‘My Mother’s Reserve’ by Fiona Larkin

My Mother’s Reserve
after W B Yeats

An ash-banked spark, her Lissadell:
a small domestic match
would fire the turf, and catch
her memorising. Rhymes compel.

See her break off, to write a life
in medical vocabulary,
responsibilities undreamt of
in Castlebar or Foxford.
She weighs the babies, annotates
new-birth visits, progress checks,
dispenses care and calm advice
in rosehip syrup, infant milk,
vaccine laced in sugar lumps.
Bright beneath her Elnett curls
the banked flame smoulders,
uncovered by a word, gazelle.

And what returns is not defeat,
the burning tent of young ideals,
or dismissals of a public man before
he found the truth in withered raving;
but phrases necklacing girls’ limbs,
the slipping silk, the dressed romance,
the trusting eyes and tender hoof
of all beginnings: her Lissadell.

Author’s note: This poem is closely connected to Yeats’s poem In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz, and has other Yeatsian echoes

Fiona Larkin was born in London to parents from Mayo and Tipperary. Her work has appeared in journals, including The North, Southword, The High Window, Envoi, And Other Poems, Antiphon and Ink Sweat & Tears, and is forthcoming in the anthology Bedford Square 10, produced by Royal Holloway where she is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing. @fionalarkin