by Nicola Walsh
A spectral figure in the upstairs window
Sits in wait of the day,
The curtain is pulled back watching for
The next visitor to this meeting point.
Eyes glancing towards the corner outside
From where, to the right you can glimpse the village
And to the left you can see the sea,
And from where we used to race to the door
When we were younger,
And a rush of children would barrel inside the house
Overjoyed to be greeted by our grandmother
Through the door and straight into the kitchen
Where some new industry would greet us.
We could not move inside for pots of marmalade,
For apple pies on every surface.
We feared sitting for contempt of idleness,
Until it was time to break with the treat of a biscuit
Before beginning again.
There was a long time ago, it seems,
When she was revered wherever she went,
When precocious eyes didn’t roll invoking heaven
And laugh, though she isn’t laughing with us now,
As she tries to make sense of the insensible.
There was the time when she confused
Fake tan for hair spray.
An honest mistake, but one that reduced her
To wearing a hat for days,
Inside and out,
In order to hide the tangerine crown.
That was a joke which we all delighted in.
No one laughed at the odd shoes she wore the next Christmas Day,
Or as we watched the usually meticulous hairdo
Fall into disarray.
Did it happen so quick,
Or did we excuse its beginnings?
Until a lost thread that became wild
And tangled in her mind
Led us all to confusion.
Letters hidden under cushions,
And pensions mislaid behind the couch,
Something is lost, she implored us,
But she doesn’t know what it is.
We’re on the long road between Wicklow and Wexford
And we could really be anywhere in Ireland.
Nanny thinks that Kilkenny is looking swell
And you gasp in frustration
But don’t say a word, because
To her everywhere is either Dunkitt or Sandymount:
Two homes in her lifetime.
Hasn’t the weather been marvellous?
No better day to be going to visit the boys in…
Something amiss about the situation
We’re driving to Rosslare to visit our cousins
On the long road between Wicklow and Wexford.
There’s a new baby in the family,
A new addition unforeseen.
She was resurrected from the attic
At 9:06 PM on Thursday May sixth
Weighing heavily on our family’s sense of propriety.
She’s a sculpture of a thing,
With a blank face, and a mouth pursed to receive food
Soft cotton body and plastic head
A mannequin onto which an imagination at sea
Can superimpose a maternity.
Nanny does hold that baby tight.
She looks to us too, to coo and delight
And thrill at the pet learning his words.
We are usurped from the seat we once occupied
By the toy we, too, mothered,
Which is clasped close, an unrelenting grip
On a last-ditch attempt at consciousness.
Nicola Walsh is 23 years old and currently lives in Dublin, where she was raised. She recently graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in medicine. 2 Dromard Terrace is her first publication in a poetry journal.