Papa left us to the silence of ourselves,
to begin the nightly ritual as supper chef.
Mama, listless, absently fingered her book;
she, I noticed, already wearing her holiday dress.
Mama rose and strolled across the living room,
humming lazily some old romantic tune.
Forgotten, the deadening wounds, deep as her bones
as she brought voice to the big wooden gramophone.
Foot followed foot as she slow-turned, over
and over again, across the linoleum floor,
her new dress swaying around her limbs
like wild grass shifting in the gossamer wind.
Then coaxing me, her youngest son (the fragile
one), to rise through the waves of Mama’s smile,
my feet stumbling after hers as I danced
to the waltzing news of Mama’s happiness.
Alone, in the silence of myself, I see it again –
always ending there as I danced with her.
© Noel Duffy
Picture 11944942, 1930s photograph, image copyright Mary Evans / Everett Collection
Noel Duffy has published four collections to date, most recently Street Light Amber which appeared in summer 2020. His poetry has been featured widely, including in The Irish Times, The Financial Times and Poetry Ireland Review, and has also been broadcast on RTE Radio 1 and BBC Radio 4. He was the recipient of the Patrick & Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry in 2018. He currently lives in Dublin’s dockland district.