Two Poems

[Alicia Byrne Keane]

Real Together
I made the mistake of telling someone once
They always seemed real together: the statement
came out long and narrow, took meaning
only once in flight, in the space between
mouth and ear.
                                   God, I felt horrible
then, like I’d thrown a bracelet into
a bin by accident.
I found the velvet top today, decanting
                                                                                      everything out of the laundry basket.
Lifted it out by its straps
it’s getting old, serrated with rips around its
plunging edge as if (I don’t know why I
think this) bitten by a rat, I
bought it with a H&M voucher my aunt
gave me two years ago, I wore it on the
                                                                 kind of evenings that become a network
                                                                 of questions, translucent. (Did your
             friend know in what connection I was
there, in her front room, while they
played Childish Gambino from a blue-
lit TV screen, and did she see
when you put your hand on my knee?)
                                          The thing, the garment,
is made of
lilac crushed velvet that looks like the
surface of the Liffey when you’re really
                                                                                             sad, the glass of buildings in
Its straps are oddly tubular, unmovable,
                                                    they cut into the slopes of flesh between
shoulder and collarbone if you’re sitting
on a couch and you wiggle around at all.
At the time girls wore tops like this hung
deliberately-awkwardly over black
turtlenecks or long sleeved white t-shirts,
                                    I wanted to
                                                  arm myself with layers:
match the complexity of the situation
sure, let’s go with that, but
              I guess we never could have been real,
I am

Carrying bags of almonds around with me
Shifting in my seat in grey-painted tearooms
Doing the Dublin Bus survey and looking around before ticking the nonbinary box
Dodging fans coming back from a match on O’Connell Street
Trying to get on everywhere’s wifi (hence the surveys) and
Sneakily thinking to each new acquaintance,                    why are you still in Dublin tho
                                                                                                                 what thing are you doing
                                                                                                         to afford this
The malaise, the malaise of the last few days, stuff isn’t making me feel better at all
Like going to see a film I’d told friends about ages ago
When I briefly felt good or had money
                                                                                                    (1)   briefly felt good and
                                                                                                    (2)   briefly had money
But the primary-coloured waterproof cushion seats in the Lighthouse Cinema
Are like something from a playground
                                                                                                                                Like I’m a huge big child     
          And the cakes they sell lined up all look like jeweled stones or lumps of paint
No I don’t know about the new place that’s opened. I once saw a guy slide down
The street on one of those segways without a central column that just looks like a
Singular improbable wheel. This guy just took up his wheel at a glassy juncture
And sidled in a door I hadn’t seen.
                                                                                      Suddenly in from the street via this mirror-wall
That had boasted no visible entrance just moments before.          

Alicia Byrne Keane is a PhD student from Dublin, Ireland, working on an Irish Research Council-funded PhD study that problematizes ‘vagueness’ and the ethics of translation in the work of Samuel Beckett and Haruki Murakami, at Trinity College Dublin. Alicia’s poems have appeared in The Moth, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Impossible Archetype, Abridged, The Honest Ulsterman, and Entropy.

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