House of Recurring Dreams
Come and stay in my house of cats,
where the walls are whisper-thin.
The bed’s unmade, the door’s unhinged,
there’s scribbles in the dust.
Spiders work the ceilings,
the floorboards tend to speak;
the eyes in all the photographs
will blink while you’re asleep.
The stairs go up but also down,
the queen cat will lick your hand.
The TV wakes when no one’s home,
the windows all look out.
The door is open, the door is closed,
the address is Here Nor There.
I’ll serve you tea and pretend cake
in my garden of thin air.
The edge of a closed grave
is easier to stand by
the edge of a settled grave
is easier still
there are flowers,
a potted evergreen,
marble chippings that glint
charmingly in the sun
look Death, are you pleased
at how pretty we have made you?
do you like this calmness?
and I see down
past the marble chippings,
the layer of weed suppressant,
the sod, the clay, the sharp
flints of pencil, the wood,
the satin lining
to where she is,
mother, do you like this calmness?
do you like these yellow petals I hold
up here in a world that never loved you enough,
the world you would never
allow to love you enough
I slip through the V in the wall
earth, be kind to my mother
earth, hold her gently
Sexing the Eggs
As she had no use for a glut of cocks
she filched the new-laid eggs from underneath
the squawking fuss of hen. Slipped from her pocket
a wooden peg, threaded through with string.
She held it still, above each egg in turn,
until it told, through movement, what she
was there to learn. Clockwise circles marked an egg
as female, a straight line back and forth condemned
an egg as male; if the peg held firm,
unmoving in the air, the egg was dead.
She tossed the cocks and gluggers to the brace
of hounds that waited eagerly outside:
their glossy coats and sparkling eyes
were admired the parish wide.
All poems © copyright Eileen Sheehan 2018