Maeve McKenna is from Dublin and now lives in Sligo. In 2018, her work was shortlisted for the Red Line and highly commended in the iYeats International Poetry Competitions. In 2019, she was highly commended in the Frances Ledwidge and longlisted in the Over The Edge Poetry competitions. She was joint runner-up in the Trim Poetry Competition, 2020. Her work has been published in The Galway Review, The Cormorant, Sonder Magazine and Fly On The Wall. Her poems have appeared online in The Bangor Literary Journal, Bonnies Crew, The Ink Pods, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Poetry 24, Anti-Chic Heroin, Mad Swirl and many others. She is working towards her first collection of poetry.
Wounded urine, yellow-bruised and pungent with an assault of red in the bowl. Wait. The animals exist to devour their bodies and you make tasting yours a constant dying. You are guzzling fluids like a drought is cracking lines across your face. Fickle skin, itchy and tight, fingers can’t warm there now. But, oh! The latent tingle! Even the flesh funnel and its thirst dried up during those rare, sultry summers. Then, the makeshift wet. You came, unbalanced, legs trembling on a circus wire, pounding applause inside our skin hovel. A ritual of one, years scampering over lust-moist sheets, cold edges where we retreated. This is performance, persistent and loud, a tribute to self. And the body, now a man, still clapping inside the audience of a woman.
The Sound of Distance
Your son is trying to kill you. He’s thinking about it and you know this. You suggest a walk on the beach, idle water, the distraction of sand dunes, and wind; the need for words lost to it when speech was still forming. He’s been in his room. For months, you say, but its years really. You make pasta he has to navigate so you can watch him twist a fork around the loose bits, sometimes sucking the dangling threads of food into his mouth as he inhales, one eye on you, and it vanishes into the slurping silence of another meal time. You say, isn’t this nice, and it is, the moment of him eating: his jaw line jutting through pale skin, fingers tapping, throat flexing, and without realising, his chewing becomes all the noise you can hope for. A little boy, all pudgy shivering, togs falling off the crease of his bum, sand between his floppy toes, feet in your hands rubbing them warm, smiles sitting in the back of the car, just the two of you- his favourite blanket, your fussing. Oh, the weightless quiet. The thud you hear after you hear it, lives in rear mirrors, too late to react, how a deer propels itself into headlights, how you know each time to plummet into the depth of your child, how every birthday card remains unopened. How paper cuts always hurt.
Tree lined avenues house Victorian buildings of fire-red brick and heavy oak doors and elegant stained glass and white bay windows and steps at the front and curved arch-shaped cobble-lock drives and manicured lawns and a glasshouse and swings and walls that hold wounds. Institution. There is a certain colour in homes transformed into hospitals. Is it memory disfigured, a kind of colourless unmemory, erased from stories you tell your children? Reconstruction. Painted white ceilings melt to walls of creams and light greens, haemorrhaging through grey floors. The hallway tiled, black, white, waxed floors, follow the tape, an old rack for coats, a bureau, polished obsolete. Directions to reception, a nearly white plasterboard hut, two glass panels with holes at mouth level. A collage of unremarkable blandness, a vain attempt at assisting forgetting. Recollection. The dining room void of a fanciful table, but the chairs survive, rowed in lines of five, equally spaced, a hard plastic wall-mount with leaflets hanging over the fireless fire place. Sign here. Invitation. Elegant staircase, standing idly proud, velvet rope, plastic plants, staff only sign. Veiled bedrooms relieved of four poster thrones, single bed by six, military barracks style, paper curtains, a locker. Formation. The lift ferries the broken to the attic— prep for the unprepared, unbecoming to become. Resignation. The heart of this once home now surgical lightheads, a stainless steel table, machines and a team. Oblivion. There was a hierarchy of regret, then. And still. And a cost. Still. Solution.