Mary Mulholland. The Making of Dreams


THE MAKING OF DREAMS


Before you’re six weeks you’ve left the west country, with its thunder drones, 
the triple choker birth gave you, your tears exercising the lungs.


Propped up in your pram, watching waves wheeze over the east coast shingle: 
be good. One day we’ll join daddy in another land


Soon he’s forgotten, and his bristle moustache. Wait. Third girls must be trouble-free. Eyes smart from the wind, cheeks burnish like coxes. 


The others, back from school, play in the snow. Birdsong lulls you. Petals fly. 
A teaspoon of brandy in hot milk will help you sleep


Then O the excitement, O the laughter, your sisters sing, we’re off to see daddy again! 
Different sand, different sea, dusty smells catch your throat. 


Too hot for sleep; the ayah keeps opium under her nails
Outside noises: wild cats, frogs. Curtains shiver. What’s under the bed? 


Gaps round the doorframe let in light and downstairs murmurs. Light reveals 
fingers over the wardrobe, fingers playing shadow games. Shh, be quiet,


you’ll make the pillow wet. Stroke your hair, its softness will soothe you. The fingers 
grow bulbous, they’re laughing. The sheet’s central seam is scratchy, shh,


a shadow under the door. Stay still. It opens. Your heart’s a drum. Eyes shut, 
hold your breath. It’s always him. She’s too tired, with the others, the heat. 


Your wrist throbs as he holds it, his ear by your nose, he bends to push teddy 
into your arms, tucks you tight. Leaves. Breathe. Toss teddy back to the floor. 


It won’t be loved till it’s old, lost its fur, no longer growls, is renamed Velvet Paws 
by the next generation. Kick the sheets loose. Sob yourself to sleep. 


But if you’re ill, then she’ll come. She’ll sit by your side, sew clothes for Elizabeth, 
varnish her lips and nails red; dab lipstick measles all over her body,


pour her perfume on your Jack and Jill hanky. Now worn as a cravat by Velvet Paws. In time you’ll recall how she taught you to daydream. Long after they and Elizabeth are gone, 


you’ll lift the hanky with its still, faint scent, breathe in the past and gaze at the moon that’s hardly aged since you were young.



About the contributor

Mary Mulholland came to poetry after much travelling, including careers in journalism, property and psychotherapy. Recently she completed a Masters in Poetry with Newcastle University/ The Poetry School. Her poems are published in many anthologies, online (eg Ink, Sweat and Tears) and she has often been shortlisted or commended in national prizes (eg Bridport). She founded and co-runs Red Door Poets and lives in London.

Related Articles

Bedding, poetry by Sandra Renew

Sandra Renew’s ongoing project is the interrogation of gender presentation and the LGBTIQAA gender discourses.

A Poem By Brett Dionysius

Australian poet Brett Dionysius coaxes us back in time to the burial of a plant by an Ice Age squirrel, and how that plant may feel to be ‘woken’ from a 32,000-year-old sleep.

Dear Sisters and Other Poems- Bev Smith

dear sisters our tree’s stretch of skyward is slowing as is their leaf fall, wrap of blankets, and hopeful reach again for spring breathless trips on summer stumbles of things forgotten upon faces fanned by noon to...

More Like This

James Fountain- New Poetry

Empty Highway Home The road is clear, but for the weather lashing down liquid intermittently, my wipers doing overtime at midnight, after a John Mayall gig in Stoke,...

Reflections on home, foreign places and the body

Bree Alexander (also Lika Posamari) writes poetry and more in or between Melbourne and New Delhi.

El Medol, Tarragona

Clare Morris regularly collaborates with the abstract artist, Nigel Bird

Behind the Scenes: How the Blue Nib team Write a Review

Emma Lee on the complicated process of reviewing for The Blue Nib.

Personal Banking by Linda Wisniewski

Linda Wisniewski's work has been widely published in print and online