It’s November and half way through the Our Father
when Richie lifts his head and slurs ‘Halloween
be thy name.’ We serve plates of food –
little rescue rafts on an uncertain sea.
Even the homeless centre reminds me of you:
the way you talked to the man on the street in Dublin,
bought him a meal in The Bleeding Horse and told him
you’d just lost God. I didn’t know who was helping who.
Richie shovels bolognese, his head hits the table.
Coaxed into standing, he slides
backwards and forwards in unlaced shoes,
‘Come on lad! Come on mate!’
A bruise for a face. He falls and rises, slips
and staggers away between unsteady men.
The chairs are wiped, the floor is brushed,
we wash our hands, and the room steadies.
I remember O’Shea on the steps of The Merrion Hotel –
clean-shaven, his hand out for money, his soft voice.
I gave him five euros just to listen to his story
and wondered if he knew you:
the Good Samaritan from Fermanagh
clutching National Geographic shouting
‘There is nothing. Only this.’
(‘Adrift’ won first prize in the 2014 Ver Open Poetry Competition judged by Clare Pollard, and is published in Maria’s first pamphlet Caveat)
with its palm open
holds an island of folded red flowers,
bowed heads a halo. The shore is an edge,
a border between, water set low
in the landscape –
every reflection a prisoner
between bars of birch. Red flames
are forced out of shape
by a waft of breeze. I lost the way,
but a candle remains –
a solitary flare, a call for help,
a lone whisper faltering.
I try to return: to the path tasting of salt,
to a wood full of laughter after tears,
to the genesis of light.
Loch Súilí: Lough Swilly.
Lough pronounced, ‘Loch’. Translation: Lake of Shadows
(‘Loch Súilí’ was published in 2015 by Abridged 0_38, The Never Never Issue)
Maria Isakova Bennett is an artist and poet living in Liverpool. During 2014 Maria was highly commended in the Gregory O’ Donoghue Poetry Competition, and was awarded first prize in the Ver Open Poetry Competition. Earlier this year, Maria’s debut pamphlet Caveat, was published by Poetry Bus Press in Ireland. @MariaIzaB