Faye Boland; Sunday Best & After Japan

Sunday Best

(For my mother)


Mary Malone, B.T.A. *

has her own bathroom

with a clawfoot bath,

porcelain sink

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


After Japan

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’

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