The Flitting by Medbh McGuckian

Medbh McGuckian

The Flitting


You wouldn’t believe all this house has cost me-

In body language  terms, it has turned me upside down.

I’ve been carried from one structure to the other

On a chair of human arms, and liked the feel

Of being weightless, that fraternity of clothes

Now my own life hits me in the throat, the bumps

And cuts of the walls as telling

As the poreholes in strawberries, tomato seeds:

I cover them for safety with these Dutch girls

Making lace, or leaning their almond faces

On their fingers with a mandolin,  a dreamy

Chapelled ease abreast this other turquoise-turbanned,

Glancing over her shoulder with parted mouth.


She seems a garden escape in her unconscious

Solidarity with darkness, clove-scented

As an orchid taking fifteen years to bloom,

And turning clockwise as the honeysuckle-

Who knows what importance

She attaches to the hours?

Her narrative secretes its own values, as mine might

If I painted the half of me that welcomes death

In a faggotted dress, in a peacock chair,

No falser biography than our casual talk

Of losing a virginity, or taking a life, and

No less poignant if dying

Should consist in more than waiting.


I postpone my immortality for my children,

Little rock-roses, cushioned

In long-flowering sea-thrift and metrics,

Lacking elemental memories:

I am well-earthed here as the digital clock,

Its numbers flicking into place like overgrown farthings

On a bank where once a train

Ploughed like an emperor living out a myth

Through the cambered flesh of clover and wild carrot


Medbh McGuckian



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