doors lead nowhere. Daisy-print curtains open
onto concrete walls. No spiders build webs here, no dust falls.
From a forest of photo frames, the same strangers grin;
after a while they start to feel as familiar as ancestors.
We find their belongings strewn carefully round each room:
We move from set to fake set like bored burglars
lifting someone’s possessions— a tagged teddy,
a factory-embroidered throw— looking at price tags
and putting them back again. My feet are tired.
I start to feel like one of those framed strangers.
Cardboard. In Ikea, I see a blood-red sofa, a white case,
a footstool, a wrought iron bed, but all I want is you.
My breath is hot. Come closer, let me whisper to your eyes.
In my pocket, I keep an assembly key. It fits every slot,
every flimsy flat-pack that holds this place straight.
I could dismantle all these doors and beds and floors,
take this whole world apart. We could watch it all fall.
You know, I could take you to pieces too.
I could slip this key between your collarbones,
your earlobes, your thighs. I’d unlock all your sockets.
Let me unpack you. Come behind this cupboard,
open your buttons. Let’s try it.
In the night, it surfaces on the curve of my neck.
Blood leaks from split capillaries
and pools in a neat circle under the skin’s surface
where, pressed into a wall, you once bit me.
Now, it makes itself seen, ghostly,
as a distant sea on the neck of the moon,
Sea of Tranquillity,
where I drowned the memory of you in me.
Yet still you breathe, somewhere
impossibly far from me.
I forget and forget, but then
I dream of you and that wall and then this, this
mystery bruise, reminder that everything I love, I lose
that every empty infidelity is remembered in blue veins,
in this neck that waits to be kissed again. Like a repaired vase
I wait to be shattered, to fall against a wall again, broken, breathless.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s poems have appeared in literary journals in Ireland and internationally. The Arts Council has twice awarded her bursaries in literature. Her Irish language collections Résheoid and Dúlasair are both published by Coiscéim, and her bilingual chapbook A Hummingbird, Your Heart is available from Smithereens Press. Her first collection of poems in English is forthcoming. Doireann was the winner of a Wigtown Award (Scotland) in 2012. She has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (USA) and her pamphlet of poems in English Ouroboros was longlisted for The Venture Award (UK). www.doireannnighriofa.com