In my mother’s house nothing went to waste

Three poems by Siobhán Flynn, May’s Hennessy New Irish Writing poet of the month


Leftovers were re-imagined

new uses found for broken things

stale bread transformed into a cake

crumpled brown paper ironed

hems let down,buttons cut off

and stored in an old biscuit tin.

Worn sheets were turned, sides to middle

so we slept on seams

like stones in the shoes of our dreams.

I turn sheets, cover pages with imagination;

the lost baby found, the broken promise fixed

stale tragedies now played for laughs.

The people let down, the friendships cut off

can all be stored for later use.

I dream without sleep

turn reality upside down and sideways

until it is smooth and seamless

and nothing, not even nothing, goes to waste.

Joining the women

After six months, the invitation comes

to bring his young and second wife

to lunch, at last, with his old friends.

He soothes her fears with ‘water

under the bridge’ and ‘good people’

‘Chickens’, ‘children’ and ‘composting toilets.’

But prevails upon her only

with recycled endearments

and assiduous lovemaking.

The women’s arms are folded.

They smile at her with closed lips

and are busy with the children.

The men have firm handshakes.

They laugh and open bottles

and slap each other’s backs.

They want to show him the sheep;

an old breed, very rare.

‘Of course’, she says. ‘I’ll stay and help.’

She can hear the women laughing

finds them gathered in the kitchen,

rosy from wine and the Aga’s heat.

They have cut and sliced vegetables,

anointed lamb with oil and herbs

and now pierce it in appraisal.

‘I like it pink’, one says.

‘Pink and tender’.

Blood on the point of her knife.

My inner child is a teenage boy

He forces me to snort with laughter

at double meanings at important meetings

makes me drink tequila slammers

unladylike at in-lawed parties

and drive too fast to Motörhead

with the windows open to the rain.

He sticks my tongue out at me

as I glide gloss across my lips

is mesmerised by the hair straightener

and its potential as an instrument of torture

wants to test it on the inside of my wrist

to see how tough he . . . am . . . I . . . is

I open the top drawer entwine my fingers

in dove grey and amethyst, lace and silk

flick a glance at the mirror – he’s still there

sniggering out of one side of my face

I reach for the tampons – he stamps off

leaving behind a blush before he hides

Siobhán Flynn has been placed and shortlisted in a number of poetry competitions including Oliver Goldsmith (2010 and 2012), the Percy French prize in Strokestown (2011 and 2015) and the Desmond O’Grady prize (2012). Her poetry has been published, most recently in the online journals Brain of Forgetting and The Pickled Body. She is a member of Airfield Writers in Dublin, where she lives with her husband, two sons and a dog