By Anne Walsh Donnelly, a poet from the West of Ireland. Illustration by Aurélie Garnier.
burns the queen cakes Mam told him to make
so she won’t ask him again.
He sneaks into the tractor cab and gives Dad his sweetest smile
so he’ll bring him to check the cattle in the far field.
He buys a cowboy suit with his first Holy Communion money
tired of asking Mam to give him one for his birthday.
He risks a beating from Dad when he runs through the bog
in the white sandals Mam bought him to wear to Sunday Mass.
He cries when his chest grows tennis balls
and makes his Man United jersey lumpy.
He has sex with men. And women. Drinks beer in the college bar
unzips his jeans and shoves the empty bottle into his empty groin.
He goes home after Dad dies, to help Mam with the farm.
She tells him she thanks God every day for giving her a girl
He gets a part-time job teaching physics in his alma mater
falls in love with the school principal and his three-piece suits.
He tames his hair with a straightener, paints his nails with blush polish
that smells like turpentine and smears crimson gloop on his lips.
He teeters down the aisle in heels, wears a raw sick wedding dress
that makes him look like he’s perched on a cloud.
He gives birth to three girls. Husband presents him
with a diamond eternity ring. Sheila still burns queen cakes.
Sheila is from The Identity Issue – Issue 23. Order your copy here
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