The 22nd Minute
The inners of the ash tree twirl fibres up Cú Chulainn’s stick
Splintering out like a cut open stomach in centre-forward line
The bas is hugged by black steel rods no match in a clash of the ash
Which sees your elbow crack it like an egg in one quick blow
As you wave your calloused hand to catch the leather bound wine cork
It hooks in the L of your fingers and bends thumb like an Allen key
You are laid out in black and yellow still like a fragile bee in October
I bring you two halves of one ash root, the third one this season
They drill screws into ivory phalange as if it was a notice board
And your floppy hand is strapped in a headlock waiting for me to sign
Eden’s apples were the sweetest, full of wet juicy flesh
That pools between teeth and bottom lip in each bite.
Was it worth it Eve, to break that red fibrous skin
And all the rules around it for one little taste?
And Persephone, that pomegranate wasn’t yours to touch
But it hung on that branch waving at your wagging tongue
Just six simple seeds sat softly in your mouth
Each one exchanged for a month on plush throne.
A golden apple of discord at the feet of a few can start a war,
Just ask Aphrodite whose fairest beauty brought down Troy
Or innocent Snow White who took only one measly bite
To be sent into a slumber among seven little men.
Yet I can walk into any supermarket aisled with super sixes
I’ll eat apples and pomegranate in little plastic tubs as I walk.
No one is waiting to banish me for my cheek in having a taste.
My only concern being; do I have pips in my teeth?
Green is abandonment, the overgrown, the unattended
The ivy asphyxiating pebble-dashed walls
Green men moonwalking at night, the green of isolation
The green of bilateral fields waving us home, our gemstone analgesic
The unbiased green of maternity wards and the present tense
Malignant weeds, the green of fresh nodes
The margins of the seasons – nature’s etchings in doorframes
The green of greenhouses, sweating incubated cabbages
Green of poaceae, green of inspiration in poésie
The green of the real life – the rhizopus in the bread bin
Surging bile in the peritoneum tidal waves invisible
The alopecia of trees sighing in change
Green is the central line of our world body electric
The green of amitriptyline; healing is just outside
Doc(tor) leaves the age old cure
The green of the first aid kit, the tea and the tree at my back door.
I am your own personal gift shop map
Spread across your torso palm flat
I rest in the divot your white piano bones
Leave for my head, caught like a surfer
In this accordion wave of oxygen
I have imprinted my scent into your skin
Pomegranate noir lingers on the pillow
My hair fanned last night as we talked
And the coconut oil conditioner
Tickled your cheeks and tastes like last night
I can take you all over this world if you let me
I’ll paint you sunsets stretched like Drumsticks
Spilling from sticky smiles at the seaside
We can collect corks from cheap red wine
And just once share the heart of your sliotar
My tongue can feed you spices you can’t pronounce
And speak un petit peu de Français between European kisses
My hands can knead Italian bread dripping in oil
And show you how to treat dough like piano keys
Until the kettle clicks and the duck down falls to your feet
Anatomy of a sonnet
“Count back slowly from ten with me”
In measured iambic phalanges
The pulse rushes in steady practitioner’s hands
Where the pen sits like a scalpel – ready
The page turns. It’s new tissue sheet
across a bed where once lay a dying man
His vacant grey eyes catch mine then
We smile in solitude at the things we must beat
I am the form’s medulla oblongata
His is replaced by apparatus
Our breath synchronises on the page
I pull on the sounds of the machine like strata
This hand is trained to do no harm
His signs on the dotted line Do Not Resuscitate
My darling, I didn’t know it was when
you rattled off a list you could expand
of all the things we get wrong that we were damned.
I think about this crumbling quite often.
In a bed with one half now unwrinkled, or at the iron
when its holes etch my shirts because I forced my hand.
I wonder what armoury it takes to withstand
a blow to the once sewn together heart. What en-
chantment protects lovers who can’t be still
hand in hand after years? How do we avoid the threat
of a wobble when we change or address
or voicemail to house us two. When did we beguile
each other? That love was under our remit.
When was it you knew you were safer outside our nest?
It is not a question of colliding in fire or ice.
For us it’s about the muddling and snap
of daily life. That is our only vice.
When you leave dishes with dried out rice
on the sink, why don’t you just run the tap?
It’s not so much a question of fire and ice,
but rather the things we do wrong; contrived
as mini Armageddons in our happy
daily life. That is our only vice.
If I throw harsh words like rolling dice,
know it isn’t really the toothpaste that
makes me spew like fire and ice.
That tube squeezed from the top is a slice
of evidence that you do not listen to our scraps.
Being you and me; that is our only vice.
I wonder how many more apologies suffice.
Are we lucky or damned that this is our catch?
That it isn’t an ending in fire or ice.
But rather us, our daily life – that is our vice.
The Fold and other poems are © Alison Driscoll