The Girl in the Basement / The Boy in the Basement


And I wanted to be the girl / in True Detective / catatonic /
Cared for / in the perfect institution / the place where
horror is mediated / And I wanted to be the girl /
rescued / and loved forever / The girl swept up in the arms
of the detectives / who have never witnessed such horror /
I wanted to be taken up by the protectors /
passed from hand to hand / to be that girl forever / And I
wanted someone to listen / I wanted
to be turned around like a / precious / piece of glass… of something /
I wanted to be handled / with care /
And I suppose I wanted people to look at me / the way they do
on TV / with a rare quality / as if I was rare / and what I’d been
through was so rare as to render me / priceless /
The wan girl / in the oversize cardigan /
the rescued girl / The girl who is found years after / The girl
who escapes / and comes home and her family / have kept
her bedroom untouched / and they treat her /
as if each day is Christmas /
And I wanted to be the boy who lies / who returns home disguised
as the boy who vanished / and even when they find out / they
still keep calling him by the name / The name of the boy
who vanished.


Wes Lee lives in Wellington. Her latest collection Body, Remember (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) was published in London as part of the Lorgnette Series. She has won a number of awards, including the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award, and The Short Fiction Prize (University of Plymouth Press). Most recently she was selected as a finalist for the Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018.