After Stephen Sexton
A little girl with frilled pink socks
and daisies in her braids
crawls into the stump of a plastic tree
to say a gleeful hello!
to all the dead dears inside.
Hello little mouse!
Hello mister owl!
Fairy doors open
to reveal a stuffed finch on plastic moss
and a field mouse
hiding its glass eyes
from the sticky fingers of children.
Everything here is for touching
a curator sings,
Snow White with an electronic security pass
on the third floor of the Ulster Museum
a princess of taxidermy
and plastic play sets.
Low to the ground
three fox cubs are curled together behind plexi glass
eyes glued shut
like a stillborn cerberus.
This is where the little girl
with frilled pink socks
and pinch-red cheeks wonders,
for the first time,
why the animals lay so still
everything here is for touching
the living and the dead
and the in between
This thought does not linger;
a bushy tail hangs like a feather duster
in the playhouse,
the girl plays tug-of-war with the plastic tree
reaches to pet the hedgehog and squeals
at the spines
scraping her flesh-ripe palm
before running to mummy.
Everything here is for touching.
Erin Emily Ann Vance (MA Creative Writing) is a fiction writer and poet. She attended the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry summer course at Queen's University Belfast in 2018, and a will be a fellow of Summer Literary Seminars in Nairobi in December 2018. A recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize in 2017, and a finalist for the 2018 Alberta Magazine Awards for fiction, her work has appeared in many magazines and journals, including filling station and Contemporary Verse 2. She has a chapbook with Lofton8th press and a leaflet with The Blasted Tree. Her first novel will be released by Stonehouse Publishing in Fall 2019.
the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan