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Tome On The Range

Two Poems By: Melissa Lee-Houghton
Karl Smith , November 17th, 2013 08:27

Having previously appeared on The Quietus in Bobby Parker's first All Tomorrow's Voices column, this week's new writing comes by way of two poems from Melissa Lee-Houghton's new collection Beautiful Girls

Melissa Lee-Houghton's first collection is published by Penned in the Margins. Her second collection, Beautiful Girls, also published by Penned in the Margins, is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Her poetry and fiction have been published widely, most recently in Tears in the Fence and New Walk. She has written fiction for BBC Radio Four and writes reviews for The Short Review.


I become more afraid of your body every year. Its tenderness
and its strength squeeze me down to a little cube of love,
all sides shimmering and melting at once;

Every year I become more afraid of your body,
of your almond skin that breaks a sweat like the first droplets
from a dam. Behind your skin there’s an ocean.

Your body, every year, is becoming more afraid.
My colours are fading because you have licked them,
and one day you will not rouse me when I wake in colour.

All of me and all of you drinks of the fear in my heart.
Erasure is never complete. I try to imagine you without a body.
In the heat of the night we sing like tin.

My Lovelies

I had a vivid imagination.
We lived behind a factory
that blocked out the sun.
My mother would stitch old ladies’ slippers in silence,
my new teeth cutting through
with the quick taste of blood that I savoured.
I suspected I was not the only girl
of my kind.

My sister warned me about vampires
when I was six, and I lost my pig heart
in an old wooden box filled with dismembered teddies.
The foam innards irritated the flesh.

I would climb into my sister’s moody bed,
where the dark sneaked under the covers like smoke
as I lifted them so quietly —
her cold legs wouldn’t fasten with mine
and when I woke her
she’d rage and shout and push me out
to go and sleep with the rotten vampires.

But the vampires grew to love me.
They lay with me like fathers, sons.
Sometimes I would wrap my legs around them,
my pussy pushed up against their thighs,

and I would pray for them.
I had a vivid imagination, my mother said.
But I suspected I was not the only one.

When I stayed in his house I took
my beloved vampires with me to suck

on his rubber neck — to suck, to suck.
But he was impenetrable.
And I had a vivid imagination.