Barbara Derbyshire – Three Poems

Barbara Derbyshire is an author of short fiction and poetry. Originally from London and now an Irish citizen, her home is in North Kerry. She published her first book, Tapestry of Love, Life and Spirit in 2016. Her second collection of poetry and short stories, Leaving Echoes, was published in 2019. A third collection of poetry, Bicycles, Swings and Love, will be launched on 19 November 2022 at St John’s Theatre, Listowel.


A psychic told me that you didn’t stay with me,
that I absorbed your very essence into myself
until we were one person. How did I do that?
I am a very quiet and peaceful woman, without
much courage or fight, so if I absorbed you
then you would not have stood a chance on this
cold and cruel planet. Which one of our
parents would you have favoured?
Such a shame you didn’t fight back. I’m a pushover.
You may have been the family man.
The husband and father that they would have loved.
You would have been my friend and I yours.
All our battles fought together.
Why did whoever’s in charge of it all let this happen?
I wonder if we argued or just could not stand
the competition the other one presented.
The psychic didn’t tell me your name, but
it would not have been Bill or Joe or Ned.
My name was picked for me, not for my ancestors.
They may have given you an original name.
I asked our dad once what I would be called if
I had been a boy. “Peter”, he said, without hesitation.
Did they know? How long did you stay?
Long enough for doctors to tell them we
Were in it together? Or did you just take off
leaving me with what little strength you had?
Be prepared to answer these questions
when I finally catch up with you.


A bleak road, when foggy or dull.
Windscreen wipers clearing the way
for nothing to see but blackness.
Driving onward, cold and damp
Then, out of the darkness,
A light, blinking unsteadily,
Bringing warmth into the night.

And there, Lynch’s garage, on the road
Between Asdee and Ballybunion.
It is a refuge in the dark,
a fire in the hearth,
a reminder that I am not alone
as I drive past it, unsteady light
blinking into my mirror.

She Walks

I see her most days on the country road
she walks.

Sometimes she waves, but with no emotion.
Mechanical movement of her arm towards my car.

She doesn’t see the driver
or the dog in the back seat.

I drive past her as she walks, wrapped in layers
Of jumpers scarf and anorak, she walks.

My dog runs, sniffs every glorious smell on the beach,
I look at the sea, marvel at its magnitude, at its power.

On the road again after forty minutes,
Back to where we first saw her.

There she is! I smile as I wave this time but
she doesn’t smile or wave

She does not see the eyes of the dog in the window
looking back at her as she walks.

And when she gets to where she is going
she walks back to where she has been.

That’s her day, her week, her life.
She walks.





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