Between beauty and decadence
Like a shred of satin Crumpled and creamy It caught my eye Lying there, near a clothes peg Against the brick red patio. Luminous, exposed Halfway between beauty and decadence With the day’s bruise already on it: The world’s aches Perfectly expressed In the throwaway gift Of a fallen petal. First published in The Blue Nib (Issue 39), 15 Sept. 2019 https://thebluenib.com/article/denise-ohagan/ Separateness The silence Between us Thickens and grows And flows around us Like a third presence Waiting, malevolently, For one of us to break it. How did we Get to this point? Is there a line running From the quickened heartbeat The clutched hand Of youth And easy collusion Of middle age To this? Was the end Implicit in the beginning? Or did we Take a wrong turn Creating a fault line Damaging ourselves And dislocating the ‘us’? My thoughts are heavy, clunky And going nowhere. Years of misalignment Have made us wary Suspicion lies coiled Between us, serpent-like, So we take refuge in routine, Imbibing the evening news With our chamomile tea And the other rituals Of stale, safe domesticity. But all the while Nuggets of resentment Weigh down any deeper disclosure And neither of us Want to admit To boredom. First published in The Blue Nib (Issue 37), 15 March 2019 https://thebluenib.com/article/denise-ohagan-new-poetry/ A journey of sorts You didn’t see me But I turned back And then for years Every time I passed that place I’d see your crumpled form Wheelchaired across the courtyard Plastic bracelet pale against your wrist, Resistance in the set of your shoulders. Did a lifetime spent abroad Sliced up between three continents And all the years of travel (good luck tiki in your inner pocket) With their attendant rituals Of collars pressed and briefcases clicking Inching forwards in countless check-in queues Nodding acceptance of clunky hotel keys Patient layers of rewritten drafts Pencilled scribbles up and down the margin Handshakes, boardrooms, coffee in plastic cups Inhaling overblown officialdom With cigarettes over too-long lunches In that quiet way of yours – did all this Stand you in good stead? For this, too, was a journey of sorts. The white gash of your hospital gown The glow of multicolored monitors Recording your vital functions While nurses replenished, adjusted and tweaked The spaghetti curls of drip lines and silver stands With which my mother and I did hopeless battle To ease your situation Prompting a final, wry quip And a chuckle from a nurse of stone: Humour in extremis. And on the last night They gave you the last rites And then we settled down To wait. First published in Eureka Street, Vol. 29, No. 18, 16 September 2019 http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/the-quiet-assimilators Bio: Denise O’Hagan is an award-winning editor and poet, born in Rome and based in Sydney. With a background in commercial book publishing in London and Sydney, she set up her own imprint, Black Quill Press, in 2015 to assist independent authors. Recipient of the Dalkey Poetry Prize, her work appears in various journals including The Copperfield Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Quadrant, Books Ireland, Eureka Street and Hecate. Her second poetry collection, Anamnesis, is due to be published in October 2022 (Recent Work Press).