Aoife Reilly

 Ode to the Past
Now that you’ve moved further afield,
I miss your quirky ways.
I can’t say I long for you, but certainly your efforts
causing mixed up measures of havoc and joy
in The Present won’t be forgotten.
Detangled from your ivy now,
the horizon is clear and light with hindsight
laughing at your wrong track premonitions.
Impossible to see then, how the current pulls on the river
carrying our lives along to this precise moment at the desk
looking out on the giant ash swirling in south westerlies.
Past, you are something between ever changing pictures
in my head and the old lover’s touch that can’t be washed away.
You dwell under the skin which somehow remembers
the feel of salt after the ocean and the sound of love waves,
leaving and arriving. You are neat boxes for each episode
shaken upside down, that pair of too tight jeans falling with
the pressed foxglove forgotten in that book you swore to keep forever.
You are eternal, my crystal ball of mistakes, my friend of everything
that is always breaking down
Ode to the Olive Tree
Deep canyons to house butterflies,
thick wooden waves and perfect stoic grooves
that let your eye follow the line
along the grey ripples of a wise one.
Her seamless stretchmarks of bark
fold layer upon layer of time,
shelter generations of beings
in a sculpture of silver leaf;
you give, you grow, you bless.
Can we ask the same of our hearts?

In the evening forest, when I stared up
into the hundreds of tangled branches
trying find the sky, it was clear to me
how you were like looking into a huge redwood,
vast and steady with unseen cords.
And then I want to be able to go back there;
to my not even seven-year-old self,
my fingers tiny on your giant freckled hand
stroking the palm in quiet rhythm
until I was big enough to sleep alone.
After this, things happened
that were like snapping twigs everywhere,
the bottom falling out of us, in bits and pieces,
then more and more, until I remember being
like a spider on the sequoia, building webs to stretch
out into a world, far enough away from secret ties
and family binds to scribble you out,
and the roads I chose were marked
on a map of nothing like
or very close to the web
that started at you.
These days,
we have come to be
united in more than loss,
where the right and wrong of things
matters less and the web returns us
to the father-daughter weave again,
starting here in this forest,
almost dark, alive and creaking to me
about places we cannot yet see
that are waiting in faith
that hand will meet hand
and walk out together
into the clearing.

Aoife Reilly lives on the edge of The Burren in Co. Galway, Ireland. She has had her poetry published in some of  the following magazines and journals including Crannóg, Boyne Berries, The Curlew, A New Ulster, The Galway Review, Skylight 47, North West Words, ROPES(NUIG) and The Ogham Stone (U.L.) Her poems have been short-listed in a number of competitions including The Doolin Poetry Competition(2016), Over The Edge Writer of the Year(2015 and 2018) and North West Words Poetry Competition(2017). She published a pamphlet, Lilac and Gooseberries, with Lapwing Press in March 2017 and Doire Press will publish her first collection in 2020. Aoife completed an artist in residency programme focusing on writing and music at Officina Stamperia del Notaio in Sicily in July 2018.  Aoife’s work is largely based around the themes of nature and belonging which she has explored through outdoor instillation, poetry and collaborative art exhibitions. Aoife was selected to read as part of Over The Edge New Irish Writing at Cúirt Festival of Literature in 2016. More information can be found at


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