Imelda O’Reilly – Four Poems

Imelda O’Reilly is an Irish born independent filmmaker, poet and professor. Her award winning short films and feature screenplay have been represented at over a hundred international film festivals. Her published works appears in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Prompt Press, a chapbook titled I Wake In Half Dream by Lapwing Press. She also has an album of poetry to music titled In People’s Heads. The commissioned poem Song From New York was recently performed in NYC as part of Mabou Mine’s 50th Anniversary. She has an MFA in film with honors from Columbia University. She is currently an Associate Professor at James Madison University. She is a resident of the Westbeth in Manhattan.


Faffing Home

A photo of you with the dog,
sprawled fast asleep across your feet.
Pushes my eyes toward the window,
to ponder
two distant blades of grass.

In the Kildare countryside,
you drive around in a white van,
loading and unloading tools, wood, hay.
I consider your display of love through work,
your kind ways.

In the eighties driving me off to school
in your orange van.
My teenage embarrassment reigns in
for fear a young Patrician boy may see the drop off,
mortification runs deep.

The orange van has no front seat,
only a kitchen armchair.
As we turn corners
I hold on tight for dear life,
for fear I would topple over.

Sure look in my donkey’s years,
amidst my giving out
I could say
– Your van was fair play!

Alongside my three year old niece,
I stand on the rusted iron gate
far away from my home across the ocean – NY.
Holding her carefully, staring out
at the distant green blades of grassy field,
protected in her innocent gaze.

Nice one – in that breeze a loneliness
floats across my face,
my niece distracts
ripples of warmth nest
around my being.
Faffing this way feels like home.

In that moment I can feel,
past violence, slip away as
the pitter patter of feet
shape a new generation – in bloom.


Stealing Grief

You’re gone — I’m nout,
you never existed, now my womanhood is nigh.
Shape peters in and out
did I know you back then?
Your blue eyes fade deep
But no more a memory of I and you.

The one who dallied, but got away,
I shuffle as my yellow cab approaches.

We didn’t kiss,
but after my sister’s party
I felt a pang.

A Manhattan skyline dips,
food and wine BLOT out color and light,
that Echo and the Bunnymen song
“The killing moon” hums in my ears.

That poor woman at the party who couldn’t join the singing,
whispers low in my ear, she lives on 23rd and ninth.
Unwillingly those haggard thoughts creep in
the kitchen with the vintage table,
a darkness outside, the Pogues poster on the wall.

An Upper West Side apartment is no consolation,
I remember your hand, your British accent
cajoling my skulduggery.

Falling in and out across the Manhattan streets,
down Bank street stretching a third of a mile,
I catch a magazine heading through the glass window,
reminds me of that Nietzsche quote “God is Dead.”

As the snow falls a mutinous shape,
slow now a memory of the Potarlington Bog
fills my homesickness, my hand traces
snow against the glass pane.

I bury the image of your eyes, your brow, your tender skin
arguing in the kitchen as your voice lowers.
Regaling a story of a night you stood in Dublin,
staring down into the black pool of water – The River Liffey,
fills with forgotten faces, lost opportunities.

The whole conviction of your life flickers in and out,
I recognize the pang that emptied me out, it’s heavy longing
parked in Brownstown, Co. Kildare.

Your blue eyes stare back through the
glass pane of the cab empty.

As I approach my door, on Bethune and Washington,
I ask, “Did he not want to live?”

I stand in my living room, transient and small.
A dwindling haunting fills the room, a disquiet thought,

Falls.

I’m in that silent cemetery again in Co. Kildare,
where my grandmother, Bab’s is buried – stealing grief.

A descent in the dark light shifts, your face fades,
upon all the eyeless souls, both living and dead.


A Woman

Know this woman a house, a room, one room resides empty, bare walls surround, no intrusions, bags stacked at the kitchen door to keep out floods of rain.
She fits, in the fridge stacked canisters of noodles, medicine she doesn’t take, a doctor advises otherwise, at night she sleeps in chair, leaving the bed alone. She falls a half sleep, eyelids bat open and closed, dreams of a far off place, a sunny kitchen chair halves where all countries reside, head drops to sleep.

Slippers crash an empty floor, a woman walks to the country bus stop, keep away from doctors or other inhabited rooms, hair wraps round her small head, long blonde hair up from the world not to attract trouble. She says an old neighbor tried to poison her with tea, imagine, they ask forgiveness, does the thread of trouble stop or keep moving down without stairs, without hesitation without inhabiting rooms crawl awake.

A woman awake in kitchen chair, plastic covers all goodness, keep out evil, darkness hides close to fear, stacked empty noodle canisters collide with outside bags, keep floods of rain away.

Today I won’t answer the door, won’t be disrupted by a window throwing empty light to save rest, sitting in a pink jumper bought for a pound, mohair wool, flat sandals picked up from a market in Spain.
A woman dreams in hunger, a space possesses walls barren fill with loss as a house empty inhabits.


Moving Away

Moving away is never easy,
whether you feel missed or not.

A longing to go,
a yearning to return,
an unsolved home ground
turns the corner of a hilly bog.

Moving away is never easy,
hedges divide a moonless, mountain landing.
Clouded in glitz cardboard,
Pop culture cut outs,
misfit archetypes.

Going home is mist, rain and road,
accent is inquired accusation,
shifty tides reflect faces in gaps of sheets,
blowin’ – UP and DOWN along the windy walk.

ill-met for leaving,
unforgiven for moving away.

My mind separates, a silent divide — like Down Patrick’s head,
jutting out into the wild Atlantic Ocean,
moving — yet standing still.

 

 

 

 

 

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