Jean Folan lives in Inishcrone, Co. Sligo. She earned MA in Writing at National University of Ireland, Galway. Her poems have been published in West 47, Crannóg, Revival, The Cuirt Annual, Network Magazine, Trácht Magazine, Midlife Slices Anthology. Shortlisted for The Cuirt New Writing Award 2007. A featured reader at Over the Edge 2007. Winner, Culture Night 2010 Ballina, Co. Mayo. Runner-up Culture Night 2012, Galway. Her first collection of poetry Between Time was published by Lapwing in 2013.
A GENTLE FIRST CUT
I mow grass,
blade to blades,
gentle first cut.
Between two clamps
sever the cord that links
mother and child.
I skirt the daffodils.
We keep the first lock
when society demands
for the toddler a haircut.
I circle the primrose.
The first razor bought
for a boy heralds
the promise of manhood.
I behead daisies.
In the after-cut
a thrush pecks,
THE LITTORAL LINE
As the sea recedes, I walk
where cappuccino coloured
froth merges in a mocha swathe
to reflect thousands of miniscule
rainbows. Suddenly, the bubbles
are a murky mass of burstedness,
crumbling like croissants.
The wet sand peeps through
and a residual silver line,
the snail’s trail of the high tide,
forms a sinuous signature.
Here lie pebbles; seaweed;
soft wood forms sculpted
by the ocean; an occasional
feather; a broken doll; sea
potatoes; twigs, hay and rushes
clumped like horse tails.
I seek the sea glass, brown,
green, blue, or clear,
a raritywith smoothed edges
and frosted mysterious interiors.
I have not found the glass bottle
(not even a plastic one)
with my longed-for love letter,
but along the length
of the littoral line, shells,
all sizes and hues, stretched
like open angel wings,
imprint the golden sand
with your autograph.
We were a year in Fox Hollow when I brought
your first harvest to the altar. Can you imagine
the meal we might have prepared? Slicing onions,
side by side. Let you prepare the starter, a nice
warm vegetable soup, don’t forget the hug.
Main course, how about meat? We can’t forget
the four pigs; saddlebacks, free range and yet
you fed them. I moaned they cost more to feed
than we received for them at sale and when
they got in and rooted up the orchard, I was
just so ready to bring them to the abattoir.
We kept one, frozen so it’s pork chops.
While you do the marinade, I’m ‘way out
to the field for potatoes. You had a plan.
I wondered when you told me about Oregon
Indians who used fish heads to nurture soil.
You dug them in at twilight. By gosh!
These look good, brush off loose dirt,
pop them in boiling water, strain, cut up,
sprinkle with salt, parsley, melted butter.
You frown, a bit late to worry my dear,
that artery is already blocked. Another bit
of butter won’t kill you a second time!
Was that insensitive? Embrace. Have you
any idea how much I wish you were here?
What about dessert? Your specialty‑ a pie.
You went home to learn from your parents,
both cooks on the Erie ore boats. I still have
those recipes in Margorie’s handwriting.
A crumble pie, apples from the orchard,
and how about blackberries from the fields.
When you came to Ireland you marveled
at the free bounty. You climbed ladders
to reach the juicy ones. Finally, that special
ingredient. When baking, you tossed it in
every bowl, I use it with our sons, the one
you held and the younger, your parting gift.