Fragmenting…defragmenting… by Breda Wall Ryan

(i) Woman, Fragmenting

Out of reach of Bach's Rescue Remedy,
she free-falls
          through 2, 1, G
                  to the basement.

Wifemask says she's fine,
hides behind her Prozac smile,
offers cake and tea, nods and nods.
        Wearing her disguise,
             she lies

While chemicals scramble signals,
sparks refuse synaptic gaps,
        the machine 

cables snap,
she swallows despair,
       takes what's on offer
              for toxic sorrow,

peels her skin down
to the raw child at the core
of her unhinged matryoshka.
Things can only get worse
       if nobody Zolofts her
             back to the surface.

She tries to grip
the creature—is it she?—
sinking through air, land, water,

(ii) Woman, Defragmenting

She searches for handholds
inside her head, climbs her hair
through a blizzard
on the north slope.
Choking on terrors
of high unguarded places,
she fights the urge
to step off into nothing,
give in to gravity, plunge
through the sea-skin,
then fly, half-cormorant, down
to oblivion's seabed. 
Spiralling riptides
draw her under, she rides
an undertow down,
down where dolphins drown,
     stars nail the lid
           on her sea-coffin.

She floats in darkness, hears
voices call; a bright light
hauls her anchor.
She breathes clearer air, glimpses
a split of sky, blue,
the blue of healing,
of veins unopened,
their steady pulse
the beat
       of her twelve-bar 


After Ceramic artworks by Helen Quill
this white ceramic demi-sphere brimful of the cries of seagulls,
at the tipping point
balanced on blackthorns—
half-moon bowl of light
downy white feather
from the wing of the holy ghost—
downward spiral
strung on a single hair a louse-egg pearl
cochlear swirls thrum
with the sound of waves
weaving an ocean

Breda Wall Ryan grew up on a farm in Co. Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has an M. Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. Her awarded fiction has appeared in The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006 – 07 and The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction. Her poems have been widely published in print and online journals, broadcast on community and national radio and translated into several languages. She has read at poetry events throughout Ireland, in the United Kingdom and USA. Among her more recent awards are The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize and The Dermot Healy Poetry Award. Her collection In a Hare’s Eye (Doire Press 2015) was awarded the Shine/Strong Poetry Award. Raven Mothers (Doire Press 2018) is her second collection.