Butcher, The Lacemaker
is tenderising me today.
spiked wooden mallet slams
a piece of steak
over again. It works,
treatment. It's effective.
breaks the fibres. The steak
to look like lace.
I give in
don't mind so much.
begin to enjoy the feeling
being pummelled, loosened,
then the fine lace hook
God's dextrous fingers,
me together again,
to a new design.
in three movements
in the morning.
shakes me awake:
wants you and she won't tell me why.
go in to their bedroom,
her side of the bed: What's wrong?
she can say is: The small bag, over and over,
at the Y junction of the catheter,
at my eye, pressing hard on the flesh
my right temple, then at her own left eye.
check the catheter. It's fine.
can you tell me what's bothering you?
points at the catheter, my eye, her eye.
the morning she will be garrulous,
coherent, but talk is useless now.
holds my gaze, asking the same wordless
I answer her with a held silence,
five, ten, fifteen minutes:
is no need to be afraid.
sighs, settles to sleep.
snores lightly beside her.
come back after my week away,
Is she still waking agitated?
barks at me: Don't be ridiculous.
can you wake agitated?
you're asleep you're not agitated.
stunned by this old version of my father:
mother never gets agitated.
means anxious. Your mother
means disturbed, restless.
look it up in the dictionary,
search for sanity more than sense -
mother is dying,
feel like I'm losing my father.
ten years of learned ease
the awkward daughter again,
our camaraderie gone. I must remember
I'd schooled myself to forget:
downwind of the old rhinoceros
he charges, blind,
the wound of her dying.
storms, huffs, finally settles:
you'd been clear in the first place.
you'd asked me that in the first place.
have to get out of this house,
from her need, his wound, my care.
Gortnagearagh river flows
from the Silvermines. I walk
Bramble and Nettle,
yellow Marsh Lilies
Foxglove - I fear its toxic healing
a house of broken hearts),
grows into me.
brain fills with green calm.
one minute, five, ten,
might be enough.
Danielle and Heather Corish
when I was old enough to remember,
three of us getting ready for bed,
out of day-clothes into pyjamas.
watch as she moves, half dressed,
the bathroom and the bedroom,
white satin slip beneath her dressing gown,
face changing, eyelashes lengthening,
arcing, lips as red as Smarties;
our father fusses with keys, phone numbers,
for the babysitter, with telling us
should be in bed by now. We plead:
five minutes more.
appears out of the bedroom:
bare shoulders, her leaf-green satin dress
up by the grace-of-god,
night-time perfume, her diamanté jewellery,
necklace with stones as big as sixpences.
clips a pendant earring to her left ear,
her right ear, turns to face us:
do I look?