milk
in a shallow bowl, watching it lapping the sides,
each drop bleaching my skin, there were days I broke
our home with only a few words,
I am not your mother. Mother
has gotten itself stuck in my throat,
grown like a tumour or a foetus
but faster, from poppy seed to broad bean
until it’s swollen so hard I can’t
say anything more. In your bunk bed,
behind your back, I lie, holding on
to your plaited hair like a rope.
The dolls are bleeding,
all of them leaking,
red and black
from their forever open mouths,
what can we fill them with?
I don’t like the way
they look at me
like they expect something more.
Since you’ve been gone,
they’ve started touching themselves,
running their plastic fingers
up their own shiny thighs.
I don’t know how to stop them,
so I wait for you to come home,
whilst they slide their tongues
around their lips and look
at each other, eyes growing big.
Last night I filled an egg cup
with baking soda and vinegar,
and tried to clean their faces,
you were still gone,
they wouldn’t let me near,
until I promised
to pour the vinegar away
and bleed with them, so I did,
legs touching, my bled fingerprints
forming like wax seals upon our skin.
Most people drown
a noise or splashing. See me
here Baby, watch
out plank, below the surface,
all that stillness, all that
how long I can breathe
down here alone. You must
I am your mother after all,
don’t think about the firefighter
to the woman on the phone inside
the burning building, says he’s on his
to save her, then hands her brother
back the phone, tell her you
knowing all his tears
won’t be enough to quiet the
flames, I am
your mother after all, I am made
to do this. When the mother harp seal
leaves its cub,
nobody calls it a mistake,
I have been at this much longer than
twelve days –
just let me float here a while, Baby
you will still remember my face.
It will be
the same one you wear every time
life cuts in such a way – the serration
drags the exact
formation of ripples upon its shape.
All poems: Primers: Volume Four (Nine Arches Press)
Broken Waters: Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre Weekly Poem