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woman's black shoes and reflection of child's shoes on the floor

'Love set you going like a fat gold watch.'

(Sylvia Plath, "Morning Song")

The watch sleeps coiled in the corner

of your room. In the hospital

whiteness, when you had sunk

and I could not warm the wreck

of your body, they asked if I wanted a lock

of your hair to keep. I said no,

hoping to send you whole

into the next world, not knowing they would pick

you apart, regardless, searching

for a black box.

That was the year the ladybirds came.

They arrived earlier in the spring –

while your head tilted

on the pillow to catch the birdsong –

thronging on the apple tree

between promises held in silky

blossom. Black and red glyphs


When that was done, they vanished.

I never knew their young, imagined

mothers whispering into unhatched eggs – Fly

before they see you. Fly before they tie

the 'why' to your legs like lead

balloons. Fly before I forget

you are not for keeping.


You have your place among the elements.

Text and photo by Junyi Chew

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