(For my mother)
Mary Malone, B.T.A. *
has her own bathroom
with a clawfoot bath,
to wash her hands in –
a notion she got
from her time in America.
Luxuries that we
readers of women’s magazines
dream of; her neighbours who
freeze using the privy,
perform our ablutions in a washbowl,
bathe once a week in a tin bath
dragged in front of the open fire
that heats our water.
Though many envy
her good fortune, on a Sunday
you’d never know she was
a cut above the rest of us.
With my face shining from Pears soap,
sleek hair dressed in ribbons,
I show the world where I am headed
as I stride up the aisle, chin tilted skyward.
* Been To America
Mandible pronounced, ribs jutting
through your chest, when you left the
war camp you’d flinch if a twig snapped.
You slipped into your old skin:
quiet supportive husband, caring father,
yet there were days when you stayed
in your room, curtains drawn,
and we knew that something said or done
had resurrected the spirits of your friends
who’d dropped dead smashing rocks
or were shot at random; that some smell
had triggered the yearning you’d endured
in the dawn to dusk, sweltering, back-breaking hours
for those you loved, the home you thought you’d
never see again.
Faye Boland is winner of the Hanna Greally International Literary Award 2017 and was shortlisted in 2013 for the Poetry on the Lake XIII International Poetry Competition. Her poems have been published in Three Drops From a Cauldron, Skylight 47, The Yellow Nib, The California Quarterly, The Galway Review, Literature Today, The Shop, Revival, Crannóg, Orbis, Wordlegs, Ropes, Headstuff, Silver Apples, Creature Features, The Blue Max Review, Speaking for Sceine Chapbooks, Vols I and II and ‘Visions: An Anthology of Emerging Kerry Writers’.