Three poems by Jessica Traynor


This old invention: immaculate in morning sunshine,
relaxing in the heat like a girl who wants to dance
although the night has been long.

Guided by the central yin, a car reveals children’s faces –
morning daisies shut tight against the last of the frost.
A second shared with them; fractured understanding

grasped at, let falter. The road in silence is duller,
hums its boredom like a spent leyline, though
heat haze promises something alive beneath the surface,

asleep until nightfall, when these arbitrary roads
knit together in sense, a spider web catching last light
as the planet turns its darker cheek.
(published in The SHOp in 2011)
eBay Auction for Antique Jewellery

I sift through treasures of the dead
on the brightly-lit pages of eBay,
which reveal without question

the items I seek in row upon row:
lockets with coiled, imprisoned hair,
fading like a doll’s to a revenant colour;

grey, with kernel of brown or blonde,
still living despite the infirmity
of having been chopped,

whitby jet brooches shaped like hands,
which point the way to death
(whichever way you choose),

and lockets that still have old photos –
these personal treasures cost the most.
One discloses a man and a woman,

laughing faces animated through
a sepia fog, in front of a dancing privet.
I hope that I might someday be preserved like this,

young beneath the photo’s cracked veneer;
inexplicably laughing, free of context,
purely myself, whoever that may be.
(published in New Irish Writing in the Irish Independent in 2012)

The Icelandic elders
built their church

from the body of a whale
thrown from the sea

by god’s thunder.
From the green deep

she brought icebergs
and plankton tattooes

to mark her basalt walls
with sacred text.

From her bones
they built the organ,

to sigh its krill-song
to her sisters in the bay.

From her skin
they wove carpets,

so fine and sea-blue
that when the sun shines

an ocean moves
among those who pray,

on their feet,
to the god of sailors –

stranded, now,
on his melting inland sea.

From her oil they made
seven lamps that will burn

until the end of days
when the chosen will file

between her ribs,
into her belly

and be carried back
to the glacier’s heart,

to their sailor god,
to swim,

as the last ice melts,
depths uncharted.

(new poem)
Jessica Traynor is from Dublin and was awarded the 2014 Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary. She was the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the year 2013. Her first collection, Liffey Swim, is forthcoming from Dedalus Press in autumn 2014.