Now it blisters like newly-wed paint,now it works itself into cartography—my infidelity smeared across the screen.
Waldseemüller’s America, that gash of it,the boat that found it, the parrotbearing its legend, the tiny growing parts.
We can make out stray words. Santa Maria!Rio! Caput! Here Lake Michiganwill settle in, red and blue states rise up,here ribbon-scar the Mason-Dixon line.
“Your baby’s fists have already begunto open and close!” the technician cries.My husband cannot meet my eye.
Service Not Included
Who’s to thank for the buckets of lavender thrown open beside us,for the foam-clouds on twin cappuccinos,for the carved boxes that hold sugar,for the child telling reams about superheroes,for the darkening sky of the waiter,at a café in the shopping centrewhen you cannot speak for your tears?Hospital coffee was never so kindly, so quick to make believe.On the morning I wed, you and Icame here to the shopping centreand scented women pared our nails in a scented room.Who’s to thank for their cool handsworking away in our memories? Here, your handsare out of my reach. You must have thought it but,when my son was born howling and writhingand thrust to my skin, how your own son left the room [End Page 308] and the snap they left you to hold of him. Your handsare smaller than mine, and neat.How they told you the hospital name and you thoughtthat dun square of Monopoly board,made your way there by a route you’d scoreinto your palms by the end; saved changefor the car park; packed a Thermos, perhaps.Now families glide about the shopping centrein neons fresh from invention, eyes shiny with gratitude,music tasteful and tender.You must have thought, when my son has made strange,raged at being made come asunder,of all the times you had to leave the hospitaland drive home to your daughters.Of all the skin we need to touch and are not touched,of all the starving to the touch, the familiar injustices.Spread coins thick across the tables,go about the shopping centre,praise the coffee, the kindness of the escalator, haircuts,the beautiful, the beautiful, the familiar,the comfortable weather. Who’s to thank? Who’s topraise for your hands, who sits up there in head officetaking our minds off the past waiting rooms and coffee docks? [End Page 309]
Ailbhe Darcy was born in Dublin in 1981. Her debut collection Imaginary Menagerie (Bloodaxe Books, 2011) was shortlisted for the Strong Award and a poem from it featured as a Guardian “Poem of the Week.” She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Notre Dame.