Rachael Stanley – Papa Don’t Preach

RS LE P&W Feb 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing February 2023

Papa Don’t Preach, poems by Rachael Stanley.

Papa Don’t Preach

I could retrace my steps
go back in order to go forward.

I could try and remember what
it was to look at things before
I learnt to name them.

I could look anew at all living things
behind and beyond them to learn
how all possibility starts from emptiness.

I could step onto the yoga mat each morning
stretch, bend and rediscover my spine
vertebrae by vertebrae.

I could come down off this serious high horse
and discover great freedom in laughter.

I could take on board Gandhi’s words of wisdom
and become the change I wish to see in the world
to avoid the futility of preaching.

Words of Love

i.m. Mum

I felt compelled to write to you
after your death clung to my bones

to my sorrow, I was not with you
in those final hours though

I sensed somehow that it was
to be that very evening

in fact I prayed that you
would be released

and whispered in your ear
that you were full of love

and it was okay to just slip away
and let go…

but when I got word that
it really had come to pass

I sat down and wrote
a love note to you

in green biro
all I could find at the time

I read it over and over
until the day came when I let it go

knowing that ultimately
everything must be let go

then, years later on a day
when April sunshine

poured in through the window,
while spring cleaning a dusty book

your note of love and thanks
slipped out between the pages.


I fill the glass
and contemplate the clear liquid
remembering who I am.
We are creatures made of water
held inside this sacred chamber
before birth, our tears taste of salt.

In time perhaps we may return to the ocean
like ancient cities buried beneath the sea.
It is good to be reminded of water

how it breathes new life to
parched lands how it cleanses past hurts
how it washes everything back to innocence.

© Rachael Stanley

Rachael Stanley has been published in various journals and anthologies of which her most recent published work appeared in issue 6 of Drawn to the Light Press. In September 22, her poem Destruction on an anti-war theme was exhibited on the Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts & Equality website for Culture Night. Her work has also appeared in the Wild Ireland Calendar for 2022 published by the Irish Peatland Conservation Council. She was commended in the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Competition in 2019 and again in 2022. She is a member of the Rathmines Writers Workshop and has been a recent participant in the Over the Edge writing workshops organised by the late Kevin Higgins. She lives in Dublin.

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