The Mermaid in the Hospital
to ﬁnd her ﬁshtail
but in the bed with her
were two long, cold thingammies.
You’d have thought they were tangles of kelp
or collops of ham.
‘They’re no doubt
taking the piss,
it being New Year’s Eve.
Half the staff legless
and the other half
Still, this is taking it
a bit far.’
And with that she hurled
the two thingammies out of the room.
But here’s the thing
she still doesn’t get —
why she tumbled out after them
arse-over-tip . . .
How she was connected
to those two thingammies
and how they were connected
It was the sister who gave her the wink
and let her know what was what.
‘You have one leg attached to you there
and another one underneath that.
One leg, two legs . . .
A-one and a-two . . .
Now you have to learn
what they can do.’
In the long months
I wonder if her heart fell
the way her arches fell,
her instep arches.’
© by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, all rights reserved. from The Fifty Minute Mermaid (Gallery Books, 2007) The Irish language original is here.
Thank you to Suella Holland from Gallery Press for allowing me to use this poem to celebrate Irish Women’s Poetry and translation on International Women’s Day 2012.
Happy International Women’s Day 2012. The following poem is by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill , there is a translation and attribution notice published separately to An Mhurúch san Ospidéal.
An Mhurúch san Ospidéal
‘ Dhúisigh sí
agus ní raibh a heireaball éisc ann
ach istigh sa leaba léi
bhí an dá rud fada fuar seo.
Ba dhóigh leat gur gaid mhara iad
nó slaimicí feola.
‘Mar mhagadh atá siad
Oíche na Coda Móire.
Tá leath na foirne as a meabhair
is an leath eile acu
róthugtha do jokeanna.
Mar sin féin is leor an méid seo,’
is do chaith sí an dá rud
amach as an seomra.
Ach seo í an chuid
ná tuigeann sí —
conas a thit sí féin ina ndiaidh
Cén bhaint a bhí
ag an dá rud léi
nó cén bhaint a bhí aici
An bhanaltra a thug an nod di
is a chuir í i dtreo an eolais —
‘Cos í seo atá ceangailte díot
agus ceann eile acu anseo thíos fút.
Cos, cos eile,
a haon, a dó.
Caithﬁdh tú foghlaim
conas siúl leo.’
Ins na míosa fada
n’fheadar ar thit a croí
de réir mar a thit
trácht na coise uirthi,
© by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, all rights reserved. from The Fifty Minute Mermaid (Gallery Books, 2007)
Thank you to Gallery Press for allowing me to use this poem to celebrate Irish Women’s Poetry and translation on International Women’s Day 2012. The English translation of the poem is here.
Clonfert Cathedral mermaid by Andreas F. Borchert
In the Storm of Roses, by Ingeborg Bachmann.
“Wherever we turn in the storm of roses,
the night is lit up by thorns, and the thunder
of leaves, once so quiet within the bushes,
rumbling at our heels.”
The Broken Heart by Ingeborg Bachmann
“News o’ grief had overteaken
Dark-eyed Fanny, now vorseaken;
There she zot, wi’ breast a-heaven,
While vrom zide to zide, wi’ grieven,
Vell her head, wi’ tears a-creepen
Down her cheaks, in bitter weepen.
There wer still the ribbon-bow
She tied avore her hour ov woe,
An’ there wer still the hans that tied it
Or wringen tight,
In ceare that drowned all ceare bezide it.
When a man, wi’ heartless slighten,
Mid become a maiden’s blighten,
He mid cearelessly vorseake her,
But must answer to her Meaker;
He mid slight, wi’ selfish blindness,
All her deeds o’ loven-kindness,
God wull waigh ‘em wi’ the slighten
That mid be her love’s requiten;
He do look on each deceiver,
He do know
What weight o’ woe
Do break the heart ov ev’ry griever.”
I am hoping this is a creative commons image, THnX Iosaf.
Pain in Pleasure
‘ A thought lay like a flower upon mine
And drew around it other thoughts like
For multitude and thirst of
Whereat rejoicing , I desired the art
Of the Greek whistler, who to wharf
Could lure those insect swarms from
That I might hive with me such thoughts,
my soul so, always. Foolish counterpart
of a weak man’s vain wishes! While I
The thought I called a flower, grew
The thoughts , called bees, stung me to
O entertain (cried reason, as she
Your best and gladdest thoughts but long
And they will all prove sad enough to
This from a set of Photocopied pages of EBB, incl. The Sonnets from the Portuguese.