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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ECT – by Clare McCotter

 

Back then they thought your head was cut.
Hurtling across the globe
one end’s errand
to see a bird barely bigger than a fly.
And yes, you did
crouched starry eyed in leaf litter
you saw it.
Day breaking over the hills
behind Cárdenas when it first appeared.
Zunzuncito, the bee hummingbird
shimmery and suspended in a bivalve of air.

Later on they knew your head was cut.
How could they not
it was written all over your arms
and breasts and thighs
body turned travelogue
its hieroglyphics deepening
with each chapter.
You got the works: Citalopram
Fluoxetine, Amitriptyline, Mirtazapine.
ECT finally doing the trick.

Electrical storms cooled now to fog
softening the edges
of sodium light, impulses and knives
but not the smell
of sweat on a greasy vest
not the taste
of roll ups on an old man’s breath.
Some things are sharper
in this fog you know will never lift
some, like the bright blue wing of a tiny bird
gone for good.

 

 

 

Clare McCotter’s poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, The Galway Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Iota, Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, Panning For Poems, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), PoetHead, Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stinging Fly and The Stony Thursday Book. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.

Chairwoman – by Clare McCotter

 

Slowly unwrapping her little layers every morning
we soap rinse dry from head to toe
deodorize her musk, perfume her neck and wrist
dress her in clean underwear
colour coordinating outer.
We dampen her hair
styling it the way we think best
we make her bed
chiseling out corners
lining up the shells on the counterpane.
We call her dear, speaking her name over and over again.

Quickly crossing the dayroom floor we all hold hands
reminding her of the day month year.
Near the big blue chair
she birls round  n n n    n n n n
n n n n n
drawing her knees up to her chest
she swings from our arms
like the ball on a strange executive toy   h h h    hh    hh
words smithereened.

Safely strapped in, the air around her writhes
till hands wither
and hang exhausted from the recliner’s arms.
Later we will rouse her for walks –
table – toilet – chair
capsizing her anew with each return.
But at the day’s end
she is quiet.
In the lull between shifts, all is quiet.
The only sound a pen scratching:
Specialised seating as prescribed by medical officer.
Patient appears content. All care given.
Two brown eyes looking out of the dusk, bright and glazed.

 

 

Clare McCotter’s poetry has appeared in Abridged, Boyne Berries, The Cannon’s Mouth, Crannóg, Cyphers, Decanto, Envoi, The Galway Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Iota, Irish Feminist Review, The Leaf Book Anthology, The Linnet’s Wings, The Moth Magazine, A New Ulster, Panning For Poems, The Poetry Bus (forthcoming), PoetHead, Poetry24, Reflexion, Revival, The SHOp, The Stinging Fly and The Stony Thursday Book. Home is Kilrea, County Derry.