I would like to say a big thank you to the people who attended the reading in Ballymote Community Library on 23rd June. Thanks to Louise for sending out emails and encouraging people to come along. A good round of questions at the end and good to talk to people afterwards too.
Saleen was woken from her thoughts by the sound of a woman placing her cup onto a saucer. It was the cup, pale pink, chinking off the saucer that reminded her of a child’s tea set. She had not thought about it for fifty years. It had been her sister Boo’s tea set. It was rose pink with a gold band round the top of the cups and had matching plates and saucers. Oh, she could just see it, so pretty, delicate bone china. Where did it come from? She couldn’t remember.
As children they had washed up after Sunday dinner at the white trough sink in the small kitchen. One week Boo would wash and Saleen would dry and the next week they would change about. The tea towel was drenched by the time they had finished. Boo had a very annoying habit of handing back anything that she thought had not been properly washed. As a teenager Saleen had washed the dishes with another sister, Em, who was not such a perfectionist. This was a far more enjoyable experience and done in half the time. Now for the first time in years Saleen was alone and had no dishwasher. She wasn’t going to get one either – too hard on water plus she finds she does her best thinking at the sink.
There’s a place she goes for coffee on a Sunday sometimes, a café out along the coast which only opens from March to October. She’d like to go there now but it’s November. One whole wall inside is a glass display case with dolls houses and miniature pieces of handmade furniture, tables, chairs and chandeliers like the dining room in Downton Abbey. There are tiny vases, clocks and beautifully crafted ceramic King Charles spaniels paying attention, warding off intruders. The café owner, a middle aged man, is friendly in his own way but could do with a few lessons from the school of deportment and charm, Saleen thought. He doesn’t look like the sort of person who would go to the bother of collecting pieces for it must have taken years to build up the collection. Perhaps it was his wife, whom Saleen had never seen or his daughter. Now that she thought about it, it was a memorial to someone. She had never seen him open the case or even stop to look at it.
Sprinkling holy water always moved her. It was something her father did when they were leaving the house. She thought about that scene in the film, Dancing at Lughnasa where the two sisters are leaving to go to England in the middle of the night. They stop at the door, dip their fingers into the holy water font and sprinkle it in the direction of each of the bedrooms, saying the name of each member of the family. That was the last time she had a good cry.
Why did they pick pink for cancer? She used to like pink.
Thank you to www.writing.ie for including my piece about what writing means to me, as well as details of my book, in the section, Writing & Me. As I was writing the piece, I was reminded of some watershed moments and people who encouraged me over the years; like my teacher in primary school, like the people who published my pieces in the local newspaper, like the Raving Beauties women’s theatre company who published my poem, Busy Dying, in their anthology Hallelujah for 50ft Women and who really encouraged me to continue writing with integrity. Like the people who, before I submit pieces, give my writing the once-over, editing or proofreading. Like the people in the various writers’ groups who give me feedback through constructive criticism. The reminiscing has been life enhancing and allows me to see how far I’ve come. Thank you.
I would like to say a big thank you to the people (some of whom I knew and some I met for the first time) who attended the book launch in Sligo on Saturday 25th March. It was a beautiful day weather wise so I really appreciate people coming along.
The Banking Hall in the Yeats Memorial Building was full of atmosphere as at the moment it is hosting the Yeats exhibition. I read these pieces from my book, No Spare Life: In the Beginning, Marionette Days, Skin Cover and Grace Notes which was accompanied by Klaus Harder on the guitar and is a good piece to finish on.
My book was launched in King House in Boyle in January. Thank you to my writing friends, neighbours and people who didn’t know me at all for coming along. It was a great day too and it was lovely that people came up for a chat afterwards. Making new friends.
I launched my book No Spare Life: one woman’s journey through cancer in the Irish Writer’s Centre in Dublin on the 10th Dec. last. It was a day I will hold close to my heart. A day I wasn’t sure I would see. My family turned out in force and some friends I hadn’t seen for some time. Thank you everybody for making it such a memorable day. A celebration.
I used to listen to people going on about stuff but
time is precious and I don’t anymore.
I used to live in Germany
I used to remember the reg. no. of my car
I used to be more organized about paperwork
I used to get paid on Fridays – money in my hand
You rarely see actual notes nowadays.
I used to be in a folk band and sang Hard Times
I used to collect bits and pieces in an Old Curiosity Shop
biscuit tin. I still have it, full of treasure.
I opened it recently to place a square
of my mother’s granny print apron in it.
I used to live in the city
I used to listen to advice from friends
Now I listen to my own gut which is much happier.
My head is too.
I used to be a child. Some days I can still sulk.
I used to believe in The Waltons, The Little House on the Prairie, Flipper and Tammy.
I used to look at the news, bought a newspaper everyday
but it’s all bad stuff.
The beautiful simple, seeing otters at the lake, isn’t news.
I used to chew Wrigleys gum
I used to know where I left stuff
Now I lose it all the time
Keys, pin numbers, beloved animals, my parents and friends
I’m still losing them.
I used to have two breasts, now I have one
I used to think the remaining breast
Should be in the middle of my chest
I felt unbalanced.
It took a year to accept this “new lookˮ.
I knew I was going to be okay when one morning
I was about to shout
“Has anyone seen my prosthesis?ˮ
Wouldn’t that be shocking funny?
I rolled back onto the bed and laughed.
I used to be busy dying now I’m busy living.
This poem was published by Bloodaxe
Books in their 2015 anthology Hallelujah for 50ft Women edited by
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