an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Amelia Kirkness


Amelia Kirkness

Published on
page 8 of Tarot #5
(Dec 2022)

in my room when i was little i always wondered
what the colour of my walls would taste like.

i imagined white paint by the bucket
to be incomparably sweet. light and fresh,
like vanilla body mist coating your throat
with a pleasant, heady, breathless high.

to bathe in it, soft and unsticky.
the platonic ideal of a milkshake without the calories.
bright on the skin, covering, purifying,
the filling feeling of uniform goodness.
i could put my head under and drink forever
and be cleansed from inside out by the nectar

of things being all as they should be:
the devotion of a daughter
pure as a glass of milk,
full cream.

whipped butter on fluffy pancakes,
smooth as white roses, sharp as baby teeth—
the cottony peaks of a sunny day’s clouds,
or a bowl of fresh merengue.
the whites of your eyes, spread wide in innocence,
the right look at the right time,
white like the crests of perfect crescent nails,
digging into skin.

calcite-bright, white chocolate-sweet,
gentle powdery icing sugar puffs
at the edge of the cake batter bowl.
i’d be strong enough not to lick the spoon.
soft soft soft and soft and pure and soft,

the froth atop a latte,
untainted, against and bettering the bitter parts,
and all the dark coffee of the world,
everything melting on the tongue.
smooth and liquid, consuming,
dripping down down down.
this is your duty:

you must flow and flow and never spill.
the realisation comes with a sour taste,
lactic and curdled like a bottle forgotten
at the bottom of the fridge:
you will never be pure enough.
the walls are only ever ivory.

resene’s quarter thorndon cream,
just off-white.

& tears

Amelia Kirkness

Published on
page 54 of Tarot #5
(Dec 2022)

when i got home from year 13 formal
there were specks of blood
on the nude tulle of my dress
from the lacerations on my arms
made by its sequins
as i danced.

at least my feet didn’t really hurt this time,
not like the last year, all the blisters
and the aching the next day
from my insistence on wearing
the white strappy shoes until the night was done.
i didn’t regret it, not while

remembering the year 8 leavers dance,
icing my feet in the bathtub at 11 pm
after my first time in Proper Heels,
with legs red and irritated,
shaved raw to look pretty under the dress.

at the end of the day,
what’s more classically girly than this?
what’s more feminine than blood and tears?
pencil sharpener blades to 12-year-old wrists
too chubby for the lead in the play?
the eager anticipation of being old enough
to wear makeup, to compensate,
after watching beauty gurus
from age 8?

and then there’s all the years
of high school, waking up
at 5 am or some other ungodly hour
for skincare and makeup, with extra time
to redo the eyebrows
four times before I’d leave the house
when they never looked right,
and concealer to hide the sleep deprivation.
Cassie-from-Euphoria-core, before it was cool.

all of this, the ways through which i define myself,
carving out my space in the world with every ache.
my right to be a girl marked out by the fact that,
even if i was not born pretty,
i can always suffer the pain it takes

and when it makes me cry
i can tilt my head at just the right angle
and swipe the tears away quick,
before they drip too far,
so as to not fuck up my mascara.