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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
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MARY O'DONNELL

 

Mary O'Donnell

Mary O'Donnell's first three poetry collections (Reading the Sunflowers in September; Spiderwoman's Third Avenue Rhapsody; Unlegendary Heroes) were published by Salmon Poetry. The 2003 collection September Elegies was published by Lapwing Press, Belfast and her selected poems, The Place of Miracles was published in 2006 by New Island. A sixth collection, The Ark Builders, will appear from Arc Publications UK in autumn 2009. She has written three novels and two collections of short fiction. A member of Aosdána, she is on the faculty of a Creative Writing post-graduate programme.

 

 

Lines to an Ancestor Before an Operation

Stay near. Hold fast
to the thin string of my spirit.
Do not pause for the river pilot,
hide me from his searchlight.

I am not ready to cross, to dock
in the shallows of the other shore.
If my spirit flies farther, bind the string
tightly. I am not yet prepared,

even if curiosity, premature longing,
cause me to rise beyond safe limits.
Watch as I sleep, stay the surgeon’s hands
as he raises this quiet part of me

like a new-slung ceiling
in the sagging rafters of my pelvis.
No more nor less than the rest of me,
let me inhabit womb, kidney,

jolting heart, restless brain, small nose,
bright eyes, long fingers, worn,
curling toes, the blunts of my teeth
within whitened crowns, all of me,

what’s left, for living in without
the burden of reflection.
Stay close now. Bind an adventurous spirit
to a home that sweetens with every month.

Let me be a kite during this sleep,
flown free, bound despite anaesthetic
to the span of your palm,
unbreakable as the light fails,

dancing tautly in the wind.

 

©2009 Mary O'Donnell

 

Author Links

Mary O'Donnell home page

O'Donnell discussing poetry on RTÉ's 'The Poetry Programme' (#33)

O'Donnell at Arc Publications

 

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