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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
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HELEN GAYNOR

 

 

 

Helen Gaynor

Visual artist and musician, Helen Gaynor is currently studying for an MA in Creative writing at UCD. She has been writing creatively since early 2010, has had a short story and a small number of poems published in 2011 and 2012, including the 2011 edition of The Scaldy Detail; and a piece about Wexford, where she lives, in the Irish Times Best Place to Live, April 2012. Helen was recipient of a Visual Arts Bursary from Wexford Co Council in 2000, a Mentoring Award from Artlinks in 2008/9, and an Artlinks Bursary for a multidisciplinary project in 2011. Her artwork is in a number of public collections and in private collections both in Ireland and abroad.

 

 

 

Highly Commended in the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition

 

Can't Get Out of Bed

 

Remember the moment when it felt like

night, but was the start of your day, and most

people in their beds sleeping. Remember

the alone-ness of it, the darkness, the wishing

you could turn over, turn the clock back, turn

into something you weren’t. Aren’t. You

 

could wish for you not to be truly you,

to replace yourself with a shadow-like

fetch: creature, thing or beast to take its turn,

to act, look, smell, be like you, even almost

think as you, take on awkward things. Wishing

is the stuff of fairytales, remember?

 

So, in time, and with your waking, remem-

ber how good at times it is to be you,

take care not to spend a lifetime wishing

it away, for come the day when, unlike

this morning, you try to rise but can’t. Most

people then would wish not to take their turn

 

of illness, weakened flesh, its own sad turn,

the sunny day may be all you remember

of youth and hope and dreams, the kind most

harbour in the very core of their being, and you

not so unique as you thought yourself, like

all around, doing the best, waiting, wishing.

 

And what is life if it doesn’t have wish-

ing at the heart of it, the thing that turns

inertia to momentum, movement like

no other you can ever remember:

towards a point, a goal, devised by you,

the urge that gives darkness the push, almost.

 

Crests of waves and deepest valleys, mostly

we know the highs and lows, we need wishing,

almost as a prayer to some unknown, you

think you’ve moved on, few superstitious turns

or strong beliefs that you care to remember,

yet is not wishing praying, like for like?

 

And for many, this morning might be like

a deep pool, sweet but cloying, remember

tangles don’t untangle alone. Get up, turn/don’t turn …

 

©2013 Helen Gaynor

 

Judge's Statement

A robust and formal poem, this is terrific fieldwork in depression. It is a philosophising therapy, an ability to lift the narrator reflexively through the reader; an effort to haul oneself through the power of words out of darkness. The poet, as always, wishes ‘for you not to be truly you’ – which is the pivotal poetic act that always has wishing at the heart of it. The poem works like the script of a late 1940s film, the moralising is the action. It is adamant, formal statement.

 

 

Author Links

 

'Wexford Town': article by Helen Gaynor in the Irish Times

The Scaldy Detail: publication containing a poem by Gaynor

More about Gaynor's exhibition 'Sea Change'

 

 

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