Anne McDonald, 4 poems

Still birth.

Steps of stairs from seven to five

we stood in line on the garden wall,

dressed in gingham, hand made,

handed down, waiting now for hours,

dark hair burnished in the winter sun.

It seemed like years since she had gone

we almost thought we’d never get her back,

but here she was, home.

‘Howya Mam,

Where have you been?

What did you get us?’

Our questions clamored.

‘In the hospital’ she replied,

her face turned towards the harsh lit kitchen window,

as we all chorused ‘why?’

A cardboard suitcase opened on the table,

I saw her finger a pale blue piece of ribbon

and cotton soft a pale blue baby’s bonnet.

Softly I could hear her whisper

‘I went to get a baby.’

She must have been a thousand pieces

racked with pain and sore and sad

and patched together dispatched out

to carry on and not look back.

‘So wheres the baby Mam?’

Quietly she fingered softness

and brokenhearted spared our pain

but increased hers, she answered;

‘There was only red haired ones

in the Hospital Shop’

Crows’ Books.

(Pilltown Woods with my mother)

We watched the flight

of a hundred crows

squawk their way

to the sky-high trees.

My mother said they were

‘Birds coming home from school.’

We rambled on

in the dusk damp woods,

A pine cone lay

under rusty leaves.

My mother laughed and said

‘One of the crows has dropped his book.’

A pine cone sits

On a rough-hewn desk

When I hold it

I am four years old

and hear again my mother’s voice,

‘There is always crows’ books in Pilltown.’

The Letters

Thoughtlessly I threw your letters

to the fire and went on sorting,

holding and discarding,

the television blared,

I thought of work.

Suddenly,

your letters caught my eye,

they smoldered slowly

as if to fight the flames.

I thought of all

the dreams and hopes

and mainly apologies

those letters held.

And then by chance,

a flame took hold,

and in a moment,

the words were gone

-as you are.

Fledgelings

I know you know

You’ve made a

monumental blunder

I could have told you that in January,

I tried to tell you that in June.

But is it only now,

twelve months later

That it’s hit you?

I hope you know the story of the fledgeling;

How it faltered for a while

Hovered on the quivering branches

wanting to run and hide

within the warmth and comfort

of the family nest

It waited;

and while it waited,

It lost the downy feathers from its breast

Replacing them with multicoloured hues

Silk to touch

It waited;

While you mulled around and beat your head

against the walls of your

concave

monumental

blunder.

It faltered for a while

And waited,

And the day came when

with piercing, searching eyes

It looked into your concave,

saw your thrashing

and subconsciously,

despite itself

It spread its azure wings

and flew away.

I just hope you know…

About the contributor

Anne McDonald is a spoken word performer and dramatist whose work has been short listed for the Frances Macmanus Short Story competition and is on the current shortlist for the 2020 Strokestown International Poetry competition. She won the Ballina International Poetry competition.

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