Hennessy New Irish Writing: December 2017 winning poems

Four poems by Deirdre Ryan

Poet Deirdre Ryan

Poet Deirdre Ryan


They are homeward bound

I sit listening to the running water, the ticking watch

and the snoring dogs,

Mist has enveloped the house. A grey light but

grey nonetheless.

A girl’s wetsuit, left behind, hangs in an empty wardrobe

and a boy’s wallet lies in a drawer.

Now I must make my way alone.

Three pairs of wetsuit boots sit outside

the door.

I am comforted by their presence.

These are the details to fool the intruder

To fool myself that I am more than one.

They left the dogs, aware perhaps of my isolation –

I am grateful but know well that

This is the time of parting.

It has begun.

Now is not the time

Now is not the time to tell them

of the mountains of longing

and the valleys of despondence

the terrain difficult and the map useless

Now is not the time to tell them

that drowning happens quietly

Now is the time to show them

the power of the bees’ legs carrying pollen

the joy of the dogs at the open door

the hope of the leaping salmon

Now is the time to show them

that a wasp may be blown gently away

Listening to the news

We live in the common travel area of

Our marriage

We traverse the invisible borders

Roam each others’ lands freely

Occasionally treaties must be entered to

prevent hard boundaries being reinstated.

Together we wonder when we will be

moving to the fiscal space.

The traveller’s water bottle

Over the washing machine

A photograph, made picture, hangs.

I look back at myself,

Twenty three, backpack and water bottle over shoulder,

6am in the Himalayas.

The water bottle fished from

a skip bag

the young girl fishing for it

catches my watching window eye

and drops it.

I wave two arms dramatically

“Take it,” I mouth.

It must venture forth again. I must

stay here. Who better to own it than

a young traveller girl?

Deirdre Ryan was born in Tyrone and lived in London for the first six years of her life. Having initially studied Irish and Music in UCD, she later added English to her degree. She lives in Dublin and is currently working on her first collection.