Maeve McKenna – The Care of Dead Things

McKenna LE P&W September 2023

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing September 2023

The Care of Dead Things, poems by Maeve McKenna.

The Care of Dead Things

First, I replace the front door lock —
an impressive repeat of mechanical metal
versus the motionless dead flies. When
I turn the new key it sparkles
in my hand. Blowflies click.

Innocent ones, wings a deathly parade
of black on the windowsill, while
the net curtain wraps a shroud
across the moulded window my shock
surfaces as grief.

A lone fly, perhaps the bravest,
has chosen its place of death
on the microwave turntable. Several
more lie rigid on shrivelled grey meat
stuck to a plastic plate.

Insect spray separates like dusk
on the cluttered draining board.
I pull the kitchen blind, double-lock
the door, find in the middle of each night
I care for a sad dog.


Gifted a bouquet of lavender bound
in green twine, I am navigating
the streets of a place I am lost in,

offering the moody cathedral’s
gun metal steeple our tone
behind this city’s summer skyline.

A prayer in the guise of a wreath:
Violet whorls sprinkled to the heavens
holding you in permanent cloud,

fragrance delicate as my belief,
your picture wrapped
in cling-film inside my handbag,

a faint glimpse of you as I reach
for my phone to capture
the spire piercing the belly of dusk.

And here, under a gang of crows
eyeing my pointless gift,
fluttering their black capes over

this purple moment, I inhale
your wild will, a chaotic residue
landing as confetti on my hair.

© Maeve McKenna

Maeve McKenna lives in Sligo, Ireland. Her work has been placed in several international poetry competitions and published widely, including Mslexia, Rattle, Banshee, The Stony Thursday Book and Live Encounters. She was one of three finalists in the Eavan Boland Mentorship Award 2020. She was part of a collaboration with three poets which won the Dreich Alliance Pamphlet Competition, 2021. Her debut pamphlet, A Dedication to Drowning, was published in February 2022. Body as a Home for This Darkness, a second pamphlet will be published in September 2023. Maeve is currently a MA student of Poetry at Queens University, Belfast.

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