Bio: Lily Holloway is an English Honours student and teaching assistant at the University of Auckland. Her creative writing has been published in Starling, Scum, Poetry Lab Shanghai, The Pantograph Punch, Midway Journal, and other various nooks and crannies. This year she has been honoured to receive the Shimon Weinroth Prize in Poetry, the Kendrick Smithyman Scholarship for Poetry and second place in the Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition. Her website can be found at lilyholloway.co.nz.
i) shell like a cicada
males woo with severed arms the argonauts red krill pulsate dancing pixels, waving paddles those pellucid homes are evasive calcite ships plumes of cephalopod traversing water columns clinging chains of salps a tentacle dances on her mantle
i dream of whales those great black tongues swooping under archways & over tarmac in a submerged cbd a skyscraper made out of a single sheet of polished paua watch a carrier crab use a tiny urchin as a shield a mardi gras hat, an offering there are shipworms longer than your arm buried in the mud & encased in shell found in sulfurous lagoons bacteria live in their gills & scientists thwuck it out and have you considered the soft-shell crab?
iii) flared lip
look there a massive conch shell graveyard imagine crunch ing those porcelain lips departed sisters of hulls white meat pulled like string skim over maiden middens the exposed midriffs of virgin islands crack open pink chests to the dead
to be a candle
tonight i watch the wick of my fingers burn to the stub these fingers tell me i deserve pain after the burning hours my knuckles are blistered and the waxy skin curls away at the house by the train tracks i am four i sit close to the space-heater the flame winks from the divot in its chunky black armour i grab a handful of seeds from the bush outside the laundry i pop them at the house by the sand dunes i am seven birds fly into our chimney the grey cylinder clinks and breaks into fluttering i watch a man finesse a sooty bird into an old towel at the house by the anatoki i am ten i have a plastic bag of chestnuts i line them up on the wood stove like soldiers until they crack on the hot metal i sit too close the heat fully permeating tonight i am twenty-one i watch the wick of my fingers burn to the stub the moon is a hole cut in the apex of a tent there are moths at my window orange pith undersides in my fickle light