LOVE LETTER TO MYSELF AT SIXTEEN
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.
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.