“Market Prayer” and other poems by Annemarie Ní Churreáin

Laundry

 
Here in the Indian foothills,
I share a house with a man from Greece
 
who speaks no English perfectly,
disappears for days on a motorbike,
 
leaves his laundry on the low make-shift line,
grieving an absent sun.
 
Side by side they hang: his shirt, my summer dress
as if they know each other well
 
and when he returns, smelling of engine oil,
monsoon, rolled brown cigarettes,
 
we have no formal language,
to share our separate joy.
 
Drip-drip on the balcony,
a queer, white pool gathers below.
 
He holds at a sleeve, looks to sky.
I open my palm for signs of rain.
 

Market Prayer

 
It is the scent of hanging fruit
more than roots pulled
from lines of parallel dirt
that lingers
after all that has happened.
I touch a pyramid of lemons
and everything is new again.
I pick one, and close my hand around it
as if to test these immutable seeds
glowing in my darkness.
For what, I do not know.
Pomona of Orchards, please:
like the finder of a planet
seeing for the first time
an otherness, I am afraid
the life I dream exists.
 

Protest

 
One cut and the hair worn since childhood
fell upon the floor
dead soft.
 
A spear-thistle;
her new, bald skull
refused order.
 
She belonged to heather
and in tail-streams
cupping frogs,
 
delighting
in the small, green pulse of life
between palms,
 
not here:
at the dark centre of reunions, separations,
starved of air.
 
This was a protest of love, against love
demanding
sun, rain, wilderness.
 
From a finger, she slid a band
placed it underfoot,
pressed down
 
until the stone
made the sound of a gold chestnut
cracking open.
 

The Scandal

 
The villagers did not unite
in outrage
but instead, they set about their days as usual,
posting letters, buying fruit, forming queues in the bank after lunchtime.
 
They said little
but within that little lay much;
little was a gated field in which something extraordinary was buried.
 
They held to their inner selves
resilient
in emergencies of projected light.
 
And yet,
over time, there happened a slow retreat from joyousness;
a packing away of the Emperor’s new clothes, for good.
 
Only the giant oaks
would live to remember imagination.
 

End of Girlhood

 
The first time
a tree called me by name,
I was thirteen and only spoke a weave of ordinary tongues.
 
It started with a leaf and next,
a mist came down from the hills, beating a lone skin drum,
looking for me.
 
Scarlet pimpernels dropped hints
that could not be ignored:
no red is innocent.
 
Badger trails called me aside for a word.
Come underground, they said,
see what we are made of.
 
Market Prayer and other poems are © Annemarie Ni Churreáin

Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a poet and writer from Donegal, Ireland. She has been awarded literary fellowships from Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany), Jack Kerouac House (Orlando) and Hawthornden Castle (Scotland). In 2016, Annemarie was the recipient of a Next Generation Artists Award from the Arts Council of Ireland. In Autumn 2017, Annemarie’s debut collection ‘BLOODROOT’ is being launched by Doire Press, Galway. For more information, click here.

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