Self-Portrait at 18 and Deep Light

By Charlotte Chadwick

Self-Portrait at 18:  I was secret and becoming wolfish



I walk on the beach and the breeze slaps my face

and as usual I talk to you

and I almost hear you



I have so many questions unspeakable frozen hot

all the small details you have

so far thrown me

I have gathered up


and I wear them close to my chest

and I touch them shining

as if by accident

one by one from start to finish


I want to kiss and pray to the furthest part of you


there are seagulls


there is a hell of a sky


you would like it



repeating your exact phrase

to keep it in my body


the outer shell colours my breath

as its meanings change


gobstopper sweet

red amber green


the word residue clings

to my teeth and chokes me as


it sticks to the back of my throat

but it enters into my bloodstream


I practise your laugh



oh my heart my heart

very little to do with me


light and hard

a small piece of balsa wood





an explanatory note

in its place


or perhaps strange exact splinters


the shapes of dead bees on the ground


Deep Light


look she is entwined
beautiful phrases
and lost loves
to her bosom
to her neck

each elegance
stabbed into place
she kept it all nice

harmony always means someone is lying
even just the making it seem effortless
when she is trying so hard
terribly as it goes earnest

here she is found
the only one
heavy words
prompting love
to harden like shellac

here it was
the clang of our
woman tongues together
the falling silent and the shadow
of the text in my head that I
shone the light of my heart
brave behind and when i saw the
pattern the pieces made on the page
pushed send

and you came back

far from me in a thick salt crust
when i lost any right to your skin
grant me less than an inch of grace,
just this

my fingertips
the inside of your wrists

the blood
the same
the shared

if i breathe you deep
oxygenating through
my fingers
at least my hands
stop turning blue
at least i can feel my toes
at least i can blink and swallow
the unravelling sky

now regarding the crack
the brick plain stain of what has been
she clutches marble fistfuls of fallen space
some heroic or tragicomic figure
remarkably human like

is she a good person now though
was she a good person then
and was she true




Charlotte Marie Chadwick is originally from Aotearoa New Zealand, and currently based in London. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom, The Lavender Review, The Disappearing, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Cordite Poetry Review, and other places. Her theatre pieces have been performed by The Luvvies (Scotland), Citadel Art Group (Scotland) and at the University of Auckland (New Zealand).

You can check out some of her music, theatre and writing projects at:

3 thoughts on “Self-Portrait at 18 and Deep Light

  1. Intriguing poetry. Thematically, a little terse, likely due to the lack of aging. I like where it’s going, and you should check out some of the American Modernists for further inspiration! Thanks for sharing.


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