Three Poems by Áine Greaney

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I’m from 

potholes in the bóithrín road
limestone walls 
whitethorn bushes 
aged fields and mossy stones 

drip-drip hedges before
a blue farm gate 
apples rotting under orchard trees 
old windows and doors beneath 
a thatch roof that leaked 
brown rain onto night homework.  

A muddy path pocked with
cattle tracks 
old stables before more fields 
and a family dump 
full of rusted pea tins and other junk 
that we rescued to display along the longest rock
for our long, long days 
of playing a game called “village shop.”


Death of a Friendship

That winter she flew transatlantic west and
I flew U.S. south
to a beachside motel 
and sunny cafes where, 
she said, our American waitstaff
are too smiley-chatty and that I’m
way too friendly back.  

That week I was not thinking  
of that day when we met 
at convent school
where, 30 years ago, she led me across a room
for strawberry sweets that 
made mouths and days and months bloom 
bright and red. 
 
That last night in the motel kitchenette 
we drank wine 
we ate shrimp and sauce that 
turned our mouths bright red 
until she set down her wine glass
to say: 
Do you ever even hear yourself?
Like, why emigrate here
if you’re going to still talk so Paddy Mick?

That moment when I whispered, Your words really hurt
When I begged, Can you please stop?
when I watched her rock 
back in that chair to laugh 
at what I’d said and, later,
those sleepless hours in my motel bed 
when I mourned all things that I’ve let 
linger past their date
for death.


House of Make Believe

As if there’s never been an immigrant ship
a maid’s frilly cap 
American children, grandchildren
transatlantic letters and flights back. 

Today, six decades after that ship set sail
it’s as if Yankee Auntie had never been a girl
chasing through these Irish fields or
laughing in this thatch-roof house where, now,
there is only
her blue-tinted hair
her Yankee words that 
draw me right there
to listen at that door.  

“Gee! What a cute little kid!” says she 
Then, sitting there in their Sunday best 
My mother and grandmother  
turn, smile, agree 
as if they are not vexed at me
as if, later, I won’t get punished for this and 
as if we don’t all live 
in a house of make believe. 
Aine Greaney, blond white woman with black t-shirt on green background.

Áine Greaney is an Irish native who now lives in the Boston area. In addition to her books, her short essays, stories and poems have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Salon, The Boston Globe Magazine, Another Chicago Magazine, The Wisdom Daily, Grey Sparrow, The Mindful Word, Tendon and other publications. After a long hiatus from poetry writing, she (gleefully) returned to lyric writing during the pandemic lockdown. Visit her website.

Image “Fork in the road, Crucknacolly, Co. Mayo” from Jeremy Durrance under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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