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Mary Cresswell


Our lives were stored in our heads.
They hadn’t begun; we were both sure
we’d know when they did.
They certainly weren’t this.
– Louise Glück, August

It was no year in particular
all spring, all summer
we scrambled through days
strung together like beads.
It was hardly idyllic
but we knew it would change.
We didn’t need to resort to words:
our lives were stored in our heads
along with the instruction sheet
and the GPS coordinates.
Everything shipshape. We had
plenty of time to prepare
and we were clear to go.
Then came the real questions:
Had the party started? Who was there?
They hadn’t begun. We were both sure.
The first surprise was the island
totally off the charts and covered
with spiders and rainforest.
Getting through it was hard,
but we did our best, swinging
from vine to vine, trusting
the others to lend us a hand.
We’d know when they did.
When the satellites fell one by one
(bright pretty stars going into the sea
alive and hissing with rage)
the tidepools were cluttered with bits.
Some of the pieces were smooth as mirrors
where we looked for our shining selves.
Upmarket shrapnel – but seen as our lives
they certainly weren’t this.


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