Live Encounters Poetry & Writing February 2021.
Peter O’Neill was born in Cork, Republic of Ireland, 1967. After spending the majority of the nineties living in France he eventually returned to live in Dublin where he has been living ever since. He is the author of five collections of poetry, a volume of translation The Enemy – Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing, 2015), and a work of prose fiction More Micks than Dicks ( Famous Seamus, 2017) . His sixth collection of poetry Henry Street Arcade has been translated by the French poet Yan Kouton and will be published in bilingual format by Éditions du Pont de l’Europe as part of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Baudelaire ( 1821-1867) in association with the Alliance Francaise in Dublin on the 8th April 2021.
Where are you my Giantess? A poster-girl for mornings.
Hand holding up tresses; a feminine Atlas.
Your voice then mockingly sweet, aping the British.
“To Be or not to Be? that is the question.”
O Woman voluptuous, your labial folds
Diaphanous. Resplendent cunt
Of mid-summer evening- a bloom with the Rose
Of fragrant ceilings. Legs high mimicking
Cabaret. Your foot like an ingot,
Burnished by a hundred suns, brushes
My cheek. The curtains blow apart with the breeze
As your pelvic muscles constrict ever tighter,
Boa like, a quiver…totemic heads spin.
And later that night, the dinner table sports… a red carnation.
In Saint Anne’s Park, there in the Rose Garden,
You picked the Queen Elizabeth, its pinkish leathery hues
Blown a diaspora whose scent permanently
Astounds. Olfactory memory, as Süskind and Proust show,
Can be startling creating a place for spatial and temporal
Co-habitation. This your hound knows, nose caught up
Adrift in it. Literally following it, the traces.
As you recall now, a hundred carnations
Seaborne; atomised in memory.
The cave borne of such atomic imagery.
The pinkish leathery folds of the petals…
She loves me, she loves me not
Such is ontology in the heavens.
The hounds of LOVE are barking up it.
Cut now to a phone call. There is an image of a gun
Tucked away inside a bedside table.
From her voice, you can sense that she is afraid.
She is stateside now. New Mexico!
On the plane there was discharge.
That summer you attended the abortionists.
How civilised they have made it.
Her leonine form lay astride the table.
Still pride in her voluptuousness.
You handle nervously a miniature pocketbook copy of
Le Bateau ivre by Rimbaud.
Comme je descendais des Flueves imapassibles,
Je ne me sentis plus guidé par les haleurs :
She left you silent at the airport.
Months later, You receive a phone call in Belgrave Square.
Sheltering within the great bay came her words
In your ear, beautiful in their simplicity,
Causing deep rupture; fissure – TRAUMA.
But first you are in shock. You hear them
Only on a superficial level, and they register.
“I’m moving on!” First person in contracted form,
Followed by the phrasal verb, with full
Emphasis on the final participle… ON!
Announced like some mythic place
Which the participle designates, and yet which is mapless.
You, then, speechless. She, clearly in company,
Happily moving on, voice showing concern for you,
Clearly in distress… you apologise, deeply humiliated, and hang up.
The wine shop is not far off, happily!
You join a tasting course, all en vogue and attend weekly.
A regime sets in. On days off, you stock up
The shelf, draw the curtains and play Paolo
Conte. The great blue notes consume
You… you plunge into a profound period
Of mourning; The shock now clearly over.
This is your regime, or diet, every week.
One day, the young Canadian girl who serves you
In the wine shop asks if you would be easier
It if they would deliver?
Her question hits you right between the eyes.
You are still half inebriated from the night before.
Perhaps, you might have a slight problem, after all?
© Peter O’Neill