Two Poems by Caitriona O'Reilly

The Suicides

They ask: the world gives them a stone,
revolving until the greater part of her is in darkness.

Out among the night-stations the signals falter,
the mechanism of the cell winds down.

We can do nothing now but watch, watch and wait,
leaving them to the winds, the drag of the tides,

who lately were apt to brood upon themselves and hatch
a rope, a hook, a chair, a bell, a solicitude:

rarely a kindness. To themselves they were least kind.
Like us, they were unable to believe

the frequencies of light concerned them:
they followed the logic of the particle down

to the sea floor, literalists who found a solution.
In this silence, in this immeasurable interval

between systole and dawn, we ask:
she gives us the snowdrop’s sidereal pallor.



Cursed is the politician from whose lips drop
Lies like detonations on the land
Cursed are his white-gloved hands
Cursed is the kernel of his word
Cursed the altered germ of the seed scheduled to die
Cursed are the betrayed fields
Cursed the fine movements of the intricate beasts
Cursed the starlings’ murmurations
Cursed is the rich man in his mechanical solitude
Cursed are his love’s failures
Cursed are his portfolio, his realpolitik
Cursed his pump, his pipeline and his tanker
Cursed the little children playing in his streets
Cursed his lethal smile and cursed his language

Thou requirest truth in inward parts:
and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly.
Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

This piece is one of WLT's 2012 Pushcart Prize nominations.

Caitriona O’Reilly’s first collection of poetry, The Nowhere Birds, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best first collection and won the Rooney Prize in Irish Literature. Her second collection, The Sea Cabinet, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the Irish Times Literary Prize. Between 2008 and 2011 she was editor of Poetry Ireland Review, and she currently sits on the editorial board of Poetry Salzburg Review. She lives in Lincolnshire.