Laura McKenna was conferred with a PhD in Creative Writing (Fiction) from UCC last year. She is a novelist, short story writer and poet. Bridget Sprouls is a graduate of the inaugural MA in Creative Writing in 2013. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker and she published her first collection, The Remaining Years, last year.
Mum and Jasper in the Morning
She rises before eight to oversee his peeing, no matter what the season, weather,
or her own inclination —
Downstairs, she ignores her damn knee, and while he leaps and circles, she makes a cup of tea
Takes an old rain coat, slung over her dressing gown, and opens the door onto the garden.
Onto darkness or lemon dawn or barley sugar skies or low slung cloud
and seeping rains or
The trickle drip from last night’s storm, the pots tossed on windblown grass,
or soaring birdsong,
Or onto stillness, a hush of frost, a slip of muffled snow. Or the grey heron
unfolding from the dark pond.
While he snuffles through soil or poppies or sodden leaves, she pauses —
To lift a drooping hellebore
Scour her hostas, pluck and crush a snail underfoot, brush past a salvia,
deadhead a rosebush,
Pickpocket seed pods, water saplings in the greenhouse.
Though why she bothers she doesn’t know
Having no more space
to grow anything.
And yet —
She turns back up the garden again, calling for Jasper,
Earth on her feet, scent of salvia
on her hands.
The hour arrives of illicit shadow puppets,
summer juries barking
in tiki torch light.
Scenery: gritty floors,
hydrants of sweat.
Hear death trot his pristine gutters,
the tinkling of muds,
wizard of messy removals.
Build a mantel with these unintended bones —
for the ceiling popcorn,
marrow summoned up the stack
to drift along
Quiver and sing
Oh monstrous rewards!
So bright with microscopic morgues. . . .
Loved me more than breath she said
Who was it she meant?
Some structures occasionally
Sometimes in the half-light,
custom knife-making stares innocently from the shelf.
Conifers sway where they will die.
How special to bleed
the right amount.
TOMORROW: “Black and Red” by Robert Feeney and “Revenge on the World” by Mona Lynch