The Ofi Press Magazine

International Poetry and Fiction from Mexico City

Breda Spaight: 1 Poem Published

Poem by Breda Spaight (Ireland)

Published in issue 39 of The Ofi Press

 

 Tally-stick

for my maternal grandparents

 

When I learn about the tally-stick

hung from your schoolchild necks with twine,

I am tongue-tied, concentration-camp-gaunt,

African slave, Choctaw, Aborigine, whale.

 

And you are Murphy’s dog, Bran, block

of timber hung from his collar impeding

the chase – cars, flighty women joggers, fat

tongues on their trainers.

 

The pendulum of wood skins Bran’s neck

raw-pink – deep-pink of baby tongue.

His legs fare worse as flesh peels to bone,

femur notched for misdemeanours.

 

Unable to curl for sleep, Bran loses the dream

of running, sheds it from muscle stretched readily

as lung; piston limbs, airborne split-

seconds, hound of hounds on gorse hillsides,

Fionn mac Cumhaill tales of mighty pursuits

flowing off his tongue, which lolls pinkly

from his laughing mouth.

 

I, daughter of your daughter,

hear you chatter by the hearth, unknowable

words in a guttural idiom,

how you say ‘fhy’ instead of ‘why’ –

shimmering bubbles bursting on tongues.

About the Poet

Breda Spaight is a poet and novelist from Co Limerick, Ireland. Her poems have appeared in numerous Irish poetry magazines. She has an MPhil in creative writing, Trinity College; and received bursaries from the Irish Art’s Council, and Limerick City Council. She was a featured reader at the Over The Edge readings, Galway (2014). Her debut novel God on the Wall received wide critical acclaim. She was a guest reader at the Paris Book Fair (2002).

Image by Tina Hee.