To My Fifty-year-old Self, and other poems by Anne Walsh Donnelly
Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland. Her work has appeared in several publications including Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times, Cránnog and The Blue Nib. Her short stories have been shortlisted in many competitions including the OTE New Writer of the Year Award (2014, 2016), Fish International Prize (2015) and RTE Radio One Frances Mac Manus competition (2014, 2015). She won the 2018 Over the Edge Fiction Slam. Her poems were highly commended in the OTE New Writer of the Year Award (2017 & 2018). She won the winter/spring 2017/2018 Blue Nib poetry chapbook competition and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2018. Her poetry chapbook, “The Woman With An Owl Tattoo” will be published in May 2019 by Fly On The Wall Poetry Press. Her short story collection, “Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife” will be published by Blue Nib in September 2019. Twitter: @AnneWDonnelly Facebook:AnneWalshDonnelly
To My Fifty-year-old Self
Unclasp your bra
Ease your comfy cotton knickers down your legs.
Look at your naked self
by another for seven years.
Hold your breasts.
Watch them spill out of your hands.
Run your thumbs along the curved waterslide of your spine.
Massage the hollow between your hips
smooth as a leaf in late summer.
Cradle your belly.
Admire the way it protrudes over greying hair
framed by the Y of your thighs.
Play a sonata on your skin
stiffen your nipples
close your eyes.
The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife
I Have Lived
In his body
Grazed my hand on his stubbly head
Lost myself in his rainforest armpits
Sheltered under the ledge of his chin
Roamed the plains of his chest like a nomad
Swirled his Jack Daniels in my mouth
Ran with bulls through his fields of desire
Oiled my iron walls to ease his entrance.
In her body
Grasped her bleached marram grass
Surfed her peaks and troughs
Licked maple syrup from her lips
Bathed naked in her volcanic springs
Settled my cheek on the inside of her thigh
Sipped her dry gin
Let her light a candle in my cave.
What is there left to explore?
stirs my bulb heart
in the same way
my ex-husband’s did.
Her perfume Daisy
coaxes my foetal flower.
It pushes upwards
through a hair follicle
in my skin.
unfolds the bud.
My Daisy blooms.
Through her lips
blows a breeze softer
Pollen dusts my cheek
like dry mustard.
I let a sliver
of white petal
touch her forehead;
towards her mouth.
Her face buckles
as if slapped by
the bumper of a 4X4.
I swallow my kiss.
Burns my throat.
A Light Bulb Moment
on the pure new wool carpet,
under a dying light bulb.
His wife stands over him,
sucks in Coco Mademoiselle
air and kicks.
Her pointy Gabor shoes
leave redcurrants on his skin.
He disappears into his snail shell.
Lightbulb flickers, their son
runs into the bedroom.
“Stop, Mammy,” he cries.
His teddy nudges her right flank.
She takes the cuddly bear,
sticks a nail scissors
in its chest. Paul’s shell explodes
he pulls her leg, she falls.
The boy rescues his teddy, flees.
Paul sits on his wife’s solar plexus,
puts his hands on her throat
he thinks of wringing wet socks,
as he twists her neck.
The lightbulb explodes
shattered glass rains
on the pure new wool carpet.
What surprised her the most
she said, to the Guards
wasn’t himself taking a heart attack
in the middle of a bridge game.
It was a week later.
She stood at the door of his precious shed
snapped the lock with a bolt cutter.
Pushed open the door, glared
at the crimson carpet on the floor.
(Much better quality than the one
he’d let her buy
for the sitting room last Christmas.)
She hit her head on the iron chains
dangling from the shed’s ceiling.
Thought she was seeing things
when she spotted an assortment of handcuffs,
whips and leashes hanging from wall hooks.
She screamed and threw the bolt cutter
at a crotch-less leather pants
sprawled across a stool.
The smell of rotten semen
that rose from a heap of condoms
made her drop to her hands and knees,
haul her breakfast from her stomach
and shake like a poodle after a January walk.
And there it was,
she said to the Guards,
as they put the bolt cutter into an evidence bag,
her sister’s wedding ring peeking out
from under the decomposing sheaths.
He puts the rusted blade of his axe
into the bench vice, winds the lever
to narrow its jaws until the head is secure,
rubs his cheek with the frayed cuff of his jumper.
Pulls safety googles over his eyes
hits the power button on the angle grinder,
moves it over the surface of the axe blade,
in slow strokes, like his wife uses when ironing
his shirts. And massaging her lover.
He’s blind to the sparks that fall to the floor,
deaf to the grinder’s screeches,
and his wife’s pleas – to stop.
© Anne Walsh Donnelly