Denise O’Hagan is an editor by trade. Born in Italy, she lived in the UK before emigrating to Australia. She holds an MA in Bibliography and Textual Criticism and works in publishing. Her poetry is published in various literary journals including New Reader Magazine, Other Terrain Journal, Pink Cover Zine, Literary Yard, Backstory, Other Terrain Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Poet’s Corner/InDaily and The Blue Nib. She was commended in the Australian Catholic University Poetry Prize (2018), shortlisted for the Robert Graves Poetry Prize (2018), and received a special mention in the Pangolin Poetry Prize (2018).Website: https://blackquillpress.com/
A gift for the taking
Hunched on the edge of her bed
Fingernail curling into the blanket
She felt the slow wings of panic
Closing in around her
Beating her thoughts out of her
Squeezing her breath thread-thin.
Life is a gift, my father said
She sat there
A husk of her former sixteen-year old self
So light she could blow away
It would be a relief, really.
It’s a gift I never asked for, I replied
But what would it be like
To not be?
No one asked, he responded
Hugging her thin t-shirt tighter
She frowned at the ink stain on her sleeve
And shivered on the edge
Of a perilous moment.
It’s still a gift for the taking.
So she clutched at his words
Mantra-like, embossing them
On the walls of her mind
And from what lay outside.