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The Radio was Gospel by Elaine Feeney

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The Radio Was Gospel

Feeney, Elaine

for Andrea

I had a Granny who used to tell me
with large fat sweaty hugs,
that I was her favourite,
she loved the long limbs of me.

But all of us were and none of us were
and children can smell that love and lies.

These are dangerous lessons.

Our mother’s lessons took 
longer to learn. 

Early in September
she walked us home,
small children by the hand, 
miles and miles and miles
taking a long road to Mountain North –
with its marshes and branches,
we thought she had gone mad.

I rushed and picked blackberries
before they would rust and shoved them deep to the cave 
of my tupperware beaker.

Her radio was gospel, the 
mechanical throat in our kitchen.

The farming-weather, 
the sea-weather, the promise –

knots and winds and waves

from Carnsore to Oranmore,
from Mizen and Malin.
Gay and Nell and all the
Mondays at Gaj’s females 
sat at our kitchen table 
and saved mothers
from multiple labours.

And while they’d still cook the dinner –
they’d educate their daughters.

And when I was pregnant 
and asked about labour,
she weeded out my flowerbeds, 
washed my windows,
changed the beds,
 
for that stretching could snap the red
cord around a small neck.

When I married she gave 
me jam-jar advice on sex.

Nothing is easy, as I am a mother 
balancing on a
fulcrum of rage and love,
and loss and ends.

A brittlehoneycombed foundation.
 
When I would die from brainclotfear,
 
she swore if I stroked,
she’d help me to sleep 
deep in Switzerland,
dressed in decent clothes.

My daughter is sick, 

she would say

but she will be ok,
she would say. 

And all the weeds 
choking the roses,
the endless sheets of polythene plastic,
covered over by fresh chipped 
bark in our front garden.

Now I sit on her bed 
and trace my finger over her books
and clothes and bits of ends, 
glass-jars, tissues, 
costume jewellery,  
photos of her grandkids. 

She’d love good rings, she tells me. 

But she has virtue 
in powerful proportion,

and diamond rings 
and emerald  things

come at some cost. 


We salted the guts from the blackberry fruits,
then made blackberry tarts.

And busy insects ran wild in the red red water.

These days together, 

are her chattels, 
they are her rings
and diamond things.

This is our love.

Copyright © Elaine Feeney 2013

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