Wednesday, October 02, 2013

New Poetry by Louise McKenna


Outside our gate she pauses to admire the cumquat tree

with its frozen juggling trick of orange balls.  It proffers

an illusion: the fruit delicious to the eye yet unpalatable as truth.

Bent double by her crippled back, she is close to the branches

as if she might hear conspiracies among the leaves.  I have

no cure for her crooked spine, only these sour little remedies

for a sore throat, or ingredients for the conserve she tells me

she makes, her voice brittle with age.  I tell her she is welcome

as I place them like ballast in her rheumatoid hands.  She fills 

her handbag then turns, shuffles away, vanishing around the street's bend.

A kind of sweetness hangs in the air, conjured from her bitter load

- Louise McKenna 2013

Nurse's Hands

Unlike angels, we have only our hands

to blunt the razor edge of pain.

We need to administer a bitter pill or needle,

to make a poultice of salve and sting–

kindness and cruelty in variable doses.  I have grafted

lightning bolts on to somebody's heart.

I have pulled out the stitches in a wound's hem.

So yes, my hands are more culpable than kind.

But look at the callus and the band of white

where I daily remove my wedding ring.

As my hands alight on you, soft as wings,

look at my face.  It will never betray the agony

of your burden.  I heave it up, like a feather.

- Louise McKenna 2013

Louise's work has also appeared in Cordite Poetry Review and Mascara Literary Review. This year she was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize.

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