Sunday Jul 14

OMalleyMary Mary O’Malley was born in Connemara, Co Galway. Her collections include A Consideration of Silk (Galway, Salmon Poetry, 1990); Where the Rocks Float (Salmon, 1993); The Knife in the Wave, (Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Salmon Publishing, 1997); Asylum Road (Salmon Publishing, 2001); The Boning Hall (Manchester, Carcanet Press, 2002); and A Perfect V (Carcanet Press, 2006). She is currently working on a memoir and has just finished a new collection of poems entitled Valparaiso. She received a Hennessey Award in 1990, a Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award in 2009, and is a member of Aosdána.

To All Who Are Hopeless With Birds

fat-brushed, inky strokes of our haiku.
They denote alien calm
or glamour, move in constellations
close enough to watch with the naked eye.
What we observe
is so much softer than the stars.
We know swallow, hawk, gull
but are lost in the everyday
chatter of birds common as chairs.
Feathered, hanging out in gangs,
warm as stolen time
an hour here, a night there, snatched,
held between our hands. Yet we are hopeless,
not naming what we serve
and mutely love and understand.
Stuttering, when asked : ‘Wren, linnet … finch’?

Whom The Gods Love

Hessian on her fingers, his skin a fever
of burning membrane,
she dries down her swan lover,
washes the oil, black on black, off his feathers
with suds, wearing rubber gloves,
her touch crudely human. The air shivers
and parts. The swan ambulance
vees in, skates water. Zeus’ doctors
are here with their stethoscopes.
He rests on the down stretcher. Someone else
has taken over. She falls back. The swan ambulance
takes off like an arrow, wheels once
on white wings over the sick town, bends
upwards and he’s gone. Left, she takes off her gloves.
There is tar on her wrist. It’s like that, the end.
Still Life

All that is left is a woman slicing lemons,
crushing thyme. Silence has reefs
of absent voices to be avoided as heroes
steer clear of sirens. I might do this myself
if I could believe the will finds its own pace
that most things, even the curse loneliness
lays on us resolve themselves
but the fish’s eyes are full of tears.
All that is left is the lemon, the table, the blade
which gleams, dull as old scales. Outside
someone is standing at the window
sharpening his eyes.

Europe is a turtle’s back broken
open with bricks, with gunfire,
with love songs shifting in deep time,
borders snaking in slow motion.
My country is a worn out thing,
badly cut and overpriced.
I only ever owned the coast,
this beautiful indented line.
It’s time to shake it off, loosen
the ties, not the way some statue, Phedre
say, or Maeve , before the nation
she wore and loved became a shroud
stepped out of it, went bare-breasted
and clothed herself in rags of light -
such get-up made the gods feel bested
its ‘nothing more to lose’ a threat -
but quietly, the way the people of my place
have taken boats and planes and gone
and almost always come home
for weddings, funerals and fate.