This month’s Hennessy New Irish Writing winning poems

Sister, let’s unwrap Lent like a treat,

stroke the smooth chocolate egg beneath,

the one that we couldn’t eat;

the wafer, yes, but no ice-cream.


Little Jesuses in the desert for forty days

and nights, with no dessert.

The devil tapping on our flat-black

window pane before bed;

mother, cutting tiny slices of bread

in the kitchen corner, eating from doll plates.

She couldn’t be prouder of our ecstasy

of denial, little letter-box lips refusing

all the sins of the tongue.

Easter bells rattled the glass,

Christ has risen, Alleluia.

The Resurrection with chocolate sauce

made us sick and giddy, pupils

rising in our irises, yours

the most divine Holy-Mary blue.

We held hands, spun around,

fizzy-headed, falling down.

Open the chocolate box, sister,

see liquor-centred grown-up sweets.

Pillows of sin, full

with seven deadly tastes,

a menu read to us on waking.

In the Ordinary Time of your dark kitchen,

we drop tissuey tea bags into boiled water.

Rust whispers to transparency.

Peace blooms,

bleeding into molecules,



Push me higher until I am all stomach,

until even my eyes are like that fist of muscle,

tight and hungry. Fill me with green fields for sky.

Push me higher until I am all fingertips

feeling to the top, to the roof of our house calling, “Mother, watch!”

And she will, from the kitchen window, rinsing lettuce in the sink.

Push me higher until I am giddy from kicking clouds and birds,

burning my shoes off the sun, just push me.

The ropes vibrate, I barely hold them - let them sing.

When I touch the ground again, my legs feel like running.

A native of Shanagarry, Co. Cork, Victoria Kennefick was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in 2007 and completed her PhD in Literature at University College Cork in 2009. In 2013 she won the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2014. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Stinging Fly, Southword and The Irish Examiner. Her pamphlet, White Whale, won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition 2014.