Antaeus by Elaine Feeney


Antaeus
Elaine Feeney

I haven’t walked my shoes farther than the length of our kitchen
Table in over eight weeks. Sometimes I just do it like an odd job, like
Working the till in Tesco’s or sometimes I do it just
To feel the earth under my feet, to stop me sparking off you
And give my bed-sored heels a welcome break, while the fluid
Slushes and shoves against the heated skin, sometimes crowning
Like the straight stroke of warm water from my dog’s dead tongue
As yesterday and today and my wheezing annoys this little robin
That squats on the top of our Christmas tree and reminds me of a
Soul of someone minding me. Yet you say, Jesus fucking Christ
You cried [light bulb word] all day that you put up that tree,
No one is minding you, but I am, I told you that
See, and the next day you took me to the hospital, I was shaking
And the next day they cancelled the operation, just like that,
Just like you’d twist a little fairy light bulb and the tree would light up,
And die again, and the tree was tree green.
I am leaving my things in there, beside the ladybirds and pinecones,
My things, my thoughts and my sweats; and I am leaving the fear
Here with all the glitzy presents and the food in the
Oven that will never see air. See, you say, it’s just not fair on the kids
You crying all day, and when old poems about anvils and tongs
Came on the radio, and when I thought the house ran out of
Warm water you cried some more, for the disbelieving child
Grumped in the corner, for a father a stone’s throw away;
Light years to me ever touching the grey mad matter inside his
Head, and maybe trying to rinse it out like you might do to pebbles
In a red bucket out on Silver Strand or maybe the tears are
For the large woman night-boor who walks the road like
A telephone pole blown down sideways or for your mother
Who is joining in the crying, more when you have walls
To separate you both, and the Christmas crying
Made the shoes at the edge of the bed look like two pairs
As if your-self and her-self, the crying part
Might walk out together and talk to the robin and
Maybe get her down offa the tree and out to the air
To be dry eyed and happy, out out offa this house I will
Walk in your shoes, balancing cagey, weeks-to-months-sheezy,
Bed-edgy. Night-cappy, half-dreamy, half-sleepy, keep your feet
On the ground girl, your body in this air.


Elaine Feeney is considered a leading part of political contemporary Irish writers. She was educated in University College Galway, University College Cork and University of Limerick. Feeney has published three collections of poetry Indiscipline (2007), Where’s Katie? (2010, Salmon) and The Radio was Gospel (2013, Salmon) Her work has been published widely in literary magazines and anthologies. Elaine’s next collection, Rise, is out 2016 with Salmon Poetry. She is currently working on a novel. She is editor at Dublin Poetry Review and Bogman’s Cannon.

“One of the most important and provocative poets to come out of Ireland in the last decade” -Fionnaula Flanagan, California, 2013

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