• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 02
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Washed Up, Washed Away

My great-great grandfather’s ivory shoehorn
sits with the jetsam of bills and keys –

of others I have only hints: Unity Flynn,
miner’s wife. Tuberculosis, Inchigeelagh.

But my great-aunt gave me sky,
home-made dresses, soup – her, impatient,

kneeling patiently to tug off my rain trousers;
afraid, soothed my wheezing panic.

For a child not hers and always hers –
could she love me now? She brought me the sea,

to the cup of cloud reflected there,
milky curls of froth on concrete

slicked sheer as ice with algae. Sewage
flowed thick and rich, gulls gathered,

oystercatchers, a kingfisher concealed
at the outflow speared flounder or mullet

feasting – this place of bounty. Moments when I knew
love in anemones, carrageen, razorbills, turnstones.