Poetry by Katherine Duffy


My word for a while,
for a while time is sweet
and crumbly as halva.   

Something warm and close as skin,
a shady lake, a verb
to roll up neat.

Now I can watch jazz funerals
on Youtube. A silver-sashed man
steps and sways

steps and sways, side-on,
his frilly lilac parasol
raised above him like a deity.

You can dance off the snare drum
the bass drum, the tuba,
or off of all of them collectively,

depending how you’re moved,
he explains. The procession
ambles and bops like time itself

turning sweet. My word
for a while. I love its spokes and shelter.
I hold it high and follow.





You need to like the people
you’re with, the woman says,
delivering with her answer our ‘small’
plates which are piled to precarious
with local cheese, pink meat,
glistening grilled aubergines, 
ooze of hummus and tzatziki,
sketched with herbs. Put the bread
inside the oil, she commands, one hand
making dipping motions while
the other lands a basket of rustic
openweave slices, her voice

brown with old smoke, an engine
bearing opinions up around the hairpin bends,
her greying curls wild as the island.
Around us, sun and chat, wooden
chairs of aqua and buttercup.

It’s a closed box we’ve often
passed back and forth, shaken
enough to sense what it holds: salt
rain, houses wrapped in dark,
seeds of light at cold windows.
There’s a lot of wind, she says,
few boats, not much fruit,
and you need something to do.
Her eyes flick to the work
on the wall: quick, rough
strokes, figures making shift
in a storm of orange paint.





The shop is soft as a cat. A hand
has dyed the wool the colours of

frogs in absinthe,
haystacks ablaze,
desolate bluebells,
dark old house red,
the ultramarine that fills
your eyes as you drown.

You think this could be the making of you,
your fingers clicking and twining
something warm into being. Look
for the shade that will take you through
your gentle options by a narrowing window.

In the basement, simmering cheaply,
the odd, the discontinued, the alarming-
ly variegated. The time is coming to weigh
and to plump. Gnarled into every skein,
where you can’t find it, is the end.


About the contributor

Katherine Duffy
Katherine Duffy has published two collections of poetry with the Dedalus Press. Her pamphlet, Talking the Owl Away, won Templar Poetry’s 2018 Iota Shot award, and was subsequently published by Templar. Recent work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Skylight 47, The Word Ark (Dedalus) and Places of Poetry (Oneworld).

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