Karen O’Connor, New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day

They brought us here after the funeral.
Sheets of Kleenex and rhubarb tart
and the smell of aunts dressed in charcoal grey,
with tangerine cheeks, drinking cinnamon tea,
complaining about your lack of consideration
“today of all days.”
The noise of cups, the steam of coffee,
the sickening smell of pine.
Below the table I held my own hand,
nails embedded, until there was no pain,
no expression at their cruel lips
spraying biscuit advice.
Dad nodding slowly, carefully,
like his head sat on a pendulum
and he was afraid to give it free rein,
afraid to open his mouth,
to speak — to agree or disagree.
And without warning his hand found mine
under the table, clumsily lacing our fingers,
still nodding, as if nothing had changed between us.

Karen O’Connor is an Irish writer and winner of the Listowel Writers’ Week Single Poem Prize, The Allingham Poetry Award, The Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award for Poetry, and the Nora Fahy Literary Awards for Short Story.  She is a poet and short story writer and her work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies. 

Karen’s first poetry collection FINGERPRINTS (On Canvas) was published by Doghouse Books in 2005.  Her second collection Between The Lines (2011), also from Doghouse Books, was featured on the RTÉ Radio 1 Arts Programme, Arena. Find her website here.


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