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.