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Small Lives -- poetry by Olivia Burgess

after Maggie Smith’s ‘Good Bones’

Tomorrow isn’t certain, but today I can be in your kitchen

frying halloumi in honey and thyme, but without garlic, because it upsets your stomach.

I cradle these certainties, small, delicate, pocket them in the room you own in my head

so that I can return and crawl into this moment and call it home.

The air tastes of cayenne and hollow sunsets, and you tuck away a baby hair

in the oven’s mirror with the same relinquished ease of stroking a family pet.

Tomorrow isn’t certain, but I can watch your hands select a wooden spoon

and wield it like a paintbrush through a rainbow, clutch the pepper mill to season,

then simmer lemon rice murmuring on the spitting stove. I have a sudden knowing

that I am caught on precious ground: the tiny lamp and its nonplussed amber,

the stack of frying pans waiting in a drawer at our feet. Love was born in your kitchen -

this, I now realize, and there’s your crumpled smile

in the dimmed light switch of an autumn Wednesday evening.

In the living room, the near doomsday of six o’clock news fades to

a dull thrum of vacant mutter, and maybe the world will end, splitting into oblique diamond chunks, but you can find us at the table, shifting cutlery, clinking glasses.

Tomorrow isn’t certain, but right now: this, this is enough.


Olivia Burgess is a 17 year old raised and residing in the UK. Her poetry focuses on nature, love, her muse (who shall remain unnamed) and her internal dialogues. She has a smattering of publishings, from a short story chapbook to Paper Crane Journal, with forthcoming work in Ice Lolly Review and Cathartic Literary. When she's not unleashing her words, she fancies herself a bit of a good cook and constantly listening to music. You can find more on her Instagram @light.green_eyes

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