Milk Teeth


at eleven I had been walking home for years,
slipping off my shoes in the kitchen,
stuffing wine biscuits into the pockets of my
blue gingham school dress,
wandering our flat looking for something to do

the television didn’t work
            and often I would find myself
in my mothers closet
admiring her dresses
paying special attention to a rust coloured slip
that shimmered like orange water
                                    falling from its hanger

on her dresser was an empty bottle of perfume,
baby blue with a single red stripe around the stem
I’d sniff the cap
            smoky plum and spices,
                        close my eyes to
            draw my arms around her soft neck

I could sit at the foot of that unmade bed for hours,
turning the bottle gently in my hand
sunlight making its
                        way across the room

only once I went through her drawers,
finding treasures I could not explain;
a fake Rolex, a blackened teaspoon,
and a tiny porcelain box
                        filled with milk teeth.


Jess Fiebig tutors at the Christchurch School of Young Writers. Her poetry has recently appeared in Aotearotica, Catalyst, Landfall, Takahē, Poetry New Zealand and New Zealand Poetry Society journals.