In the nine months I didn’t nourish you,
I made notes, I studied the seasons
for ingredients to encourage your growth.
Scraps of paper, post-its hidden
in case anyone would view my thoughts,
pity my trivia of leaves and berries.

A mom yet not a mother,
a woman yet not a woman.
My preparation took place in private,
not in maternity wards or hospital corridors,
but in the hallways of my mind
where I could put up pictures, time lines,
fill cork boards with plans.

As the folic acid built your brain stem
I collated ideas to stimulate it further,
mapped journeys for us,
paths we could walk together,
a staggered relay to start
when your other mother
passed your tiny form to me.

And I could see myself holding your hand,
using my limbs to scaffold the structure
your mother put so beautifully in place.
I am your mom without the biology of mothering.
All I have for you is my heart, my brain, my lists of things,
all but those nine months when I was waiting.

First published as part of Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times


I gave you a warrior name.
Brazen, audacious,
a statement of intent.

After the third scan,
I set out across the world’s mythologies
to uncover the name to herald you.

I found you in the pages
of an old hardback,
barely two inches in a row of columns.

Sensible, poised,
waiting for me to arrive and collect you
at the obvious conclusion,
assured that this is where you had always been.

For weeks after our first meeting
you kept me company.

Your name fell in ink from my pen
until that sturdy bulk of letters
came as familiar as my own.

The shape of you rolled around my mouth
like a boiled sweet,
pushing taste to unreachable corners,
forcing my buds awake until I had a full sense of you.

Your vowels whispered through my lips,
soft as the steam after a kettle click.

And when you arrived, emergent, slow to pink,
but quickly, so quickly,
your name gushed out of my mouth
like your first breath,

your first victory,
your battle cry.

First published as part of Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times


With a teaspoon, I sculpt fruit to fit
your tiny palm, hour glass is best.

The shape gives you a place to clamp your fingers.
Knuckles pucker with the work of it.

If you are lucky, by the time it reaches your mouth,
there is still juice left, eating and drinking in one.

Often though, it decorates your sleeve which you wave
like a soggy flag, happy gumming through the meat of it.

I approach each ripened apple the same way
as a woodturner his lathe.

With my kitchen chisels, I reveal worlds inside skin,
bring you through bark to places you can’t yet go on your own.

I show you each careful movement, the pierce of my blunt knife,
the twist of wrist and hand, counter clockwise, an easy stroke,

predicting that somewhere down the line our places will change
and with my instructions in the back of your mind,

you will face your own child,
with your own fruit and show them new worlds.

Winner of the 2015 Poems For Patience Competition and first published in Crannóg

Daedalus Speaks To Icarus, His Son

How it is that I who can coax stone
into labyrinthine detail could fail
to build the basics of your senses?

My greatest success stands as a reliquary
to forever keep what little was gathered of you,
your robe, splinters of your bones,

slivers of pride among scattered, waxless feathers,
fingertips still reaching towards the sky.

My son, you surrendered to the vanity
of a daring death, tested yourself
in elemental ways you were not born to conquer.

No Apollo you, what was your last thought?
Did you call Father into the wind as you fell?

Or did the arrogance that the next upward gust was yours
keep you silent as the water rushed to fill your mouth?

The women say their mothering ears still hear your cries,
their night-feed hearts slowed to a dimming thrum

when you failed to breach the surface.
They detailed in that way of women
how it feels to see a child’s body broken,

because you were child to them,
and they can cry for you and remember
your newborn skull warm in the palm of their hand.

First published in Crannóg