I lay in my auntie’s bed, kept awake until the birds sing
by a regular chime of the grandfather clock,
the fan is my companion,
and I make a tent over my body from the bedsheet
to protect my skin from the mosquitos
(Can you hear the buzzzzzz in Hazzz-Zzzabbar?)
Nanna’s house says “grandeur” with an echo
that chills me as a child forever.
It could be a stage set
for a secret show
And then I’ll catch myself staring back in the mirror.
And then a disapproving voice,
Has had one eye on the beads
and one eye on me.
I am told that girls-in-white walk their brothers and sisters to church (chinese whispers)
along the dusty streets.
all the auntie’s houses
and nannas too.
But I am a girl-in-black and my nanna
thinks I am mourning
grandpa from England.
I can hear the buzzz
in the crickets too.
The garden’s own tune.
Cover your body in lemons
before you sleep
to make sweeter sweat
to fight the biting buzz
to make a tongue zing
to the ghost who comes by the frosted door,
after nanna prayed
the souls sing.
Vanessa Walters is an artist and writer working in photography, creative non-fiction and poetry. Recent writing has been published in Quaranzine (Profound Experience on Earth), Ang(st) Zine, Marías at Sampaguitas, Detritus Journal, Rejection Lit and The Daily Drunk. Her other work can be seen at vanessawalters.xyz. Follow her on instagram @walters.vanessa and twitter @vanessa_walters