LOVE LETTER TO MYSELF AT SIXTEEN

Aimee Seu

How beautiful you look mid-fall

driving out to the radio tower hills 

with someone you hardly know 

and parking up. The distant night city 


a studded black leather jacket.

You, in a headdress of lit cigarettes. 

Your rage, a flammable ocean.

How can I console you?


Your menarche was a maroon convertible

that plowed through the living room wall.

Your menarche, a red kite ripped away.

Categorically late like your mother’s,


staining your hands like a crime,

your menarche was a note inked 

on silk, crumpled half-written.

Year like a wedding gown


doused in kerosene, your virginity

in an unmarked grave. You cut class.

And yourself. And the headlights

and drive, music turned up


like a chemical bath. Your father’s 

death makes each cigarette 

like kissing, deliciously, his killer.

The girls at school are a hoard


of cannibal monarchs, & you, blue

morpho whore, getting the spins

in the mirror, dysmorphic & lost,

that straightjacket cocoon.


How many lovely birds can you 

wound with the thrown stone

of your body? In the backseat slithering

out of a fake snakeskin skirt,


watching the boys skate

on the edge of the emptied pool.

Sated, on the verge of starving

for anyone’s desire. Your bedroom 


at the end of a long tunnel, 

the ketamine made your own name 

sound strange, benzos made your body 

bearable. Not even I can reach you. 


Catatonic in your favorite shoplifted 

highlighter-orange nail polish 

and those bamboo hoops 

the gold rubbed off of.


I still root for you, still worry 

at your chances. How each night 

in the woods of your soul

a gang of hounds hunts a deer. 

She escapes them


mostly, nimble & practiced.

But then some nights

falls among them

like drowning in hunger.


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Aimee Seu is the author of Velvet Hounds, winner of The Akron Poetry Prize. She graduated from the University of Virginia Creative Writing MFA Poetry Program in 2020 as a Poe/Faulkner Fellow where she was recipient of the 2019 Academy of American Poets Prize. Other awards she’s received include the 2020 Los Angeles Review Poetry Award, the 2020 Henfield Prize for Fiction, the 2016 Academy of American Poets Prize at Temple University, the Temple University 2016 William Van Wert Award, and the Mills College Undergraduate Poetry Award. She was a semifinalist in the 2019 New Guard Vol. IX Knightville Poetry Contest judged by Richard Blanco and a finalist for the 2020 Black Warrior Poetry Prize judged by Paul Tran. Her poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared or have forthcoming publications in Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Los Angeles Review, BOAAT, Redivider, Raleigh Review, Diode, Minnesota Review, Blacklist, Adroit, Harpur Palate, and Runestone Magazine. She is a Philadelphia native currently living in Tallahassee where she is a Poetry PhD student at Florida State University.