Battlefield

I used to sit and watch you play Battlefield 1

My legs tucked under me as I drew red lines on the essays of fifteen year old girls and nodded, knowingly, at angst and sadness that was theirs and mine

I was distracted by angry German shouting, shrapnel spitting through the air, bodies pierced and punctured by 100 year old bullets from rifles I was starting to recognise: Lee-Enfield, Carcano, Springfield

Willing you, now and then, to look at me

To see me

But you were a sniper picking off enemies from a distance. Such a distance.

And you wouldn’t die for me.

‘Did you see that?’

Yes, I saw that. I saw it all.

Now

Someone else is playing your game.

Someone else is going over the top,

Recklessly pitching grenades at enemy troops

Maybe he is the same vulnerable, dispensable soldier

Traversing no man’s land

Negotiating the unpredictable terrain of the unknown

But he prefers the Madsen

And when he paused yesterday, briefly, to move a piece of hair away from my eye with gentle, precise fingers

I almost cried

Two Poems about Mothers

For all my eccentricities (there are 42, I counted), the one thing I am very serious about is poetry. As an English teacher, it is probably my favourite aspect of the subject. There is such a wealth of beautiful poetry out there and there is nothing more rewarding than searching for your own meaning in a verse. (Except pizza. Pizza is always more rewarding.) 

Here are two poems written by Irish poets that I think you guys will enjoy. The both have a common theme, in that both poets are fondly remembering their mothers and their respective memories of them.

The first is by one of my favourite poets, Seamus Heaney. This poem was recently chosen as Ireland’s favourite poem. 

When all the others were away at Mass

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

(For those of you who may not be aware of what ‘Mass’ is, it’s what Catholic people call going to church.)

The next poem is similarly poignant and evocative. It is by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh.

In Memory of My Mother

I do not think of you lying in the wet clay 
Of a Monaghan graveyard; I see 
You walking down a lane among the poplars 
On your way to the station, or happily 

Going to second Mass on a summer Sunday – 
You meet me and you say: 
‘Don’t forget to see about the cattle – ‘ 
Among your earthiest words the angels stray. 

And I think of you walking along a headland 
Of green oats in June, 
So full of repose, so rich with life – 
And I see us meeting at the end of a town 

On a fair day by accident, after 
The bargains are all made and we can walk 
Together through the shops and stalls and markets 
Free in the oriental streets of thought. 

O you are not lying in the wet clay, 
For it is a harvest evening now and we 
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight 
And you smile up at us – eternally.


I hope you enjoyed these lovely poems. They certainly evoke some powerful emotions in me. Have a great evening 🙂

My First Poem

I have never written a poem on my own before and I don’t know how this happened. I wrote this, on my phone (which is very unpoetic of me) and in less than ten minutes. It just poured out (probably because it’s not very good, but I suppose you should never ignore what your mind sends you). It is dark and personal but I felt like posting it. I teach poetry comprehension on a daily basis, but I have always struggled with writing it. So here you go guys, my first poem:

Mother

I couldn’t have known when in your arms
That you were longing for something else, somewhere else
Away from my cries and outstretched arms

I couldn’t have known why the tears in my blue eyes
Mirrored the tears in your blue eyes
I couldn’t have known how my screams echoed around an empty room
Bare
The pictures of faraway places ripped from the walls
You would never go there

When I laughed it broke your heart
I didn’t understand, you thought
I didn’t yet know pain, yet I saw it everyday
In your white knuckles and your strained smile
Assuring visitors of my placidity

Now, a woman, I see you smile
Sometimes you laugh
But she knows the pain you harbour
She remembers the tears
She remembers studying your face, searching for comfort and hope

The baby
The girl
The child

Don’t worry guys, I’ll be back to my weirdly humourous self soon.