Natalie MacKinnon

Read in landscape mode!


Remember me eyeing you from the garden? I was playing at spite.
A fierce, filled-up infant. Picture Tink, piping red,
Watching the party. You were inside with another girl, only talking,
And though I knew you’d come to find me,
It was good to taste a tantrum
That charged my lips.

(I’ve always loved the smell of pub carpets,
The brown-water smell of boots and shots and fruited barley,
Skin clinging to a sticky glass,
Turns me into a liquid and I fill whatever I fill.)

I was pooling when you found me and took me to bed,
A back way between black, bending leaves.
At our feet your toys turned tough in the mud.
I liked your rolled shirtsleeves,
Your fingers shot the lock,
And your grip was big, and rubber and trembling.

We surfaced in your parents’ house,
All the lights left on. I thought it was cold and oblong.
Your room had a strange sink,
Like a bedsit. Like the flat above a shop.
Your rosy-haired sister met us in the hallway and smiled. No one else was home.

I’m sorry, Diarmuid. If I’d stayed, we could have drunk wine together
I’d have liked that. I latched well.
And I liked your blackness, your writing hands held tight fists with rooting bodies,
Ancient and underground.

But you smelled human. I whimpered and browned like a bad tooth.
I simply think wrong. In halves and honks. Like smacks on the back of the child’s thigh,
My flesh wobbles with the plosive in
I am bad, I am bad, I am bad.

About the Author

Natalie MacKinnon is a writer and playwright from Edinburgh. Her poetry has been published in Pushing out the Boat and Inkwell. Her writing for the stage has been performed at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Theatre 503 in London, and has been adapted for radio by the BBC.