Liz Quirke – Four Poems

lizLiz Quirke lives in Spiddal, Co Galway with her partner and daughter. Her poetry has appeared in Southword, Revival Literary Journal, The Stony Thursday Book, Boyne Berries, Skylight 47, The Galway Review and The Poetry Bus. She won the 2012 Edmund Spenser Poetry Competition at the Doneraile Literary and Arts Festival and has been both shortlisted and longlisted in the Over The Edge New Writer Of The Year Competition in 2012 and 2014 respectively. One of her poems was nominated for consideration for a Forward Prize in 2014.


I sift through your dreams,
plunge into sinews
with dull-tipped fingers,
pull apart your nightmares,

divide them into different vessels,
allow you rest in your salty sleep.
There you will stay
but I’ll sift all the while

bleed your consciousness,
thin the mixture of fats and stock,
make your quiet repose more palatable.
I will take pain and half-gone breaths away,

herb brush your back,
palm flat to break down the worst of it,
light wisps of rosemary,
hints of mint to ease your breathing,

And once the poison clears,
the stalks cinch together at the waist
submerge in your tepid juices,
surrender to you.

The steam of your night fears raise up
an exhalation to be consumed whole,
leave you breathing easy
to simmer in the gentle bubble of an easy brew.


Hot cloth to your baby skin
opens pores to cleanse
the remnants of the day

Return your cheeks
to their original state
with maternal touches

A motion deep enough to
remove of all traces
of your activity

The small dogs stray lick,
evidence of new skills,
the loaded effort of eating bread,

its leftovers lodged
between your fingers
like setting clay.

Flannel flanks an adult palm,
sponges liquid into the cup if it.
A squeeze mutes its purpose,

surrenders warring heat
to the gentle hand
in a sting of steam.

The excess moisture
gone in a brisk shake of wrist,
and you watch,

vigilant from your arm-crook perch.
accept the soft hush
of soap to your cheek

Camomile, lavender, jojoba,
restful baby scents.
The heat raises a blush,

a shine, delicate as it cools
Trickles of water
track your eyelashes,

travel that small distance
in a comfort
that ends your day.

Love Poem

I carry a hint of you, always,
small coded shapes
that project your form,
where all the light can gather,
conjure your silhouette.
Words skew the senses,
score the edges of perception.
When we are separate,
the space beside me thickens,
my cheek wears your invisible kiss,
my arm the warm ghost of your hand,
the print of clasped fingers.

Production Values

The stage is set,
each direction neatly blocked,

the major players know
their lines and cues.

All that’s left to govern
is the passage of time,

when to call an intermission,
a quiet interlude.

The script has finished changing,
this first edition locked,

our narrator is confident in her role.
No audience is required,

the work exists to play itself,
The message doesn’t need reviews

to validate its tone.
The show will trundle on

in this playhouse or some other.
New walls and arches

will spring up around the cast.
Location, language, season,

budgets tensions
can be surmounted

With a company like ours,
this run is set to last.

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