Poetry: Selections from Niamh Carmichael

a month after da died

why did you pour the bleach, mama asked.
her voice trembled with tears.
i huddled at the top of the stairs away from it
waiting for my brother’s answer.

her voice trembled with tears
as it did so often in those days.
waiting for my brother’s answer,
i almost didn’t want to hear it.

as he did so often in those days,
he tensed up.
i almost didn’t want to hear
when he spoke.

he tensed up,
opened his mouth.
when he spoke,
he said, so you would fall.

i opened my mouth
but fell silent.
he said, so you would fall.
grief was irrational.

silence fell,
broken only by my mother’s sob.
grief is irrational, yes,
but this was different.

my mother sobbed.
my brother stood still.
this was different.
this was worse.

my brother stood still.
i huddled at the top of the stairs alone.
this was worse.
why did you pour the bleach?


I’m not comfortable with me. I don’t want to be alone With my mind, all my thoughts
A deluge of mud and trees and bricks.
My brain doesn’t fit in my skull, my body in its bones
I am squeezed tighter inside, a worm after
A rainstorm, a lemon in the sun.
Too they to be she, too he to be they, I can’t understand
Which I want for myself. Dark thick hair,
A sharp jawline, lean muscles, but
Feathery eyelashes, soft curves, starlit skin.
Black nails and baggy sweaters that hide my chest,
The next day a skirt, highlighter, mascara.
I wish I could sew my eyes closed, so I don’t have
To see the mirror anymore, stitch my mouth shut Because then I won’t have to hear this voice.
A doll twisted back together
So many times she can’t feel
The heartbeat under her wrist,
Marble irises coated in grime, arms marred
With scarlet thread. I know that I am her,
But I shouldn’t be in her body.

Niamh Carmichael (any pronouns) is a young queer writer from South Carolina. In their free time, they enjoy reading, watching TV, and playing violin.