The girl who used to bully you at school calls
and leaves a voicemail, asking for acupuncture.
She wants you to go to her house,
that’s how bad the pain is, and there’s a family
on holiday in France and it’s your family
forty years ago. You’re a little girl
eating a croissant for the first time and the ants
are huge and all the dogs might have rabies
don’t approach them. It’s sunny every day
and your mum plays frisbee with you in the sea
but the best part of all is the 14 whole days
of not being hurt by the girl at school
who makes hurting you her project.
And someone is washing blood from a pavement
and it’s her blood because for years, you made
all the spilt blood her blood. And now
she lives in a house with a yellow front door
in a street named after a small songbird
and you’re in her bedroom, sitting on her bed,
both pretending you’ve never met before.
She’s lying face down, with all the needles in
and suddenly, what you want to say is
the thing that made you bully me, can you still
see that in me now? And what you want to happen
is the miracle where you take the needles out
and she stands up pain free, and likes you.
‘Likes You’ by Vanessa Lampert won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2021) judged by Paul McDonald.
Vanessa Lampert has an MA in Writing Poetry from Poetry School London and Newcastle University. Since graduating in 2019, she has won the Café Writers Prize, the Edward Cawston Thomas prize, and the Ver poetry Prize twice. She came second in The Fish, Yeovil, Oxford Brookes and Kent and Sussex prizes. She was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2020. Vanessa’s work has been widely published, most recently in Magma, The Moth, The Oxford Times, Poetry News and Poetry Wales.