Rena Garrett: Hazel Copse & Exile & Patchwork


Hazel Copse

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,

belonged nowhere.


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

to belong.



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, 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.

1 Comment

  1. 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.

    Liked by 1 person

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