Home Poetry Poetry happening—Mary O’Donnell

Poetry happening—Mary O’Donnell

Massacre of the Birds|Mary O’Donnell|Salmon Poetry|ISBN: 9781912561285|€12

My Mother says No on Bloomsday 2020

It is not easy, it is not easy
to wheel an old woman to the shower
on Bloomsday, when the world 
and Molly cry yes, yes, yes,
and she is saying no, no, no,
because what’s left of her life
depends on the freedom of No.
How Joycean of her
to resist the cleaned-up conscience
of filial attention, your need
to fix her taints and odours,
wash hair and teeth,
attend to toes when all she wants
is to float on the lily-leaf of her own
green bedspread, drowsing Molly
in a tangle of snow-white hair.
Now, dreams enclose her
more than talk of showers or meals,
the flowing waters of memory
rise and touch her skin
just where the mattress eases
spine and bones
in that yellow-walled room. 
Hello, my darling, she greets
his photograph, flinging kisses 
towards mottled frame. 
To her then, 
the logic of love,  
to her, the logic of No, 
her tongue untameable.

Hanging House in a Canal 

It lay on the other side,
the colour of country butter.
I longed to enter any way I could—
by door, window, chimney—
found it locked.
But there was a reflection, 
clear as a mirror in the still waters,
the raised brows of dormer windows as it hung there, 
upside down, the poking nose of the porch, 
the comforting torso of walls.
I stripped off, knew immediately what to do,
dived, entered that beckoning house,
its bubbling whispers an embrace
as I burst through its porch reflection.
Now, within, I am drowning
in secrets, in the company of 
rats, diving herons, grey roach 
and crayfish.
With my own, as always.

Those Prostitutes in Cuba

They were like two kittens, he said,
snuggling up to him,
they were fun and they liked him.
I thought—against my own sex—how
enviable his freedom to fall in 
with such company, then breakfast
with them afterwards, heartily, admiring
their health, their strong teeth, that
vitality. It could never happen
to a woman my age, two tiger men
who would not wound, the three of us
so human in a dusky room, sunlight
stealing through the slats in colours
from Matisse, the riotous world
within and without. 

Elegy for a Writer Remembering Eileen Battersby

a woman I knew is laid out today
not in a parlour or fine room
but in a stable
her dun horses have galloped
home across acres of stars 
where they graze among unicorns
      they bear pearl fragments from the horn
of this gentlest of beasts
in the stable      barn-owls have scooped
that pearl to weave a bridle 
for her right hand    
tenderly tethering to her fingernails
            the horses’ nostrils flare close
in soft breaths to the shape of a head 
that would lean into their necks and croon 
alone! alone! before riding out
their dark hooves will beat the earth      
sense a passage to open pasture
bearing her and her millions of words
across the heavens
a woman I knew is laid out today,
not in a parlour or fine room
but in a stable

Massacre of the Birds|Mary O’Donnell|Salmon Poetry|ISBN: 9781912561285|€12