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Nessa O’Mahony – Low and level

Mahony profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Nessa O’Mahony has published five volumes of poetry, the most recent being The Hollow Woman and the Island (Salmon Poetry, 2019). She lives in Dublin, Ireland.


Low and level

for Donal Lawlor

‘How’s she cutting,
low and level’.
You gave me that phrase in February,
around the table, calm, collegiate,
notebooks poised, hearts open to words.
By March, the wind had shifted
and other words were at the ready,
acronyms we learned to decipher
as fear reproduced itself numerically.
By April you had confirmed
your place in the fight for breath.
All we could do was wait,
keep our heads down, hope the bullets
went over our heads and dodged you.
By late May there was news of rehab,
recovery, of breaths released.
By June you were writing,
your own phrases shaping
the slow crawl towards light.
It’s August now. I sit and watch clouds,
how veiled sun filters light,
and open the notebook, channel
to the page where your father’s phrase
of greeting starts us off again
on this pilgrimage of word.


©Nessa O’Mahony