A poem by Breda Wall Ryan

Hope is the Deadliest Sin

Captured in profile, the bird-woman’s
one startled avian eye

glares at the painter of masks who contorts her,
feathers her throat,

bulges her crop. Sated with grapes,
she is caught

in the act of plucking a plum from the folds
of her shot-silk lap,

head tilted back for a bird’s eye view
of his brush

as it paints her half-woman, half-bird,
seals her snipe-beak,

flattens her crown on a pigeon-sized brain
straining to fly.

She wished on the Codex to be aerodynamic
and is punished

by the unaltered shape of her arms,
delicate fingers

so useless for flight. If she could reach
her goose-wing duster,

or the blue jay flight-feather bookmark,
she might be free.
(published in Magma, Issue 52 Nov 2011)
Breda Wall Ryan’s poetry is widely published in journals and anthologies. A featured poet in Authors and Artists Introductions, she has been twice shortlisted for Mslexia and Fish Poetry Prizes, among others, and won the inaugural UCD Anthology Prize, and the Poets Meet Painters Competition and iYeats Poetry Award 2013.