Doreen Duffy – How to press a rose

Doreen Duffy LEP&W V1 Dec 2022

Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One December 2022.

How to press a rose, poems by Doreen Duffy.

How to Press a Rose

I google ‘How to press a flower’
a sunflower fills the screen

This star shaped flower
petals spread like an open hand
bring me back to the image on the news
fingers immersed in dust grasp
and scrape among the rubble
for someone’s wife, a child, a mother

‘How to press a flower’
‘Pick all the petals off,
lay them out face down
like soldiers,’

The TV continues to spatter
dystopian scenes of the darkest opera
the barbarity of its sole composer
buried in every image

I leave the room to breathe
when I return
framed behind the glass
this city, this country in black and white
women and children walking towards borders
a hollow caustic scene
The thorns that remain clutched tight
cause my skin to bleed, the people I see, become my own

My mother walks across the screen
Her knotted hand clutches her scarf
her bewildered eyes searching
My child muffled in her warmest coat
the skin of the rose in my hand her velvet collar

Her feet sweep through all our photos and memories
littered on our floor
My son, eighteen yesterday, clutches her to him
just once
And then, he turns to me, his eyes already reflect the fight
seventeen years evaporate
he goes to join the other teenage boys
teenage boys with kissing mouths
drawn into hard lines
A dog that doesn’t understand
Why his human boards the train
And leaves him there alone
Strains on the rope that keeps him there

There is lace over the trees over the screen
billows of smoke over a hidden thing
Slanted rain washes birds from the sky
their screams a painful slide on a guitar string
A flame shoots across the sky
at a hundred beats a minute
A coin flicks in the air
it spins and all eyes below roll
A cluster of clouds in the sky
form a star

My red rose
has turned brown
the petals curl away
the stem still strong
holds its heavy head
the colour drains away

Three grains of sand

A sliver of moon
an ivory harpoon
pierces the heavens above,

Drops fall
red and full
staining the sands
time ticks
slowly by,

Faces covered
Some by hands,
that cannot bear to see,
The loss of life
in what should be
their safest place to be
Three grains of sand
slip through life’s hands
even the stars turn away

© Doreen Duffy

Doreen Duffy MA with first class honours in Creative Writing at DCU, she studied creative writing and poetry at NUIM, UCD and at Oxford online.

Doreen has been published internationally, in Poetry Ireland Review by Eavan Boland, Washing Windows Too, Arlen House, Beyond Words Literary Magazine (Germany), The Galway Review, Flash Fiction (USA), Live Encounters (Indonesia), The Woman’s Way and The Irish Times.

She won The Jonathan Swift Award and was presented with The Deirdre Purcell Cup at the Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival. Shortlisted in The RTE Short Story Competition (in memory of Francis MacManus) and her story ‘Tattoo’ was broadcast on RTE Radio One.

Follow Doreen on Twitter at

Find out more about Doreen at her website

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