We stand in a line, a heritage of burning matches,
the crackle of excuses, the acrid scent of resentment
curling around us. Your flame reaches for my throat,
turns my fingers to ash. You could lean away, end it here.
You don’t. I need to escape before I wither,
my insides black and brittle. I fear the fall,
the rattle of hollow wooden bones splintering,
skittering across the kitchen lino. But what I fear more
is being extinguished, going out in a whisper
of smoke slipping through scorched hands.
So let me tumble, red as a smarting cheek,
let me make a home in the skirting board,
collect dust with the other survivors. One day,
I’ll set fire to something beautiful, cast light
over soft skin and sparkling eyes, trails of lavender
in my wake. But I won’t burn for you.
Based in Yorkshire, Eloise Unerman writes poetry, short stories and game narratives. She was awarded Cuckoo Young Writers Award in Northern Writers Awards and is currently Barnsley’s Poet Laureate and a Writing Squad graduate. Her poetry won first place in multiple competitions, including the young people’s category of the Ledbury Poetry Competition 2017? And she has been published in several magazines and anthologies.