Edward O’Dwyer’s poetry collections, The Rain on Cruise’s Street and Bad News, Good News, Bad News (Salmon Poetry, 2014 & 2017) have drawn frequent comparisons with Raymond Carver and Billy Collins. They’ve been Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes, and the latter contains the Michael Hartnett Festival 2018 award-winning poem, ‘The Whole History of Dancing’. His third book is a dark comedy flash fiction collection, Cheat Sheets (Truth Serum Press, 2018), which featured on The Lonely Crowd journal’s ‘Best Books of 2018’ list. Donal Ryan refers to them as “wicked little gems”, while Tanya Farrelly compares them to “Woody Allen at his best” when referring to the collection as “a side-splitting study on the absurdity of human behaviour.” Exquisite Prisons, his third collection of poems, is due from Salmon Poetry in Spring 2020. A sequel to Cheat Sheets is already finished, and he is currently working on a first novel. Edward lives in Limerick.
The Woman and the Telescope
The woman looked through her telescope and out of the big window from her high-rise apartment. It was a plush, elegantly furnished place. The woman was a success in her career. It was unquestionably the apartment of a woman with taste and refinement, with an appreciation for eclecticism. She looked out at the world, the piece of the world that she found herself to be at the centre of.
She hoped she was in the right place, but there wasn’t any way to know for sure. Like everybody else in the world, she was just hoping, and most of time, she would admit that she hardly knew what she should be hoping for.
Cupid was there, hovering in the background. He was noisily munching a Granny Smith apple. Cupid loves Granny Smith apples, of course. He says so all the time.
“Oh, you got some Granny Smiths,” Cupid would say, and then he would help himself to them. He’d never bother to ask. They’re being there, he seemed to presume, must mean that you were expecting him to drop by, and you wanted to be hospitable.
“What are you looking for?” Cupid asked, and with a little sneer. Everything he says, these days, seems to have that little sneer in it, the woman has noticed.
“You know what I’m looking for,” she said jadedly. She has answered this question many, many times.
“Tell me again,” Cupid said. “I’ve forgotten. I’ve got Alzheimer’s, you know.” He laughed, just like a coyote in a kid’s cartoon laughs, all high and fiendish.
“You’re supposed to be helping me,” the woman said. “Isn’t that what you’re meant to do? Isn’t that your job? All you ever do now is distract me and annoy me, eating my apples, and you never say thank you, and then you just vanish.”
“I’m helping,” he said, glumly. The sneer was there but dulled noticeably. “It just isn’t like it used to be, though. I struggle with my sense of duty. I’ve become cynical, I guess. It’s just that love has changed. I don’t even know if I should be calling it love anymore.” Cupid dropped his apple to the floor. It rolled across the tiles. Its juice stained them.
The woman looked up when she heard weeping. She stopped looking through the telescope and stood up straight. She stopped looking out at the world in order to look at Cupid. She had never seen him like this, vulnerable and unsure of himself.
He was human to her now. She sensed his longing. It came at her, and it exerted a force, one she knew very well, one she carried inside of herself. She had never seen him this ragged either, his wings sagging to his feet.
“There’s still love out there,” the woman said. She said it with remarkable confidence, and yet also said it as though hooked up to a lie detector test.
“Maybe,” Cupid said, a wet, globular snot snailing from his left nostril and settling just above his lip. He was nodding meekly. “Maybe you’re right.”
“I am right,” the woman said. “Of course I am right. Come over here,” she said, taking Cupid’s hand. She took a tissue from her pocket and she dabbed it above his lip, collected the snot from it, and returned the tissue, in a ball, to her pocket. “This way,” and she led him to the telescope. “I just hope they are still there.”
“Who are still there?” Cupid asked. “Who are still there?” he repeated more urgently.
The woman looked through the telescope. She saw again what she saw before, and her mouth made a smile of itself. “Look and you’ll see,” she said, gesturing at the eyepiece with her hand.
Cupid looked through the lens and saw what the woman had saw, a couple of young women. They were holding each other tightly, and they were in the midst of the most beautiful kiss.
There was no lust, or deceit, or pain connected to this kiss. It had none of those things. Cupid was able to see these things. He was able to see them all too clearly. This kiss, though, was pure love.
He looked up at the woman. His eyes were wide.
“I’ve dropped my apple,” he said. “Do you mind if I take another?”
The woman nodded. There was none of the sneer, she noticed, none at all. She went back to the telescope, bent down to the eyepiece. She went back to looking out of the window and out at the world while Cupid picked an apple from the bowl. He ate it noisily, and the vigour came back, as he did, into his immaculate wings.