I am not a Bog Queen or a Fig or a Pomegranate

Elaine Feeney


For John Montague


Friday opens with a caesarean cleave, the scalpel held over me, so I hide myself under an old tattered eiderdown for the greater parts of the day and only

spread my ideas and hysteria out to my mother, whose love is that kind, that I can hurt. And all day long the mad barking of dogs in my neighbour’s tin shed

drives me wild. I have lived here all my life, despite delicate jaunts to plant roots elsewhere; my feet into new neighbors, down subways, smokey air, but my body

gives up the act, tripping me up, tongue loses tautness, so I stay, stare out the back window, eye the coarse Pig Weed and Quack Grass colonizing the lawn

and the black oiled shed doors are coming undone at rusty hinges, yet under the white arches at the front of this home, I attend the Trailing Lobelia as it spews

from wicker hanging-baskets. Our window dressings are staunched and bandaged for the world. And you my love, I have fantasized about your touch

since dawn, with its burning patience. We squandered our words last Sunday, after our revolting rampage of domesticity and I started my long retreat, my

arsenal of rusty weapons [you have immunized against] pussing, skulking, punching walls. Hybrid dinosaurs on the big black screen break the silence,

fried greasy duckling wings from last night’s dinner have stopped spitting in the pan, the postman catches a glimpse of my motley eiderdown shield, my parakeet

eyes from behind it, and he knows my secrets, like how only green eyes change colour [in fear] so I loudly sing, all I want is, and all I need is to find somebody.

I boil up Pot Noodles, offering children water and vitamin tablets in the shape of gummy bears, compensation for the food and the mothering and the crying.

Knock at the door. Let me touch your hand. Just once. I miss my father today and his smell under this mad mantle and I miss too you and your smell. I miss men.


There. I said it. It has been written down in bullet ink. I miss them and I lay siege behind this shield, crying. There I cry too. This too is written down.

[I will never ever write this Friday into a poem though. As the men will tell me it’s not poem’y ‘nuff stuff. In their language. That language they made

and expect me to try communicate in. In the language of puffed chest and sharp look to stare, crow’s feet, of stubble and solution and doctor] We might, though,

sit by Sunday, to make up a new lover language. Ok. Begin. Again. Code. Love. Child. Fear. Sweat. Forgive. SOS. Save me. I’m drowning, fist in the air, don’t wave,

I will think you are saying hello. Come. Come. Come, and be in me, near me, on me. Our language will be the language of hand. Of touch to my face. To your arm.

In this cave we dwell in, this mad ocean of undercurrents, take shelter under the flaky lip of eiderdown cliff, practice pronunciation of patient deliberation, cup-

washing. I promise you I will have no talk for father. And the great purple Calluna heathers will bloom. I might be mithered at times and I will have my loss.

I see that loss too on the strangers’ faces down streets. I will hear it on our lanes, outside disco clubs at three am, screaming their soft sad madness to each other,

[you fucked him with your eyes] I will dream of nine new man muses, listening to Dylan, the vinyl’s edge pierced by the pin [you make loooove just like a woman

but you cry like a little girl. Repeat] I will correct his mistruths, kernels formed from cribs and days we cut our knees skin deep and the days we walked

ourselves into hardwood doors and the days we went out late into night wearing pumps to run from rape or towards lustful dew-drunk mornings, as row boats

came in full of oysters and clams down off Quay Street, or down by the Rowing Club near the fastest ever moving river. I make love like a woman. I don’t need

this sung at me, repeating. I make love like a woman. I cry like a woman too.
My girl is long swallowed in that fast flowing river, the bowels of the Corrib, gone

out to sea. But you have cross-stitched your boy into your safe dermis. We know he’s there. But we will not sing you of it. I will write it out in secret. I will keep

my many muses. My loves. And I am not absurd for my strong lusts. All these fragments; driftwood; bog-oak; fire-pits; all bits of me. Temper. Strong jaw-lines.

There. It too is written down.