Anne Street

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
| poetry


I still find the matches holding her place

in Gay’s Fables, or Hobbes.  The spines have suffered.

Those days, she worked at a desk on the landing, slept

on a sofa, her glass at hand.  She cooked from expensive tins

in a stairwell kitchen.  The strutting pigeons nested

against the chimney, where her chair caught the balcony sun.

John slept in the orderly bedroom. Who gave them

a gallon of twenty-year old Jameson as a wedding present?

She met a man in the alley exposing his private parts

(which she told me were not at all undersized) and tried

persuading him to join her, and meet her friend the psychiatrist

in the corner lounge.  That was kind.  Now I would ask her

what had happened, that she was in such disarray, as one

might search for a defence.  But she had done no wrong.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin was born in 1942 in Cork and is an Emeritus Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, where she has taught since 1966. The Sun-Fish was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and won the Griffin International Prize for poetry in 2010, and The Boys of Bluehill is due out this year from Wake Forest U.P.  She is a founder and co-editor of the Irish poetry journal Cyphers.

In the Place des Vosges