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