Winner of the Molly Keane Short Story Award and Cootehill Poetry Prize, second in the Michael McLaverty Short Story Award, Pat Jourdan has written three short story collections and three novels, plus five collections of poetry. She also manages to paint, after early training as an artist.


She keeps history in her handbag,
an archive of happenings;
crinkled photos of folded lost summers,
the marble litter of cemeteries,
verdigris angels her habitat.
That purse with its sharp-clipped clasp
and all the possibilities inside.
(How adults had magic,
they talked of rates, rent and milk-bills)
and you had to behave,
sixpence pocket money too good to be true.
Black cough sweets and indigestion tablets
entwined with rosary beads,
embroidered handkerchief
and a brace of gold safety pins.
A life closomed inside its watered taffeta lining,
the outside imitation Morocco black.
A portable family, so easy,
and here we are after the funeral
excavating, mining that private nest.
Perhaps we will discover
some explanation about ourselves
amongst the clean debris.

Empty Church

Across the space
old prayers accumulate,
the air hallowed and re-hallowed.
Private from all weather,
through lightning, wars and storms
others came here and
worried their way to God.
The benches trap time
like wooden beaches
to a different tide.
Before our parents and grandparents,
back to our imaginings
someone knelt here,
the same imperative,
the eternal now
getting them by the scruff of the neck.