Neil Slevin – another fine Irish poet


Sewing the Sea

 

Fishing for water,

sewing the sea,

you sit at ease

on a swept, beaten quay,

passing no heed

to time, tide nor

in the distance, me.

 

Shimmering

is your joy,

the sun speckle

bobbing your face

and settling like stardust

in your golden hair embrace.

 

You are at labour, lost

in your working world,

another day’s laissez-faire,

your legs sway with the freedom

of the water’s flow; and where

splashes freckle day’s outlook,

 

life’s all moderate to fair

because you’re free

to stitch your ties,

ones that will exert

their own force,

not now, later,

in due course.

 

And so, unmoved

you return to your post,

fishing for water,

sewing the sea, almost.

 

 

 

 

A Mermaid’s Song



Today I went home searching

for waters deep enough

to drown my problems,

but then I thought of you.

As a child I heard your story

spoken of but never told,

how you grew unhappy,

feared you’d be taken away,

how you couldn’t bear the shame,

you refused to.

 

Now, I imagine you

slip out and edge your way

along shadows of fading light

through the estate,

hoping no hand will block your path,

no mouth will draw you back.

I follow you,

sense your relief

mottled by despair,

and advance into

the darkness you own.

I prowl behind you at a distance

safe enough to know

you won’t hear my footsteps

over your heartbeat

and the voices in your head

that pound against their prison walls,

shrieking for release.

 

You tramp for miles

yet finish in full view

of the home you’ve forgotten.

You stop, turn your back

on invisible, unwanted hands,

unheard, drowned-out voices

and shatter the water’s veil.

 

The sea accepts you

the way life never will,

wraps you with open arms,

and for a moment you sing,

a mermaid in her ocean,

your handful of notes bubble,

burst as they brace the air.

Then your song ends.

 

I listen to the silence

until strange men arrive

to fish the deep waters,

as if they’d always known

where to find you.

 

But I won’t wait for the boy

who thinks you’re still at home

hiding somewhere from him.

The one who’ll always love

the woman who wanders

up and down the hallway,

from room to room,

as if the house conceals

all of her life’s answers

and they are just sitting

at the back of a press,

waiting to be found.

 

The son who will always remember

the last words you spoke to him

and know they were goodbye.

 

 

 

Food for Thought

 

What’s eating you? they ask

when I push food around my plate.

 

Nothing, I say rawly,

not stealing a moment to hesitate.

 

I lie to them but not myself

(no, not to me, I see my fate),

 

I know what’s eating me.

Eating is, all too figuratively.

 

I eat myself bite by bite, bone

by bone – body, brain and soul.

 

Why? Because I can

and I can’t stop me.

 

Why should I stop; this is a

game in which I can win, lose

 

and see me, raise me, fold?

I’ll have to, in the end, but

 

not for me. I live divided into

selves. None of us are whole.

 

I hate my body,

know that he hates me.

 

Like a loveless marriage, we’re

stuck together, indefinitely.

 

Not because we want, need to,

must, but because we have

 

to be. I’ll eat away at him

while he eats away at me.

 

 

 

Neil Slevin MA, BSc is a writer from Co. Leitrim, Ireland, whose poetry has been published by various Irish publications, and international journals such as Scarlet Leaf Review and Artificium: The Journal. His flash fiction appeared in The Incubator. Neil co-edits Dodging The Rain.

https://twitter.com/neil_slevin