A hotel room at 5am in New York,
your hands chasing mine in the half-light.
I thought of those captive birds in Helgoland acting out patterns of migration.
Northern Wheatears putting on weight, facing south and flapping their wings,
as scientists observed them in cages.
The sheets were warm and flimsy, as my hymen once was
when it was quickly broken.
In the way that a forensic artist builds a face from a fragment,
a body can build a different sense of itself from just one day.
A still point of joy mingled with the fur scent of your neck,
sweaty from driving in New Jersey.
Hours later, I walked alone to the Natural History Museum.
At the Alaska Brown Bear Diorama,
through the glass I could sense their primal warmth.
I felt the hotel room key warm in my pocket
and wrapped my fingers around it.
In the giftshop, I bought a Hokusai print from the album
Ehon tsui no hinagata â€“ models of couples.
Sparse lines, her head thrown back, curling fingers and toes,
entanglement and golden light.
Only yesterday, I noticed the expression of her face.
Then I remembered how the young man in the museum shop
blushed when I handed him the print
and looked straight into his hazel eyes.
Â© Jackie Gorman
Picture 10458244, colour woodcut by Hokusai, circa 1810, image copyright Mary Evans / Interfoto/Bildarchiv Hansmann
Jackie Gorman is from the Irish midlands and her first collection, The Wounded Stork, was published by The Onslaught Press, UK in May 2019. In 2017, she won the Listowel Writersâ€™ Week Single Poem Award and was commended in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards Poem of the Year Award. In the same year she was part of the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. She has recently completed a Masters in Poetry Studies at Dublin City University and has had work published in Poetry Ireland Review, The Lonely Crowd and The Honest Ulsterman among other journals.