‘A History of Love Letters’ by Seanín Hughes
Miss said every time I told a lie,
Baby Jesus had a nail hammered
into his hand.
She said I had a sad mouth,
corners downturned, pointing
to hell.
Stephen with the p-h had a mouth
like sunshine. I gave him a token:
a tiny toy dinosaur egg, pale blue and gold.
I wrote his name on my hand
and hoped the egg would hatch.
My body grew and Granny said, never
shave your legs, so I did. Better bald
spring chicken; better descaled
and plucked bare for boys
to touch with their nervous fingers,
and work me open.
The one who wrote love letters
spilled his entrails in black Bic biro,
telling me in no particular order
the parts of me he liked best —
some illustrated.
When Napoleon begged his Josephine
to lay…

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