Reality Orientation – by Clare McCotter


Summer solstice in the asylum garden –
the wide blue bringing
your soul to feather
until I lose you
in an oratory of light.
Sloshing water
round petunias and lobelias
I mention your job –
an electrician
with The Belfast Corporation;
family having made it clear
you had the same one
for forty years, never once flying a plane.

Smiling you speak of your first solo flight
a yellow Piper Vagabond
leaving land behind
your azimuth shimmering
in a sapphire south.
Working on the real
I ask your age
your son’s and your daughter’s name
but a plane
headed for Belfast International
catches your eye
and you are gone –
lone aerial ace turning half-loops and rolls
above drifting mare tail clouds.

Planning a landing in the here and now
I pose questions on person, place and time.
Forced back down
you stumble on the here
fall flat on the day, the month, the year.
Confused, your gaze goes back
to that lithe translucence
telling me up there
everything’s brighter
nothing else like it.
A past gone but language still
crystal and flowing
in your dark forest
of Alzheimer firs.
Dayshift draws to a close
still no cognitive breakthrough
until I ask you the name of the best plane
you flew.




Clare McCotter’s haiku, tanka and haibun have been widely published. She won The British Haiku Award 2017, and in 2013 The British Tanka Award. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Envoi, The Honest Ulsterman, The Interpreter’s House, Iota, and The Stinging Fly, among others. Black Horse Running, a collection of haiku, tanka and haibun, was published in 2012. Revenant, her first collection of ‘longer’ poems will be published in April 2019 by Salmon Poetry. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

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