The Deal; Summer Accomplishments, After Death; and Pretending to Say Goodbye at the Village Temple

Hennessy New Irish Writing: Grace Wilentz is this month’s poetry winner

Hennessy New Irish Writing: Grace Wilentz is this month’s poetry winner

Hennessy New Irish Writing: Grace Wilentz is this month’s poetry winner

 

The Deal

A bubble rose
in Vesuvius
out of nothing.

From one, bubbles
multiplied in their
numbers, pressures too.

And so people turned
into sculptures seared
and sealed in ash.

At seven,
or at any age,
I can’t know

their fear,
but I know
my own.

Children are always
at the mercy
of the deal.

My mother rubs
her yellow calluses
smooth with pumice

from the site.
The lightness of
that little rock,

its pores fascinate
for hours
in the tub.

My fingertips
in wrinkles
turn it over.

Summer Accomplishments, After Death

I cleaned the empty apartment,
painted the walls white linen,
sanded the floor on my knees for a week,
patched everything up with plaster and caulk.

I wrote my husband’s footstone,
and worked in my studio, portrait sculpture mostly.
I rented (on my own) the empty apartment,
and unstuck all those windows, carelessly painted shut.

I painted the front gate black for the summer,
emptied the boiler’s full tank of water.
I replaced the bolts – all the bolts?
I changed my name.

I was left with all this love
and nothing to do with it.

Pretending to Say Goodbye at the Village Temple

Everyone in black or grey or navy
all save you, red flowers on your white dress
foaming into a haze of pink in their circle of sighs.
There’s panic at the wrong coffin.
It’s topped with a Star of David –
too religious, your father would have said.
At his mimed wishes the funeral director
hurries in with a crowbar to pry it off.

You wait dumbly with the others
for the lift of the lid, and then:
your father laid out neatly, small even,
a garish shade of pink painted
on the fish curve of his lips.
You know your mother would wipe it away
if not for the fear of what colour might
have risen underneath. Nobody moves.

The sense your life made runs ahead of you –
a wild pony pulling its trap,
a startled child at the reins.

Grace Wilentz’s poetry has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, the Seneca Review, the American Poetry Journal and the Harvard Advocate. She was longlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize this year and is working towards her first collection

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