We chittered like squirrels
gathering the hazels from the branches,
picked them bare, before the local fauna,
leaving them only windfall to forage,
safe in the embrace of our mother’s gaze.
My sister’s wrong footed, red wellies.
Past the church and graveyard on the hill,
the hazel copse stood in the back fields.
Only local cows surrounded us and a lone
fairy gate of two whitethorn trees
woven together in an arch.
Neiphin’s peak stood watching
in the distance.
We’d ripen the nuts in batches
in the range heated kitchen,
lay them out on the floor on newspaper.
We watched the green over days
turn to roasted butter brown.
Cracked them with our baby teeth
and cracked her patience too.
But rentable land can’t have copses;
they bulldozed a scar for progress across
my heart when they flattened the hazels.
Removed the landmarks that anchored me.
We were dragged up on the road,
moved from place to place,
every few years a new house,
in town or out of town.
Townie in one place,
Culchie in another,
Jackeens to the Culchies.
Till we were all names and none,
Chameleon like in personality
we changed to fit in
till we didn’t even know ourselves
and some still don’t.
Now that itch to not stay feels right,
to stay feels wrong but still
we are filled with longing
Let your needle run through
The patchwork quilt of my confidence
Let the thread pull closed
The ragged edges
Let the blanket stitch smooth
The frayed ends that unravel
Use my porcupine quills
As your needle
Take my heart in your rough hands
Scarred from pin cushioned jabs
Let me hold your tired arms
As you sew my tattered trust of touch
Let my colours shine through
Your gold and silver stitching
Woven like strands of prism light.
Rena Garrett has just completed the MA in Writing student in NUIG. She has been published in The Moth Magazine, Spontaneity.org and was shortlisted for the Galway Rape Crisis Centre Short Story Competition 2016. She will be a featured reader at the Over the Edge Reading in Galway in August.
Excellent pacing and beautiful imagery. Love Hazel Copse in particular. And the lines regarding identity in the poem Exile really striking. Well done Ms. Garrett.
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