Hennessy New Irish Writing: poems by Aoife Lyall

The winning poems for January 2017

Aoife Lyall: The rest, is silence

She saw tall flowers when they said the word
white bluebells in a dawn-strewn wood;
they swayed in ancient silence as she asked them
Is there hope? Two hundred and seventeen

days she has travelled Irish streets. She ignores
the exclamations of old women, acquaintances;
accepts the uninvited intimacy of strangers,
their questions aired like newlywed linens.
                          How long now? Is it a boy or a girl?

It doesn't matter. The coffin will be white.
Knowledge is nothing. By law she carries you.
She will know the sound of your first breath.
The rest, is silence.

Hermit Crab
I am your home
Hold me close and you can hear the ocean


Soon you will outgrow me
And gravitate to greater echoes

Moses basket, cot, bed
Shadowed by parents who marvel at your fragility

In each new space
You grow and grow into, grow and grow out of

The room, the house
The street too small for your itchy feet

You will cast your net wide
As you grow into the world (careful pet, not to burn your fragile skin)

I will wait here
Shell of a home (I hope you find a shell that fits us both)

Until at last
After a day at the beach

You line me up on the mantelpiece
With conches, driftwood, heart-shaped rocks

And marvel at how we grow
And shrink into the worlds around us

Shortlisted for the 2016 Hennessy New Writers Awards and the Patrician Press Poetry Prize 2016, Aoife Lyall's work has appeared in online journal One and is upcoming in The Poets' Republic and The Anthology of Refugees and Peacekeepers. Lyall is a member of the 2017 NessBookFest committee and is currently writing her first collection.