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Thirteen

—Olivia Burgess

Thirteen

I remember it happening too smoothly, crisp, like undressing a page, 

suddenly jotting the years in a shaky margin. Snapped hair ties, 

classrooms fueled with too many elbows, academic pulses a mystery, 

a shape on the hill—too far to call. 

I remember my dad in the kitchen, teaching me how to chop vegetables, 

first, with a mushroom, soft, mellow, easily succumbing. 

‘There you go. nice and easy’ 

fingers flailing and the fear of pain 

because I did not have many fears, then. 

Glittering studs, half-braided locks, tasting the word identity

then facade, then later, shame. The girls learnt that earlier though, 

in the summers where they were told their childhood died through bloody gain. 

I remember lunch queues groaning and seizing in crowd bubbles, high on 

the sweet steam of hot crusts and canned towers

‘then you flip it over’ 

Straightening school skirts outside the gate, girls with wide eyes hustling cold breath

cursing long legs or lack thereof. The underside of rebellion stealing paper-clips from 

exam papers, just to remember what your heart feels like, the form of it, bumping 

and skipping like losing friends. 

Dreaming silly, of shapes on clouds or curtains closing, symbols of ignorance

and parodies of the mundane. Your life defined by 

extra-curricular and niceties, just to be a category. The sheer certainty 

of being someone else, a child caricature or a nobody—

oh, what a strange collection of days. 

‘then, you go again.’

About

OLIVIA BURGESS is a 17 year old word chef raised and residing near London, UK. When she's not composing poetry, usually based on nature, her internal monologues, or her muse, she's having a frolic or staring for extended periods of time at the moon. She has been published in over 20 micro press avenues, and she hopes you take care of yourself today. 

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