RUNNER UP – THE 2019 SANDY CRIMMINS
NATIONAL PRIZE IN POETRY
Nine-Year-Old Suicide in Reverse
for Jamel Myles
by Chad Frame
A candle unsnuffs, its smoke drawn back in,
its guttering, finger width flame relit.
The bright blue JanSport rises from the floor
and hooks its straps around your slight shoulders.
You dart backwards down the carpeted stairs.
The door unslams. The yellow bus backs up
around the cul-de-sac. Your eyes unclench.
The children suck words back away from you.
High-fletched F, its bulbless semiquaver.
Lofty A, its slopes unassailable.
Selfsame, cliquish GG, backs turned to shun.
Surprised O, rolling, caught up in all this.
And T, the final, burning cross of it.
That morning, unknowing, your mother smiles,
untousles your hair like wind smoothing grass,
and sits. Inky clouds of coffee billow
past her pursed lips like possessing spirits.