Poems by Mary O'Donnell
The Men I Once Knew
The men I once knew offered gifts,
like male penguins offering stones to a female
in the competition for courtship.
One offered a bag of lemons, bright and shiny,
still warm from the Mediterranean garden
where he plucked them. Another took me
on a boat. It had no life-jackets. We sailed
dangerously and I was sea-sick for days.
It’s no problem, he said, just watch the horizon.
The third kept painting me, Botticelli’s Venus,
he murmured, digging his brush
to the canvas, failing each time to find the line
that would match the line of my thigh.
Lemons. Life-jacket. My thigh.
We failed calamitously, we failed gloriously
too, and even now on any day,
I can’t say I ever felt ruined
by their attentions.
It was how we passed the time,
A Poem from Gotland
in Memoriam, 13th November 2015
It was a day of boredom and the words would not flow
Now evening, four degrees centigrade, dark, westerly winds
And the Baltic rushing whitely to the edge of the town
The lights from the ferry wink and remind me of ferries
At home being watched idly by people in the gloaming
Out for walks in Dun Laoghaire.
It will rain tonight, but I will not fly in my dreams
As the winds buffet this house,
And innocence has been murdered
While we rest here, our words unflowing
I cannot fly west, cannot help
Know nothing yet of the death of a colleague’s daughter
A 17 year old who entered Le Bataclan
On a false pass and was shot
Still I know nothing of the blood and broken flesh
Le Carrion, Le Petit Cambouge,
La Belle Equippe, Stade de France,
Out there in the night the wind moves
Like a rampaging animal among winter’s birches
Finds no holding place
Except where it strikes the wall of this house
I will survive the night as the young are murdered
As the killers shoot themselves
As hatred takes its stroll through Paris
Tomorrow it’s hard to believe
That I can try to write again
Or any of us
Mary O’Donnell’s first three collections were published by Salmon, two of which were nominated for Irish Times Literature awards. Her most recent collection of poetry is Those April Fevers (Ark UK, 2015). She has also published four novels and two collections of short stories. Fiction and
poetry have been widely published in journals and anthologies such as Fiddlehead Review, The Seneca Review, The Prairie Schooner, Cyphers, Crannóg, Scéalta (Telegram Books UK), The
London Magazine, also in The Mail on Sunday, the Financial Times and The Irish Times. She was guest editor of the 2015 Stony Thursday Book. Giving Shape to the Moment: the Art of Mary
O’Donnell, Poet, Novelist, Short-story Writer, (ed. María Elena Jaime de Pablos) will be published later this year. Member of Ireland’s multi-disciplinary organisation, Aosdana.