Monday, June 22, 2015


And Forgive Us Our Trespasses

Of which the first is love. The sad, unrepeatable fact

that the loves we shouldn't foster burrow faster and linger longer

than sanctioned kinds can. Loves that thrive on absence, on lack

of return, or worse, on harm, are unkillable, Father.

They do not die in us. And you know how we've tried.

Loves nursed, inexplicably, on thoughts of sex,

a return to touched places, a backwards glance, a sigh —

they come back like the tide. They are with us at the terminus

when cancer catches us. They have never been away.

Forgive us the people we love — their dragnet influence.

Those disallowed to us, those who frighten us, those who stay

on uninvited in our lives and every night revisit us.

Accept from us the inappropriate

by which our dreams and daily scenes stay separate.

This Century, The Next, The Last

My husband requests a sky burial

he wishes to be

as carrion sequestered by leopards

strung up in a desert tree

Back to the familiar corridor he

may choose any opening

but all the rooms contain me

dressed for a wedding


My father's in my fingers, but my mother's in my palms.

I lift them up and look at them with pleasure —

I know my parents made me by my hands.

They may have been repelled to separate lands,

to separate hemispheres, may sleep with other lovers,

but in me they touch where fingers link to palms.

With nothing left of their togetherness but friends

who quarry for their image by a river,

at least I know their marriage by my hands.

I shape a chapel where the steeple stands.

And when I turn it over,

my father's by my fingers, my mother's by my palms

demure before a priest reciting psalms.

My body is their marriage register.

I re-enact their wedding with my hands.

So take me with you, take up the skin's demands

for mirroring in bodies of the future.

I'll bequeath my fingers, if you bequeath your palms.

We know our parents make us by our hands.


And it's happening yet again:

vandals set loose in the tapestry room

with pin-sharp knives. Such lovely scenes

as this day's scrubbed-white clouds

and shock of scarlet blooms

across the wasteground

looking abruptly damaged —

stabbed-through from the back

so that a dozen shining pin-sized

holes appear at random. Then widen.

Soon even the grass has been unpicked,

the gorse hacked open.

I can no longer see your face.

Posed in unravelling sleeves

and disappearing lace,

I have given up all hope for what was whole —

the monkey under the orange tree,

the tatterdemalion nightingale.


I don't have girlfriends but I do have sex

with a different woman about three times a month.

Sometimes more. Sometimes less. I rarely ask.

They'll stop to talk to me in the supermarket

or on the bus. Off-handedly at first.

They're not made-up or drunk. We don't flirt

or analyse it. There's this tiny electrical thrill

gets passed like an egg-yolk slipping

between the cups of its own split shell.

They take me home. It happens. I leave. Simple.

They don't invite me to dinner or text.

It's easy and clean and consensual.

Then it happens again. Loneliness's overblown —

unless I'm just one of the unnaturally blessed.

My good friend Jack told me to write this down.


and Selected Poems
Farrar 2015

Born in 1972 in Belfast Northern Ireland, Sinead Morrissey is the
author of five poetry collections. She teaches creative writing at the
Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen's University, Belfast.