25 Pins in a packet women creators, Contemporary Irish Women Poets, How Words Play, New Poetry, New Poetry From Ireland, Poetry

“Pink is a Sister Sick” and other poems by Seanín Hughes

Pink Is A Sister Sick

with sweetness. Bright;
blinds beautiful men, robs
them of their enamel, but

they never protest.

Fat lashes fan those
flushed cheeks, like

blood blushing milk,

bones so high and hollow
beneath. Pink licks the dark,
but refuses to wear it.
I went panning for
black diamonds in her hair
in our girlhood, and found

nothing but dirty pebbles

and rust for treasure; I
couldn’t love her. She’s
a predator with doll parts,
a perfect Pinocchio gone
rogue and hungry

for boyprey.

I’ve got a perverted
prayer that in time, she’ll
dissolve into herself;
melt at midday,
nothing more
than a

discarded boiled sweet.

Equilibrium

I’m strutting stratospheric,
embellished and splendid
in my NHS wedding dress.

My mother was here before me,
her father before her, his uncle
before that — lucky, lucky me

— our platinum gilted heirloom hops generations and genders,
our gene pool a puddle of madness

thickened with blood and tear-streaked shrieking saliva.
I’m in my unsilent season,

souped up and bursting,
far too sexy
to sedate. This is my circus

and I am the airborne acrobat
defying my earthly anchors
until they come for me,

saturnine.

Anthem

New York’s summer breath
climbs heavy through the window
and the restless worm wrestles
through apple rot.

Narcissus’ trumpets
wither in astonished atrophy,
recoiling into the earth
as the amnion ruptures,

a parting of seas in the
holiest of churches –

between
the wide open legs
of an obedient woman
,

held to ransom by
blanched agony, lips
anaemic, lily white.

Skull shards shift tectonic
and give passage
to the crowning;

the searing stretch of emergence,
the ripping of the mantle,
the sting of the slap –

and it breathes.

The bed sheets are soiled
with immigrant blood
the colour of November poppies,

and writhing in it,
the jaundiced newborn skin
of an epoch in waiting:

a God complex
with baby sized fists
clutching nuclear warheads.

Going Dutch

I cut my teeth on you;
let enamel tear
through the warm pink tissue
of adolescence.

I bared my legs, but
bent them inward,
dressed them in angles
in case you found them
too soft, too fleshy.
You didn’t (they weren’t).

I kept my hair down
so subtle shadows fell
where cheekbones might be,
stolen symmetry, in case
you realised I wasn’t
pretty enough. You didn’t (I was).

We’d play pool –
I never won (I never cared) –
and eat chips on the way home;
you paid your way and
I paid mine, and I never needed
to wear my coat (I did), until

that one night when
you didn’t walk me home,
the night I fell asleep and
you cut your teeth on me,
the ones you lied through (you did),
and I paid in full.

I’d Be Queen of Myself (if I weren’t anti-monarchy)

She said
I seemed brighter and
I was that day,
that week,
but my brightness
had a lid on it
because I couldn’t let it
spill –
unless I was alone

and then

I could sing
and sing
and grin
at the windows
and the cutlery
and laugh at the shape
of the front door
all angular and rigid
and trapped by lines
– not like me –

I was bright that day,
that week,
in cahoots with the sun
(she told me so
and she’s a puppeteer) and I’m
dancing jigs
in the frozen aisle and
I’d be the Queen
of myself (if I wasn’t
anti-monarchy).

But I’ll settle
for this power,
this rising gift,
this momentary lapse
when the numbing fog
clears and life is
so vivid,
and it’s right
under my nose,
the promise of it,
and I forget

that it can’t last

– it won’t last –

until it slips
through the membrane
of my skin and I watch
it leave, I watch

the lights dim, I watch
the numbing fog
and the way it trundles
in again, bearing
the weight
of things
I
can’t
carry.

Pink is a Sister Sick & other poems are © Seanín Hughes

Nebulae & Salt at Dodging The Rain

Diphylleia

Daughter, please       hold my hand. There is rain coming; look — a congregation of heavy promise
waits above our heads
to bathe us.                     It gives God
to our ordinary air. Aren’t you
beautiful? I have a gift for you. Please,
hold my hand; k ep me in your tender palm. Parts of me are fading — your name, your sister flowers.
Did        have sons? Oh. Why must
I be                                dismantled
s slowly? I’m afraid. Please                          hold my hand.     I’m s rry.
Aren’t you         beautiful?
I have a gift for you; diphylleia — the rain makes a s-skeleton             most gentle from its petals, translucent when touched by falling skies in Japan. See how its colours                   weep
— see that crown of clarity, the petals
in                                  their party dress, clear as
Cind rella’s glass slipper. Ar n’t you
b autiful?
Pl ase, dau ter,
hold my hand. Parts of me            fading. A ‘t you beautiful?  There’ll b         ain
for flow rs today. I named you
after a
fl wer,       crowned you        mine. Please
I m
be utif l.

hold my hand?

Seanín Hughes is an emerging poet and writer from Cookstown, Northern Ireland, where she lives with her partner and four children.
Despite writing for most of her life, Seanín only began to share her work in late 2016 after penning a number of poems for her children. Prior to this, she hadn’t written in a number of years following the diagnosis of her daughter Aoife with a rare disease in 2010.
Early 2017 brought a return to writing in Seanín’s spare time and since then, she has completed an ever-increasing volume of new poetry. Drawing from her varied life experiences, Seanín is attracted to challenging themes and seeks to explore issues including mental health, trauma, death and the sense of feeling at odds with oneself and the world.
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