Maeve McKenna, Grief That Swims

Grief That Swims

Festive town. I take the narrow back-lanes, skinny
sisters with less life, a Christmas tree spouting
disappointment from a bedsit window,

people linking arms, happy in their walking.
The pedal feels willing under my foot, speed asking.
My shoe remains steady and attached. Window displays

offer suggestions how we get through this —
thoughtful gift ideas — eau de toilet, a boxed angel.
On my lap the phone demonstrates acceptance

with a screensaver of Buddha, offered in friendship
when laughing isolated our frantic candles. It pings
with other happiness, and then the playlist.

You are leaving. Your shoulders crash against
your chin for eleven days. You haven’t eaten
or swallowed for so long, but,

I imagine some huge decision, a defining ritual
at the beside. Yet, here you are, panting, your lung
muscles the perfect antidote to your still hip-bone,

singing residents carrying a tinsel-decorated commode
as a tribute, lyrics remembered and forgotten, the crusted
fitting of your mouth vomit, not.

Go! Go. Over the bridge. Just go! White froth hovers
at the cavity of the rivers black belly. Is it too early
to say being alive is dying? Or too late?

The phone rings. There will be its damage; recitals
recorded at the water, crowds dredging a wet wreath,
hands claiming every grief, not a choir of angels in sight.

Maeve McKenna is from Dublin and lives in rural 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 and the Hanna Greally Poetry Competition, 2020.

Maeve’s work has been published in Mslexia, The Galway Review, Boyne Berries, Fly on the Wall, The Haibun Journal, The Cormorant, Skylight 47, Mad Swirl, Bloody Amazing Anthology, Culture Matters: A Working Class Anthology Of Prose Writing, and Sonder Magazine. Her poems have appeared online in The Bangor Literary Journal, The Honest Ulsterman, San Antonio Review, Bonnie’s Crew, The Ink Pods, The Blue Nib, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Live Encounters, Impspired Magazine, and many others. A poem of hers is included in the UCD Pandemic Poetry Archive. She is a recipient of the Arts Council Of Ireland Professional Development Award, 2020. She has work forthcoming in Atrium, 100 Words Of Solitude, and Black Bough Poetry.

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