Poem by Medbh McGuckian (N. Ireland)
Published in The Ofi Press issue 37.
My mother’s head had been bad from the night
Of the thunder, whose innings of dreamings are done.
The first of every month I don’t be right in my mind,
Since my daughter had that child in the garden.
It was dark when she was delivered of her infant
Winter, they began to wash the stairs with water
From boiled foxglove. Lungs that would float
Until the pleasure of the Lord Lieutenant.
The sky of poetry is big with child again too,
God help me. My humble attempt at blank verse
Was laudanum-inspired ‘Lines to Him Who Will Understand
Them’, largely improvised on the spot.
That sauntering drab of slender reputation, the fair
Authoress, Brilliana Mildmay,with roots in the provinces,
Has her tender sonnets reproduced on creamware,
And a string of celebratory dinners, they bought up
The whole of the first printing in a day. Herself
Fills the foreground, her concubinage to share
The Sapphic throne, the peculiar
Suggestive red of the walls.
Medbh McGuckian was born in Belfast where she lives with her family. Her collections of poetry include: The Flower Master (1982), Venus and the Rain (1984), On Ballycastle Beach (1988), Marconi's Cottage (1992), Captain Lavender (1995), Shelmalier (1998), and Drawing Ballerinas (2001). Her Selected Poems 1978-1994 was published in 1997. Among the prizes she has won are: the British National Poetry Competition, the Cheltenham Award, the Alice Hunt Bartlett prize, the Rooney Prize and the American Ireland Fund Literary Award. She has been Writer-in-Residence at Queen's University and at the University of Ulster; Visiting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley; and Writer-Fellow at Trinity College Dublin.
Image: "You All Take Pieces of My Heart" by Derrick Tyson.