Noelle Sullivan writes at the western edge of Yellowstone Park in Montana, USA. Her work has appeared in Irish literary magazines (Crannog, Abridged, Hungry Hill) and in US anthologies and journals (Bright Bones, Camas). In normal times she divides herself between Ireland and the American West.

Fionn mac Kayak

Fat grey thrush clatters by, freewheeling
vector toward azure in the pane,
and stuns his own reflection. He’s tipsy mad
with a surfeit of frost feeding,
frazzled by collisions, icy watercourses,
and ospreys’ attempts to fish. Here he skirls
as a man in a river does, floating,
paddle at hand, able for currents
while a woman’s stationary heart floods
like sallies on the bank.

We’ve awakened and are adrift
near rowan trees aflame, red-fingered,
you whispering that I am invaded.
That you are sent to hook and catch
the braden, his usurper. Certain magic
you possess. Spun words trace my limbs,
hold me apprentice. Your proffered salmon
tastes of wonderment. I lick its fermentation
from your thumb and feed it back
with wine-stained lips.

If you place autumn’s berries on my navel
and bend to my garden, I’ll know everything.

Proving Ground

A zigzag veneer of salt
marks bald tires we’ve spun
these viral nights: polished skin
self-sparked with capillary revving
even though we cannot move
the needle, piston knock
or make union joints, push motions,
taste even dehydrated hope
as we advance nowhere
without grit. Here’s friction
but we’d rather know launching.
A white future hovers at horizons,
mirage of shimmer speed where
luminous wracked souls are tested
to burn, exhausted, phosphoric
and my lonely gyrating spine makes
a glow hole in fabric and tarmac.
Can we please start already?
Let leaden foot fall.

Russborough after the Plague

Distemper is the mob’s favourite colour.
The final party scene opens to empty walls
with shadows merely tinted like pool chalk,

lines tracing the widest exposure in Europe.
In the hippodrome horses circle the elderly,
rhapsodizing, wheezing under pale cherubs

that evoke a fecund harvest. Let them languish
near Diana the huntress, watching from an alcove
with arrows to pierce the minty gloom.

See them heave global trade agreements
as bankers demand swans to orbit dreams.
Shedding mantle, I restore drowned paintings

hold their subjects’ eyes upon wraiths of night.
I turn their protected views toward the wind-chopped
reservoir where a city drinks from emerald hills,

its offspring forever climbing.