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seven for a secret

Mikey May

Mikey May (he/fae/xe) is a queer trans man poet, linguist, and trainee teacher based in Birmingham, UK. Faer self-published poetry zines about sex, gender, and Taylor Swift can be found at

thereโ€™s a ghost in my garden,
cutting the grass,
raking leaves,
and picking the yearโ€™s first strawberries.
he stands on the patio smoking,
grey cap with the celtic cross pinned
just above the brim
sheltering his eyes as he watches
the yellow skies,
counting magpies.
๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘’ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ค,
๐‘ก๐‘ค๐‘œ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘—๐‘œ๐‘ฆ.
sometimes, when the sky grows dark,
i can hardly tell the two of you apart.

you told us last summer,
over salad and bitter sunshine,
that there was a ghost inside of you.
your weeks-long haunting
had us shaking in our beds,
while you covered all the mirrors
and picked your skin to shreds.
when they asked you in the hospital
๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ฃ๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘š๐‘๐‘ก๐‘ ?
you told them that you couldnโ€™t,
not while you had us to protect.
i choose to believe that the psychosis
wasnโ€™t speaking just then.

somewhere around the centre of the episode,
you told me you were writing
your autobiography.
there are no photographs of you
between the time you left home
and the time you met my mother,
but iโ€™ve heard tales of bedsits,
bolshevism, and blue hair.
๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘’ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘Ÿ๐‘™๐‘  ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘‘,
๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ฆ๐‘ ,
and all the things never said to your father
before he was no longer there.

i wonder if you both knew silence like this,
a house so quiet
i want to throw bricks
through the kitchen window.
at the dinner table,
i swallow down the urge to ask,
๐‘‘๐‘œ ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘›๐‘œ ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘‘๐‘  ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘š๐‘’?
๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘—๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘›๐‘œ ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘”๐‘ฆ ๐‘ค๐‘–๐‘กโ„Ž ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘โ„Ž ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘ ๐‘Ž๐‘ฆ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š?
youโ€™re watching the screen
with sad, glazed eyes,
and the pills send you to bed at 6pm.

thereโ€™s a ghost in my garden,
setting fires and shooting arrows.
๐‘“๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ ๐‘“๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘”๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘ 
as i reach for his stained-glass hands.
๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘ฅ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘”๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘› ๐‘ฃ๐‘–๐‘Ÿ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘›๐‘–๐‘Ž ๐‘œ๐‘› โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘กโ„Ž,
while the magpies chorus carols of forgiveness.

i always thought weโ€™d bury you in the garden.

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