At the end there were straws
in her glove compartment, I’d split them open
to taste the familiar bitter residue, near the end
I ate all her Percodans, hungry to know
how far they could take me.
A bottle of red wine each night moved her along
as she wrote, I feel too much, again and again.
You asked how and I said, Suicide, and you asked
how and I said, An overdose, and then
she shot herself, and your eyes filled
with wonder, so I added, In the chest, so you
her face was gone, and it mattered, somehow,
that you knew this…
Every year I’m eight years old and the world
is no longer safe. Our phone becomes unlisted, our mail
is kept in a box at the post office,
and my mother tells me always
leave a light on so it seems
someone is home. She finds a cop
for her next boyfriend, his hair
greasy, pushed back with his fingers. He lets me play
with his service revolver while they kiss
on the couch. Cars slowly fill the windows, and I aim,
making the noise with my mouth, in case it’s them,
and when his back is hunched over her I aim
between his shoulder blades, silently,
in case it’s him.
Nick Flynn (2000)
The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.