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MARY NOONAN

 

 

Mary Noonan

Mary Noonan lives in Cork, where she lectures in French literature at University College Cork. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines, including The Dark Horse, Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, The Spectator, New Hibernia Review and The Threepenny Review. She won the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize in 2010. Her first collection – The Fado House  (Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2012) – was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize and the Strong/Shine Award. In 2014, she was awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Literature Bursary, and she was selected as one of a group of eight to take part in the Aldeburgh Eight Advanced Poetry Seminar.

 

 

 

       In God's House

 

The folk-group, mid-nave, touchy-feely, is harbouring

a crow, cawing off-key and someone is hacking at

guitar-strings while my father sings along to hymns

he does not know, 70s hits from The Singing Nun –

Oh Lord, let me be your sanctuareee –

 

practising his technique of almost chiming, just a beat

out of step. The missionary priest, on tour from Armagh,

is telling us, very slowly, about the Real Presence –

he really is there! – his Northern consonants eerily

softened, the better to permeate us with the glories

 

of the tabernacle. He raises the host and keeps it up   

there, whispering to himself – or to Him – secrets

we are denied, then pours wine and holds a silver chalice,

lingeringly, to his lips as my father removes his glasses

again, rubbing the red orbits of his eyes, over and over,

 

making loud breathing sounds, like a man who has climbed

Kilimanjaro and is working his diaphragm on the summit,

taking in huge bowls of air, filling his lungs with

snow-capped peaks and Tanzanian sky, in and

out and in and out, or like a boy among rows of boys

 

doing chest expansion drill in a Hitler youth camp,

in and out and in and out until the man next to him sneezes

and he tut-tuts loudly, following up with a prayer that

ricochets through several rows – ‘Jesus!’ – and no, he will not

take his stick as he hobbles the long walk to the host.

 

 

 

©2015 Mary Noonan

 

 

Author Links

 

Mary Noonan at Dedalus Press

Two poems by Mary Noonan in And Other Poems

David Cooke review of The Fado House

Audio of poems by Mary Noonan in From the Fishouse

 

 

 

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