an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Grace Shelley

Three photos are still tacked by the window

Grace Shelley

Published on
page 18 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

They see full sun every four to six o’clock, the
her and the me of six months ago swaddled in
light just as we were on the days they were
taken. Our colours are becoming muted but
our smiles are no less vibrant.

The sailboat we both had tattooed on our arms
the day before she left has settled into my skin
like it has always lived there. We only saw them
fresh and raw and rich black and now I wear mine
like someone else forging my signature and I
do not wonder how she wears hers.

Perhaps one day she and I will meet and I
will be wearing the shirt I wore on our first
date. She will tell me its print has faded
in a way I have not seen because I have been
with it during the years she wasn’t here. I put it
into and took it out of every wash.

Nobody sees a screw loosening itself until it
falls out, and I too am coming undone, slowly. Soon
something will fall out of me so quietly as to be
imperceptible. They say your whole body renews
itself every seven years. If she returns I will not
be the person she left. An entirely new skin will be
shrouded over my bones. Perhaps we will pass
in the airport, strangers with matching tattoos.

It doesn’t matter if I take the photos down and
throw them away, or leave them to fade to
milky white; the effect is the same, and everyone
lies when they claim whether they would want
a slow death or a quick one.

The early September late afternoon sun

Grace Shelley

Published on
page 31 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

casts uncomfortably deep shadows.
Everything is orange, and it is disquieting.
Every day, pigeons arc in to sit on the roof
two houses over. What are they calling for?
Why do they watch? Orange is a disquieting
colour, on the fence and palm tree and car.
Cry for safety. The pigeons keep coming.
Sunshine lowers like the constant chirp
of the cicada.

A lot of pictures of Drew Barrymore

Grace Shelley

Published on
page 50 of Tarot #4
(June 2022)

When we first got the internet at home,
I printed out a lot and I mean A LOT
of pictures of Drew Barrymore and
blu-tacked them around my room,
which I didn’t have to share with either
of my sisters.

Think about how long it would have taken
to download twenty pictures of
Drew Barrymore on 2001 dial-up, and then
how much ink it would have taken to
print them all out on our very first colour printer
which my dad probably still has in the garage
if he hasn’t taken it to the e-waste collection.
I made sure not to pick them up too quickly
so the ink didn’t smudge.

Our over-the-road neighbour,
a woman my grandmother’s age who always
signed her name inside quote marks
as if she didn’t really exist,
sold me and my sisters the tape of Never Been Kissed
at her garage sale and we watched it on repeat
because it was our first teen movie.

I liked the way Drew Barrymore looked with her
short blond hair so I Asked Jeeves for pictures of
Drew Barrymore.

I would look at the pictures of Drew Barrymore
before I went to sleep. “I’m such a big fan of
Drew Barrymore,” I would think
as I closed my eyes.