Poetry by Maria O’Rourke


You’ve played this part before, Dad:

the sick man with the rasping cough

on thespian boards, you loved to tread.

But this time it’s for real – 

working hard to

perfect the wavering voice,

the hesitant shuffle,

capturing the head’s incline,

and conjuring for the gathered crowd

the perfect line.

It’s just me beside you now, Dad,

My hand cupped round your grey head.

Whispering poems you always loved

to the rhythm of the heart machine;

its patterns bleeping reassurance 

that you are still alive.

Centre-stage in your hospital bed

with an audience of one,

your face awash with dappled light

from the sun.

When you get out of here, Dad,

Great performances await:

from John B. Keane to Frederica Lorca.

Your passionate heart will swell

to rapturous applause.

Will you dream of it now

like you’re waiting in the wings,

powdered and painted and dressed?

‘Good night, sweet Prince,

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.’

About the contributor

After a career in teaching spanning thirty years, Maria O’Rourke is now a full-time author, currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick. Writing both prose and poetry, her favourite genre is creative non-fiction. She is married to David, with three grown-up children.

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