Poems by Denise Blake

Ultrasound

 
A hand rests at your forehead
as if pondering a deep problem.
Your arm hides the strong heartbeat
but it is there, quietly reassuring.
A bent knee that will soon straighten
and kick out. Imaging your world,
the place of safety for ten more weeks.
 
Can you hear the noises, the daily rhythms
of your parents voices? Can you tell
how new they are to this whole experience?
In the distance, at a lower pitch are the elders,
and the soft echo of uncles, aunts and cousins.
 
This has been the strangest of summers.
You may never learn of the pressures
that buffeted your parents, or ever know
how each scan showing clenched fingers,
stretching limbs, held them both above
the rise and falling waves of anxieties.
How each image sent the frequency of hope.
 

Adjusting

 
The saucepan is full of leftover potatoes
and I keep cooking too much rice or pasta.
Three placemats still sit on our dining table.
Silence has become a strong presence.
Our hall light stays on all through the night
after years of not sleeping in total darkness.
I keep expecting a four o’clock return from school,
while our youngest settles into Halls in Dublin.
 
While our youngest settles into Halls in Dublin,
I keep expecting a four o’clock return from school.
After years of not sleeping in total darkness
our hall light stays on all through the night.
Silence has become a strong presence.
Three placemats still sit on our dining table
and I keep cooking too much rice or pasta.
The saucepan is full of leftover potatoes.
 

Beyond the Front Door

 
It happens here, in our front porch
when your Dad and I have been away.
Moving towards the door, keys in hand,
I fall into some other family dimension.
 
When I turn the key in the lock, press down
on the handle, the door creaking open,
I imagine things within our home will be altered.
The tidy house we had left behind will be lived-in.
 
Any mail will be lifted from the mat, thrown
on the stairs, clothes strewn across the banister.
The hall light that we kept on for security
will be off. The rooms will be humid warm.
 
Cold pizza slices in a cardboard box, an empty
coke can lying on the table. And instead of being
away at university, you’ll be laid back on a sofa
singing a head-phoned song joyously loud.
 
It is not that I would wish student days differently
for you, the youngest of our away-flung brood.
But after a lifetime parenting, space and time
and my maternal senses need to be re-aligned.
 
Our living space has been changed by your absence.
And Ian, as you stand outside your apartment door,
is there a moment that you wish; when I turn the key
I want to smell cheese melting on Mum’s lasagne.
 
Ultrasound , Adjusting , and Beyond The Front Door are © Denise Blake

Denise Blake

Denise Blake

Denise Blake has two collections, Take a Deep Breath (2004) How to Spin Without Getting Dizzy (2010) published by Summer Palace Press She is a regular contributor to RTE radio 1’s show, Sunday Miscellany . Denise read as part of the Poetry Ireland’s Lunchtime Series and at ÓBhéal as well as many other readings around the country. She is on the Poetry Ireland directory for Writers in Schools and has wide experience facilitating workshops for adults.

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