Mångata and other poems

Staring out at the Mångata*

She closes her eyes on the mångata and sleeps; 
slips into its strip of silver road; a slick of moonlight shimmering on the ocean,
believing she can walk that road should morning fail to follow night,
so consider her malaise, when, at 2am she wakes
to see mågnata moved on, counts the seconds as each wave
washes ashore; all the while wrestling the stillness.
(*mångata – Swedish for moon’s shimmering light on water)
 

Out of Black

We fly JFK to Washington Dulles. 
The guy at the car rental laughs and says,
‘you guys, the Outer Banks – OBX – 
hah, that’s somethin’… 
I’ve never been to the Outer Banks.’
And on a long stretch of road,
miles off the highway,
a bear lollops across our path, 
clears the safety barrier then disappears
long before we zoom by.
I’m pretty sure he dived headfirst into bramble,
tumbled and rolled like a boulder into the woods.
Faster than we could cough the fur balls from 
the backs of our throats or in a breath shout,
“BEAR!”
One year on, I lie in blackness,
digging up this moment,
considering timing and other things.
 

One January Morning for Conor

Look at you!
Your acrobatic confidence puts me to shame
as I sit slumped, staring out my kitchen window,
you hurry, scurry from bare branch to bare branch
some thinning to nothing to make it seem 
as though you bob on air
then a stretch and cheeky flash of white underbelly,
then a flick and furl – you curl yourself around another twig
and upright drop your tail for balance, its slight swing
allowing the mastication of a seasoned leaf 
fed between pincers so small I cannot see the detail,
only the twitching and busy determination of your task.
You act alone today. Out there on a limb
you jump and roll and twist and turn,
oh you squiggle of a thing – how bold,
how well you know your place in the world.
 

The Writing Shed

I built a room to write in
words are spare there
letters float in midair 
then 
flutter to the floor
           C clings to O
open-mouthed like Edvard’s Scream
           L kicks D to a far corner
where it disintegrates to dust and doubles
in dark
              A arcs and falls, then climbs
descends, climbs descends
then leaps and bungee drops
down, up and round again.
I built a room to write in
it’s full of cold and damp.
 

In the Psychiatrist’s Rooms waiting with my Son

I think I might shrink, shrink to the size of a pea, roll off this chair
onto threadbare carpet where someone is bound to crush me to a pulp.
I’m halfway there – mashed, beaten, squeezed but wonder, 
how does she do it?
How does she listen to swing and moody blues?
You’d feel like giving them a shake 
but they’re already all shook up 
and this isn’t rock ’n’ roll – 
and now this too hot room is filling with a balloon, 
swelling up, puffing out, pinning us to walls,
                                                                  and its too thin skin is about to burst.

About the contributor

Therese Kieran lives in Belfast. In 2016, with Arts Council funding for the Death Box project, she conceived and curated an exhibition of poetry and prose that included contributions from 25 writers. Her work has featured in a variety of anthologies including those published by Arlen House, Shalom, Community Arts Partnership, Queen’s University, Poetry NI, 26 Writer’s group, The Incubator magazine and Tales from the Forest.

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