Aideen Henry lives in Galway and works as a writer, physician and lecturer. Her poems have been published previously in several literary journals and magazines including Crannóg, The SHOp, Ropes, The Cúirt Annual and Southword, and she has given many poetry readings around the country. She was shortlisted for the 2010 Hennessy X.O Literary Awards. She is working on a 2nd collection of poetry. She also writes plays and short stories.
It starts with schoolbags on the stairs.
‘I’m not having this’ she says,
out they go, pegged out the landing window.
Lunchboxes disgorge sticky apple butts,
black bananas skins and silver wrappers.
Schoolbooks splay, words spill across the paving.
The pencilled scrawl of sums and handwriting
flitters in the breeze, notes home about cake sales
holidays, speared by brambles
then sucked under the privet into that windless place
where small birds dart.
Next it’s the space around her.
Children, animals, her husband
all rushed out the front door,
no ifs or buts.
The cooker, the fridge, the built-in kitchen.
uprooted to the garden in their original formation.
Soon the rooms are clean of furniture.
She commandeers the kitchen-living room,
whips down the blinds, seals the chimney
squirts foam in the gaps between door and architrave
screeches masking tape around the drafty windows.
‘Now’, she says ‘I’ll have a bit of peace.’
And with a look of supreme serene
she inhales all the trapped air in the room,
her body tumesces and every cream pie,
pastry, éclair and doughnut she ever had
mobilises from exile and every chocolate torte,
pavlova, coffee sponge and banoffi she lusted after
joins them, cramming and straining the flesh of her stomach
stretchmarking and mushrooming her succulent limbs
until her skin slicks against the sweating walls,
leaving tiny air pockets in the corners.
The glass eye doesn’t double-take when I pass his seat,
then return its attention to his newspaper,
doesn’t crinkle when he smiles into his phone
or when he slaps his thigh, laughing.
The glass eye doesn’t peer into his coffee as he drinks,
doesn’t wink at the waitress to flag her down,
doesn’t swing side to side as he pats his pockets,
doesn’t squint to pick loose change for the tip.
The glass eye stands proud and cool
sucked into its socket by tepid moist flesh.
Though part of him, it remains apart from him,
unreachable, insentient, imperturbable.
Dust particles and threads
adhere over time, lint settles and collects.
So at any one moment
we see it as a cluster of something, an entity.
We assume intent as if formed by design,
whereas unplanned and transient, it has settled for a bit.
Like a person and their apparent depth,
a semblance of self, fashioned from an engirdling mould.
It’s a stray collection
cast together, in this shape, at this time.