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Alison Tan's shortlisted piece for the Monica Ali Creative Writing Prize.

It will take you by surprise: a warmth in your chest,

a sunbeam in your bathroom mirror, a drop of honey

from a bird’s beak. Not after the years in which

you cradled womanhood like shrapnel to your chest,

your prize of war the taint of touch in the darkness.

I have seen you mutate in the compost of your closet:

a razor of light, a lipstick, a beanie, feral thing

in a silk skirt. I have seen you at the windowsill

wearing sleeplessness like a lace veil, aching

to plead the euphoria of birds. Go, then – O girl,

O derivative of, gather up these snowflake-

tender bones and keen them into flight. 

Someday you will learn to reach into the back door

of your body and fling it open. Someday you will learn

that wholeness was just a trick of the light.

Image Credits: Mikhail Evstafiev / CC BY-SA 3.0

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