1861 c/o Livia Franchini

The country is new, and the land is borderland, and uphill in the forest we are hiding. There are colours and smells and the colours are earth and the yellow of sandbank and black cricket green, deafening.

She shaves our beards with animal shears, points at stones and stumps for seats, sews our vests with black straw, chews on it when she’s hungry
we are boys and as boys are, we smell like boys, but she doesn’t mind it. She tells stories as gruesome as ours.

Her father kills a man for killing his dog and goes to prison for it, but by the time the real culprit is found, the prison has killed him. The dog was a wolf with teeth long as a thumb

         had her father killed for the dog: she understood him.

Better dead than in prison, we say. It seems like a death we could live through.


Make the country or die trying, and the country is young, and we are, and our colours are different. There is sketchwork with our faces on it. We pose next to it by the tree, trace the black with our finger,

         who’s best looking? We ask.

She washes the scuffmarks from our knees, spreads her talents equally, fans herself with a dry leaf, gives herself to the leader. Puts a hand to her mouth when’s she’s singing the hymn
         we are boys and as boys are, we are proud of our orphaned muscle

         hard to tell when you’ve killed one in those button-up jackets.

There was six of us, and six of them took us down, and it was a fair battle. In the photograph she is naked alone, and each of her black teeth is showing.