Emily Cullen – Two poems

Author-pic-Emily-CullenDr. Emily Cullen is an Irish writer, harpist and arts manager, currently based in Melbourne. A long-time Galway resident, she was the inaugural Arts Officer of NUI Galway between 1999 and 2002. Emily was awarded an IRCHSS Government of Ireland fellowship for her doctoral study on the Irish harp, completed at NUI Galway. Her second collection of poetry, In Between Angels and Animals, has just been published by Arlen House.


Playing House

Today I’m in between
the wall and the armrest
in a kind of intertext,
playing house with my son
while trying to set up
our real-life home.

After phoning the ‘Good Guys’
about delivery of a dryer,
I visit him beside the sofa
in our mise-en-scène,
he rings an imaginary bell
under the colonnades
of the kitchen table, where
we pipedream domesticity
in our newly adopted city.

I feel like a figure from metafiction:
the French Lieutenant’s Woman
or a reverie of Flann O’Brien
befuddled in the aisles
between slatted beds,
flat and fitted sheets
(Egyptian only fits a Single –
polycotton left for a Queen).

Even a toddler, not quite two,
manifests an edifice.
He grins with pride
at his brand new coup
of dragging the coffee table
from one end of the room,
while I run the gauntlet
to stop him flicking switches,
my head pondering over
the virtues of a condenser
or that cheaper top loader.


Mummy Fantasia

i Prams on the Prom

Sunday on Salthill Promenade:
we are out with our babes,
high-tech push chairs on parade.
Your pram pivots round
on shock-absorber wheels
as you display its gadgetry:
USB port, cable for phone,
holders for sippy cups
and skinny lattes,
built-in generator
that charges as you walk.
‘Never mind the Origami’,
another Mum exclaims,
‘mine has a custom-built MP3 player,
hairdryer and cocktail mixer.’
You’re pushing with one hand,
shaking with the other.
‘Make mine a mojito!’
I holler, looking round
for the improbable stroller
with a waffle maker.

ii School Run Fashionistas

When did the school run
enter the style lexicon
as a plausible mise-en-scène?
Fashion-forward mums
teeter on heels,
pour coins in parking meters,
accoutred in Armani,
toting Gucci, cascading wipes
from couture catsuits.
They throw appraising glances
at other designer-clad mummies,
rain and wind buffeted
in Vivienne Westwood,
leaking indiscretions at school gates,
bantering in Blahniks, channeling Versace.

Magazines market with phrases:
‘there’s no excuse to be a slummy mummy’.
Should we take them quite so seriously?

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