Poems by Maurice Devitt
Selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions in 2016, Maurice Devitt’s poems have featured in a significant number of journals, both in Ireland and internationally. He was a featured poet at the Poets in Transylvania Festival in 2015 and a guest speaker at the John Berryman Centenary Conference in both Dublin and Minneapolis. His poems have been nominated for Pushcart, Forward and Best of the Net prizes and his Pushcart-nominated poem, ‘The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work’, was the title poem of an anthology published by Hibernian Writers in 2015. He is curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site and has recently published his debut collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press.
For years I’d been afraid
to open the box of photographs
you left behind.
Not, of some tragic mystery
they might reveal, but more
that the memories
they had captured might escape,
leave behind a clamour
of happy faces,
eager to be matched
to some story you had told,
even though I knew
there would always
be something missing.
I am six and the garden is the size
of a football pitch. A birthday party
for my best friend, sunshiny and sticky,
everyone I know is there.
Proud of my hidey-hole behind the shed,
I have just won a balloon for hide-and-seek,
and it’s tied tightly around my wrist,
pulling and bouncing in the wind.
As I run red-faced through the crowd, I yearn
for more control, to sense the pull of air
and release the knot to grip the string, but
it slips through my clammy fingers,
arrows into the autumn blue. Tearfully, I watch
it float above the house, flick its tail and disappear,
and for the first time I feel something
I now know was loneliness.
I offer to make an omelette for lunch,
knowing in the back of my mind
that it will never be as good
as the one I made in my mother’s kitchen,
all those years ago. It was simply onion,
egg and cheese, yet that day it came together
like never before, and since then it’s been
the gold standard. Still, lately, I’ve wondered
was it really that good or is it, that as I get older,
the eggs could always be fresher, the onion
sweeter, the cheddar more mature,
and I tinker obsessively with the pan,
as though some combination of fusion and heat
could re-create the person I once was.
Take Separate Carriages
In a jewellery shop she buys three rings;
slips one on her wedding finger,
secretes the others in a small scarf,
folded into a hidden pocket.
She chooses a well-lit, busy carriage,
a pet Chihuahua covering her bag
and, at the border, as the train slows
and clacks to a halt, a troop of soldiers
muscles through. She holds a hand to her face,
ring glistening in a strip of sunlight
through the curtained window. I’m going
to meet my husband in the city, she says,
he is expecting me. They don’t respond,
just roughly stroke the dog and pass on.
The last she sees is them bundling a scraggy
man along the platform as the train pulls away.
Reaching her destination, she looks for
The Songbird Café, orders a coffee
to a corner-table facing the door
and, for twenty minutes, is lost
to the clink and gabble of a railway diner,
being careful to avert her eyes, when
two women leave the bathroom, head
for the door, one of them adjusting her scarf.
© Maurice Devitt