All The Men I Never Married No.8
It’s just me and him, alone in the staffroom
and he’s talking about a woman he hates.
I bet she has a big pubic mound. I bet
she’s covered in spiders legs.
He’s already on about the next thing wrong
with his life, with his job, with this woman
he works with, while I think about the women
I know, how excellent they are at getting rid
of things, experts in the endurance of pain.
Look at me now for example, sitting here
not moving a muscle as I remember
the first morning I took a razor to my face,
because the boys at school called me names,
my mum saying What have you done?
Once you start you can’t go back.
There was bleach of course, the flame
of it burning my skin, testing myself,
how long could I stand it, how much
could I make disappear. The worst
was electrolysis, a tiny needle inserted
into each follicle and one dark hair
at a time wished away.
Back in the staffroom
he’s telling me the next time someone
annoys me I should flash my tits,
miming the action while making a cuppa.
Milk, no sugar, I say with a smile
I hate myself for. I remember the times
I heard that as a teenager: Get your tits out
for the lads. It sounds obscene now
but back then it was nothing, just one
of those things that boys said.
In my first class of the morning
a small boy asks why I have hair
on my lip and my stomach
still drops like it used to but I answer
calmly this time. All women do.
Your mum probably does. He looks
outraged, and how can I blame him?
This is what we’re teaching our sons.
Poetry Ireland Review Issue 119:
Poetry Ireland Review Issue 119 includes new poems by 48 poets including Frank Ormsby, John Kinsella, Rachel Coventry, Aifric Mac Aodha, Gerald Dawe, Alice Miller and Claire Potter. Also included are translations by Richard Begbie and Kirsten Lodge, an essay on Bishop, Lowell, Heaney and Grennan by David McLoghlin, and reviews of Paul Muldoon, Paul Durcan, Sarah Clancy, Medbh McGuckian, Kate Tempest, George the Poet, and many more. The issue also features photography by Hugh O'Conor, Dominic Turner, Sheila McSweeney, Fergus Bourke and John Minihan.