He might have been
the rock I’d perish on.
Young love is dangerous.
Who could tell?
He was to become
the rock I’d clamber onto,
stretch out and sleep on,
regain my balance on,
over and over.
for my grandchildren (it’s too late for my children)
There always will be people in this life
who want so desperately to share their creed
and give you explanations for your life
and name your truth and label all your needs
and tell you who you are by what you do
and claim to solve your mysteries for you.
They’ll analyse and criticise and teach
you faiths and expectations you can’t reach.
Don’t listen. Don’t be bridled. Don’t be led.
Don’t blindly follow idols who are dead:
Or worse still, those who live and use their fame
to have you join their herd and chant their name
and track your pathways for you: They don’t know
that they themselves, are blinkered as they go.
I often wonder how the dying cope
looking at their final days impending.
I marvel at the way they still can hope,
while all that they have lived is up-ending.
I know it helps if all is tranquillised,
with opiates and mantras for the mind,
but I envisage being paralysed,
behind a panic curtain, dumb and blind.
I hold my own fear like a silhouette,
a tightrope artist playing with its shadow.
I pray it won’t attempt to pirouette.
I think of safety nets as far too shallow,
yet hope when life is finally uprooted,
with balance pole in hand, I’ll salute death.
Jac Shortland is a Cork woman whose poetry has been published in a diversity of journals and anthologies. She has been longlisted for North West Words Poetry 2016 and Over the Edge New Writer of the Year 2017, and commended for Westport Arts Festival Poetry 2017. She is especially proud to have been shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize 2017 and is a regular reader at Ó Bhéal open mic nights. Her poems reflect the mind of a woman who hasn’t made her mind up about any of life’s mysteries and most likely never will.