The trailerless truck
ready to topple over,
its white narrow cab naked,
its coupling exposed and awkward as
sockless ankles under suit pants.
Skittish on the road
without its load, addled
as a first day at work, not knowing
where the toilets are, the smile spent
on your face from nodding
that’s great, thanks a million,
God, I’m sorry to annoy you but.
You unhooked me as you left,
your knees don’t hold onto
my back in bed anymore,
I’m falling over
awkward and naked.
I’m putting your tiny heartbeat
into this yellow matchbox
and sliding it nearly closed
but open enough so you can see out
and lean over and touch things.
I am placing you in the back
of this cupboard, tucking you in
beside the custard powder
and the green golden syrup tin,
so you can take the lid off any time
and swing strings of molasses onto your tongue
for that yummy tummy sick party feeling.
I’ll open the door every day for Weetabix
and salt and ketchup, but on big days
when I need to follow the recipe
for a special dessert,
I’ll see you, tiny baby,
your heartbeat yellow against the custard tin.
our last day
You collect me off the train in your Daihatsu Fourtrack
made for cattle and dirt with moss on the window rubbers.
With mam not home, you ask, the chippers?
Plumpness only attracts fat boys, but I’m starved.
We order burgers and chips in Friendly Frier,
she shouts over the frenzied chips in fat,
the mincemeat gulping and gasping on the hot plate,
the snack box meal picture desperate for notice,
you’d know by her she hates waste,
I can do you another burger for nothing if you’d like?
It’s our last day, the health inspectors are closing us down.
And she gives us our brown bags,
the fat making them shiny on our laps.
We laugh, blow and eat and wave the heat
saying, how could anyone say such a thing?
We can still laugh at that,
my mother mostly collects me now.
Catch my ankles and flop me in,
shake and slide me down along the seam,
snuggle my toes into the corners,
then rag-doll shake me
until I flop out loose and get covered
down my thighs, I’ll move my face
to nose open buttons
to breath and see,
now ruffle me so I’m lying flat
listening to the daytime bedroom,
staring at flaps on the alarm display,
shake me down to spread me over
humdrum quiet days.
Porridge burning, giving its last gloopy gasp
for milk as the saucepan browns around it,
grass crunchy and angry for the want of rain
its tongue out craving to be soaked,
cows pounding dust, hides drying and curing
needing soft rain to lick and slick them.
So thirsty, I’d drink in one go, a cold can of Fanta,
the fizz could scratch my eyes,
the gas could rattle and bawl at my throat,
the cold bubbles could head butt and scrawl me,
the sugar could swarm and suffocate my teeth,
and I would stay pouring pouring pouring in.
You come in last thing, drink a cup of water and leave
it to drip, drip, drip dry on the draining board,
I’m bet out, I’m going to bed, a long day.
We used to be lush, fizzy and scrawling,
soaking each other in soft warm rain.
We’re in drought, a desiccated peat bog,
black crevasses and cracks bursting us apart.
Maresa Sheehan’s poetry has been published in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, Boyne Berries, and elsewhere. She received first prize in the Goldsmith International Literary Festival Poetry Competition, was highly commended for the Bridport Poetry Prize and the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Competition, and shortlisted for the Fish Lockdown, Cúirt Poetry, and Allingham International Poetry prizes. She is a regular poetry contributor to Irish Country Living.