Lithe, lean cheetahs race down Emmet Avenue.
Boot boys beautiful.
Balletic street fighting kings.
My mother fixes them up. When they call to the door I just nod and show them in. They stride past me.
We all know the routine.
I can smell the danger off them.
And something else.
My mother says to me put on the kettle.
I know this already.
She lays out the medical instruments that she brought back from her nurse training days in London. First stop was the open TB wards in Dublin, then to Inis Oírr where she delivered blood balmed babies on bare tables and laid out drowned fishermen, then to Carraroe where Brendan Behan asked her out, then to Old Mervue where I fought my way through the deep to make it to shore battered and bruised.
In the front room drops of blood fall at her feet and the bare wooden floorboards eat them up.
She jokes with the Boot Boys as she waits for the hot water. She never jokes with me. I wonder about it.
She pours the water into the stainless steel bowl and drops in the scissors, the tweezers and needles she uses to extract splinters of glass (from bottles) and metal slivers (from iron bars and rusty blades). She pours Dettol into the bowl. The water goes milky white. She deftly cleans and sutures. I stand beside her. I am number one assistant surgeon.
The boot boy acolytes watch me from across the room.
I am safe from them in here.
You Are The One
You said it was good luck sign for us
The slick black seals breaking the surface near Nimmo’s pier
The rain was falling slow and steady.
The Corrib was in spate carrying all before it.
It was a river of sorrow that flowed through Galway,
Carrying out to sea the limp bodies of
Boys who wanted to be girls of
Girls with ripe pregnant bellies of
Shame and pain tattooed teenagers of
Women fecund with malignancies of
Men that were fighting the wide wings of black angels.
All floating out to Galway Bay and the Atlantic Ocean
All lost forever to black eels and deep channels.
I believed you about the good luck sign.
I threw my Luger far away into the river.
I said – I put some boys into that water.
You turned to me and said
What’s done is done.
BIO: Is a writer from Galway based in New York. He is the librarian at City College’s Centre for Worker Education. Publications include The McGowan Trilogy (Arlen House, 2014) and As Close As You’ll Ever Be (Cairn Press, 2012). He reads in bars, sheds, libraries, cafes, bookshops, art galleries and breweries i.e. no shame. Ongoing projects include The Blood Flow Game (play) and two short films The Resurrection Love Song and House of Pain.
More at www.seamusscanlon.com