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Pratibha Castle – Afterwards

Profile Castle LEP&W June 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2021.

Pratibha Castle, born in Dublin, now lives in West Sussex. She began writing on her mother’s death, graduating aged 60 from Chichester University with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing, studying further on their Creative Writing MA. A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press), her award-winning debut pamphlet, publishes summer 2021. Her work appears in Agenda, Dreich, The HU, Blue Nib, Fragmented Voices, Saraswati, Reach, Words for the Wild, Bonnie’s Crew, Panoply, Poetry and All That Jazz, Fly on the Wall, Lothlorien Journal. Winner of the NADFAS poetry competition age range 13 – 17, 2009, she was Highly Commended in Binsted Arts, Sentinel Literary Journal Competitions 2021, Storytown 2020, and Hedgehog Press, Postcards from the Hedge: A Bestiary of the Night. She has been longlisted in competitions, including The Brian Dempsey Memorial. Anthologised, she reads regularly on Wilts Radio, The Poetry Place.


Afterwards

After they took away the body,
the nice young men in
green uniforms, their eyes
shiny, like everyone’s that day,
their voices the soothe of pigeons
on the roof: best not watch, love,
steep stairs, know what I mean?
Better off in the garden.

You shred a forget-me-not, recall
the hike up Benbulben Mount, her eyes
squinting as she told you
about her and Daddy.

After, once the ambulance has left,
at the Crown and Shamrock, you
weep into a glass of Merlot, large,
fidget the pearl rosary you
loosened from her fist.

The waitress (from County Clare, her eyes
the same quare blue of Mammy’s that,
according to the fancy of the moon,
flashed crazy like a Kildare mare) nodding
as you hiccup how you’d dropped by
for tea with a batch of scones,
to find herself abed. Asleep,
you’d thought, till you saw
her fingertips, a ruin
of fallen plums.

The napkin sops,
a Glencar gush of tears,
your heart of ice you took for hatred,
melting; loosed, like one of Grandda’s racers,
only this was a race already run.


Dawn Walk at Wittering

The sea sparkles,
a glimmer
of fallen
stars, glint
on the horizon
of coral light. I pause

at the water’s edge,
bowl my
hands as
if dawn
might be
cradled like
a gull’s egg. Waves

sluice the shore,
the legs of an oyster catcher
stood, head bent, a prophet,
hearkening; my
bare toes

scrabbling at lines
fine as capillaries.
Mysteries clammed
in sand and heart that,
as I watch, dissolve.

Sun seeping through the clouds
is an ache for my mother’s smile
at our chance meeting by the Cross
when, instead of spoiling her
with tea and craic,
I hurried on.



© Pratibha Castle