The Saturday Poem: First Person Singular

A new poem by Hugh O’Donnell


Quieten the loose tongues of clackety-clack.

‘O say’, something was urging, ‘tell them
what you’ve found’ – though there was no ‘you’

as yet only the yap-yap of nervous chatter –

and she ventured ‘I’ and didn’t understand
though she liked the lift of it in the roof

of her mouth and how sounding it

made her lips open. A quiet arose
as she passed it around, this slender thing,

so hard to keep upright, so ‘ever after’

in its consequence, so ‘now look
what you’ve done!’ and no way back

to the warm tones of clamour, of mothering.

Hugh O’Donnell has published three collections, most recently ‘No Place Like It’ (Doghouse), and a series of reflection on attentiveness, ‘Songs for the Slow Lane’