The following piece is published as part of our TLM Young Writers series, a dedicated section of The London Magazine‘s website which showcases the work of exceptional young talent aged between 13-21, from the UK and beyond.

Katie Burge


I know I knocked
over your favourite
red ceramic jar
spilled the salt
you stooped
to scoop up
that same salt you
rubbed into old wounds
hoping to preserve them
you bled borscht
onto the kitchen floor
and I apologized
but you chewed the word ‘sorry’
then spat it like a curse

oh motherland
that other land
you hoarded in your heart
till there was little left for us
usurping claims to currency
you made Katya become Katie
whilst you kept your given name

and when we hopped across the sea
you bottled up your protests
stored them in the cellar
of the dacha with the pickle jars
ammunition that you left
to marinate in brine

your litany of loving
turned loathing
turned loving
till the grand affair unfolded –
ironic how they also call her Katya
you took a hammer to the walls
and screamed her name
but couldn’t curse it
smiling as the house came crashing down
and when I couldn’t breathe
you hugged me tighter


Katie Burge is a 17-year-old student studying at St Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith, London.



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