I first kissed the mechanic’s son
breathlessly against a garage door.
His calloused hands left dark stains
on my blouse, though his mind
was a whiteboard of equations;
he dreamt in permanent marker
as I pencilled soft grey butterflies
in the back of my exercise book.
When I showed him one of my poems
at break, he said: “It is chaos, good
God. Before you start, know clearly
what it is you wish to communicate.”
B29 Superfortress Crash Site, Bleaklow
Open a car bonnet, and you’re struck
by the yellow and the red and the green wires
packed in as neatly as a lunchbox.
Glimpsed accidents at the roadside
couldn’t prepare you for the aeroplane’s
myriad of secret parts:
the russet punch
of humpbacked cogs, half
submerged in peat, the pipes and the sheet metal
and the stump of bronze propeller, curious
as the deep-sea diving helmet
you once saw
in a dusty museum,
all solemn, diamond-paned
And each piece blasted
so far wide of the draftsman’s
between the biology textbook
and the body on the operating table –
a bloom of organs
so very red.
I have taken the scissors to my history textbook
I begin at the back of the classroom.
No one notices the tiny tear
of page corners, heaped on my desk
in white confetti. I blow them
like this, or cut out page numbers
and scatter the black seeds
across rain-soaked playing fields.
I slice paragraphs into words
and words into letters,
rearrange them like fridge magnets.
The joy of infinite possibility.
I ink out entire paragraphs.
When a girl in the year above flicks
a lighter, shows me how to burn holes
in plastic, I make blisters bubble
like a ruck of volcanoes
across its protective cover.
I've learnt the knack of ripping paper
cleanly, so it falls from its binding,
as meat from a bone.
My teacher stops teaching
as her eyes lock on the carcass
and asks me what’s happened.
I tell her it is for accuracy’s sake.
Sophie Clarke is studying for an MSt in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford. She was one of ten commended poets in the ‘Seeing Further: Poems on the Underground Competition’ 2010, and was a commended Foyle Young Poet in 2007. She has been published in a variety of places, including Pomegranate, Popshot and Fuselit, and has recorded poems for PoetCasting. She guest-edited the latest issue of the Poetry Society's youth magazine.