Erin Vance, The Birdwatcher

To Mummify A Tongue

my legs are on backwards,
they belong to a violin spider
i live gelatinous in an olive aspic.

my guts are sugar-free jell-o
the doctor said the lining of my stomach
is the film on old, curdled milk
my body an empty gas cannister

hair clogs the drain like gauze
in the bloody sockets of missing teeth
i try to remember
what appetite tastes like

i force vitamins down my rusted trachea
all vegetables must exist
in gelatine capsules
i must exist in gelatine capsules

translucent, wind blows through my aspic-house
my skim-milk blue bones prickle
with lighter fluid

a caffeine pill in a tic tac box
is an easy plate to clean

Mademoiselle Sagee

Emilie, Emilie
I curl up inside of you
nesting in between your heart and your lungs
I make a pillow of your aorta.

Like cobwebs, I cling
to the thistles as you walk past.
(a habit carried into adulthood from childhood, when I first met you)

Emilie, Emilie
for thirty-two years I have watched you
bathed you in my gaze
drank the air that flows behind your figure.

While your nails graze the chalkboard
I pull weeds
in your second favourite pair of boots.

I lie across your toes while you sleep
and keep you warm.

Emilie, Emilie
just because you don’t see me
doesn’t mean I am not here,
seeing you, being you.

Like thick fabric, I drape over you
and obscure your true shape.

While you conjugate verbs in your linen dress
I kiss your cheeks
and watch that your pupils do not leave their seats.

If you lay with fever I will pace
the perimeter of your bed.

Emilie, Emilie
I will do the sweating for you
I will do anything for you.


After reading about the deaths of the Yates children

Silt sinks to the basin floor.
The dog barks.
The sides of the tub are riddled with dirt, a
playtime residue.
Scratch scratch.
The dog yelps, its nails clacking on the door.

She drags the animal to the broom closet
and slams the door on its snout
to stifle the whimpers.

The overflow gurgles.
There is a distant yelp.
A small cry.
Scratch scratch.
Unclipped toenails on the porcelain tub.

She feels the soft down,
the swell of mosquito bites on young skin.

Their walnut nail beds
break the surface
she pushes
the dog whines
the water goes still.

Placed on pillows they are offerings;
unlit prayer candles.

The Birdwatcher

This winter is too bright and pale.
The wind scratches my eyelids and the sun

stitches them closed.

It is June and the trees
shiver still, the lake

holds sixteen layers of dead birds.

The ice melts a little and the birds fly home, bathe,
then freeze. Repeat.

One day (August, maybe),
there will be a final melt

and the river will run thick
with blood and feathers.

Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including Contemporary Verse 2 and filling station. Erin was a 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction. She will complete her MA in Creative Writing in 2018 and begin an MA in Irish Folklore and Ethnology at UCD in 2019.

Erin’s debut novel, Advice for Taxidermists and Amateur Beekeepers, will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in 2019. Her second chapbook, The Sorceress Who Left Too Soon, will be released by Coven Editions in 2019.

To read more of Erin, click here.


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