Live Encounters Poetry & Writing July 2021.
Margaret Galvin is a native of Cahir Co. Tipperary living in Wexford for many years where she worked variously with the library service, as Editor of Ireland’s Own and in Social Care. Her collections include: ‘The Waiting Room’ (Doghouse Books), ‘The Wishbone’ (Wexford County Council) and ‘The Scattering Lawns’ (Lapwing.) In 2019 she collaborated with Cahir Historical Society to publish a collection of poetry, ‘The Finer Points,’ documenting growing up there in the 60’s. She recently worked with the Arts Department of Tipperary County Council to put together a collection of prose and poetry (‘Around Each Bend’) by 48 contemporary writers from Tipperary. Recent publishing credits include: The North, The Honest Ulsterman, Stix, The Lake and Wexford Women Writing Undercover. A recipient of the Brendan Kennelly Award, she holds an MA in Child, Youth and Family Studies and frequently facilitates writing workshops for self-understanding and identity.
Her clothing fascinated: the missing buttons, ragged hems,
the crudely patched mismatches smelling of smoke and sourness,
but when she arrived with a skirt split apart at the seams
exposing her to comments, I wondered why
she hadn’t fastened that particular gape with a safety pin.
My mother winced at my makeshift solution,
asked why I hadn’t recommended a nice sharp needle and thread,
as if our neighbour was a woman with a sewing basket,
cards of glittering needles, a thimble, a selection of yarns.
Did my mother see me as a seamstress-in-the-making
capable of invisible mending,
turning an efficient hand to the torn and frayed?
Imagine me a wife from the Book of Proverbs
who ‘worked with her hands in delight?’
a watchful type, ready with the stitch in time,
the one that would always save nine.
My Father Buys a Fridge
The dream of the fridge must have taken hold
over a few pints.
The realisation that he could save us
from lurid spores furry on our food,
the disappointment of milk ‘on the turn’
flecking our tea with an oily float of globules.
He could bring to an end
the pestilent bluebottle buzz of disease in summer,
our days of stomaching the sour and bitter,
the back-bite and sting of stew too long in the pot.
He took charge on delivery day,
marshalled that small, squat box into the kitchen.
It was as if he had brought America to us,
the dream of good teeth, glossy hair,
a wife in a sprigged summer dress
slicing ice cream from a solid block,
wide prairies at our window,
ice cubes rattling in a glass raised in a genial toast
around a celebratory table.
The Blind Eye
Her cousin in a hideous plaid dressing gown padding
about the kitchen, making tea
and she, a few hours widowed noticing random things,
the track of curling pins in the cousin’s hair,
ants making off with a morsel of cat food.
Her new disjointed vocabulary:
‘stroke, haemorrhage, sudden death.’
Her private terror unspoken: was he wearing his secret silken uniform,
(the lingerie she noticed with her blind eye)
under his sober business suit
when he hit the office floor?
Knowing glances passing wordlessly between nurse and orderly,
a sensational tit-bit for the undertaker’s repertoire
over rounds of golf and hands of bridge.
Her husband’s lonely desire for scalloped lace,
his embarrassed yearning for the touch of silk.
© Margaret Galvin