Sheena Bradley

Sheena was born in a small town in Northern Ireland and went to University in Dublin. She spent five great years in Liverpool and has now lived in Nottingham, longer than anywhere else. She worked as a Radiologist in Grantham, Lincolnshire for 22 years, and since retirement has been writing, mostly poetry but really anything – except radiology reports.

She completed her BA in English Lit. with the OU in 2016.

She loves words and images, but also mountains, bogs, beaches, (she goes to Kerry in the West of Ireland for all those) birds and clouds, which luckily she can get anywhere, and all sorts of natural things.

Her eldest son lives in Japan with his family, and before travel restrictions entered our lives, she visited that country regularly and loved their rich history, culture, traditions and poetry which inspired her Dissertation for her MA in Creative Writing completed at NTU in 2018.

Many of her poems have been published in Sarasvati, Dawntreader and Reach, (The Indigo Dreams Press). Her work has also appeared in OrbisThe Beacon, As It Ought To Be, (AIOTB), Poets’ Choice and in Dear Reader.

Huldremose Woman

 Huldre plunges from the forest,
 red scarf restraining rusty curls.
 Her chequered skirts fly purple
  
 as buzzard wings explode
 into frosty sky,
 she crushes wind-ruffled 
  
 bog cotton under running feet.
 Buds of bracken awaken
 to a clamour of sacrificial cries,
  
 sweat breaks from burly bodies 
 as they squelch through turf.
 She turns 
  
 and knows her future now.
 Blade and bone scrunch.
 Her solid form splashes
  
 into claggy water. 
 Marsh bubbles drift, cling 
 to the bog’s sphagnum face.
  
 Her sanguine fluid swirls 
 to the swamp’s algid heart.
 Wet jaws grasp
  
 crossed wooden staves 
 that thrust her body to acid depths,
 locking hard. 

Child Migrant

 I
  
 I don’t remember leaving Ireland,
 only arriving, a new-born foal,
 jelly legs unsteady
 after weeks aboard the Empress of France.
 Parents speak rapidly
 with smiling voices,
 emigrants to a New World.
  
 Quebec is light, colour, noise
 and swooshing cars with glossy names,
 Chevrolet, Chrysler, Oldsmobile.
 My new half-brother                                                                             
 speeds us in his Pontiac
 through pine forest tang,
 green trees go on forever.
 Already wide, the Petawawa River 
 opens to the Ottawa,songs 
 lilting in their names.
  
 This white house is just for us, we four –
 and that scary Jesus picture,
 shipped from home, flashing
 his fiery heart and follow-you eyes. 
  
 Big brother, home from school, teaches me, 
 Van Der Berg, Kinosha, Hoffmann,
 Schultz, twisting my tongue, unlike 
 the easy roll of Mc Guigan, Hegarty and O'Brien. 
  
 Featureless fading snowmen last
 for months, then summer’s melting heat,
 sticky hands, damp clingy sheets.
 On our way to picnicby a lake, 
 the car skids on a million mashed caterpillars.
 I swim on Uncle's back, squealing, 
 squealing, listening for echoes. 
  
 Barbecue smoke clingsto hair 
 and clothes as we ride home singing 
 O Canada, our home and native land.
  
  
  
 II
  
  
 We’ve woken early
 to the rattle of rosary beads, 
 the snuffle of snot and tears.
 Overnight, Daddy is gone.
  
 Brendan’s Pontiac races 
 us through black woods
 to Pembroke Hospital.
 Daddy lies blue-lipped
 gasping and grey 
 in a cold iron bed.
  
 In the ward with tiled walls,
 tiled floor, tang of antiseptic
 and carbolic on everything
 even Daddy smells strange 
 as I am lifted for a kiss.
  
 Everyone speaks at once; 
 scolding words 
 criss-cross the bed. 
 Heart failure, months to live, won’t 
 have him die on foreign soil,
  
 hospital bills, money, tickets.
 My brother and I sit in a corner
 knowing to be silent.
  
 Maybe days later, 
 maybe weeks, 
 with faintest memory 
 we take another ship,
 recross the Atlantic.
  
 Immigrants again, 
 we return penniless,
 to no home.
 Our peaceful Irish village,  
 alien already.  

All the Chemistry I Never Knew

 Miss Kennedy in permed grey curls
 tried hard to impart
 the knowledge of her years
 to unruly convent girls who cared nought
 about the structure of the atom 
 or the Bus Seat Rule of electron capture.
  
 We were more concerned 
 with how to backcomb glossy locks 
 to capture attention,
 not electrons, from the boys 
 of the Rainey Endowed 
 on the bus back home.
  
 Properties of liquids and gases,
 the percentage of Nitrogen in air 
 and how to show it, passed us by. 
 We were more engaged with how much space 
 each took up in minds of males 
 obsessed like ours with nascent sexual concerns.
  
 Tears were distilled 
 in heated crucibles 
 of love and jealousy, elements 
 of oxidation and reduction
 to be consumed before we balanced
 our equations.
  
 We burned with a passion
 just as bright as that magnesium filament,
 given the right oxygen of interest. The best 
 catalysts were hormones over which
 we had no control, deposited unchanged
 after each encounter, awaiting another spark. 

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