“For Nan” by Darragh Murphy


Seventy five white lilies peppered your coffin,
A portrait of loveliness, an elegant orphan.
Ellis Island acted as a crib, herself as their daughter.
Seventy two birthdays divided by water.
Like fools they’d abandoned the purest of babies,
Never writing or missing the most perfect of ladies.

Embarrassed, you would shield the right side of your face
Yet it was that cheek that I'd kiss during every embrace.
Many mirrors had divided a beauty mark from a mole.
It lingers as a badge of the kindest oul soul
Who, after ulcers and laundries that you never found tough,
In the ward of a sanatorium even found love.

Our faces belong against your navy pleated skirt
That would shield us from the realness and darkness of hurt
And to make us laugh you would point to your laddering tights
Or spoil us with tea too late in the night.
And whenever we left your eyes used to twinkle
Before tears used to pool in the prettiest wrinkles.

It maddens me that today a dog sits in your chair
You would scold me for saying that he doesn't belong there
Like the rainclouds above your funeral
Or your towels soaked in petrol
Hanging from clothes-pegs in the most delicate of breezes
Like your whispers that taught us thank yous and pleases.