Before Ireland: A Poetry Duet


Before Ireland

A house in Ireland is promised to you,
The window is curtained in tulle and there are no trumpets in the streets,
Everyone has hands there, and if you look at them you will know all the things the hands have done.

Hands cast shadows on walls and the shadows say you can have it soon.

There’s a longing like looking through stained glass which is pretty to feel,
There’s loss like hollowed out hills that sniff you out younger 
than you were expecting.

When you use up all the air in one place you’ll ease into another and
You can listen to what cicadas are saying there too, 
The cicadas will say you can have it soon.
You will turn into your mother and then in unison you will say it is soon.
You will bite into bitter berries and again, soon. 

There’s a waiting like dogs do after a divorce, 
And remembering is breathing out until somebody starts snoring in the audience,
There's sitting on the shore of a lake with your sister and eating grapes and feeling happiness. 

There's a feeling that happens all at once and it is arriving at a house in Ireland that is promised to you. 


It’s Silly to Wait for a Wheat Field but I Do 

There are lots of pretty things out there and they flop like fish.
And I bet a lot of people make pretty things but they're either embarrassed or ashamed.
My Mother makes Mac 'n Cheese and when we eat it together we’re happy.
My Mother loves me morbidly and says
It’s okay! 
She tells me that it's okay, and it’s mean but okay because she loves me and wants it to be true.

I still have my childhood bed.
Its iron is bent into shapes you think you’d find in the woods but actually you don't.
When I imagine leaving it behind forever, it feels better
If I call it pilgrimage. 
It feels good to imagine myself in a bonnet in a wagon in the West.
I could really feel good blending into a wheat field. I'd do it well and clean.

I do leave to go visit places, 
And when I do,
I count pretty chandeliers and talk about how one day I will count enough pretty chandeliers, 
And I know I do not like my commitment to counting. 
Dull and inbred yearning will turn bones overripe over time
Getting brown banana mushy 
And slipping down the drain when I drain the bathtub without getting out.

I'm worried I’ll leave and not go anywhere. But after enough years I’ll be iron-wrought into shapes I didn't think I’d find,
and I’ll have to say enough years



A Nunnery, Except It’s Just a Set of Twins Who Never Left Home

Charity and I sit in our woods together.
We’ve named all the trees here and have remembered them for a decade,
And the trees are very fond of us now that we're older, 
And we are lucky to have more fondness rather than less after the passing of a decade.

We've named all the trees here and won’t forget them either.
I remember being landlocked in this red house and feeling feverish safety.
We are lucky the bark around us came to love us more over a decade, 
And I remember the birds in the trees watched us grow calluses like it was an extravagant play. 

And I remember being landlocked in this red house and feverish safety with you. 
There were more than four seasons some years and we named all those too,
And I remember big birds hung in the trees and watched us grow calluses like a play.
Charity and I stayed the same, and many did not want to so they left. 

There were more than four seasons,
And they made us each other's mothers,
Charity and I stayed slumbering here and many went away to get rich. 
Charity and I remember the moon lit without the sun and we fed strawberries to cats.

We are each other's mothers. 
Big stuff is still small next to us. 
Me, Charity, and the fat moon fed barn cats warm strawberries, and we know it's beautiful too.
I bet even when we're gone for good we’ll haunt the red house’s hills. And the strawberry field. And the tired forest. 



By Sydney McMahon

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