Berni Dwan – Three Poems

Berni Dwan teaches Journalism in Dublin. Her work has appeared in A New Ulster and Stepaway Magazine, and the Irish Times New Irish Writing page (2017). She performed her one woman show – Unrhymed Dublin in Smock Alley Theatre’s Scene and Heard Festival 2016. Her A to Z of Historical Blunders; mistakes in history that should never have been repeated – can be found on

Baby clothes

That summer-like September
day we stood transfixed before the
clothes-line, beguiled by the delicate
fabric fashioned into new-born
raiment, bought just the day
before; all pastel & pure like early
sun & dew; dancing a cautious cotillion,
a faint frisson in that autumnal
zephyr. We held each other in a
delirium of expectation; indifferent to
gender; happy to wait; your tiny
trousseau was white and yellow. How we
longed to wash & dress you; hug & kiss you;
wrap our arms around you for a baby
blanket, hold you to our hearts. You
came with the new year; transformed our
waking time, our sleeping time, our
idle time. That September clothes-line of
white & yellow was a primer in
parental love.

Final chapter

I noticed you casually over the years, my ears
clothed in headphones, your head perfectly coiffed. I
silently scoffed as you balletically hopped from your
car, the door ajar while you grabbed some files before
shutting the door with a commanding swish that made me
wish I had that easy confidence. You pirouetted
to your front door, jetéd over the threshold. That dark
evening I stole a glance; by chance I saw the
books in rays of light. I pondered your profession, for
surely you had one; lawyer, analyst, consultant –
corporate unquestionably. And then one year I didn’t see you
any more, forgot, to be honest, about you. Never wondered
where you’d gone; afraid to know, despite you being a stranger.
Now I know for sure. Foxes prowl your garden filled with boxes
of a lifetime’s reading; jaundiced remnants of the canon of
English literature and coffee table tomes. Perhaps you read them by
the fire, discussed them over dinner, shared them with friends –
friends forever good books are – and yet, these ones betray
neglect in your weed-ridden driveway. An arbitrary mutt
sniffs a dog-eared flyleaf. He paws through your well-thumbed
sheaves. At home, I look at my own shelves and think,
I will give away more books.

Dementia floor

Some genetic sport crept up on you
uninvited; like a leaf in a Trojan gust,
it blew in the back door you
left swinging open in the autumn
of your life. It hung around; festered;
messed with your head; deleted blocks
of memory; put the remainder in an
industrial shredder and returned them
free form. Your reasoning is now a stranger
to chronology; devoid of common sense;
knitting patterns and recipes filed under
‘forgotten’. The sands of time shifted
through your once hour glass figure;
cleaned you out; left you with a few
memories on permanent loop. You will
regale us with these, as breaking news, every
day. We will act surprised and listen with
guilty impatience.



This entry was posted in News, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.