Issue 9.1 – Poetry

Issue 9 - Poetry

This woman, Lily,
is long-boned, legs like skewers,
empty breasts lying
on furrows of ribs. She smiles
at guests who kiss, kiss,
planting babies in her lap.
Food appears – magic;
fish is chicken, porridge is
soup…and beautiful.
The old Lily was hidden
in layers of faded
muscle, dressed in blue-flowered
polyester sacks.
Fourteen children darted in
and out. Wives, husbands.
Grandchildren flapped hands at mince
with onion, without.
Potatoes – no potatoes,
steak pie, Spam. Fat chips:
thin. Tea, no jam. Fried liver
for William, rabbit
stew for John. Licked-clean dishes
stacked the sink, smells ran
up walls, dripped off stairs, settled
when at last she sank
into her patient armchair.
Lily, while you sleep
the imprints of last kisses
fade in the night air.
We smoothed your brow, calmed weary
hearts, and voices filled
the room with mad memories.
We laughed, the children
cried – they were confused. You slipped
out of our lives…we
counted breaths with you and breathed
in the air you left behind.




Irene Cunningham has had many poems published in lit mags across the years, including London Review of Books (as Maggie York), New Welsh Review, New Writing Scotland, Stand, Iron, Writing Women, and others. Now she’s lounging around Loch Lomond, preparing for old age before the scythe lands. Connect with her on Twitter: @ireneintheworld and find her new website, still a work in progress, here

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